The greatest wealth is health.
According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Health is a giant issue and has a huge impact on every aspect of life that you can’t ignore it. Health encompasses TB, maternal health, sexual and reproductive health, midwifery, obstetric fistula, HIV/AIDS, malaria, open defecation, Ebola; and the devastating effects of all these conditions.
Here at AHI, we partner with organizations such as the Kenyatta University medicine students and the Happy & Healthy project to ensure we meet some basic health standards in the schools we work with. In this way, we are able to not only detect medical issues but also to provide basic, simple preventative tips like hand washing! A healthy child is a wealthy child.
Some of these conditions are caused by poor sanitation, others by negligence or poor response mechanisms, and others by ignorance. What’s clear is that there is still much more that can be done to achieve the 3rd of the global goals: ensure healthy lives and well being for all at all ages.
So, what are the facts?
- 6 million children die before their 5th birthday each year. 4/5 deaths of children under age 5 occur in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
- Children of educated mothers—even mothers with only primary level education—are more likely to survive than children of mothers with no education.
- Only 1/2 of women in developing regions receive the recommended amount of health care they need
- At the end of 2014, there were 13.6 million people accessing antiretroviral (ARV) therapy.
- At the end of 2013, there were an estimated 35 million people living with HIV and 240,000 children were newly infected with HIV
- HIV is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide
- There were 250,000 new HIV infections among adolescents in 2013, 2/3 of which were among adolescent girls
- AIDS is now the leading cause of death among adolescents (aged 10–19) in Africa and the second most common cause of death among adolescents globally
- In many settings, adolescent girls’ right to privacy and bodily autonomy is not respected, as many report that their first sexual experience was forced
- Over 6.2 million malaria deaths have been averted between 2000 and 2015, primarily of children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. The global malaria incidence rate has fallen by an estimated 37% and the morality rates by 58%.
- Every day children drink water contaminated with defecation and a child dies every 2.5 minutes as a result. Diarrhea is the 3rd biggest killer of children under five years in sub-Saharan Africa. Access to sanitation is critical to human development. Sanitation just may be the greatest medical milestone of the last century and a half.
Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all, at all ages is essential to sustainable development. There is a real and urgent need to strengthen the capacity of all countries, particularly countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.
It is also important to strengthen various agencies working to manage one health situation or the other. It just isn’t enough to wait for the government to create and implement and preventive and reactive health measures. We need more trained doctors, nurses, midwives anesthesiologists’, palliative caregivers and so on.
We need to recognize that health and well being isn’t just limited to physical illness but also emotional and psychological illness such as substance abuse, bulimia and depression. Thereafter, develop mechanisms to strengthen the prevention and treatment of all diseases.
Significant strides have been made in various sectors health-wise but there is still so much to do. Major progress has been made on increasing access to clean water and sanitation, reducing malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, many more efforts are needed to fully eradicate a wide range of diseases and address many different persistent and emerging health issues.
So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.
A.J. Reb Materi