Dengue Fever on the Rise in Many Developing Nations

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Posted on 9/19/2013


Ensuring that communities have access to clean water is essential in the fight against dengue fever and other diseases.
Ensuring that communities have access to clean water is
essential in the fight against dengue fever and other diseases.

ChildFund works in some of the poorest countries in the world to provide health care to children in need and their families. In the 30 countries in which we operate, malaria is endemic in 26. While this potentially fatal disease claims millions of lives every year, including many children's, another threat is emerging in several developing nations: dengue fever.

Like malaria, dengue fever is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes, but there is currently no vaccine to prevent it, and treatment options are limited to acetaminophen (to relieve milder symptoms) and fluid replacement therapy in more severe cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In regions without good access to health care, children infected with dengue fever are at risk of death. Symptoms include high fever, nausea, extreme joint pain and headaches, and serious cases can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which causes circulation failure and liver enlargement.

Cases on the Rise

The fact that dengue fever is spread by mosquitoes makes this virus especially prevalent in developing nations, as these insects thrive in areas with poor sanitation. Many countries have reported an increase in reported cases of the disease, including the Dominican Republic, Pakistan and Malaysia. Some of the countries in which ChildFund operates are also affected, including Brazil, India and Mexico.

Children living in poverty are at particular risk of developing health complications after contracting dengue fever. Food insecurity, dirty drinking water and other factors can compromise children's immune systems, making it harder for them to resist infection. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 500,000 people require hospitalization each year for dengue infections, a large proportion of whom are children; about 12,500 of these people die.

Serious Problems

Although dengue fever is potentially fatal and infects 50 million to 100 million people a year, it is far from the only disease that threatens the lives of children around the world. In developing nations, lack of access to health care services can mean that even the most common infections can pose a serious risk to children's lives.

In many of the countries in which ChildFund works, we provide access to lifesaving health care not only for children, but vulnerable adults, too. Expectant mothers often go without the health care they need to carry their babies to term safely, which is why we operate several programs aimed at young women, mothers and other vulnerable adults.

Senegal is one country where many children in need and their families require assistance. In remote parts of this West African nation, many communities lack even basic health care facilities, and with the threat of malaria a constant worry for parents, the need to support these families is urgent. ChildFund-supported health huts have made a significant impact in Senegal, and thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we have been able to provide vaccinations to vulnerable children, pre- and post-natal care to new mothers and their babies, and preventive measures such as chemically treated mosquito nets to halt the spread of malaria. Although dengue fever is not as prevalent in Senegal as it is in other parts of the world, these initiatives demonstrate that by working together, we can make a difference in the lives of families living in poverty.

Continued Support

Providing communities with access to health care is one of our top priorities, but we could not do so as effectively without the support of our donors, child sponsors and monthly giving partners.

One of the best ways you can help us save the lives of vulnerable children is by becoming a child sponsor. For just $28 per month, you can provide a child with nutritious food, access to health care services and other essentials he or she needs to survive. Another way you can help us fight child poverty is by becoming a monthly giving partner. Our Essentials for Survival fund provides lifesaving medications, food and other supplies to families where the need is greatest, so please consider making a donation or sponsoring a child today.