Tropical Diseases Essay Research Paper Women

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Tropical Diseases Essay, Research Paper Women’s Health and Tropical Diseases: A focus on Africa Why focus on Africa? Over one-quarter of the world’s population are at risk from parasitic infections and the majority of these infections are confined to the world’s poverty belt of the tropics and sub-tropics — largely in Sub-Saharan Africa. Women constitute nearly 67per cent of the total population of Africa, and to achieve better global health condition, a focus on African women is thus necessary. Low income levels are associated with debilitating disease patterns. Thirty-eight of the world’s 63 low-income countries are in Africa. Of its 500 million people, 40 per cent have less than US$1 a day to live on, 68 per cent have no proper sanitation and 52 per cent no

access to safe water (Lancet, 1997). In a recent WHO report, analysis of the poverty data (UNDP 1994) illustrates the role of poverty in co-determining the health status of the populations (WHO/TF/HE/TBN/97). The report referred to above concludes that “levels of both total and rural absolute poverty” are substantially higher in the ten low performers (countries with highest negative deviation from estimated life expectancy) compared to ten high performers (countries with the highest positive deviation from estimated life expectancy). Interestingly, nine out of ten are in Africa. Of all geographic regions, Africa has the highest tropical diseases morbidity and mortality ratios (Sai and Nassim 1991). Efficient services and special effort by health providers is needed to

enhance the health status of populations in this region. Planning for health services, improving the efficiency and engendering services in any country depends primarily on information about the main causes of ill-health and death in defined areas. Data on cause-specific mortality and morbidity, in particular, data disaggregated by gender and sex crucial for effective planning are scanty for most countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Heggengougen 1996). Gaining solid and longitudinal understanding across the life span based on reliable, consistent and quality data has been re-echoed as perhaps the first action for tackling major causes of ill-health (Stephens 1996). Given the paucity of data available to health planners in Africa, the question to ask is – can program planners

achieve a reform of the health sector and or improve it? Do we have data to show where services are required? And can services and human resources be made available where they are most needed but nonexistent? Why focus on Tropical Diseases? Tropical diseases are to a large extent poverty-borne diseases. It has been estimated that half a billion people are suffering from tropical diseases -malaria, schistosomiasis, African trypanosomiasis, chagas disease, Leishmania (Kala Azar) and leprosy (WHO, 1993) and that a high proportion of this population live in sub-Saharan Africa. Tropical diseases produce large burdens of disability and some act synergistically with some non-parasitic diseases to produce severe disability sometimes leading to death. Equally important is the focus on

parasitic and infectious diseases. In the last decade, especially with the advent of AIDS, information on STDs, HIV, teenage pregnancies is becoming more available, but data on tropical diseases some with lifelong impact on health and economic development remains ambiguous. In the absence of a vaccine or a ‘magic bullet’ for the treatment of tropical diseases like malaria and with increasing travel from non-endemic to endemic countries malaria, will become a huge problem to developed countries. Already an increasing number of imported cases including strains resistant to available drugs are being reported (Globe and Mail, 1997). The Health of Women and Tropical Diseases As Heggenhougen (1994) aptly notes “a Sub-Saharan female has a dramatically poorer chance of survival