From food recalls to soaring rates of depression, it has been a scary year. The year 2018 saw a number of new emerging and unprecedented health risks, such as a rare polio-like virus striking children and California’s devastating wildfire seasons.
Public health is defined as the health of the population and the communities where they live, work, learn and play. These populations can be as small as a neighborhood or as big as an entire country. Outbreaks, epidemics or clusters all pose a threat to people, even if it’s a small group; therefore, they are a public health concern.
They change over time. HIV and teen pregnancy were listed as public health problems in the past. But teen pregnancy has been on the decline since 2007, hitting a record low in 2015, and the estimated number of annual HIV infections went down by 8% from 2010 to 2015.
Other problems are persistent, even though some progress has been made. “Fewer people die of cancer because treatments have gotten better and more sophisticated, but we still get a lot of cases,” Dr. Gregory Gelburd, a family practice physician in Charlottesville, Virginia, said.
To identify some of the biggest public health concerns of 2018, 24/7 Wall St. consulted experts, reviewed media reports and data from health, food and regulation agencies such as the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).