Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Africa’s Health Issue I #TopicTuesday

“I was ready to fight, I was ready to die”.  That is the passion to which a previous TEDxEuston speaker has used to tell us her efforts to aid health improvement in Africa.

Health, unsurprisingly, has been an important issue on the TEDxEuston stage over the years. Ater all, good health is not only an outcome of, but also a foundation for, development. So why then do we find in so many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa that despite reasonable economic development, health improvement is poorer than expected?

I will give you a single fact just to put things into perspective: Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 49 per cent of maternal deaths, 50 per cent of under-five child deaths and 67 per cent of HIV/AIDS cases.

So here is some insight about what is crucial for the improvement of health outcomes in Africa:

Fadekemi Akinfaderin-Agarau identified social stigma and a lack of openness with sexual health as factors that contribute to the further spread of HIV/AIDS. She told us how she “Found her Calling” through a focus on empowering the youth to change policies, and challenge social norms.

To empower is to create an opportunity for health improvement. In a talk entitled “Empowered women will change our world”, Fatima B Muhammad shows us that gender inequalities form the pinnacle of poor maternal health outcomes in Northern Nigeria.
The provision of education through the distribution of health information, as well as enabling community support, allows access to essential care.

In a talk entitled “Our struggle is not over”, Vuyiseka Dubula identifies it is those that are poorest that face most difficulties in accessing essential care. She successfully challenged the World’s leading pharmaceutical companies to make life-saving HIV treatments more affordable.

                                         "Our struggle is not over" - Vuyiseka Dubula

Following a personal experience with healthcare in Nigeria Toyin Saraki, the self-described “unlikely activist”, finds a lack of resources is an important limit to the provision of care, and inspired the creation of The Wellbeing Foundation in Nigeria, aiming to improve maternal and child health outcomes.

Challenging social ideas, improving education, reducing poverty, and the provision of resources will aid the improvement of health in Africa  - if only it were that simple to implement these things!

These are just a few of the stories from those instrumental to healthcare improvements in the continent, and there are surely many more that are yet to grace the TEDxEuston stage – so watch this space!

In the meantime, please do listen to the passionate, thought-provoking talks mentioned above, as well as our many others. You will find more thought-provoking ideas and discussion at the TEDxEustonSalon later on this month and our main event in December. Hope to see you there!

 - Zainab Sanusi is a Junior Doctor, currently working in Dartford, Kent. She is one of the newest members on the committee, having previously been a volunteer.

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