According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV/AIDS is no longer the number one killer disease in Africa. In its latest study on global deaths, the organization reports that fewer people are dying of HIV/AIDS and malaria on the content compared to a few years back.
This is good news for Africans who for a long time have borne the greatest brunt of the killer disease. The epidemic has left some villages in rural Africa filled with graves of its victims and millions of children orphaned.
Studies also show that out of the 34 million people currently living with HIV globally, 69 percent live in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, close to 23.8 million Africans are said to be infected with the virus, while 91 percent of HIV positive children are in Africa.
But the ongoing medical advancements and development of highly effective antiretroviral drugs have seen a tremendous decline in HIV-related deaths across the continent. In Kenya for instance, the government has rolled out a new line of post-exposure prophylaxis drugs, commonly referred to as Preps.
These drugs are said to be 96 percent effective in preventing new HIV infections. The drugs are currently available to people who are at high risk of getting infected, including commercial sex workers, couples where one partner is infected and people with more than one sex partner.
All these efforts are expected to lower the rate of new infections and ultimately kick the plague out of Africa.
New Enemies on the Horizon
According to WHO, lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertensions and heart complications have taken over the African continent, with major lower respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis topping the list of the continent’s deadliest diseases.
The organization also cites diarrheal diseases that are mainly caused by bacterial, viral and parasitic infections as the second leading causes of death in Africa. They are particularly common in children under the age of five years.
Another major cause of death on the continent is stroke. Over the last five years, stroke-related deaths in Africa have gone up from 406,595 to 451,000 in 2015, according to WHO. The disease is associated with disruption of blood flow to the brain by either a clot or heavy bleeding.
The international health organization also reports that malaria has drifted off the top-five list to number six, paving the way for ischaemic heart disease to enter the list. Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease caused by a Plasmodium parasite, has been a major cause of death in Africa, especially in children under the age of five.
But a concerted effort between governments and interested parties has led to unprecedented reduction in childhood death in the last decade. Similar efforts are now being made to combat HIV/AIDS and many Africans are optimistic that the right cure will soon be found.