Did You Know?

Did You Know?…now you do. Lets do something about it!

Everyday I am thankful for the health that I have been blessed with. Unfortunately, many others around the world cannot say the same. Below you will find a global snapshot of our crisis in healthcare as recognized and published by the World Health Organization in their annual world health reports (2007,2006,2002)

Did you Know?


  • The risk of health care-associated infection in some developing countries is as much as 20 times higher than in developed countries.


  • Infectious diseases are now spreading geographically much faster than at any time in history. Infectious diseases are not only spreading faster, they appear to be emerging more quickly than ever before. Since the 1970s, newly emerging diseases have been identified at the unprecedented rate of one or more per year. There are now nearly 40 diseases that were unknown a generation ago. In addition, during the last five years, WHO has verified more than 1100 epidemic events worldwide.


  • Gains in many areas of infectious disease control are seriously jeopardized by the spread of antimicrobial resistance, with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) now a cause of great concern. Drug resistance is also evident in diarrhoeal diseases, hospital-acquired infections, malaria, meningitis, respiratory tract infections, and sexually transmitted infections, and is emerging in HIV.


  • Although the safety of food has dramatically improved overall, progress is uneven and foodborne outbreaks from microbial contamination, chemicals and toxins are common in many countries. The trading of contaminated food between countries increases the potential that outbreaks will spread.


  • Life expectancies have collapsed in some of the poorest countries to half the level of the richest – attributable to the ravages of HIV/AIDS in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and to more than a dozen “failed states”. These setbacks have been accompanied by growing fears, in rich and poor countries alike, of new infectious threats such as SARS and avian influenza and “hidden” behavioural conditions such as mental disorders and domestic violence.


  • The world community has sufficient financial resources and technologies to tackle most of these health challenges; yet today many national health systems are weak, unresponsive, inequitable – even unsafe.


  • There are currently 57 countries with critical shortages equivalent to a global deficit of 2.4 million doctors, nurses and midwives. The proportional shortfalls are greatest in sub-Saharan Africa, although numerical deficits are very large in South-East Asia because of its population size.


  • Chronic diseases, consisting of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, cancers, injuries, and neurological and psychological disorders, are major burdens affecting rich and poor populations alike.


  • Health workers are distributed unevenly. Countries with the lowest relative need have the highest numbers of health workers, while those with the greatest burden of disease must make do with a much smaller health workforce.


  • The Region of the Americas, which includes Canada and the United States, contains only 10% of the global burden of disease, yet almost 37% of the world’s health workers live in this region and spend more than 50% of the world’s financial resources for health. In contrast, the African Region suffers more than 24% of the global burden of disease but has access to only 3% of health workers and less
    than 1% of the world’s financial resources – even with loans and grants from abroad.


  • WHO estimates a shortage of more than 4 million doctors, nurses, midwives and others


  • The impressive mobilization of donor funds to achieve the health-related MDGs, and in particular to combat HIV/AIDS, has created a new environment in which a shortage of human resources has replaced finance issues as the most serious obstacle to implementing national treatment plans.


  • In several southern African countries, death from HIV/AIDS is the largest cause of worker exits from the workforce. Those who remain often work in understaffed health facilities that are overburdened with patients (many with HIV/AIDS) and that have inadequate means to treat them. These working conditions, in turn, fuel low morale, burn-out and absenteeism.


  • Studies show that errors in health care are not only frequent but are also leading causes of mortality and morbidity.


  • To improve the quality of long-term care more generally, continuing education in chronic disease management is necessary. Lifelong learning is a cornerstone of continued fitness to practice, and is closely connected to the quality of care and patient safety.


  • At least 40 countries worldwide are at risk of being affected by severe natural disasters and no country is immune to an outbreak of a highly infectious disease.


  • The loss of life, illness and disease caused by outbreaks and other natural disasters can be reduced by preparedness.


  • The profound lack of information, tools and measures, the limited amount of evidence on what works, and the absence of shared standards, technical frameworks and research methodologies are all imperatives for regional and international collaboration.


  • The scarcity of technical expertise available to develop better metrics, monitor performance, set standards, identify research priorities, and validate methodologies means that a collective global effort is the only way to accelerate progress in these areas.


  • The reality that a violent conflict, an outbreak of an infectious disease, or an unexpected catastrophic event can lay waste even to the most well-prepared national health system demonstrates that no country will ever have the human resource capacity to be able always to mount an effective response entirely on its own.


  • The enormous workforce crisis that constrains health development so profoundly in the world’s poorest countries requires an international response.


  • Over the last 50 years, average life expectancy at birth has increased globally by almost 20 years, from 46.5 years in 1950–1955 to 65.2 years in 2002. The large life expectancy gap between developed and developing countries in the 1950s has changed to a gap between the very poorest developing countries and all other countries.


  • Of the 57 million deaths in 2002, 10.5 million were among children of less than five years of age, and more than 98% of these were in developing countries. Across the world, children are at higher risk of dying if they are poor and malnourished, and the gaps in mortality between the haves and the have-nots are widening.


  • Today, the burden of deaths and disability in developing countries caused by noncommunicable diseases outweighs that imposed by long-standing communicable diseases.


  • The consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products and exposure to tobacco smoke are the world’s leading preventable cause of death, responsible for about 5 million deaths in 2003, mostly in poor countries and poor populations. The toll will double in 20 years unless known and effective interventions are urgently and widely adopted.


  • Overall, 35% of Africa’s children are at higher risk of death than they were 10 years ago. Every hour, more than 500 African mothers lose a small child. In 2002, more than four million African children died.


  • Child mortality rates among the poor are much higher in Africa than in any other region despite the same level of income used to define poverty. The probability of poor children in Africa dying is almost twice that of poor children in the Americas.


  • Infectious and parasitic diseases remain the major killers of children in the developing world, partly as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


  • The burden of noncommunicable diseases is increasing, accounting for nearly half of the global burden of disease (all ages), a 10% increase from estimated levels in 1990.


  • Cardiovascular diseases account for 13% of the disease burden among adults over 15 years of age. Ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease (stroke) are the two leading causes of mortality and disease burden among older adults (over age 60).


  • Of the 7.1 million cancer deaths estimated to have occurred in 2002, 17% were attributable to lung cancer alone and of these, three-quarters occurred among men.
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