This is how much African countries lose every year to diseases

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a new report revealing exactly how much Africa loses every year to diseases.

Sick woman and doctor(Crooze FM)

The document titled "A Heavy Burden - An Indirect Course of Illness in Africa", estimates that the entire continent loses $2.4 trillion from its gross domestic product value annually.

According to the report, the continent alone accounts for 42% of the world's loss in GDP. 

Breakdown of the WHO report

This loss can be attributed to poor access to safe and affordable healthcare in countries like South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana. As a result, citizens have to depend heavily on voluntary or private health insurance.  

It also showed that Africa lost about 630 million years of healthy life in 2015. The leading killers are non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like heart diseases, cancers, stroke, and diabetes. These make up 37% of the total loss, followed by the communicable ones (36%).

The remaining killers are parasitic diseases, maternal, injuries, neonatal and nutrition-related conditions.

Dr Grace Kabaniha, the health economist at WHO Africa and one of the developers of the report, shared these findings at the second Africa Health Forum in Praia, Cape Verde.

"This report will help to establish a link between ill health and gross domestic products building upon a growing body of evidence, it presents country-specific data in terms of the loss in GDP for 2015 so that every country can see where they are and improve," he said.

He also reacted to Africa's dependence on voluntary or private health insurance, which can be quite expensive.

Dr Kabaniha describes this situation as "worrying because this only serves a small proportion of people who can afford private medical insurance".

It is not only bad news though. For WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the report could serve as an incentive for countries to do better. 

"Despite all the loss due to illnesses, the good news is that if the countries act collectively and achieve their sustainable development goal targets, this loss will be reduced by almost 47%," he noted.

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