According to the WHO Global Health estimates, ten diseases (conditions) accounted for 55% of the 55.4 million deaths globally in 2019. There were seven non-communicable diseases. The ten causes of death included ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive airway disease, lower respiratory infections, neonatal conditions, trachea, bronchus and lung cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, diarrhoeal diseases, diabetes mellitus, and kidney diseases – in descending order. However, in low-income countries like Uganda, the top ten causes of death as of 2019 slightly differed from the global outlook. There were more communicable diseases than non-communicable ones. Nevertheless, it is notable that non-communicable ailments are on the rise, especially ischaemic heart disease and stroke – as more people are adopting a sedentary lifestyle compounded by consuming fast foods. In today’s article, we highlight this rhetoric.
In contrast to the top ten causes of mortality globally, six of the ten culprits in low-income countries are communicable diseases. In descending order of magnitude, the ten causes are neonatal conditions, lower respiratory infections, ischaemic heart disease, stroke, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, road injury, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and liver cirrhosis.
Malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS have continued to cause significant morbidity and mortality among the impoverished. It’s notable, however, that deaths due to these three infectious diseases have reduced substantially, thanks to the meticulous efforts through generous funding from global partners. The change has been especially significant for HIV, whose deaths have decreased by 59%, from 395,000 in 2000 to 161,000 in 2019.
More people in low-income countries die of diarrhoeal diseases than anywhere else on the planet. However, the deaths have also reduced substantially. Proper sanitation has taken a great stride forward. More people boil water, much as the need for more safe water for home use is still enormous.
Due to poor housing conditions and abject poverty, more people in this region are dying of lower respiratory infections, notably pneumonia in children under five years. There’s a dire need to improve the health systems to empower the communities to identify such children. And for prompt referral systems to aid timely arrivals at hospitals to get appropriate treatment – including oxygen where there’s need.
Because of unregulated local brew consumption, untreated water ponds, and dubious health practices, many people in low-income countries are likely to perish due to liver cirrhosis, which stems from either alcohol abuse, schistosomiasis, or hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Deaths due to Alzheimer’s diseases and chronic obstructive airway disease are infrequent in low-income countries: and yet they are among the top five causes of mortality in high-income countries. It may be because few people grow old in low-income countries. Or the diagnostics related to these diseases are still lacking.
It’s worth noting that as impoverished as we are, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are among the top five causes of death. It implies that many people don’t take care of their health adequately – either through poor dieting or poverty that makes it impossible to seek medical attention on time. Moreover, quite a few people undergo routine medical check-ups.
In a nutshell, it is imperative to note that a person in a low-income country still has a greater propensity to succumb to a communicable disease than that in a high-income country. We are left in limbo to fight malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, as well as ischaemic heart disease and stroke. We should style up. Change begins with you!