Ebola has been in the media a lot lately due to the latest outbreak but these deadly diseases in South Africa kill so ruthlessly that they have succeeded in making Ebola a child’s play. These are diseases that are already prevalent in South Africa, killing much more people than the much dreaded Ebola.
Most of the diseases here are among the most deadly diseases ever known to mankind. They claim more lives in a year than Ebola has ever claimed since its discovery. Keep reading as we explore which diseases you should really be more wary of. It is most likely that you will be surprised at what the most ultimate deadly disease of all times in South Africa is.
8. Diabetes Mellitus
You may be aware that Diabetes Mellitus is a disorder of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism that results in high blood glucose which if uncontrolled would result in long-term damage to the tissues including vascular damage and multi-organ dysfunction.
Diabetes affects an estimated 8-10% of South Africa’s population. Worldwide, the number of people affected by this disease is increasing dramatically and according to the latest WHO available data which was published in April 2011, Diabetes Mellitus Deaths in South Africa reached 19,530 or 3.27% of total deaths making the age-adjusted Death Rate to be 66.67 per 100,000 of population every year and ranking South Africa the 18th country in the world with the highest number of deaths from Diabetes Mellitus.
7. Hypertensive Heart Disease
Hypertensive heart disease refers to heart conditions caused by high blood pressure (hypertension). It’s not a single disease, but rather, a number of different heart disorders all caused by the same thing: the heart working under increased pressure. Hypertensive heart disease includes, among other conditions, heart failure, thickening of the heart muscle, and coronary artery disease.
About 37 people die per day because of heart failure alone in South Africa and in general, Hypertensive Heart Disease is responsible for over 20,000 deaths per year in South Africa.
6. Diarrhea Diseases
Diarrhea is one of the most deadly diseases in South Africa that is often neglected. It is a symptom of infections caused by various bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms which mostly results from contaminated food and water sources and is usually more common when there is a shortage of clean water for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
While children especially those under 5 years are more susceptible, in more recent times, there has been an overall increase in the number of adult deaths linked to diarrhea diseases. Across the globe, diarrhea kills over 2 million people annually, most of which occur in Africa and Asia. In South Africa, diarrhea diseases claim over 80 lives per 100,000 of the population resulting in total death in excess of 30,000 deaths per year.
5. Lower Respiratory Tract Infections
Respiratory tract infections are responsible for over 2% of all deaths in South Africa. There are two major types of lower respiratory infections: bronchitis and pneumonia. Some of the easily recognizable symptoms of these infections include a runny nose and sneezing, headache, and sore throat. Symptoms may include fever in more severe cases of pneumonia.
4. Tuberculosis (TB)
Tuberculosis; a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis is much more wide-spread than you think. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-in-three of the world’s 7 billion population is at this moment infected with Tuberculosis and that there is a new TB infection (someone getting newly infected) in the world every single second that passes which is same as saying that there are 86,400 new TB infections per day much of which again happens in Sub-Saharan Africa.
However, the good news is that being infected does not mean that the disease is going to be established to the point of being symptomatic as the individual would usually manifest if there is any other debilitating illness or condition that suppresses the immunity like HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and some other chronic (long-standing diseases) like poorly managed diabetes, malnutrition etc.
Back in 2012, there were around 1.3 million TB-related deaths worldwide most of which occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, and other developing countries. South Africa is one of the countries with the highest incidence of TB. The World Health Organisation statistics gave an estimated incidence of 500,000 existing cases of active TB in 2011 meaning that about 1% of the population of about 50 million have an active TB every year which makes South Africa the country with the 3rd highest incidence in the world after India and China, and the incidence has increased by 300% over the past 15 years.
The latest available report from WHO gives a figure of 25,000 deaths in South Africa resulting from TB in 2011 for those who were considered to have died of TB alone and not in connection with other diseases like HIV which is more common. The South African death notifications register in its causes of death report gives a figure of 62,827 for 2010 which is 11.6% of the number of people who have died, and this includes people who also had HIV infection as well as TB at the time of death.
3. Cerebrovascular Disease/Accident (Stroke)
Cerebrovascular disease may sound too over decorated for a common medical condition commonly known as stroke which occurs when there is a loss of blood supply to a part of the brain which could either result from blockage or rupture of a blood vessel commonly known as Ischaemic or Haemorrhagic stroke respectively.
If blood flow is interrupted for longer than a few minutes, the brain cells begin to suffer from irreparable damage which could result in permanent damage. According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, SA has one of the highest rates of hypertension worldwide with about 6.3 million people living with high blood pressure making them more susceptible to life-threatening diseases like stroke and heart disease.
Statistics show that in South Africa, there are about 240 strokes occurring every day. This implies that 10 people will have a stroke every single hour. Below is a picture of the brain of a stroke survivor (apologies if it is upsetting).
2. Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD)
Ischemia means “reduced blood supply” so Ischaemic heart disease is a disease that is characterized by the reduction of blood supply to the heart. The heart muscles receive blood supply from the only specific group of arteries called coronary arteries so there is no alternative blood supply to the heart muscles meaning that a blockage in the coronary arteries reduces the supply of blood to the heart muscles predisposing the cells to damage and death from lack of oxygen and nutrients.
According to the latest WHO data published in April 2011, the age-adjusted Death Rate for IHD in South Africa is 71.02 per 100,000 of the population. It is estimated that age-standardized mortality rates for IHD will rise by 27% in African men and 25% in women by 2015, and by 70 and 74%, respectively by 2030. There are about 130 heart attacks occurring everyday meaning that five people will suffer a heart attack every single hour
HIV/AIDS was first reported in the 1980s and the fact remains that since then, AIDS has caused over 30 million deaths. This is more than the population of Gabon, Botswana, Gambia, Qatar, Jamaica, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway and Denmark put together. Though its mortality rate has reduced because of education and anti-viral medications used to combat it, it still kills millions of people year on year. According to UNAIDS, In 2012, there were 35.3 million people living with HIV and since the start of the epidemic, around 75 million have become infected with HIV.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most severely affected, with nearly 1 in every 20 adults living with HIV and accounting for 71% of the people living with HIV worldwide. In 2012, 1.6 million people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide; over 1 million deaths occur in Africa on a yearly basis. According to the 2013 report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (UNAIDS), there are 6.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa of which 5.9 million are adults aged 15 and above. The same report also states that over 200,000 people died from AIDS in 2013 alone. This is far more than every single Ebola outbreak in history put together.