The side effects of human activity on climate change
MAIN HEALTH PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES: INTRODUCTION – Just over a billion people live in the Americas region. Over the past decade, the region has made significant progress in health, and by 2015 it had achieved documented success in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets for reducing levels of extreme poverty and hunger and reducing under-1 and under-5 mortality, as well as significant progress in environmental sustainability. However, the region did not achieve the reduction in maternal mortality expected as part of MDG 5.
Main problems and challenges in the field of health is dedicated to the analysis of the main causal factors (health problems and determinants of health), which represent the greatest challenges and the greatest burden to the population of the Region.
Health goals are no longer limited to reducing
These challenges and problems are analyzed in three converging issues: the health problems that are considered crucial due to its severity, high prevalence, associated costs or long-term impact on the health of the population; the environmental and social determinants that are beyond the direct control or exclusive of the health sector; and the obstacles arising from the lack of preparedness of many health systems to meet the challenges posed by health problems and their determinants, in particular pervasive and prevailing inequities.
Health goals are no longer limited to reducing the prevalence or incidence of diseases, or improving health services, but are also aimed at reducing health inequities by including health as part of all policies and understanding that health is both a component and a crucial factor for Sustainable Development.
Theme 1 analyses the region’s progress in reducing the burden of communicable diseases over the past five years, while addressing remaining inequities within countries and major gaps between countries in overall health outcomes such as maternal and child morbidity and mortality.
While chronic diseases are increasing, in some countries the burden attributable to communicable diseases and the number of maternal and child deaths, including nutritional deficiencies, are still high and cannot be underestimated in the transition to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
On the other hand, there is a need to focus
The persistence, emergence and re-emergence of some infectious diseases associated with poverty and changes in the physical and social context underscore the need to strengthen ongoing surveillance efforts to prevent the emergence of new pathogenic strains of arbovirus. There has been a resurgence of cholera in the region, as well as recent outbreaks of dengue.
- In addition to dengue, new epidemics of arboviral diseases have emerged, mainly outbreaks caused by the chikunguna and Zika viruses. The Zika epidemic caused a major public health crisis due to new clinical manifestations in newborns related to neurological development syndromes and microcephaly, which can cause long-term morbidity and disability.
- On the other hand, there is a need to focus more on disparities in order to close the gaps that hinder progress towards sustainable development.
Theme 2 addresses the unprecedented demographic, epidemiological and socio-economic changes that have led to an increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mental disorders, disabilities, traffic injuries and domestic and interpersonal violence, which have ranked first among the major health problems requiring multisectoral policies.
Two key approaches to addressing NCDs are the social determinants of Health and the life-course perspective, both of which are extensively discussed in health in the Americas+ 2017. The capacity and reach of health systems must be improved not only to provide care to people at risk or already suffering from NDS, but also to build health throughout life.
The high suicide rate in some countries is also a cause for concern
Building capacity for self-care is a key part of efforts to overcome challenges arising from the epidemiological and demographic transition and by-products of disorderly development. Violence is one of the by-products associated with weak governance, poor rule of Law, rising income inequality and limited educational opportunities, and women and children are the most frequent victims. Mental health problems, particularly depression, also lead to significant morbidity and are exacerbated in situations of conflict and natural disasters.
The high suicide rate in some countries is also a cause for concern.
Item 3 discusses the threat posed by climate change, the rapid evolution of which is particularly serious in the case of Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean and coastal areas of Central America. The Americas region is an area prone to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and floods, often with a high associated cost due to loss of life, damage to the environment and destruction of infrastructure.
Some projections indicate that by 2050 large coastal areas will be lost as a result of global warming, and vector-borne diseases and threats to food security will spread. This threat to public health still largely goes unnoticed, so it is an issue that requires our immediate attention.
Health policy makers need the best available information to assess the magnitude of the current and future impacts of climate change and its health implications, and to formulate and implement a variety of responses to ensure adaptation and strengthen health systems. The theme concludes with some policy recommendations to reduce the side effects of human activity on climate change, in particular those related to the health sector, and to minimize its effects through action by different sectors.
Theme 4 addresses the unprecedented increase in population ageing, which has implications for social Security Systems, workforce structure and health systems. The increase in the proportion of people living to old age leads to an increase in dementia, disability and frailty. The dynamics of living to advanced age have changed radically and require the urgent creation of enabling environments. There is also an urgent need in the region to strengthen national capacities to formulate and implement evidence-based policies and programmes.