Despite incredible improvements in health since 1950, there are still a number of challenges, which should have been easy to solve. Consider the following:
- 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.
- In 2002, almost 11 million people died of infectious diseases alone, far more than the number killed in the natural or man-made catastrophes that make headlines. (These are the latest figures presented by the World Health Organization.)
- AIDS/HIV has spread rapidly. UNAIDS estimates for 2008 that there are roughly:
- 33.4 million living with HIV
- 2.7 million new infections of HIV
- 2 million deaths from AIDS
- Tuberculosis kills 1.3 million people each year, with 9.4 million new cases a year.
- 1.6 million people still die from pneumococcal diseases every year, making it the number one vaccine-preventable cause of death worldwide. More than half of the victims are children. (The pneumococcus is a bacterium that causes serious infections like meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. In developing countries, even half of those children who receive medical treatment will die. Every second surviving child will have some kind of disability.)
- Malaria causes some 243 million acute illnesses and 863,000 deaths, annually.
- 164,000 people, mostly children under 5, died from measles in 2008 even though effective immunization costs less than 1 US dollars and has been available for more than 40 years.