Fear Of Death

The World Health Organization (WHO) has come under intense political scrutiny lately. The Trump administration has temporarily put a halt to its funding. The two main charges levied against the group are incompetence and favoritism. The global group praised China’s response to the Wuhan Coronavirus and claimed nations who restricted travel from China were overreacting. 

Clearly, they got that wrong. The entire world has since closed their borders to China and almost every other country in hopes to prevent the virus from spreading inland. Several other nations have joined the chorus of questioning the autonomy and credibility of the WHO.

Self-preservation and fear of death are inherently natural. So is looking for someone to blame. Many world-renowned epidemiologists underestimated the impact of the Coronavirus and its ability to spread across the globe. Humans by nature are imperfect. Even the most highly educated amongst us with decades of experience can inaccurately predict any given outcome. This is why many doctors expressed little concern about COVID-19 this past winter.

Politics may not seem to come to mind as a deciding factor when health policy is determined. At least that’s what we hope. Restricting agricultural products from regions with known outbreaks is a common practice. Implementing travel advisories as a warning to the public about high crime areas is routine. Telling your neighboring countries that they and every other country are not allowed to enter and them telling you the same is unheard of.

China’s totalitarian response of locking down a city of 11 million people set the tone for other nations to follow. The Italian government saw its aging population become decimated and its hospitals overrun. Fear of the pandemic set in and it’s leaders scrambled to triage their response. In a matter of weeks, Italy became the face of what COVID-19 can do to a country if unprepared. We are now in May and the country is still struggling to contain the spread of the virus.

As data is reported and lifesaving treatment methods are introduced, scientific modelers are projecting lower mortality rates. We still don’t know for certain the actual amount of people who were infected. We also are witnessing local governments order reviews of autopsy’s to see if deaths attributed to the virus were done in error. With fear beginning to subside, there is a global movement to return to work and life, as we knew it. Many are still scared and are afraid of what can happen if we remove the shelter in place orders. How you feel is all that matters as you can always minimize risk by staying at home.

The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) compose annual lists of the top 10 causes of death. Other than curiosity, there are valid reasons why a nation or health group compiles and releases this type of data.

The WHO’s website says measuring how many people die each year and why they died is one of the most important means – along with gauging how diseases and injuries are affecting people – for assessing the effectiveness of a country’s health system.

Here are some of the leading causes of death globally.

Of the 56.9 million deaths worldwide in 2016, more than half (54%) were due to the top 10 causes. Ischemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15.2 million deaths in 2016. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimed 3.0 million lives in 2016, while lung cancer (along with trachea and bronchus cancers) caused 1.7 million deaths. Diabetes killed 1.6 million people in 2016, up from less than 1 million in 2000. Deaths due to dementias more than doubled between 2000 and 2016, making it the 5th leading cause of global deaths in 2016 compared to 14th in 2000. 

Lower respiratory infections remained the most deadly communicable disease, causing 3.0 million deaths worldwide in 2016. The death rate from diarrheal diseases decreased by almost 1 million between 2000 and 2016 but still caused 1.4 million deaths in 2016. Similarly, the number of tuberculosis deaths decreased during the same period but is still among the top 10 causes with a death toll of 1.3 million. HIV/AIDS is no longer among the world’s top 10 causes of death, having killed 1.0 million people in 2016 compared with 1.5 million in 2000. 

Road injuries killed 1.4 million people in 2016, about three-quarters (74%) of whom were men and boys.

Causes of death as compiled by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics show a different ranking in 2017, which is found to be consistent year over year.

  • Number of deaths for leading causes of death:
  • Heart disease: 647,457
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,672
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,633
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173

As of this writing, the impacts of COVID-19 across the globe are as follows.

WORLDWIDE

Confirmed: 3.39M Recovered: 1.06M Deaths: 239K

UNITED STATES

Confirmed: 1.14M Recovered: 143K Deaths: 66,189

New York City

Confirmed: 172K Recovered: 39,587 Deaths: 13,365

If we just go by perspective and look at the total number of deaths attributed to the virus, it’s hard to deny the impact it has had across the globe, with some regions being harder hit than others. We also will never know how many lives the shelter in place orders saved. The same orders that are now being minimized and eventually removed altogether.

Fear of death is real. 

I don’t know anyone that wants to speed up the inevitable process. My core belief tells me that our elected leaders implemented what some call draconian measures as an attempt to keep us all safe. This is comparable to parenting styles. The number one job of a parent is to protect their children the best they can and raise them to be responsible adults. A part of raising a child means letting them grow and letting them go, knowing it’s impossible to protect them from the harms of the world. These are the crossroads that are elected officials are at. The longer they prevent people from returning to work, the more harm they inflict emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Their desire to keep us from being infected by the Coronavirus is slowly being drowned out by the growing number of masses who want to be free. 

Free to live life on their terms knowing that the choices they make are their own.

CDC Coronavirus WHO

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