Global health expert speaks about death rates of disease

Last week, Thomas J. Bollyky, senior fellow for global health, economics and development at the Council on Foreign Relations, spoke about the global health crisis of non-communicable diseases, which he defined as diseases that are not spread by physical contact but by an infectious agent already residing in the body.

The Kozmetsky Center hosted a conference call with Bollyky on Feb. 11.

Bollyky said that a global health task force has been created in response to the issue’s severity. A majority of Bollyky’s talk centered on the presence of non-communicable diseases in middle- to low-income countries.

The task force has taken a data-heavy approach which is uncharacteristic for most task forces. Data has indicated that the death rates of these non-communicable diseases are rapidly increasing; in low-middle income countries, the death rate increased 53 percent in 2013. The death rate has also increased 80 percent in populations younger than 60, since 2013.

According to Bollyky, the driving force behind this trend is the increased incomes in these countries, as well as the adoption of the overall Western lifestyle.

One student asked what the Obama Administration has done to address the issue of global health, as well what interest the U.S. has in providing global health.

“There’s an assumption in the public that what the U.S. does is prevent health threats that would affect the U.S. and that’s all what we invest in,” Bollyky said. “That’s not true. What we actually invest in are diseases like HIV, malaria, poor child and maternal health – things that are unlikely to affect U.S. citizens domestically. We invest in those things in other countries because we care about the well being of those people and countries. We invest in the age of the populations affected.”

The Kozmetsky Center works to bring in a variety of speakers on various topics with the aim to enhance and engage students’ understanding of global issues.

“The conference calls are a great way to supplement the lectures that we do bring in,” Victoria Ochoa, the outreach and engagement intern for the Kozmetsky Center, said. “It’s a great way to talk to people from other universities; we’re all free to engage and talk with peers from other universities. This is a very comfortable way to ask their questions and speak up because there’s no face to this.”

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