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The Week of Health in Africa

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

(Photo credit: Dominic Chavez/ WHO)

This week comes with controversy and numerous calls for the eradication of various diseases by the WHO. Health workers in go on strike in another African country after South Africa’s months long strike. Liberian doctors said they would only treat “critical” patients. Tuberculosis is becoming more resistant among young people and HIV positive individuals, but more effort is being put into research.

WHO sees end to TB

Last week TB was discussed as a “forgotten disease for forgotten people,” but now it seems that the WHO has released a plan that identifies gaps in research to create faster treatment regimes. “There is an urgent need to scale up action against TB – 10 million people, including 4 million women and children, will lose their lives unnecessarily between now and 2015 if we fail,” Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general, said.

Its Time to End the Double-Standard of Food Aid

Tido von Schoen-Angerer, Executive Director of Doctors Without Border’s “Access to Essential Medicines Campaign” wrote on Huffington Post about how the US government continues to send sub-standard food supplies to areas in need. The United States, the world’s biggest food aid donor, continues to send the corn-soy flours that do not address childhood malnutrition. You would be hard pressed to find these foods in American grocery stores, because it’s food we would never feed our own children.

More: Can the story on US food aid get any worse from Aid Watch posting Financial Times

“Paradigm” Shift Needed in Health Care, Experts Say

In Africa there needs to be a greater focus on prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension and not just infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, health experts told the 2010 U.S.-Africa Private Sector Health Conference October 6. “Health is as critical as institutions, infrastructure and education for Africa’s economic competitiveness and growth. It is a prerequisite for human energy, entrepreneurship, dynamic markets and a productive society,” said Haskell Ward, vice-president of Seacom Corporation and chairman of the Global Health Strategic and Advisory Committee of the American Cancer Society.

Ending Africa’s Hunger Means Listening to Farmers

Africa is hungry – 240 million people are undernourished. Now, for the first-time, small African farmers have been properly consulted on how to solve the problem of feeding sub-Saharan Africa. Their answers appear to directly repudiate a massive international effort to launch an African Green Revolution funded in large part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Food and agriculture policy and research tend to ignore the values, needs, knowledge and concerns of the very people who provide the food we all eat – and often serve instead powerful commercial interests such as multinational seed and food retailing companies,” said Michel Pimbert of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a non-profit research institute based in London.

African cholera outbreak kills 2000

A preventable disease that is linked to the need for clean water sources has continued to kill people in a number of countries. WHO officials report that, as of October 3, there have been 40,468 reported cases of cholera and 1,879 reported cholera deaths in four countries, including Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. The outbreaks started a few months ago, officials said.

Obesity: an underestimated “silent killer”

There is a new “silent killer” in town. It joins the ranks of malnutrition, malaria, hypertension, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, etc. It is obesity. “We are eating our way to the grave’’ and “obesity is rising in rural areas.’’ Adults are overweight or obese, while children are malnourished – a paradox. In the men still look at a potbelly as a badge of pride and success.” The World Health Organization reports that more than one-third of African women and a quarter of African men are estimated to be overweight, and predicted that it will rise to 41 percent and 30 percent respectively in by 2016. Once considered a problem only in high income countries, overweight and obesity are now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.

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