chapter  7
19 Pages

Disease and human security

The health problems confronting Africa are numerous and varied but, perhaps most worryingly, many are preventable through either treatment or improved sanitary conditions. According to reports from the African Red Cross and Red Crescent Health Initiative (ARCHI), 70 per cent of all childhood mortality is the result of five major conditions: diarrhoeal diseases, acute lower respiratory tract infections (ARI), malnutrition, malaria and measles. Often children suffer multiple conditions simultaneously so managing just one condition would not necessarily prevent death from other underlying illnesses. Even mild malnutrition increases the risk of death from other preventable diseases, as immunity and resistance are low. Consequently, ARCHI recommends that programmes need to focus on all five conditions at the same time (African Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 2007). Figure 7.1 provides a collective indication of common diseases in the continent; Box 7.1 gives a more detailed breakdown of the illnesses which are challenging communities and governments.