The poorer a person is, the lower their life expectancy. The weakest members of society enjoy poorer medical care and are more likely to live in unhealthy environments. But even prosperous individuals face health risks: addiction, road traffic accidents and environmental contamination are only a few examples.
We have seen many positive trends in recent years. We have managed to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and to significantly reduce maternal and child mortality. But pregnancy and childbirth still pose a risk for many women around the world. In industrialised countries the number of cases of cardiovascular diseases is rising. The elderly and children are always more vulnerable, because they are less resistant to health risks. And epidemics like Ebola or HIV/AIDS are a threat to all age groups and sections of the population, even across continents.
What must be done?
Many deaths and cases of sickness around the world could have been avoided. The causes range from unhealthy lifestyles, poor nutrition, hygiene and health care , to a lack of health education and vaccines, and contamination of the immediate environment in which people live. If we are to give all people access to medical care, more money will have to be invested – to employ doctors, psychologists and midwives, and in research. Health risks must also be minimised, including the risks posed by contaminated drinking water, tobacco consumption and unprotected sex. Legal regulations, controls and education can be extremely effective here.
Facts and figures
- Maternal mortality around the world dropped by 44 per cent between 1990 und 2015. Yet every day 800 women still die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth.
- In 2014, a total of 36.9 million people around the world were HIV-positive, 70 per cent of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Non-communicable diseases like heart conditions, circulatory diseases and cancer were responsible for 68 per cent of all deaths worldwide in 2012.