In the United States, tuberculosis (TB) is not much on the mind of Americans in the country where 8,300 cases were reported in 2022, making the incidence rate of 2.5 cases per 100,000 persons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Compare that with the situation in sub-Saharan Africa, where Sierra Leone ranks 14th out of 48 countries with an incident rate of 289 incidences per 100,000 individuals – more than 100 times the rate in the U.S.!
In a May 16, 2023 article, The Washington Post reported: “Roughly 4,000 people on this planet died of tuberculosis yesterday. From a curable disease.
“We need not accept such a world. TB treatment must be made available to all, so that tuberculosis can become what it should have been long ago: history.”
Throughout almost all of human history, TB has been “the world’s deadliest infectious disease,” according to The Post report, and with about 1.5 million people still dying of TB annually “more than die of malaria, homicide and war combined.”
The World Health Organization (WHO), which celebrates World TB Day annually on March 24 to raise awareness about the burden of TB worldwide, states that TB is the ninth leading cause of death worldwide “and the leading cause from a single infectious agent, ranking above HIV/AIDS” with more than one-fourth of all TB deaths occurring in its African Region.
And according to a study by Brigham Young University’s Ballard Center for Social Impact, the primary reasons for the high prevalence of TB deaths in sub-Saharan Africa is due to “the insufficient infrastructure of medical care and the underutilization of such” which contributes “to the perpetuation of the disease.”
In addition, “the effects of poverty and a high prevalence of immunocompromised individuals contribute greatly to the impact the disease has on the region” with sadly malnutrition also contributing “to the likelihood of TB progressing to the active disease which most often affects children, contributing to TB being the leading cause of global child mortality.
“A lack of proper medical care infrastructure perpetuates the disease, leading to many individuals being infected, spreading it to others unknowingly and failing to complete treatment.
“Distance to treatment centers, capacity of testing laboratories, delay in health services, and poor quality of care are all aspects of the infrastructure of medical care.
“Many of these services are lacking in areas of sub-Saharan Africa.”
At Bread and Water for Africa®, thanks to our grassroots partners operating hospitals and clinics treating the indigent poor in rural regions that otherwise would be without any healthcare facilities, we are doing all we can to reduce the number of deaths from easily treatable diseases, including TB and malaria.
Each year we ship millions of dollars’ worth of donated medicines, medical supplies and equipment to our healthcare partners in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Malawi and Sierra Leone – including thousands and thousands of doses of antibiotics that can be successfully used to treat most cases of TB, thanks to our generous supporters from across the U.S.
In Sierra Leone, Joseph Kobba, program director of our healthcare partner there, Rural Youth Development Organization-Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL), reported in April that with support from Bread and Water for Africa® its 13 clinics which served approximately 65,000 individuals last year, as well as the country in general, are showing “tremendous improvements in reducing the burden of diseases and increasing the utilization of key services.
“These improvements in health outcomes have been attributed to massive investments in expanding coverage and improving access to health care services though the introduction of the Free Health Care Initiative” which includes free testing and treatment for tuberculosis “and improvements in the availability of essential medicines, medical supplies and equipment,” says Joseph.
And while the need for antibiotics to fight TB and other deadly – but curable – diseases will always be great in countries and regions in sub-Saharan Africa, we at Bread and Water for Africa® will always be there for our healthcare partners who for them and us their patients are not numbers but individuals who deserve every chance for a long, healthy and happy life.
To learn more about our partnership with Rural Youth Development Organization, please visit:
Rural Youth Development Organization, Sierra Leone
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Bread and Water for Africa welcomes our new partner in Sierra Leone, The Rural Youth Development Organization