The World Bank report on disease and mortality in the sub-Saharan African region has found that the life expectancy there has fallen by an average of almost five years from the early 1980's.
The report, which was launched at the Cape Town Book Fair on Sunday, stated that one in six African children die before reaching their fifth birthday from either or both, preventable and treatable diseases. Eduard Bos a representative of the World Bank said at the opening that the report also reflected the "ravages of the appalling epidemic of HIV and AIDS", which he explained has accounted for almost 20.4% of all the deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
Explaining that the epidemic had hindered or upturned all the gains made, not just for communicable disorders but for cancers and mental and neurological disorders, he said that the report states that malaria had accounted for 10,1% of deaths in the region.
Bos stated that the latest edition of Disease and Mortality in Sub- Saharan Africa characterises a remarkable advance in knowledge since its last publication of the first edition in 1991.n He said, "The potential impact of HIV/AIDS was anticipated in that year, but the current volume documents the depth and breadth of the burden that the epidemic is inflicting on Africa."
He further explained that the report demonstrates how illness and deaths from other causes had changed against the setting of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and how more countries in the region are now facing the dual burden of disease. It was explained that while illness that was caused by infectious diseases still persists, especially among poor people, the non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancers are rapidly progressing mainly due to changes in lifestyles and aging of some populations. A World Bank spokeswoman said that not all the trends had been negative. HIV/AIDS prevalence had fallen in Uganda, while southern Africa had virtually eliminated deaths from measles.