Nations with Serious Health Risks

I’ve been doing some more reading about global health, and I thought this would be a good follow up to the last book excerpt I posted. I’ll likely add this to my book.

The following countries are all listed in the Oxford World Atlas Sixth Edition as having health risks. 79 of the 144 nations listed in the Atlas have significant health risks. It mentions these health risks for travelers and advises them to protect themselves against these diseases.


Afghanistan – Risk of typhoid, yellow fever, and malaria.

Algeria – Risk of yellow fever, malaria, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio.

Albania – Tap water is untreated and unsafe to drink.

American Samoa – Tap water is untreated and unsafe to drink. Risk of polio and typhoid.

Angola – Risk of yellow fever, hepatitis A, polio, typhoid, and malaria.

Argentina – Risk of cholera.

Antigua and Barbuda – Risk of polio and typhoid.

Armenia – Risk of hepatitis and bacterial infection.

Azerbaijan – Risk of malaria, yellow fever, diphtheria, encephalitis, hepatitis and typhoid fever.

Bangladesh – Risk of cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, malaria, and meningitis.

Benin- Risk of cholera, malaria and yellow fever. Tap water is unsafe to drink. 

Belarus – Risk of hepatitis, typhoid, and radiation in food [from Chernobyl]

Belize – Risk of polio, typhoid, cholera, and malaria.

Brazil – Risk of AIDS, malaria, meningitis, and yellow fever.

Burma – Risk of cholera, dysentery, malaria, and typhoid.

Cape verde – Tap water is untreated and unsafe to drink. Also risk of polio, typhoid, cholera, malaria.

Chad – Risk of yellow fever and tetanus.

Colombia – Risk of Hep. A, B, C and D, cholera, and malaria.

Costa Rica – Risk of dengue fever, malaria, cholera, hepatitis.

China- Some risk of malaria and pneumonia, especially in Southern areas.

Comoros – Risk of cholera and malaria.

Cuba – Tap water is untreated and unsafe to drink. Risk of Hep. A.

Dominican Republic – Risk of polio, typhoid, malaria, and dengue fever.

Ethiopia – Water-borne diseases and malaria are common. Medical facilities are extremely poor.

French Polynesia – Tap water is untreated and unsafe to drink. Polio and typhoid are common.

Georgia – Tap water is unsafe to drink. Visitors recommended to “carry their own syringes”

Gambia – Water borne diseases and malaria are common.

Grenada – Risk of polio and typhoid.

Hong Kong – Risk of polio and typhoid.

Indonesia – Risk of polio, typhoid, Hep. B, yellow fever, and typhoid.

India – Risk of Malaria, AIDS, and intestinal problems.

Iran – There is a risk of polio, typhoid, malaria, and cholera.

Kenya- Malaria is endemic and AIDS is widespread. Tap water is unsafe to drink. 

Jordan – Risk of hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, and diphtheria.

Kuwait – Risk of polio, typhoid, and cholera.

Lebanon – Risk of polio and typhoid.

Libya – Slight risk of malaria, cholera, and hepatitis.

Malawi – AIDS and malaria are widespread.

Madagascar – Risk of polio, typhoid, bilharzia, cholera, rabies, and hepatitis. Tap water is unsafe to drink.

Martinique – Risk of bilharzia and intestinal parasites.

Mexico – Risk of polio, typhoid, tetanus, and hepatitis A.

Mongolia – Risk of brucellosis and cholera.

Namibia – Malaria and bilharzia are endemic.

Nepal – Risk of Hep. A, malaria, and typhoid.

Netherlands Antilles – Risk of polio and typhoid.

Nigeria – Risk of yellow fever and cerebral malaria.

Pakistan – Risk of dengue fever, hepatitis A, malaria, and encephalitis.

Peru – Risk of cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, and malaria.

Oman – Risk of malaria.

Paraguay – Risk of cholera, hepatitis, hookworm, typhoid, malaria, and tuberculosis.

Philippines – Risk of cholera, malaria, rabies, and hepatitis.

Poland – Various risks from poor medical care.

Reunion – Risk of typhoid and rabies. Tap water is unsafe to drink. 

Russia – Risk of diphtheria, hepatitis A, typhoid, and encephalitis.

St Lucia – Risk of dengue fever, polio, and typhoid.

Samoa – Tap water is untreated and unsafe to drink. Risk of polio and typhoid.

St Kitts and Nevis – Dengue fever risk. Tap water is untreated and unsafe to drink. 

St Vincent and the Grenadines – Risk of polio and typhoid.

Saudi Arabia – Risk of cerebral malaria, especially in the South West.

Serbia – Risk of hepatitis and rabies. Healthcare system has widespread shortages.

South Africa – HIV/AIDS are widespread. There is also a risk of malaria. Water standards are high only in tourist areas.

Syria – Risk of polio, hep. A and B, and tetanus.

Sri Lanka – Risk of cholera and malaria.

Tanzania – Risk of yellow fever, malaria, cholera, hepatitis, and AIDS is widespread.

Thailand – Risk of malaria, dengue fever, AIDS, and cholera.

Trinidad and Tobago – Risk of dengue fever. Medical facilities are poor.

Tunisia – Risk of yellow fever and malaria.

Uganda – Risk of AIDS, yellow fever, and malaria.

Ukraine – Risk of encephalitis in forested areas and diphtheria in Western parts. Water is unsafe to drink without first boiling it. 

United Arab Emirates – Risk of Hep. A and B.

Venezuela – Risk of yellow fever, cholera, dengue fever, and hepatitis. [Venezuela is also a cocaine capital. Risk of kidnapping is high in certain areas.]

Vietnam – Risk of malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis, typhoid, and death from unexploded mines and bombs (from Vietnam war) in certain areas.

(British) Virgin islands – Risk of polio, typhoid, and dengue fever. Medical facilities are limited.

(US) Virgin Islands – Risk of typhoid and malaria.

Yemen – Risk of hep A and B.

Zambia – Risk of cholera and dysentery, as well as malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis, which are widespread.

Zimbabwe – Risk of bilharzia, cholera, malaria, yellow fever, and rabies. HIV/AIDS are widespread.

The World Atlas leaves out 52 nations, most of which are poor and many also have more health risks. (The World Health Organization estimated that there were more than 90 countries with serious public health problems in 2003.) The United States and the most industrialized, “first-world” nations are listed as having no specific health risks in the Atlas.

Malaria is listed as a significant health concern for 43 nations as you can see above. (However, again this is a low estimate. According to the WHO, Malaria was present in 108 countries and territories in 2008.) AIDS is listed as widespread in 9 countries and 15 are listed as having “untreated water that is unsafe to drink,” although the total number of nations that lack clean water is much higher. In fact, 1.1 billion people people can’t access clean and safe water, and “2.5 billion live without adequate sanitation” and “nearly 80% of all cases of disease in developing countries have been linked to contaminated water.” (World Politics in New Era – Pg. 469.)

Despite this disturbing picture, this is not a difficult problem to solve as I explain in my book and it can be solved using numerous sustainable methods. We have more more than enough resources to fix these problems, but they don’t get to the people who need them mainly because the select few financial rulers who control these resources prevent this from happening. Often times those who need them also don’t know how to get them or why they need them. While malaria has proven resistant to many treatments and there is no vaccine yet available, it is treatable. Antiretroviral drugs exist that can slow or stop the progress of HIV as well, and most of the neglected tropical diseases listed are treatable. (Vaccines also exist for polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and tetanus.) Sufficient clean water, nutritional, organic food, and quality medical care must be seen as human needs in order to eliminate these major health risks. Clean water, in particular, can be made available easily and it must be since most of these health risks are caused by contaminated water. Clean water can be made by constructing water treatment plants that would provide jobs in poor nations that lack clean water, as well as save many lives. Safe wells can also be dug with drilling equipment that can provide water for entire communities; rain water can be collected that is usually safe to drink, and simply boiling water or treating it with certain chemicals or UV radiation can also sanitize it.  (Sea water can also be made safe to drink by desalination though this is not sustainable.)

Water also plays a large role in the food crises many countries are experiencing because food needs water to grow, of course. Drip irrigators and drought resistant crops can help conserve water for plants. Teaching poor nations about composting to amend depleted soil, education about organic permaculture, and growing and freely distributing foods high in vitamin A like sweet potatoes and carrots would also help greatly with the food and water crisis in developing nations. (Vitamin A deficiency is widespread in many poor nations and causes blindness in millions.)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that there are more than one billion starving people in world and 60% of them are female. Six million children under the age of 5 die yearly due to diseases related to malnutrition. But more than enough food is already produced to feed everyone on earth. The problem is most of it hoarded or wasted. It is better for poor countries to grow their own food because they often can’t afford imported food (it also requires energy and money to ship) and food aid often ends up in the hands of greedy corporate and political actors instead of hungry people. It’s also not sustainable. Trade embargoes on food and other resources meant to target hostile governments also need to be stopped, because they only hurt the poor. If sustainable solutions were put into practice in every country, they wouldn’t need any help from outside “nations,” and merely giving inhabitants of these countries education could help greatly.

If you are a doctor, farmer, or teacher you could also volunteer in certain nations to help make this happen or donate to organizations like Doctors Without Borders. The solutions to these problems exist, and with enough determined actions, they can be solved. 

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