What are the most important diseases in Africa?

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The African continent is endemic for many diseases arising in tropical regions, such as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD). These and other diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS are behind some of the most common causes of death in Africa.

The impact of infectious diseases in African countries is not just a question of health. It constitutes a challenge for the development and wellbeing of many countries and communities. Contracting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, or NTDs affects children’s education, access to decent employment, productivity and economic growth, and the countless social advances in matters of human rights, such as gender equality or sustainability.

What diseases cause the most problems in Africa?

According to the WHO, the health problems causing the majority of deaths in Africa are related to childbirth complications, respiratory diseases, diarrhoeal diseases, and infections. Some data shed light on the scale of this problem at a global level:

  • Around 90% of world malaria cases occur in Africa.
  • At the end of 2018 there were approximately 37.9 million people living with HIV. 1.7 million people became infected worldwide, two thirds of them in Africa.
  • Some 400,000 people die from tuberculosis every year in Africa.

These diseases would be reduced if the healthcare systems of many countries had mass strategies for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cases. This is why strengthening the healthcare systems of developing countries is key to reducing the burden of these diseases on the lives of millions of people.

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Mikel Edeso
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