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Malaria Malaria is a serious tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites a person, it passes the parasites into the bloodstream. They go to the liver and then invade red blood cells to cause the illness. Pregnant women and small children are especially at risk. Cases are reducing – down to 228 million in 2018. Sleeping under a treated net reduces risk. A few African countries are testing a vaccine. (WHO, NHS)
HIV/AIDS This is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the white blood cells. It is recommended that anyone who could have HIV should be tested so that they can take antiretroviral drugs if they test positive. These drugs help people live active lives and can reduce transmission. The number of AIDS- related deaths has gone down from 1.4 million in 2000 to about three quarters of a million in 2018. (WHO)
Diarrhoeal diseases These are usually a symptom of a gut infection, which can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking- water, or from person to person as a result of not handwashing. Severe diarrhoea leads to fluid loss, and may be life-threatening, particularly in young children. The number of children under five dying from these diseases (0.5m) is about 0.7m less than in 2000. (WHO)
Respiratory infections and TB These are major causes of death world-wide, especially for very young and older people who live in crowded conditions, and suffer from air pollution. Influenza (flu) seriously affects 3–5 million people each year. The viruses change, so new vaccines are needed each year. TB is a major killer. Deaths and cases are reducing each year but there is some drug- resistant TB. A new, more effective vaccine is also needed. (WHO)