Global Health Predictions for 2009

The brand new Global Health Blog at Change.Org by Alanna Shaikh is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs. It is certainly must-reading for anyone interested in these issues. Here’s Alanna making five global health predictions for 2009.

Antibacterial resistance will get worse

Antibacterial resistance will keep getting worse. Bacteria are evolving at a terrifying rate, because of overuse and abuse of antibiotics. As a result, more and more first-line antibiotics will become useless, in both the developing and developed world. A standard treatment for either malaria or tuberculosis will cease to be effective, and the WHO will remove it from the treatment guidelines.


Rising world food prices are going to mean poor people go hungry more often. We’ll see substantial increases in rates of malnutrition. There will be more UN appeals to help the starving, and they will rarely be fully funded, as cash-strapped governments start to cut their donations.

Improvement in AIDS care

We’ll see longer average life spans for people living with AIDS. This will result from better access to HIV drugs because of new funding sources and cheaper generic drugs, better treatment of opportunistic infections, and more focus on nutritional support for people with HIV. The rates of new infections will continue to rise, but the infection itself will be better controlled throughout the world than ever before.

Scandal involving fake or contaminated drugs

A large amount of fake or contaminated pharmaceuticals will be discovered; something that has international reach and is on the scale of the melamine contamination this fall. Drugs and their ingredients travel long distances, with relatively little tracking. A problem with Chinese or Indian manufactured pharmaceuticals could affect most of the planet. While finding the source factory might not be difficult, removing all affected product from store shelves would be impossible. We’ll learn that the hard way in 2009.

Tropical diseases on new places

We will see traditionally tropical diseases like malaria, sleeping sickness, and dengue fever spread. The neglected tropical diseases will start to seem a lot scarier. At least one of them will be diagnosed repeatedly in a location that has never seen indigenous tropical disease before. (my money’s on Onchocerciasis)