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Health issues in Africa affect much of the population. There are many diseases due to Africa’s location and climate, but many of these diseases are curable. The reason that many African countries struggle with diseases is that there isn’t easy access to clinics, and the cost of treatments can be too much for families. Because of these reasons, diseases in Africa can turn from treatable to fatal. Diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS sweep the country and are fatal if they are not treated, but many families cannot afford to buy treatments. Malaria kills one African child every 30 seconds, and, for children under five in most countries, it is the leading cause of death. In 2005, there were 1.3 million deaths from AIDS, and 22.5 million cases of HIV. This means Africa has the most deaths and cases of HIV/AIDS in the world. Polio, an eradicated disease from most of the world, is still a very large problem in countries like Nigeria. It can cause paralysis permanently and is incurable, but there are vaccines that can stop the disease. Even more diseases like leprosy (causes skin sores and nerve damage), elephantiasis (fluid that collects in the limbs), bilharzia (parasitic worms that live in freshwater), helminthiasis (parasitic worms in the intestines), and trachoma (eye infection that leads to blindness) all can cause even worse health problems and the inability to work. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa affected many lives, and 11,000 people or more have died.Ethically, we are all a part of humanity, so it should be important to everyone that many people are dying a year to certain diseases. It can be easy to forget that we don’t have to deal with many diseases that other countries do because once we have eradicated a disease from our country, we need to remember that other countries still have that disease prevalent in their communities. We need to understand that there are other places in the world that are still struggling with diseases and illnesses that we have, perhaps, forgotten existed. Along with this, we have to understand that not every country has the privilege that we have in terms of medical advances, vaccines, and access to these things. We also need to understand that, in order for Africa to become more economically developed, they need to be able to not have to worry this much about the many diseases in their countries. In the pre-colonial era of medicine in Africa, they used traditional techniques to help with diseases. Many cultures believed that there must be a balance between spiritual and physical parts of the body. So, if there was a physical ailment, then there was most likely a spiritual ailment that went with it. An entire community would be involved in helping cure an illness in order to find out what the problem is (spiritually, with family, or with the community). They would use their own medicines to treat physical things, but they would also use a traditional healer to find out the spiritual ailment. Healers would ask their ancestors what the illness was and how to treat it. This knowledge of healing was passed down verbally through generations. Also many times, families would have a lot of children to have workers to help farm or fish, but not all their children would survive. This way having many children would ensure that they wouldn’t lose all their workers if a few children died. As Europeans advanced into Africa, they had more knowledge of diseases like malaria and yellow fever and higher advancement of medical technology, which gave them an edge over communities in Africa that were still using their traditional ways for treatment of diseases. They also brought new, unfamiliar diseases to Africa. Zimbabwean armies suffered from an epidemic of smallpox during their struggle against the British. In the 1880s, rinderpest was introduced to East Africa. This killed many cattle, thousands of people died of starvation, and many were too weak to fight. Europeans used these diseases that Africans were not familiar to their advantage to colonize faster. In Nigeria, there were 192,284 reported deaths from malaria in 2015. This brought it the first cause of death. The second was caused by diarrheal diseases (143,689 reported deaths) and third was HIV/AIDS (131,873 reported deaths). Nigerians are living longer than they were 25 years ago, but it’s possible that this can change because of people suffering from serious health issues caused by untreated water, and unsafe sex. In Zimbabwe, because of deteriorating economic and political stability, there has been a cut in the health care budget, creating a 40% drop in health care coverage. Many diseases that Zimbabweans struggle with are preventable, like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases and other health issues that affect pregnant women and newborns. Not only are there many preventable diseases, but malnutrition effects ? of children in the country, and 35,500 children under 5 die a year (HIV/AIDS affects 20% of the deaths at this age). In 2009, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death and affected 431 out of 100,000 people. South Africa has one of the most serious HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world (more than 6 million people are living with it). The highest population in South Africa affected are black males between 25 and 49. The high HIV/AIDS rate is because their former president Thabo Mbeki denied that AIDS resulted from HIV. He didn’t admit that there was a problem until enough international pressure was put on South Africa. Also, because, going to get tested for HIV/AIDS has a cultural stigma, so people do not get tested, and then treatments that are prescribed are also cultural taboo, and the alternative remedies that people are told to use are not useful to cure the disease. South Africa also has a very high tuberculosis rate (the third highest in the world). It affects mostly, poor, male, non-white people. One in three men develops heart disease before the age of 60, which makes it the fourth highest cause of death. Diabetes is also becoming an epidemic. It affects almost 2 million people (highest in the Indian population of South Africa).Liberia and the Central African Republic are just two countries in Africa that continue to struggle with the various diseases. Since June of 2003, 10,043 thousand people have been affected by a cholera outbreak in Monrovia and there have been around 110 reported deaths. Cholera is spread through the contamination of food and water and is fatal if untreated. There is also a problem with measles in Liberia. It is one of the largest cause of death for children in Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the Ministry of Health started a measles vaccination campaign in Tubmanburg, Liberia and vaccinated around 3000 children from 6 months to 15 years old. Although in March 2014, Liberia announced the outbreak of Ebola which set back their medical progress. Liberia also only has one medical center (John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center or JFKH) that has updated CT scanner, ultrasound, and x-ray equipment, and they don’t have the right staff to work with the equipment. In the Central African Republic, malaria one of the most common diseases. 40% of hospital appointments are caused by malaria, and it is one of the biggest cause of death in children. Out of Central and West Africa, the Central African Republic also has one of the highest rates of HIV. Tuberculosis is another disease common in the CAR. There were 8,084 cases reported in 2012 (increased by 44% since 2011). Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been successful in their own ways for treating some fatal diseases. Senegal, one of the poorest countries in the world, has succeeded in fighting HIV/AIDS by getting some of the lowest rates of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of the 1990s. Many resources were put into fighting the epidemic, and they used the media to raise awareness in order to break down religious and cultural taboos. Prevention strategies like condom usage have been promoted, and they provide free HIV treatment. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, their child mortality rate (for children under the age of 5) went from 148 deaths per 1,000 live births to 104 deaths per 1,000 between 2007 and 2013. Vaccinations when up in children 12 – 23 months from 31% to 45% in 2013. Also, for three years, the DRC has been free of polio. Africa needs to develop economically and become economically self-sufficient, but they also need to treat many of their epidemics. Epidemics slow economic development and closes many businesses. Many people become unable to work as a result of diseases. This also affects a person’s ability to get educated and get a higher paying job. If they have to pay for treatments for their illnesses, it is likely that they won’t be able to pay for schooling. To have a more developed economy, nations in Africa will need workers, so if there continues to be epidemics there will be a negative effect on the economy. For example, in South Africa 60% of the workforce in mining is 30-44 years old and, in 15 years, that number is predicted to end at 50%. This means there is less labor supply. The time that people have to leave work for certain work reduces labor productivity. This would reduce exports, but health care products still have to be imported, which can be expensive. Nations would have to borrow more money in order to import these products, which would put them more in debt with other countries than they already are.Pharmaceutical companies have been accused of making sure African countries can’t use generic versions of their treatments, which means that they must buy the company’s expensive versions of their drugs. The Export-Import Bank of the United States offered $1 billion per year for 5 years in loans to ‘help’ African nations buy HIV/AIDS medications and equipment in 2000. Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe did not accept the offer because the loans would create more debt for African countries and the U.S. pharmaceutical companies would only benefit. Many pharmaceutical companies are only interested in their monetary gain, rather than helping those in struggling countries. Not only do these companies not support certain policies to help African countries in need, they don’t look into the different strains of HIV. The strain of those living in sub-Saharan Africa and the strains in Europe and America are different, and the pharmaceutical companies sell the treatments for the Europe and America strain, so the treatments that African countries are getting could be more effective. There have been other organizations that were created to help Africa like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The Global Fund was created so that countries could donate without conditions, but it has gotten low funding because the U.S. created their own fund so that they could control where the money goes. However, the U.S. tends to avoid supporting countries that they don’t favor politically, or countries that support programs it doesn’t support socially (religiously), or the use of cheaper generic drugs rather than the expensive pharmaceutical drugs. The funds ended up being more political than helping people in need.It is possible that African nations can resolve their problems on their own, but they would first have to improve their economy. They would have to alleviate the gap between rich and poor in terms of health care and make sure more people are able to get health care. But if they are unable to do this, other nations will have to step in. Rather than offering loans (many nations are already in deep debt), it would be helpful to get more donations to organizations that are there to help African nations with their epidemics.

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