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8 Deadly Diseases That We Need To Eliminate From The Planet

Flickr: Dave Campbell

Today, there are diseases killing people around the world that you might think do not matter, affect people, or were wiped out decades ago. But diseases like Cholera, and Polio are responsible for millions of deaths each year. Solutions are often as simple as salt tablets or a cost-effective vaccine. Other diseases such as Ebola or Malaria are in the media all the time, but what exactly are they and what will it take to eradicate such diseases? I don’t want to completely ruin your breakfast, lunch or dinner, but these diseases are gross, deadly, and need to end by 2030.

1. Polio

Closer than ever to a polio-free Nigeria-b2.jpgImage: Gavi/Adrian Brooks

How many people are sick? Polio affects people in only 2 countries on the planet: Afghanistan and Pakistan (though it is still officially present in Nigeria, the nation is over a year since it's last wild polio case). Only 416 cases were reported in 2013. Polio needs to be eradicated because while polio still exists on the planet, 200,000 can potentially be infected with the virus poliomyelitis, which can cause paralysis and affects children under the age of five primarily. What will it take to wipe out polio? Promoting awareness that polio can be ended with vaccinations, good hygiene and improved sanitation.

2. Malaria

via GIPHY

There’s a therapy to prevent death from malaria (actually one of the three people to just won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was recognized for their work on Malaria as my colleague Nicki points out here). It’s made from artemisinin and it has the potential to help prevent the 1 million deaths that occur each year from malaria. 300-600 million people each year get sick from malaria caused by a parasite from mosquitoes.

What will it take to wipe out malaria? Preventing malaria can be as cost effective as providing bed-nets to families in areas with high risk of malaria, in addition to preventative medicines. Also investing in clean water and sanitation can stop breeding grounds for mosquitoes and reduce the amount of stagnant water that mosquitos just love.

3. HIV/AIDS

8 deadly diseases aids virus .jpgImage: Flickr: NIAID

First, HIV vs. AIDS breakdown. HIV is a virus, the human immunodeficiency virus to be exact. HIV attacks the healthy cells in the human immune system which can lead to AIDS. Currently, 37 million people worldwide have HIV. And 740,000 of those people are children receiving antiretroviral treatment so HIV does not grow and attack more healthy cells.  AIDS is the disease a person with HIV lives with. This means that HIV has damaged and taken over healthy cells in the body causing Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a little more difficult to measure the number of people with AIDS because only 51 percent of people with HIV know the status of the virus in their body. That’s why HIV testing, and monitoring positive HIV results is so important to end deaths worldwide from HIV/AIDS.

4. Diabetes

8 deadly diseases diabetes.jpgImage: Flickr: Victor

Diabetes used to be a disease primarily seen in developed countries, but as developing countries economies expand, more people in developing countries have the ability to purchase processed and packaged food, and diabetes is rising in developing countries. Today, 80 percent of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle income countries.

What is diabetes? First, there’s two types: type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it happens when the pancreas stops producing insulin which regulates levels of blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is only 5-10 percent of diabetes cases, and causes are  Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95 percent and is caused essentially by overworking the pancreas function of regulating glucose (blood sugar.)

Obesity is directly related to type 2 diabetes and it can be prevented. Increasing exercise and decreasing consumption of foods with high trans-fat lots of sugars can combat diabetes and save 90 percent of the estimated 371 million people living with diabetes.

5. Ebola

8 deadly diseases to wipe out by 2030-b1.jpgImage: Flickr: clement127

I read the book “the Hot Zone,” which is about finding the root cause of Ebola several years ago. It had something to do with an infection from bat poop from what I recall. I’ve since learned that the spread of Ebola was more nuanced than one person coming into contact with bat poop in Kenya and humans don’t turn into bleeding zombies. Personally, I was drawn to the book because Ebola seemed like an exotic and dangerous disease. Maybe that’s why the media loves to use scare tactics when talking about the Ebola virus. But, the Ebola virus is in reality a crazy disease that affected more people during the outbreak