Thursday, April 10, 2008

World Health Day

World Health Day is celebrated every year on 7th April - the anniversary of the first World Health Assembly in 1948, which also saw the formation of the World Health Organisation. The WHO is the authority on international public health and here are some of their findings:

Deadliest disease
Based on estimates from the United Nations Health Report 2004, a total of 57 million people died of numerous causes in 2002. Of this total, the disease which killed the most people was ischaemic heart disease with an estimated 7.2 million deaths (or 12.6% of the total). Amongst communicable diseases, HIV/AIDs caused the highest with 2.8 million deaths (4.9% of the total).

Commonest disease (non-contagious)
Periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) are the most prevalent of all non-contagious diseases, affecting approximately 75% of the US population, for example. Although the distribution and severity varies regionally around the world, according to the World Health Organisation 60-90% of school children and the majority of adults in industrialised countries are affected by dental diseases.

Highest budget for health care (country)
According to a World Health Organization report, the United States government spent $5,274 (then £3,480) per citizen on health care in 2002.

Most common cause of death
According to the latest World Health Organization figures, the most common cause of death, globally, is cardiovascular disease, which in 2005 caused the deaths of approximately 17.5 million people (equivalent to 30 per cent of all deaths). Of this figure, 7.6 million were due to heart attacks and 5.7 million were caused by strokes; 80 per cent of the deaths occured in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Unless improvements are made, cardiovascular disease is set to remain the leading cause of death, with projections of 20 million deaths occurring annually, by 2015.

Most successful immunization
The World Health Organization declared the world free of smallpox from 1 January 1980. Formerly one of the worlds deadliest plagues (it caused an estimated 2 million deaths per annum in the mid-1960s), smallpox was eradicated by the availability of one type of vaccine that was effective against all forms of smallpox. The eradication project involved following up all contacts of every individual and vaccinating them.
Source: Guinness World Record

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