Global Development Studies Senior Thesis Projects

Jessica Dyck '18

Project Title: The Prevention, Perception, and Treatment of the Double Burden of Disease in South Africa

Summary: Sub-Saharan Africa consistently faces a particularly devastating disease burden due to globalization, urbanization, and overall susceptibility to new combinations of illnesses. The region contains about 11% of the world’s population, and holds 24% of the disease burden at any given time (Akhmat et al. 2014). South Africa specifically takes the brunt of the disease burden as a middle-income country in many transitions. This disease burden has puzzled researchers as to the factors that contribute to South Africa’s situation. HIV/AIDS has been the focus of South Africa’s health agenda, with 6.4 million individuals currently infected with the virus (Holtz 2017, 95). Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) has allowed the prolonging of life of an infected individual, allowing that individual to accumulate lifestyles and behaviors befitting of future health problems. Coupled with a nutrition transition sparked by globalization and urbanization, metabolic disorders in individuals on ART are prevalent and termed a double burden of disease. South Africa is a unique case to study, as it as the nexus of developing and developed countries.  This paper discusses the specific, often traumatic, history of South Africa, and how it gave rise to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, as well as investigating the various prevention, perception, and treatment strategies that contribute to the essence of HIV/AIDS and NCD development. Using South Africa as a case study provides information on how and why the burden develops, and gives suggestions for how to avoid or lessen the burden. Developing countries need to understand the past to escape futures that could have been avoided.