A Year in Review: Strides in Global Health

2012 saw many momentous advances in global health, the first of which happened in the first month of the year.

  • In January India no longer had active transmission of polio- leaving only 3 countries in which the disease is still endemic.
  • In March, WHO and UNICEF announced that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water had been met. In the decade between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources.
  • In July WHO issued its first guidance on the use of HIV medication, or antiretrovirals (ARVs), as a means of protection against HIV. Clinical trials showed that using ARVs in HIV-negative people can reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 75%.
  • In the last 10 years the mortality rate in children under 5 decreased from 12 million to 6.9 million children. Although progress is increasing, there is still a defecit before the MDG of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015 can be reached.
  • In December the 100 millionth person was vaccinated with an innovative, affordable meningitis vaccine. This vaccine has been highly effective in reducing the prevalence of meningitis in 9 countries throughout Africa where meningitis has been a heavy burden.
  • Other landmarks in global health during 2012 included the introduction of a new tool to help countries improve mental health care, renewed focus on increasing access to family planning, and the creation of a global monitoring framework to fight non-communicable diseases, which are increasingly becoming a problem in low and middle income countries.

Last year was an exciting year for the field of global health- we’re hoping 2013 will be even more successful!

See even more advancements in public health here: http://www.who.int/features/2012/year_review/en/index.html