In 2018, 770,000 people died from AIDS-related causes. Malaria is back on the rise, especially among children under 5 years old, who account for two-thirds of all malaria deaths. More than 10 million people contract TB every year, but nearly 40% of those are left undiagnosed.
If you don’t live in a community where these diseases are prevalent, they might seem like far away issues — but global health affects everyone. That’s why everyone, everywhere, should play a part to end these diseases.
As the name implies, global health is about the health of people worldwide. There are many ways to improve global health, including reducing inequities, combatting preventable diseases, and making healthcare accessible and affordable.
One of the biggest keys to improving global health is access to affordable healthcare. Disease prevention and treatment is still not available to many people around the world. High costs, stigma, lack of health centers, and other factors continue to prevent people from getting the care they need.
Why global health matters for everyone, everywhere
To put this issue into perspective, consider a garden:
Some plants in a garden have the sun, water, and soil they need to stay healthy. Other plants, however, do not have the same resources. Not only are those plants at greater risk, but the garden as a whole is more vulnerable as a result.
As a global community, we function the same way. If our neighbors do not have what they need to prevent and treat disease, it puts everyone at greater risk. The opposite is also true: when everyone can access health care, we are all better able to combat disease.
Vaccination is a prime example of this. Between 2010 and 2015, vaccines prevented at least 10 million deaths worldwide. The more people who receive vaccination, the less likely a disease will spread, thanks to community immunity. When you get vaccinated, you’re not only protecting yourself from infection. You’re also strengthening society’s defense against the disease and keeping those around you safe.
The big picture of global health
It’s important to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live a happy, healthy life. Aside from it being the right thing to do, creating good global health benefits society globally.
Just as in a garden, when some plants receive less care, and therefore bloom less, the garden as a whole does not grow as much as it would if all the plants had the right amount of care. Proper resources for each plants means larger growth for the garden as a whole.
When people can live healthy lives, they are better able to take part in society. Good health allows children to go to school and receive the education they need. As adults, it means being able to build careers and invest in their families and communities.
Not protecting health can, and has, put entire countries at risk. In 2014 alone, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone lost US$2.2 billion in gross domestic product, threatening economic stability. This happened because those infected with Ebola could not continue to work, leading to less money in the economy.
On the flip side, improving global health can also lead to incredible economic growth. Every US$1 invested in health spending for the world’s poorest leads to a return of US$13. Investing in health, besides being morally necessary, will lead to big returns.
The Global Fund
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria is one of the best tools we have in improving global health. The fund has helped save over 32 million lives and counting, making a huge impact on improving health worldwide.
The Global Fund Replenishment, a key moment for investment in global health, is just around the corner. Many countries have already made their pledges, and more are expected to pledge during the replenishment. This funding received will not only improve the health of those living in poverty. Investing in global health protects everyone, including you, and creates a more sustainable future.