Global Health Issues

Global health issues is a broad term used to describe a host of diseases and disorders that affect large populations across the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors many of these issues and suggests best practices for managing such illnesses and conditions as AIDS, influenza, Ebola (EE-bol-ah) virus disease, bioterrorism, and malnutrition.

An African Story: Ebola Virus Disease

In 2014, an outbreak of Ebola virus disease *




Side of a young female's face showing a scar from a healed leishmanial lesion.





Side of a young female's face showing a scar from a healed leishmanial lesion.
CDC/Dr. Mae Melvin.

What Are Global Health Issues?

The World Health Organization lists more than 200 health topics on its website ranging from such specific diseases as AIDS * , influenza * , measles, Ebola, and plague * to broader concerns of poverty, malnutrition, climate change, and bioterrorism. The 10 leading causes of death around the world are: (1) ischemic heart disease; (2) stroke; (3) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; (4) lower respiratory infections (lungs); (5) upper respiratory infections (of the larynx/pharynx, trachea, and bronchi); (6) HIV/AIDS; (7) diarrheal disease; (8) diabetes; (9) road injuries (motor vehicle accidents); and (10) hypertension. Many of the diseases and other health concerns identified as global issues are covered in other entries in this text, particularly such communicable diseases as dengue fever, malaria, and Ebola virus disease. The entry on travel-related infections also discusses a number of diseases that are global health issues.

Five other diseases of global concern not covered elsewhere in this text are as follows:

Who Is at Risk of Global Health Issues?

What Are the Signs of Global Health Issues?

* , especially of the hands and feet. They may also experience pain. If the lesions are in the nose, the person may feel a stuffy nose and have nosebleeds. If loss of sensation (numbness) occurs, the person may experience such injuries as burns or fractures and not be aware of them.
  • Leishmaniasis. Leishmaniasis is a silent disease; that is, people may have no symptoms. In cutaneous leishmaniasis, the affected person will notice the sores from the bites on their skin. The sores may take several months to heal and leave permanent scars. In diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis, the sores may be similar to the lesions of leprosy. In visceral leishmaniasis, the person may have a high fever, weight loss, swelling of the spleen and liver, and anemia (low red blood cell count).
  • Sleeping sickness. Signs of sleeping sickness vary with the stage of the disease. In the first stage (hemolymphatic HE-mo-limf-ATIC stage), the affected person may have fever, sweating, swollen lymph nodes, joint pains, itching of the tsetse bites, and a swollen red painful bump at the site of the bite. In the second stage (meningoencephalic [meh-nin-JO-en-cef-AH-lic] stage), the signs are related to nervous system involvement and include anxiety, confusion, mood changes, headache, poor coordination, weakness, insomnia (difficulty sleeping at night), and sleepiness during the day. As the disease progresses, the person may become unconscious.
  • How Do Doctors Diagnose and Treat Global Health Issues?

    Diagnosis * and the sample taken may be examined for presence of T. brucei. Treatment

    Can Global Health Issues Be Prevented?

    See also AIDS and HIV Infection • Cholera • Dengue Fever • Diarrhea • Dietary Deficiencies • Ebola Virus Disease • Influenza • Malaria • Malnutrition • Plague • Travel-Related Infections: Overview • Trypanosomiasis • Tuberculosis • Yellow Fever • Zika Virus Infection • Zoonoses: Overview

    Resources

    Books and Articles

    DeLaet, Debra L., and David E. DeLaet. Global Health in the 21st Century: The Globalization of Disease and Wellness. New York: Routledge, 2012.

    Skolnick, Richard. Global Health 101. 3rd ed. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett, 2015.

    Websites

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “African Trypanosomiasis (Also Known as Sleeping Sickness).” http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/sleepingsickness/ (accessed April 23, 2016).

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Hansen's Disease (Leprosy).” http://www.cdc.gov/leprosy/index.html (accessed April 23, 2016).

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Lassa Fever.” http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/lassa/index.html (accessed April 24, 2016).

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Leishmaniasis FAQs.” http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/leishmaniasis/gen_info/faqs.html (accessed April 23, 2016).

    MedlinePlus. “Kuru.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001379.htm (accessed April 23, 2016).

    MedlinePlus. “Leishmaniasis.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/leishmaniasis.html (accessed April 23, 2016).

    MedlinePlus. “Leprosy.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001347.htm (accessed April 23, 2016).

    MedlinePlus. “Sleeping Sickness.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001362.htm (accessed April 23, 2016).

    http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/kuru/kuru.htm (accessed April 23, 2016).

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “National Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Program.” http://www.hrsa.gov/hansensdisease/ (accessed April 23, 2016).

    World Health Organization. “Lassa Fever.” http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs179/en/ (accessed April 24, 2016).

    World Health Organization. “Leishmaniasis Fact Sheet.” http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs375/en/ (accessed April 23, 2016).

    World Health Organization. “Leprosy Fact Sheet.” http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs101/en/ (accessed April 23, 2016).

    World Health Organization. “Trypanosomiasis, African.” http://www.who.int/topics/trypanosomiasis_african/en/ (accessed April 23, 2016).

    World Health Organization. “Trypanosomiasis, Human African (Sleeping Sickness).” http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs259/en/ (accessed April 23, 2016).

    Organizations

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1600 Clifton Rd., Atlanta, GA 30329-4027. Toll-free: 800-CDC-INFO, 800-232-4636. Website: www.cdc.gov (accessed April 23, 2016).

    World Health Organization. Avenue Appia 20, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland. Website: www.who.org (accessed April 23, 2016).

    * Ebola virus disease (formerly referred to as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is a communicable disease caused by a virus that causes severe bleeding, organ failure, and death.

    * AIDS (or Acquired Immunodeficiency [ih-myoo-no-dih-FIH-shen-see] Syndrome) is an infection that severely weakens the immune system; it is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

    * influenza (IN-floo-EN-zuh) is a contagious viral infection that attacks the respiratory tract, including the nose, throat, and lungs. Also known as the flu.

    * plague (PLAYG) is a serious bacterial infection that is spread to humans by infected rodents and their fleas.

    * encephalopathy is any disease of the brain; encephalo comes from the Greek word for brain and pathy comes from the Greek word for disease.

    * prion (PREE-on) diseases are rare diseases that cause degeneration of the neuromuscular system in humans and animals. Also called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

    * antibiotic (AN-tie-by-AH-tik) is a drug that kills or slows the growth of bacteria.

    * water pollution is contamination of the natural water supply including lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers, and ground water by chemical, physical, radioactive, or pathogenic (disease-causing) microbial substances.

    * air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air; can be natural or human-made.

    * parasite (PAIR-uh-site) is an organism such as protozoa (onecelled animals), worms, or insects that must live on or inside a human or other organism to survive. An animal or plant harboring a parasite is called its host. Parasites live at the expense of the host and may cause illness. The adjectival form is parasitic.

    * paralysis (pah-RAHL-uh-sis) is the loss or impairment of the ability to move some part of the body.

    * biopsy (BI-op-see) is a test in which a small sample of skin or other body tissue is removed and examined for signs of disease.

    Disclaimer:   This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.

    (MLA 8th Edition)