Global Public Health Threats

1. Introduction: Health Risks in a Globalized World

    Over the last two centuries, science has made huge progress in the fight against infectious diseases. But the biggest battles may still be to come. With tens of thousands of people taking planes every day, contagious illnesses have unprecedented opportunities to spread farther and faster. Antibiotics that once cured diseases like tuberculosis now do not always have an effect. Old enemies like polio refuse to go away. Others like smallpox threaten a devastating comeback if released. Since the 1970’s new diseases have been identified at the unprecedented rate of one or more per year, and scientists are warning of a possible worldwide epidemic involving a killer virus that they believe does not even exist yet. These and other threats are explored in the following report by the World Health Organization, which recommends ways countries can cooperate more closely to protect global public health.

    Global public health security is defined as the activities required to prevent and respond to threats that endanger the collective health of people across different regions and nations.

    Lack of global public health security may also have consequences in terms of economic or political stability, trade, tourism, access to goods and services and demographic stability.

    Global public health security covers a wide range of complex and daunting issues, including health consequences of human behavior, climate change and weather-related events, infectious diseases, natural catastrophes and man-made disasters.

    This text is a summary of: WHO, World Health Report 2007 – A safer future: global public health security in the 21st century (2007),
    Overview, p.6-9 

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