10 global health threats of concern to WHO in 2019

An initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to combat diseases and factors that may threaten the world in the coming years. The plan, which is called the 13th General Program of Work (13th general program of work, in free translation), will last for five years.

The goal is to ensure that at least one billion people around the world have access to universal health coverage, for a better quality of life and well-being.

The disclosure of the new strategic plan emerges as an answer to current global health problems, ranging from disease outbreaks to environmental impacts.

Check out the 10 threats that will be prioritized by WHO:


Reluctance to vaccination

The lack of vaccine on the part of the population has caused a major setback in the immunization of preventable diseases, as is the case of measles , which worldwide has increased by 30% in cases.

Vaccines have been the subject of fake news about possible damage to the body. False information about it, as well as anti-vaccine movements, are preventing people from becoming immune to various diseases.

Phrases like: “the vaccine is deadly”, “don’t vaccinate your children” and “these doses have already killed thousands” are widely found on social networks.

To combat fake news like this, entities like the Ministry of Health provide services to better inform about the effects of the vaccine.

In addition, reliable sources have been instrumental in combating fake news, such as the Minute Healthy website, which investigates the information and clarifies whether what circulates on the internet is true or false.

Read more: Minute Investigate: can having a vaccine cause autism?

New flu pandemic

The term pandemic means an epidemic of great proportions (both in number of people involved and in geographical area) and affects several countries generally simultaneously.

The Influenza virus , which is easily transmitted, has already caused serious damage over the years, including the Asian flu . Due to its high mutation rates, vaccines against the virus are reformulated annually in order to prevent further outbreaks.

Read more: H3N2: the new influenza virus. Know the symptoms, vaccine and more

Antibiotic resistance

The ability of bacteria to mutate has attracted attention for some years because these microorganisms have become resistant to drugs. This is especially due to the excessive and unnecessary use of antibiotics , creating superbugs that do not respond well to conventional treatments.

As a result, people’s vulnerability only increases, since we are once again the target of controlled diseases, such as tuberculosis and gonorrhea .

Read more: Misuse of antibiotics creates superbugs that can kill

Air pollution and climate change

The UN estimates that between 2030 and 2050 climate change will cause about 250,000 more deaths per year, due to malaria , diarrhea , malnutrition and heat stress .

This is because many of the diseases that cause the most deaths have an increased risk due to high temperatures, which contribute to the proliferation of disease-transmitting agents and favor conditions such as dehydration.

In addition to these changes, air pollution is also a strong risk factor. Cities with a large number of industries, large flow of cars and high use of pesticides in agriculture account for the majority of deaths from respiratory problems.

All of this occurs due to the burning of fossil fuels, which can cause serious health risks, as the various microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate the respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain.


The disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito is also on the WHO list.

The cases have been spreading and reaching places where previously there was no evidence of the disease. The mosquito that is most characteristic in tropical countries, is invading more temperate areas.

This raises concerns that in the future any environment may be favorable for the breeding of the mosquito.

Read more: Learn more about the dengue, zika and chikungunya viruses


Despite numerous preventive campaigns and advances in the fight against HIV , according to the WHO, each year about 1 million people die from the infection of the virus.

One of the reasons for the high rates is due to the fact that many people who are part of the risk groups are excluded from health services.

The health agency works to alert people to get tested for the disease as an important step in stopping the spread of HIV and eliminating AIDS .

Read more: What are the symptoms of HIV and AIDS? Initials (acute phase), on the skin

Chronic non-communicable diseases

Although non-communicable, chronic diseases like diabetes , hypertension and cancer kill more than 41 million people every year.

There are some factors that favor its development, including inadequate nutrition and smoking . But the real concern is with physical inactivity, a risk factor that has increased the numbers of obesity in the world and influenced aspects of mental health .

Read more: 11 tips to prevent cancer and fight risk factors

Fragility or vulnerability scenarios

According to WHO, 22% of the world population lives in vulnerable places, with prolonged crises involving drought, hunger, conflicts and population displacement.

In these scenarios, health services are more fragile, leaving the population without access to basic health conditions.


The disease, which was already considered to be controlled, presented new cases of outbreaks and is also on the list of threats for 2019. From December 26, 2018 to January 15 this year, 79 cases of Ebola have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And the risk of national and regional dissemination is already considered high.

What makes Ebola a cause for concern is the fact that the outbreak occurs critically in regions where public health is precarious, increasing the risk of death.

Weaker primary health care

The primary requirement for combating disease, primary care is considered by WHO to be necessary to achieve the universal goal in the control of threats.

Through medical care, it is possible to prevent a number of diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. However, many countries do not have adequate facilities for patients, being yet another risk factor in aggravating health problems.

In the modern world, the challenges to public health are many. In order to keep the population protected, it is important to quickly detect a threat, be it a disease or a social factor.

This requires a great deal of support among global health entities in order to carry out various containment actions.