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Next Global Challenges: Heart Diseases and Epidemics

September 15, 2017
Plain English Version

A health clinic in Pakiststan.

Big money may be able to make big things happen. The Bloomberg, Gates and Zuckerberg foundations are getting together. They will spend $225 million on health programs.

Why heart diseases and epidemics? The director of the project says those two issues are at a “tipping point.” They are at a place where spending can make a big difference. The name of the project is Resolve.

Heart diseases cause about 18 million deaths a year. They cause an estimated 31 percent of all deaths worldwide. In lower-income countries, almost half of heart-related deaths occur in people younger than 70.

One aim is to reduce heart disease and stroke. The director spoke of his five-year goal. He said he hopes that we will see rapid progress in preventing heart disease deaths. The goals are to:

  • Control and reduce blood pressure,
  • Reduce the intake of sodium,
  • End the use of trans fats, and
  • Create strong public health systems.

The good news is that these changes work. The bad news is that to work they all need to happen. For example, “good” outcomes are slowing down in the U.S. The reasons are rising rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

The new project says it will save more than 100 million lives over 30 years.

Epidemics are the other challenge taken on by project Resolve. Major outbreaks in past years include the swine flu, Ebola and Zika epidemics. Also, the respiratory virus called MERS reached epidemic rates.

More countries are getting into readiness to battle epidemics. The Resolve director said, “The fact is, most countries are still not prepared. There is not enough progress in closing the gaps. The world now needs to step up and speed up these countries to close those gaps.”

Public health programs work. Reducing smoking is an example of one such program.

When a chance to make a difference arrives, it is good policy to support it happening.

Source: The Washington Post September 12, 2017

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