Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Deadlier Than Ebola

Survey finds HIV/AIDS, diarrhoe and malaria kill more Africans than the Ebola virus

Latest World Bank (WB) figures show almost 1.2 million Africans died as a result of HIV/AIDS in 2012, according to a new survey. A team from Médecins Sans Frontières arrived in Guinea at the beginning of the Ebola outbreak (Photo: Kjell Gunnar Beraas/MSF)
 The 2014 Africa Survey by Good Governance Africa, GGA, has found that diseases like HIV/AIDS, diarrhoe and malaria are deadlier than the Ebola virus.  

There have been recent fears over the spread of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone – with a few reported cases in Europe and America – claiming the lives of about 5000 people and thousands more infected.

But the South Africa-based research organisation said while recent fears about the spread of the Ebola virus have gripped the world, more people died of HIV/AIDS in Africa in 2012 than any other cause of death.

Its Africa Survey to be released October 28th in Johannesburg is a comprehensive annual collection of social, political and economic indicators for all countries in Africa compiled from a wide range of sources.

On October 25, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the number of Ebola cases has exceeded 10, 000. Ebola has killed over 4, 500 people, mainly in the three worst affected countries of Guinea (where it began in February 2014), Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In contrast, latest World Bank (WB) figures show almost 1.2 million Africans died as a result of HIV/AIDS in 2012.

“In Nigeria and South Africa, HIV/AIDS killed 480,000 in 2012, or 30% of the world total,” the WB figures indicate. “Among Africa’s other deadliest diseases, almost 320,000 children under five died of diarrhoeal disease in 2012, over half the global number.”

In addition, there were 102,788 reported malaria deaths in Africa, although the World Health Organisation estimates that this figure could exceed 550,000.

The Africa Survey found that despite the huge number of deaths, the situation is improving, in many cases substantially. In sub-Saharan Africa, 35% more people with advanced HIV infection received antiretroviral treatment in 2012 than in 2009. Malaria deaths decreased in most African countries between 2010 and 2012 – by 97% in both the Republic of Congo and Kenya, for example.

“Increasing immunisation and fewer deaths from these diseases give hope,” Kate van Niekerk, a GGA researcher, said. “However, these illnesses continue to kill millions because of poor healthcare systems – which gives cause to the alarm about Ebola’s rapid spread.”

Good Governance Africa is a research organisation that promotes better government management. Its main publications are the Africa Survey and Africa in Fact, a journal that tracks government performance and proposes solutions.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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