“Off all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
For the past two weeks, I have been researching and writing on global public health to complete my part of the background guide for the 2010 National Model United Nations. Throughout all the various reports that I have read the same themes come up over and over again: ‘the economic crisis has the potential to become a health crisis;’ ‘marginalized populations have very limited access to good quality health care;’ ‘maternal and newborn mortality is extremely high in Sub-Saharan Africa,’ ‘non-communicable diseases are the new silent killer’… Being in Cameroon, while writing this report, is truly an opportunity to observe and understand some of the gaps in the health care systems in a developing country.
During our field visit to Njinikom, a member of the local women’s group raised some important questions: Why is access to antiretroviral drugs so difficult in developing countries? She explained that she could see from the international media that People Living With Aids (PLWA) in developed countries seem to lead normal lives; for PLWA in Cameroon, being infected by HIV/AIDS is a death sentence. To continue, another Njinikom woman asked us why a vaccine against Malaria has not yet been developed. There are various preventive drugs that can be administered; however, those drugs are extremely expensive and out of the reach of most people in developing countries. Furthermore, not enough resources have been allocated to Research and Development (R&D) by pharmaceutical companies to elaborate a cheaper prophylaxis for malaria. While there are millions of people infected by malaria each year, pharmaceutical companies have no economic incentives to carry out research to curtail the occurrence of malaria; it is a poor people’s disease.
Throughout our stay in Cameroon, I have observed many children suffering from polio; I have heard the guttural cough of men and women suffering from tuberculosis; and I have shaken the hand of a rural woman with a protruding tumor on her throat. The health gap is so incredibly real and the North-South imbalances, in all aspect of development, so extremely unjust. It is my hope that despite the financial downturn, caused in great part by the mismanagement and careless of leaders in the developed world, the funding commitments to meet the health Millennium Development Goals will be met.
Posted By Johanna Paillet
Posted Aug 14th, 2009