Careers in STEM
IssuesHealth and well-being
- The progress in health needs to be accelerated across the world, with less than half of the global population covered by essential health services in 2017 .
- Environmental changes are creating new health challenges, such as those caused by pollution, or the increased likelihood of the emergence of new diseases, due to factory farming, illegal animal trade, and overcrowding. COVID-19 is thought to have arisen from problems such as these. Health concerns associated with climate change are heat-related ailments from higher temperatures, malnourishment due to increased strain on food supplies/increased prices, and diseases that can be associated with increased flooding and pollution.
- Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. Misuse of antibiotics in humans and farm animals is accelerating the process meaning they are becoming less effective which has led to the emergence of bacteria that have developed resistance to many different types of antibiotics. To prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance, the health industry can invest in research and development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other tools. The agriculture sector can contribute through: not using antibiotics for growth promotion or to prevent diseases in healthy animals; vaccinating animals to reduce the need for antibiotics and use alternatives to antibiotics when available; promote and apply good practices at all steps of production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources; and preventing infections through improved hygiene and animal welfare.
- Environmental pollution has a cumulative effect on human health. This includes air pollution, water pollution, chemical pollution, and noise pollution. Air pollution can cause respiratory problems such as allergies, asthma, eye and nose irritation and bronchial infections. It can also cause lung cancer. Both ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor) air pollution are responsible for about 7 million deaths globally per year  which is more than the annual death toll due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As of 2017 2.2 billion people lacked safely managed drinking water and 4.2 billion people lacked safely managed sanitation, both of which are incredibly important for good health and quality of life . Lack of sanitation can increase the spread of diseases, as can drinking contaminated water. Human activities have had a detrimental effect on water supplies, with the spread of industrialisation being the leading cause of pollution. Dealing with contaminated water or drinking it poses real health risks, including diseases such as typhoid and cholera, and other disorders and problems, such as hormonal disorders, cancers, and brain dysfunction.
- Many places lacking clean water and sanitation need improvements in infrastructure and will require the engineering skills to make these things available, and to have them managed sustainably within the communities. Many regions and less developed countries are experiencing disturbing levels of water stress – where more fresh water is withdrawn from natural resources than is available which will be made worse with climate change.
- Armed violence is among the leading causes of premature death, and it victimises even more people by spreading injuries, disability, psychological distress and disease. Disarmament and arms control reduce the impact of conflict on human health.
 Data taken from United Nations ‘Transforming Our World - The 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development’
Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development | Department of Economic and Social Affairs (un.org)
21252030 Agenda for Sustainable Development web.pdf (un.org)
 World Health Organisation ‘Air Pollution’ https://www.who.int/westernpacific/health-topics/air-pollution Accessed February 9th 2021