Health and Development in Africa – Virus Example

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"Health and Development in Africa" is an interesting example of a paper on the virus. HIV is a major health problem in Africa. Seventy-two percent of HIV infected persons live in sub-Saharan Africa (Institute of Medicine & National Academies Press, 2011). This implies that the population of HIV infected persons in the continent is high and continues to rise thereby painting a bleak picture of the continent’ s future. The prevalence of the disease in the continent has affected several economic sectors in the continent thereby curbing economic growth. Managing the disease requires the formulation and implementation of effective policies in order to change the behavior of people in the continent and develop effective structures of managing the disease.

However, most countries in the continent have failed to develop and implement appropriate policies thereby failing to contain the spread of the disease and its effects as portrayed in the essay below. HIV is both a social and health issue in Sub Saharan Africa and has severe ramifications in the economy of the countries in the continent. HIV is a major cause of the underdevelopment manifested in countries in Africa.

The social features in parts of Africa including beliefs and taboos have enhanced the rapid spread of the disease thereby escalating its effect throughout the continent; HIV is a leading cause of deaths in Africa. Curtailing the spread of the disease and its severe ramifications, the continent requires an overhaul of different social features through the formulation and implementation of effective policies. This way, the solution becomes holistic and curtails the escalating deaths and the effects such have on the continent. The health sector in African countries is one of the most affected sectors of the societies in the continent.

The rising cases of infection and the maturity of the virus in its victims compel the patients to seek medical assistance from the equally impoverished health facilities in the countries. The facilities lack adequate personnel owing to the lower literacy levels in the continent; this implies that the ratio of doctors to patients is low. The rise in the number of HIV patients, therefore, increases the pressure on such resources. The few doctors and the meager drugs among other resources cannot contain the prevalence of the disease thereby escalating the effects of the disease. Hospitals in impoverished parts of Africa lack adequate bed spaces; this implies that such facilities can never provide adequate care for the patients.

Coupled with the smaller number of doctors and health practitioners the facilities fail to provide effective health care to the rising number of patients seeking such care. Additionally, the rising number of HIV patients seeking health care services makes the working environment precarious for health practitioners. As explained earlier, most health facilities on the continent lack effective equipment.

the lack of such vital resources as latex gloves coupled with the high number of HIV patients seeking assistance in such facilities heighten the risk for medical practitioners since accidents are more likely to occur a feature that leads to accidental infections. Furthermore, the increase in demand for health services increases pressure on the practitioners, this affects their productivity. HIV is a major contributor to escalating poverty in Africa. The economy is a self-sustaining cycle consisting of several industries that depend on each other.

A negative occurrence in one sector of the economy sends ripple effects on other sectors thereby containing economic growth. HIV has claimed bale bodied and productive individuals in the continent. With the death of such individuals, their dependents become destitute thereby contributing to the rising poverty levels. Furthermore, the maturity of HIV in the patients renders them unproductive and reliant on the impoverished society. Families in Africa spend millions of dollars seeking health care services and in caring for the sick before they die. HIV sustains the vicious cycle of both poverty and the spread of the pandemic in the continent.

With the death of breadwinners, destitute children are left without a means of income and without an adult figure in their lives. Such children, therefore, grow up in impoverished settings lacking every basic need, most of the children fall out of school a feature that sustains the low literacy levels in the continent (Nolen, 2010). Female children become more vulnerable as they grow the children thus turn to prostitution as they strive to fend for themselves. This way, the children enhance the spread of the virus since they acquire the virus from the infected adults who promise the impoverished children different favors.

This, therefore, creates a vicious cycle that sustains poverty in the country as the levels of literacy become lower while the rates of prostitution increase with younger children becoming prostitutes as they struggle to feed themselves. Poverty in Africa is therefore a major contributor to the spread of the disease, which also contributes to the escalating poverty levels (Rohleder, 2009). Rödlach, (2006) explains that among the social and cultural features that enhance the spread of the virus in the continent, include myopic traditions and retrogressive cultural practices.

Among such is the concept of wife inheritance. When a man dies, a brother readily inherits the deceased man’ s wife with the view of providing her with companionship. Most of such arrangements occur without the parties investigating the cause of the death. Such mundane practices have contributed to the rise in infection as the people continue to domesticate the virus. Additionally, some people believe that when they have sex with children they are likely to heal from the deadly virus.

Such beliefs have contributed to the increase in rape cases thereby increasing the rates of infections even in children. The societal setups and the relationship that people have in Africa facilitate the prevalence of both viral disease and poverty (Barnett & Blaikie, 1992). Mother to child infections especially during birth is a vital issue in the management of the virus. Most developed economies have established ways of minimizing cross-infection especially during birth (Lewis, Lyons & Setel, 1999). The transfer of the virus from mothers to children during childbirth remains a contentious issue in Africa where health practitioners lack effective resources and equipment to handle pregnant patients.

From the few unmotivated health practitioners to the lack of both drugs and effective equipment curtail endeavors of containing the cross-infection from mothers to newborn babies. Such ineffectiveness in the health sector coupled with beliefs that having sex with children provides a cure to the diseases that have contributed to the increase in the infection of children. The increase in the infection of children implies that the future of the continent is questionable, as people die young alongside their parents (Kalipeni, 2004). The discussion above provides a grim picture of Africa that requires effective policies to mitigate.

Among the vital policies that can help mitigate the crisis is the need to increase friendship and develop working relationships with other countries especially the developed world. This will help provide the much-desired health equipment and drugs in order to improve the quality of health care services. Such endeavors help mitigate the transfer of the virus from mothers to innocent children during birth (Walker, Reid, Cornell & AIDS in Context Conference, 2004).

Combating the virus requires collective effort with the active participation of the western countries; the African government must, therefore, develop cordial relationships with developed countries in order to enable such countries to set up non-governmental organizations to help curb the epidemic. African governments must invest in education. This implies that governments must develop effective policies that will sustain the quality of education and encourage children to attend schools. This may include the provision of daily meals in school in order to increase the number of students attending school.

As described earlier, several social and cultural factors sustain the spread of the virus; such require effective education and change in behavior. Schools provide children with protection thereby keeping them safe from the vicious society while equipping with vital life-sustaining skills (Abdool & Abdool, 2010). By addressing the low literacy levels in Africa, the governments would develop effective policies and change public attitudes, stereotypes, and cultural practices such as wife inheritance that have perpetually domesticated the virus in the continent. Through effective education, the population becomes more enlightened on the nature of the diseases thereby promoting responsive behaviors and the safe management of patients.

Such are features that will minimize the victimization of the patients while minimizing infections.


Abdool, K. S. S., & Abdool, K. Q. (2010). HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Cape Town: Cambridge University Press.

Barnett, T., & Blaikie, P. M. (1992). AIDS in Africa: It's present and future impact. New York: Guilford Press.

Institute of Medicine (U.S.)., Briere, R., & National Academies Press (U.S.). (2011). Preparing for the future of HIV/AIDS in Africa: A shared responsibility. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.

Kalipeni, E. (2004). HIV and AIDS in Africa: Beyond Epidemiology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

Lewis, M. J., Lyons, M., & Setel, P. (1999). Histories of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Greenwood Press.

Nolen, S. (2010). 28: Stories of aids in Africa.

Ntozi, J. P. M., & Health Transition Centre. (1997). Vulnerability to STD/HIV infection and the effects of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Canberra, Australia: Health Transition Centre, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University.

Rödlach, A. (2006). Witches, Westerners, and HIV: AIDS & cultures of blame in Africa. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Rohleder, P. (2009). HIV/AIDS in South Africa: 25 years on psychosocial perspectives. New York: Springer.

Walker, L., Reid, G., Cornell, M., & AIDS in Context Conference: (2004). Waiting to happen:HIV/AIDS in South Africa: the bigger picture. Boulder, Colo: Lynne Rienner.

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