Affluence and Healthiness: Africa’s Trapped Households

Victor Kekereekun
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Africa is confronted by a heavy burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases – and while cost effective interventions that can prevent the diseases exist, coverage is too low due to health systems weaknesses across the continent.

Health systems are weak and the continent still faces an increasing burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, high child and maternal mortality, recurrent epidemics and humanitarian crises aggravated by unstable economic and political setups.

Poverty and health care systems have successfully ensured further deterioration of sick people’s social status and social integration. I mean our health care services have proved “no saviour” to various health issues that plague Africa.

Equitable and sustainable access to functioning health systems has only been realised in fantasies, yet this is a part of the many essential services every citizen of a governed state is entitled to.

In the recent outbreak of Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the toll of persons killed has risen to 100, the Health Ministry confirmed.  Of that amount, 69 cases were confirmed on lab tests and the other 31 were related to sick people. Beyond that, there are other 149 infected people with bleeding fever. Even though 4,320 vaccine doses were provided against the ailment, yet the outbreak is year’s second and the worst in a decade in a country where there is a health care system in place (or better still, an assumed health care system).

Diseases native to Africa – or the land of ailments
The African region has one of the highest disease burdens in the world. The region’s contribution to the global burden of

HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria is 66%, 26% and 80% respectively. In general Africa contributes 24% of global DALYS and as a continent, Africa accounted for 46% of under-five deaths, 55% of the maternal deaths, 22% of AIDS-related and 90% of the malaria deaths in 2011.

Tuberculosis remains a major problem in the African region with 500,000 deaths annually, accounting for over 26 percent of notified TB cases in the world. Southern Africa is the worst affected sub-region. While 19 countries have been able to treat over 85 percent of those affected, the co-infection of TB and HIV as well as drug-resistant TB and multi-drug-resistant TB continue to complicate treatment of the disease.

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The greatest mortality in Africa arises from preventable water-borne diseases, which affect infants and young children greater than any other group. The principal cause of these diseases is the regional water crisis, or lack of safe drinking water primarily stemming from mixing sewage and drinking water supplies.

Also, despite measurable gains in prevention and treatment over the past 20 years, malaria remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases. It caused 438,000 deaths in 2015, according to the World Health Organization. Malaria’s greatest impact is concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where 80 percent of deadly cases occurred, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Approximately 1.2 million children in west and central Africa take antimalarial drugs during the rainy season to prevent malaria infection, which is spread by mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite.  Fighting malaria is one of the greatest challenges facing health officials in sub-Saharan Africa – and a failure to contain the malarial threat in sub-Saharan Africa could result in a widespread resurgence of the disease. This, in turn, could lead to the loss of even more lives, particularly children living in poverty.

Poverty fuels ill-health – or destitution equals to ailments
Poverty could result in poor health as the link is inextricable, the major causes of poor health for millions across the globe especially in Africa is rooted in political, social and economic injustices. Poverty increases the chances of poor health; poor health in turn traps communities in poverty, infectious and neglected tropical diseases kill and weaken millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people every now and there.

Due to a poor diet some pregnant woman can end up having babies that are under weight. These children may then suffer long term health issues leading all the way into adult hood reducing the amount of time that they will actually live.

Poverty is both a cause and consequence of poor health. The close relationship between poverty and health means that improving health standard significantly increases Africa’s chances of escaping generational poverty. Without a healthy population, little progress can be made in the fight against poverty. It is just a case of two trapped households here.

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Quality life for all – or making Africa a better dwelling place
The power that is sustaining poverty and poor health needs to be tackled in Africa, the African leaders need to wake up to their responsibilities. Greediness, selfishness, ‘me’ before anybody else and always wanting – all will have to die in the life of our leaders before we can experience green growth in Africa.

Africa’s economic malaise is self-perpetuating, as it engenders more of the disease, warfare, misgovernment, and corruption that created it in the first place. Other effects of poverty have similar consequences. The most direct consequence of low GDP is Africa’s low standard of living and quality of life.

It is widely accepted that the key reason for the increase in life expectancy in wealthy countries in the late 19th and early 20th century was less to do with the leaps forward in medical science, and more to do with the arrival of better nutrition, clean water and sanitation.

Also, strong health systems are an effective means of improving the health of the people of Africa. The dividend of a healthier population in Africa is very high given the fact that healthy individuals are more productive, and have a positive impact on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of nations.

The message is clear, masses have no share in Africa’s common affluence and most do not live a disease-free life not because it is not attainable but the system has made it difficult to attain. African leaders should endow themselves in good leadership characteristics, wear a garment of love, have the love of the masses at heart, apply the chain of wealth distribution and stop accumulating wealth or money for yet unborn generations, give this present generation right to live.

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