Diseases in India
India is a sub-continent in Southern Asia that boasts the second largest population in the world following China, with roughly 17 percent of the world’s population. India plays a vital role in multiple international organizations including the U.N., World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While India has sustained large economic growth—up to 10 percent annually—and a GDP amounting to roughly $1.6 billion, not everyone has reaped the benefits of these feats. India ranks as one of the poorest nations in the world with approximately 68.8 percent of its citizens living in poverty—that is over 800 million people. A life of poverty for these citizens hastens the spread of diseases that inevitably lead to chronic impairment or death. These are the top eight diseases in India.

Top 8 Diseases in India

  1. Ischemic Heart Disease – Commonly referred to as coronary artery disease (CAD), this condition is the number one cause of death in India. Independent groups such as the Indian Heart Association work to raise awareness of the issue through cardiac screenings and informational sessions. Indian dietary habits can be poor with many foods involving butter, grease and fatty foods. This is especially true for poorer segments of the population where this type of food is cheaper and easily accessible. From 2007 to 2017, there was an approximate 49.8 percent increase in the number of deaths in India caused by ischemic heart disease.
  2. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – People primarily contract this disease through smoking, second-hand smoking and fume inhalation. Roughly 30 million Indians suffer from a moderate or severe form of COPD. Early detection of COPD can lead to successful treatment and survival of the patient. Factory pollution in India is rampant and the use of cigarettes is all too common, especially among poorer sections of the population. The impoverished have limited access to medical clinics with 56 percent of the population lacking health care, and thus, unable to get adequate treatment for COPD.
  3. Diarrheal Diseases – Diarrheal diseases account for a significant portion of childhood mortality in India. It is the third leading cause of childhood mortality and studies have correlated this to hygiene, malnutrition, improper sanitation and an impoverished upbringing. A lack of affordable care and education for families will lead to further prominence of diarrheal diseases in Indian society. Currently, the U.S. Agency for International Development is working to implement effective and affordable solutions to counteract sanitary related diseases in India.
  4. Lower Respiratory Infections – Respiratory infections such as influenza, pneumonia and bronchitis are all diseases that harm lung function in the body. Indians are extremely susceptible to these due to the high concentration of air pollution throughout the country, especially in poor rural and urban areas. In 2018, 14 out of 15 of the most polluted cities in the world were in India according to the World Health Organization. Further, air pollution also led to roughly 1.24 million deaths in India over the course of 2015.
  5. Tuberculosis – In 2016, there were 2.8 million reported cases of TB and about 450,000 deaths. This disease is rampant among the impoverished in India because there is not a sufficient amount of clinics and professionals to resolve the issue. The vaccine for tuberculosis is not accessible for Indians in the poor parts of the nation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to eradicate tuberculosis by 2025. Through a $1 million partnership with USAID, India hopes to strengthen the detection and treatment of tuberculosis.
  6. Neonatal Disorders – While incidences of neonatal disorders in India have decreased from 52 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 28 per 1,000 in 2013, this is not an indicator of sustainable progression in India. The truth of the matter is that neonatal decline simply boosted the infant mortality rate because of a brief time-lapse in the survival of the newborn. In India, one can attribute neonatal deaths to asphyxia, pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis, tetanus and an array of other preterm abnormalities. Further, studies show that there is an inverse correlation between socioeconomic status and neonatal deaths. In impoverished rural parts of the country, the neonatal mortality rate is 31 per 1,000 live births whereas it is 15 per 1,000 live births in urban parts of the nation.
  7. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) – Contrary to popular belief, CKD impacts lower-income countries as well as developed ones. In more developed countries, individuals are able to get access to life-saving treatments. Lower-income nations and portions of nations do not share the same luxury. Scientists predict that there will be 7.63 million deaths from CKD in India in 2020; this is up from the 3.78 million CKD deaths in 1990. The poor in India do not have the finances to receive transplants or the means to attend a reputable hospital.
  8. Tumors – Accounting for 9.4 percent of deaths in India, tumors are the product of pathogens and the buildup of harmful germs in the human body. While not extremely common, these tumors are affecting young and middle-age individuals at an alarming rate. Tumors are also root identifiers of cancer. In the last 26 years, the cancer rate in India has doubled and caused significant economic loss, exemplified by a $6.7 billion loss in 2012. Breast cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer and oral cancer are extremely prominent in the nation. The costs of treatment are not attainable for all of the affected and thus cause an increase in mortality. India aims to increase the number of physicians and centers for treatment and research through a $20 million initiative. Nongovernmental organizations are also working to raise awareness and supporting early detection methods across the nation.

Since its independence in 1947, India became one of the strongest nations on the planet. With an unprecedented economic boom, India is an emerging global superpower. Despite India’s successes, it is still lagging behind many western countries in its accessibility to medicine, medical facilities and equal wealth distribution.

The top eight diseases in India are pressing problems the nation can resolve through adequate reform. While the situation may appear hopeless, India is taking strides forward to ensure that each citizen lives a prosperous and meaningful life. Technological advances such as new surgical techniques and radiotherapy equipment continue to help counteract malignant tumors and potent cancers. Furthermore, the Indian government has enacted the National Clean Air Plan to reduce air pollution by 20 to 30 percent by 2024. This has prompted individual cities throughout the nation to limit their carbon output through the use of more efficient technologies and stricter regulations. India can continue to thrive as a global economic power while working to resolve its internal problems.

– Jai Shah
Photo: Flickr

The success of a new rotavirus vaccination program in Malawi has received global attention, as world leaders and advocates now call for the widespread distribution of the vaccination. In the last five years, this southeast African country has seen a significant decline in infant death by about one third.

Rotavirus Vaccination Program in Malawi

In many impoverished countries, rotavirus is a leading cause of death in children and infants; in fact, 121,000 deaths from the virus were reported in Africa in 2013. The infection is shed in the infected individual’s stool, which can then spread into the environment and infect other individuals. Rotavirus is most often transmitted within poor sanitation conditions. Handwashing is important to combatting such infection, and setting up handwashing stations in impoverished countries could help improve conditions and limit infections.

Unfortunately, such measures are not enough to completely prevent spreading, and thus why vaccination is an essential prevention tool. The rotavirus most often infects infants and young children and symptoms can take up to two days to appear. The most common symptoms are severe diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain that leads to extreme dehydration, which is often fatal in impoverished countries. Children who are not vaccinated often suffer from more severe symptoms.

Promising Studies Bring National Hope

Thankfully, the new rotavirus vaccination program in Malawi has demonstrated immense success. Studies from Liverpool University found that of the children who received the vaccination, 34 percent had a lower risk of dying from diarrhea. Such a promising statistic manifested the first major decline in Malawi’s infant mortality rate in decades.

Scientists from the University of Liverpool, University College London and Johns Hopkins University — alongside the help of Malawi health services — tracked the health and development of 48,672 infants following the implementation of the new vaccination program in over 1,800 villages. The data collected strongly advocated the incorporation of the rotavirus vaccination program in Malawi, as well as in other countries with high rates of diarrhea-caused deaths.

Despite the major health intervention brought by the rotavirus vaccination program in Malawi, some populous countries with high infant mortality rates have yet to adopt the program. Dr. Charles Mwasnsambo, Malawi’s chief of health services, asserts the value of vaccination programs by citing the study’s encouraging findings that show a large decrease in hospital admissions and a decline in infant mortality rates. Dr. Mwasnsambo told Global Citizen that he strongly believes the study to be a worthwhile investment.

Setting a Global Example

According to the Rota council of the 10 countries leading in rotavirus-related deaths, only six have rotavirus vaccination programs like Malawi’s. These countries include Kenya, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Rota council members, Malawi healthcare providers and medical researchers are calling for widespread distribution of the vaccination, especially in countries with high infant mortality rates.

Given the success of the rotavirus vaccination in Malawi, medical researchers and several world leaders agree that combatting this illness goes beyond handwashing. Leaders must advocate for vaccinations and implement such a measure in foreign aid packages if they plan to share Malawi’s success and continue to combat alarming rates of rotavirus-related deaths globally.

– Haley Newlin
Photo: Pixabay

Common Diseases in KiribatiKiribati is a small island country in the central Pacific. The people of Kiribati have a positive outlook on life, despite the fact that many factors such as a lack of sanitation, overcrowding, high unemployment and environmental threats have led to 22 percent of the population living without basic needs.

The Ministry of Health in Kiribati provides free hospital services and public health and nursing services on the island and tries to focus on disease prevention and education. Yet, the persistence of urban poverty, climate change and poor water quality have led to a nearly constant influx of disease on the island.

Diarrheal Disease
Diarrheal outbreaks are common diseases in Kiribati for a few reasons. One of the most prevalent sources of diarrhea is dirty water. One in 20 infants dies before their first birthday in Kiribati from drinking unclean water. Some other causes of diarrheal disease are poor food handling and public defecation due to overcrowding.

There are three different types of malnutrition: wasting (low weight for height), stunting (low height for age) and underweight (low weight for age). The most common type of malnutrition in Kiribati is stunting. Malnutrition not only reduces quality of life but also contributes greatly to infant mortality, weak immune systems and mortality in general.

Dengue Fever and Chikungunya Virus
Two other common diseases in Kiribati are dengue fever and chikungunya, both of which are viruses transmitted through the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. In 2015, it was reported that more than 12,000 people have been infected with mosquito-borne illnesses.

Ciguatera Poisoning
Ciguatera poisoning comes from consuming reef fish that have been contaminated by ciguatoxins, or marine biotoxins that cause food intoxication. The toxins can cause a wide range of neurological, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular symptoms. According to research, the toxins mainly develop in shallow waters that contain seaweed, sediments and dead coral. Thus, it is possible that low sea levels and surface water temperatures are contributing to the poisoning.

Lifestyle Disease
Some of the most common diseases in Kiribati are those that stem from certain lifestyle habits or behaviors. Diseases of this kind include HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and diabetes. The prevalence of HIV and STIs are due to a lack of sexual education. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are most often associated with physical inactivity and poor eating habits. Tobacco use also contributes to respiratory disease and cancers.

Kiribati is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) on a national development plan for the 2016-2019 period that includes operational plans for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. Immediate goals include reducing the risk of non-communicable diseases, improving maternal and child health, preventing the spread of communicable diseases and strengthening health service delivery.

Awareness and prevention of communicable disease will be key to implementing this plan. With the intervention of WHO, Kiribati has made strides in providing cost-effective, quality health services and preventing disease.

Madeline Boeding

Photo: Flickr

Battling DiseaseOne of the world’s leading killers can be found, not down the barrel of a gun, but within our bodies. Preventable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases and malaria have succeeded in wiping out millions of people worldwide. But with advancements in medicine and technology on our side, prioritizing vaccinations and other preventative measures has never been more crucial. Organizations such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are taking on the role of battling disease and ending these epidemics.

According to a recent study by WHO, HIV-related deaths are still amongst the top ten leading causes of death in the world, killing on average 1.5 million people in 2012. Additionally, diseases such as malaria, although easily curable, remain a massive threat, especially to developing nations such as Southeast Asia and Africa.

In 2015, 214 million new cases of malaria were transmitted worldwide. Young children below the age of five are especially vulnerable to this disease. In the same year, approximately 306,000 children died from malaria, 292,000 of which were from Africa.

However, while such diseases remain at large, great measures are being taken not only to cure, but to prevent these global killers from winning. In regards to the malaria epidemic, one of the Millennium Development Goals, known as “target C,” is currently working on reducing malaria transmission, successfully battling disease and decreasing spread by 75 percent. Moreover, WHO’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 is working to reduce malaria mortality rates by 90 percent, as well as eradicating the disease in 35 countries.

Other leading killer diseases can be prevented through basic hygienic practices, such as diarrheal diseases and dysentery. Yet, about 2.2 million people die from diarrhea, most of whom are children in developing countries that lack sufficient sanitary irrigation. However, sanitation efforts and campaigns supported by WHO, CDC, the U.N. and similar global non profits all work on bringing filtration and sanitary water accessibility to developing nations.

All in all, while disease should be recognized as a major threat, it is only as powerful as the measures taken to prevent and cure it. Global health organizations continue to instill sanitary and other preventable practices in nations to battle disease, in the hopes of ending these global killers.

Jenna Salisbury

Photo: Flickr


diarrheal diseaseFollowing the increased efforts made to improve global health in the past 25 years, there have been incredible advances in the reduction of preventable deaths including diarrheal disease.

Nevertheless, children remain the most vulnerable demographic when it comes to being affected by preventable diseases. Notably, one in five children will die of avoidable causes before the age of 5.

The majority of these deaths are made up of children living in poor countries, and one of the leading causes is diarrheal disease. Nearly 90 percent of deaths caused by diarrheal disease occur in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Severe diarrhea leads to life-threatening dehydration, so even if the child survives the illness, subsequent issues such as infection, stunted growth, cognitive impairment and poor immune response to vaccines can lead to a lifetime of compromised health.

While improved sanitation and access to clean water may reduce cases of diarrheal disease, treatments are also necessary in cases where those tactics are not enough.

For example, oral rehydration solutions (ORS) (mixtures of salt, glucose, sucrose, citrates or molasses) work quickly and effectively to revive someone who is experiencing the negative symptoms of dehydration and the accompanying health complications.

The solutions have been widely used in response to cholera outbreaks as a low-cost way to handle dehydration and save lives. The medicine is inexpensive — packets of ORS run for about 10 cents a piece. Although they must be mixed with clean water, the benefits of ORS treatments significantly outweigh the risks.

Oral rehydration solutions have proven to be an effective remedy for dehydration caused by diarrheal disease, and implementing them could dramatically improve the life expectancy of children living in poverty.

Furthermore, the simple administration of the medication does not require a doctor, and families could relieve a child showing symptoms without a trip to the hospital. Not only is this convenient, but the measure could prevent the symptoms from becoming life-threatening.

Despite the solutions being cost-effective for the medical conditions found frequently in poor countries, they are not yet easy to obtain. Recent measures have been taken by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand the availability of ORS in countries that would benefit from these treatments.

There is hope that through child health policy changes and increased funding, oral rehydration solutions will help significantly reduce childhood deaths from diarrheal disease and other preventable illnesses.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rehydration Project
Photo: Flickr

On average, 1.8 million people per year die from diarrhea-related diseases. Diarrhea ranks third as the leading cause of death among infection-related diseases just after respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS. Fifteen countries make up 70% of this number: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Uganda and Kenya. Approximately 2.5 million children around the world become sick because of diarrhea-related infections, with many of these children being younger than 5-years-old.

Many of these victims reside in Sub-Saharan Africa, where diarrhea-related deaths rank higher than deaths due to malaria, HIV/AIDS and measles combined. Along with death, diarrheal diseases contribute to stunted growth, malnutrition, increased healthcare costs and the inability to work or attend school.

Clean the World was created to help decrease the number of deaths caused by diarrheal diseases by collecting toiletries and other supplies for communities whose residents fall victim to poor hygiene. Clean the World was founded by Shawn Seipler, who seeks to revolutionize hygiene all over the world. The organization collects unused hotel soaps, discarded plastic bottles and other toiletries for communities living in poverty globally.

The collection process operates in three steps: hotels and other hospitality units register their hotel, Clean the World sends them collection bins so the hotels can begin collecting unused soap and plastic bottles and lastly, the hotels ship their collections when the bins are halfway full.

Staff and volunteers sort through discarded toiletries received through donations to decide which are viable to send to communities. They also request donations from manufacturers who send the donation to their facilities in Orlando, Las Vegas or Hong Kong. At these facilities, the outer layers of bars of soap are scraped off and what is remaining is grounded down to small bits and power-washed. The bits are then mixed with glycerin and other substances to form a new bar of soap.

The donations are then distributed to regions all over the world including Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and at-risk communities in North America.

In an article by The Huffington Post, “Buy One, Give One” companies are on the rise, including Clean the World. Like Clean the World, these organizations work with other organizations and corporations to provide donations to a cause. Clean the World has recently merged with the Global Soap Project to increase the number of communities to which they distribute donations.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Huffington Post, Recycle Nation,  Clean the World
Photo: Vegas Magazine

A World Health Organization case study of the quality of water in Bangladesh has revealed dangerously contaminated water. The daily use of this water puts many lives at risk.

The mayor of one region in Bangladesh, Nasir Uddin Ahammed, states that the community had believed that “water is life,” when the reality is actually that safe water is life.

In Bangladesh, diarrheal disease kills 62 in 1000 children under the age of five. The government has a current target to bring this number down to 46 by 2016.

However, when customs are deeply entrenched in traditional communities, it is difficult for change to occur quickly. In addition to diarrheal disease, other risks include dysentery and cholera.

Water sanitation programs have begun to work toward improving the safety of the water. Simple solutions, such as building platforms for tube wells and covers for water pumps and using clean containers for water collection, reduce the contamination risk of water.

Awareness campaigns can effectively help the citizens of Bangladesh address unhygienic practices. The WHO understands that it is unrealistic to expect programs to repair the 10 million tube wells in the country. However, targeted awareness campaigns can provide community members with the knowledge they need to make local changes.

Clean water is important for direct health reasons, and it is fundamental to the progress of communities. When children are sick from contaminated water, they cannot attend school. Furthermore, when community members are ill, the production and development in the region decreases.

With the mounting pressure on water systems due to migration from rural areas, clean and safe water is more important than ever. In communities, water can be purified with boiling. However, some families do not participate in this practice or may not be able to afford the fuel to boil water.

Current water sanitation programs are starting to see fewer diarrhea outbreaks with increased hygiene awareness. Moving latrines further away from tube wells has proven essential. In addition, with increased awareness, more community members are willing to pay for technologies and practices that will keep their drinking water clean.

Iliana Lang

Sources: WHO 1, WHO 2, UNICEF
Photo: Fast Company