Tobacco use poses an unparalleled health and economic burden worldwide. A new study found that the diseases caused by smoking account for US$ 422 billion in health care expenditures annually, representing almost 6% of global spending on health. Smoking causes close to 6 million deaths per year - more than the deaths from HIV/AIDs, TB and Malaria combined. And the total economic cost of smoking after including productivity losses from death and disability amounts to more than US$ 1.4 trillion per year- equivalent in magnitude to 1.8% of the world’s annual GDP.
The case for investing in pandemic preparedness is –or at least, should be - completely compelling. Few things could kill as many people as an influenza pandemic. Few threats can cause as much economic disruption as the contagion of fear triggered by a rapidly escalating epidemic. Reinforcing capabilities such as disease surveillance, diagnostic laboratories and infection control would be more effective and cost far less than spending money to contain outbreaks when they occur. Yet, so far, the global community has demonstrably not invested enough in preparedness. As a result, too many lives have been lost and too many livelihoods damaged, and the world remains scarily vulnerable.
Disease Outbreaks: A Constant Threat
The World Health Organization called for “heightened vigilance and strengthened surveillance efforts” last week to prevent and detect human transmission of a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza or ‘bird flu’. And while no human cases have been reported and WHO itself called the risk “relatively low,” we know the potential devastating impacts of diseases spread from animals to humans.
Neglected Tropical Diseases trap the most vulnerable populations into cycles of poverty. Controlling these diseases—which affect one in six people worldwide—is both a personal and a professional goal.
In 2016, a lot of effort was placed on shining the light on mental health as a neglected issue in the global health and development agendas. The flagship event organized by the World Bank Group (WBG) and the World Health Organization (WHO) during the Spring Meetings of the WBG/IMF held in Washington D.C. was an important step to galvanize attention and commitment to change this situation.
Since the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) a decade ago, over 180 countries have signed the treaty. Progress has been made in expanding the coverage of effective interventions--more than half of the world’s countries, with 40% of the world’s population have implemented at least one tobacco control measure, and despite increasing global population, smoking prevalence has decreased slightly worldwide from 23% of adults in 2007 to 21% of adults in 2013. How can greater reductions in smoking be achieved in the next decade and contribute to reaching the health and social targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030? We review some key issues in the epidemiology and economics of global tobacco control.
On a recent road trip over the holidays, one of us had a good chat with his college-aged daughter about her views on gender. She was quite adamant in rejecting arguments voiced by some people about “innate intellectual differences” between males and females. She views these arguments as sexism that ignores the fact that there are women who are not getting the same opportunities as men because they are subject to cultural norms that limit their potential.
UHC Coalition: Realizing the Promise of Universal Health Coverage
When we marked UHC Day at this time last year, the world had just adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, including Universal Health Coverage as a target. This was worth celebrating.