The Impact of Infectious Diseases on the Development of Africa

  • A. Boutayeb


Despite the success of vaccination programs for polio and some childhood diseases, other diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, acute respiratory infections and diarrheal disease are causing high mortality rates in Africa. However, mortality figures give only a partial measure of the toll asked by infectious diseases, and the global burden includes also health impact measured by disabilities, deformities, loss of productivity, care and treatment caused by a multitude of diseases like lymphatic filariasis, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, sleeping sickness and others. The impact of infectious diseases can be traced according to economic performance of African countries, showing that 34 out of 53 countries are classified as low-income economies. The disease burden is, however, more devastating since it affects all components of human development, including income, health and education.

The impact of infectious diseases on African countries is no longer a crisis only for the healthcare sector, but presents a challenge to all sectors. It has the potential to reverse those gains made in human development in the last few years. Consequently, beyond health issues, these diseases should and must globally be seen as a development concern, affecting education and knowledge acquisition, income and social status, productivity and economic growth and other direct and indirect components of human development such as gender equality and human rights.

For health strategies to be successful, international solidarity and public-private partnerships are needed to tackle the problems of shortage and lack of treatments, resistance and the need for new drugs, vaccines and diagnostic procedures. However, the output of international initiatives will remain limited without the national and local implication.


African Country Human Development Index Lymphatic Filariasis Sexually Transmitted Disease Human Development Report 

List of Abbreviations:


Acquired Immune Defense System


Cardio Vascular Disease


Disability Adjusted Life Years


The  Drug for Neglected Diseases Initiative


 Directly Observed Therapy Strategy


Food and Agriculture Organization


The  Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics


 Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization


 Gender-related Development Index


Gross Domestic Product


 Gender Empowerment Measure


 Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria


 Human Development Index


The  Human Hookworm Vaccine initiative


Human Immunodeficiency Virus


Human Poverty Index


 Millennium Development Goals


The  Medicines for Malaria Ventures


Neglected Disease


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome


Sexually Transmitted Disease

TB Alliance

The Global Alliance for Tuberculosis Drug Development


United Nations AIDS


United Nations Development Program


World Health Organization


Years Lived with Disability


Years of Life Lost


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  • A. Boutayeb

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