March 9, 2021

From access to medicines to curb epidemics, 13 urgent challenges of WHO by 2030



With the arrival of 2020, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 are just around the corner, so the World Health Organization (WHO) thinks that the next 10 years are fundamental, especially in 13 urgent challenges, as he announced on Monday.

From ensuring access to medicines to being prepared to face possible epidemics, the WHO document “reflects a deep concern that leaders are not investing enough resources in basic health systems and priorities,” said its CEO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“The cost of doing nothing is one that we cannot pay,” Adhanom Ghebreyesus added, in presenting the 13 urgent challenges for the next 10 years:

1. DO MORE HEALTH CARE MORE

Global socioeconomic inequality is also reflected in the quality of health. For example, life expectancy between rich and poor countries has a difference of 18 years and diseases such as cancer and diabetes have a disproportionate impact on the economy of both countries and households.

One of the biggest challenges at this point is to improve the management of health services at the public and private levels.

2. STOP INFECTIOUS DISEASES

From AIDS to malaria, from tuberculosis to neglected tropical diseases, infectious diseases will leave some 4 million people dead this year. In addition, preventable diseases such as measles (140,000 dead in 2019) and polio (155 cases, the most since 2014) gained ground.

Routine immunization processes should be strengthened, as well as investing in research and development of medicines and vaccines.

3. PREPARE FOR POSSIBLE EPIDEMIES

Preventing is the key. Responding to diseases and health emergencies costs the world annually more than preparing to face them. It is necessary to fight to attack the pandemics in time or to control them by stopping the factors that can boost them, in cases such as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Financing and cooperation, both internally and multinationally, are fundamental in this effort.

4. IMPROVE AND EXPAND ACCESS TO MEDICINES

Vaccines, medicines, diagnostic tools and other essential products are not affordable for about one third of the world’s population.

Fight against counterfeit and low quality products and improve the supply chain of medicines, two of the goals for the next 10 years.

5. CARE FOR THOSE WHO CARE FOR US

Insufficient investment in health workers added to low salaries has resulted in an employment deficit in a sector that in 10 years will need 18 million additional workers worldwide, including 9 million nurses and midwives, so 2020 was Declared his year.

The search for decent wages and better training, a way to encourage this work.

6. BETTER AND MORE EFFECTIVE DRUGS

Although the preantibiotic era seems distant, when even minor surgeries were dangerous, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a threat to modern medicine, especially because of factors such as unregulated prescription and antibiotic use, lack of access to Quality medications

The research and development of new antibiotics should be advocated.

7. A CLEAN MEDICAL CARE

With almost 1 in 4 health facilities without basic water services in the world, health tends to be deficient and even risky.

WHO works in 35 countries to improve access to water and sanitation and hygiene services. The only goal: that these services be in all health care centers in the world by 2030.

8. BE ALERTS AGAINST DANGEROUS PRODUCTS

Foods high in sugar, saturated and trans fats and salt contribute to problems such as overweight and obesity. Add to this the damages caused by tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

We must generate public policies to rethink food systems, as well as promote healthy diets.

9. SAFE TEENS

More than 1 million teenagers between the ages of 10 and 19 die annually in the world, whether due to traffic accidents, suicide, violence or HIV, due to factors such as substance abuse and irresponsible sexuality.

This year, WHO will issue a guide to promote adolescent mental health and prevent the use of drugs and alcohol, as well as report on prevention of sexually transmitted infections and contraception.

10. PROVIDE BETTER ATTENTION IN CONFLICT AND CRISIS ZONES

Last year, most of the diseases that require maximum attention were presented to countries with long-term conflicts, in addition to the fact that health workers were targeted for attacks: 978 attacks in 11 countries that left 183 dead.

In 2019, WHO attended 58 emergencies in half a hundred countries. But we have to go further: seek political solutions to protect health workers and end conflicts.

11. IMPROVE HEALTH IN THE MIDDLE OF CLIMATE DEBATE

As the WHO says, “the climate crisis is a health crisis”: 7 million deaths each year from environmental pollution, growth of malnutrition and infectious diseases such as malaria from extreme weather events, among other evils.

Public-private commitments are required to improve the air and mitigate the effects of the climate crisis on health. In 2019, the commitment of more than 80 cities in more than 50 countries with air quality guidelines was already achieved.

12. GENERATE PUBLIC TRUST

People who trust their health services come to them and on time. On the contrary, there are cases such as the movement against vaccination, which influences the increase in deaths due to preventable diseases.

Being able to create networks in which patients are easily treated in their own communities by people they trust is one of the goals to achieve in primary care.

13. NEW TECHNOLOGIES, A POWERFUL PARTNER

Distant to the general public, artificial intelligence, genome editing, digital health and synthetic biology can give many answers if they are approached responsibly from ethics and regulation.

In 2019, WHO created new advisory committees for the edition of the human genome and digital health.

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