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Top Diseases in El Salvador

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the relatively small country, which has less than seven million citizens. The next leading causes of death include influenza, pneumonia, kidney disease, liver disease and lung disease. El Salvador has a relatively high number of healthcare workers but is still not able to meet the needs of the population with its current healthcare system and the unequal distribution of healthcare workers at different levels of service.

It is important to note that the top diseases in El Salvador and the top causes of death are not the same. Violence against citizens and road traffic accidents are among the top ten causes of death in El Salvador.

Regarding infectious diseases in El Salvador, currently, the Zika virus is still a significant risk to pregnant women in or traveling to El Salvador. The primary method of contraction of this disease is through mosquito bites and sexual exposure. However, these mosquitoes cannot usually survive at elevations above 6,500 feet.

Though not everyone who contracts Zika gets sick, sometimes mild symptoms can last for several days. Occasionally Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) will accompany Zika virus, which entails muscle weakness and paralysis for a few weeks to several months. Research suggests the two are associated.  However, it remains unconfirmed due to the minimal amount of people with Zika virus that also contract GBS.

Hepatitis A and Typhoid can both be contracted through contaminated food or water in El Salvador though they are not among the top causes of death in the country. The risk of malaria contracted through mosquitoes is low, and is preventable with bug sprays.

Though El Salvador has struggled to provide adequate healthcare to its citizens in the past, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MSPAS) has made strides in changing things. Most pressing is the disparity between public and private healthcare systems.

Ellen Ray

Photo: Flickr