PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES REGARDING CHRONIC DISEASES, Name, 6
Nowadays, health is a human right, and it is also a driving force for economic growth and development. Current situation with healthcare and mans personal attitude to his health is a cause for concern. Besides, the spread of chronic diseases worldwide is one more disturbing tendency. It has become number one problem on the political agenda, and the aim of health services of all countries is to lessen its impact or even prevent it.
It is essential to give the definition to a chronic disease and understand its danger. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009), a chronic disease is non-communicable, prolonged, doesnt appear spontaneously, and is not likely to be cured entirely. As indicated in the World Health Organization factsheet (2005), cancer, diabetes, mental disorders, some respiratory and cardiovascular maladies belong to chronic diseases, which cause 80% of deaths in low- and middle-income countries. These illnesses are diagnosed at a young age and make people suffer longer and die prematurely.
All these illnesses are dangerous. According to Halpin, Morales-Suarez-Varela, Martin-Moreno (2006), nearly 17 million people die of cardiovascular diseases every year. There were approximately 285 million people suffering from diabetes in 2010. Moreover, the number is increasing year by year and may reach 438 million in the near future.
A few factors cause chronic diseases. Scientists have proved that tobacco use is number one factor which may trigger lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. According to Halpin et al., (2010), smoking is mostly spread in poor or low-income countries. As the World Health Organization reports, nearly 4.9 million people die from tobacco use every year. The other risk factors are a sedentary way of life, poor diet and obesity, which has epidemic development in both industrialized nations and developing countries. Over 2.9 million inhabitants die from obesity and overweight. Infectious agents also cause chronic diseases, such as some types of cancer. For instance, they lead to 65% of stomach cancers (Halpin et al., 2006, p.128).
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Healthcare organizations try to intervene in this dangerous situation and prevent its further aggravation. The initial step is to change the attitude of population towards health and healthy way of life. Therefore, governments should take serious actions to achieve considerable public health improvement. Secondly, changes should also be implemented on the community level. For instance, workplace and school promotion, social support, community education and healthcare reforms may help. Thirdly, clinical preventive services must take all the necessary measures to detect the disease early and start curing it in time (Halpin et al., 2006, p.130).
Interventions to lessen tobacco smoking are effective at all three levels. The 2003 review of Tobacco Control Policy (2003) suggests that tobacco control efforts in the world proved it possible to reduce its consumption in the countries of high, middle and low income. According to Busse and Schlette (2008), these measures include higher taxes on tobacco, limits on advertising and promotion, demand for compulsory labeling. Besides, minimizing the size of a cigarette pack, using cigarette vending machines with youth protection technology, banning smoking in public places and in the workplace and behavioral aid are the restrictions that may also help. Moreover, it is essential to diagnose tobacco dependence and cure it.
As regards obesity, there is a variety of methods to prevent it. Novotny (2008) claims that taxing unhealthy food, prohibition of harmful food and disseminating relevant information among teenagers and adults can be efficient. Educational strategies which focus on promotion of physical activity are of great importance as well. Besides, a healthy diet is also essential for the prevention of chronic diseases. It is necessary to replace unhealthy food in school cafeterias with fruit, vegetables, and nutritious meals, regulate food advertising to children, prohibit the use of dangerous ingredients, and tax unhealthy food higher. Countries with a high level of chronic diseases try to implement these strategies of prevention. For example in Pakistan, low consumption of salt, ban on smoking, more exercise and physical activity are popularized as well as cost effective pharmacological therapy.According to Gaziano, Galea and Reddy (2007), it could help to prevent 10 million deaths.
Surely, all the interventions mentioned above need financing. A lot of people believe that preventing chronic diseases is too expensive for middle- and low-income countries. But in reality, according to to Busse and Schlette (2008), such interventions are cost-effective for the whole world. Nevertheless, many governments underestimate these illnesses and budget very little money for their prevention thus shifting the responsibility onto individuals (Beaglehole, Ebrahim, Reddy, Voute and Leeder, 2007, p.21-52). For example, in 2013, the portion of the World Health Organization budget that fell on chronic diseases was only 11% compared to the funding of infectious illnesses which was 86%. In theory, governments of middle- and low-income countries can finance health care, and managers can receive money from different funds, but reforms of healthcare system always have political implications. That is why it is only theory. Therefore, to start programs in the middle- and low-income countries, an external kick is necessary (Beaglehole et al., 2007, p.21-55). Such a kick can be given to Pakistan, which, according to Lim et al., (2007), needs only one dollar per person per year, but the total sum is 150 million dollars. The country needs time, money and coordinative work to implement the interventions.
Taking into account the disastrous situation with chronic diseases, European Union Health Policy Forum (2012) formulated recommendations to prevent them in the future. Firstly, healthcare systems should be more inclusive, well-organized and strengthened. They should be based on patient-oriented management and health promotion. Secondly, it is essential to re-educate health professionals with the focus on preventive health actions. Thirdly, healthcare programs must tackle all spheres of preventing and treating chronic illnesses including primary prevention, early detection, and medical care in all age groups. Moreover, patient involvement is a foremost demand, which means everybody must take personal responsibility for their health and make it a top priority in life. Besides, education institutions must foster health literacy among students along with the reforms in healthcare systems. As a summary, it is necessary to create health promotion foundations for the prevention of chronic diseases and support of national actions (Beaglehole et al., 2007, p.21-55).
In conclusion, chronic diseases are a primary cause for mortality nowadays. A high number of risk factors and their spread in middle- and low-income countries have resulted in such a dangerous situation. Nevertheless, it is possible to prevent these illnesses through cost-effective interventions. The only thing governments and all relevant authorities must do is take effective actions to finance these initiatives for the sake of the common goal called Life.