FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Tale of Two Africas

started travelling to Africa on health-related missions at the beginning of the 1980s. And from the beginning, Africa caught my interest and my imagination. It is, after all, the continent where my father was born, when my Lebanese grandfather went to work providing food to miners in Transvaal. It was a big advantage that I went on public health missions since it allowed me to go to places and see situations that no tourist normally sees.

I soon realized that there are two Africas: one normally portrayed in the media, a land of poverty, disease and war. And another Africa: a vital, energetic continent of hard-working men and women, a continent of beautiful children and young men and young women, a continent of humor and a continent of hope. Today, six of the ten fastest economies in the world are in Africa.

Despite economic progress, however, some important problems remain, such as unemployment, particularly among the young. It is estimated that 70 percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 30, and that 60 percent of the unemployed are also young people. New policies should be developed to incorporate them into the labor force.

To do that, it is important to provide them with the basic skills that would allow them to live up to their earning potential. UNESCO and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have recommended that governments, international donors and the private sector develop integrated policies to create jobs for young people and ease the transition from school to work.

In the health area, although considerable progress has been made in the fight against HIV/Aids (South Africa will become the first African country to fully manage its HIV care and treatment program in a few years) other challenges remain. HIV/Aids, however, is not the only concern.

South Africa has the highest tuberculosis death rate per capita worldwide, followed by Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The situation is worsened by the high number of cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR) in several countries. In addition, diarrheal and respiratory infections, malaria, measles and malnutrition represent big threats to children’s health. Malaria is the leading cause of death among children under five years old.

The continuing exodus of physicians and nurses to industrialized countries makes health problems even worse. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 23,000 healthcare workers leave Africa annually. Malawi, a country of 15.38 million people, has a severe shortage of doctors and nurses. There is only one doctor for every 40,000 people in the country, according to WHO.

Health problems in Africa cannot be considered in isolation, and still, require foreign technical and financial assistance. More efforts need to be made to increase access to primary health care, especially in rural areas, accompanied by health promotion, disease prevention and improved health education activities.

To be effective, however, aid must bypass corrupt governments and find ways of helping Africans in more direct ways. As writer Paul Theroux, who has travelled extensively in several African countries stated, “I wouldn’t send private money to a charity, or foreign aid to a government unless every dollar was accounted for. Dumping more money in the same old way isn’t only wasteful, but stupid and harmful.”

Aid to Africa should be aimed at strengthening civil society and community-based organizations. African governments need to provide education for all age levels, and they need better trade conditions for their products. They need financial assistance but given in a carefully planned and responsible way.

More articles by:

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

June 25, 2018
Daniel Falcone
A Reporter’s Reporter: a Conversation With Seymour Hersh
Gerald Sussman
America’s Cold War “Tugboat”
Jonathan Cook
The Defiance that Launched Gaza’s Flaming Kites Cannot be Extinguished
P. Sainath
A Long March of the Dispossessed to Delhi 
Sheldon Richman
What Does Trump Have Against Children?
Lance Olsen
Caught in a Trap of Our Own Making: Climate Change, Blame, and Denial
Seth Sandronsky
A Safe Black Space
Kary Love
Crying Children and Due Process of Law
Gary Leupp
Why It Just Makes Sense for the U.S. to Withdraw from the UNHRC
John Laforge
Kings Bay Plowshares Action Names the Trident with Blood
Mel Gurtov
After Singapore, Is Iran the Next US Target?
Kent D. Shifferd
A Different Perspective on Peace
Uri Avnery
Two Souls
Laura Flanders
National Suicide Point?
Ludwig Watzal
The Death of Felicia Langer
Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail