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Health: An Introduction to this Year’s Global Topic

According to the World Health Organization, health goes beyond the absence of disease and encompasses physical, mental, and social wellness. There are many factors that come into play that can impact a person’s health including environmental factors, diet, and access to health care. Not everyone has access to the same health care globally and more than half of the world’s population lacks sufficient access

Social, economic, and environmental factors can negatively affect someone’s overall health and life expectancy, and many premature deaths globally could be prevented with adequate health care. Discrimination and racism have caused disparities in access and quality of care. Poverty also plays a huge role in these factors, making it difficult for people to access a balanced diet, doctors, a healthy living environment, and so much more. 

Progress on many of the Sustainable Development Health Goals have stalled or even declined because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing costs for health care has taken a toll on maternal, child, and overall health globally. A nutritious, varied diet is essential for good health but the amount of people facing food insecurity has doubled since 2020. Immunizations and health check-ups have been disrupted, causing an uptick in infectious disease. Climate change and other environmental factors are also causing an increase in infectious disease emergence and spread. 

Mental health is another component of overall health. There are many factors, including someone’s environment, that can contribute to or hinder someone’s well-being. For example, access to green space or nature has positive impacts on a person’s mental health. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in anxiety and depression. Social isolation, loneliness, and overall stress have contributed to a decline in people’s mental health globally, but especially among women, children, and young adults. 

Learn more about Health by reading the full topic overview.