The Top 5 Leading Causes of Disease for Females of All Ages

  Cause of Disease Number of Women Afflicted
1 HIV/AIDS 46,825,843
2 Lower Respiratory Infections 45,430,313
3 Unipolar Depressive Disorders 39,062,800
4 Diarrhoeal Diseases 29,828,161
5 Meningitis 29,828,161
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 Special Report
  1. By the end of 2005, women accounted for nearly half of all people living with AIDS worldwide, and also represent almost 60% of infections in sub-Saharan Africa. New studies underscore the disproportionate impact of the AIDS epidemic on women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where, on average, three women are HIV-infected for every two men, however among young people (15–24 years), the ratio widens considerably to three young women for every young man.
  2. More than half of the world’s population rely on dung, wood, crop waste or coal to meet their most basic energy needs. Cooking and heating with such solid fuels on open fires or stoves without chimneys leads to indoor air pollution and exposure and is particularly high among women and children. In most societies, women are in charge of cooking and - depending on the demands of the local cuisine - they spend between three and seven hours per day near the stove, preparing food. 59% of all indoor air pollution-attributable deaths thus fall on females. Every year, indoor air pollution leads to Lower Respiratory Infections and is responsible for the death of one person every 20 seconds. Globally, pneumonia and other acute lower respiratory infections represent the single most important cause of death in children under five years. Exposure to indoor air pollution more than doubles the risk of pneumonia and is thus responsible for more than 900,000 of the 2 million annual deaths from pneumonia.
  3. Depressive disorders, as a single diagnostic category, are the leading cause of disability worldwide. Depression without periods of elation or mania is sometimes referred to as unipolar depression because a person’s mood remains on one pole. The World Health Organization's "Global Burden of Disease" study found that that mental illness, including suicide, accounts for over 15 percent of the burden of disease in established market economies, such as in Western countries like Canada and The United States. This is more than the disease burden caused by all cancers together.
  4. 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera); 90% are children under 5, mostly in developing countries. 88% of diarrhoeal disease is attributed to unsafe water supply, inadequate sanitation and hygiene. Hygiene interventions including hygiene education and promotion of hand washing can lead to a reduction of diarrhoeal cases by up to 45%. Targeted environmental interventions could reduce the number of deaths from diarrhoea and lower respiratory infections by over 3 million people each year. Women play a key role in educating children to water. Their interest in water awareness is major, since it is they who look after the household, and whose children diseases, often fall sick due to contaminated water or lack of hygiene: each year, nearly two million children die from diarrhoeal diseases. Yet educating children always to wash their hands after using the toilet and before preparing food is a very simple and effective means of preventing such illnesses.
  5. The highest burden of meningococcal disease occurs in sub-Saharan Africa, which is known as the “Meningitis Belt”, an area that stretches from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, with an estimated total population of 300 million people. In 1996, Africa experienced the largest recorded outbreak of epidemic meningitis in history, with over 250,000 cases and 25,000 deaths registered. The highest attack rates are observed in young children, during epidemics, older children, teenagers and young adults are also affected.
Tags: Health Statistics, Leading Causes of Disease

Sources:  World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease 2002

List Notes:  All Statistics are for the year 2000. This WHO study combines mortality and health data from national vital registration systems with information obtained from surveys, censuses,epidemiological studies and health service data.
Leading Causes of Disease for Females of All Ages

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