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Africa’s unending poverty scourge

LogoDaily Independent Online.         * Thursday July 17, 2003

Victory over SARS, a testimony to effective planning and collaboration

Taiwan was recently struck off the World Health Organisation (WHO) list of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-infected areas, thereby signalling a momentary end to an epidemic that ravaged the world in the last three months, bringing death to almost 10 per cent of infected cases. SARS was first reported in the Guandong province of China and spread quickly via air route, traversing five continents and evoking palpable fear and immediate action even in nations that did not have any recorded case. According to the officials of the WHO, the world is however not SARS-free and there is every possibility of a fresh outbreak.

The fight against the SARS epidemic witnessed an unprecedented global collaboration that made it possible to contain the spread of the disease within such a short time. Apart from the loss to human lives, the part played by global consideration for economy cannot be overlooked as a major factor in galvanising the world into certain and productive action to stem the epidemic. It is common knowledge that Asia occupies an enviable position in terms of world economy and cannot immediately be overlooked without considerable loss to other regions of the globe, including the West.

Regrettably, the same measure of commitment has not been expressed globally in combating other world-wide epidemics, worst of which is Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV)/AIDS that has become pandemic in Africa. Africa, the worst-hit of the continents and the worst still to afford it, has suffered tremendous losses in human and material resources as a result of this epidemic, amongst other diseases that have ravaged and still ravage the continent. Even though there has been a lot of publicity, most of it is negative and Africa is yet to witness the kind of global collaboration that would eradicate these diseases from the continent. Individual efforts, good as they are, have yet to liberate Africa from the clutches of disease and the attendant impoverishment.

Daily Independent believes that if the same energy used to combat SARS would be exerted in fighting these diseases, the battle would be resoundingly won. What Africa requires is the same level of sensitivity to its plight from the international powers, beyond commonplace rhetorics of goodwill. Global collaboration should be the watchword of the WHO now and evermore.



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