The Impact of Infectious Disease in Africa on Child Development and Education

     The impact of infectious diseases can be traced according to economic performance of African countries, showing that 34 out of 53 countries are classified as low-income economies. The disease burden is, however, more devastating since it affects all components of human development, including income, health and education. The impact of infectious diseases on African countries is no longer a crisis only for the healthcare sector, but presents a challenge to all sectors. It has the potential to reverse those gains made in human development in the last few years. Consequently, beyond health issues, these diseases should and must globally be seen as a development concern, affecting education and knowledge acquisition, income and social status, productivity and economic growth and other direct and indirect components of human development such as gender equality and human rights.
   As stressed in the Millennium Development Goals, education is essential for human development and needs to be enhanced especially in sub-Saharan African countries. Unfortunately, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases in general, are reversing the trend towards the achievement of universal primary education in most African countries. In Africa, less than 65% of children are enrolled in primary school and thousands of enrolled children will prematurely leave school under the pressure of infectious diseases, including orphans, disabled, impoverished and those who withdraw to look after ill members of their family. More globally, these diseases are seen to have a four-fold impact on education.They affect the cognitive ability of children, the capacity of teachers, the upbringing of families and the efficiency of staff and managers.
     The Ebola virus is a constant force in my brain. I am wondering if we have failed this country in some instances. I worry about the children who have no vaccines since the Ebola outbreak began sometime in May.  40 percent of their parents said the children had only missed vaccinations because of the outbreak. Regularly scheduled vaccination events, meanwhile, have been cancelled.”Children are not being vaccinated for diseases that can be prevented like malaria or whopping cough. Many other condition and medical problems for children and families can take place. Living life in  fear must be devastating. What happens when the doctors and nurses are dying from the very disease they are trying to cure. The stress of disease can have a lasting physical, psychological, and cognitive effect on a developing child.
Mathers CD, Ezzati M, Lopez AD. (2007). Measuring the burden of neglected tropical diseases: the global
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UNESCO. (2007). Education for all in least developed countries. Available at
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UNICEF. (2005). The state of the world’s children. The United Nations Children’s Fund, New York

One thought on “The Impact of Infectious Disease in Africa on Child Development and Education

  1. The MDG is an incredible document. Working side by side is an opportunity to allow families communities, and countries to make changes that they identify as a need. Individuals who do the work understand the risk. I understand why they would cancel an immunization clinic, the risk that Ebola presents clearly outweighs the benefit keeping the series of immunizations current many of which are done in a cluster shot like the DTP.


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