Poverty, with its associated problems of malnutrition, poor sanitation, lack of access to safe drinking water, and inadequate or non-existent medical care, remains one of the primary causes of illness and premature death – particularly in the developing world. Each year more than a quarter of a million women die in childbirth. In 2015, 5.9 million children under the age of 5 years died with more than half of these deaths due to conditions that could be prevented .
The World Health Organization website provides a good overview of global health and development issues, as well as progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It offers a wide range of documents including the annual World Health Report.
Another good United Nations site is the UN Population Fund, which is concerned in large part with reproductive health. Their annual publication, State of World Population, also looks at maternity and HIV/Aids issues.
The Eldis Health Systems Resource Guide gives access to documents and websites on a range of global health and development topics.
It is estimated that globally, 0.8% of adults aged 15-49 years are living with HIV. However, the burden of this epidemic varies considerably between countries and regions. Sub-Saharan Africa suffers the most, with nearly 1 in every 20 adults (4.9%) living with HIV – this accounts for 69% of the people living with HIV worldwide. Globally,1.1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2015.
New HIV infections have fallen by 6% since 2010 with sharp declines of new HIV infections among children in East and southern Africa (66%) and Western and central Africa (31%).
UNAIDS is the UN agency devoted to fighting HIV/AIDS. Its website has extensive data including country reports.
The World Health Organisation’s HIV/AIDS portal has statistics on the global extent of the pandemic, prevention and treatment, and on sexually transmitted diseases.
The global success in fighting HIV/AIDS can largely be attributed to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases. Following this bold goal, nearly 8 million AIDS-related deaths have been averted, 30 million HIV infections have been prevented, and 15.8 million people currently have access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy. The Sustainable Development Goals set the bar even higher for HIV/AIDS with one of the targets of SDG 3 being to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.
Obesity is a bigger health crisis than hunger and is the leading cause of disabilities around the world, according to the British medical journal The Lancet. This is due mainly to increasingly sedentary lifestyles and a shift to a ‘western’ diet rich in sugar, fat, and salt.
More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight and more than a third are obese. Australia is not far behind. But obesity is not just a first-world problem; it is on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. In Africa, the number of children who are overweight or obese has nearly doubled from 5.4 million in 1990 to 10.6 million in 2014. Nearly half of the children under 5 who were overweight or obese in 2014 lived in Asia.
The World Health Organisation has global data on obesity and information on strategies to counter the trend. Its website has extensive data including country reports.
Obesity Australia is working to change public perceptions of obesity, its prevention and its treatment in Australia.
Giant pharmaceutical companies have pioneered cures or effective controls for some of the world’s deadliest diseases, such as AIDs and septicaemia. However there is concern that ‘Big Pharma’ has too much power in influencing health policy, marketing drugs and determining how research funding is spent. Too often, the lure of multibillion-dollar profits has led to unethical behaviour: for example, in 2012 GlaxoSmithKline was fined $3 billion for illegal marketing of the antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin and for withholding data on the health risks of the diabetes medication Avandia.
Natural News has a wealth of information on the dark side of the pharmaceutical industry.