Monday, August 12, 2013

Oh No! Yet Another Cause of Death for Africa to Worry About

Death rates seemed to be generally declining in sub-Saharan Africa until HIV/AIDS burst onto the scene in the 1980s, killing millions of adults, creating millions of orphans, and dramatically rearranging the sub-continent's demography. Since then Africa has also also become victim of "rich country" diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, as our own research has demonstrated. A new report from the World Bank adds yet another woe to this list--road traffic injuries. The Guardian covered the story.
Road traffic deaths in sub-Saharan Africa are predicted to rise by 80% by 2020, according to a World Bank report, which found the region to have the highest number of accidents, but the fewest vehicles on the road.
An estimated 24.1 people per 100,000 are killed in traffic accidents every year, according to the bank. Younger and poorer people are disproportionately vulnerable: accidents on the road are expected to become the biggest killer of children between five and 15 by 2015, outstripping malaria and Aids.
"The poorest communities often live alongside the fastest roads, their children may need to negotiate the most dangerous routes to school and they may have poorer outcomes from injuries, due to limited access to post-crash emergency healthcare," the report says.
For a long time the concern in Africa has focused on reducing mortality among children from communicable disease as well as malaria, but now the concern has to spread to other causes of death among children, and the rising health risks among adults--a "triple burden" as the the report notes. 

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