Editorials But first, the continent must reorder its priorities and commit to distributive justice

Africa can solve its own health problems

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7339.688 (Published 23 March 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:688
  1. Daniel J Ncayiyana, editor, South African Medical Journal
  1. Vice Chancellor's office, ML Sultan Technikon, PO Box 1334, Durban 4000, South Africa

    See also Papers p 702

    On the evidence of such archaeological finds as Lucy, the australopithecine female unearthed in Ethiopia's Hadar region, Africa is the cradle of the human race. Africa was also home to notable ancient civilisations—the Egypt of the Pharaohs, the Ashanti Empire of the Gold Coast, and the Zimbabwe settlements in the south. Given such a head start, it is ironic that Africa should now find itself at the bottom of the ladder in terms of human development. Most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa lag far behind other developing nations with respect to critical health indicators such as maternal and infant mortality and life expectancy.

    Granted, Africa's legacy of particularly exploitative colonial occupation by European powers is partly to blame. However, Africans themselves must bear the responsibility for failing to create an enabling environment for better health—safe water and sanitation, secure supply of food and nutrition, education, and higher status of women—in the period since the continent's political emancipation that began with Ghana's independence …

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