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Fear of vaccinations is an official threat to world health

Credits: Flickr / Pan American Health Organization PAHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently listed top 10 problems related to world health that need to be tackled in 2019.  Vaccination refusal is among these problems as it threatens to reverse progress made against some preventable illnesses. 

The WHO estimates that vaccinations currently help to prevent 2 to 3 million deaths per year.  The organisation also believes that around 1.5 million deaths could have been avoided if the global coverage of vaccinations was improved.  A study published a little over a year ago suggests that since by 2020 vaccination programmes could help to save almost 20 million lives in the poorest countries.  These vaccinations include vaccinations against hepititis B, papillomavirus, measles, yellow fever, rubella, or three bacterial strains that cause pneumonia and meningitis.

Distrustful of vaccines

Unfortunately numerous anti-vaccine campaigns that have been circulating for several years on the internet have caused many people to become distrustful of vaccinations.  There seems to be a sort of complacency when it comes to vaccinations, particularly with regard to measles which is making a comeback. Last year, the number of reported measles cases increased by more than 30% worldwide.  Many people’s reluctance to be vaccinated has contributed to this revival of easily preventable diseases.  This means that many of the advances made in recent decades to prevent easily preventable diseases may well slow down.

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Cases of measles increasing globally. Credits: Wikimedia Commons

WHO takes this problem very seriously, and urges health workers to advise the least informed about vaccine composition and the importance of certain vaccines. The organization also notes its intention to step up efforts to fight cervical cancer by increasing coverage of the HPV vaccine (which is used in Australia). Polio vaccines should also be distributed in Afghanistan and Pakistan in an attempt to contain the disease.

Main threats

Among the other threats to world health in 2019 are atmospheric pollution as well as diabetes problems, cancer and cardiovascular illnesses.  A flu pandemic is also a worrying possibility.  “The only thing we don’t know is when it will strike and what level of severity it will cause,” the report states.  Antibiotic resistance is also a concern, as is dengue, which has been raging for decades. WHO also plans to strengthen primary health care in poor countries. You can see the full report here.

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