Majority of African deaths due to communicable diseases

The World Health Organization recently reported that the majority of all deaths in Africa are due to the effects of communicable diseases.

Luis Gomes Sambo, the regional director of the WHO for Africa, told the 62nd meeting of the organization that despite recent progress, 63 percent of African deaths are caused by such illnesses, according to

Sambo said that HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diarrheal diseases, malaria and childhood illnesses cause 88 percent of deaths on the continent. Africa's average life expectancy is only 54 years of age.

Despite the grim statistics, Sambo said that Africa has made significant overall progress against HIV/AIDS and childhood diseases.

The coverage of interventions to reduce vertical transmission has widened and treatment of HIV/AIDS with antiretrovirals has increased from 100,000 people in 2003 to more than 6.2 million in 2011. The annual incidence of infection with HIV/AIDS, however, remains very high on the continent. There were 1.7 million new cases reported in 2011.

Childhood mortality rates from infectious diseases are dropping in Africa, Sambo said. Maternal mortality also decreased from an average of 720 deaths per 100,000 births in 2000 to 480 per 100,000 births in 2010. Though no enough to meet Millennium Development Goals, Sambo regarded the development as a positive sign, reports.

Approximately 37 million African deaths are attributable to non-communicable diseases and that number is believed to be increasing rapidly.