Regional Director's Commentaries

DrMoetiRDPar Dr Matshidiso Moeti, la Directrice régionale de l'Organisation mondiale de la santé pour l'Afrique, novembre 2016

Décembre 2013. Dans un village de la Guinée rurale, un enfant joue dans son jardin. Il tombe malade, et décède quelques jours plus tard. Cet enfant est la première personne à avoir contracté le virus Ebola. C’est le début d’une épidémie sans précédent. 28 000 personnes contaminées dans 10 pays, 11 000 morts.

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More and more people are living longer than before in Africa

In Africa, older people are valued for their wisdom and knowledge, and have also been traditionally hard to find. Fifty years ago, the average life expectancy at birth in the continent was under the age of 45. But the life expectancy at birth for most of Africa has now grown to exactly 60 years in 2015, with the number increasing in many countries by 20 percent or more over the past 15 years.

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Dr-MoetiIt has been 44 years since a World Bank president traveled to drought-stricken Upper Volta in West Africa — today called Burkina Faso — and encountered a startling and disturbing scene. Blind people were everywhere, with children often leading adults around.

The cause otheir blindness was a tiny worm, called a “filarial nematode,” transmitted by bites from black flies that swarmed the rivers and streams of Burkina Faso. Strangely, the worms do their damage by dying, which generates toxins that can create lesions on the skin and on the cornea of the eyes.

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"Now a physician myself, I know that daily sickness and pain is also a reality for a billion people around the world who are affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)."

When I was a child living in apartheid South Africa, I saw first-hand the pain and suffering experienced by the patients my parents cared for at their medical clinic. Patients came in and out, looking for treatment to their ailments and afflictions. I learned how constant illness and discomfort was an everyday reality for so many of our neighbours. 

Now a physician myself, I know that daily sickness and pain is also a reality for a billion people around the world who are affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). NTDs are a group of preventable and treatable diseases that place a constant and heavy burden on the poorest, most marginalized and most isolated communities around the world. Together they cause more than 150,000 deaths every year worldwide, yet even that number vastly understates their impact. 

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By Dr. Matshidiso Moeti and Dr. Ala Alwan, 19 February 2016

africa-vaccines-commentaryAfrica has an incredible opportunity to provide a better life for each and every child – and we know exactly how to seize it: provide universal access to immunization across the continent to protect them from vaccine preventable diseases. We have seen the transformative impact of efforts to reach more children with life-saving vaccines. Child deaths in Africa fell by half over the past generation, in large part due to the use of  high impact interventions such as  immunization.

Polio, a disease that once paralyzed children in every country, hasn’t been seen anywhere on the continent in more than a year. Because of a new meningitis vaccine, hundreds of millions of people no longer live in fear of the life-threatening infection, which wreaked havoc across Africa’s so-called “meningitis belt.”

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