Health in Kenya
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Tropical diseases, especially malaria and tuberculosis, have long been a public health problem in Kenya. In recent years, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), also has become a severe problem. Estimates of the incidence of infection differ widely. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) claimed in 2006 that more than 16 percent of adults in Kenya are HIV-infected, whereas the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) cites the much lower figure of 6.7 percent. Despite politically charged disputes over the numbers, however, the Kenyan government recently declared HIV/AIDS a national disaster. In 2004 the Kenyan Ministry of Health announced that HIV/AIDS had surpassed malaria and tuberculosis as the leading disease killer in the country. Thanks largely to AIDS, life expectancy in Kenya has dropped by about a decade. Since 1984 more than 1.5 million Kenyans have died because of HIV/AIDS. More than 3 million Kenyans are HIV positive. More than 70 people a day die of HIV-related illnesses. The prevalence rate for women is nearly twice that for men. The rate of orphanhood stands at about 11 percent. AIDS has contributed significantly to Kenya’s dismal ranking in the latest UNDP Human Development Report, whose Human Development Index (HDI) score is an amalgam of gross domestic product per head, figures for life expectancy, adult literacy, and school enrollment. The 2006 report ranked Kenya 152nd out of 177 countries on the HDI and pointed out that Kenya is one of the world’s worst performers in infant mortality. Estimates of the infant mortality rate range from 57 to 74 deaths/1,000 live births. The maternal mortality ratio is also among the highest in the world, thanks in part to female genital cutting, illegal since 2001 for girls under 16. Apart from major disease killers, Kenya has a...
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