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Sub-Saharan Africa, the Healthcare Desert

Amanda Stevenson-Grund - Friday, May 29, 2015

People in Sub-Saharan Africa have the worst health, on average, in the world. The region has 11 percent of the world’s population but carries 24 percent of the global disease burden.
International Finance Corporation, Sub-Saharan Africa. Health & Education in Africa

A barren desert stretches under a peaceful sky 

Sub-Saharan Africa, composed of more than 40 countries south of the Sahara desert, has a population of less than one billion people, but that number is expected to increase to more than 2 billion by 2050, according to CGIAR’s news blog. That’s almost a quarter of the world’s population. Even though so many people live in the region, many of the countries are still developing nations, and quality of life in those countries is poor, in part due to poor healthcare. Systemic challenges and specific diseases contribute to the poor healthcare of sub-Saharan Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa faces some of the same challenges that other developing nations face. These challenges include lack of financial resources, lack of knowledgeable health workers and lack of access to adequate healthcare providers. Of the knowledgeable workers who stay, many become burned out. “Patients detect this demoralization; many view health workers as unmotivated, unaccountable, and unskilled,” writes Bryan et al., in a 2010 McKinsey & Company Insights & Publications article.

Specific diseases also contribute to the poor healthcare of sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the most common diseases are malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Maternal and child mortality rates are also disturbingly high. According to a 2014 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health article, 90% of all pregnancies of HIV-positive women occur in Africa.

Systemic challenges and specific diseases add to sub-Saharan Africa’s poor healthcare. Orbis Biosciences uses Precision Particle FabricationTM technology to develop medications to help alleviate some of the specific diseases that affect the communities of sub-Saharan Africa, where long-acting therapies are even more important given the restrictions to available healthcare providers. With continued commitment toward helping the region, the many people who live there will eventually receive better healthcare and experience better quality of life.

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