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Common Diseases in Russia
Despite its position as both the largest country in the world in terms of landmass and a superpower within the global community both economically and militarily, since the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union, and even prior to that, drastic increases of common diseases in Russia have continued to occur. The causes for this are numerous and diverse, and the types of diseases being identified are often extremely contagious.

Common Diseases
There is no disputing that Russia, comparatively, is a very sick country, and the most common diseases in Russia are generally speaking, either preventable or curable. According to data from a 2014 World Health Organization report, the number of deaths in Russia caused by illnesses exceeded that of the U.S. by 54 percent.

Though coronary heart disease, strokes and HIV/AIDS claimed the most Russian lives in 2014, other common diseases in Russia include lung cancer, lung disease, liver disease, colon and rectum cancers, stomach cancer, pneumonia and different forms of influenza.

The country is also not estranged to seeing infectious diseases. As of 2017, some of the infectious diseases most affecting Russian citizens include typhoid fever, yellow fever, dengue fever, malaria, Rift Valley Fever as well as both hepatitis A and hepatitis E.

Causes and Analysis
Though the country has a socialized health care system that provides medical care to the majority of the population free of cost, it is highly underfunded, which has led to what is considered low-quality medical care by many developed nations and western societies. When attempting to understand the reasons behind the increase of common diseases in Russia, it is important to understand how changes in Russian politics slowly created a public health crisis. These changes took place before the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and only became increasingly worse following this event.

In the first four years following the fall of the Soviet Union, infant and maternal mortality rates increased substantially, life expectancy and fertility rates notably decreased and contagious diseases became widespread. According to a 1996 report published by the National Library of Congress, common diseases in Russia can be described as the result of the combination of environmental destruction through means including water and air pollution that were caused by the contamination of water and food products, specifically by mishaps involving nuclear development and improperly disposing radioactive material.

Among other things, the population is overcrowded, particularly in urban areas, which often produces substandard living conditions. There is generally widespread malnutrition due to an extremely disproportionate distribution of wealth in the Russian economy and high rates of alcoholism and tobacco usage. To make matters worse, there is a considerable lack of access to modern medical equipment and resources.

Long-Term Impacts
Although its effects may not be visible to the global community yet, public health in Russia is arguably one of the biggest threats to the country’s  future survival as a population. The threat is creating a concern among many that, if the current trajectory is maintained, there will inevitably be noticeable population decreases, as such decreases have already begun.

Between 1993 and 2015, the Russian population saw a decrease from 149 million to 144 million; unfortunately considering the current health crisis, experts have estimated that, if trends continue, the population could be as low as 107 million by 2050.

Hunter McFerrin

Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Burma
Burma, or the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia. It is a coastal region bordered by India and Bangladesh to the west, Thailand and Laos to the east and China to the north and northeast. Currently, Burma’s population consists of approximately 53,897,000 people.

Between 1962 and 2011 Burma was under the control of an oppressive military junta who suppressed almost all dissent of their rule. With the ouster of the junta group in 2010, the country has since seen a gradual liberalization, but the effects of the allocation of state funding to mostly the military has taken its toll on the healthcare in Burma.

Due to almost 50 years of neglect by the junta and foreign sanctions restricting outside help, the health care system in Burma has suffered heavily. The World Health Organization (WHO) found that Burma ranked last out of 190 countries according to their “overall health system performance” in a study conducted in 2013.

Burma has taken significant steps to improve their health care system, but problems persist. The lack of funding during the junta regime cut off access to the majority of public health care facilities, making some of the most common diseases in Burma hazardous or even deadly.

Hepatitis A and E

Both hepatitis A and E are viral diseases that interfere with the functioning of the liver. Hepatitis is spread through the consumption of food or water contaminated with fecal matter in areas with poor sanitation. Infected individuals generally exhibit symptoms of fever, jaundice, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

There was a 15 percent increase in the mortality rate of Hepatitis E between the years 1990-2013 in Burma. This is due in part to lack of educational materials and TV/radio broadcasting materials regarding the endemic nature of hepatitis in the country.

Typhoid fever

Another of the diseases in Burma caused by food or water contaminated by fecal matter or sewage. Triggered by the bacteria Salmonella typhi, symptoms include a high fever, headache, abdominal pain and either constipation or diarrhea. Typhoid fever is atypical to developing countries and is generally rare in industrialized areas. Mortality rates can reach as high as 20 percent of people infected.

The bacteria that causes typhoid fever is present in many Southeast Asian countries such as Burma in areas where there is poor water and sewage sanitation. Floods in these areas can also quickly spread the bacteria. Burma has suffered from heavy flooding since 2015.

Cholera

A diarrheal disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera. An average of five to ten percent of those infected will have severe symptoms characterized by severe watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps. Rapid loss of bodily fluids leads to dehydration and shock and can lead to death within hours without treatment.

The last major cholera outbreak occurred in late 2014 in the Yangon region of Burma. Over 200 patients tested positive for cholera and 41 were admitted to the hospitals for treatment. Township health officer Dr. Aye Aye Moe attributed the outbreak to poor sanitation, overcrowding and lack of clean drinking water. Authorities responded by chlorinating the water, providing information on food safety and improving sanitation through better waste management in the region.

Japanese Encephalitis

The leading cause of vaccine-preventable encephalitis in Asia, Japanese encephalitis is generally contracted through mosquitos. Most cases are mild but a small percentage of those infected develop severe encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) with symptoms such as a headache, high fever, disorientation, coma, tremors and convulsions. There is no universal treatment and care is generally specific to the individual.

The last major outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis in Burma occurred in 2014 affecting 41 people. Dr. Soe Tun Aung, the medical superintendent at Sittway General Hospital, said that steps that were taken to prevent the outbreak of the spread included spraying insecticide and repairing drains to prevent stagnant water in which mosquitos breed. Dr. Soe Tun Aung blamed an unhealthy environment along with a lack of awareness about the risks associated with mosquito bites as contributing factors associated with the outbreak.

Malaria

A mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. Individuals who contract malaria suffer from symptoms such as fever, chills and flu-like illness. Malaria is one of the most deadly diseases in Burma. The country accounted for close to half of all malaria deaths in the Southeast Asia in 2000. Burma has had issues with drug resistant strains of the disease and prevalence of the disease outside of city epicenters is very high.

Though there is still much to do, the government has made significant strides in allocating funding from the military to both medical goods and services to help fight diseases in Burma. This additional spending will not only improve the healthcare in Burma but will also create opportunities for multinational companies in healthcare consumer products, pharmaceuticals and medical services the ability to provide their services to the country.

The Burmese state, as well as the National Health Policy and the Ministry of Health have taken on the responsibility of raising the health status of the population. These important steps have the potential to improve overall healthcare and, through the liberalization of the country, allow outside organizations the ability to step in and provide support.

Drew Hazzard

Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Suriname

Suriname is a small country on the north coast of South America with a population of nearly 600,000. The country has improved much of its health standards in recent years when it comes to treatable diseases in Suriname.

As the country has grown economically and life expectancy has increased, the threat of diseases such as cardiovascular disease typhoid fever and malaria has been reduced. While the country has made progress, certain diseases in Suriname remain a threat in the form of outbreaks.

Suriname’s most recent disease outbreak was a yellow fever outbreak, the country’s first since 1972. This came as a surprise due to Suriname’s comprehensive vaccination programs, which have required yellow fever vaccines for all children starting at one year old since 2014. In response to the outbreak, the Suriname government enhanced vaccination activity to increase coverage and upgraded entomologic and epidemiologic surveillance by strengthening laboratory capacity.

Vaccination improvements have been one of the main factors reducing the threat of treatable diseases in Suriname in recent years. Today, national immunization coverage up is to 86 percent. Certain high-risk diseases such as Hepatitis B and C have been controlled thanks to the widespread childhood immunization programs.

Suriname also dealt with the outbreak of the Zika virus at the end of 2015, after four initial cases appeared, making them one of the earliest countries hit by the outbreak. Suriname implemented a health emergency risk communication plan to help spread awareness about the disease and contained it successfully. Today, government detection programs and strategies are utilized to reduce the threat of mosquitos, including the widespread use of treated netting.

Malaria treatment is another area which Suriname has seen significant improvement in the last decade. Confirmed malaria cases per 1,000 individuals have decreased drastically since 2005, dropping from 120 cases per 1000 to as few as 20 by 2014. Malaria deaths have also decreased as medical treatment and health infrastructure have improved.

Other diseases in Suriname that have been flagged by the government as recent threats are dengue fever and chikungunya fever. Over 2000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in the last 12 years, though none of them have been fatal. Chikungunya fever, another mosquito-borne illness, broke out in Suriname in 2014 with 17 cases, prompting the CDC to launch preventative efforts to raise awareness against the disease.

While several diseases in Suriname such as yellow fever present a threat to the country’s population, improved healthcare and immunization in the last decades have improved life expectancy in the country. Suriname‘s quality vaccination programs have reduced childhood deaths and will help the country when the next outbreak strikes.

Nicholas Dugan

Common Diseases in Luxembourg

Sandwiched between France and Germany, the small nation of Luxembourg is home to nearly 600,000 citizens. Health for the Luxembourgish people is mostly moderate, straying from the norms of Europe very little. However, common diseases in Luxembourg still take their toll on the population, and are more than attention-worthy.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report from 2004 begins by asserting that boys and girls born in Luxembourg can expect to live as long as any other child in Europe. In other words, the life-expectancy averages are very close. The report also notes that Luxembourg’s first-year-of-life mortality rate is among the lowest in Europe.

Common diseases in Luxembourg, as of the 2004 report, include noncommunicable diseases like heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, cerebrovascular disease refers to diseases in which part of the brain is affected by irregular blood flow (“cerebro” meaning “of the large part of the brain” and “vascular” meaning “of the arteries and veins”).

Of these diseases, ischemic stroke is the most common, and occurs when a blockage prevents blood flow to the brain. Victims of this type of attack can usually expect to feel dizzy or nauseated, can feel confused, have abnormal speech, loss of vision, and even experience unusually severe headaches.

Women in particular struggle the most with cerebrovascular diseases in Luxembourg; in fact, women “die from this cause twice as often between 25 and 64 years as women in [the rest of Europe].”

Contributors to cerebrovascular disease include unpreventable circumstances, like age, as well as things that can at least be somewhat controlled, like high blood pressure and smoking. One-third of Luxembourg men and one-fourth of women smoke, one of the highest rates in Europe.

However, cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death in Luxembourg.

The American Heart Association states that the most common effect of cardiovascular disease is a heart attack. This occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to part of the heart. If this obstruction blocks blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle which the artery connects to will begin to die.

Other types of cardiovascular disease include arrhythmia (irregular rhythm of the heart) and heart failure (when the heart cannot pump enough blood).

The current numbers show signs of improvement against the common diseases in Luxembourg. As of 2015, more than ten years later, health has improved in the small European nation. Life expectancy has jumped up to 80 in men and 84 in women, an increase of a few years each.

Cerebrovascular disease has also fallen off, dropping below Alzheimer’s disease, seeing a 25.4 percent decrease between 2005 and 2015. Ischemic heart disease has also seen an improvement, dropping by 22.5 percent in the same time frame.

Stephen Praytor

Photo: Google

Common Diseases in Dominica
Home to a smoking lake and built atop an underwater volcano, Dominica is a small island to the southeast of Puerto Rico. The island is in relatively good health compared to its Caribbean neighbors, but that does not mean that disease is not prevalent on the island. Below are five of the deadliest common diseases in Dominica.

The 5 Deadliest Common Diseases in Dominica

  1. Cardiovascular Disease
    Cardiovascular disease covers many different diseases. Coronary artery disease, strokes and hypertensive heart disease all fall under this umbrella. While not communicable, heart disease is still the number one cause of death globally. In Dominica the main contributors to cardiovascular disease are smoking, poor diet and high stress levels.
  2. Diabetes
    Diabetes is a condition that can be either hereditary (Type I) or contracted (Type II). It’s the body losing its ability to create insulin to keep up with high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Type II Diabetes, the most common form, is usually more prevalent in more developed nations due to diets high in sugars and carbohydrates.
  3. Lower Respiratory Infections
    Just like cardiovascular disease, lower respiratory infections are prevalent worldwide, accounting for more than 3 percent of all deaths globally in 2012. Luckily, in Dominica, lower respiratory infection mortality has decreased by 3 percent in the last decade.
  4. Prostate Cancer
    Prostate cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in Dominica. It’s estimated that one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his life. It’s one of the leading causes of death among men worldwide. It’s also one of the fastest-growing diseases. From 1990 to 2013, Dominica experienced a 105 percent increase in prostate cancer deaths.
  5. Chronic Kidney Disease
    Also known as kidney failure is the gradual shut down of the kidneys. As the kidneys stop working, fluids and excess salts build up in the body and as a last resort, patients are put on dialysis to filter out said salts. Diabetes and kidney disease are closely related, and both are related to diet. In the last decade, there’s been an 80 percent spike in deaths associated with kidney disease.

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it does run very nearly parallel to the most deadly diseases worldwide. What does that mean for Dominica? Nearly all of the most common diseases in Dominica are related in some way to diet and therefore preventable. Until breakthroughs are made in food science and medicine, these diseases will continue to plague Dominica and the world.

Thomas James Anania

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Cabo Verde

Vaccines have been a luxury for the leading countries of the world, but for poor countries, accessing them is much more difficult. Some diseases are preventable with a vaccine, but there are many that are not. Due to the poverty in Cabo Verde, diseases that can’t be prevented with a vaccine are just as common as the ones that can.

These are some common diseases in Cabo Verde that can be treated with a vaccine:

  1. Hepatitis A
    Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated food and water or through physical contact between people. Symptoms can take up to two weeks to appear and include jaundice or elevation of liver enzymes. In Cabo Verde, it is most common where the environment and drinking water are unclean.Hepatitis A typically lasts less than two months’ time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that “supportive care” is the best form of treatment. There are two vaccines available to prevent Hepatitis A — Vaqta and Harvix — which can be used on patients at least a year old.
  2. Hepatitis B
    According to the CDC, an estimated 248 million around the world people are infected with Hepatitis B. This disease is transmitted typically through blood and other fluids that are produced by the body. This can happen through the sharing of needles, unprotected sex and exposure to blood. Hepatitis B infects the liver and its symptoms are abdominal pain, jaundice, anorexia, vomiting and fatigue.For those with chronic Hepatitis B, antiviral drugs are available, otherwise, there is no direct treatment for it. There is a vaccine that is administered in three separate doses as a preventative measure.
  3. Yellow Fever
    Yellow Fever is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that is carrying the disease. Young children are the most likely to contract it because immunity is developed as people age. In Cabo Verde, Yellow Fever becomes a problem beginning in July when the weather becomes dry and typically ends in October.There are no direct treatments for Yellow Fever. Those that contract Yellow Fever are advised to rest, use analgesics and antipyretics to control the symptoms and avoid another mosquito bite. In Cabo Verde, it is required that travelers are vaccinated before entering the country. Revaccination is no longer required as of July of 2016, but proof of a vaccination is needed when leaving Cabo Verde and entering a new country.

These are some communicable common diseases in Cabo Verde that cannot be treated with a vaccine:

  1. African Tick-Bite Fever
    African Tick-Bite Fever is spread through the bite of ticks that are infected with the disease. Symptoms are typically soreness of muscles, rash and fever which typically appear two weeks after the bite. In Cabo Verde, the disease is most common from November through April.
  2. Chikungunya
    Chikungunya is a disease that is spread through mosquito bites. Those infected typically experience joint and muscle pain, fever, headache and rash. The mosquitoes carrying the disease are most active during the day near buildings in major cities.
  3. Dengue
    Like Chikungunya, Dengue is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Its symptoms develop over the course of two weeks and are often fever, rash, muscle, joint and eye pain and vomiting. Some cases are more severe and bleeding, intense or even death can occur. Mosquitoes carrying Dengue are often found at an elevation of 6,500 feet and bite at any time in the day.

Prevention of common diseases in Cabo Verde is an important aspect for each citizen. Knowing what vaccinations are available and what measures to take when there isn’t one could keep the country from plummeting into a disastrous epidemic.

Mackenzie Fielder

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Slovakia

Located in Central Europe, just south of Poland, lies the Slovak Republic – otherwise called Slovakia. After returning to a market economy at the end of 1989 after the Czechoslovakian “Velvet Revolution” and suffering some brief years of economic hardship after its separation from the Czech Republic, the country has implemented many economic reforms. Today, the 5.4 million inhabitants of Slovakia enjoy an open economy with strong growth and a sound banking sector. Despite its economic success, however, Slovakia is still affected by a number of harmful diseases. Here are the most common diseases in Slovakia today:

Ischemic Heart Disease
A condition characterized by narrowed heart arteries, thus reducing blood flow to the heart, ischemic heart disease can eventually result in unexpected heart attack. Also known as coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease was assessed to be the most fatal of the common diseases in Slovakia in 2005. By 2015, it was still the most fatal, but the prevalence of deaths by the disease had fortunately decreased by 16.8 percent.

Cerebrovascular Disease
Cerebrovascular disease refers to any disease affecting blood flow to the brain. Such disorders often result in aneurysms, carotid stenosis, intracranial stenosis, vertebral stenosis, stroke and vascular malformations. In 2015, cerebrovascular disease was the second most fatal common disease in Slovakia, and had been for the past decade. However, the disease had fortunately decreased in prevalence by 17.4 percent within those 10 years.

Lung Cancer
A type of cancer beginning in the lungs, lung cancer can cause a person to cough up blood, experience chronic fatigue, have recurrent respiratory problems and lose weight unexpectedly, to name just a few symptoms. Smoking is cited as a high risk factor for developing lung cancer. In 2005, lung cancer was the third most fatal of the common diseases in Slovakia. In 2015, it remains so, but the prevalence of death by the disease has decreased by 2.8 percent.

Thankfully, the most common diseases in Slovakia have been decreasing in prevalence for the past decade. In addition, it was announced in 2015 that Slovakia would be focusing on assessing the country’s public health situation, including working on running more effective public health campaigns. Obviously, Slovakia is dedicated to improving the country’s health standards and reducing the prevalence of the most common diseases affecting its citizens.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Norway

Norway, a country in northern Europe, is known for its beautiful landscapes and happy population. While the country is commonly mentioned as one of the happiest countries in the world, it too faces the plight of disease just like the rest of the world. Here are some of the most common diseases in Norway.

1. Ischemic Heart Disease
Known as the most common cause of death in the Western world, ischemic heart disease is a shortage of blood supply. In its less severe form it is felt as angina, but as the disease gets worse, plaque begins to cover the wall of the artery, leading to a heart attack.

2. Alzheimer’s Disease
A type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior, Alzheimer’s disease is the second most common cause of death in Norway. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and begins to affect adults around the age of 65. In the early stages of the disease, those inflicted experience memory loss, but as it continues on it becomes difficult for them to keep up with a conversation or respond to the environment around them.

3. Cerebrovascular Disease
Encompassing different types of afflictions, cerebrovascular disease refers to any disorder in which the brain is affected by bleeding. The various conditions include stroke, carotid stenosis, vertebral stenosis and other diseases.

4. COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a disease that affects millions of people all around the world. This term is one that describes several conditions including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma and forms of bronchiectasis. While many people have subtle symptoms such as breathlessness and coughing that are a normal part of aging, these can be the first signs of more serious pulmonary issues.

5. Lung Cancer
One of the most common cancers in the world, lung cancer is a leading cause of death in Norway. Most of the time, lung cancer is caused by behavior choices, such as smoking. Other risk factors include high levels of pollution, radiation and asbestos exposure.

While many of the most common diseases in Norway are ones that come naturally as we get older, some of them, such as lung cancer, are ones most commonly brought about by behavioral and environmental choices.

Olivia Hayes

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in TogoAlthough it is a small country wedged between Ghana and Benin, the most common diseases in Togo can have a major impact on many.

The World Health Organization reported that in 2014, a little over five percent of the country’s GDP expenses went toward health. The organization also listed a 2015 data finding that males and females between 15 and 60 had slightly different death rates: 309 out of 1,000 people for men versus 266 out of 1,000 people for women.

HealthGrove further put this into perspective, highlighting that out of 100,00 people, 1,266 die yearly in Togo, and listed the country’s life expectancy at 60 years.

Of the common diseases in Togo, those that can be transferred (communicable diseases) are some of the most prevalent.

Diarrhea, lower respiratory and other common infectious diseases
These accounted for a little less than 20 percent of deaths overall and slightly over 30 percent of communicable diseases specifically. Compared to 1990, in 2013 lower respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases and meningitis all posed much lower threats of mortality.

HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis
These diseases led to between 14 and 15 percent of deaths overall and over 22 percent of communicable disease-related deaths. While tuberculosis’s threat of death has decreased since 1990, HIV/AIDS has increased substantially—by 1,038 percent.

Neglected tropical diseases and malaria
These made up 12 percent of deaths in general and almost 19 percent of deaths from communicable diseases.
Malaria, rabies and schistosomiasis death rates all fell from 1990.

Neonatal disorders
These accounted for 10 to 11 percent of deaths total and over 16 percent of mortality rates due to communicable disease.

Nutritional deficiencies
These led to about four percent of deaths in general and between 6 to 7 percent of deaths for communicable diseases.

In addition, diseases that cannot be transferred—non-communicable diseases—are among some of the common diseases in Togo.

Cardiovascular diseases
As the most common of the non-communicable diseases, these accounted for a little less than 11 percent of deaths overall and over 35 percent of NCD-related deaths. Stroke, ischemic heart disease and other cardiovascular/circulatory disease rates all fell from 1990.

Diabetes, urogenital, blood and endocrine diseases
In total, these only made up slightly more than five percent of deaths, but in terms of NCDs specifically, these increased to over 17 percent. While hemoglobinopathies and hemolytic anemias, as well as chronic kidney disease, both fell since 1990 (the latter only by one percent), diabetes mellitus actually increased by about 13 percent.

Cancer
Cancer led to over four percent of deaths in general and over 14 percent of NCD-related deaths. Liver, cervical and stomach cancers all fell by over 30 percent from 1990.

There are still a number of improvements that can be made. For 2015, Togo qualified as a low-income food-deficit country and only slightly less than 12 percent of its citizens used improved sanitation facilities that year.

However, about 63 percent of the population in the same year utilized improved water drinking sources, 85 percent of one-year old children had measles immunizations and the mortality rate of children below five years old fell from about 108 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 78.4 in 2015.

The WHO released a report in February of this year detailing a meningococcal disease outbreak, but listed methods undertaken to address the matter, including requests for vaccinations, support for management and surveillance and the training of health personnel.

Applying these same tactics to the communicable diseases listed may be beneficial. Other methods, like increasing knowledge on how to reduce the spread of disease, as well as improving access to clean water and other nutritional sources could also be key.

Furthermore, for non-communicable diseases—though some may be genetic—tactics like increased exercise and diet changes may yield a reduction in their prevalence.

The nation must still make specific improvements to ensure that its population is healthy. But judging by the fluctuations of common diseases in Togo, there is great hope for a decrease in their pervasiveness.

Maleeha Syed

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in PalauPalau is a small island of about 18,000 citizens located in the western Pacific Ocean. Among its neighbours are Guam, New Guinea and the Philippines. The Republic of Palau only recently gained sovereignty in October of 1994. The country is so small that there is only one major hospital that provides healthcare to all citizens; in fact, more remote parts of the country are served by field dispensaries of this hospital or by private clinics. Disease control is critical for Palau’s small population. The following are five facts about common diseases in Palau.

  1. As the developing nation of Palau undergoes political, economic and cultural transitions, health emphasis has shifted from communicable diseases to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs currently cause 78 percent of deaths in Palau – a number which is still expected to rise.
  2. Three out of four Palauan adults are overweight or obese, often leading to high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose – these are associated with hypertension and diabetes, respectively. However, hypertension and diabetes, already common diseases in Palau, are often under-diagnosed.
  3. One quarter of adult Palauan men smoke, and three of five Palauan adults chew tobacco. Tobacco usage is tied to the advent of four major NCDs: cancer, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has partnered with the Palauan government to implement mechanisms for tobacco control and develop a five-year NCD plan.
  4. In Palau, over 40 percent of adult males binge drink, while young females binge drink even more than their adult counterparts. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to acquiring more than 60 different diseases. Among them are liver disease and cardiovascular disease, both common diseases in Palau. Fortunately, Palau has an NCD Prevention and Control Strategic Plan of Action that includes the goal of reducing harmful alcohol use by 10 percent by 2020.
  5. One major challenge to strengthening the health system in Palau is the lack of healthcare employees. Even the majority of existing healthcare workers are underprepared. This begs the solution of more thorough medical schools and training programs, as well as better access to necessary medical materials. Most important is a heightened recruitment process for the healthcare system. These are some of the goals of the WHO’s strategic plan for Palau.

Although it is disheartening to see development tied to a slew of new diseases and causes of death, NCDs are fortunately preventable as they are chiefly associated with lifestyle choices. Palau’s Ministry of Health is clearly aware of these health problems and is taking necessary and effective steps toward making progress in controlling them, including developing a comprehensive five-year plan.

Sophie Nunnally

Photo: Google