Diseases—Ignored Global Killers
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A larger killer than conflicts, worldwide
Consider the following:
- One billion people lack access to health care systems2
- Over 8 million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition and mostly preventable diseases, each year3
- An estimated 600,000 people die from typhoid each year13
The World Health Organization’s explanation of the indirect costs of malaria are also applicable to most of the other diseases:
The following video details how malaria affects so many in Ethiopia, in turn highlighting numerous related issues such as the impact of poverty. The topics discussed in this video also apply to numerous regions around the world face—Africa in particular:
This is just a small example. There are many more17 diseases and deteriorating health systems which cost many, many lives each year.
Poverty and social conditions, brought upon by human decisions and global institutions to shape the world economy in a way that favors a few western countries to the detriment of the rest of the world, continue. Increased poverty and debt is resulting in forced cut-backs in health and education18, the very things that would help form a foundation in ensuring such impacts are minimized.
While a lot of news reports and coverage tend to be of stock markets, booming (or now receding) economies, international war on terrorism, a few other selected conflicts and local news, etc. one issue that is often missed by the mainstream media is the sheer number of people affected and dying from tropical and infectious diseases—and that is largely preventable and curable.
unimportant and ignored issue
Until recently, AIDS had not killed as many as some of the other major diseases, yet it still received more attention than the other big killers in the world, which hardly seem to get covered, in comparison.
Largely impacting developing countries where health facilities and systems are weaker, poverty is also resulting in largely curable and preventable diseases from killing millions each year.
There are also other issues such as the various cultural and traditional barriers, and social issues and taboos that need to be overcome in some parts of the developing world, for treatments to be made readily accessible. However, a look, for example, at the causes of poverty20, as described on this web site, would help indicate why these issues are important for developed and wealthy nations alike and what roles and responsibilities they have as well:
- Western nations through their imperial and colonial pasts now own most of the world’s wealth and ability to access and make goods from resources acquired from developing nations.
- Most of the world’s patents21 on natural food and medicinal ingredients are in industrialized countries, even though the ingredients themselves are mostly from the developing countries.
- International trade and economic policies22 are guided (or dictated) by the West. The poverty and debt that many poor nations are facing, are in part due to these policies.
- The effects of such conditions are many. One of which is deteriorating health and provision of health systems for the majority of people.
Africa Action, an organization looking into political, economic and social justice for Africa has an article on the impacts of IMF and World Bank structural adjustments and its impacts on health in Africa, and is worth quoting at length: