Friday, September 28, 2007


Is anybody else shocked by the fact that funding towards any public health intervention in Africa should be spent 20% on prevention and control measures, and 80% on treatment. And in fact, that you cannot receive funding unless you adhere to these rules. Well, firstly, I do not see how that makes any sense in a time and place run by infectious diseases. Find me a group of people in Tanzania, Malawi and Nigeria that are worried about cardiovascular disease and sense organ disorders. Yeah right. Not to downplay chronic diseases, but if we all had the billions of shillings just flying through the atmosphere, I'm sure it would be a perfect world. Seeing as we are pressed for funding, why would we want to spend 80% of Gates' millions on "treating" HIV patients? When we know that the nitty gritty virus we all love to hate will just keep spreading around our polygamous neighborhoods like ebola in the DRC. Not that we should be relying on Gates' millions for our every drop of water...but that is a blog for another day.

We always throw around words like "sustainable", "development", "longevity", "improvement". The truth of the matter is all these idealistic words we throw around are based on PREVENTION, not cure. Growing up, I was always taught "ubolibamba lingashoni", I dont know if I can do justice to the translations but literally it means hold the sun before it sets. Ok, so I didnt do justice to it, but you get the point. Yes, it is true that in some cases, situations arise where we need to find quick cures, effective quarantines etc, but the real deal is at the end of the day, we all need to sit down and be forward-thinkers. Thinking forward does not mean we think about when the next big epidemic will occur and which foreign, world-renowned doctors we will hire to find an effective cure. It's about looking at now, what are our people going through? What do they need? Are our children living in the safest, and healthiest of environments? Do we have the appropriate education to let people know what's best? And most importantly : When we are gone, will those who come after us suffer the same troubles we did? No sir! Take HIV for instance, the most obvious case...destroying millions of Africans, most of them of reproductive and productive age, not the best boost for our already staggering economies. Thousands of orphans, 15 000 in Swaziland alone (out of a million people, u do the math). Our elders are having to take care of their children, their children's children, their cildren's children's children, the neighbors, and the market. Another one...malaria. Responsible for most of infant and child deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa. Still a huge public health problem.

We do need to worry about our brothers and sisters who have contracted the virus, yes. But not to an 80% degree. Especially not if we havent found a cure yet. And definitely not in Africa. What happens to the infected orphans? Wont they grow up to be just like that too? Complete nonsense...we should be spending 80% on preventative methods, and 20% on "trying to find effective treatment". In the end, we're all dead. How we die, and what we experience in the all that matters. It pains me to see my people all over the continent living a life of doom. Ok, so we are encouraged to go for testing, lekker...its a start. Now, Nozipho goes and tests, finds out she's HIV positive, gets a little bit of counselling, but still cant afford the optimal diet to stay free of opportunistic illnesses and infections. Not only that, she will be discriminated upon like a cockroach in an urban kitchen. If she is the average African, she probably wont be able to afford the sky-rocketing price of ARVs (pharmaceutical corruption...a story for another sunset), and when she does fall ill, she will either be denied a hospital bed, or, simply, wont have access to one. Her sister Nothando...will look at this situation and go "he! i am NOT testing. Id rather not know". It may seem like crappy logic, but I tell you, its what happens and it is sad. There are many ways we can combat this. HIV? A speck of dust compared to what we're worth. Africans need to do some African work for their African people. Uganda is our glimmer of hope. They did it, everyone else can. But first we need to deal with this 20:80. Ideas?