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Tanzania -- Health

Health Conditions
A high percentage of deaths in Tanzania are caused by four poverty-linked groups of diseases: infectious & parasitic diseases, illnesses of the respiratory system, nutritionally related diseases, and diseases of the digestive system. Tropical diseases are also widespread, including malaria, sleeping sickness, leprosy, and diseases of parasitic origin. Common illnesses also include pneumonia, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, and venereal diseases. Malaria is the greatest single cause of illness and death. Children are commonly afflicted by malaria, and many die of it in their first two years of life. Bilharzia ranks second to malaria. It is transmitted by contaminated water.

Sleeping sickness is common because more than 60% of Tanzania is infested with the tsetse flies which transmit the disease. Transmission of pneumonia, usually by contact, is also a serious health problem, especially in areas of high population density. Poliomyelitis occurs in almost all regions, and onchoceriasis (river blindness) is a problem in several locations. Tanzania has an estimated 150,000 cases of leprosy [1] .

Nutritional disorders are also a common cause of death, especially in children. Unsanitary conditions and crowded, unventilated houses aggravate these problems. Food stored in the open air is exposed to contamination by dust and flies. Few towns have adequate sewage systems. Water, especially in rural areas, is subject to contamination. Water polluted with human and animal waste is frequently found being used for laundering, bathing, and even drinking.

Health Services
I n 1975 the government nationalized almost all the nation's medical health institutions and adopted a plan to provide basic health care to the greatest number of people possible. The simplest medical facilities are the dispensaries, which provide basic care and dispense medication. The dispensaries are attached to the Rural Health Centers, which are usually headed by a medical assistant and average 30 hospital beds. Graduates of the Medical School in Dar es Salaam are required to serve a certain number of years in outlying areas.

The government has encouraged a national plan promoting family planning to ensure better health for mothers and children. The Family Planning Association, affiliated with the International Parenthood Association (IPPS), was founded in 1969. By 1990, the country had more than 3000 rural health facilities, 17 regional hospitals, and three national medical centers. The local pharmaceutical industry, consisting of four manufacturers, provides about 10% of Tanzania's medications. The rest are imported from abroad[2] .

[1] Evans-Smith, William, (ed.) 1978. Tanzania a Country Study, American University: Washington, D.C.

[2] Ofcansky, Thomas P. & Rodger Yeager (eds), 1997. Historical Dictionary of Tanzania Second Edition, Scarecrow Press, Inc.: London

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