"The future of humanity is increasingly African."
That’s the prediction in a new UNICEF report, which estimates that by the end of this century, 40 percent of the world’s people will be African – up from 15 percent now. The continent’s population currently sits at roughly 1.2 billion but will soar to more than 4 billion by 2100. Nearly a billion will live in Nigeria alone.
In a report released Wednesday, UNICEF projected the growth of Africa’s child population within the next century. And the numbers are staggering.
An estimated 1.8 billion births will take place in Africa in the next 35 years, the authors predict. By 2050, Africa will have almost a billion children under 18, making up nearly 40 percent of kids worldwide.
Lead author David Anthony tells NPR’s Melissa Block on All Things Considered that even the researchers were surprised by the findings. “[We] knew that the world’s population was swinging toward Africa,” he says. “But there have been new estimates released by the U.N. population division … that shows an even stronger swing than we have anticipated.”
Fertility rates have fallen in Africa but remain high compared to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the number of women of reproductive age has grown enormously and is set to more than double in the next 35 years.
Image: With high fertility rates among woman and slowing child mortality, Africa’s population will swell to more than 4 billion by the end of this century. (Courtesy of UNICEF)
(MONROVIA, Liberia) — One of Liberia’s most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying to combat an outbreak that has killed more than 670 people in West Africa — the largest ever recorded.
A second American, a missionary working in the Liberian capital, was also taken ill and was being treated in isolation there, said the pastor of a North Carolina church that sponsored her work.
Dr. Samuel Brisbane, a top Liberian health official, was treating Ebola patients at the country’s largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia, when he fell ill. He died Saturday, said Tolbert Nyenswah, an assistant health minister. A Ugandan doctor died earlier this month.
The American physician, 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly, was in Liberia helping to respond to the outbreak that has killed 129 people nationwide when he fell ill, according to the North Carolina-based medical charity, Samaritan’s Purse.
He was receiving intensive medical care in a Monrovia hospital and was in stable condition, according to a spokeswoman for the aid group, Melissa Strickland.
“We are hopeful, but he is certainly not out of the woods yet,” she said.Early treatment improves a patient’s chances of survival, and Brantly recognized his own symptoms and began receiving care immediately, Strickland said.
There’s growing concern in West Africa about the spread of the Ebola virus that has killed hundreds of people. Health ministers have formed a regional response, but fear and a lack of knowledge about Ebola threaten their efforts.
Liberian musicians are joining the campaign, taking to song to educate people about the Ebola virus. Their tune is called "Ebola in Town," and warns people to beware of close contact with those who fall ill. The song warns, “Don’t touch your friend.”
Almost 850 cases have been recorded to date.
Ebola is highly contagious through contact with bodily fluids like blood, vomit or saliva. And it’s generally fatal. But there is a chance for survival if infected people can get medical attention.
West African government health officials have agreed to a coordinated strategy, aware that a contagious disease will cross borders as people travel for commerce or work. But their effort is hampered by fear and ignorance about the disease.
For example, families sometimes hide relatives with Ebola rather than take them for treatment. They fear the panic and ostracism that the disease may provoke from others nearby.
That’s why Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is warning her country that anyone caught hiding suspected Ebola patients will be prosecuted.
"Here, we’re talking about a deadly disease — a disease that can kill people. And we’re obliged to also protect the lives of people," Sirleaf said. "There’s a law that says they must do that. And if they don’t, then there are penalties."
West Africa Is ‘Overwhelmed’ By Ebola
People are hiding from health care workers. New cases are turning up in unexpected places. At funerals, family members don’t always follow the advice not to touch the body of the deceased, which may still harbor the deadly virus.
These are a few of the signs that, in the words of public health specialist Armand Sprecher of , the Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa in February is “not under control yet.”
The first cases were in Guinea, but the virus has since spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The death toll has risen to 330, making this the deadliest Ebola outbreak since the disease was first detected in 1976. The staff of Doctors Without Borders is “overwhelmed” by the need to set up new isolation wards and track down people who may be infected, Sprecher told NPR’s Jason Beaubien.
In past outbreaks, there have been what are called “satellite cases,” where the disease appears in different locations. But “not nearly as many as we’ve seen in this outbreak,” says Sprecher. That may be because people move around a lot in West Africa.
(From Shots—Health News from NPR)
People trying to grow food and support their families on the shores of Lake Malawi are not only causing serious environmental problems, they’re also causing a surge in a debilitating disease.
Thriving towns along the lake are changing the ecosystem in ways that are allowing a parasitic worm to flourish, researchers reported last week in the journal Trends in Parasitology.
The intestinal disease, called schistosomiasis, won’t kill you, but it can make you pretty sick with a fever, cough and muscle aches. Schistosomiasis comes from flatworm parasites that burrow into people’s skin usually when they’re bathing in warm, shallow water. Kids who get infected repeatedly can develop malnutrition and learning difficulties.
"In some villages around Lake Malawi up to 70 percent of the people and 95 percent of schoolchildren are infected [with schistosomiasis]", says Bert Van Bocxlaer, a postdoctoral researcher with the Smithsonian Institution and Ghent University in Belgium.
About the size of New Jersey, Lake Malawi is a huge source of water, electricity and food for people in Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi. Over the past 30 years, the number of people living around the lake has more than doubled to about 14 million. Agricultural output has risen dramatically.
Many things that people have done to try to make their own lives better have made the schistosomiasis situation worse, Van Bocxlaer and his colleagues found. Migration, intense fishing, and planting larger and larger tracts of land have all led to the proliferation of the parasitic worm that causes schistosomiasis.
Photo: A Malawian fishermen cleans fish on the shore of Lake Malawi near Salima in 2008. About the size of New Jersey, Lake Malawi is one of the most biologically diverse lakes in the world. (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images)
Are African women more susceptible to acquiring HIV because of genital schistosomiasis?
(From The New York Times)
If you turn on a radio in Zimbabwe these days, it won’t be long before you hear a public service spot featuring the voice of a deejay who goes by the name “Napster the Radio Master.”
Napster tells his audience that just before he got married he decided to get circumcised “so that my wife would find me clean and desirable.” He also notes that he later found out that circumcision helps protect women from contracting cervical cancer — adding, “Well, that was just the cherry on top!”
The ad is a centerpiece of an unprecedented campaign in Africa over the past several years to promote circumcision as a way to prevent HIV. This week researchers announced that the program has reached a remarkable milestone: Six million men and teenagers were convinced.
But the goal is to get 14 million more to sign up by 2016, and even at the current pace, public health officials are not on track to achieve that number. So they believe they need to change their message. That’s why Napster doesn’t mention the words HIV or AIDS in his radio spot.
he drive to circumcise men kicked off in 14 African countries after studies demonstrated that getting circumcised reduces a man’s chances of contracting HIV by 60 percent. (Removing the foreskin creates a less hospitable environment for the virus.)
Health officials then ran the numbers. They determined that if 80 percent of teenage and adult men in 14 countries in Southern and Eastern Africa — where circumcision is not commonly practiced — were to get “the cut” by 2016, there would be 3.4 million fewer new infections through 2025.
At first just stating the purpose of the campaign seemed sufficient. But for a lot of men, the downsides of going under the knife just don’t seem worth the benefit.
Photographer Kevin McElvaney documents Agbogbloshie, a former wetland in Accra, Ghana, which is home to the world’s largest e-waste dumping site.
Boys and young men smash devices to get to the metals, especially copper. Injuries, such as burns, untreated wounds, eye damage, lung and back problems, go hand in hand with chronic nausea, anorexia, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems. Most workers die from cancer in their 20s. More photos
This infographic for our new AIDS report shows why it’s time to stop saying the phrase “AIDS in Africa.” African countries have made widely divergent progress toward the beginning of the end of AIDS, and a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling AIDS on the continent does not make sense.