Many health issues are specific to certain parts of the world based on their geography, socioeconomic and other factors. A branch of international medicine also known has tropical medicine is involved in addressing issues related to health which mainly include communicable diseases common in the tropical and subtropical regions.
Over the last few decades there has been increased awareness about various tropical diseases and several initiatives have been taken by various national and international agencies to combat the diseases that come under the subject of tropical medicine.
The African continent and other developing countries that fall in the tropical and subtropical region bear the most burden of tropical diseases such as malaria, Leishmaniasis, Onchocerciasis among many others. The lack of cleanliness, warm climatic conditions and improper life style in communities results in a rapid spread of tropical diseases. Studies show that about one third of the population in Africa are affected with tropical diseases.
In developing regions such as Africa, China, India, South America etc. tropical diseases have high mortality rates with poverty as one of the main factors. Tropical Medicine as a field of study includes basic and applied research on vectors i.e. the disease carrying organisms and pathogens. To eradicate or control a disease complete understanding of its causes is required along with development of vaccines / drugs, to eradicate and control the organism that carries the disease. It also requires one to understand the role played by other factors such as proper diet, sanitation, hygiene and healthy lifestyle.
Overall tropical medicine in African countries is focusing on improved health of the people thereby reducing the incidence of tropical diseases. Infectious diseases have been estimated to cause 25% of deaths among the tropical population. Almost 500 million people are affected with malaria each year. Public health professionals have been actively working on prevention of communicable diseases and so far resulted in establishing immunization programmes, surveillance studies etc.
The importance of tropical medicine is to fully understand the biology of the disease causing agents like bacteria, viruses etc, discover the treatments to control the disease, establish proper guidelines for prevention and reduce the number of cases globally.
James Lind Institute offers an online Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Tropical Medicine, Surveillance and Immunization which is a self paced program suitable for individuals interested in a career in this field.