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Dikembe Mutombo's Impact
Dikembe Mutombo is most famous for his basketball career as a player in the NBA for 18 years and a four-time Defensive Player of the Year award recipient, but he is also well-known for his humanitarian work. Mutombo, born in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has spent the last 22 years contributing much of his time to helping his home country. Dikembe Mutombo’s impact has been significant due to creating the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Struggle With Poverty

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has faced a long history of injustice due to political corruption and economic collapse which has affected the country in a multitude of ways. Approximately 70 percent of Congolese people have little or no health care, and many hospitals and clinics lack necessary components to keep them running smoothly. Many health care facilities have shortages of personnel and equipment and frequently run out of necessary medicine and supplies.

Some of the top causes of death in the DRC include preventable or treatable conditions such as malaria, lower respiratory infections, tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases. However, in the last 12 years, child vaccinations have increased from 31 to 45 percent, and the DRC has been free of polio for over three years. Still, because 64 percent of Congolese live under the poverty line, they often have to make the choice between food and medicine.

The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation

Mutombo founded the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation (DMF) in 1997, in honor of his mother. Due to civil unrest, she was unable to get to the hospital for treatment and died that year.

This inspired Mutombo to create a foundation focused on primary health care, disease prevention, health policy and research and access to health care education. Its mission is to improve the health, education and quality of life for the people in the DRC.

DMF opened its first hospital in 2007, the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, named after Dikembe Mutombo’s mother. It commits to providing high-quality health care regardless of economic status. Dikembe Mutombo’s impact has allowed the hospital to treat over 30,000 patients and employ almost 400 doctors and nurses.

A future project of the foundation will be the building of a Welcome House next to the hospital. It also plans to construct an elementary school with an emphasis on science and technology outside of Kinshasa.

Mutombo on the Ebola Crisis

Mutombo and his foundation have recently joined with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to communicate with the Congolese about the Ebola crisis. Almost a year after the initial outbreak, reports mentioned 2,284 cases of infection and almost 1,500 probable deaths, making this the 10th and worst Ebola outbreak that the DRC has faced.

The CDC began posting the public service announcements to its YouTube channel and on the agency’s website on Monday in some of the native languages of the DRC, French and Swahili. In the video, Mutombo describes the early signs of Ebola, treatment, preventative measures and recommendations. Mutombo told the Associated Press, “When there’s something happening around the world, it should be a concern of everyone living on this planet, and I think the epidemic of Ebola is touching all of us.”

Mutombo’s philanthropy in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo will impact generations to come. Mutombo stated it best in the Ebola PSA: “I believe as a son of Congo, I think my voice can be heard. Because everyone in the country knows my commitment to humanity and health.”

– Alexia Carvajalino
Photo: Flickr

Hepatitis B in Sierra LeoneThe Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the leading cause of liver disease. An estimated 248 million people are infected with the virus worldwide. HBV contributes to 600 thousand liver disease-related deaths a year. It is most prevalent in the Western Pacific with 6.2 percent infection rate and African regions with 6.1 percent of the population are infected. Instances of Hepatitis B in Sierra Leone are high, so the government is working to improve access to vaccinations.

Hepatitis B in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone suffers an especially high prevalence of Hepatitis B. An estimated 8 percent of the population is actively infected, and 6-11 percent of mothers risk passing the disease onto their children through birth. HBV is most often transmitted via childbirth. It can also be transmitted through exposure to infected blood. In highly endemic areas, this occurs most often before age five. Adults can become infected through exposure to any infected body fluids, including through sexual activity.

Typically, the older an individual is at the time of exposure, the less likely the disease is to become chronic. However, children under a year old are 80 to 90 percent likely to develop chronic HBV if exposed, 30 to 50 percent before age 5 and fewer than 5 percent in adults. There is no cure for the disease, which often manifests without symptoms at initial infection. However, those suffering from it can suppress the virus through life-long treatment.

However, the HBV vaccine is 98 to 100 percent effective and has been shown to significantly decrease a country’s HBV prevalence when systematically administered. Sierra Leone has made a push toward improving its national health through international efforts. Though it is limited in its own resources, the country has facilitated “free testing, treatment and counseling” provided through the help of international donors.

Efforts to Reduce Hepatitis B in Sierra Leone

In 2014, the African Regional Committee of the World Health Organization passed a resolution to reduce HBV prevalence in children under 5 years old by 2020 to less than 2 percent. In 2007, Sierra Leone introduced HBV in the vaccine to newborns at week 6, 10 and 14, but the WHO recommended birth dose was not being given.

Much of the efforts on studying hepatitis B in Sierra Leone have been focused on providing accurate information on its epidemiology. The Center for Disease Control conducted a survey measuring the frequency of mother-child transmission and the effectiveness of the current immunization program. Data recently collected on 3,158 households in three provinces of Sierra Leone. Over the course of six weeks, 551 samples of serum were collected

This information will be used to inform Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation on the success rate of the vaccination campaign. It will show how well the WHO recommended birth-dose works in reducing Hepatitis B. The research also compares Sierra Leone’s mother-to-child infection rate with that of other African countries with similar strains of the virus. The information is expected to be released by the end of 2019.

Areas to Improve

There are still many areas to cover. While the country focuses on expanding the vaccination program, there have been little effort put towards the prevention of adult to adult transmission. Some studies have shown that many healthcare workers lack adequate knowledge of the disease. At least 77 percent of healthcare staff were unable to recognizing clinical symptoms following infection. These areas need to be addressed in order to effectively reduce tranmission of the virus.

Still, the country has made massive strides in improving its HIV and malaria treatments in the past. Now, it must focus treatment on Hepatitis B in Sierra Leone. Education and vaccinations are essential to reducing the spread of the disease.

Katie Hwang
Photo: Flickr

Drug Resistant Infections
Antibiotics have long been considered one of the greatest marvels of modern medicine. Since their discovery in the early 1900s, antibiotics have promoted a previously unprecedented large-scale fight against disease. Their effectiveness, however, is starting to show its limits.

CDC Analysis

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), antibiotic resistance—also known as antimicrobial resistance or general drug resistance—is becoming more and more prevalent, with over 23,000 people dying from a drug-resistant infection or disease in the United States alone. Studies have shown that over 700,000 people die annually worldwide from drug-resistant infections. Diseases once thought to be treatable, such as tuberculosis and common bacterial infections, are slowly becoming harder to cure with standard antibiotics and antimicrobial drugs.

A Mounting Crisis

The sheer overuse of antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics, antimicrobials, or antifungals, is often cited as a factor in the rise of drug resistance. Numerous studies show that these medications are grossly overprescribed, specifically drugs in the antibiotic category. The overexposure of antimicrobial drugs to different bacteria drastically reduces the drug’s ability to fight infections and diseases, leading to a resistance that is almost impossible to treat. This phenomenon is only growing, with the United Nations estimating that resistant infection could kill up to 10 million people annually by the year 2050.

The Developing World at Risk

Developed nations like the United States and Western Europe have far greater chances of eliminating the problem by fighting diseases from the backend, with access to clean water, food and sanitary living conditions. But for underdeveloped countries where over half of the population lives below the poverty line, drug-resistant infections pose even more serious risks. These countries rely on antimicrobial drugs and vaccines to stave off epidemics and diseases and cannot afford to develop drug resistance of any kind. The United Nation’s (UN) latest findings point towards economic hazards of drug resistance as well, showing that if resistance continues to develop, healthcare costs and lack of resources could potentially send the economy into a decline similar to that of the 2008-2009 era.

Innovative Solutions

Finding innovative ways to combat drug resistance is the most urgent goal. The UN is among several groups looking to solve the resistance crisis, calling upon major pharmaceutical companies, research groups and investors to accelerate funding and assistance. Emphasizing the need for a worldwide plan, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General for the World Health Organization, has stressed the need for a timely response, “Antimicrobial resistance is a crisis that must be managed with the utmost urgency. As the world enters the ambitious new era of sustainable development, we cannot allow hard-won gains for health to be eroded by the failure of our mainstay medicines.”

As a part of the much-needed urgent response plan, the WHO proposed a new strategy to the World Health Assembly in 2015 that highlights five main goals to fight drug resistance:

  1. Raise awareness
  2. Gain knowledge
  3. Reduce risk of infections overall
  4. Optimize the current use of antimicrobial drugs
  5. Increase investment in research and technology for new antimicrobial drugs

Hope for the Future

The CDC has also constructed what is known as the National Action Plan, a five-year goal with similar objectives working under their Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative. Despite the imminent threat of drug resistance, the crisis is being taken seriously with appropriate responses in progress and clear plans of action to follow.

Olivia Bendle
Photo: Pixabay

working to end Lassa fever in NigeriaLassa fever is a growing epidemic for many Nigerians. The World Health Organization reports that 72 Nigerians have died from the disease while 317 others are infected. Lassa fever has also spread to 18 Nigerian states since its outbreak in January. However, many entities are working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria.

  1. ALIMA Treats Lassa Fever Patients
    In January 2018, the Alliance for International Medication Action (ALIMA) commenced a rapid emergency response to Nigeria’s Lassa fever epidemic. ALIMA also supported the rehabilitation of a 38-bed treatment center for patients in Owo.
    “The goal is to catch cases early, and improve the chances of survival for those who become infected,” said Guillaume Le Duc, ALIMA’s Lassa fever coordinator.
  2. The Cross River’s Sensitization Against Lassa Fever
    On Jan. 30, 2018, Nigeria’s Cross River state increased its sensitization and awareness campaign against Lassa fever, hoping to prevent further outbreaks of the disease. Dr. Inyang Asibong, Cross River’s commissioner for health, said the campaign was necessary since two cases of Lassa fever were recorded from migrants who entered Cross River. Asibong also gave nose masks, disposable gowns, gloves and other protective equipment to the state’s health workers.
  3. Gombe’s Investment to Prevent Lassa Fever
    On Jan. 31, 2018, Nigeria’s Gombe state earmarked ₦20 million for preventing the outbreak of Lassa fever to its people. Dr. Kennedy Ishaya, Gombe’s state commissioner for health, said the funds were part of the amount set aside for Gombe’s Rapid Response Committee (RRC). Gombe’s RRC will use the money to protect the state’s people from Lassa fever and other diseases.
  4. Hand Washing Helps Prevent Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 5, 2018, UNICEF and the Imo state’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) sensitized Nigerians on how hand washing can prevent Lassa fever.
    “Medical reports have it that the simple act of washing hands constantly with soap can reduce infections by 50 percent,” said Nkechi Okorocha, wife of the Imo state Governor Rochas Okorocha. Chika Edom, the RUWASSA program manager, said that hand washing is part of UNICEF’s initiative to keep Nigeria’s people alive and healthy.
  5. Nigeria’s Proposal for a More Established CDC
    On Feb. 8, 2018, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) asked the National Assembly to pass a bill that would financially help the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (CDC) treat Lassa fever cases. Dr. Mike Ogirima, the NMA president, was displeased from poorly-equipped ambulances transferring Lassa fever patients to the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo. Though the bill went through first and second readings at the house level, it has yet to be passed into law.
  6. The World Health Organization Works to Contain Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 20, 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it was working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria. The WHO deployed staff to support Nigeria’s government agencies. The WHO’s representatives are also helping rapid response teams contain Lassa fever in the Ondo, Ebonyi and Edo states.
  7. Redeemer University Could Eliminate Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 20, 2018, Redeemer University revealed its capacity to contain and eliminate Lassa fever through research activities.
    “We are behind the scene, providing solutions to Lassa fever in the country,” said Debo Adeyewa, the university’s vice-chancellor. Adeyewa also revealed that the Lassa fever outbreak was being managed at the Edo state’s Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.
  8. Governor Obaseki’s Work to Contain Lassa Fever
    On Feb. 22, 2018, Governor Godwin Obaseki said that no case of Lassa fever had been reported at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital for the past two weeks. Governor Obaseki’s administration purchased and deployed equipment to the hospital and is working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria.
    “That no death has been recorded since our intervention goes to show that we read the signs correctly, mobilized skilled manpower and tackled the challenge head-on,” said Crusoe Osagie, Obaseki’s special adviser on media and communication strategy.
  9. The U.K.’s Work for Nigeria
    On Feb. 27, 2018, the U.K. sent two epidemiologists, a logistician and other experts to help Nigeria contain its Lassa fever outbreak. The U.K.’s public health rapid support team will also provide Nigeria with research assistance.
    “Viruses like Lassa Fever do not respect borders, and it is only right that we share our expertise with countries facing serious outbreaks around the world,” said Public Health Minister Steve Brine.

While Many Nigerians continue to be infected with Lassa fever, efforts to treat and save patients’ lives will not stop. The World Health Organization, the U.K. and other entities are working to end Lassa fever in Nigeria and could inspire more parties to help. Supplying the country’s hospitals with necessary medical equipment to treat patients will also play a role in helping Nigeria control Lassa fever and other diseases.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

How to Bring Medicine to the PoorThere are many diseases plaguing the developing nations of the world. There is also much that can be done to improve the state of health across the globe. This is especially true with regards to measles. Measles is a serious problem, particularly in African nations, including Nigeria. Nigeria desperately needs people to bring medicine to the poor.

The CDC reported 176,785 confirmed cases of measles in Africa between 2013 and 2016. While the frequency of measles cases has been on the decline since 2013, the disease is still too widespread to be considered a solved problem. This is especially true for children between nine and 59 months old; they are the most vulnerable to this disease.

Starting in 2013, Nigeria had 50,585 known cases of measles. By 2016, this number had dropped to 11,499 known measles cases, leaving it still the most highly infected African nation. This seems like an exceptionally great dilemma to members of the developed world who are accustomed to the high cost of vaccines. In the United States, the CDC’s five recommended childhood shots can cost an average of $937 per person. Considering how much these vaccines cost Americans, how could it be possible to combat an epidemic in a nation as poor as Nigeria?

According to the World Health Organization, it is actually quite cost-effective to immunize nations such as Nigeria from measles. While vaccines are quite expensive in nations such as the United States, they are relatively inexpensive to use when manufactured for mass immunization projects. The World Health Organization has estimated that mass immunizations could be performed in countries such as Nigeria for roughly $1 per child vaccine.

What can be done to bring medicine to Nigeria? A simple solution would be to write and call your Congress representatives to encourage them to support immunization projects. Donating to the Borgen Project is also a great way to put forth efforts to increase U.S. spending on global disease prevention. To make a direct impact, it is also possible to contact the World Health Organization to ask how you can contribute to the fight against measles. From these steps, there will be an improved capacity by many organizations to bring medicine to the poor.

Tim Sherwood

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Saint LuciaSaint Lucia is a small island nation in the Caribbean with a population of about 165,000 people. The citizens have a life expectancy of about 78  years. Although life expectancy is comparable to Jamaica and the United States, common diseases in Saint Lucia still have an impact on the population.

Noncommunicable Diseases

The most common noncommunicable diseases that plague Saint Lucia are cardiovascular diseases, contributing to about 42.3 percent of deaths in Saint Lucia. Stroke and ischemic heart disease are currently the two deadliest cardiovascular diseases in Saint Lucia.

A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. For example, a blocked artery or damaged blood vessel can cause a stroke. The signs of a stroke include numbness (often on one side of the body), trouble speaking, and loss of balance. Strokes can lead to serious disabilities or death. Both tobacco use and high blood pressure can cause a person to have a stroke. About 14,800 citizens in Saint Lucia use tobacco, which is likely a contributing factor for strokes in the country.

Ischemic heart disease is not only one of the common diseases in Saint Lucia, it is also a contributing factor to strokes. Ischemic heart disease occurs when plaque forms in major blood vessels in the heart, blocking blood flow. This can cause both heart attacks and strokes.

Although stroke and ischemic heart disease are the deadliest cardiovascular diseases in Saint Lucia, incidences of both are actually on a decline. Since 1990, stroke has had a four percent decrease in mortality rate, and ischemic heart disease has had a 16 percent decrease. Although these are small decreases, they are encouraging signs of improvement in Saint Lucia.

Communicable Diseases

Although the situation with noncommunicable diseases has improved, communicable diseases have had an increase in problems. More specifically, Saint Lucia is currently plagued with the zika virus.

Zika is a mosquito-borne disease that is spread through the bugs’ bites. Common symptoms of Zika are fever, headache, red eyes and joint pain. If a pregnant woman contracts Zika, it can cause developmental complications in infants born from the infected mother. Infected patients can also become paralyzed, as Zika can cause the immune system to attack the nervous system.

As of August 29th, 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an alert level two in regards to the Zika virus in Saint Lucia. This means that although travel is not recommended, travelers can go to Saint Lucia so long as they use enhanced precautions.

Thanks to the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, the entire world put a spotlight on Zika. Consequently, this has led researchers to compete to find a vaccine or a cure for the virus. Although there is currently no cure or vaccine yet, there are many reports coming out saying researchers are getting a better understanding of the proteins which is essential to finding a cure. Once researchers find a cure, Zika will not be one of the common diseases in Saint Lucia.

Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr


Since November 1998, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been cooperating with the Jordan Ministry of Health (MoH) to provide technical assistance and develop surveillance systems for health risk areas in Jordan. The systems track and analyze infectious diseases, mortality rates and risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is a private research center focused on calculating statistical population growth and health data. As a component of the University of Washington research institute, the IHME provides “comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them.” Jordan’s population (7.8 million) continues to rise, as well as chronic non-communicable diseases.

In 2015, the IHME reported 20,114 total deaths in Jordan, including all sexes and all ages. According to the center’s 2015 non-communicable disease statistics, the top diseases in Jordan are:

  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Congenital defects
  • Chronic kidney disease

The top diseases in Jordan are primarily caused by high body-mass index, dietary risks, high fasting plasma glucose, tobacco smoke and elevated systolic blood pressure. Jordan’s top disease, Ischemic heart disease, is the cause of 15.98 percent of total deaths in the country and has remained in the top spot since 2005. The chronic disease occurs when the coronary arteries narrow, restricting blood and oxygen flow into the heart. Certain risk factors initiate the heart disease, damaging the inner layers of the coronary arteries. The primary culprit is smoking.

In 2013, the Tobacco Atlas reported that 43.3 percent of men and 8.5 percent women smoke tobacco in Jordan, both of which are higher than the average percent in middle-income countries. Smoking increases the likelihood of blood clots, reduces exercise tolerance, and increases blood pressure.

The CDC’s Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) has developed a system to successfully survey and analyze non-communicable diseases. Through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Jordan became the first Middle Eastern country to implement the program, which stemmed three national health surveys (2002, 2004, 2007). The program’s objectives are to progress the CDC’s global public health mission to respond to the high burden of noncommunicable diseases. By implementing the program, Jordan is one step closer to combating these hazardous diseases.

Madison O’Connell

Photo: Flickr


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two of the major diseases in the Marshall Islands to be wary of are the Zika virus and typhoid. Here is some information about avoiding these two diseases and why prevention is so important.

According to the World Health Organization, the Zika virus is transmitted through mosquitos and causes flu-like symptoms that last up to a week. Although this is mild compared to other diseases and it is rare for someone to present symptoms at all, the real danger occurs when a pregnant woman catches the virus, as this can cause congenital brain abnormalities such as microcephaly. Microcephaly, the medical term for a smaller-than-expected head size in an infant, often indicates an under-developed brain, explains the CDC, because the human skull expands to accommodate a growing brain.

The government of the Marshall Islands has reported that mosquitos in the area are infected with Zika and that the virus is spreading. Recommended prevention includes wearing long sleeves, remaining indoors and practicing safe sex, as the virus is often sexually transmitted. Although there is no vaccine to prevent Zika, people can avoid infected mosquitos by emptying or covering areas of stagnant water — including tires and pots — since these are the places where mosquitos are likely to breed.

Typhoid fever, on the other hand, is spread through bacteria in food and water. According to the CDC, there is no risk of transmitting the disease in utero, but it is a more serious condition. Using proper hygiene and cooking techniques can prevent typhoid. A vaccine exists, and medication is available to prevent the spread of the disease. When contracted, typhoid also causes flu-like symptoms, and can ultimately lead to death as a result of diarrhea and dehydration. Gastrointestinal diseases like typhoid are among the major diseases in the Marshall Islands, but, since 1990, instances of the disease has decreased by 91.6 percent.

Today’s major killer in the Marshall Islands is non-communicable: cardiovascular diseases. Top risk factors for the country are high Body Mass Index, high glucose levels and dietary issues. High blood pressure, low rates of physical activity and smoking are also considered to be risk factors.

Citizens in the country, as well as travelers, can avoid contracting the major diseases in the Marshall Islands by using these prevention tactics.

Helen Barker

Photo: Flickr


The Gates Foundation, alongside government organizations from around the globe, is working hard to eliminate the polio virus. Rob Nabors, Director of the Gates Foundation, who oversees policy, advocacy, government relations and communications says he doesn’t think the general public realizes that, in the next two years, polio could be completely eradicated on a global scale.

The poliovirus is passed through contaminated feces and is spread as a result of poor hygiene and sanitation. It is responsible for millions of people becoming paralyzed before vaccines became widely available in the 1950s.

Since the launch of global eradication efforts in 1988, polio incidences across the globe have dropped more than 99 percent. The disease’s occurrence rate plunged to 233 recorded cases in 2012 and occurred in only three countries: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. India, which was once considered to have the greatest challenge of eliminating polio, was declared free of the disease in February 2012.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four of the six regions of the World Health Organization have been certified polio-free. This includes the Americas in 1994, the Western Pacific in 2000, Europe in 2002 and Southeast Asia in 2014. This constitutes 80 percent of the world’s population currently living in polio-free areas.

Nabors and the rest of the Gates Foundation work hard to educate nations around the globe on the impact of their help. The organization believes it is up to those educated on polio to explain to audiences in the developed world exactly how important the leadership of polio-free countries actually is.

Unfortunately, budget cuts could have a significant impact on the complete eradication of the disease. Proposed cuts in the United States would shrink the budget from $30 billion in 2017 to $20.7 billion in 2018. These proposed budget cuts would make it difficult for organizations such as the Gates Foundation to interact with federal programs. The result would be that areas in need of polio vaccinations and education would not receive nearly as much help.

If polio were to be eliminated, it would become the second disease, the first being smallpox, to be eradicated globally. Proper funds for the delivery of polio vaccinations to areas in need is crucial for the disease’s eradication.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr


Kuwait is located on the Arabian Gulf and sits between Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. According to the World Travel Guide, Kuwait has a number of tourist attractions, even though its location might hinder it from topping the list for many travelers. Kuwait sits on a beautiful coastline and has many impressive buildings and eateries. As with any other destination, travelers should take the necessary precautions to avoid contracting the top diseases in Kuwait.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all travelers to Kuwait get vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. Both diseases can be contracted through contaminated food or water, and thus it is important for travelers to be careful when choosing where to eat. Luckily, the World Travel Guide lists many restaurants known for both safety and fine dining, including Pepper Steak House and Ayam Zaman Restaurant. The CDC recommends using available resources such as this guide to determine where it is safe to eat to avoid contracting the top diseases in Kuwait as a traveler. The CDC also warns that travelers staying with family or friends or in more rural areas are at a greater risk of catching typhoid.

Another pervasive disease in Kuwait is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). MERS is a respiratory virus unlike any other known viruses, according to the CDC. It causes a fever, cough, shortness of breath and, in some cases, can be fatal. The first case was reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, and it is quickly becoming one of the top diseases in Kuwait. A fatal case of MERS was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) in September 2015. The WHO issued a warning which states that individuals who have diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease or are immunocompromised have the greatest risk of contracting a MERS infection. The report cautions those at risk against contact with animals, especially camel,s and recommend good hygiene practices, along with avoiding the consumption of raw milk and undercooked meats.

In 2015, the WHO did not recommend any travel restrictions for Kuwait, as there is no evidence that indicates MERS can be transferred through person-to-person contact. However, in May 2016, the CDC issued a level two alert after cases of MERS were seen in several countries around the Arabian Gulf. These cases occurred in travelers and also in people they had been in close contact with. The CDC does not discourage travel to these areas, but they recommend that travelers consult with a doctor to determine risk factors and if additional precautions are necessary.

Helen Barker

Photo: Flickr