Sunday , December 5 2021

FT: Africa's rapid medical revolution faces an old challenge.


The main cause of human death is no longer a virus, a bacteria, or a microorganism lying in place for thousands of years. For the first time in modern human history, the world's greatest murderer is an infectious disease such as cancer, heart disease or stroke. It is about all parts of the world, including Africa. This change is unprecedented and unexpected success.

The epidemic is not the leading cause of death in Africa since 2011. In 2015, diseases such as dysentery, pneumonia, malaria or tuberculosis accounted for 44% of all deaths in the African continent. This figure still accounts for less than 10% of total deaths from infectious diseases in most parts of the world.

But the rate at which the number of infected victims in Africa declines is impressive. Over the last decades, it is three to four times faster than in developed countries. Africa is experiencing a tremendous rapid medical revolution.

In 1990, 25% of the total deaths of poor countries due to diseases such as diabetes or cancer died. In 2040, this ratio will be 80%.

The increase in non-communicable diseases is partly explained by the fact that people have lived long enough to get sick. Many of the people from poor countries suffer from such diseases in later generations than those from the developed countries. Other diseases known as heart disease, diabetes and civilized diseases are actually diseases of the poor.

According to medical expert Thomas Bollyky, poor countries must face the consequences of success. This is because these countries are fighting the epidemic through medical assistance from the international community. Not in developed countries. Between 1900 and 1936 mortality rates in US cities were mainly reduced by water filtration and chlorination. Hygiene, quarantine and education improvements had a beneficial impact before effective medicines appeared.

Poor countries achieve the same results more quickly, but there are often no institutional changes in developed country cities. Child deaths have been reduced. But the result is that adults who live without proper health care or employment opportunities are sick too often.

Therefore, poor countries should invest more money in preventing and treating non-communicable diseases. African elites often ignore problems and seek overseas care. However, those who remain in these countries are at best limited in health care.

Africa is urbanized at an alarming rate, but cities are often not ready and overpowered by sick people.

Retraining of diseases of civilization must be in Africa and in foreign institutions. Cancer, upper respiratory disease, heart disease and diabetes account for 60% of the world's deaths. However, only 1% of all aid to developing countries is used in health care for the treatment of non-communicable diseases.

Poor countries should also take action against pollution and tobacco products. African governments should jointly oppose tobacco manufacturers and other promoters of unhealthy lifestyles.

FT: Africa's rapid medical revolution faces an old challenge.

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