Ethiopian region ravaged by HIV, malaria and TB

By PAULINE KAIRU

Gambela, a regional centre located in western Ethiopia that borders South Sudan, has been found to be a hotspot of all three key infectious diseases in Africa — HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

The new research’s lead author, Dr Kefyalew Alene, said it was concerning to find one region reporting large numbers of all three diseases.

“This study identified that the Ethiopian region of Gambela, which is home to more than 330,000 people, was a hotspot for high cases of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. The high prevalence of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in this region may be due to inadequate case management and weaker health systems along the border.”

“The three are the most serious infectious diseases in the world, causing high morbidity and mortality rates especially in low and middle-income countries,” said Dr Alene, a researcher from the Curtin School of Population Health and the Telethon Kids Institute, in the research published Monday in BMJ (British Medical Journal) Global Health.

High prevalence

The research co-authored by other experts from Curtin and the Telethon Kids Institute, as well as Ethiopia’s University of Gondar and the National Tuberculosis Control Programme, found a high prevalence of all three infectious diseases in the region, prompting researchers to call for targeted health support rather than a national response.

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A regional corner of Africa is a hotspot for cases of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, prompting researchers to call for targeted health support rather than a national response.

The study found the Gambela was characterised by low healthcare access, low socioeconomic index, and high temperatures and rainfall.

Dr Alene said the study suggested the need for more targeted health services to deal with the spate of cases concentrated to one part of Africa.

“These findings can guide policymakers in Ethiopia to design geographically targeted and integrated disease control programmes to achieve maximum impact in addressing the high prevalence of cases,” Dr Alene said.

“This highlights that targeting health services at a local level would be more effective than a nation-wide service response.”

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