Saturday, June 13, 2015

Africa's Health Prognosis - Poorly

More than 400 million people around the world don’t have access to essential health services, and many of them are in sub-Saharan Africa, where the resources are most needed.  Sub-Saharan Africa, bears 25 percent of the world’s disease burden but is home to just 3 percent of its doctors.

“Needless to say, poverty is a factor here,” says the report from the United Nations and the World Bank. 

Even within countries, more than 80 percent of women in the richest households have coverage while just 50 percent do in low-income families. While this has always been an issue, it was recently thrust into the limelight during the West African Ebola outbreak, which killed more than 11,000 people.

“Generally speaking, these problems are perceived as a steady rumble of dysfunction and discontent, but from time to time there is a spike in awareness regarding health system inadequacy,” the report reads. “The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa is a case in point, the severity of the outbreak being in large part due to weak health systems, including a lack of capacity in surveillance and response.” Because of Ebola, basic services such treatment for common conditions, vaccinations and maternal health are at serious risk, and officials need to enact serious reforms to make this happen.

But while the Ebola virus captured international attention and sent medical researchers scrambling to find a cure, sub-Saharan Africa is also home a many diseases not experienced anywhere else that still don’t get attention. A subset of illnesses known as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) also continue to be overlooked, mainly for economic reasons. They are only a serious problem in some of the world’s poorest populations in tropical and subtropical regions.

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