North Africa

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Visualizing the burden of disease in the Middle East and North Africa | 

Guest post by Katie Leach-Kemon, a policy translation specialist from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

What is the state of health, or burden of disease trends, in the Middle East and North Africa?

A regional report entitled The Global Burden of Disease: Generating Evidence, Guiding Policy – Middle East and North Africa Regional Edition, published last week by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the World Bank, highlighted the rapid transitions in health patterns in the region between 1990 and 2010:

  • People in the Middle East and North Africa are living longer than ever before, but they are living more years with disability from causes such as low back pain, depression and anxiety, and diabetes (see the transition in this video or view it yourself using IHME’s online visualization tool).
  • Non-communicable diseases cause much more premature death and disability (also known as disability-adjusted life years, or DALYs) than in the past (diseases such as ischemic heart disease, low back pain, and depression increased by 44%, 77%, and 58%, respectively, as shown by the blue bars in Figure 7 from the report, shown below.

GBD N. Africa MidEast Continue reading

HIV in the Middle East and North Africa — Behind a Veil? | 

Brain scientists say we can really only think about one thing at a time.

And when it comes to AIDS, I think it’s fair to say we tend to think of Sub-Saharan Africa as the place where the HIV pandemic continues to spread. As this report from NPR’s Linda Thrasybule illustrates, such simplistic thinking is both incorrect and dangerous.

Tariq Mahmood AFP Getty Images

By Linda Thrasybule

HIV epidemics are emerging among men who have sex with men in the Middle East and North Africa, researchers say. It’s a region where HIV/AIDS isn’t well understood, or studied.

More than 5 percent of men who have sex with men are infected by HIV in countries including Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia, according to a recent study in PLoS Medicine. In one group of men in Pakistan, the rate of infection was about 28 percent. (For reference, in 2008, rates of HIV infection among men who have sex with men in the U.S. ranged from 16 percent among white men up to 28 percent of black men, according to the CDC.)

Risky behavior, low condom use, injectable drug use and male sex workers are some of the factors that could cause HIV rates to rise in the region, the researchers say. On average, the men who have sex with men group had between four and 14 sexual partners within the past six months, with consistent condom use falling below 25 percent.

Lack of HIV surveillance and low access to treatment and prevention are a concern for researchers, who believe the window of opportunity to prevent the epidemic from spreading across the region is growing smaller.

Read more here at NPR’s Shots blog