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Bird flu tops 2005 global health concerns

Published on 22/12/05 at 11:37am

A survey conducted by the World Health Organisation has confirmed concerns over a possible bird flu pandemic as the year's biggest health issue.

Six hundred people from over 200 countries took part in the online survey entitled: 'How healthy is your world?'. Those taking part voted for the top health issue of 2005 and the most neglected global health issue.

Commenting on the results the WHO said: "It is striking that no matter where you are from, how your circumstances differ, you care about the same health issues. Respondents to our survey from China to Nigeria to the US had almost identical concerns."

Chronic disease came fourth in the overall priority list, and fourth again in the neglected list.

Chronic diseases have long overtaken large-scale communicable diseases as the biggest killers in the developed world, but conditions such as stroke and diabetes are now rising up the agenda in the developing world.

During 2005, the WHO together with countries, the private sector, civil society and others, worked on several initiatives to stop the growing chronic disease epidemic, and launched a key report demonstrating the way forward, entitled Preventing chronic disease: a vital investment.

The WHO report proposes a new global goal - to reduce the forecast rates of chronic disease death by 2% each year until 2015. This would prevent 36 million people dying of chronic diseases in the next 10 years, nearly half of them before they turn 70. This target could prove difficult to hit as the rapid industrialisation of Asia's populations is likely to fuel a rapid growth in the 'western' diseases.


Top 10 health issues of 2005

1) Avian influenza


3) Tobacco

4) Chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease

5) Environmental health issues

6) Poverty

7) Disasters/emergencies

8) Malaria

9) Malnutrition

10) Inequality in access to healthcare

Top 10 neglected health issues in 2005

1) Tobacco


3) Environmental health issues

4) Chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease

5) Poverty

6) Avian influenza

7) Malaria

8) Violence

9) Malnutrition

10) Inequality in access to healthcare

External links:

For more information on the survey visit:


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