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HIV/AIDS is no more the leading cause of death in Africa

HIV/AIDS is no more the leading cause of death in Africa


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has updated its data on global deaths with Africa experiencing a decrease in the recurrent leading causes of death including HIV/AIDS and malaria.

The new death statistics researched by African fact-checking organisation, Africa Check, indicated that lifestyle diseases have taken over as the leading causes of death on the continent.

Top on the list are lower respiratory tract infections. These are caused by viruses and bacteria that target airways and lungs.

The most common diseases under this category is bronchitis or pneumonia which is responsible for 16% of global deaths of children younger than five.

HIV/AIDS took the number two position despite the increase in education on prevention and treatment.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus disables the immune system restricting defence against infections.

An estimated 760,000 deaths from HIV/AIDS and related complications were recorded in Africa in 2015, against the 1 million deaths in 2010.

The third leading cause of death in Africa are diarrhoeal diseases caused by viral, bacterial or parasitic infections.

This is the passage of three or more liquid stools per day or more than normal for a person.

88% of deaths in this category worldwide are due to unsafe water, poor sanitation and insufficient hygiene, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is the second leading cause of death of children younger than five in Africa.

The next leading cause of death is stroke which has increased over the past five years from 406,595 (4.4% of deaths) to 451,000 deaths (4.9%) in 2015.

This disease occurs when blood flow to a region of the brain is interrupted by either a clot or bleeding, depriving the body of oxygen and nutrients.

The next leading cause of death in Africa is the ischaemic heart disease or commonly known as heart attack.

This is the narrowing of the arteries of the heart due to the buildup of plaques causing less oxygen to reach portions of the heart. When fully blocked, damage is caused to the heart and death occurs.

In 2010, 389,785 deaths were as a result of heart attack (or 4.2% of total deaths). This increased in 2015 to an estimated 441,000 deaths (or 4.8% of the total).

The sixth leading cause of death in Africa is tuberculosis (456,000 or 4.7% of total), followed by malaria (403,000, or 4.4%), preterm birth complications (344,000 or 3.7%), birth asphyxia or trauma (321,000 or 3.5%) and road injury (269,000 or 2.9%).

This information includes 2015 WHO data. The estimates are based on the latest available national information on deaths collected from national civil registration systems of deaths, with the underlying cause of death captured by the national authority or partner organisations.