Overview of Health

The Health Program collected information from 1,055 individuals (male & female, all ages) in Chogoria at the start of the public health program.

Here are the highlights:

  • 62% of households boil their water
  • 51% have had malaria in the past year
  • 2% have had tuberculosis
  • 37% have been tested for HIV
  •  2% are HIV+
  •  17% of children under 5 have had diarrhea in the past year
  • 38% have a family history of hypertension
  •  9% have a family history of diabetes
  • 65% of female heads of households of reproductive age are using a hormonal or barrier method of family planning

Overview of Health Issues in Africa

INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Malaria

  • Malaria is endemic in 42 of the 46 countries of the African Region.
  • More than 90% of the estimated 300–500 million clinical cases of malaria that occur across the world every year are in Africans, primarily children under the age of five years.
  • There are nearly a million deaths due to malaria each year, the vast majority among children under five.

Tuberculosis

  • An estimated 2.4 million new tuberculosis cases – 24% of all notified cases worldwide – and half a million tuberculosis deaths are reported in the Region each year.
  • Tuberculosis has been on the rise in tandem with HIV/AIDS, because people with HIV, whose immune systems are weakened, easily contract tuberculosis and go on to develop active tuberculosis.
  • Tuberculosis was declared a public health emergency in the African Region in 2005.

HIV/AIDS

  • The African Region has 11% of the world’s population, but an estimated 60% of people with HIV/AIDS.
  • HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for adults in the Region.

WATER & SANITATION

  • Only 58% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa had access to safe water supplies and only 36% had access to sanitation in 2002.

MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH

  • Of the 20 countries with the highest maternal mortality rates, 19 are in Africa. In 2002, in the African Region, an estimated 231 000 women died due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.
  • The African Region’s neonatal death rate is the highest in the world. An estimated 43 out of every 1000 babies born in 2005 died during their first 28 days of life.
  • Deaths among African children have been on the rise. In 1960, 14% of deaths among children under five years of age worldwide occurred in the Region. That proportion had risen to 23% in 1980 and 43% by 2003.
  • Violence against women, including domestic violence and coercive sex, occur against 1 in 4 women, this rate increases to 1 in 3 among adolescent women

NONCOMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND INJURIES

  • Noncommunicable diseases, such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and stroke and injuries represented 27% of the total burden of disease in the Region in 2001 and are on the rise. Surveys in Cameroon, Congo, Eritrea and Mozambique have found a very high prevalence levels of risk factors for these diseases.
  • By adopting broad prevention plans African countries could achieve 10 more healthy life years for their people.
  • Road traffic collisions are a major health problem in countries in the Region. For example, road traffic collisions costs the Ugandan economy US$ 101 million each year, which is 2.3% of gross national product.

In the African Region, 72% of all deaths are from communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, respiratory infections and the complications of pregnancy and childbirth; compared to 27% in all other WHO Regions combined.

Why do we focus on prevention?

  • More people are living with chronic diseases than ever before
  • Many costly and disabling conditions – cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases – are linked by common preventable risk factors. Tobacco use, prolonged, unhealthy nutrition, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use are major causes and risk factors for these conditions. Focusing on these risk factors can reduce the number of people living with disease.
  • Most health care providers do not offer preventative health services.

How can health systems improve prevention services?

  • Provide patients with information & skills to reduce health risks (substance use, tobacco use, practice safe sex, eat healthy foods, and engage in physical activity.
  • Raise awareness in communities about the importance of healthy activities

Essential elements for action

  • Support a paradigm shift towards integrated, preventive health care
  • Promote financing systems and policies that support prevention in health care
  • Equip patients with needed information, motivation, and skills in prevention and self-management
  • Make prevention an element of every health care interaction

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