Malaria is caused by a parasite living in the blood, which is caught from the bite of an infected mosquito. It is endemic across many parts of Africa. The parasite has a two day life cycle; every two days, when it breaks out of blood cells, a patient has a high fever which then subsides.
Without treatment, symptoms can carry on indefinitely. Though some forms of malaria are milder than others, causing lethargy and weakeness, other forms are more serious and in acute cases can lead to death.
85% of malaria cases and 90% of child deaths from Malaria are in Africa.
Different medicines are used to treat malaria. But providing mosquito netting to sleep under and dealing with stagnant water (where mosquitos breed) in nearby vicinities can help too.
HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease which kills people over a long period by damaging their immune system (their ability to fight off other illnesses).
AIDS kills around 6,000 people each day in Africa – more than wars, famines and floods. Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst-affected region of the globe, though the number of sufferers varies from country to country.
Least-affected countries include Somalia and Senegal (1% of adults). Swaziland is the worst-affected with 25% of adults infected.
- Kills a large number of adults, the breadwinners in any society, affecting national productivity,
- increases the number of orphaned children,
- puts a major strain on health services because people can be ill for a long time,
- affects school attendance, as children often have to find ways of earning money and/or caring for sick parents, and
- significantly impairs Africa’s economic development, which in turn affects the ability of the continent to cope with this epidemic.
Schistosomiasis / bilharzia
Schistosomiasis or bilharzia is a parasitic disease, where small flat worms develop inside the human body. They live in the blood vessels and cause damage to internal organs such as the bladder and kidneys.
The disease is caught when people go into water where the larvae of the worms have been released by freshwater snails. The larvae then bury into humans through the skin.