WHO announces Top Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019

20 Jan, 2019
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In its 2019 new year message, WHO has named vaccine hesitancy as one of the world’s top 10 global health threats, alongside air pollution and climate change, noncommunicable diseases, global influenza pandemic, fragile and vulnerable settings, antimicrobial resistance,  Ebola and other high-threat pathogens, weak primary health care, Dengue and HIV.

When you look at the list, vaccine hesitancy is directly related to most of them, with available vaccines for flu, Ebola (albeit still not registered), Dengue (with all its struggles), and HIV (in trials). The threats of fragile and vulnerable settings and weak primary health care both affect hesitancy given low confidence in the system or anxieties in conflict settings. And, as for antimicrobial resistance, we need vaccines more than ever as we are faced with antibiotics that no longer work.

While it is a stretch to relate vaccine hesitancy to air pollution and climate change, climate change will be changing disease vectors and vaccine needs, so vaccine confidence will again matter to mitigate hesitancy.

 Here is WHO’s text on  Vaccine hesitancy:
Vaccine hesitancy – the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved. 

Measles, for example, has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. The reasons for this rise are complex, and not all of these cases are due to vaccine hesitancy. However, some countries that were close to eliminating the disease have seen a resurgence. 
The reasons why people choose not to vaccinate are complex; a vaccines advisory group to WHO identified complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence are key reasons underlying hesitancy. Health workers, especially those in communities, remain the most trusted advisor and influencer of vaccination decisions, and they must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines…
See full text on all ten threats
This entry was posted on Sunday, January 20th, 2019 at 9:32 am and is filed under Blog.

Literature Literature archive

Roxanne Nelson 2019 Lancet Infectious Diseases Vol19 (3):248,
Owen Dyer 2019 BMJ 364:l739 doi: 10.1136/bmj.l739
Lee TH, McGlynn EA, Safran DG. 2019 JAMA 321(6):539–540. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.19186

Videos Video archive

Key figures share their perspectives on a controversy that led to the suspension of Ebola vaccine clinical trials in Ghana.

Drs. Heidi Larson and Pauline Paterson of the Vaccine Confidence Project join episode 50 of the Public Health United podcast with Nina Martin, November 2017.

Drs. Larson and Paterson join a discussion on vaccine confidence at Hong Kong University.  September, 2015.

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