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The Barriers and Challenges to Health Promotion in Africa

Dr R Govender
University Of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa

Africa is riddled with corruption, debt, wars, child soldiers and HIV/AIDS which are formidable barriers and challenges to health promotion. The per capita government spending raises concerns about the long-term feasibility of governments’ financing of a minimum package of health services. The only way to know if public health policy is achieving its objectives is by evaluating health promotion projects. Most African countries have experienced a growth in low-income settlements of urban populations and poverty causes infections.1 The major structural barriers to health are usually legislative, policy or regulative. Sometimes the barriers are physical and serve as enabling environments for infectious diseases. 1 Africa is plagued by conflicts. A study in Sierra Leone in 1999, implicated Peacekeepers and Humanitarian workers in the 1862 female victims of sexual abuses. 3

Airhihenbuwa suggested that health promoters should not look at the role of culture as a barrier but rather embrace the cultural dimension in health. 1 Female literacy of 70% to 83% also shows a reduction in infant mortality.2 Working mothers and educated women contribute to the overall economic growth. Disease prevention involves interpersonal channels of communication and mass media. Public health campaigns may face resistance if these messages are not language – specific. 1

1. Alali Andy O. Jinadu B.A. ‘Health Communication in Africa Contexts, Constraints and Lessons’. University Press of America,â Inc. 2002
2. Ciba Foundation Symposium 23(new series) ‘Human Rights in Health’..Associated Scientific Publishers, 1974
3. Nowamagbe A. Omoigui ‘Public Health Implications of Conflicts in Africa’. (6/6/2004)


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