Africa: Disease Rates

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:

Country Name Disease
Country Name Disease
Libya 974.18 Mali 16123.99
Mauritius 1027.27 Cameroon 16696.47
Egypt 1208.84 Equatorial Guinea 17396.06
Sierra Leone 1295.18 Algeria 17785.00
Morocco 1336.15 Nigeria 17976.10
Tunisia 1425.32 Chad 18199.74
Cape Verde 3558.65 Liberia 18575.71
Comoros 5218.65 Burundi 18706.93
Madagascar 7071.54 Angola 19078.39
Eritrea 7081.69 Namibia 19094.46
Senegal 7931.82 Niger 19113.87
Tanzania 8692.63 Rwanda 19857.85
Mauritania 8766.12 São Tomé 20028.42
Seychelles 9251.88 Mozambique 20148.13
Sudan 9923.59 C. African Republic 20453.29
Republic of the Congo 9923.59 Kenya 20742.34
Djibouti 10816.33 Somalia 21162.37
Benin 10870.93 Ivory Coast 21244.21
Guinea-Bissau 11303.92 Uganda 22335.54
Ghana 11517.62 Republic of Sudan 22646.43
Gabon 12506.99 Malawi 28720.38
Togo 14131.60 Botswana 32483.12
South Africa 14369.42 Lesotho 32692.74
Ethiopia 14752.42 The Gambia 32765.00
DR of the Congo 15033.42 Swaziland 33428.76
Guinea 15144.15 Zambia 34593.00
Burkina Faso 15706.29 Zimbabwe 57454.07

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.