Everyone is well familiar with the saying- “Knowledge is power”, especially if you know how to use it to your advantage. This is true for people like entrepreneurs positioning themselves to take on a particular business venture, or secret agents who have to deal with information concerning the national security of a country, or yet again many exams are set on the basis of past questions and students who know this spare the burden of going through the syllabus cover to cover. They go back to revise past questions. But not all knowledge is power because actual knowledge of certain aspects in the world we live in make it difficult to sleep well. Instead, ignorance becomes bliss.
There has since been talk about making the world a better place and there are numerous programs that address this issue like the UN Millennium Development Goals, numerous non-profits and their social programs, donations made by wealthy individuals and corporations for various causes and research, policymaking within organizations, at national and international levels etc.
One question which comes at the centre of it all – How real are these endeavours and do we all have the same motives in mind when lending a helping hand? Here is an insight to the top 10 reasons why the world is not likely to attain any of the set health targets anytime soon.
1. The Human Resistance
In any movement, be it for the greater good of the population, there is bound to be a natural tendency to rebellion. Personal experience showed that managing HIV patients usually brought medical personnel to near conflict levels with potential ART (Antiretroviral therapy) receivers, who believed HIV/Aids to be non-existent and was just a way for condom manufacturers to make money.
2. Big Pharma Presence
It is no longer a secret that for sustainability purposes, Big Pharma produces more of maintenance drugs than curative. With the amount of research and funding poured into the pharmaceutical industry, many companies actually develop curative treatments to certain diseases and conditions which remain classified. They would rather enjoy the large profits made in selling maintenance drugs “forever”, sometimes leaving treatment to a selected elite class.
3. MONSANTO and friends vs. natural and organic feeding
All genetically modified alimentary products are bound to affect our organisms in one way or the other. As long as any agricultural produce consumed isn’t natural, much can be expected in terms of adverse effects. The abundant use of pesticides in the last 20-30 years has also added much to this regard. This has been one of the theories behind the rapid increase in the prevalence of cancers in recent years.
4. The roles of Big Tobacco, Big Alcohol and Big Soda
Tobacco, alcohol and soda have all been blamed for the active part they play in the increase of non-communicable diseases globally. Yet still, it doesn’t look like they are going away anytime soon. These companies with their aggressive marketing policies do more to entice consumers into buying, despite their adverse effects on public health. They are among the most profitable businesses in any society.
5. Chronic disease management
Much effort is being made by health non-profits to address the education and awareness of non-communicable diseases worldwide. Nonetheless, the management of diseases like diabetes remains a huge problem for various reasons. Rural education is not enough. Diabetes which was once considered a disease for the rich is taking a central position in rural communities. Treatments are either too expensive to begin or maintain, or are abandoned due to the drastic lifestyle changes involved. Alternatively, great management outcomes of diabetes require great self-discipline.
6. Creation and replication of diseases
Targeted infectious diseases on humans continue to exist in Africa and different parts of the world. It has been demonstrated that some diseases are created either to cut down populations, or to sell drugs for gross profits to the governments of these target populations or for other leverage purposes.
7. National health policies
The implementation of national health policies continues to be divided. This is because governments have to decide whether they want to protect the health of their citizens or bring in money into state coffers. The ban or extra control on certain products or practices that may affect public health could kill businesses, affecting revenue in taxes and loss of jobs. Many governments play along by increasing taxes to discourage consumption, but does this really help?
8. Unethical drug trials
Drug trials have been going on since the existence of pharmaceutical companies. Not all trials are cleared ethically especially on the African continent where companies easily lobby and award cash or gifts to members of the authorization board. These were the allegations brought to Pfizer in Nigeria when a clinical trial for a meningitis drug on 200 children went totally wrong in 1996. A GSK Ebola vaccine trial was begun in Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal at the end of 2015.
9. Use of chemotherapy on cancer patients
There is enough evidence to show that chemotherapy compared to other forms of cancer therapy shortens the lifespan of patients or kills the patient faster than the cancer would, and is therefore not the preferred choice of treatment. The cancer industry is a booming business with tons of money to be spent in screening for cancer, then causing cancer with the screening equipment, then diagnosing cancer and treating cancer, an expensive never-ending regimen.
10. Environmental pollution and increase in technology and various radiations
Like food, anything absorbed by our body cells in one form or the other has an effect on us in one way or the other. This is the case with environmental pollutants. Technology is developing at an exponential rate, and we have come to know about modern technologies like Bluetooth and Wifi, together with radiations from the likes of Fukushima. No one really seems to talk about the health effects of wearable technology.
History has clearly brought out the patterns. The war on drugs brought in more drugs. The war on terrorists created more terrorists. Is this the same thing happening with global health?