Every year the World Health Organization (WHO) collects health information from all member states. The health information is used to formulate both short term and long term goals.
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This information is then shared with all stakeholders. Based on this information, priority areas are selected and appropriate interventions formulated. Health priorities vary from region to region but there are some that are generally considered to be universal. This paper will discuss the global health priorities. It begins with a brief overview of the health related millennium development goals (MDG).
The WHO has traditionally formulated global health priorities using the millennium development goals. The millennium development goals related to health include MDG 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 (WHO, 2013). MDG 1 is concerned with childhood malnutrition especially reduction of underweight while MDG 4 focuses on child health and immunization. MDG 5 is concerned with maternal and reproductive health. The health aspects covered in MDG 6 include malaria, tropical diseases, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
The seventh millennium development goal covers water and sanitation. Global health priorities emerge from the MDGs. Some health concerns are confined to some regions but due to huge socioeconomic burden they exert on communities, they qualify to be regarded as global health concerns. Other health priorities include universal health coverage and access to essential medicines in all countries, healthcare for people living with disabilities, and prevention and control of non communicable diseases.
Reduction of childhood health problems is a universal priority. The emphasis is on childhood malnutrition and immunization. Other childhood diseases are also covered. Immunization is among the most effective ways of reducing childhood diseases and mortality (WHO, 2013). WHO has setup a global vaccine action plan to ensure worldwide access to immunization services.
The aim of the program is to ensure that vaccines are availed to both privileged and underprivileged communities at the same time. Child underweight is associated with maternal underweight. An underweight mother is likely to give birth to an underweight infant. Therefore, WHO advocates for weight and nutritional monitoring during the antenatal period. Diligent management of other childhood conditions and illnesses like diarrhoea is necessary for future national development.
Maternal mortality remains one of the greatest concerns of the WHO and member states. This is captured in MDG 6 which envisages improved maternal health and reduction of maternal mortality.
To achieve this, WHO requires mothers to attend antenatal clinic at least four times. It further advises that mothers should deliver in the presence of skilled birth attendants. Maternal health has a great effect on the health of an infant. Reproductive health services also contribute to improved quality of life. The World Health Organization has asked governments and other agencies concerned with maternal health to provide essential equipment and drugs to support maternal and child health.
Water and sanitation is a huge health concern. At the moment, over 1.1 billion people in the world cannot access clean water (WHO, 2013). This poses a great danger to the affected communities. There are several diseases that are associated with poor sanitation and dirty water. It is the hope of the World Health Organization that all communities will access safe water and sanitation services in the near future.
Malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS are among the leading causes of preventable deaths. HIV/AIDS is a manageable disease yet it still causes huge socioeconomic burdens to communities and individuals (Chipeta, Schouten, Aberle-Grasse, 2004). The WHO has prioritized programs geared towards prevention and control of these diseases.
Chipeta, J., Schouten, E., Aberle-Grasse, J. (2004). HIV Prevalence and Associated Factors. Retrieved from <https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR175/12Chapter12.pdf>.
World Health Organization. (2013). The World health statistics 2013. Web.