This is what people think is the biggest threat to global health

Closeup pharmacist hand holding medicine box in pharmacy drugstore.
Antibiotic resistance is what Brits think is the most urgent issue for global health, a poll has revealed (Picture: Getty)

There are plenty of threats to the health of the global population but antibiotic resistance is the most pressing, according to Brits.

A YouGov poll took 10 risks to global health outlined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and asked Britons which they considered the most pressing.

It found that bacteria, parasites and fungi becoming resistant resistance was the biggest concern, with six in ten Brits (59%) saying they would class it as a priority global health issue for the scientific community to tackle in 2019.

Second most pressing was air pollution and climate change, with 54% of Britons choosing it as a priority, followed by lack of accessible primary health care, with 43% of the vote.

Scientist using microscope in laboratory
Scientist using microscope in laboratory

Sustained crises in parts of the world, such as drought or longstanding warfare, was chosen by 39% of Brits as a priority when it comes to threats to the global population’s health, with the same percentage choosing non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes, caused by things like tobacco use, inactivity or poor diet.

Just over a third of Brits (36%) said that people choosing not to vaccinate themselves or their children should be a priority for scientists to tackle.

The figures are revealed on the latest episode of Yahoo UK’s podcast Britain Is a Nation Of..., which looks at health.

Listen to the full episode of Britain is a Nation of... below

Speaking on the podcast, hospice doctor, author, medical journalist and broadcaster Dr Patricia McNair said: “I think this is all appealing to our own inner scare-monster - what could be most awful, what will cause the armageddon? It’s bound to be an evil bug which we can’t fight off with antibiotics.

“So I think that’s something that reaches straight into our fear centres and that’s why people rate it highly.”

But she said she would tend to agree, predicting a growing issue of antibiotic resistance.

“I think antibiotic resistance is a real thing happening now, it’s going to be a bigger and bigger problem.”

A young woman lying on bed.
We're overdue another flu epidemic, according to Dr Patricia McNair (Picture: Getty)

She also predicted a flu epidemic at some point, adding: “If you look at the natural change in the genetics of the flu virus then it does normally shift, it shifts and drifts and then every few years there’s a big shift, it shifts suddenly and we don’t have the immune protection to it.

“So there’s definitely a pattern of every certain couple of years a more impactful flue and it’s a long time since we had one.”

This survey was made possible by YouGov’s panel of 6 million respondents. Join the trend and share your opinions with the world today.