Diseases Impacting Kyrgyzstan
The central Asian country Kyrgyzstan is home to more than 6.7 million people while many citizens fall victim to pressing issues such as violence terrorism and diseases. The following list assembles the diseases impacting Kyrgyzstan.

10 Diseases Impacting Kyrgyzstan

  1. Ischemic Heart Disease: Ischemic or cardiovascular heart disease is the cause of 25% of deaths in Kyrgyzstan per year. Ischemic heart disease or coronary heart disease happens when there is a reduction of blood flow to the heart muscle.  This is due to the complete or partial blockage of the arteries responsible for circulating the blood.
  2. Stroke: Stroke is responsible for 15% of deaths in Kyrgyzstan per year. Strokes occur due to an artery blockage/leakage, or when a blood vessel bursts. Some lifestyle factors that can put one at risk of stroke include being overweight and inactive. They also stem from alcohol and substance abuse.
  3. Cancer: Stomach, lung, breast, cervix and liver are the most common cancers in Kyrgyzstan. Also,  approximately 600 women per year are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Most cases of cervical cancer are due to human papillomavirus (HPV).
  4. Lower Respiratory Infections: Lower respiratory infections are a leading cause of death in children less than 5 years.   This is said to be due to an overuse of antibiotics and the under-diagnosing of asthma. In many of these cases, family stress and financial burdens are also contributing factors.
  5. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the seventh top cause of morbidity in Kyrgyzstan. COPD is an inflammatory disease in the lungs that causes obstructive airflow. Many people with COPD are current or ex-smokers.  Also, people with high exposure to biomass suffer from the disease.
  6. Cirrhosis: Cirrhosis is the fourth leading cause of morbidity. It is a chronic liver disease that can lead to scarring and liver failure. One of the most common causes of cirrhosis is alcohol abuse. One cannot generally undo the damage to the liver due to cirrhosis.
  7. Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes mellitus is the cause of 428 deaths per year and The International Diabetes Federation estimates that the rate will further increase by the year 2025. Diabetes mellitus is an illness where the body is not able to produce enough insulin, causing blood sugar levels to reach abnormally high levels.
  8. Preterm Birth Complications: Preterm birth complications are a significant concern for newborn mortality. About 2,938 children less than the age of one died in 2015 due to birth complications. Folic acid deficiency is the number one factor that causes these complications. Hydrocephalus is another newborn complication that also occurs often when the mother is deficient in folic acid. To combat this problem, UNICEF took action to fortify flour in Kyrgyzstan by using the large mills that are in the country in order to get more of this nutrient into women’s diets.
  9. Cystic and Alveolar Echinococcosis: Cystic and alveolar echinococcosis are infectious tropical diseases that stem from tapeworm larva. The Kyrgyz climate and environment support the survival and durability of the parasitic eggs. In most cases, this disease tends to be under or misdiagnosed.
  10. Typhoid Fever and Brucellosis: Typhoid fever and brucellosis are infectious diseases that can spread to others through contaminated food and water. Kyrgyzstan has one of the highest numbers of cases worldwide. Many people who caught these diseases live in the Valley of the Mayluusuu River and in the uranium zone. In response, The World Bank created The Disaster Hazard Mitigation Project and has allocated more than $12.7 million to minimize radionuclides in the Mayluusuu area, improve emergency management and reduce the loss of property in those areas.

Looking Ahead

Poverty is a contributor to the diseases impacting Kyrgyzstan because many people suffer from malnutrition, whether underweight or overweight. Poor diets are one of the top contributors to malnutrition. Many Kyrgyz people do not have the finances to eat diets rich in nutrients the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended. Most households share a diet high in trans fats, saturated fats, sugar and salt. This diet has led to various health issues such as noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), which cause 80% of morbidity in the country.

Many of the diseases impacting Kyrgyzstan pose an immediate threat to its citizens; solutions to these issues can seem nearly impossible. However, improvements in the medical and sanitation industries can alleviate some of these burdens. Additionally, the work of The Disaster Hazard Mitigation Project and UNICEF should help reduce the prevalence of preterm birth complications, typhoid fever and brucellosis.

Christina Papas
Photo: Flickr