The issue of health is shifting from local affairs to cross-boundary concerns as governments and international communities are seeking to address the health problems in unison. Globalization has significantly affected the health of the global community as it has led to the increased rates of international travel as well as the sale of potentially harmful food in the global markets. The increased rates of international travel and trade lead to the transmission of communicable diseases from one region to the rest of the world, which necessitates the need for all countries as well as non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations to forge a partnership in terms of the promotion of health. The researcher aims to conduct desktop research to examine the issue of global health. The work covers the definition of the term, historical perspectives regarding the concerns for global health learning, the significance of health care disparities, health people 2020 and other health regulation guidelines, moral issues in global healthcare, healthcare productivity, and economic costs, as well as the availability of healthcare providers.
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Global health is a political variable that applies to human development and is related to the health of the world as a whole, regardless of the political and geographical boundaries (Holtz, 2012). The major players are government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the intergovernmental organizations as well. The World Bank introduced the term global health in the 1960s when it called for global concern about the health affairs. Globalization implies an interdependence of humans at the global level, and this includes the health of the world population as a whole. The global spread of diseases began when the European Imperialists entered America and transmitted measles, smallpox and yellow fever among others to the natives. Globalization also affects world human health through the sale of high fat and sodium fast foods in the international market (Holtz, 2012). The current research covers various issues related to human health at the global level.
Historical Perspectives on Concerns for Global Health Learning
After the World War II, the World Health Organization (WHO) came into existence as an intergovernmental agency whose aim was to lead and coordinate health-related activities and forge a partnership between organizations and governments to address health problems globally. In 1985, WHO donated $3 million to the World Food Program to address starvation in the Sub-Saharan Africa and also partnered with the United Nations to sponsor Safe Motherhood Project in 1987 (Holtz, 2012). The organization introduced several global health initiatives, among which is the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations. Through such initiative, the group provided a platform emphasizing the need for global health learning.
In 1946, the World Bank funded the European reconstruction after the Word War II (Holtz, 2012). Later the institution extended its mandate to the nutrition and health of the population in the less developed countries. For instance, in 1965, the organization established a Population Control Program through family planning (Holtz, 2012). The agency also covered malnutrition in 1974 and Onchocerciasis Control Program to alleviate the problem of river blindness in West Africa, which eventually benefitted 34 million people (Holtz, 2012). Currently, the organization is a leading donor in the global health sector. Through the above initiatives, the World Bank demonstrated concern for the global health status, and paved the way for global health learning.
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In 1978, global leaders converged in Alma-Ata in the former Soviet Union to discuss the issue of primary care for the world population. The leaders made a resolution to work together to ensure that in the year 2000, every person would have access to healthcare that would enable them to be productive economically. The convergence of these leaders depicts an effort to bring global health issues to a roundtable, which paved the way for learning about the same problems.
Significance of Healthcare Disparities
Health care disparities are the inequalities in the access to decent healthcare services by various groups of people due to certain factors related to differences in the social sphere. Healthcare disparities promote differences in the access to healthcare and thus eliminating inequalities in health and forming the basis of the significance through specific consequences.
Differences in healthcare support high mortality in low-income areas/countries compared to the high-income areas/countries. The formula for calculating death rates is units of deaths/1000 people in a year and hence a mortality of 8.5 among the population of 100,000 people equals to 850 people (Holtz, 2012). Therefore, the differences in death rates between countries/regions signify the differences in the number of fatalities in the respective populations. The inequality in the healthcare access leads to a high death toll in the less developed countries due to their small economic muscle compared to that of the developed countries (Holtz, 2012). The mortality also extends to the infants and thus there is high infant mortality in the less developed countries compared to the developed regions.
Healthcare disparities also lead to differences in morbidity rates, and this implies the number of diseased individuals in the society in a given period. The rate takes into account the condition of poor health, the degree of severity of an illness and the number of cases (Holtz, 2012). People in poor backgrounds/less developed countries/regions/families have little access to the medical care, and thus the prevalence of illnesses is greater among them than among their wealthy counterparts. High morbidity also inflates healthcare expenditure reducing the working population and fuelling mortality, and thus the significance is not minor.
Healthcare disparities determine the life expectancy in a region, country, or family and this implies the average number of years individuals in a family can live. People who have greater access to healthcare have long life expectancy compared to their counterparts who have little or no access to healthcare (Holtz, 2012). Regarding the above issue, it is evident that the significance of health disparities is not trivial as it determines how long people live in society.
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Health People 2020 and other Health Regulation Guidelines
According to Fielding, Kumanyika, and Manderscheid (2013), Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals and objectives with a ten-year timeline. The United States Department of Health and Human Services adopted the initiative as a tool for strategic management of health affairs. The primary concern is to increase the quality and length of healthy life and eliminate inequalities in health among the U.S. population. The effort, therefore, is aimed at finding a solution to healthcare disparities.
The Universal Right to Healthcare is a provision of the International Law under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Holtz, 2012). The United Nations General Assembly accepted the right as a universal standard for healthcare across the world. The declaration guarantees a level of living that promotes the wellbeing and health of an individual and the family. It covers medical care, the right to sickness and disability security among others. Health in this case means medical care, as well as the pre-conditions for good health/living conditions such as sanitation and access to clean water among others.
Moral Issues in Global Healthcare
Certain ethical issues are surrounding the global healthcare. Humanitarianism requires the stakeholders to act virtuously to alleviate the problems of those in need of healthcare, and this is what inspires philanthropists (Holtz, 2012). Utilitarianism obliges all players to do what would maximize happiness of all people, and this implies working to improve healthcare in the society as a whole. Equity is another issue, which means giving equal chances to access healthcare to all people (Holtz, 2012). The issue of rights entails treating the beneficiaries of healthcare with dignity. Consensus and advocacy imply that politicians and other individuals who have power must work on health policies that are suitable for all individuals.
Healthcare Productivity and Economic Costs
Governments, systems of health care delivery, insurers and consumers across the world face a difficult problem of addressing competing priorities. These issues satisfy the rising demand for healthcare and reduce the rising costs of the same. In 2013, the expenditure on health increased by 2.8% up from 2.2% in 2012 (Deloitte, 2015). By 2013, the figures have increased to $ 7.2 trillion which equals to10.6% of the world Gross Domestic Product and the projected numbers in 2018 are $9.3 trillion (Deloitte, 2015). Despite the challenges of rising costs, advances in the medical field have brought about improvements in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and other chronic illnesses and thus global healthcare is becoming more productive despite the challenge of disparities and high costs (Deloitte, 2015). The above fact signifies success in the field.
Availability of Healthcare Providers
By 2013, the world had been short of 7.2 million healthcare workers including midwives, nurses, and physicians among others and WHO projects that the number will have hit 12.9 million in 2035 across the world (World Health Organization, 2013). Despite the global shortage of these personnel, there is the problem of inequalities as some countries have critical shortage particularly in Asia and the African continents compared to their European and American counterparts. About 57 countries do not meet the minimum target of 2.28 doctors, midwives and nurses per 1000 people (O’Brien & Gostin, 2011). The problem, therefore, requires consideration and response measures.
Global health implies human development regarding health of the world population. Some historical facts that depicted concern for global health include the formation of the World Health Organization and the World Bank respectively whose agenda includes health and well-being of the world population. The congregation of world leaders in Alma-Ata in 1978 also signified efforts oriented on global health learning. The significance of healthcare disparities lies in the fact that it determines the mortality, morbidity and life expectancy of people in different populations. Healthy People 2020 is an American initiative aimed at improving health and lengthening healthy life as well as eliminating disparities in health care. Furthermore, the Universal Right to Healthcare is an initiative introduced by the United Nations to improve human health across the world. Some of the moral issues in global healthcare are utilitarianism, humanitarianism, equality, and rights. In 2013, the expenditure on health increased by 2.8% from 2.2% in 2012 and figures grew to $ 7.2 trillion. Global healthcare has become productive with improvements in the treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. By 2013, the world had been short of 7.2 million heath workers, and this rate could have risen to 12.9 million by 2035. There are also inequalities between countries and regions. The global community, therefore, needs to work together to reduce the obstacles and promote greater and more equitable success.