While progress has been made in Africa in 2015 in the fight against communicable and non communicable diseases, the continent continues to face many challenges in the health front.
The number of malaria-related deaths has fallen below half a million this year. Malaria prevention measures – such as bed nets and indoor and outdoor spraying – have averted millions of deaths and saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs over the past 14 years in many African countries.
According to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), published in October, Sub-Saharan Africa carries a high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region had 89% of malaria cases and saw 91% deaths.
According to the WHO, no confirmed cases of Ebola virus were reported in the week to 20 December in all affected countries. All contacts associated with the cluster of confirmed cases of the virus reported from Liberia completed their 21-day follow-up. The first-reported case, a 15-year-old boy, died on 23 November. Two subsequent cases, the boy’s father and younger brother, tested negative twice for Ebola virus in early December and were discharged.
Worldwide, there have been 28,637 cases of Ebola virus disease and 11,315 deaths so far.
Guinea will become officially Ebola-free after 42 days if no new cases are reported following the recovery of baby Nubia — said to be the first baby to survive after being born to an infected mother. On November 28, baby Nubia, who was also Guinea’s last reported Ebola case left hospital delighting medical staff and putting the country on course to be declared free of the virus.
Health organizations and scientists are closely monitoring the virus in all affected and potential high risk areas and warn that Ebola can lie dormant.
In other news
A South African hospital became the first country to implant the world’s smallest pacemaker called Medtronic Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS).
The device allows smooth operation of the heart and helps patients with heart problems. Groote Schuur Hospital achieved the milestone ahead of hospitals in Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia, where trials had taken place.
HIV / AIDS and tuberculosis in particular continue to be major public health problems on the continent.