As 2022 draws to a close, let us gaze back at some of the global health stories from the past 12 months. And while COVID-19 is undoubtedly still fresh in our minds, this year’s list contains some heartening indications of normalcy: offline classes, researchers reenergized their fieldwork, and people are back to their offices. Undoubtedly, there were reminders that COVID-19 and other public health threats still threaten us. But these success stories demonstrate that we can overcome even the most difficult health challenges by collaborating across boundaries and with a common goal. So here are a few…
1. Monkeypox Rise and Decline
A total of 80,000 cases of monkeypox were reported in 109 countries in 2022, which led to 36 fatalities. Hmmm….this year’s outbreaks were the first on record for most of these nations. Globally, the number of new infections began to decline by the end of August, and the pattern has persisted up to the present. The main causes of the decline are vaccination and a change in risk population behavior. Researchers believe the vaccine has a very long shelf life, so any future spread will be much less severe than we have seen. Of course, that does not preclude the possibility of sporadic ups and downs. But we can expect to bid goodbye to the big peaks for at least a few years.
2. Mental Health on the Toss Post the Pandemic
Anxiety and depression prevalence rose and even doubled in some countries as of March 2020. The periods of intensifying COVID-19 deaths and stringent confinement policies correlated with the span of the highest reported rates of mental distress. With the opportunity to go outside the four walls of their rooms by 2022, things surely did start getting better. Increasing access to evidence-based services such as mental health promotion programs and existing mental health services have indeed made the improvement that we seek.
3. The Return of Polio
The development of polio vaccines in the 1950s and 1960s dramatically reduced the spread and eradicated polio in many nations. However, the poliovirus is tenacious and skilled at locating pockets of people who are yet to receive the vaccine. This tenacity has allowed the virus to spread in regions with low immunization rates. Additionally, over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on vaccination rates for children around the world. Well, better vaccination is the only key to stopping new cases. We cannot afford to lose our strides toward eradicating polio worldwide, agree?
4. Overstretched Healthcare System
Healthcare services, which were almost stretched thin before the pandemic, have come under tremendous strain, and the epidemic is far from over. Access to COVID-19 vaccines, as well as keeping the virus contained and mitigated, remains crucial. Making health systems more robust and resistant also counts, as does making smart investments in primary care, health promotion, and disease prevention. Nevertheless, with improvements in digital healthcare delivery and better-integrated care, the pandemic has brought about some encouraging signs of the emergence of systemic changes.
5. Oral Health Captures More Attention
Although oral health has long been ignored in global health initiatives, the trend is beginning to change. In 2022, the majority of Americans anticipate going to the dentist and are paying more attention to their at-home oral hygiene practices, say reports. This proves people are getting concerned about their oral health and understand its importance to overall health. There is a lot of hope that this enthusiasm will contribute to a change for the better.
Not that this concludes the victory stories, but does it not boost our hope for a better future? You bet! As we embark into 2023, we have many success trophies to project and much more to earn in the coming years. Stay healthy, stay happy. Happy new year to you and yours!