Global Health and the Health of Our Planet
When one thinks of global health, one may think about the need to prevent disease spread or potential methods of improving human standards. Upon closer analysis, however, it should become evident that the maintenance of strong global health standards is multifaceted. In addition to the previously-mentioned perspectives of how global health may be evaluated, it is also significant to note that global human health can also be greatly influenced by environmental concerns. Whether it be understanding the role of animals in the proliferation of diseases or interpreting the varying effects of climate change, understanding generally lesser-known yet complex mechanisms that shape global health is essential. (1)
The rising negative effects of COVID-19 have heightened anxieties regarding the funding of preventative measures to protect against other diseases. Yet, upon further analysis of this strategy, it becomes clear that this cannot serve as the only method of defense against current and future outbreaks. Instead of evaluating from the perspective of controlling the current spread of diseases, another important measure of investigation is preventing the development of such diseases in the first place. (1)
Animals play a great role in modulating disease spread. Approximately three-quarters of infectious diseases are the result of animal carriers. Forest destruction for the primary purpose of developing farming areas in combination with greater production of livestock has contributed to an enhanced spread of disease. The trading of wild animals has also played a significant role in outbreaks. (1)
Climate change can both, directly and indirectly, fuel the development of disease spread as well. As per a recent study conducted by Colòn-Gonzàlez et al., 2021, climate change has brought forth higher temperatures, thereby allowing certain animals to proliferate. Mosquitoes have been able to survive for longer periods of time as a result of extended periods of higher-than-normal temperatures. Greater periods of mosquito population survival could potentially contribute to a significantly higher number of individuals contracting diseases such as malaria or the dengue virus. In addition to the effects of climate change on animals, however, climate change also has direct effects on human health. (1, 2)
Climate change has the capacity to bring about higher risks of developing diseases as a result of the development of droughts or extreme events in weather. Such environmental changes can impact rates of instability among social classes and overall malnutrition as well. The fusion of these two issues can spur the spread of certain diseases, resulting in more issues for some of the most vulnerable individuals around the world. (1)
In order to elicit wide-scale change, it is critical that more research be conducted and new policies are developed to address these concerns. In doing this, we may be able to effectively work to better the health of our planet and, ultimately, human health all over the world.
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“'Different Faces of a Single Threat': Global Health Must Play a Bigger Role in Planetary Health.” Global Health NOW, https://www.globalhealthnow.org/2021-08/different-faces-single-threat-global-health-must-play-bigger-role-planetary-health.
Colón-González, Felipe J., et al. "Projecting the risk of mosquito-borne diseases in a warmer and more populated world: a multi-model, multi-scenario intercomparison modelling study." The Lancet Planetary Health 5.7 (2021): e404-e414.