The research paper studies Algeria. This country is of particular interest because, despite the presence of minerals (including gas and oil) in its territory, the standard of living is rather low. The full name of the state is the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria. It belongs to the countries of the so-called Arab West. Algeria is the second largest country in Africa, 80 percent of which lies in the Sahara desert (Boslaugh, 2013). The Sahara desert is the most mysterious desert in the world. At all times, it has attracted the attention of thousands of travelers. The country occupies one of the leading positions among the world’s leaders in the extraction of oil and natural gas (Aryeetey, 2012). Algeria is one of the most developed and rich countries on the continent (Ham, Luckham, & Satti, 2007). In Africa, there are a few states that can be compared to Algeria in terms of the health and education systems. Despite this fact, the healthcare system in the country is at an extremely low level especially as compared to the developed countries worldwide. The aim of the paper is to study economy and the state of health in Algeria and research problems associated with the health of the population.
Algeria is one of the largest and most developed countries in Africa; it is located in the north of the continent. The author Sarah Boslaugh (2013) states, “Algeria is a north African country with a northern coastline on the Mediterranean Sea” (p. 8). The country occupies the central part of the Atlas mountain system and north of the Sahara desert. It shares borders with Morocco, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Libya, and Tunisia. In the territory of Algeria, the relief varies extremely. The northern and southeastern regions are mainly mountainous. The relief of northern Algeria is represented by two major mountain ranges – the Coastal (or Tel-Atlas) and the Saharan Atlas, and intermountain plains. The highest point is Mount Tahat in the Ahaggar Highlands. It rises to 3003 meters above the sea level (Boslaugh, 2013). In central Algeria, there is the Tademait Plateau situated in the Sahara desert (Boslaugh, 2013). It shares the flat land in the southwest and territories with the lowest height above the sea level in the north-eastern Algeria (Boslaugh, 2013). The coastline of the country is poorly dismembered. There are not many bays and peninsulas, which are poorly expressed (Boslaugh, 2013). The largest cities in the country including the capital of Algeria have arisen and developed in such bays. The Sahara territory is occupied by stony and sandy deserts. The river network is poorly developed. The main river is the Chelif River. Most rivers regularly dry up. The total area of Algeria is 2381.7 thousand square kilometers (Boslaugh, 2013).
The population of Algeria is about 35 million people. Ethnically, the population of Algeria consists of Arabs (82.6%) and Berbers (17.0%) (Epstein, 2008). Europeans account for less than 1% of the population and, almost exclusively, live in the large urban areas (Epstein, 2008). As Algeria is a former France’s colony, most Europeans in the country are French. There are also descendants from Italy, Spain, and Turkey (Epstein, 2008). Most Algerians live in the northern coastal area of the Mediterranean (Epstein, 2008). Fewer people live in the Sahara Desert and inhabit oases. Moreover, approximately 1 million people are partly nomadic (Epstein, 2008). About 30% of Algerians are under 15 years old (Naylor, 2015). The researcher, Irving Epstein (2008), states, “It was estimated in 2007 that the Algerian population is growing at 1.2 percent annually with an average of 1.9 children born to each woman” (p. 8). The birth rate is 28.5 per 1,000, and the mortality rate is 5.9 per 1,000 people (Naylor, 2015). The infant mortality rate is high as compared with other countries (Naylor, 2015). It is 48.7 per 1000 infants (Naylor, 2015). According to the data of World Health Organization (WHO), the average life expectancy in Algeria is 70 years for men and 74 years for women (“Algeria,” ).
According to the Constitution, Algeria is a republic (Oakes, 2008). The president of the state occupies a leading place in the country’s political system. In the book Algeria, it is stated, “The country is a presidential state and the president is elected for a five-year term” (Oakes, 2008, p. 13). The president embodies the unity of the nation, is the guarantor of the Constitution, and represents the state within the country and abroad. The president of the country is elected by direct universal suffrage by the secret ballot for a period of five years. These days, the Algeria’s political system is in the process of transformation from a one-party socialist-oriented regime to a multi-party democracy combining the values of Islam and Western constitutionalism (Oakes, 2008). Under the Constitution, legislative power in the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria is performed by the Parliament (Oakes, 2008). It consists of two chambers: the National People’s Assembly and the Council of the Nation (Oakes, 2008). In general, Algerian Parliament occupies a subordinate place in the government.
In the book Algeria, it is mentioned, “Algeria is one of the richest countries in Africa” (Ham, Luckham, & Satti, 2007 p. 39). Despite the fact that the standard of living is quite low as compared with Western Europe, it is much higher than that in most countries of the African continent. The country is very rich in natural resources. In the XVIII-XIX centuries, Algeria was the third biggest provider of cereal food crops to Europe (Aryeetey, 2012). These days, the country covers the needs of Europeans in oil and gas to the same extent also (Aryeetey, 2012). The most important branches of the country’s economy are the extraction and export of oil and natural gas, agriculture, and tourism (Robson & Lury, 2013). In Algeria, farmers grow date palms, citrus plants, vines, olives, and other heat-loving fruit and vegetables (Robson & Lury, 2013). The mild climate and beautiful coastline are favorable for the development of marine tourism. In the Atlas Mountains, winter tourism is highly developed (Aryeetey, 2012). Other important sectors of the country’s economy include food, machine building, electrical, leather and textile production, metallurgy, construction materials, including wood, cement, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries (Robson & Lury, 2013).
The State of Health
The state of health of the population is at a low level. Overcrowding and lack of housing in the cities have created health problems that are also associated with the poor sanitation and shortage of drinking water of adequate quality. The most common diseases are tuberculosis, venereal diseases, malaria, trachoma, typhoid fever, and dysentery (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012). Boslaugh provides statistics, “In 2010, tuberculosis incidence was 90.0 per 100,000” (p. 9). Since 2011, there has been a sharp increase in the number of malaria cases (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012). However, the situation in the country is still not critical. In Algeria, a variety of common infectious diseases is extremely widespread (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012). Frequently, diseases of the digestive tract associated with high salinity of the water, as well as cold diseases, are frequently reported (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012). In the coastal areas, intestinal infections and trachoma are highly common (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012). Due to the strong pollution of the beaches, typhoid and salmonellosis are often registered (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012). For human beings, the climate of the Saharan region is extremely hard. For these areas, eye diseases, especially trachoma, respiratory diseases, including pneumonia, tracheitis, and tonsillitis, tuberculosis, intestinal infections, hypovitaminosis, and dermatomycosis are typical (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012). Irving Epstein affirms, “Algeria has been fortunate among African nations in that the rate of HIV/AIDS infection has remained relatively low” (p. 10). In Algeria, there are about 20,000 of HIV-positive people today (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012). It is less than 0.06% of the total population of the state.
Algeria is located in a seismically active area (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012); therefore, earthquakes are quite often here. Most of them pass unnoticed for people. However, from time to time, there are earthquakes that cause great damages. The risk of technogenic accidents is also high; primarily, it is associated with the terrorist activity. Terrorists often attack different objects that belong to American companies including oil and gas platforms (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012). These days, terrorism is an extremely huge problem for the country.
Culture and Traditional Medicine
Algerian culture was formed on the basis of Islam. This religion governs all aspects of the citizens’ life. People pass traditions and customs of their ancestors from generation to generation (Rafael & Sternberg, 2002). Religious customs impose strict restrictions on the citizens. Thus, for example, Algerians are forbidden to drink alcohol. The most important religious holiday is the holy month of Ramadan, during which all residents are fasting.
Most countries in Africa, including Algeria, use traditional medicine to help perform some of their primary health care needs. Due to the rich culture, the nation has developed numerous traditions in medicine. In the book Tarascon Global Health Pocketbook, it is mentioned, “Medical herbs are widely used in traditional medicine” (Chandra & Dacso, 2010, p. 253). In such a manner, the first method of treatment for 60% of children with high fever caused by malaria is the usage of herbal medicines (Chandra & Dacso, 2010). Ancestors believed that herbs could treat any disease; with time, this belief has taken deep roots in the national worldview.
Healthcare System and Delivery
Since 1974, Algeria’s government has introduced free of charge medical care (Epstein, 2008). Medicine in the country has changed: it has made tremendous progress and started to gain momentum to get closer to the European standards. However, despite these achievements, there are still many problems in the healthcare system today. Free treatment in public hospitals includes hospitalization, outpatient treatment, and provision of medicines to all citizens. The government pays special attention to the disease prevention and vaccination. The preference is given to the establishment of the local clinics and health care centers rather than large central hospitals (Epstein, 2008).
Governmental Health-Related Agencies
In Algeria, the Ministry of Health, Population, and Hospital Reform manages the healthcare system of the country. According to Irving Epstein (2008), “The Algerian healthcare system under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, Population, and Hospital Reform, suffers from insufficient funding and a lack of qualified healthcare professionals” (p. 9).
The training of medical personnel has become a priority for the government in the health care domain (Epstein, 2008). The official state has opened several medical universities and schools in the recent past. Due to this approach, the flow of medical professionals has also increased. Such an influx of healthcare workers, both doctors and nurses, has caused an excess of the medical staff in the country. In 2010, Algeria had about 40,000 doctors and 65,000 midwives and nurses working in the sector (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012).
Nursing Education System
In Algeria, just as all over the world, the medical field requires professional training. There are several universities in the country that educate nurses and doctors. Among them, there are the University of Algiers Benyoucef Benkhedda and numerous medical schools situated countrywide (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012).
In Algeria, there are no nursing associations. However, several medical associations, including International Medical Informatics Association, International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine, and others, operate in the country (Jabbour & Yamout, 2012).
Based on the studied information, the state of health in Algeria is at the low level. The most important priorities of the government are the fight against such diseases as malaria and tuberculosis. Another priority is the improvement of the quality of the drinking water. The level of education of medical personnel should be also increased. Another problem of the country is terrorism, which greatly threats life and health of the population.
Algeria is located in the north of the continent. The country is one the most developed and rich ones in Africa. However, it cannot be compared with other developed states around the world. The economy of the country is mostly based on the mining of gas and oil. However, the government reports the development of pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as metallurgy. These days, life in Algeria is at the low level. The state of the health is also very low. Many dangerous diseases are spread in the country including venereal diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid fever, trachoma, and dysentery. The country does not have enough equipment in hospitals. An important achievement and advantage for the Algerian population is free medicine.