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File:U.S. and Djibouti healthcare workers deliver care DVIDS82578.jpgDjibouti suffers from a deadly combination of limited healthcare facilities and extensive health problems. With the help of foreign assistance from nations such as the United States, healthcare in Djibouti may be able to overcome these challenges.

Where is Djibouti?

Djibouti, officially named the “Republic of Djibouti,” is an African country located in the Northeastern quadrant of the continent. It is a part of the “Horn of Africa,” along with Eritrea to the North, Somalia to the Southeast and Ethiopia to the Southwest. Djibouti stands out as a significantly smaller nation than the other countries. Ethiopia, for instance, is 48 times larger than Djibouti.

Even more of a standout than its physical size is Djibouti’s population. Djibouti has less than one million citizens, at 973,560 as of 2019. In comparison, Ethiopia has more than 100 times as many citizens, with a population of 112 million people. Despite Djibouti’s small population size, the nation has historically struggled with poverty, a similarity shared with other countries in the Horn of Africa. As of 2017, 17.1% of Djibouti’s citizens lived on less than $1.90 a day—the very definition of extreme poverty.

Healthcare in Djibouti

One of the largest consequences of this national poverty is extremely limited healthcare in Djibouti. There are many crippling health problems in the nation, but thanks to global efforts, these problems are being addressed. However, there is still much to be done to provide communities in Djibouti with accessible and affordable health care. By furthering global efforts, Djibouti will be able to provide proper medical treatment to its citizens in the future.

Limited Facilities

Djibouti has a severe lack of healthcare facilities. The country’s capital has the nation’s highest concentration of medical facilities, and even still there are very few. Moreover, the facilities can only fulfill limited emergency operations. For instance, trauma services are “only for stabilization and air ambulance transfer.”

Outside of Djibouti’s capital, the problem is astronomically worse. In many remote places, there is so easy access to health care facilities. The few health facilities in the country are limited to certain medical emergencies.

Djibouti’s healthcare workers often recommend visitors to evacuate the nation when significant medical treatment is necessary. This is naturally not possible for Djibouti’s citizens, who are for the most part out of luck when requiring hospitalization.

Organizations around the world are working to increase the capacity and concentration of healthcare facilities in the country. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), for instance, has helped fund the cause for many years to date. USAID provides much-needed assistance to “support health facilities in order to increase service uptake.”

Foreign assistance has not only been critical toward expanding healthcare facilities in the nation, it has also been crucial in addressing the country’s biggest health issues.

Health Problems in Djibouti

Djibouti has a variety of deadly health issues that threaten the lives of the nation’s citizens on a daily basis. One of the most prevalent is HIV/AIDS, which greatly impacts the Horn of Africa. USAID focuses on supporting the government of Djibouti’s national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS.

Together, the organizations plan to create accessible prevention programs, improve the outcome for PLHIV (People Living with HIV) and bolster the evaluation of the “national response, coordination, management and monitoring” of anti-HIV/AIDS measures.

The cooperation between the United States and Djibouti is not only effective in addressing existing health problems but is also successful in preventing new ones. One such potential threat to the nation is polio.

Djibouti itself has been free of polio since 1999, but there have been a plethora of outbreaks in its surrounding countries in the Horn of Africa, such as Ethiopia and Somalia. As a result, USAID has increased polio awareness and surveillance. They also ensured that every child in Djibouti has been given the polio vaccine. Thanks to these efforts, polio still remains undetected in Djibouti.

Djibouti Amid COVID-19

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Djibouti will not only face COVID-19 but and other serious health problems such as malaria, dengue fever and tuberculosis. It will take multiple nations fighting for better healthcare in Djibouti for the nation’s healthcare facilities to adequately handle these threats.

The people of Djibouti are living in extreme poverty. Their limited healthcare facilities alone are not enough to address the massive health problems in the nation. Foreign aid from countries such as the United States has been crucial to combat these health issues and develop medical facilities, giving individuals in Djibouti the opportunity to live longer and healthier lives.

– Asa Scott
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

common diseases in Djibouti Two common diseases in Djibouti are HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The weak infrastructure of the national health system, equipment shortages and scarcity of human resources make treating and eradicating tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in Djibouti difficult.

The prevalence of tuberculosis in Djibouti is among the highest in the world with over 200 people reported as infected weekly. Tuberculosis is an airborne bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Due to malnutrition, diminished water resources and steadily increasing border movements there has been a rise in tuberculosis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the diseases is compounded by the difficulty of access for numerous localities, lack of resources, limited capacities of mobile health units and the reduced mobility of the rural population.

HIV/AIDS is one of many common diseases in Djibouti. It is a sexually transmitted disease that destroys the immune system and eventually results in death without proper treatment. Djibouti has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world among young adults and the number of those infected only rises.

In 2015, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that over 9,000 people in Djibouti were living with HIV/AIDS. At least 8,000 are adults over the age 15. The epidemic has left an estimated 5,000 orphans up to the age of 17.

Over the years, the epidemic has continuously grown and affected the lives of not only those infected but their loved ones as well.

The government of Djibouti has declared a plan to invest in improved control of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The HIV/AIDS National Strategic Plan and National Tuberculosis Strategic Plan will be implemented through public sector agencies, private and non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations.

The goal is to contain and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS as well as tuberculosis and its impact on those infected and affected by the epidemic. They will work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis by reducing transmission, expanding access to treatment, providing care and support.

HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis are two of the common diseases in Djibouti. Countless are suffering due to the impact of the diseases. The government of Djibouti has decided to implement efforts to contain the diseases and to lessen the impact on those not only infected but affected by the diseases.

Danyel Harrigan

Photo: Flickr