Acknowledging gains, challenges in global health

Great strides have been made in global health in recent years, yet there’s plenty more work to be done, according to experts.

A February 4, 2019 article in the New York Times, co-authored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Austin Frakt, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, discussed progress that has been made in fighting disease and lengthening life around the world, as well as key priority areas for the future.

Harvard Chan School’s Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, pointed out that, over the last three decades, mortality among children under 5 has dropped more than 50%, deaths of women at childbirth have been halved, malaria deaths have decreased significantly, the HIV epidemic has been brought under control, and life expectancy has increased in every country.

But problems persist, such as growing epidemics of obesity and diabetes in developing nations, shoddy health care systems, cigarette smoking, and overuse of antibiotics. And prevention and treatment of infectious disease remains a big area of need.

Jha said that investing in girls’ education should be a top priority to improve global health. “Beyond its big effects on economic prosperity, it also leads to smaller family sizes, lower infant mortality, more stable families and communities, and likely lower levels of disease burdens like HIV,” he said.

Read the New York Times article: Great Strides in World Health, but It Could Be So Much Better