2017 has been a difficult year for many. Outbreaks of infectious diseases like cholera and diphtheria have ravaged medically underserved communities in multiple countries. Poor healthcare in refugee camps has caused complications for pregnant mothers fleeing dangerous areas. The distribution of a faulty vaccine has left children in the Philippines at greater risk for Dengue Fever. Millions of women and infants continue to die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. The cascade of natural disasters this fall, and the difficult recovery since, has left many communities unsure of what the new year holds.
In the wake of these public health crises, it is our responsibility as members of the global health community to renew our commitment – and investment – in a healthier future for these communities, and the world as a whole. To understand what we have the capacity to accomplish, let’s take a look back at some of what our investments in global health have achieved:
The global average life expectancy has increased by 5 years since 2000, the fastest increase since the 1960’s.
Since 1990, health-adjusted life expectancy (the number of years a person is expected to live in full health) rose by 5.4 years.
17,000 fewer children die each day than they did in 1990.
Since 2000, measles vaccines have averted nearly 15.6 million deaths.
Maternal mortality has fallen by almost 50% since 1990, though there is still much more work to be done.
With the mass administration of preventative medicines, River Blindness has been eradicated in four countries and continued investment in global partnerships has accelerated the timetable for worldwide eradication.
Nearly 21 million people around the world are getting life-prolonging AIDS treatment, thanks to investment in programs like Unaids’ “90-90-90”.
Thanks in large part to childhood vaccinations, this year global measles deaths have fallen below 100,000 per year for the first time on record.
None of these achievements would have been possible without the cooperation and hard work of the global health community. It often takes many years to see the results of public health initiatives, but they are overwhelmingly positive. Global health efforts are on the cusp of eradicating polio, eliminating Guinea worm disease, and vastly improving healthcare for people living on less than a dollar a day. And the incredible thing is that, now more than ever, we have the capacity to achieve lofty goals. The tools, technology, and information available to us today equip us better than ever before to tackle these challenges. We must build stronger partnerships, share resources, and help each other reach goals that would have seemed impossible a generation ago. As we work together for long-term and sustainable solutions, we build a future that will allow the generations who come after us to solve even greater problems. Our work today will change the world that our children, and their children, live in.
So as the old saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second-best time is now. Invest in a healthier future now, and you’ll have the privilege of watching your efforts grow.
Photo Above: This year, because of the generosity of our donors and supporters, MedShare was able to invest more than $20 million in the future of the communities we serve. Read about the patients served, healthcare providers equipped, and lives improved in our 2017 Annual Report.