The world has been encountering the numerous public health challenges for ages. Majority of these challenges still persists to the date & further,new series of serious public health problems have been threatening the global community. The public health problem that evolved with the birth of infectious diseases during the primitive ages have now become more pronounced. On one hand, the effects of communicable diseases have diversified & become more profound, while on the other hand, chronic illnesses & ecological disasters are on the rise.
With globalization, the risks to public health have been changing in the recent decades. Hence, it has become necessary to peep into the future to imagine a world that is overrun by large no. of public health problems or perpetual war. The public health problems in the future depends upon the numerous factors, everyone of which is unpredictable. Hence, no one can accurately predict what health problems are likely to occur in 10 years from now. However, if we assume that the current trends remain to continue in the future, we may not have difficulty to project what mega-challenges in public health will the world be facing.
With the mankind’s industrialization ethos &changing patterns of population, environment & diseases, the globe will be suffering from numerous public health problems in the future. Greenhouse effect & global warming will be one of the major issue threatening human health & survival. This in turn, is expected to increase the threats of extreme weather changes such as glacial melting, shore-line flooding, widespread droughts & drastic climate shifts. Further, in the next decade, the misery effects due to air, water & soil pollution are likely to be seen, followed by ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere.
Hence, ecological disasters, as never seen before are likely, as the cumulative effects of population increase, resource depletion & environmental degradation becomes a global issue. In the recent years, the risks to public health has changed. Although the HIV/AIDS, TB & Influenza like infections still persists & are on the rise in the form of pandemics, there is an undeniable fact that that the leading causes of mortality and morbidity is slowly perpetuating from infectious diseases to chronic one.
The rising incidence of long-term chronic conditions exacerbated by lifestyle choices together with demographic changes in the population (including ageing) will lead to the epidemics of asthma, obesity, cancer, DM & heart diseases. The threats of communicable diseases as well as vector borne diseases will still not disappear within 10 years time. Further, the old foes like syphilis, water-borne outbreaks, West-Nile are likely to re-emerge. It is also projected that the possibilities of previous pandemics like SARS, Swine flu & Bird flu are still inevitable in the near future.
Adolescent health problems will be another serious public health issue. The menace of smoking will not disappear. Moreover, the adolescent health problems will intensify with increased rates of drug taking, eating disorders, risky sexual behaviour and teenage pregnancy. This is expected to cause an unprecedented rise of STIs & HIV/AIDS as well as other physical & psychological problems. On the other hand, mental health problems will be a serious issue among the adults. Further, the public health may be compromised by bio-terrorism. Another major issue affecting the public health will be famine aggravated by food insecurity.
Food production supplies will not be able to keep pace with the increasing population demand especially in Asia, Africa & Latin America without new solutions to production & distribution. Whatever the issues may be, in the lack of proper responses to these expected threats, the global community is sure to suffer wickedly. The direction of the future course of these health threats may be reversed by addressing such challenges through global commitment. What we only require is initiatives from the global community through multi-sectoral approach. Prabesh Ghimire Bachelor of Public Health Third Year Valley College of Technical Sciences Kathmandu