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Infectious Disease in the Developing World

Infectious Disease in the Developing World

Brenna Callahan

University of Central Florida

Dr. Jonathan Powell, INR 4008


Amidst the tide of globalization, increased social interactions between various cultural

sectors have allowed viruses that were once relatively contained to sweep through global

populations. Among these viruses, HIV and Ebola pose the largest risk to the populations of

developing states. With no treatment, Ebolas virology has the potential to put the health of entire

communities at risk rapidly. However the fiscal development of HIV treatment and prevention by

developed states in the third world has left the general medical infrastructure of developing

nations severely lacking, resulting in few qualified doctors and a high mortality rate that

suspends any potential progressive economic development.


Ebola and HIV have a high risk of transmission, passing easily between human hosts by

direct contact. Ebola is highly infectious, sweeping through gorilla families, villages, and entire

medical facilities alike by way of bodily fluid contact. Patients become infected with Ebola virus

via direct contact (contact through broken skin or mucous membranes) with an ill persons blood

or body fluids, objects such as needles that have been contaminated, contact with infected bats or

primates, and through sexual contact with an individual who has recovered from Ebola (CDC

2015). HIV infects its patients nearly identically, moving from one host to the other via anal or
Infectious Disease in the Developing World

vaginal sex, shared needles, and contact of bodily fluids, and less commonly; from mother to

child during pregnancy or breastfeeding (CDC 2016). Unlike Ebola, which has no treatment,

anti-retroviral drugs (ARVS) have been developed for HIV to seriously curb the spread of the

disease in its host, limiting the virus from developing into the deadly AIDs virus. With no known

treatment, high rate of infection, and a fatality rate of 65%-70% (Quammen 2012, 63), Ebola

appears to pose a higher risk to the developing world over the next 20 years than HIV.

Infrastructure Failures

Medical technicalities such as treatment, risk of exposure, and the mortality rate of Ebola

aside, the investment in HIV related health infrastructure has created an unbalanced public health

system in developing nations. As a result of this unbalance, developing nations are unable to

lower their mortality rate and invest in educating technical professionals such as doctors;

creating an economic stagnation amidst nations highly effected with HIV. In its onslaught on

global populations in 1970, the HIV virus exploded within media and health sectors, and in 2001

an estimated $20 billion was needed annually to formally combat the spread of the virus (Garrett

2007). Since then fiscal assistance for HIV/AIDS prevention has surpassed the estimated request,

largely in part from heavy investment from organizations and governments such as that of the

Melinda Gates Foundation and the Bush administration, who gave $6.6 billion and $27.5 billion

away respectively to global health programs (Garrett 2007). This dedicated effort to slow the

spread of HIV/AIDS has sponsored targeted success stories among populations with high rates of

HIV infection, such as Botswana. However, this investment means little if other sectors of public

health remain undeveloped. Though Botswanan citizens now face less risk from HIV/AIDS

thanks to the introduction of ARVs, the public sector as a whole is damaged as health care

professionals are taken out of the general sector and moved to NGOs. In Malawi, the government

Infectious Disease in the Developing World

lost 85% of its physicians in just 5 years, and international migratory statistics show

professionals from other poor countries are increasingly abandoning their homes for wealthier

nations as well (Garrett 2007). With lack of physicians and health care professionals to take care

of routine illnesses and wellness exams such as vaccines, the populations of these nations who

are deprived proper health care will continue to suffer a high mortality rate despite the alleviation

of HIV, and the infrastructure of these nations will cease to expand.

Future Development

Diseases with high rates of mortality and transmission such as HIV and Ebola pose a high

risk to the economic infrastructure of developing nations. Heavy fiscal influence from outsider

nations into HIV treatment has left developing states with no ability to expand their public health

sectors, driving doctors and medical professionals out and resulting in short life expectancies for

citizens. This unbalance as a result of HIV prevention will continue to threaten the economic

development of poor nations, unless their medical sectors receive investment.

Word Count: 700


CDC. 2015. Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease): Transmission. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. July 22. (February 1
CDC. 2016. HIV/AIDS: Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November
16. (February 4 2017).
Garrett, Laurie. 2007. The Challenge of Global Health. Foreign Affairs 86;1
Quammen, David. 2012. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. New
York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.