Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person’s mind and body, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Health is of major concern to nations of the world. WHO and the member states strive hard to ensure this is achieved across board. A major WHO goal is to improve equity in health, reduce health risks, promote healthy lifestyles and settings, and respond to the underlying determinants of health.
This among others are the goals expected to be followed by member states and organizations.
A meeting with Prof. Cees Th. Smit Sibinga was a real eye opener as we discussed the problems faced by developing nations and africa as a continent.
Prof Sibinga is a WHO expert involved in international short term consulting missions; medium and long term projects focused on the development of Transfusion Medicine in economically restricted countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa, Western Pacific and the Middle East.
A lot has been invested in terms of resource on health in the continent with little impact and Africa being a toast of many investors has to be self motivated towards adequate care especially in health for her citizens.
Our focus of discussion centered around blood transfusion practices in Africa (His area of expertise) and diabetes (my passion ),we realized that so much needs to be done to step our health practices up to conform to international standards especially in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a large country with great prospect and promising health policies but implementation has been a major hindrance to quality health care delivery.
The World Health Organization’s activities deals directly with member nations and organizations hence whatever agreement signed at the World Health Assembly is binding on all member nations and as such must be implemented, likewise any feedback given by the member nations must reflect the true state of health affairs in the member country as that would be the blue print guiding WHO activity in such country.
So what happens inbetween agreements, implementation and feedback: The Politics of Health;
So many questions ranging from if the Member nations especially developing countries abide by the agreements signed at the World Health Assembly; if they give the true state of health in their respective countries as a feedback to WHO?
These questions are endless but from the few minutes interaction with Prof Sibinga i realized that the problems are not as cumbersome as thought and the solution is within reach.
Prof Sibinga said: “When you vote, you exercise your authority not just to choose your favorite candidate to govern your affairs for a particular period but also to represent your interest within that same period’
So, it is not just in us as individuals or as a nation to vote for personalities we love or adore but we also need to vote for policies and adequate representation especially in health care delivery across board.
It is imperative to note that once we are misrepresented at the international level as against the true state of health affairs or when policies end only on the papers then we need not scream isolation by the international community when in real truth the world can only help those willing to help themselves.
Interesting to note is that topmost on the agenda at this year’s world health assembly is Non Communicable diseases (click here) among which is Diabetes which has affected over 347million people worldwide (about 50% of those with diabetes are yet to be diagnosed; More than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries; WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030)
With all these knowledge at our fingertips it is important for all stake holders and health advocates to rise to the challenge of ensuring that proper health care policies and delivery are achieved at all levels of governance.
This is a clarion call to all health advocates especially at community level to also encourage the people to in addition to voting for personalities also consider policies that will make their health better and more secured.
We believe all governmental administrative structures from the community to national heads must be filled with people who stand for policies that will better the health and lives of the people
With this evolutionary mind set in view and in place we believe the African health care system will become more proactive.