Health & Well-being

Articles, stories and news about health and well-being.

The Pursuit of Happiness: paying greater attention to Mental Health

Sunday marks the United Nations’ 5th International Day of Happiness. Few people are against the pursuit of happiness, but many argue that governments – and international organisations for that matter – have no business in setting happiness as a public policy goal. And yet leaders around the world, from France to Japan, Italy to Qatar, are increasingly paying attention to it. Bhutan has long advocated for the use of a Gross National Happiness Index to provide a fuller assessment of national development progress than what is captured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the US Surgeon General sees happiness as a part of the country’s public health agenda.   Economists and statisticians recognise that measuring happiness – or subjective wellbeing as it’s more accurately called – ...

Disability and Vulnerability

The Human Development Report Office was fortunate to have #StephenHawking contribute to the #HumanDevelopment Report in 2014 with the message “disability need not be an obstacle to success.” Read his special contribution below: As a theoretical physicist I understand very well the concept of vulnerability: there is little in the cosmos that is not susceptible to harm. Even the very universe itself may someday come to an end. Humanity has always been vulnerable to different challenges. And there can be no doubt that great scientific discoveries—from penicillin to the periodic table, from evolution to electricity—have helped us to understand our world, reduce our vulnerability, and build more resilient societies. But, despite great and varied progress, vulnerable people and vulnerable groups...

10 Things We All Should Know About Indigenous People

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. To mark the occasion, the President of the UN General Assembly has convened a high-level event to take stock of progress and discuss what more needs to be done. It’s a good time for all of us to consider why it’s important to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. Here are 10 things we all should know about indigenous people. 1. WHEREVER WE LIVE, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ARE OUR NEIGHBOURS. There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. Indigenous communities are present in all geographic regions and represent 5,000 different cultures. 2. INDIGENOUS PEOPLE SPEAK AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF THE WORLD’S 7,000 LANGUAGES. Indigenous languages ...

Creative work

There is a charming anecdote about the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. According to the version our mathematics teacher in Istanbul told us, a class of high school students in Germany was misbehaving (much like we were), and to punish them, their teacher told them to add up all of the numbers from one to one hundred. One of the students— Gauss himself— suddenly realized that the sum of the first and last number, the second and second-to-last, and so on, was always 101. Noting, too, that there were 50 such pairs within the first hundred numbers, it took him two minutes to work out the total (5,050) and come up with his famous formula to find it— saving him hours, possibly even days of calculations. To me, this story is not just about mathematics, but about creativity and “creativ...

Mental health: A fundamental component of human development

  Mental health issues are a serious concern, and an area that is enormously underrecognized. Globally at least 800,000 people commit suicide each year: one suicide every 40 seconds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds, and for every suicide there are many more attempts each year. But suicide is only one extreme manifestation of mental health issues. Mental and substance use disorders go much wider: they have consistently been shown as the leading causes of years of life lived with disability worldwide. Many mental health issues are not even counted in these statistics, most often because they are not diagnosed. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as, “a state of well-being in which an individual can realize his or her own potential, cop...

Working with African judges to protect rights of people living with HIV

  The third Judges’ Forum was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in June. Photo: UNDP Africa More than 30 judges from 14 African countries convened in Johannesburg, South Africa 15­–17 June this year for the third annual Regional Judges’ Forum to discuss HIV and tuberculosis (TB)-related jurisprudence as part of an ongoing initiative to sensitise senior judges and uphold the rights of people living with HIV in Africa. “The judiciary must be available for the minority, and in adjudicating cases on minority issues, we must be guided by information, by science, by law, by consideration of justice. If we do so, then we shall have served our purpose”, said Botswana High Court’s Justice Key Dingake, one of the participants at the UN Development Programme (UNDP)-supported meeting. Duri...

Counting what counts in development

To most people, “development” is best measured by the quantity of change – like gains in average income, life expectancy, or years spent in school. The Human Development Index (HDI), a composite measure of national progress that my office at the United Nations Development Programme oversees, combines all three statistics to rank countries relative to one another. What many do not realize, however, is that such metrics, while useful, do not tell the entire story of development. In fact, to understand how developed a country is, we must also grasp how people’s lives are affected by progress. And to understand that, we must consider the quality of the change that is being reported. When statisticians compare countries, they require commensurate data. To compare school attendance, for example,...

Little Heart, Standing Tall

By UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME IN LATIN AMERICA, LIVELIHOOD & POVERTY REDUCTION In partnership with WHO and UNICEF, UNDP is supporting Mexico’s efforts to ensure full inclusion of children with disabilities. The bread that Maria sells to support her family is a hit with her neighbours. Every day at dawn, Melitón Rodríguez and María de los Santos go out to sell hot bread. The couple live in the town of Tecamalucan, in the southern state of Veracruz in Mexico. They have a 2-year-old son, Charli, for whom they work hard everyday to give him a lifetime of opportunities. Charli’s parents, Melitón and María, rise early each morning to sell hot bread in their neighbourhood. In April 2016, Melitón and María decided to take Charli to the Yoltzin children’s day care ce...

Human Development that “cares”

In a recent dialogue, members of civil society and governments explored the practical and political steps to leave no one behind through the experiences of those who are excluded. Sarah, a 16-year-old from Chicago, USA, asked the decision makers around the table how it was possible that she and her siblings were abandoned and suffered physical violence for six years without anybody raising the alarm to help them. They were neglected by the (under resourced) social services, the government, the neighbors, the hospital employees and even their own family. She was “left behind”. To her, what is even harder than the five years of lost schooling or the trauma caused by the abuse, is trying to understand why nobody cared. The 2016 Human Development Report (HDR) recommends putting in place “natio...

Life does not end after 60 and neither should the data

Our world is rapidly ageing. By 2050, our planet will be home to twice as many people aged 60 or more than there are today. At the same time, the population aged 80 or more will triple in size, according to UN Division for Economic and Social Affairs’ 2017 Revision of the World Population Prospects. Even sub-Saharan Africa, a region better known for its youthful populations, is experiencing population ageing, with an expected tripling of its population 60 years and over from 64 million older women and men today to 220 million by 2050. These trends will have a profound impact on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development globally and even more so in sub-Saharan Africa. The world’s integrated efforts to eradicate poverty, ensure quality healthcare and reduce gender ine...

How one man’s struggle led to better health care for all in Ukraine

 Seven years ago, Ivan Zelenskiy was feeling tired and stressed. He thought it was connected to his hard work leading a team of engineers for the power plant in Kremenchuk, Ukraine. But during a health test at work, he received the shocking diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukemia.At home, he searched on the internet and discovered it was blood cancer. He and his family felt overwhelmed, unsure of what it would mean for his future. It’s rare for men under 45 to contract this type of cancer. It gets worse quickly if left untreated. Ivan Zelenskiy’s fight for patients’ rights began after he was diagnosed with blood cancer. Photos: UNDP Ukraine/Stanislav Vlasov Ivan was fortunate to be able to afford the comprehensive tests necessary to get an official diagnosis and thus prescribed t...

Evidence-based Human Development: Measuring the opportunity cost of teenage pregnancy in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a fast-growing economy with an average growth rate of around 5%, above the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) average of 2% over the last 10 years. In 2014 it moved up in human development category, from medium to high human development. Despite these changes, the DR has shown little progress in some key indicators of well-being. One of them is adolescent pregnancy – with 22% of women between the ages of 15-19 who have already become mothers. Importantly, this percentage has remained relatively unchanged over the last 30 years and is still 34% above the LAC average. Adolescent pregnancy is concentrated among the poor, affecting not only the opportunities for young mothers to escape from poverty and improve their human development levels, but also those of th...

  • 1
  • 2

Lost Password

Register