Reflections on African health from the diaspora

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    Baby with Bracelet by Vestergaard Frandsen

    I was honored to attend the Project C.U.R.E. First Ladies’ Luncheon, as a guest of Africa Agenda. Since 2006, Project C.U.R.E. has held The First Ladies’ Luncheon to ‘generate awareness of health issues and raise money to deliver medical supplies and equipment’ to developing countries in Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe.

    The guest speaker, Her Excellency Earnestina Naadu Mills of Ghana, discussed the health challenges faced by the people ‘in emerging nations and in particular issues of medical relief in Ghana’ and the need for achieving healthy populations as indispensible to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

    Central to Her Excellency’s speech was the mother and child mortality rates in Ghana where ‘the most recent estimate of under 5 child mortality rates are 101 for every 1,000 live births.’ Half of the world’s 10 million deaths of children under 5 years occur in Africa of preventable and curable diseases including malaria, diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, according to UNICEF.

    These are the statistics that Project C.U.R.E. is working hard to eradicate. At the July 23rd luncheon alone, the approximately 1800 people in attendance contributed more than $2 million to deliver medical supplies to Ghana. Thanks to Miller-Coors who underwrote the event, all donations will go directly to benefit the people of Ghana.

    As an African immigrant living in the United States, I have often wondered and sometimes questioned the deep generosity of the American people. What drives someone to give of their energy, time and resources to aid someone or entire communities that they quite possibly will never meet? To aid a person that will most likely never get to thank them for their kindness?

    While I am thankful for the benevolence that I see shown towards the people of my own continent, I am also constantly challenged by it. If Americans and people from other wealthy countries, majority of whom have not set foot in Africa, can display such openhandedness, how about us – Africans in the Diaspora, who know of someone or have been victims of poor or non-existent health care systems? Who, when health issues such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and high child mortality rates are mentioned, somberly nod our heads, reminiscing about that one family member, neighbor, childhood friend or someone from the village yonder?

    It is not to say that Africans in the Diaspora are apathetic to these issues. Quite the contrary; every African that I have met is involved on some level in the development, as a whole, of their families and communities ‘back home’. However, could this involvement, take a more concerted form? What can we do, if we put our resources and minds together?

    It was challenging to see and hear what Project C.U.R.E. has accomplished since its beginnings in 1987, to becoming the largest organization of its kind in the world today. Below is a list of other organizations that are working hard to reduce child and mother mortality rates in Africa. Would you consider donating your time, money or resources to partner with them?

    Project C.U.R.E
    Save the Children
    Action for West Africa Region Reproductive Health
    Action for Global Health
    The UN Population Fund

    The United Nations Children’s Fund
    The World Health Organization

    Isabella Muturi Sauvé is a recent graduate of the University of Denver and the co-founder of metroAfrican. A native of Kenya, she currently resides in Denver.

    Photo by Vestergaard Frandsen

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