Despite incredible improvements in health since 1950, there are still a number of challenges, which should have been easy to solve. These are some facts: One billion people lack access to health care systems. •Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one group of conditions causing death globally. An estimated 17. 5 million people died from CVDs in 2005, representing 30% of all global deaths. Over 80% of CVD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. •Over 8 million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition and mostly preventable diseases, each year. AIDS/HIV has spread rapidly. UNAIDS estimates for 2008 that there are roughly: o33. 4 million living with HIV o2. 7 million new infections of HIV o2 million deaths from AIDS( (www. kff. org, 2011). Today, about 34 million people are living with HIV/AIDS around the world2. Given the United States’ role as a leader in combating HIV/AIDS around the world, tracking Americans’ awareness and understanding of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic provides important feedback for policymakers, the media, nongovernmental organizations, and other major players in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Overall, survey trends show that Americans view HIV/AIDS as a more pressing health problem for the world than for the U. S. , although the perceived sense of urgency has been on the decline for both the global and domestic epidemics. The sense of urgency about the global HIV/AIDS epidemic has declined steeply in the past five years; about one third of Americans ranked it as the world’s most urgent health issue from 2000 through 2006, a share that fell to 21 percent in 2009 and 13 percent today.
Still, HIV/AIDS is ranked by Americans as the second most urgent health problem facing the world, second only to the share who named cancer (30 percent), which has ranked consistently at the top of the list since 2002. By contrast, Americans rank HIV/AIDS seventh on the list of the nation’s most urgent health problems (mentioned by 7 percent in the most recent survey) (www. kff. org, 2011). With obesity comes increasing risks of: •Cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke) — already the world’s number one cause of death, killing 17 million people each year. •Diabetes (type 2) — which has rapidly become a global epidemic. Musculoskeletal disorders — especially osteoarthritis. •Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon). In addition, childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of premature death and disability in adulthood. The WHO adds, “What is not widely known is that the risk of health problems starts when someone is only very slightly overweight, and that the likelihood of problems increases as someone becomes more and more overweight. Many of these conditions cause long-term suffering for individuals and families. In addition, the costs for the health care system can be extremely high” (www. who. org).
In Europe, for example, the WHO’s European regional body says that “obesity is already responsible for 2-8% of health costs and 10-13% of deaths in different parts of the Region. ” Addressing obesity at the global level: this involves international institutions, agreements, trade and other policies. For example: The World Health Organization (WHO) is a key institution at this level. It’s global strategy in this area focuses on developing food and agricultural policies that are aligned to promoting public health and policies that promote physical activity, as well as generally being an information provider (www. ho. org). A joint program of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, the experience of the Codex Alimentarius Commission highlights the challenges at international level. The Commission was set up to help governments protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade (Shah, 2010). But challenges and obstacles persist. For example, “industry representatives hugely outnumber representatives from public interest groups, resulting in an imbalance between the goals of trade and consumer protection” (Shah, 2010). New economic analyses help dispel the myth of people getting fatter but eating less. The first 20 years of our adult obesity epidemic, from the 1970s to 1990s, was explained mainly by declining physical activity: Americans believe they have less time to do things but in reality are spending more time watching television and being inactive. Subsequently, the obesity epidemic appears to have been fuelled by largely increased food consumption. A paradoxical increase and deregulation of appetite during inactivity has been matched by an increasing supply of food at lower real cost. Consumption of “supersize” food portions will accelerate his process, reflecting a failure of the free market that demands government intervention” (Lean, 2005) Bibliography Lean, M. (2005). Prognosis in Obesitymore; we all need to move a little, eat a little less. . British Medical Journal, Volume 330 , 1339. Shah, A. (2010, November 21). www. global issues. org. Retrieved August 09, 2010, from Obesity Global Issue. www. kff. org. (2011, July). Retrieved August 08, 2011, from Data Note: A Brief Look at Americans’ Perceptions of the Global Health HIV/AIDS Epidemic. www. who. org. (n. d. ). Retrieved August 09, 2011, from WHO/Obesity-World Health Organization: www. who. int/topics/obesity/en/