The Political Economy of Infectious Diseases in Africa: Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) as a Case in Point

The Political Economy of Infectious Diseases in Africa: Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) as a Case in Point

Titilola T. Obilade (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9944-1.ch004
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Annually, many deaths occur in Africa due to infectious diseases. African countries are predominantly low-income. A third of all deaths in low-income countries are caused by lower respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. These preventable diseases continue to kill millions of Africans each year. More recently, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has killed thousands in Africa but even with the number of deaths attributable to EVD, it is still a fraction of the deaths caused by any one of the top five causes of deaths in low-income countries. This chapter examined the political economies that have enabled infectious diseases to thrive in Africa. The numerous conflicts, barriers to education, high fertility rates in the poorest countries and the privatization-tied conditions of loans were some of the factors identified. Ecological studies also suggest that changes in climatic conditions around the West African country of Guinea enabled the index case to come from Guinea. The foundational causes of the diseases have made the African nations susceptible. The chapter concludes with recommendations.
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Burden Of Disease In Africa

The life expectancy at birth in low-income countries is much lower than in high-income countries (“Global Health Observatory Life Expectancy Situation,” n.d.). People in low income countries usually die from infectious disease while people in high income countries die from chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancers, dementia, chronic obstructive lung disease or diabetes (“Global Health Observatory Life Expectancy Situation,” n.d.). Table 1 shows the ten leading causes of death.

Table 1.
Ten leading causes of death in 2012*
1Ischaemic Heart Disease
3Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
4Lower Respiratory Infections
5Trachea, Bronchus and Lung Causes
7Diarrhoeal Diseases
8Diabetes Mellitus
9Road Injuries
10Hypertensive Heart Disease

*Tuberculosis was the 15th leading Cause of Death in 2012

Sources: WHO. The Top Ten Causes of Death; WHO (2014) Top ten causes of death: How has the situation changed in the past decade?

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