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Concerns of contemporary medical Geography – Sub Saharan Africa Today

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Medical geography is field that tries to examine geographical distribution of disease and health services provision. It’s a hybrid of Geography and Medicine, hence involves the study of the impact of local climate on health. Also called health geography because its aim is to enhance understanding of the factors that affect people’s health. (About.com) The interest in geographical location is because, certain diseases only affect people living in certain environmental conditions for instance, malaria in Africa. (Dorn 620)

Sub Saharan Africa is part of a continent where the climate is quite unfavorable, with desertification described as changes in ecology that turns non desert areas to desert, consisting of Kalahari and Sahara deserts in the South and North respectively; high rates of population; complete breakdown of public health techniques; humans and the environment are linked so closely and in a complex relationship hence presenting a condition of disequilibrium enhancing the flourishing of diseases and impairment of health. (Mansell 300)

Medical Geography has great concerns in this area because; the physical environment is favorable for the flourishing of these diseases, the regions socio economic factors contribute towards these diseases, and also food shortages in this region causes acute malnutrition hence limiting all the means and possibilities of limiting disease in this region, because of scarce resources for meeting all kinds of medical services; the patient doctor ratio is bad and  even access to available doctors does not exist, and hence the population rely on traditional doctors and paramedics at dispensaries. (Mansell 300)

Human factors also greatly contributes towards disease in sub Saharan Africa, unhygienic environments further enhance spread of disease, hence perpetual occurrence of certain diseases, hence the only solution would be a total change of behavior and embrace appropriate hygiene. (Mansell 207)

An appropriate understanding of geography would enhance delivery of appropriate healthcare, with application of Sub Saharan Africa, the respective government should establish how best to deliver healthcare facilities to remote areas with poor infrastructure by using various approaches; also education to enhance behavior change would reduce spread of diseases, for instance education on transmission and spread of HIV and AIDS would greatly reduce the disease prevalence in the region. The current common diseases that threat the population in this region are, yellow fever, Ebola, Hantavirus, AIDS, SARS(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and influenza among others. (Mansell 302)


Dorn, Michael L. Medical Geography in Historical Perspective (review)

         Bulletin of the History of Medicine – Volume 76, Number 3, (2002): pp. 617-620

Mansell Prothero R.  Studies in Medical geography in Africa

        Geojournal Springer Netherlands, 2004: pp 297-303

Medical Geography Guide picks©2008 [available at] About.com

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