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        Thursday, April 06, 2006
        My to do list for cooperation this World Health Day
        Today (April 7) is also World Health Day, and these year's theme is 'working together for health'. So what better way than starting commemorating the day by sharing some information about health issues affecting Africans and do a extreme comparisons.

        Just a quick observation

        It is hard to reconcile the fact that thousands of people in Africa die each year of stupid things like diarrhea and mosquito bites (malaria) and in America you cannot run fast enough not to avoid taking pills for the littlest things. Even in your own house, pharmaceutical companies continue to haunt you every commercial break on TV. A pill to fall asleep (instead of warm milk and a book), a pill to wake up (instead of a cold shower and real coffee). A pill for restless feet (instead of walking/jogging), a pill for heart burn (instead of cutting out junk food). These commercials are so shameless that they even make fun of eating vegetables and fruits instead of taking a simple pill. There is even medication to dry the nose out during a bad cold!!! My daughter was prescribed that the other day, and I left the doctor's office half laughing and half shaking my head. What happened to blowing the nose or simply do what translates from Ethiopian as 'slurping soup'- sucking it in?

        More gloom and doom

        Chronic diseases which include cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic respiratory infections, are what developing countries have to deal with. Urbanization (city life in polluted environment and easy access to fags), industrialization (being lazy and no daily work out through farming)and globalization (easy access to junk food)are the explanations that the Population Reference Bureau gives. Is the question going to be to modernize or not to modernize? Or is there going to be a healthier way of modernizing for Africans?

        The New York Times has information on polio and cholera.

        A list for pharmaceutical companies to choose from

        African Trypanosomiasis (“sleeping sickness”): African trypanosomiasis is spread by the tsetse fly, which is common to many African countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 450,000 cases occur each year. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headaches, joint pains, and itching in the early stage, and confusion, sensory disturbances, poor coordination, and disrupted sleep cycles in the second stage. If the disease goes untreated in its first stage, it causes irreparable neurological damage; if it goes untreated in its second stage, it is fatal.

        Cholera: Cholera is a disease spread mostly through contaminated drinking water and unsanitary conditions. It is endemic in the Indian subcontinent, Russia, and sub-Saharan Africa. It is an acute infection of the intestines with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Its main symptom is copious diarrhea. Between 5% and 10% of those infected with the disease will develop severe symptoms, which also include vomiting and leg cramps. In its severe form, cholera can cause death by dehydration. An estimated 200,000 cases are reported to WHO annually.

        Dengue: WHO estimates that 50 million cases of dengue fever appear each year. It is spread through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Recent years have seen dengue outbreaks all over Asia and Africa. Dengue fever can be mild to moderate, and occasionally severe, though it is rarely fatal. Mild cases, which usually affect infants and young children, involve a nonspecific febrile illness, while moderate cases, seen in older children and adults, display high fever, severe headaches, muscle and joint pains, and rash. Severe cases develop into dengue hemorrhagic fever, which involves high fever, hemorrhaging, and sometimes circulatory failure.

        Malaria: Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that affects 300–500 million people annually, causing between 1 and 3 million deaths. It is most common in tropical and subtropical climates and is found in 90 countries—but 90% of all cases are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most of its victims are children. The first stage consists of shaking and chills, the next stage involves high fever and severe headache, and in the final stage the infected person's temperature drops and he or she sweats profusely. Infected people also often suffer from anemia, weakness, and a swelling of the spleen. Malaria was almost eradicated 30 years ago; now it is on the rise again.

        Measles: Measles is a disease that has seen a drastic reduction in countries where a vaccine is readily available, but it is still prevalent in developing countries, where most of the 777,000 deaths (out of 30 million cases) it caused in 2001 occurred. Symptoms include high fever, coughing, and a maculo-papular rash; common complications include diarrhea, pneumonia, and ear infections.


        Influenza: Several influenza epidemics in the 20th century caused millions of deaths worldwide, including the worst epidemic in American history, the Spanish influenza outbreak that killed more than 500,000 in 1918. Today influenza is less of a public health threat, though it continues to be a serious disease that affects many people. Approximately 20,000 people die of the flu in the United States every year. The influenza virus attacks the human respiratory tract, causing symptoms such as fever, headaches, fatigue, coughing, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches.

        Schistosomiasis: Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease that is endemic in many developing countries. Roughly 200 million people worldwide are infected with the flukeworm, whose eggs cause the symptoms of the disease. Some 120 million of those infected are symptomatic, and 20 million suffer severely from the infection. Symptoms include rash and itchiness soon after becoming infected, followed by fever, chills, coughing, and muscle aches.

        Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis causes nearly 2 million deaths every year, and WHO estimates that nearly 1 billion people will be infected between 2000 and 2020 if more effective preventive procedures are not adopted. The TB bacteria are most often found in the lungs, where they can cause chest pain and a bad cough that brings up bloody phlegm. Other symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, appetite loss, chills, fever, and night sweats.

        Typhoid: Typhoid fever causes an estimated 600,000 deaths annually, out of 12–17 million cases. It is usually spread through infected food or water. Symptoms include a sudden and sustained fever, severe headache, nausea, severe appetite loss, constipation, and sometimes diarrhea.

        Tackle one, tackle all

        International Food Policy Research Institute:
        POLICIES TO PREVENT EPIDEMIC CHRONIC DISEASESPlans to prevent epidemic chronic diseases involve not only public health, but also finance, agriculture, manufacture, employment, development, trade, transportation,, and education. Any public policy may enhance or harm people's health. For this reason, all public policies should be examined in light of their possible effect on public health, as illustrated by these examples.

        Health. Major chronic diseases are prohibitively expensive to treat. Strategies to reduce the incidence of chronic disease should be a vital part of national health-care planning. Strategic policy action plans with quantified targets for specified time periods should include financial projections. Judging from the experience of some countries, effective strategies can significantly reduce health care costs.

        Agriculture. Many if not most current agricultural policies that affect price, such as research priorities and production and marketing subsidies, make unhealthy foods artificially cheap and healthy foods relatively expensive. New policies should encourage the production and marketing of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and a variety of other foods of plant origin, and decrease support for the production of fat and sugar and fatty, sugary foods and drinks. Many developing countries have abundant supplies of fruits and other foods of plant origin. Plans to prevent chronic diseases should emphasize the value of traditional farming and food systems as well as encourage food technologies that are beneficial to human health.

        Manufacturing. Much food is still preserved by using salt and sugar and by converting oils into hard fats. Food supplies with substantial amounts of hard fat, sugar, and salt increase the risk of many chronic diseases. Industry should be encouraged to preserve the nourishment in perishable foods by using healthy processing methods, whether traditional, well-established, or relatively modern. Such methods include drying, fermenting, bottling, refrigerating, and vacuum-packing.

        Transportation. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of a number of major chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease, colon cancer, and osteoporosis. But people who live in cities are usually sedentary. Urban planning and transportation policies can make cities safe places in which to enjoy physical exercise, such as walking, cycling, and other sports and recreational activities. Such policies also can make public transport an attractive alternative to private automobiles.

        World Health Organization
        Research on Ethiopia
        posted by Fikirte @ 11:51 PM   Digg!
        • name<="c114442478569580048" id="c114442478569580048">

          At 11:46 AM, Blogger Ceridwen Devi said…

          That's quite a list! TB is the silent epidemic that is spreading almost without being noticed all over the world. Here in Europe all the fuss is about bird flu, that has still killed only just over 100 people worldwide. I see TB is a much greater threat.
          Of course you are right about our lack of excercise too!

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