Muslim Statistics - Health and Disability

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An AIDS crisis is threatening to overwhelm many predominantly Muslim countries but their leaders remain in a state of denial and are doing little to stem the deadly problem, a pioneering study says.

In one of the most comprehensive reports on AIDS covering the Muslim world, experts warned of serious repercussions if governments continued to sweep the problem under the carpet.

In a report released by the Seattle-based think tank, the National Bureau of Asian Research, they said "if leaders continue to ignore the problem, AIDS could debilitate or even destabilize some of these societies by killing large numbers of people in the 15 to 49-year age group."

This would deprive the Muslim countries of some of their best, brightest, and most economically productive members, said Laura Kelley and Nicholas Eberstadt in the report.

A private infectious disease specialist, Kelly had previously undertaken AIDS research for the US National Intelligence Council as well as other diseases for the USAID, the principal foreign aid agency of the United States, while Eberstadt is a scholar at American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington-based think tank.

"An important take home message for all Muslim nations is that real behaviours on the streets are sometimes in marked contrast to the expected behaviours of good Muslims and that is something that leaders in these countries must deal with," Kelly told AFP.

The report said that even though the Muslim world was home to behaviors such as premarital sex, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, and intravenous drug use -- which help spread the HIV virus that causes AIDS -- many governments have been slow to respond to the rapidly spreading disease.

"What is especially troubling to behold is the reluctance to admit that Muslims engage in exactly those same dangerous behaviors that support the transmission and spread of HIV/AIDS elsewhere," it said, blaming "deeply rooted cultural and religious attitudes.

"This reluctance even to recognize the problem will only accelerate the epidemic and make it more difficult for the international community to provide meaningful support and treatment," the report said.

"We would have thought the Muslim world was in a sense vaccinated from this kind of pandemic but in fact the dreadful news is that it is not, said Michael Birt, the director of National Bureau of Asian Research's center for health.

"Now with the Muslim world becoming involved, its truly a global crisis," he told AFP.
. . .
Officially, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates the total HIV population of North Africa, the Middle East, and predominantly Muslim Asia at nearly one million people.

At the end of 2003, UNAIDS estimated that up to 420,000 in Mali, 180,000 people in Indonesia, 150,000 in Pakistan, and 61,000 in Iran had HIV/AIDS.

"Those numbers, however, are severely understated," Kelly and Eberstadt said in a separate report on Foreign Policy magazine, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

They said UNAIDS figures depended upon surveillance data -- "thus a lack of information can be taken as a lack of infection."

UNAIDS data on the number of people living with HIV/AIDS is completely missing for Afghanistan, Turkey, and Somalia, "all nations with large numbers of at-risk populations," they said.

The study cited Iran and Bangladesh as among Muslim governments that seem to be combating the problem effectively.[1]
June, 2005
The AIDS virus is spreading like an epidemic in some Middle East and North African countries because of homosexual encounters between men, a study warned on Wednesday.

"This systematic review and data synthesis indicate that HIV epidemics appear to be emerging among MSM (men who have sex with men) in at least a few MENA countries," said a study published in PLoS Medicine.

The study, titled "Are HIV Epidemics among Men Who Have Sex with Men Emerging in the Middle East and North Africa?", warned that the levels "could already be in a concentrated state among several MSM groups."

It showed that the rates of HIV infection among MSM in some countries have exceeded the five percent threshold which defines concentrated epidemics, namely in Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia.

The study put the rates of HIV infection among MSM in Egypt's main cities of Cairo and Alexandria at 5.7 percent and 5.9 percent respectively, while the rate among receptive MSM in Sudan's capital reached 9.3 percent.

Tunisia's total rate was put at 4.9 percent, ranging between 0.8 and 6.3 percent in three regions.

"There is an urgent need to expand HIV surveillance and access to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment services in a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to prevent the worst of HIV transmission among MSM in the Middle East and North Africa," the study said.

"Prevention of male-to-male HIV transmission must be set as a top priority for HIV/AIDS strategies in MENA," it added.[2]
August, 2011


Saudi Arabia is the world’s sixth largest consumer of sex drugs as domestic demand is as much as 10 times that in Russia, according to a newspaper.

Alriyadyh Arabic language daily, citing an unnamed medical study in the Gulf Kingdom, said nearly 12 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s 20 million national men are suffering from impotence and that 80 per cent of the cases are associated with psychological problems.

“Saudis are the sixth largest consumers of sex drugs in the world…their consumption is as much as 10 times that of Russia although the population in that country is more than 10 times the Saudis,” it said.

“Besides psychological factors, diabetes is the main cause of impotence in Saudi Arabia as nearly 15 per cent of the Saudis suffer from that disease against only 3-5 per cent in other countries…other factors include the high rate of high blood pressure cases, obesity and lack of exercise.”

According to the study, Arab countries spend more than $10 billion on Viagra and other anti-impotence medicines every year and that Saudi Arabia alone spends over $1.5 billion.

It is followed by Egypt and the UAE, which spend about $on e billion and $500 million respectively.[3]
March, 2012


It has been estimated that almost half of all Muslims in the world are inbred

A rough estimate shows that close to half of all Muslims in the world are inbred: In Pakistan, 70 percent of all marriages are between first cousins (so-called "consanguinity") and in Turkey the amount is between 25-30 percent.[4]

Statistical research on Arabic countries shows that up to 34 percent of all marriages in Algiers are consanguine (blood related), 46 percent in Bahrain, 33 percent in Egypt, 80 percent in Nubia (southern area in Egypt), 60 percent in Iraq, 64 percent in Jordan, 64 percent in Kuwait, 42 percent in Lebanon, 48 percent in Libya, 47 percent in Mauritania, 54 percent in Qatar, 67 percent in Saudi Arabia, 63 percent in Sudan, 40 percent in Syria, 39 percent in Tunisia, 54 percent in the United Arabic Emirates and 45 percent in Yemen.[5][6]
August, 2010

Birth Defects

According to a global report on birth defects which was conducted in 2006, the following countries are the ones most affect by birth defects per 1000 live births:

1. Sudan 82.0/1000
2. Saudi Arabia 81.3/1000
3. Benin 77.9/1009
4. Burkina Faso 77.0/1000
5. Palestinian territories 76.6/1000
6. United Arab Emirates 75.9/1000
7. Tajikistan 75.2/1000
8. Iraq 74.9/1000
9. Kuwait 74.9/1000
10. Afghanistan 74.8/1000
11. Oman 74.8/1000
12. Syria 74.3/1000
13. Pakistan 73.5/1000
14. Nigeria 73.5/1000
15. Kyrgyzstan 73.4/1000
16. Qatar 73.4/1000
17. Bahrain 73.3/1000
18. Jordan 73.1/1000
19. Libya 73.0/1000
20. Tunisia 72.7/1000
21. Morocco 72.3/1000
22. Yemen 72.1/1000[7]


Economist rankings obesity women.JPG
Up to 70 percent of women and 50 percent of men living in the oil-rich Gulf Arab states [Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates] are overweight or obese, according to a study released at a seminar in Qatar on Thursday.

"Obesity occurs much more often in women in Gulf states where it affects 50 to 70 percent of married women and 30 to 50 percent of married men," said a study presented by Qatari expert Issam Abd Rabbu at the "Facts About Obesity" seminar.

Rabbu said the problem was also taking a toll on children, "affecting five to 10 percent of pre-school children" at a rate that grows "to 10 to 15 percent of primary school children ... then 20 to 40 percent for secondary school children".

These obesity rates are "much higher than in developed countries", he said in his study, called "Obesity: The Illness of the Century."[8]
September, 2005
Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the mirror opposite of the West on questions of women’s weight. To men here, fat is sexy. And in this patriarchal region, many Mauritanian women do everything possible — and have everything possible done to them — to put on pounds.
. . .
A 2001 government survey of 68,000 women found that one in five between ages 15 and 49 had been deliberately overfed. And nearly 70 percent — and even more among teenagers — said they did not regret it.[9]
July, 2007
While some women are able to hide the bloat of a large meal behind a burka, the garment and the traditions surrounding it can also discourage exercise both psychologically and practically.
. . .

Studies indicate that up to 70 percent of women in the Gulf states are obese. According to The Economist magazine’s world rankings, the countries with the highest obesity rates among women are Muslim countries: 1. Qatar 2. Saudi Arabia 3. Lebanon. (The United States ranked 8th on this list.)

The picture is not much brighter in America, where Muslim women still face high rates of obesity and its accompanying health problems.[10]
July, 2010
The Gulf society is suffering from a rise in obesity, particularly in women, a problem that is partly disguised by the traditional black female over-garment worn in the Gulf….the abaya serves to hide the extent of obesity in Gulf women. In the same way, the male dishdasha (garment) also hides men’s bellies,” said Dr. Abdul Rahman Musaiqir, head of the Arab Center for Nutrition at Bahrain University.
. . .

In its report about the conference on Wednesday, the Saudi Okaz newspaper cited data by the World Health Organization showing Saudi Arabia has one of the largest rates of obesity at around 35.6 per cent, the third behind the tiny Pacific Island nations of Nauru at 78.5 per cent and Tonga at 56 per cent.
. . .

Al-Raddadi said the prevalence of obesity in the Kingdom increased from 22.1 per cent in the early 1990s to 35.6 per cent in 2005.[11]
January, 2011
Although Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, spends in excess of SR19 billion ($5.1 billion) a year on treatment of diseases related to fatness, more than three million children in the Gulf Kingdom are suffering from obesity.

Obesity kills an average 20,000 people in Saudi Arabia,” Dr Ayed Al Qahtani, a government specialist, told a medical conference in Riyadh, according to local newspapers.

“Latest statistics showed that nearly 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s population are suffering from fatness, which shortens the presumed human life by an average 20 years.”[12]
February, 2011
A new study issued by the Gulf Kingdom’s largest bank, obtained by Emirates 24/7, found that such diseases [blood pressure, diabetes and obesity] are increasing at an alarming rate and that more than 70 per cent of the Saudis are now overweight.
. . .
The study cited results of a survey released by the Saudi Diabetes and Endocrine Association (SDEA) in 2010 showing that over 70 per cent of the Saudi population is alarmingly obese.[13]
May, 2011

Organ Donation

Most Muslims are reluctant organ donors, yet are eager recipients. Once of the reasons given is the belief that you shouldn't deface the human body. Apparently the defacement of the bodies of non-Muslims are fine with most of the Muslims who believe this. And almost a quarter of those surveyed said they would only want to donate an organ if they knew it was going to another Muslim.

Of all religious groups, Muslims are the most resistant to organ donation, largely because they're confused about whether it's permitted within their faith, a British medical expert told delegates to an international transplantation conference in Vancouver Tuesday.

Dr. Adnan Sharif, a Muslim kidney specialist completing his training, led an international survey to find out why Muslims agree with organ donation, and would happily accept a transplant, but aren't so keen on consenting to being donors.

In his presentation to delegates at the 23rd international congress of the Transplantation Society, Sharif said nearly three-quarters of the 891 participants in the survey said they would be glad to receive an organ if needed but only 10.6 per cent of respondents were registered organ donors.
. . .
"Muslims have this argument, this belief, that organ donation is a sin even though most scholars say it's okay, and in fact welcome, because of the belief that to save one life is to save all humanity.

"Transplantation obviously did not exist when the Koran was written. There is a line that says you shouldn't deface the human body. It is a reference to ancient Arab practices of defacing bodies after death. I think people do use that as an excuse not to be organ donors," said Sharif, who conducted the survey with four colleagues from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England.
. . .
The online and printed survey, which solicited respondents through word of mouth, social networking, Muslim organizations and mosques, is expected to be published in a medical journal soon. He said the survey detected some disturbing attitudes that would appear to be based on prejudice. For instance, almost a quarter of respondents said they would only want to donate an organ if they knew it was going to another Muslim. About 10 per cent said they would prefer to receive an organ from a fellow Muslim.

"It's a help-your-own kind of attitude, but to direct an organ to a certain individual is not only unethical, but illegal."[14]
August, 2010


The expression is no longer 'smoking like a Turk', but 'like a Lebanese': with over 65% of men and 54% of women smoking cigarettes or the more traditional narghile (water pipe), Lebanon has one of the highest levels of smokers in Asia Minor, the Middle East and north Africa. A report by Credit Libanese, one of Beirut's leading banks, says that one of the factors encouraging young people to take up the smoking habit is the particularly low cost of cigarettes: a packet of twenty in Lebanon costs as little as 35 Euro cents. Smoking has already been banned in public places in Turkey, and will also be banned in Syria within six months, and in Gulf countries there are high fines for selling cigarettes to under-20s, but a lack of laws against the consumption and sale of tobacco puts Lebanon in last place for countries in the region trying to combat the smoking habit.[15]
October, 2009


In addition to making physical activity difficult, the traditional attire prevents sun exposure and leads to another dysfunction, that of vitamin D deficiency. According to a study by the Hamad Medical Hospital in Doha, 90% of those involved in the study suffered from this deficiency due to a lack of exposure to the sun's rays.
. . .
According to the Center for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS) there are over 250 types of genetic disorders in the United Arab Emirates, the country seeing the fifth highest rate of inter-family marriages, with half being between members of the same family. The true tragedy linked to this cultural habit are the cases of children with birth defects, In Qatar, about 19,000 children are born every year, and the Paediatric Surgery Department of Doha's Hamad Medical Corporation carries out about 3,000 paediatric operations every year, including over 200 on children born with serious birth defects. This is why at Qatar's First International Paediatric Surgery Congress and the 12th edition of the Pan-Arab Paediatric Surgeons Association Congress there was discussion on the surgical procedures for birth defects, as it is the main problem in the sector. [16]
March, 2012

United Kingdom

Muslim males and females in Great Britain had the highest rates of reported ill health in 2001. Age-standardized rates of 'not good' health were 13 per cent for Muslim males and 16 per cent for Muslim females. After taking account of the different age structures of the groups, Muslims had the highest rates of disability. Almost a quarter of Muslim females (24 per cent) had a disability, as did one in five (21 per cent) Muslim males. [17]
October, 2004


According to the Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by Ministry of Public Health and Population in September 2006....25 percent of children aged between 2-9 years are affected with at least one type of disability, the more widespread being delayed motor skills and slow cognitive development in that order.[18]
November, 2008

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  1. Muslim Nations Face AIDS Reality - AFP, June 29, 2005
  2. HIV 'epidemic emerging in Middle East' - AFP, August 3, 2011
  3. Saudis are world's 6th largest consumers of sex drugs - Emirates 24/7, March 4, 2012
  4. More stillbirths among immigrants - Jyllands-Posten, February 27, 2009
  5. Consanguinity and reproductive health among Arabs - Tadmouri et al. Reproductive Health 2009 6:17 doi:10.1186/1742-4755-6-17
  6. Nicolai Sennels - Muslim Inbreeding: Impacts on intelligence, sanity, health and society - EuropeNews, August 9, 2010
  7. Christianson, A., Howson, C., Modell, B., 2006. March of Dimes. "Global Report on Birth Defects", March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, White Plains, New York.
  8. Up to 70% of Gulf women are obese - Middle East Online, September 29, 2005
  9. Sharon LaFraniere - In Mauritania, Seeking to End an Overfed Ideal - The New York Times, July 4, 2007
  10. Caroline May - The burka may be making Muslim women fatter by discouraging exercise - The Daily Caller, July 1, 2010
  11. Gulf women hide weight under gowns - Emirates 24/7, January 12, 2011
  12. Obesity kills 20,000 people a year in Saudi - Emirates 24/7, February 23, 2011
  13. Nadim Kawach - Blood pressure and obesity epidemic in Saudi - Emirates 24/7, May 2, 2011
  14. Pamela Fayerman - Muslims reluctant organ donors - Vancouver Sun, August 18, 2010
  15. Smoking: Lebanon Among Highest Number of Smokers - ANSAmed, October 20, 2009
  16. Qatar: surge in diabetes/obesity, unhealthy Arab habits - ANSAmed, March 13, 2012
  17. Muslims report worst health - Office for National Statistics, October 11, 2004
  18. Mahmoud Assamiee - Ninety four percent of Yemeni children vulnerable to violence - Yemen Times, Issue: (1206), Volume 16, November 10-12, 2008