Chronic diseases spike in Middle East as conflicts rage

Aug 7, 2017

By Amy Maxmen

Ibrahim Hassan is propped up on pillows on a cement floor when a physician comes to check on him. Hassan fled to Jordan from southern Syria after conflict erupted there in 2011. The 65-year-old can no longer walk as a result of multiple strokes, which his doctor blames on high blood pressure — but Hassan blames on fear. One stroke hit just as Hassan (whose name has been changed to protect him) made it to Syria’s border with Jordan, after 18 hours of dodging bullets, bombs and hostile soldiers.

Hassan’s encounter with tragedy is all too common here. Across the Middle East, deaths resulting from violence grew by 850% between 1990 and 2015, according to a series of reports published on 3 August in the International Journal of Public Health1–15. The increase accelerated after 2010, corresponding with the beginning of the Arab Spring movement and wars in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, the authors found, the incidence of many chronic diseases has also risen dramatically; the death rate from diabetes, for instance, grew 216% over the study period.

Taken together, the analyses describe a disturbing deterioration in health across a broadly defined Middle Eastern region, which includes 22 countries — including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates — that are home to more than 580 million people.

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4 comments on “Chronic diseases spike in Middle East as conflicts rage

  • In countries infested with “faith-thinking”, conflicts and diseases are rife.

    Religion takes credit where none is due to them, and insults the scientific and medical professionals who actually provide cures!

    I see the RCC and the media has just insulted one of their nuns who as a DOCTOR worked to irridicate leprosy in Pakistan!

    Ruth Pfau, a German doctor and nun who dedicated her life to eradicating leprosy in Pakistan and has been described as the country’s Mother Teresa, has died in Karachi aged 87.

    She died in hospital after being admitted on Friday, her order said.

    Dr Pfau witnessed leprosy in Pakistan for the first time in 1960 and returned to set up clinics across the country.

    Her efforts meant that in 1996 Pakistan became one of the first countries in Asia to be declared free of leprosy.

    I would consider branding this DOCTOR who worked to fight leprosy, with the name of that evil old “saint” who promoted suffering, grossly insulting to her and to medicine.
    It is merely pandering to the asserted “sainthood” of that other evil nun, who wilfully caused suffering for so many of the sick and dying!

    Harald Meyer-Porzky from the Ruth Pfau Foundation in Würzburg said Dr Pfau had “given hundreds of thousands of people a life of dignity”.

    She studied medicine and was later sent to southern India by her order, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary, but a visa issue meant she became stuck in Karachi, where she first became aware of leprosy.

    Dr Pfau rescued disfigured and suffering children who had been confined to caves and cattle pens for years by their parents, who were terrified that they were contagious.

    She trained Pakistani doctors and attracted foreign donations, founding Pakistan’s National Leprosy Control Programme and the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre, which has a presence in every Pakistani province.

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  • In the absence of good medical practice and public health programs then all the people have left to rely on is their faith in an invisible dictator in the sky who, if he is sufficiently pleased with them, then will block illness and every other bad event from afflicting them.

    It’s absolutely heartbreaking to read about these victims of war and destruction who have no ability to control their own destiny at this point and who can’t even access the bare necessities of basic medical help.

    It’s not just war times that have put these people at risk. They didn’t have even close to adequate care before the problems started. As usual I’ll limit my wrath to the region of North Africa where I have made some observations.

    The medical system in Algeria has been nothing short of disgraceful. One would have a better chance of survival if one avoided the system altogether. People go to hospitals only as a last resort. Hospitals are filthy and frightening places there. All of this from a country that has abundant financial resources from natural gas in the Sahara. They are an OPEC nation!

    It’s obvious to the citizens and to anyone from the outside who gets a look into the situation there that all of that gas money has gone somewhere but not to the good of the people living there. A corrupt government has killed many from selfish neglect. It gets even worse when the fundamentalists took full advantage of this situation to provide help and care to people and pointed out to them that when they could take control of the government they would eliminate corruption and remake the country according to the perfect and beautiful guidelines of Islam.

    Corruption, fundamentalism, ignorance, it all adds up to despair.

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  • Meanwhile – some progress could be made on abusive practices in the treatment menstruating of women!

    Nepal criminalises banishing menstruating women to huts

    Lawmakers in Nepal have passed a law criminalising a practice that forces women from their homes during menstruation.

    Under the law anyone who makes a woman observe the custom faces a three-month jail sentence and a $30 (£23) fine.

    The practice, known as chhaupadi, has been in the spotlight recently after two women died while sleeping in sheds.

    Campaigners say the legislation must be properly enforced, but say behaviour also needs to change.

    Under the ancient Hindu practice, women who have their periods or who have just given birth are seen as impure or as bringers of bad luck, and can be forced to sleep in huts or cattle sheds.

    This is a Hindu version, but other religions have their own similar forms of silly superstitions about menstruation.

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  • Ugh, here we go again. Shades of pantie inspecting Rabbis. That was a good thread though, was it not?

    legislation in Nepal against segregation of menstruating women might seem weak with the thirty dollar fine but often the legal changes precede behavioral changes in social justice. Now, women can have some hope of standing up for themselves if they can gather momentum. Perhaps a small group of fed up women will take a few sledge hammers and smash those dastardly huts to pieces. How I’d love to order a few of those hammers as a gift to those women. Does Amazon deliver to Nepal???

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