2019 was a big year in many ways. Brexit, the UK elections, the climate movement: these and many more issues consumed our attention throughout the year.
However, less well-known but equally important were the many developments we saw this year in the field of health and medicine. 2019 saw a number of important changes when it came to fighting disease, new medicines, or in some case, the rise of certain infections.
Here’s a look at 2019’s biggest developments in health and medicine.
1. Progress Made Against Major Causes of Death Worldwide
Childbirth has long been one of the major causes of death for women and children in developing countries. 2019 saw a child and maternal mortality estimates at their lowest levels ever, meaning that more women and children survive childbirth than ever before. This is due primarily to better access to adequate healthcare, which has seen a reduction in maternal death by more than one-third since the year 2000. Great progress has been made in this area, though there is also much work to be done, with too many women and children dying during childbirth or within the first month, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
2019 also saw the worldwide eradication of the wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3), meaning that two out of the three wild poliovirus strains have been eliminated globally. According to WHO, this year two more countries were declared malaria-free. This disease is one of the world’s major causes of death, killing hundreds of thousands of people every year. In 2019, Algeria and Argentina were officially recognized as being free from this fatal disease. Further progress was made in other countries with a landmark malaria vaccination being trialled in a pilot program in Malawi.
2. Ebola Epidemic Continues
Since the first cases reported in 2014, Ebola has been one of the most deadly and devastating diseases in human history. The disease, which affects humans and non-human primates, is noteworthy because of its fatality: Ebola is fatal in around 50% of all cases. This combined with being highly infectious – it is transmittable through blood, organs or bodily fluid – makes this a very dangerous disease.
The Ebola devastation continued in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which in 2019 struggled with the world’s second-largest Ebola epidemic on record. The DRC reported more than 3300 confirmed infections and 2200 deaths between the start of the epidemic in August 2018 and December 2019. Authorities in the North Kivu province continue to grapple with the issue as they struggle to control the spread of the disease.
3. A Cure Was Found For (Some Cases) of HIV
One of the pieces of the really good news of 2019 was later significant progress was made in the cure for HIV and AIDS. Advances in science in recent years has made treatment and management of HIV very possible, however, a complete cure for HIV has seemed out of reach. In 2019, scientists announced that they had successfully cured someone infected with HIV, making this the second patient ever cured of the disease. This was an important milestone, as it shows that it is possible to cure HIV, even if it is only in certain rare cases. The cure involved using bone-marrow transplants, and development in this technique holds the promise of discovering a more wide-spread cure.
4. STDs Continue to Be on the Rise
According to the US Center for Disease Control, 2019 saw an increase in the number of sexually transmitted infections. The rates of the most common STIs, syphilis, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia all increased in 2019, with chlamydia reaching the highest ever reported a number of cases at 1.7 million. Of particular concern is the increased threat of congenital syphilis, with newborn babies dying because of the disease passed on from the mother.
In a day and age when many diseases are being controlled and even eradicated, this rise in well-known and easily treatable diseases. Undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons for this is the continuing stigma associated with these infections which may make people reluctant to get tested. Particularly because these infections can be asymptomatic in a number of cases, sufferers may be carrying the disease without knowing it, and in the meantime infect others.
Most STIs are easily treatable when caught early, but become more difficult to treat the longer the infection is in place. If left untreated, all of these conditions can lead to severe and even fatal effects in the long term. Better2Know offers discreet and professional STD testing, giving peace of mind and allowing patients to quickly and easily seek treatment.
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