Romania is a Balkan country bordering the Black Sea. Romania was under communist rule from World War II until 1989. The healthcare system in Romania faces corruption and a lack of medical professionals. Three of the most common diseases in Romania are measles, HIV/AIDS and cirrhosis.
- MeaslesThere is a current outbreak of measles in Romania. So far the virus has upward of 3,400 new cases. Symptoms of measles are a high fever, cough, runny nose and a red rash. The fever will break and the rash subsides after a few days. Measles is highly contagious; if one person has it, 90% of people who are close to that initial person but not immune will become infected. The virus is spread through coughing and sneezing. The virus spread through Romania because there is a suboptimal vaccination rate. Doctors hope that a community will have a vaccination rate of 95% to create immunity. Unfortunately, the measles vaccination rate in Romania has decreased in recent years to 86% in 2015. The Romanian government is working swiftly to decrease this risk. The government lowered the vaccination age from 12 months to nine months and distributed leaflets in doctor’s offices about the importance of vaccination and early symptoms. In addition, the government is attempting to pass a law mandating the vaccination of children before they enter school.
- HIV/AIDSMany people in Romania are infected with HIV/AIDS. Since 1985, 21,263 Romanians have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Heterosexual unprotected sex was the main method of HIV transmission in new cases in 2015 (59% of new cases). The number of new cases of HIV/AIDS decreased slightly in 2015 compared to previous years. Romania has one of the highest rates of AIDS among children in Europe; around 10,000 children have been diagnosed in Romania since 1985. During the last years of the communist era in Romania, there were unsafe blood transfusion and inoculation procedures for young children. It is believed that this led to the infection of many children in Romania.
The Romanian government has made many strides in policy to decrease the prevalence of AIDS in the country. The National Strategy for Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction hopes to decrease the incidence of the disease among vulnerable groups. In addition, the government has directed funding for increased HIV testing among the general population and pregnant women.
- CirrhosisCirrhosis is another one of the most common diseases in Romania and was the number three cause of premature death in 2010. In 2013, 40.8 per 100,000 people died from cirrhosis in Romania. Most deadly cases of cirrhosis in Romania are due to Hepatitis C and alcohol use. Cirrhosis is the buildup of scar tissue on the liver that occurs when the liver is damaged. Cirrhosis can be treated by treating the underlying cause of the disease; one could reduce alcohol intake or take medications to control damage to the liver caused by hepatitis. To combat the prevalence of cirrhosis, Romania is trying to remove its causes by creating awareness and prevention for hepatitis C. In 2013 two new governmental organizations were formed in Romania to reduce harms associated with drug use. The government now funds needle exchange programs and HIV and hepatitis C testing.
For each of these diseases in Romania the government seems to acknowledge the threat they place on society and is taking swift action to reduce their impact. Most of the government programs are education-based, but some legislative action has been passed or is in the process of passing. Romania should continue to alert people to the risk factors of common diseases and provide instruments to slow their spread.
– Sarah Denning