A map showing the tropics. Image credit MediaWiki

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Population Studies:Common Killer Diseases in the Tropics

  • Zimbabwe lies in the Tropics
  • This is a geographic region found between 0° and 23º North and South of the equator
  • Zimbabwe is of course found on the South side of the equator
  • The climate is characterized by a wet summer and dry winters
  • Several killer diseases plague the tropics and these include:
  • Malaria
  • Dengue fever
  • Sleeping sickness
  • Bilharzia
  • Zika virus
  • Yellow Fever
  • TB and TB-HIV co-infection
  • Malaria and Bilharzia are of particular concern to Zimbabwe (Click on each of these two to learn more about them)

General Prevention and Treatment of Tropical diseases

  • Most of these diseases can be cured, prevented or their impact lessened if the following steps are carried out:
  • Draining wetlands to reduce populations of insects and other vectors, or introducing natural predators of the vectors.
  • The application of insecticides and/or insect repellents) to strategic surfaces such as clothing, skin, buildings, insect habitats, and bed nets.
  • The use of a mosquito net over a bed (also known as a “bed net”) to reduce nighttime transmission, since certain species of tropical mosquitoes feed mainly at night.
  • Use of water wells, and/or water filtration, water filters, or water treatment with water tablets to produce drinking water free of parasites.
  • Sanitation to prevent transmission through human waste.
  • In situations where vectors (such as mosquitoes) have become more numerous as a result of human activity, a careful investigation can provide clues: for example, open dumps can contain stagnant water that encourage disease vectors to breed.
  • Eliminating these dumps can address the problem. An education campaign can yield significant benefits at low cost.
  • Development and use of vaccines to promote disease immunity
  • Pharmacologic pre-exposure prophylaxis ( for example antimalarial shots and tablets).
  • Pharmacologic post-exposure prophylaxis (to prevent disease after exposure to the environment and/or vector).
  • Pharmacologic treatment (to treat disease after infection or infestation).
  • Assisting with economic development in endemic regions. For example, by providing microloans to enable investments in more efficient and productive agriculture.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page