South African Medical Journal

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Continuing communicable disease burden in Eritrea

J Mufunda, P Nyarango, A Kosia, A Kosia


Background and methodsA retrospective study of the national health profile of Eritreans, focusing on acute respiratory tract infection (ARTI), tuberculosis (TB), diarrhoea, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV / AIDS, was done on data from 1998 to 2003 through a health information management system. Records were included for patients of all ages receiving outpatient and inpatient hospital services during the study period. All incidence rates were given as cases per 100 000 population.

Results: The incidence of ARTI increased from 6 500 cases per annum in 1998 to 8 500 in 2003, representing a 30% increase. Diarrhoea rates remained unchanged, averaging 3 000 cases. For both ARTI and diarrhoea, rates were at least 3 times higher in children under 5 years of age than in those over 5 years of age. The incidences of TB and STDs decreased from 370 and 220 in 1998 to 170 and 80 in 2003, respectively. HIV / AIDS incidence increased from 40 in 1998 to 65 in 2003, reflecting a 60% increase. The case fatality rates (CFRs) for HIV / AIDS and TB were 12% and 2% in 1998, increasing to 14% and 3%, respectively, in 2001. The CFR for ARTI and diarrhoea remained low at 0.3%. CFRs were higher in children under 5 years than in those over 5 years for all the diseases but rates declined consistently, probably reflecting the positive impact of the introduction of the integrated management of childhood illness (IMCI). Although the incidence rate of HIV / AIDS was relatively low compared with rates for TB, ARTI and diarrhoea, the HIV / AIDS CFR was relatively high, posing a threat to the gains made in control of infectious diseases. The disease burden from TB and STDs declined over the 6-year study period, while that from ARTI and HIV / AIDS increased. Consequently the overall disease burden from communicable diseases remained unchanged over the study period.No Abstract.

South African Medical Journal Vol. 96 (3) 2006: 221-224

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