He World Health Day is celebrated every april 7 to remember the foundation of the World Health Organization (WHO), in 1948, the body that brought together interests and countries to try to improve planetary health, something it has been working on for 75 years.
In 2023, the celebration theme is “health to all”a great desire, in a world with so many inequalities.
Since man has existed, there have been diseases, some come hand in hand with others, or perhaps vice versa. Some -and some- left behind a cloak of pain and destruction.
For us, the closest and most sadly known disease was that of Covid-19 which, according to official data registered until the middle of last year, left 6.3 million deaths in its wake.
10 diseases that science defeated
The Plague of Justinian (541-542) claimed the lives of 25 million people – and there are those who double that figure, which is believed to have killed almost 26% of the world’s population in the Byzantine period and the rats transmitted.
The Over the Blackwhich according to more recent studies was spread by fleas and lice, (1347-1351) ended the lives of – it is estimated – between 75 and 200 million people, half of the European population at that time.
It was a disastrous tense that infected various famous works, such as the canterbury tales of Geoffrey Chaucer, the Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio and the Song book by Francesco Petrarca.
After the Covid pandemic, viruses that the world thought they had left behind reappear
In 1520, the Smallpox it was a devastating pandemic and caused 56 million deaths, mostly among children. Its effect was worse than the shock wave of an atomic bomb and in the 20th century alone it killed 300 million people.
The World Health Organization declared the eradication of smallpox only in 1980, after decades of sustained global vaccination efforts. Since the 16th century, it claimed the lives of 500 million people.
The Great Plague of Milan –another resurgence of the Bubonic Plague-, devastated the health of 280,000 Italians between 1629 and 1631.
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In 1855, another variant of the bubonic plague arose in the province of Yunnan, in China (the Justinian and the Black plague were also plague) and spread throughout Asia. In India alone it claimed 12 million lives.
At the beginning of the 19th century, in 1918, the Spanish Flu it claimed the lives of up to 50 million people in a little over two years and, despite its name, is believed to have originated in the United States.
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He VIH/SIDA appeared to the world in 1976 and, until today, killed 32 million people, according to the World Health Organization. However, effective treatments have emerged that have allowed a similar number of people to live with this disease, while research continues to obtain a vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
He measles It is a viral disease that probably existed for two thousand years, but it was not until 1846 that it could be identified as contagious, when it was studied in the Faroe Islands. It can cause blindness, pneumonia and other serious conditions, especially in malnourished children or in immunosuppressed people.
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He measles It was like cholera, rubella and poliomyelitis, among the diseases that were believed to be extinct, but it was persistent and there is still much to talk about.
The World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and the National Ministry of Health developed tenacious vaccination campaigns for children and adolescents, which practically reduced 90% of these evils.
Together with them, thanks to the vaccinesother diseases are considered almost eradicated and, when they appear, it is believed to be exceptional and due to a lack of systematic vaccination.
The diseases that science practically defeated are the Diphtheriahe Tetanusthe Whooping coughthe Parotitis and the Human papilloma virus.
However, there is 3 diseases that continue to spread at least in Latin America.
3 diseases that still persist
Native to Latin America (it has existed for at least 9,000 years), it was discovered in 1909 and is present in at least 21 countries of this region. Cause 14,000 deaths per year. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected insect. Trypanosoma cruzi. It is also spread through contaminated food, a blood transfusion, donating an infected organ, and during pregnancy.
It’s a disease as old as The new Testamentproduced by the bacterium Mycobacterium lepraewhich is merciless with the skin and the nerves of the hands and feet.
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“It greatly affects people who live in conditions of poverty, in precarious housingwith low access to public services and in overcrowded conditions”, reports the Pan American Health Organization. In the world, 200,000 new cases are registered each year, also in Latin America (33,000 per year, in 24 countries).
Tuberculosis (Hansen’s disease)
Caused by the mycobacterium tuberculosishas been known for 3,000 years before Christ y I was already in the Egyptian civilization. It is a bacterium that almost always affects the lungs. For this reason, when an infected person coughs, sneezes or saliva, he expels the tuberculosis bacilli into the air, and is contagious.
It can be prevented and cured, but it is highly contagious. It is estimated that one third of the world’s population has latent tuberculosis, meaning that these people are infected with the bacillus but have not (yet) fallen ill and cannot transmit the infection.
In the American continent around 280,000 cases by year. The highest incidence rate occurs in the Caribbean (61.2 per 100,000 inhabitants), followed by South America (46.2), Central America and Mexico (25.9) and North America (3.3).
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Symptoms can include cough, fever, night sweats, and weight loss and may be mild for many months. As a result, patients are slow to seek medical attention and transmit the bacteria to others.
Since the year 2000, more than 49 million of lives (WHO data) thanks to diagnosis and preventive treatment.
However, the tuberculosis It is a disease that unfortunately continues to be a major public health problem in the world because for various reasons it has developed mechanisms of resistance to drugs and in cases combined with HIV or malnutrition it can be fatal,” said Santiago Nicholls, of the Pan American Health Organization, founded in 1902, 46 years before WHO, a pioneer of its kind.
World Health Day
«Conserving biodiversity translates into preserving human lives». reported in full covid-19 pandemic a group of scientists from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an organization that the United Nations created in 2012 to monitor the planet.
As a conclusion of that study, IPBES warned that the same forces that drive species extinction, habitat loss and climate change will lead to more pandemics in the future.
Without preventive strategies, pandemics will emerge more frequentlythey will spread faster, kill more people and affect the global economy with more devastating repercussions than ever before, “concluded the report from the agency whose headquarters are in Germany.
MM / ED
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