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The global influenza pandemic
WHO expects the world will see another influenza pandemic, but exactly when or how severe the pandemic will be is unknown. Researchers will continue to monitor virus behavior and circulation through 153 institutions in 114 countries and recommend which strains should be included in the annual flu vaccine.
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The world’s fragile and vulnerable settings
Conflict, drought, displacement, famine and other obstacles leave more than 1.6 billion people — or 22 percent of the world’s population — without access to basic care. WHO researchers hope to continue to work in affected countries to both detect and respond to challenges.
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While drugs like antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials are considered “some of modern medicine’s greatest successes,” antimicrobial resistance is a “growing threat. Such resistance is a result of “overuse of antimicrobials in people, but also in animals” used for food production or the environment. Resistance “threatens to send us back to a time when we were unable to easily treat infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and salmonellosis. The inability to prevent infections could seriously compromise surgery and procedures such as chemotherapy,” according to WHO. The agency is working on a global action plan to tackle the issue and encourage prudent use of antimicrobials.
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Ebola and other high-threat pathogens
Following two separate Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018, world public health experts urged WHO to address the growing challenges of tackling outbreaks and health emergencies in urban areas” and called for the agency to make 2019 a “(y)ear of action on preparedness for health emergencies.”
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Weak or inadequate primary health care
Many countries still do not have adequate primary health care facilities, according to WHO. To achieve universal health coverage, strong primary health care is a must. WHO hopes to continue strengthening primary care around the globe.
The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate
With the improvement of “global coverage of vaccinations,” WHO researchers believe 1.5 million vaccine-preventable deaths could be avoided annually. Vaccines currently prevent 2 million to 3 million deaths per year. “Complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence” are among some of the top reasons people choose not to vaccinate, but health workers are urged to provide trusted, credible information to eradicate hesitation.
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The mosquito-borne disease, which presents flu-like symptoms and is a growing problem in Bangladesh and India, can kill up to 20 percent of those infected with severe dengue. An estimated 40 percent of the world is at risk of dengue fever. WHO is working to reduce deaths by 50 percent by 2020 through its Dengue prevention and control strategy.
Nearly 1 million people still die each year due to HIV/AIDS, and young girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa are at particularly high risk. WHO hopes to work alongside countries to introduce self-testing in companies and organizations.
Read more from WHO at who.int.