Let's correct the misconception that chronic diseases are diseases of the rich once and for all. It is costing us action on the part of the research community, lay people, donors, governments, innovators and the media.
Chronic diseases hit the poor badly
80% of chronic disease deaths occur in developing countries. Not only do they tend to coexist with communicable diseases among the poor, they often coexist with signs of malnutrition. Poor people have more lethal chronic conditions because of their living environments and all the risks they have accumulated over their lifetime. Chronic diseases push them further into poverty, along with all their children and loved ones who depend on them.
Chronic diseases hit women badly
More African women than men tend to have risk factors like obesity and suffer from chronic diseases. While this will have a relationship with physiology it is also related to social inequality as you find less economically empowered women worse hit by chronic diseases. These women tend to be stigmatized by their families and sometimes abandoned by their partners when they develop these diseases.
Chronic disease patients sometimes face the same level of stigma as HIV patients face
People with chronic diseases in Africa often face stigmatization, social isolation, family abandonment and psychological trauma. Because some chronic diseases have physical indications like the extreme weight loss diabetics experience, they can face similar levels of stigma as AIDS patients face.
Chronic diseases hit the elderly too.
As people live longer, the elderly in Africa are also hit hard by chronic diseases. Since chronic diseases often cost more than the average patient's salary to treat, imagine if you are old and do not have an income. You would have to rely on your family. And sometimes this puts strains on the relationships since your family members would have their own financial issues to deal with.
Chronic diseases are hitting the less empowered in society much harder than any other sector of society. These are the ones who cannot afford the care, and have to make worse tradeoffs- like between buying their drugs or treating their child's malaria or paying their child's school fees.
Let's correct the misconception that chronic diseases are diseases of the rich once and for all. Chronic diseases are affecting everyone in Africa- rich or poor, young and old, the elderly in the village and cosmopolitan city people. They will soon be the leading cause of death in Africa.
These are just a few reasons why we choose to Engage Africa on this issue.
Join us- volunteer, partner with us, spread the message and/or donate.
President, Engage Africa Foundation