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childhood obesity in poverty-stricken AfricaChildhood obesity is a major issue in middle-income countries. However, this issue is growing in low-income countries as well now. In Africa, micronutrient deficiency and wasting are among the biggest challenges associated with children’s health. However, with sugary foods and snacks becoming cheaper and more accessible, childhood obesity is becoming more of an issue in Africa. A 2000 survey revealed that 10% of low-income countries had a 10% rate of teenagers who were overweight. Just between 2014 to 2016, that number jumped from 40% to 75%. It is quite clear that this issue is quickly increasing.

The Problem of Childhood Obesity

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), childhood obesity in poverty-stricken Africa is one of the most pressing issues of this century. Without intervention, this issue will only continue to spread.  Along with it, long-term health problems associated with obesity, such as diabetes, will also increase. Furthermore, not only are obese people at risk of contracting preventable health conditions but they are also at risk of early death. According to WHO, obesity takes more than two million lives every year worldwide.

Despite the growing economy in Africa, millions still suffer from poverty. This poverty, coupled with the growth of obesity, has Africa simultaneously facing two major challenges. These two challenges have led to a significant increase in diseases throughout Africa. Since the 1980s, diabetes has grown by 129% in Africa. To combat the spread of diabetes and the consumption of high sugar beverages, South Africa has passed a bill that taxes such beverages.

Combating Childhood Obesity

A few organizations are taking steps to combat childhood obesity in poverty-stricken Africa. The World Health Organization places its focus on what types of foods to consume, the number of physical activities that are being completed and overall health. The organization believes that in order to avoid the increasing amount of childhood obesity that Africa is experiencing, there must be corrections to all three factors mentioned above.

WHO created the “Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health” to reduce obesity and improve overall health. The strategy focuses on four major goals that will ultimately help combat childhood obesity, diseases and death. The four main goals are to reduce risk, increase awareness, develop policies and action plans and monitor science. Though created 16 years ago, this strategy will only begin to make an impact after several decades. In order for the strategy to succeed, all levels of life and business must assist in the effort.

Childhood obesity in poverty-stricken Africa continues to be an issue. Although a relatively new issue in developing countries, obesity is quickly increasing. Africa is now combatting both ends of the nutritional spectrum, with malnutrition and childhood obesity now prevalent throughout the continent. Despite increases in these issues, organizations such as WHO are working diligently to reduce childhood obesity in Africa.

– Jamal Patterson 
Photo: Pixabay

poverty relief reduces disease
The universal rise in global living standards has helped combat diseases, spurred on by international poverty relief efforts. In fact, one study found that reducing poverty was just as effective as medicine in reducing tuberculosis. Poor health drains an individual’s ability to provide for themselves and others, trapping and perpetuating a cycle of poverty. Better public health increases workforce productivity, educational attainment and societal stability. Here are 5 ways poverty relief reduces disease.

5 Ways Poverty Relief Reduces Disease

  1. Better Sanitation: According to the WHO, approximately 827,000 people die each year due to “inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene.” Poor sanitation is linked to the spread of crippling and lethal diseases such as cholera and polio, which hamper a nation’s development. By investing in the sanitation of developing nations, the rate of disease decreases and the food supply improves. Furthermore, an all around healthier society emerges that can contribute more to the global economy. In fact, a 2012 WHO study found that “for every U.S. $1.00 invested in sanitation, there was a return of U.S. $5.50 in lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths.”
  2. Improved Health Care Industries: A hallmark of any developed nation is the quality of its health care industry. A key part of reducing poverty and improving health, is investing in health care initiatives in developing countries. When the health care industry is lacking (or even non-existent), the population experiences high levels of disease, poverty and death. Many American companies have already invested millions into the medical sectors of developing nations, however. In September 2015, General Electric Healthcare created the Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, a business unit that donates millions in money and medical equipment to developing nations.
  3. More Informative Education: Knowledge is power when it comes to fighting disease. Educational institutions provide a nation with one of the best tools to fight diseases of all kinds. According to a WHO report, “education emphasizing health prevention and informed self-help is among the most effective ways of empowering the poor to take charge of their own lives.” Schools must teach about proper sanitation, how to spot warning signs and form healthy behaviors. School health programs are also an invaluable resource in times of pandemics and disease outbreaks, as they coordinate with governments. This cooperation has helped tackle diseases, including HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. Eritrea, for example, has one of the lowest rates of infection in the region (less than 1%), partially due to an increase in HIV/AIDS education measures.
  4. Enhanced Nutrition: Malnutrition and food insecurity weaken the immune systems of the impoverished and significantly lower one’s quality of life. Millions of children each year die from famine or end up crippled due to dietary deficiencies. By investing in and supporting agricultural sectors of developing nations, aid programs help in not only decreasing poverty, but also in cutting down on illness of all kinds. Likewise, international aid during conflicts and natural disasters is crucial to ensuring the continued health and productivity of a country. One nation combating such an issue is Tanzania. With the help of aid organizations like UNICEF, Tanzania has decreased malnutrition for children under five.
  5. More Effective Government Services: Arguably encompassing all the previous categories, governments with more money and resources can effectively help stop diseases. A healthy general population leads to more productivity, which increases tax revenue. Central governments can then invest that money back into health care and sanitation, creating a positive feedback loop. Governments also provide a centralized authority that can cooperate with organizations like the WHO. In the 21st century, communication and cooperation between world governments is key to halting pandemics and working on cures.

Impact on COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of how improved government resources provide poverty relief, which helps combat the virus in the developing world. For example, Kenya has less than 2,000 cases due to effective government actions in curbing the spread of the virus. The systems and governmental services built up over past decades sprang into action and coordinated with organizations like the WHO. The government has also implemented various economic measures to help mitigate the negative economic side-effects. Moving forward, it is essential that governments and humanitarian organizations continue to take into account the importance of poverty relief for disease reduction.

– Malcolm Schulz 
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Tonga
Tonga is a country located in the South Pacific Ocean, within the South Pacific archipelago. The sovereign state consists of a total of 176 islands that spread across 270,000 square miles, 36 of which contain a fast-growing population of 100,651 people. About 70% of the 100,651 people live on the main island, Tongatapu. While life expectancy is on the rise throughout the country, there are still many health concerns. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Tonga.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Tonga

  1. Life expectancy rates in Tonga have been steadily rising for the past 70 years. In 1950, the average life expectancy was 55.78 years. Today, the life expectancy is 70.97 years. As of 2018, male life expectancy was 68.9, and female life expectancy was 72.8. This is most likely due to improvements in sanitation, housing and education. According to the U.N.’s projections, Tonga’s life expectancy will continue to increase and grow to 74.30 by 2050.
  2. The leading cause of death for all ages in Tonga is non-communicable diseases (NCDs). According to the Tongan Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), NCDs account for the majority of deaths in Tonga. These include cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes and more. Factors such as lack of physical activity, smoking daily, alcohol use, obesity, high blood pressure and eating less than five servings of fruit and vegetables per day increase the risk of developing NCDs. Of the population, 60.7% is at high risk of developing or having an NCD and 39.2% at moderate risk. One study even found that one out of every ten hospital patients in Tonga was admitted due to an NCD.
  3. The NCD that kills most people in the country is coronary heart disease. The latest data from 2017 reports that of every 100,000 Tongans, 128.72 (16.64% of the population) die from coronary heart disease.
  4. Tonga’s fertility rate has been decreasing since the 1950s. However, despite the steady decrease, Tonga’s fertility rate remains high compared to other countries. In 1955, the fertility rate in Tonga was 7.3 births per woman. Today, it is currently at 3.2 births per woman. In comparison, in Australia, there were 3.0 births per woman in 1950 but only 1.86 births per woman in 2015.
  5. Obesity is extremely prevalent among Tonga’s population. An important risk factor to NCDs, obesity has been increasing in Tonga since 1975. In 1975, 47.8% of people 18 and older were obese. In 2016, the obesity rate had jumped to 75.6%. This year, Tonga ranks number two in the world for the highest body mass index (BMI) with its population having an average BMI of 31.9. Tonga falls just below the world’s most obese country, Nauru, which has a BMI of 32.5. Tonga’s obesity rate is due to a couple of factors, including low levels of physical activity and poor diets.
  6. The diet of Tongans plays an important role in the level of obesity throughout the country. Most Tongan’s diets once consisted of root vegetables, coconuts and fish. Since joining the global economy, diets have become highly processed and fatty. The average diet is now made up of rice, bread, canned fish, sugar, salt and packaged noodles.
  7. Tobacco use, another risk factor for NCDs, has been slowly decreasing in Tonga. In 2000, 36.3% of the population used tobacco. The most recently projected smoking rate puts tobacco use at 27.9%.
  8. Health-related issues make up most of Tonga’s other top causes of death. Other top causes of death in Tonga include diabetes (13.63%), stroke (9.91%), influenza and pneumonia (7.26%), breast cancer (2.83%) and lung disease (4.60%).
  9. More people have slowly moved into Tonga’s urban areas in recent years. In 1955, the urban population was at just 15%, while today the percentage has risen to 76%. This urbanization results in a more sedentary lifestyle, which, in turn, becomes a risk factor for developing obesity.
  10. Tonga is the first country in the Pacific Islands to develop a plan to fight obesity. In 2017, the Tongan government implemented a tax on imported foods in hopes of discouraging people from purchasing them. The tax included items such as mutton flaps, industrial chicken and turkey tails. There are also groups such as Tonga Health Promotion Foundation (TongaHealth) that fight obesity in hopes of improving life expectancy. TongaHealth was established in 2007 by the Health Promotion Foundation Act. Dedicated to the prevention of NCDs in Tonga, the group recognizes the urgency in the country’s rising number of NCDs. It fights the risks by focusing on educating the population on topics such as healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco control and alcohol control.

While life expectancy rates are on the rise in Tonga, there is still work to be done to improve the health of Tongans and further increase life expectancy. Tobacco use, alcohol use, a lack of physical activity and poor diet are all putting Tongans at risk for obesity and NCDs. Moving forward, the government and other humanitarian organizations must focus their efforts on improving health and life expectancy in Tonga.

– Marlee Septak
Photo: Flickr

facts about sanitation in ChadChad is a country highly dependent on agriculture with two-thirds of the population employed in such a capacity. For agriculture to thrive, water must be plentiful. However, for Chad, ensuring access to adequate water supplies has and continues to be a challenge. Additionally, the citizenry at large suffers from a lack of sanitized water, which increases the danger of disease transmission. Here are 6 facts about sanitation and access to water in Chad.

6 Facts About Sanitation in Chad

  1. Basic water services: In 2019, 61% of Chad’s population lacked access to basic water services. Many had to obtain drinking water from an improved source like a well or piped water.
  2. Open defecation: 69% of Chad’s population practices open defecation, a result of Chad being the country with the largest percentage of its population without access to a toilet. Among the poorest Chadians, access to toilets improved by 7% between 2000 and 2017. However, 88% of them still practice open defecation.
  3. Hand washing: Chad is one of 19 countries where more than 50% of the population does not have a handwashing facility. Additionally, 76% of Chad’s people have no handwashing facility in their home. This is especially salient today since the World Health Organization recommends hand hygiene as “the most effective single measure to reduce the spread of infections”.
  4. Lake Chad: This body of water borders Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad and supports the existence of 30 million people. This economically important source of water, however, has shrunk by 90% since the 1960s. For communities reliant on fishing, farming and herding, a diminishing Lake Chad translates into resource constraints and sometimes conflict.
  5. Refugee crisis: Conflict caused by Boko Haram and other insurgent groups in the region has displaced thousands of Chadians and others. For example, in Kobiteye, a refugee camp bordering the Central African Republic, 24,000 refugees live without adequate access to water.
  6. Lethality: The inability to consume clean water is costly, taking the lives of thousands in Chad. A U.N. report found children under five in conflict-affected states were “more than 20 times more likely to die” from unsafe water or lack of sanitation than from the conflict itself.

Solutions

In response to Chad’s water crisis, some organizations and governments have stepped up assistance. In 2019, World Vision Chad redirected 70% of its funding to providing safe water access. They reached 18,000 displaced refugees with 45 boreholes. A few years ago, USAID dug 113 wells that reached 35,000 people since 2008.

Other organizations are focusing on leveraging technology to improve water access. Chad’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation partnered to fund the ResEau project, a 10-year 3D mapping initiative designed to improve borehole drilling. Before ResEau began, boreholes successfully reached water 30 to 40% of the time. Now, boreholes successfully reach water over 60 percent of the time.

Additionally, ResEau also contributed to creating a master’s degree program in Hydrology and GIS at the University of N’Djamena in Chad. This program has benefited more than 100 students so far, many of whom work for Chad’s Ministry of Water and Sanitation. Leapfrog, the 3D technology company that ResEau used for its geological modeling, stated that the project “will enrich the livelihood of all those who live in Chad, by providing the skills and knowledge needed for a robust integrated water management system”. Steps like these represent successes that individual donors and donor governments need to build upon.

– Jonathan Helton 
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Sierra LeoneSierra Leone is a small nation located on the coast of West Africa. While the country boasts an abundance of natural resources, it is also a poor nation, with a healthcare system in dire need of improvement. Here are 9 facts about healthcare in Sierra Leone.

9 Facts About Healthcare in Sierra Leone

  1. Sierra Leone has one of the lowest life expectancies on the globe. In 2018, the average life expectancy in Sierra Leone was 54.3 years. This places the nation among the bottom five in the entire world. In comparison, the average global life expectancy is 72.6 years.

  2. Sierra Leone faces high rates of infant and maternal mortality. Similar to life expectancy, infant and maternal fatality rates help gauge the quality of a nation’s health care system. In 2015, 87.1 infants died per 1,000 births in Sierra Leone, while 1,360 mothers died per 100,000 births. In the U.S., just 5.4 infants died per 1,000 births, and only 14 mothers died for every 100,000 births. Birth-related deaths generally occur when there are delays in women seeking, reaching and receiving care.

  3. All people living in Sierra Leone are at risk of malaria. Malaria is endemic to the nation, and poses a great health risk. In fact, four out of every ten hospital visits in Sierra Leone are due to malaria. Children are at particular risk, and the disease contributes to the nation’s high number of child fatalities. However, rates of the illness are falling across the country due to preventative practices such as sleeping under insecticide treated nets. Earlier diagnoses and treatments also contribute to the lowered rates of illness. By the end of 2020, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone hopes to have decreased cases by 40 percent.

  4. The Ebola outbreak of 2014 hit Sierra Leone particularly hard. Despite its relatively small population, there were more cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone than any other country. To be exact, there were a total of 14,124 cases in the country, including nearly 4,000 deaths. The first case was reported in May 2014, and Sierra Leone was not declared Ebola-free until February 2016. According to the World Health Organization, the virus was able to spread so widely due to the weaknesses of the healthcare in Sierra Leone. These weaknesses included too few healthcare workers, not enough oversight and a lack of resources.

  5. Disabled residents face tough conditions. Approximately 450,000 disabled people live in Sierra Leone, including those who were maimed in the decade-long civil war that ended in 2002. The government does not currently provide any assistance to the disabled. Those with disabilities resort to begging on the streets of Freetown, the nation’s capital. Disabled youth turned away from their families (due to the family’s inability to support the youth) often form their own communities on the streets. Employment can also be hard to achieve due to discrimination. Julius Cuffie, a member of Parliament who suffers from polio, brings awareness to the disabled’s struggles. Hoping to bring the disabled’s issues to the forefront, Cuffie pushes for the Persons with Disabilities Act.

  6. Corruption exists in Sierra Leone’s healthcare system. According to a 2015 survey, 84 percent of Sierra Leoneans have paid a bribe just to use government services. Additionally, about a third of the funds given to fight the Ebola crisis are not accounted for. This translates to roughly 11 million pounds, or almost 14 million dollars. Sierra Leone has a literacy rate of about 40 percent. As a result, many health care services overcharge unknowing residents for basic services. A new initiative, put together by the nation’s Anti-Corruption Commission, advises residents to report cases of bribery.

  7. In 2010, Sierra Leone began offering free health care. The Free Healthcare Initiative (FHCI) aims to decrease the nation’s high maternal, infant and child mortality rate. The government also hopes the initiative improves general health across the country. The ordinance provides a package of free services for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under the age of five. The program has not been without its challenges, however, due to the aforementioned weaknesses of previous systems of health care in Sierra Leone. That said, the initiative has resulted in a number of positive changes. For example, there has been an increase in the number of healthcare staff, a larger willingness for parents to seek care for their children and a reduction in mortality for those under five.

  8. There has been an increase in efforts to strengthen emergency medical response in Sierra Leone. Road accidents kill thousands each year in the country. In response to this, the First Responder Coalition of Sierra Leone (FRCSL) was created in 2019 to improve the state of urgent medical care. Five national and international groups in Makeni, a city in northern Sierra Leone, founded the coalition. The group aims to provide emergency care, treat the high numbers of injuries and resolve the low amount of pre-hospital treatment in Sierra Leone. In its first two months, the FRSCL trained 1,000 Makeni residents, equipping each one with a first aid kit. The coalition hopes to train 3,500 more in the next six months. It also plans on expanding out of the northern province in the next five years. Hopefully, the FRCSL’s efforts will save thousands of lives from vehicle accidents in the coming years.

  9. CARE is working to improve sexual and reproductive health for women and girls in Sierra Leone. The humanitarian agency began working in the country in 1961. Goals of the organization include providing medical supplies and contraceptives, giving training to healthcare workers and working with the community to eliminate attitudes that prevent women from discovering their rights to sexual and reproductive health. CARE is currently present in approximately 30 percent of the country’s communities, particularly in areas that have high rates of HIV infection and teenage pregnancy. One Sierra Leonean mother, named Fanta, credits CARE with educating her about proper breastfeeding and health practices, leading to the survival and continued health of her daughter.

Healthcare in Sierra Leone is an issue that is complicated by the nation’s high rates of poverty, many endemic diseases and tumultuous political history. While shocking statistics, such as the country’s low life expectancy and high maternal and infant mortality rates paint a grim picture, there are signs of progress being made, and there is potential for much more change on the horizon.

– Joshua Roberts

Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in South Africa
Reports of COVID-19 fill the news and media daily. From increases in cases and closures to decreases in fatality rates and re-openings, the news channels are consumed by COVID-19 headlines. However, one thing not covered much in the media is how African nations are faring during these uncertain times. South Africa is currently leading the African continent in the number of COVID-19 cases, and there is seemingly no end in sight. Here is a look at the specific impact of COVID-19 in South Africa.

Lockdown

COVID-19 in South Africa follows a similar origin path as the rest of the world, where the virus went undetected or misdiagnosed for weeks, maybe months, before its first confirmed positive case appeared. South Africa, like most nations, went into lockdown in late March. The South African government, as of April 27, 2020, planned to gradually loosen restrictions beginning on May 1, 2020.

The level of strictness for lockdowns varies from country to country. South Africa is one of the nations implementing strict restrictions for its lockdown. The country has been on Level 5 restrictions. Level 5 restrictions prohibit citizens from performing the majority of activities, including leisurely ones such as exercise or going to the convenience store. Furthermore, the police may confront anyone who leaves their dwellings.

Numbers

The reported numbers in South Africa are much lower than those reported around the world. This may be the result of strict lockdown enforcement as opposed to some nations with looser lockdown restrictions. As of April 28, 2020, the African country reported 4,996 confirmed coronavirus cases and 93 deaths. South Africa is also experiencing a recovery rate of approximately 25 percent, which is a significant factor in the government’s decision to begin loosening restriction laws.

Despite large numbers of recovering patients, COVID-19 in South Africa has not gone away. The number of cases continues to rise, much like the rest of the world. On March 5, 2020, South Africa diagnosed its first patient with COVID-19. On April 15, 2020, the nation had a total of 2,605 confirmed cases, with 4,996 by the end of April. Although the virus is not going away anytime soon, South Africans are certainly doing their part to reduce the spread of the virus.

Social Distancing

Social distancing is the practice of remaining apart from others to decrease the spread of the virus. South Africa has been on lockdown and enforcing social distancing since late March, about a month after the nation diagnosed its first COVID-19 patient. On May 1, the government loosened the restrictions to Level 4. Level 4 restrictions consist of the ability to travel nationally, but not internationally. A few small local businesses also opened.

Moving Forward

In South Africa and around the world, people are social distancing and quarantining. For COVID-19 to be successfully tackled in South Africa, the nation must continue to prioritize the health of its citizens and financially support those who are struggling with unemployment and poverty. This will hopefully result in a significant drop in the number of cases in the country. Moving forward, South Africa and other nations around the world should use the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for future pandemics and epidemics.

– Cleveland Lewis 
Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in MauritiusLocated in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southern Africa, Mauritius is an archipelago that is only about 500 miles east of Madagascar. At almost 11 times the size of Washington D.C., Mauritius was first explored by the Portuguese in the 16th century and subsequently settled by the Dutch. With a life expectancy of 74 years for the country’s 1.2 million inhabitants, the most common diseases in Mauritius that are life-threatening are non-communicable.

According to Commonwealth Health, “non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Mauritius accounted for an estimated 87 percent of all mortality in 2008.” The most common diseases in Mauritius are cardiovascular diseases, which accounted for 36 percent of total deaths across all age groups in 2008. Diabetes, cancers and non-communicable variants of respiratory diseases contributed 23 percent, 12 percent and five percent to total mortality, respectively.

Cardiovascular diseases, “diabetes, urogenital, blood and endocrine diseases”, and cancer are considered the deadliest overall, with ischemic heart disease, diabetes and cerebrovascular disease in the lead.

Ischemic Heart Disease, also known as coronary artery disease, involves a decreased blood flow to the heart. It was considered one of the deadliest common diseases in Mauritius in 2015. In 2014 alone, the diseases caused 1,148 deaths. Cerebrovascular disease, caused by damage to the brain from interruption of blood supply, was the third most common disease in 2015. Fortunately, the disease has decreased in prevalence by 9.5 percent since 2005.

Diabetes, a disease of permanently altered insulin levels and blood sugar was the second-highest cause of death in Mauritius as of 2015. In 2005, diabetes was only the third most common cause of death, but throughout the decade, deaths from the disease have increased in prevalence by a staggering 65.1 percent. This is due, in part, to recent changes in dietary habits with the introduction of fast food and lack of exercise as well as genetic predisposition.

Obesity, caused by diet and lack of exercise, can also play a role in diabetes. The prevalence of obesity has increased from 16 percent in 2009 to 19.1 percent in 2015, with approximately 398,417 Mauritians being overweight or obese.

Conscious of the growing health concern, the Mauritian government has established a National Service Framework for Diabetes. The goal of the organization is to lay out strategies for prevention and standards of care to be implemented.

The common diseases in Mauritius can be found in any country. While some diseases are unfortunately hereditary, there are ways of managing health to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases. By making conscious lifestyle changes, such as exercising and maintaining a healthy diet, the risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes can be effectively reduced.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr

Most Threatening Diseases in Moldova
The former Soviet republic of Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. The average Moldovan lives to be almost 70 years of age. This life expectancy rate is an average of three years longer than considerably wealthier countries in the Commonwealth Independent States (CIS). Despite this longevity, Moldovans have the second-highest rate of mortality in all of Europe, losing 980.094 out of 100,000 citizens annually. The most threatening diseases in Moldova that contribute to the high mortality rate include cardiovascular disease, cancer and cirrhosis.

Noncommunicable Diseases
The most threatening diseases in Moldova are noncommunicable. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer, circulatory and digestive system diseases, injuries and poisoning accounted for 73 percent of all deaths in 2012.

WHO declared tobacco and alcohol consumption to be the main contributors to the most threatening diseases in Moldova. Though cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases are not in the top three leading causes of death in the nation, these diseases still claim almost 210 men and women per 100,000 Moldovans a year and remain substantial overall causes of death.

Infectious Diseases
The incidence of tuberculosis has increased by 83 percent since 2013. Diarrhea, lower respiratory and other common infectious diseases also account for major infectious diseases.

Syphilis and gonorrhea collectively affect an average of about 90 people per 100,000 Moldovans. In 2009, the country faced a syphilis epidemic, during which 139 citizens per 100,000 were infected. Though the reported cases of Moldovans infected with syphilis have decreased, it is still more than double the average of the CIS.

The rate of HIV is double the average frequency in the CIS, affecting nearly 20 of 100,000 Moldovans. AIDS affects 6.6 of 100,000 individuals and is above the CIS average.

Government Action for Disease Prevention
In February 2007, the Law on the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS outlines a legal system that aims to educate Moldovan citizens on HIV/AIDS prevention. It works to ensure basic human rights and assuage discrimination for those affected. The degree is also designed to promote medical, social and psychological resources for those living with the disease.

The National Coordination Council is devoted to the enhancement of epidemiological studies and strategies to better control diseases like tuberculosis. The council aims to enhance government policies concerning the control of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis through efficient dialogue between the government and nongovernmental organizations.

Through these national programs, the most threatening diseases in Moldova will become less of an issue as prevention and care become more widespread.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

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.

Malnutrition
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

Common Diseases in Seychelles

Seychelles is an African nation consisting of many islands located off of the east coast of Kenya. Due to its geographical location, some of the common diseases in Seychelles are mosquito- and animal-borne.

Three of the more common diseases in Seychelles are dengue fever, chikungunya and leptospirosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dengue fever and chikungunya have a number of common symptoms. Fever, joint pain and headaches are some of the more prevalent symptoms of dengue and chikungunya.  Even though both have overlapping symptoms, they are still separate diseases and it is possible to be infected by both diseases at the same time.

Dengue fever and chikungunya are both viruses that are spread by mosquitos. Thanks to the tropical climate that Seychelles has, it is a high breeding ground for mosquitos, meaning that these diseases can be spread easily. In 2005 to 2007, it was reported that there was an epidemic of chikungunya in Seychelles that infected about 60 percent of the population.

Thankfully, a French team from the World Health Organization (WHO) went to Seychelles and assisted the islands. They destroyed domestic breeding sites of mosquitoes and began a public health education campaign.

There are no vaccines for chikungunya but there is a vaccine for dengue fever. However, only a few countries have approved the use of the dengue vaccine. Because the mosquitos in Seychelles can bite indoors or outdoors and are active both day and night, preventative measures are the best way to ward off these diseases. Wearing long sleeves and using bug sprays are common ways to prevent mosquito bites. Cleaning and covering standing water can help prevent mosquito-breeding sites.

Another one of the common diseases in Seychelles is leptospirosis, which is a bacterial infection spread through animal urine. Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, liver failure and death if left untreated. Like chikungunya, leptospirosis currently does not have a vaccine available to prevent it. However, since leptospirosis is bacterial, antibiotics can be prescribed as treatment.

Much like dengue fever and chikungunya, preventative measures are the best way to not become infected. Avoiding areas where infected urine may be found are unclean water sources, soil after rainfall and animal habitats is the best preventative measure against leptospirosis.

Thankfully, research is well underway to get a vaccine for chikungunya and leptospirosis. Due to the outbreak of chikungunya, knowledge was gained on how the virus behaves and that has allowed scientists to be one step closer to produce stronger tools against it.

Daniel Borjas