Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Top 10 Global Health Threats for 2019

The WHO recently released their 'top ten threats to global health for 2019' list.  And while most preppers are getting ready for something akin to a zombie apocalypse, people are orders of magnitude more likely to suffer from a major health incident than anything zombie or apocalypse-related.  Fortunately, many of the threats on the list are things you have direct control over, so in the interest of prepping for things that will actually happen, here are some things to consider:

  1. Air pollution and climate change.  Air pollution=bad...obviously, yet I still see people inhaling particulates (in bakeries, wood working, steel working, etc) which is no bueno for your lungs.  Wear a mask if you are in an area with high air particulate matter, whether this is a polluted city, in an area with active forest fires, in a business with any sort of dust in the air, etc.
  2. Non-communicable diseases.  This is where people can make the most difference in their mortality rate for diseases like cancer and cardiac diseases.  Eat nutritiously, get plenty of exercise, sleep well, deal with stress, take care of mental health issues, etc.
  3. Global influenza pandemic.  We've seen some bad flu years lately but nothing on a pandemic scale...yet.  Do what you can to prevent the flu including getting a flu shot, keeping your hands clean, not touching your face with unclean hands, avoiding sick people, etc.
  4. Fragile and vulnerable settings.  When I hear this term, I think of sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia and while drought, war, and famine are pretty far from our everyday experience here in the US, the after-affects of such events can still be felt here.
  5. Antimicrobial resistance.  Whoda thunk it--massively overusing antibiotics and all of those antibacterial wipes/soaps/sanitizers would create super bugs which are immune to drugs that kill bacteria?  We are getting to that point now so I guess the lesson learned is to not use antibiotics/antibacterials unless they are absolutely necessary.
  6. Ebola and other high-threat pathogens.  Highly infectious diseases are, obviously, to be avoided at all costs.  Fortunately in the US this isn't usually a problem, unfortunately, you never know where the guy in the airplane seat next to you has been and what highly communicable diseases he has been exposed to.
  7. Weak primary health care.  I'm a fan of universal healthcare because I'd rather be surrounded by health people than sick people.  Universal health care means easy access to primary care for everyone so medical problems can be caught early and fixed rather than having people wait until they are nearly dead before being rushed to the ER.
  8. Vaccine hesitancy.  Anti-vaxxers are a blight on our communities.  Vaccines work, and while there are very specific instances when people shouldn't get a vaccine, the vast majority of people are safer by being vaccinated (example here).
  9. Dengue fever.  This is fairly straight-forward for folks in the US--avoid places with dengue fever.  Dengue is very uncommon in the US but very common in many tropical countries (thus the need to avoid mosquitoes or use bug spray religiously if you will be in any of those places).
  10. HIV.  HIV has changed from a death sentence to a long-term chronic disease for the most part, however, avoiding this disease all together is the best option--use safe sex practices and avoid blood-born pathogens (don't share needles, avoid needle sticks, and make sure blood used for transfusions is safe).

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