Technology and social progress continue marching steadfastly forward in 2018. This past year saw some remarkable strides in global health, including a huge fall in polio rates, advances in pharmacogenomics, and the positive externalities of increased spending on health such as safety, infrastructure, and economic stability. As we look ahead to the upcoming year, we can anticipate some more leaps forward, but also some impediments that will require some creativity and hard work to circumvent. Here are some of the top predictions for global health in 2018:
Technology will be a blessing and a curse | Those who are deeply invested in the improvement of global health know just how invaluable technology has proven to the cause. Connective services like the internet and cell phone service provide access to everything from healthcare records to life-saving medicine to information about diseases and more. Not only has technology improved the transmission of information, but also of items. Connectivity and the Internet of Things have helped the transportation world better navigate the terrain of less-charted areas and fulfill orders faster — many had even predicted that drones would play a huge roll in the next phase of delivery systems. However, the proliferation of technology is proving a double-edged sword. As fast as good information is travelling, so is misinformation about healthcare practices and staying healthy. In addition, cybersecurity measures may not be as strong in these nations, making them vulnerable to hacks or system malfunctions, which could derail entire nations’ healthcare systems.
The Private Sector will contribute to global health improvements | Bill Gates recently made a splash in the media when he commented that some of the next great strides in global health will require the steadfast support from businesses, not just NGOs and nonprofits anymore. Gates wasn’t calling for charitable donations or Corporate Social Responsibility schemes, mind you — rather, Gates was suggesting that investing in global health initiative could prove profitable to business on a number of fronts, and thus, they should consider global health as a lucrative endeavor and fold it into their business plan.
Women’s health will continue making strides, but not without notable challenges | This past year saw remarkable improvements in the way issues of women’s health is treated globally, from pregnancy and maternal affairs to breast cancer. Boots-on-the-ground training has helped significantly by running screenings, conducting educational info sessions, and offering free or reduced-cost treatment when problems are indeed detected. However, policy changes in the West may dampen the efforts that help to offer family planning services to developing nations and yank funding from organizations that fail to adjust their practices to fit new guidelines.