Common Diseases in Burkina FasoThe small landlocked nation of Burkina Faso, in West Africa, is one of the poorest nations in both the continent and the globe. The United Nations consistently names it the third poorest country in the world. Burkina Faso has few natural resources, and thus relies primarily on the export of its two cash crops: cotton and gold. The nation’s industrial base is very weak, and almost 90 percent of the population works in subsistence farming.The weakness of the economy translates to a feeble

The weakness of the economy translates to a feeble healthcare system. There are an estimated 0.05 physicians per 1,000 people, along with high poverty rates and malnutrition: one in four children under five is underweight. This combination of factors leaves the nation’s population extremely vulnerable and at a very high risk of contracting and spreading infectious diseases. This is especially evidenced by the life expectancy in the nation — 59 years— which is 12 years below the world average of 71. Following is a list of five of the most common diseases in Burkina Faso:

  1. Lower Respiratory Diseases
    Lower Respiratory Diseases, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, are the group of most common diseases in Burkina Faso. They are by far the leading cause of death in the country, accounting for 14 percent of all deaths. Pulmonary Tuberculosis, although receding throughout recent years, is also a common respiratory infection in the nation, which is especially lethal to HIV-positive patients.
  2. Malaria
    Malaria is an extremely infectious disease transmitted from person to person by female mosquitoes. It is a chronic issue in sub-Saharan Africa; 90 percent of all malaria-related deaths occur in children of the region. In Burkina Faso it is one of the top causes of death, accounting for 10 percent of all fatalities.
  3. Diarrheal Disease
    Due to a lack of proper infrastructure and a high prevalence of hunger and malnutrition, Burkina Faso’s population is especially prone to food and waterborne diseases. Consequently, bacterial and protozoal diarrhea is a major concern and causes up to 6 percent of all deaths in the nation.
  4. Meningitis
    Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes of the spinal cord and the brain. It is typically caused by viral infections and some of its forms can be prevented by vaccination. Although the disease still accounts for 4 percent of all deaths, a vaccination drive aided by international organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has vaccinated close to 12 million people against meningitis in the country.
  5. HIV/AIDS
    Like most of sub-Saharan Africa, one of the most common diseases in Burkina Faso is HIV/AIDS. Although the rate of infection and fatality has been decreasing steadily since 2000, the immunodeficiency virus infection, and AIDS which develops from it, still accounts for 3 percent of deaths in Burkina Faso.

Sub-Saharan Africa is already a region of the world especially prone to high poverty, hunger, and disease. Burkina Faso, amongst nations of the area, is one of the worst affected: it has an especially weak economy and a lack of natural resources. If there is a country that evinces the need for aid and help from the international community, Burkina Faso is it.

Alan Garcia-Ramos

Photo: Flickr