Despite being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia still suffers from structural and economic problems. The deadliest diseases in Ethiopia are often preventable. However, a lack of resources can make them difficult to prevent or treat. Here are the top three deadliest diseases in Ethiopia:
1. Lower Respiratory Infections
Lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, are the number one cause of death in Ethiopia. This infection accounts for 10 percent of deaths each year. Acute respiratory infections, which are typically shorter term but when untreated can lead to death, are especially common. On average, Ethiopian children suffer from four to eight infections each year. Undernutrition is a culprit in the high rate of infections in Ethiopia. In a study, the World Health Organization found that in Ethiopia, 42 percent of children hospitalized for pneumonia had a severe vitamin D deficiency. Improving access to nutrients is key to reducing infections, as undernutrition increases the severity and prevalence of lower respiratory infections.
2. Diarrheal Diseases
Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of rotavirus, the most common cause of severe diarrhea around the world. Diarrheal diseases cause eight percent of deaths in Ethiopia each year. They are also a leading killer of children, causing 14 percent of deaths in children under five. Diarrheal diseases can sometimes be treated with rehydration tablets. However, they are more easily prevented through improvements in sanitation and water and access to the rotavirus vaccine.
HIV/AIDS is one of the deadliest diseases in Ethiopia. It accounts for seven percent of deaths each year and has led to a seven-year decrease in life expectancy. One of the greatest issues in Ethiopia is passing of the disease during birth. There are approximately 90,000 HIV-positive pregnant women. This resulted in around 14,000 HIV-positive births and 800,000 orphans due to the disease annually. In order to combat this, the government has been pushing to increase partner and family counseling programs that work to educate and reduce transmissions to pregnant women. Progress has been made, as HIV testing and partner counseling has increased in recent years from 13 percent to 51 percent.
Despite the deadliest diseases in Ethiopia being easily preventable, they remain widespread. That said, recent increases in resources and support show promising progress in combating and halting the spread of these diseases in Ethiopia.
– Alexi Worley