Africa’s Biggest Killers

In Articles, Technical by Glyn DemmerLeave a Comment

Recently we posted information on Ebola provided by Dr Albie de Frey of the Travel Doctor, it was interesting stuff so I followed it up with a lunch chat to put things in perspective, over lunch I quickly went on Google to the “Doctors without Borders” website (

and saw the latest posted stats as at 7 November 2104. In summary there have been 13623 reported cases with 4959 deaths, primarily in West Africa;

  • Guinea
  • Liberia
  • Nigeria
  • Sierra Leone
  • Senegal
  • Mali (1 reported)

We discussed the causes, which range from poor sanitation, lack of medical care and a reliance on bush meat amongst others, but it raised the point as to what are Africa’s big killers?  So Albie quickly took me through the causes of the most deaths in Africa;

  1. HIV/Aids
  2. Malaria
  3. Hunger
  4. TB
  5. Ebola

When it comes to Malaria the figures are alarming;

  • More than half a million people die of Malaria every year
  • Many of which are children younger than five years of age
  • 90% of Malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa
  • The costs in respect of lost productivity are enormous

As Dr Albie advises, don’t get bitten, take prophylaxis if your stay is longer than say a short two day visit, in those cases you should take preventative measures such as; using a repellent, wear long sleeved shirts and pants especially early in the morning and at night. Try and sleep under a net and spray the room on arrival with a repellant (may have to repeat).

Okay so given that the most dangerous creature is the mosquito what else contributes to deaths in Africa?

  • With the wars that rage across the continent and rampant crime in many parts of Africa man would obviously account for the greatest fatalities.
  • Lightning accounts for numerous fatalities especially in rural areas – roughly 250 deaths per annum are reported in SA alone.
  • Hippos are also responsible for the most animal fatalities as people are often killed when coming between a Hippo and the water or a Hippo mother and her offspring.
  • And when it comes to snakes although not the most poisonous statistics seem to favour the puff adder as being responsible for the most fatalities.

So folks be careful out there as they say “Africa is not for sisises”-take the necessary preventative measure, take a well stocked first aid kit with the necessary clearance letters if going across borders and get out there and enjoy yourself. Lastly ensure that you have cross border medical cover, which includes repatriation. Of your vehicle and loved one’s –

About the Author

Glyn Demmer

My first 4x4 was a Nissan Hardbody thereafter I started travelling all over the country. In 1992 we held a big 4x4 day with hundreds of Nissan families, and then the 4x4 bug really bit. A friend Monty Brett and I started running 4x4 courses at the Hennops Off-road Trail just outside of Johannesburg. At first we offered day-and-a-half courses that started on Friday afternoon and finished on Saturday afternoon. Hannes Grobler the Rally Ace regularly assisted, and we reached a nice balance between our two styles and our skills.

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