The World Health Organization has published a list of the biggest threats to global health in 2019, and anti-vaxxers are up there with some of Earth’s deadliest diseases.
So what should we be concerned about as we look away from ourselves to the world around us in 2019. The list makes for some depressing reading, but then everything in January is depressing, so let’s take this all in while we’re at our weakest.
The WHO cites air pollution and climate change, non communicable diseases (eg cancer and heart disease), fragile living conditions, antimicrobial resistance, Ebola and other high-threat pathogens, weak primary healthcare, the dengue virus and HIV, among the world’s biggest problems for the year to come.
However, one threat which people can make a positive impact on, is vaccine hesitancy.
The WHO report explains:
Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.
Measles, for example, has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. The reasons for this rise are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy.
However, some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence.
Insider report, while measles was declared eliminated in the US in 2000, outbreaks have continued. The virus can spread if it reaches communities that are not vaccinated.
Last November, 17 children in New York city came down with measles after it spread in schools with unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated kids. The state is reportedly suffering its worst measles outbreak in decades.
The WHO report adds:
The reasons why people choose not to vaccinate are complex; a vaccines advisory group to WHO identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence are key reasons underlying hesitancy.
Health workers, especially those in communities, remain the most trusted advisor and influencer of vaccination decisions, and they must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines.
Let’s see what you guys think in the comments section.
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Tim Horner is a sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated with a BA Journalism from University College Falmouth before most his colleagues were born. A previous editor of adult mags, he now enjoys bringing the tone down in the viral news sector.