Moving towards global health equity: Opportunities and threats: An African perspective
AbstractBackground: The theme of the 13th World Congress on Public Health, “Moving Towards Global Health Equity: Opportunities and Threats”, strikes an optimistic note as the gaps within and between countries are greater than at any time in recent history. There is no consensus on what globalization is, but most agree that it will substantially shape all the other major trends in the world even though its impacts are highly asymmetric “with disproportionate benefits for rich countries and multinationals, leaving poor countries and people behind”. The current globalization has major influence on health.
Objective: This is a review article that attempts to reflect on the African perspective on health equity in view of the complex situations of globalization as well as diverse partnership in the sector.
Results: Equity has been a long quest in public health and global health equity could be seen as part of the new ‘global health diplomacy’ with recent major drives to meet the global equity gap made more complex by the growing involvement of private (in particular for profit) organizations. There are no ‘givens’ in globalization; Africa would have to ‘negotiate’ its position in the tide of globalization. Sub-Saharan Africa will remain an enduring preoccupation and target of global policies and interventions as “…the current rates of progress will not be able to provide satisfactory health care to its inhabitants by 2020” one reason being the effect of globalization as exemplified by the highly inadequate human resources for health.
Conclusions: Negotiating Africa’s future in a globalizing world complicated by conflicting interests, recurring and deepening economic crisis, and bewildering cacophony of actors, conditionalities and requirements will not be easy. Africa should continuously monitor developments and try to play a proactive role, define its priorities and strategize including developing its intellectual capital.