Global warming is the biggest threat to global health and governments aren’t doing enough to prepare for that, a poll of health professionals across 79 different countries has revealed.
The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) polled health professionals on their opinions on global health in the next 25 years. The poll identified climate change as the biggest concern health professionals had for health and healthcare in the future. More than 9 out of 10 (92%) professionals said they believed that governments and health bodies aren’t doing enough to prepare for the impact of climate change on health. Other phenomena identified as influences on future global health were globalisation, urbanisation, demographics, and technology.
‘We are currently faced with many inter-linked and overlapping global health challenges that are likely to increase in significance over time,’ said Professor David Lalloo, Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. ‘These include the rapid demographic transition from undernutrition to overnutrition within a generation and a subsequent increase in NCDs, expansion of cities and health problems of enormous urban settlements and the effect of climate change on disease epidemiology, particularly vector-borne diseases.’
Despite the identification of several global challenges to health and healthcare in the future, the majority (53%) of polled professionals said they felt optimistic about the future of global healthcare.
As a result of this poll, RSTMH are reviewing five issues for action which are in keeping with the Society’s aim of improving global health and access to healthcare. These are: making tackling the climate crisis a priority; combating health inequality; uniting around early intervention to tackle non-communicable diseases; prioritising quality of life over life expectancy; putting the power of technology into the hands of health professionals and the communities they serve.
‘There can be no doubt we are facing multiple, serious health challenges, but it’s easy to forget that we have both made huge progress in the last 25 years and have the opportunity to take yet more great leaps forward in the next quarter of a century,’ said Tamar Ghosh, RSTMH Chief Executive. ‘We need to do everything we can to support the global health community so we can make the positive changes we need to ensure everyone benefits and the health divide within and between different countries is reduced.’
The full results will be published in a report at the 11th European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health which is being held this week in Liverpool, hosted by the RSTMH.