2012 in review: key health issues

December 2012

Health workers interview women and children in a clinic in United Republic of Tanzania

Key public health milestones were reached in 2012, including the end of polio transmission in India and meeting the Millennium Development Goal target on drinking water ahead of schedule. Governments made important decisions on combatting illicit trade in tobacco products, monitoring noncommunicable diseases, and conducting research on H5N1 influenza.

WHO supported response to a number of disease outbreaks, including Ebola in Uganda. The Organization encouraged countries to invest in testing, treating and tracking all cases of malaria, and to improve access to contraceptives. It issued guidance on the use of antiretroviral drugs to both prevent HIV transmission and keep people healthy.

WHO published new statistics highlighting the growing problem of high blood pressure and diabetes, that 15 million babies are born preterm every year, but that overall progress on child survival is speeding up.

Other recommendations showed how to use weather information to protect public health, and how to ensure people with mental health conditions receive good care. World Health Day outlined ways to ensure healthy ageing, and the World Health Assembly adopted decisions on issues including nutrition, adolescent pregnancy, and the reform of WHO.

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