Global health improving but challenges remain: WHO

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The map shows where TB-related deaths are registered around the world in HIV-negative people. Photo: WHO

A comprehensive review of the state of the world's health shows progress for many people in recent years, but plenty of challenges too, if Member States are to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

That's according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report, published on Wednesday.

Among its findings, it shows that although many people have better access to healthcare than ever, they are more likely to fall into debt to pay for it.

Daniel Johnson has more.

This year's edition of the World Health Statistics review provides a snapshot of gains and threats to people's health all over the globe.

Gathered using data from 194 Member States on more than 20 health-related sustainable development goal targets, the report compares how far countries have come – or not – so far this millennium.

The statistics reveal plenty of progress towards combating HIV, in anti-malarial net distribution, antenatal care and sanitation.

It's not such good news on tuberculosis however; the latest global data suggests more than 10.4 million new TB cases and 1.4 million deaths in 2015.

This treatable and curable disease is a major problem, especially in Africa, where access to diagnosis and treatment is to blame, but also in the former Soviet states of Eastern Europe.

The World Health Organization's Dr Christopher Dye explains why:

"The rate of TB is going down in these countries, that's the good news. The bad news is it's going down very slowly indeed. And an important confounding factor in slowing that decline is the spread of drug resistance."

There's been more success in reducing deaths from non-communicable diseases – a key Sustainable Development Goal target.

According to the WHO report, the probability of dying from diabetes, cancer, heart or lung disease among 30 to 70 year-olds has fallen by 17 per cent since the year 2000.

More worrying is the cost of healthcare in low to middle-income countries, with latest data indicating that more than nine in every 100 people are likely to suffer financially because of it.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'40"


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