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Communicable Disease Epidemics In Developing World Not Being Adequately Addressed, IFRC Says

The “crippling” and “growing burden” of communicable diseases such as dengue fever, polio, or meningitis is not being sufficiently addressed in developing countries, according to “The Epidemic Divide,” a report released Monday by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), AFP/Google.com reports. According to the report, resources to deal with existing epidemics are “scarce.”

The report said a focus on death rates has helped increase attention and resources to fight non-communicable diseases, including heart attacks and cancers, which are the leading killers worldwide. However in the developing world, preventable infectious disease is the dominant threat and societies in developing countries suffer from the “debilitating impact of illness on their development,” as well as the significant mortality rates.

Tammam Aloudat, IFRC’s senior officer for health in emergencies, said, “We do not see interest, we only see vague, uncoordinated interest in high-profile issues such as influenza – which is in itself a great risk, but not the only one.” Aloudat added although swine flu has “killed so far about 150 people” and the “potential for risk is massive,” there are “14 million people dying mostly unnecessarily from easily preventable diseases that require little resources” (7/5).

The report also says “that using only mortality rates to measure the impact of diseases distorts the true burden epidemics have on developing countries,” according to an IFRC release. “The social and economic consequences of epidemics in developing countries need to be better evaluated. People hit by epidemics usually die or – in the case of polio – get disabled – in their most productive years, when they are young,” said Aloudat (7/6).

According to the report, “complacency” towards existing epidemics is “a major threat in itself.” To remedy the situation, the report calls for more resources, immunization, community prevention programs, increased accessibility to health services, clean water and sanitation in developing nations, AFP/Google.com writes (7/5).