Public Health in Africa–the Role of National Public Health Institutes (Issues in Public Health)

Public Health in Africa--the Role of National Public Health Institutes (Issues in Public Health)

The trends of reduced life expectancies in many nations of the developing world, and particularly in Africa, clearly reflect the perilous state of public health in these countries. Examples include Sierra Leone, with a life expectancy of 34 years, Botswana (37 years), and Malawi (38 years). (1) The extent of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, the ravages of malaria and other persistent endemic illnesses, the threat of pandemic influenza and other emerging and re-emerging infections, and the growing disease burden associated with chronic diseases and injuries pose major obstacles to human well-being and development across the continent. (2) An examination of the status of public health activities in Africa points to the fragility of the public health infrastructure in most countries and the inadequate capacity for effective public health action to address these threats. At the most basic level, many public health facilities still lack basic infrastructure such as dependable electricity and running water, as well as computer facilities and internet connectivity. Relatively limited and unco-ordinated national and sub-national surveillance activities, resources for research, outbreak investigations, laboratory capacity, institutional support and collaboration within the local scientific community all aggravate the problem. (3) It has been said that the health crisis in Africa presents enormous challenges to the public health workforce, which is ill-equipped to respond (4) and there is the need for a long-term effort to strengthen the workforce, which requires major support from national governments and international agencies. (5) According to the Global Forum for Health Research, (6) strengthening research capacity in developing countries is one of the most effective ways of advancing health and development.

Public Health in Africa--the Role of National Public Health Institutes (Issues in Public Health)



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