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

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

Common Diseases in Sint MaartenSaint Martin is an island in the northeast Caribbean divided between the French Republic (Saint Martin) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Sint Maarten). The Dutch side, Sint Maarten, is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Common diseases in Sint Maarten range from non-communicable to more high-risk communicable diseases.

When traveling to any island or foreign country, the CDC recommends a series of vaccinations to prevent illness from communicable diseases. It is recommended that travelers to Sint Maarten receive these vaccinations:

  • Routine vaccines
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow fever

These vaccinations help prevent common diseases in Sint Maarten from spreading to tourists. A non-vaccine-preventable disease that is common is dengue fever. This is a leading cause of febrile illness among travelers from the Caribbean, South America and southeast Asia.

Common diseases in Sint Maarten can be spread by many means. The female Aedes aegypti mosquito transmits mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya. Taking precautions against mosquitoes by using bed nets at night, insect repellent and wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants can prevent these diseases. Zika is especially dangerous for pregnant women, as it can lead to birth defects. Others should use protection when there and home, and while traveling.

According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), cancer is a non-communicable, common disease in Sint Maarten that causes death. Among females, breast cancer is the most prevalent, followed by cervical cancer. Prostate cancer is the leading cause of death among men, with lung cancer coming in second. Lung cancer is also a contributor to a high number of deaths among women. These cancers can be caused by genetics or environmental factors.

Non-environmental factors such as overeating have led to childhood obesity, which is seen as an epidemic in the youth of Sint Maarten based on the Youth Obesity Research study done in 2010. In 12-17-year-olds, the prevalence of overweight is 39 percent, and of that group, 54 percent are obese. The study also indicated that 60 percent of youths do not participate in sports and rarely consume fruits and vegetables.

The government has declared its aim to ensure that their “education sectors promote programs aimed at providing healthy school meals and promoting healthy eating.” They want to make a difference by promoting physical activity and providing healthy food choices in the schools. In order to achieve this goal, the schools will need to cooperate with the parents and educate them on healthy eating at home as well as at school.

The common diseases in Sint Maarten vary from non-communicable to communicable, to preventable and non-preventable. The good news is that making healthy lifestyle choices and taking the necessary precautions, one can easily avoid disease.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in NepalThe central Himalayan country Nepal, population 29.4 million, is finding help in combating the top common diseases ailing Nepalese citizens. The three most common diseases in Nepal are lung disease, coronary heart disease and stroke. Nepal is ranked third in the world for lung disease.

These common diseases are the health effects of smoking, but the rate of these diseases has the potential to drastically decrease as the number of smokers decline. Nearly 16 percent of Nepalese population (15–69 years) are currently smoking, and 85 percent of those individuals are daily smokers. Samriddha Raj Pant from Nepal speaks on the prevalence of smoking in his country: “I have grown up in a society that labeled smoking as fashionable. During my childhood there were lots of tobacco advertisements, with lots of contacts who smoked.”

In The Journal of Tobacco Induced Diseases, an assessment of nicotine dependence among smokers in Nepal presented that dependence is prevalent, killing more than 15,000 people annually of whom 60 percent are male. The assessment stated the median age for smoking initiation was 16 (13–20) years.

The Nepalese people are trying to quit. Half of the respondents in the assessment wanted to quit smoking. Again, Pant has seen the same trend: “they left smoking step by step once health statutory warnings popped up.” This motivated Pant to found Education Against Tobacco in Nepal.

Education Against Tobacco spans 13 counties, encouraging 70 participating medical schools to volunteer 1,500 medical students. Pant is focusing Education Against Tobacco in Nepal on “community schools (like the ones I grew up studying in), as the socio-economic backdrop of the students is relatively weaker than those in private schools.” The common diseases in Nepal are being treated at the source — smoking — by educating children and preventing a new generation of smokers.

Education Against Tobacco supplies schools with an interactive station, in which students upload photos of themselves to “simulate the fundamental harmful mechanisms of smoking that affect the body, as well as to provide age-relevant and relatable examples to strengthen their self-responsibility and self-awareness.”

With the global force of doctors supplying education, smoking in Nepal may decrease across growing generations. The effects of smoking, which are also the most common diseases in Nepal, will only become less prevalent as the population kicks the habit.

Yosef Mahmoud

Photo: Flickr

Africa has had a long history with AIDS and has struggled to find solutions to keep AIDS-related deaths low. However, in the past few years AIDS rates in Africa have decreased, and it is no longer the leading cause of death.

This achievement is mostly due to better diagnosis and treatment, along with more information and better education on the condition. Additionally, other preventive strategies, such as self-testing, have become more prevalent. In fact, 40 countries have already added HIV/AIDS self-testing to their national policies, with 48 more developing similar policies, almost double the amount in 2015.

With these strategies being implemented, the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths in Africa have decreased by 24 percent over the last five years. In 2015, there were a reported 5.2 million deaths caused by group 1 conditions, which includes AIDS, with AIDS reportedly causing approximately 760,000 deaths in 2015, a decrease from 1 million in 2010 and 1.5 million in 2005.

With AIDS no longer the leading cause of death, lower respiratory tract infections have taken the lead. Yet AIDS is not the only disease that has decreased; malaria has also seen a decrease in deaths, reporting a drop of 60 percent in the last 15 years, accounting for about 6 million people saved from the disease.

With expanded education regarding AIDS prevention, treatment, and self-testing, Africa is on its way to fulfilling the U.N.’s goal of eradicating AIDS on the continent by 2030. Additionally, with funding from donor countries and supplying clinics with the proper drugs, AIDS in Africa will continue to see a drop in deaths over the next few years, meaning the continent can focus on other leading causes of death.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a country that has made huge strides in terms of disease reduction and increased sanitation. The nation achieved an all-time high of 98 percent of the population having access to clean water in 2010. This has enormously limited the number of diseases spread by poor water sanitation. With that said, what are the common diseases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?

Of diseases common in developing countries, less than 3 percent of the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has HIV/AIDS, dengue, tuberculosis or leptospirosis. This is due to impressive programs in the nation, such as the Expanded Program on Immunization, which maintained a rate of 95-98 percent immunization of children under five years old. Another program that helped to achieve these outstanding figures is the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission Program, which tested 100 percent of pregnant women for HIV/AIDS, and gave antiretrovirals, free of cost, to those who were positive.

There are very few diseases that can even be considered common in the small island nation. Of communicable diseases, the largest are acute respiratory infection, which had about 29,631 cases between 2006-2010, and the Zika virus, which had around seven cases per week in 2016. While cases of Zika have reduced greatly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it still poses a threat to the population, as there is no known cure for the virus and it can be spread very easily between individuals. Because of this, it is still considered a hazard to the population and those who are traveling there.

Overall, this small island nation has incredibly low disease spread because of its commitment to protecting its citizens at whatever the cost. Because of this, there are very few common diseases in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The country sets an excellent example for other developing nations for disease prevention and reduction. Even as the poorest country in the eastern Caribbean, with a number of other issues to deal with as it develops, it has made incredible progress.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Bahrain
People living with HIV/AIDS comprise only .01 percent of Bahrain’s total population. While Bahrain has a very low HIV/AIDS rate compared to other countries in the region, there are still other common diseases in Bahrain.

The Joint Mission found that cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases are all common diseases in Bahrain. Non-communicable diseases cause 78 percent of deaths in Bahrain. Many dietary behaviors are correlated with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Diets high in sodium and fatty acids, for example, can contribute to future cardiovascular diseases.

Cancer in Bahrain also contributes to a small percentage of deaths. Bronchial and lung cancers are the most common among the population of Bahrain. Tobacco use is very common among adults and children daily: one-third of men in Bahrain use tobacco.

Furthermore, much of the population is not physically active and does not eat enough fruits and vegetables. One-third of the population is hypertensive and 15 percent are diabetic. Diabetes has many effects on the population. Diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathies and heart diseases related to diabetes are prevalent in the population.

The government is in the process of coming up with preventative measures to decrease the cardiovascular disease rate and those of other common diseases in Bahrain. The National Health Strategy 2015-2018 will provide health insurance, and an executive committee has been established for a national health insurance program. The committee is currently looking for ways to improve efficiency in using scarce health resources.

Only a small amount of the nation’s budget is allocated for public health each year. In 2014, only 4.98 percent of the budget was spent on healthcare. The density of physicians and nurses has been fairly low over the past few years.

However, there has been some progress made in recent years. For example, the national medicine policy has been updated by the Directorate of Materials Management, and some government sectors have collaborated through the national purchasing committee.

Bahrain has a good economy and relatively low rates of disease compared to other countries in its area. With the proper treatment and education, Bahrain’s cardiovascular disease rate can decrease a small amount at a time. With the help of the government and its people, the country can work to continue to educate everyone on preventative measures.

Treasure Shepard

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Monaco

Monaco is best known as one of Europe’s microstates and a favorite destination of the wealthy. Like any country, there are common diseases in Monaco, but the good news is that they do not have much of an effect on the population’s health or longevity.

Travelers to Europe may not think they are in danger of contracting diseases, but it is entirely possible. Depending on what activities tourists participate in, according to the Centers for Disease Control, Monaco presents risks of Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and rabies. Hepatitis A is transmitted via contaminated food and water, whereas Hepatitis B is contracted through sexual contact or contaminated needles and blood products. Rabies, spread by bats in Monaco, is rare, but possible. Tourists who may be in areas with bats, or wildlife professionals who may be in close contact with them should get vaccinated for rabies.

Some of the more common diseases among residents of Monaco include various types of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Monaco is an extremely healthy country. Residents benefit from the Monaco Health Screening Centre, established as a preventative health resource. The most common cancers in Monaco are breast and bowel cancer. Monaco is confident that vaccinating for cervical cancer, which is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), along with screening will lead to the eradication of the disease. The Centre also screens for osteoporosis, breast cancer and HIV. The majority of patients who come to the Centre for breast cancer screenings are proactive in doing regular breast exams on their own.

Because there is considerable wealth in Monaco, it is no surprise that the average life expectancy is 89.73 years. Rich countries have more money to spend on healthcare. Preventative measures go a long way in catching serious diseases and illnesses which might lead to death if not detected early.

Cardiovascular disease also exists in Monaco, with 114 deaths per 100,000 people. Monaco ranks 188 out of 189 in this regard, with Japan having the lowest number of deaths from cardiovascular disease. Common diseases in Monaco are similar to other developed countries, but because of early screenings and other preventative measures, those illnesses are not as much of a threat.

Gloria Diaz

Photo: Google

Common Diseases in Nauru

The Republic of Nauru is a small island nation about 1,800 miles northeast of Australia, according to the BBC. The country has only about 10,000 inhabitants and there has been little economic activity since the 1980s, when its phosphate mines were exhausted.

Common diseases in Nauru include noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to a report submitted to the U.N. by the island nation in 2014. Health indicators, which are important when considering disease rate and mortality rate, are poorer in Nauru than in any other area of the Pacific region. NCDs affect communities and the government by making people more vulnerable to heat and water stress, which increases their vulnerability to climate change as well. This has made combating their causes a top priority.

Diabetes and its related complications account for most hospital admissions in Nauru. Life expectancy on the island is one of the lowest in the Pacific region and has gone down over the past 20 years. Diabetes affects 30 to 40 percent of the adult population and is one of the most common diseases in Nauru. NPR reported that amputations are a regular occurrence due to the disease. Other common diseases in Nauru include circulatory diseases such as hypertension and coronary artery disease. This is partly due to a shift from a traditional diet of root crops and fish to a modern diet loaded with processed sugar and saturated fats.

According to the Journal of Third World Studies, alcohol and cigarettes and the increased consumption of high fat diets has increased the prevalence of NCDs in the South Pacific region. This problem can be traced to an improved standard of living.

The government of Nauru developed a strategic plan in 2014 which was outlined in a document titled Nauru Non-Communicable Disease Strategic Action Plan 2015-2020. This plan was drafted in order to combat these problems and its main goal is to reduce the problems caused by NCDs in Nauru by 2020. About 28 participants came together in October 2013 to begin developing the strategic plan. Most of these participants were from the nation’s healthcare sector. Other members included community, church and education leaders, sports representatives and news outlets. The national NCD committee met in November 2013 to review the actions suggested by the previous committee and the draft was finalized in May of 2014.

NCDs are some of the most common diseases in Nauru and are the largest causes of death and disability on the island. Heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease and lower repertory disease account for nearly 80 percent of deaths in Nauru. This island nation hopes to ease the burden that their citizens bear due to NCDs with their newly-developed strategic plan. Reaching the goals of this plan will surely help improve health on the island and extend the life expectancy of citizens of Nauru.

Fernando Vazquez

Photo: Flickr

 Common Diseases in Colombia

As a country with a tropical climate, Colombia is susceptible to all the illnesses and dangers that go along with such a climate. Mosquitoes abound, the heat and great heights cause rashes and altitude sickness and contaminated water can lead to many different illnesses. Luckily, Colombia has some of the best medical treatment in all of South America, and many of these diseases are on the decline. Still, the following illnesses are some of the most prevalent and serious threats presently facing the country:

  1. Zika virus
    Like all the diseases on this list, Zika virus is primarily spread through mosquito bites, though it can also be passed through sex. Zika currently poses the greatest threat to pregnant women; infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Pregnant women are therefore advised not to travel where mosquitoes are most abundant, which is anywhere below an elevation of 6,500 feet (which, unfortunately, comprises most of Colombia). Zika is also tricky to detect, as most people with the virus do not show symptoms. As of June 2017, there have been 1,342 reported cases of Zika in Colombia, a 60 fold drop from the previous year.
  2. Malaria
    Of the most common diseases in Colombia, malaria may also be one of the most serious and potentially deadly, and is, once again, spread mainly by mosquitoes. The disease occurs year-round, and is present everywhere below 5,577 feet. Travelers are advised to take preventative prescription medication, particularly if they venture into rural areas, where the risk is higher. Symptoms of malaria, unlike Zika, are fairly obvious, including fever, chills, nausea and vomiting. In 2016, 83,356 cases of malaria were reported in Colombia.
  3. Dengue fever
    Another one of the most common diseases in Colombia, is contracted through contact with mosquitoes, most commonly during the day and often indoors. While most people only experience a rash, fever and muscle pain for about a week, dengue fever can be life-threatening for some. So far, 2017 has seen 14,152 cases of dengue, a 78 percent reduction from the previous year.
  4. Chikungunya
    This disease is fairly new to Colombia, having first arrived in 2014. Yet another mosquito-borne illness, chikungunya is most common in lowland population centers. Its symptoms are similar to that of dengue fever, but it is not, as of yet, known to be fatal. In 2017, a total of 619 chikungunya cases were reported, a whopping 96 percent less than the previous year.

As is evident, a large number of the most common diseases in Colombia are spread through mosquito bites, so it is crucial to the health of those in Colombia that preventative measures are taken. Most, though not all, of the above diseases have vaccines that protect against them, which is good news for Colombians who live in cities with access to medical care. Rural areas, however, are still lacking in healthcare facilities. Other preventative options include mosquito nets, which are widely used, and mosquito-repelling sprays, though neither of these present a completely foolproof solution. It will be important in the coming years, particularly as the Zika virus continues to spread throughout South America, to ensure that healthcare is available to all who need it.

Audrey Palzkill

Photo: Flickr