Wednesday, November 12, 2014

After Ebola, then what?

Crises, no matter how urgent they are, eventually fade. Too often, when the crisis disappears, so too do the armies of aid workers and buckets of money deployed by the developed world to address them. That has been the history of developmental assistance in Africa, where shameful economic and health conditions have festered for decades, relieved now and then by a panic response to an emergency that catches the developed world's eye.

 Africa's long-term health crisis can only be met with sustained efforts. Organizations such as Doctors Without Borders have been calling for such assistance for decades.

A large number of chronic diseases and other health conditions beset sub-Saharan Africa, causing much higher death tolls than Ebola. Death rates from parasitic diseases (often a reflection of poor water sanitary conditions), infant and maternal injuries, and malnutrition are all an order of magnitude or higher than Ebola. Cultural practices, poor transport and communications infrastructure, and poverty all contribute to the intractable nature of health problems on the continent.  But global indifference has played its part.

HIV took nearly 122 lives per 100,000 population in Africa in 2012, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, the figure was 2.6 (in 2010).

Malaria is an endemic killer in Africa, accounting for 62 deaths per 100,000 population. Malaria kills one African child every 30 seconds.

Polio, now eradicated from many parts of the world, is still endemic in Nigeria and outbreaks also occur in other African countries. Once contracted, it is incurable and can cause permanent paralysis.

Other common diseases include:
elephantiasis, which causes an accumulation of fluid, usually in a limb,
leprosy, which causes disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage,
helminthiasis, an infestation of parasitic worms in the intestines, and
trachoma, a bacterial eye infection which can lead to blindness.

Half of Africans do not have access to essential drugs. With the provision of the right drugs to treat respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases and malaria, around 10 million lives could be saved by 2015.

Sub-Saharan Africa averages 1.15 health workers for every 1,000 of its citzens. A severe shortage of nurses and midwives means that over two-thirds of women in Africa have no contact with health personnel following childbirth. Therefore, Africa accounts for more than half of the world's maternal and child deaths. 

For every Liberian doctor working in Liberia,  two work abroad.

From here 

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