The Ebola outbreak in Africa brought a few things about Africa to the public’s attention. One is the fact that people eat bats in Africa. First world people don’t think much about Africa, but the image of people eating bats is a jarring reminder that Africa is nothing like the rest of the world.
Of course, lot of Africans are moving out of Africa into the rest of the world. This summer we are sure to have the suicidal Western media moaning about the millions of Africans trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe. If you are willing to cross the desert and the Mediterranean in order to live in a European ghetto, it is safe to assume you’re fleeing someplace much worse.
The question is just how awful are these countries?
Yesterday I posted about the murder rates. Getting murdered is the worst thing that can happened to you in any country. The next worst thing, I think, is getting some horrible disease like Ebola or AIDS. Worse yet, dying from curable things like cholera or measles that are beyond the individual’s ability to avoid. One can avoid sex and bat eating, but you have to drink water.
Disease rates are one of those things that drive migrants to and from countries. It’s a natural instinct. Anthropologists think Sub-Saharan Africans did not advance beyond simple village systems because of disease. Large population centers would be disease magnets. The better response is small isolated villages with a natural hostility to outsiders.
Given the communications revolution, even the most backward in Africa know that Brits and Franks don’t regularly die from the runs. They get their broken bones mended and no one rots to death in their hut for want of medical care.
Here’s the disease rates from WHO for Africa:
|Sudan||9923.59||C. African Republic||20453.29|
|Republic of the Congo||9923.59||Kenya||20742.34|
|Ghana||11517.62||Republic of Sudan||22646.43|
|DR of the Congo||15033.42||Swaziland||33428.76|
These numbers are for all infectious, parasitic diseases per 100,000. Not all disease is deadly, but without proper health care, even the flu can be deadly. That’s the utility of disease rates as a metric. High disease rates suggest not only something about the ecology and culture; they tells us how the population is organizing to address public health.
As expected, the countries in the Maghreb have the lowest disease rates in Africa. As with the homicide numbers, the accuracy of the data is a problem. In the West we track this stuff closely. No one has the slightest idea of how many drop dead from the runs in places like Eritrea.
For the sake of comparison, Iceland is 157 per 100,000. Most of Europe is around 175, even tropical places like Greece. Ukraine, the most corrupt country in Eurasia is 1545, similar to Arab North Africa. The US is at 330 and that’s with absorbing 30 million people from tropical fever swamps.
Some of these numbers are mind boggling. If you are an African in a place like Mali, why would you not take your chances on that leaky boat over the Mediterranean. The odds of being killed at sea are lower than dying from tuberculosis back home, if you are not murdered by a local thug.