Corporate Leadership in Health Promotion in sub-Saharan Africa

Introduction

            Development in a nation occurs if the citizens residing in that nation are economically stable, psychologically fit, socially comfortable and healthy. A healthy community is able to undertake activities that will enable the country to develop and thus improve their welfare. It is therefore important to encourage people to take measures that will help them maintain their healthy status and curb any diseases that may have the potential of attacking them. Health promotion is achieved through health education where the community is taught on measures to undertake to help them remain physically, mentally and socially fit through social marketing which is communicating and circulating information to help the community emanate behavioral code that will help them to achieve and maintain a healthy status. Therefore health promotion can be perceived as strategies implemented to guide people towards changing their welfare to promote a lifestyle that will help them achieve the ideal health status. The nosedived health status that was depicted by the increasing by the reported hospital cases lead to the establishment of campaigns that advocated awareness of promoting health in a community. Organizations like World Health Organizations (WHO) were among the onset of health promotion revolution that campaigned for better implementation of health care and promotion in sub-Saharan Africa (Wunderlich et al., 2002).

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Health Care in sub-Saharan Africa

The countries found at the southern part of the Sahara are referred to as sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The inhabitants are mostly blacks thus the adoption of the term Black Africa which is also used to refer to these countries. WHO and other organizations took the initiative of formulating health policies which involved the community to implement the reforms so as to achieve health promotion. The countries in the sub-Saharan region are the poorest third world countries that are striving to develop. They face major constraints such as corruption, mismanagement of funds, ethnicity and unemployment that pull back their attempts to develop. For instance the health policies that were formulated in Bamako, the capital city of Mali, in 1987 were not fully implemented by the Mali government due to lack of resources to help them adopt the guidelines stipulated in the policies (Forman & Ghosh, 2000). They lacked the financial background, technology and the technological know how of using the outlined guidelines and initiating further research to improve the measures defined by the policies. The inhabitants of the sub-Saharan region were not financially stable and lacked most of the basic needs. Thus the attempt of implementing the policies failed as the health status of the inhabitants was in a dilapidated state. Therefore the community perceived the initiative as a waste of time and resources as they wanted the government to adopt a health care delivery system to avail health care units to the community (Mason et al., 2002).

The Role of sub-Saharan Africa Corporate in Health Promotion

 These predicaments lead to the formation of corporations whose main aim was to pull the available resources together to facilitate the implementation of programs formulated to promote health. For example the Aga Khan Foundation which was founded under a non profitable background to pull together various agencies and institution. The foundation aimed at curbing the ongoing health problem in sub-Saharan Africa by providing the necessary skills and knowledge required to promote health (Weil, 2004). The corporations increased the awareness for the need of promoting health by involving the community through community-based health care and maintenance reforms which introduced the concept of Primary Health Care (PHC). PHC advocated for equity and social justice which helped to avail health care to the community at an affordable rate. The health planning and development model that was devised by the government of the sub-Saharan Africa formed a link between the corporations that promoted health care and themselves to be able to rationalize the opportunities that cropped up in the event of promoting health care. This helped to prevent duplication of services rendered and increased the opportunities for the countries to achieve their set goals towards promoting health. Opportunities for development and reinvestments into the health planning and delivery model also portrayed themselves as a clear distinction of the duties to be performed by each party (Lee, 2003).

This resulted to formation of a well defined health system organization that enabled health care delivery to reach the citizens living in the grass root areas. The national health care system was classified according to the number of people it would cater for; the biggest were the referral hospitals that were based in the headquarters of provinces followed by the district hospitals, primary hospitals, clinics, health posts and mobile stops. The operations of these health care units were regulated by the District Health Team (DHT) comprising medical, environmental, nutritional and health education officers among others. This initiative, though it helped to provide health care to all the citizens was faced by obstacles that needed the expansion and development of the infrastructure system and the availability of the human resources services (World Bank, 2005).

            Globalization has increased the rate of brain drain of qualified and competent health workers deteriorating the education health system which leaves many women with lack of knowledge and skills to help them provide the necessary food security at their homes to rear their children in the correct manner. This has greatly contributed to the increased rate of malnutrition cases that sees to the death of many young children who could have being the countries stepping stone to development. Educated women implement strategies that will help them to provide better health care and nutrition to their children (Lee, 2003). These facts attracted the attention of corporate bodies in the sub-Saharan African region to set up promotion services that will help increase the sources and education on food production and distribution to improve the nutrition health of the residents in SSA. For example the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) which also provides loans to the community to help them improve the Agricultural sector of the economy. The corporations in SSA invest in the agribusiness sector of the country by providing capital to help in the expansion of the business, infrastructure and private enterprises that have been set up to aid in the production and distribution of agricultural products throughout the countries to increase the availability and improve food security (Lee, 2003).

            They have also provided the required technical support to the agricultural based sectors and the necessary knowledge and skills required by providing education centers and services. The communities gain knowledge on the appropriate measures to undertake so as to improve the state of food security in their country and eliminate the malnutrition predicament that is affecting their health status. This has contributes to the overall decline of reliable manpower needed to aid the country develop and improve its economic status. By so doing the corporations help in the expansion of the export market of agricultural products, earning the country more revenue to help improve the welfare of the residents of the country and thus help in promotion of health of the community (World Bank, 2005).

            Corruption and ethnicity between communities is a major development hurdle contributed by the state of poor governance that is evident in the sub-Saharan African region. This has also contributed to the dilapidated state of the countries economy which pulls back the major economic sectors of the country such as health, education, agriculture and industrialization. Lack of a reliable and strong financial background has lead to the minimal effort put to improve health promotion. Corporations in the SSA provide and strengthen the human resource development to enable the communities to change their lifestyle in an attempt of improve their welfare (Chant & Mcllwaine, 2009).

            The corporations rely on the social marketing activities they engage in to promote the health of the communities in the SSA. They have been the core organizers of campaigns that encourage the recognition and respect of the rights of women in the community so as to enable the whole community to take the underlined measures portrayed by the corporation in an effort of promoting health. The rate of maternal mortality has gone down since the provision of education and legal status of the women. The corporations have also invested in the indigenous scientific and technology institutes and centers to help devise strategies that will help the community to improve the promotion of health in the future. They have also taken the initiative of linking the services provided by these centers with the economic policies to help the countries be in a better position of implementing the stipulated mechanisms of promoting health, thus rearing a community that will be beneficial to the overall development of the country because they are physically, mentally and socially fit (Chant & Mcllwaine, 2009).

            The corporations have also invested in the health education sectors by aiding in the provision of health education to the communities in the SSA countries.  They have provided computer based information and networking systems to the scientific institutions and universities to aid in the conduction of research on better approaches to use in the implementation of mechanisms. The research will help the community to be aware of the benefits of promoting health and to also engage in the efforts made, to ensure health promotion. This has been facilitated by the funded campaigns to eradicate the gender gap that was so prevalent in the community, hence the involvement of the whole community in health promotion (Edelman & Mandle, 2005). African scholars that are undertaking the effort of introducing health promotion into the education curriculum of the SSA are been funded by these corporations who help them to conduct their researches exhaustively and efficiently to update the education curriculum with the necessary strategies that will help to instill the  benefits of promoting health to children as they are growing. This will highly boost the efforts undertaken by the corporations in campaigning for the importance of promoting health. The SSA countries will also be able to eradicate poverty which is the main constraint that is pulling back their efforts of developing to emanate the living conditions of the first world countries (Lee, 2003).

            The rise of chronic diseases in the SSA countries has evidently increased due to the lifestyle the community has undertaken to help them cope with the misery they have because of the tough living conditions they are facing. They have resulted to use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco which are the main factors that contribute the high rise of the chronic diseases such as tuberculosis, cancer, heart attacks, kidney failures, diabetes and AIDS among others. The corporations have taken the initiative to eradicate this epidemic by campaigning against the growing habit that is contributing to the failures of their efforts to promote health. They are engaging the communities in the countries of the SSA region in activities that will help to eliminate this risk factor such as rehabilitating them in centers they have opened. They thoroughly counsel the victims and use them as tools to campaign against the ill habit that is taking toil in the community and also employ them in those centers (World Bank, 2005).

            The corporations are also engaged in the democratic transition activities that are going on in the SSA countries through provision of efficient and reliable family planning methods to help control the large population numbers. A country that has a manageable population easily develops as the nation’s resources are evenly distributed and thus the health of the population kept in good shape because promotion of health is easily adopted. The poor financial background of the SSA countries have lead to the formation of corporation development banks which plays a big part in health promotion as the communities have a financial leap which will help them to effectively implement the guidelines outlined by the mechanism devised by the corporation in promoting health. This helps in the growth of the economic status of the nations as many micro and macro businesses thrive on the loan services provided by these banks thus enabling the residents to be physically, emotionally and socially fit (Chant & Mcllwaine, 2009).

Role of sub-Saharan Government in Health Promotion

            The Ministry of Health in the SSA countries is responsible in implementing the initiative taken by the government to help promote health in their country. Market forces have contributed to the poor health status of the residents of the SSA countries as they fail to address the equity of the communities needs forcing the government to intervene. However, the social responsibility that the government has undertaken has faced obstacles owing to the incompetence of the government. For example in Kenya, the government’s selfish attitude has lead to the increased rate of corruption, ethnicity gaps, lack of education and the overall slow rate of development that has greatly affected the community. These hurdles have harbored any initiative dedicated by the government officials in promotion of health making the community to greatly rely on the aid and mechanism that are implemented by the corporations. The Ministry of Health under the directive of the government uses its leadership abilities to formulate and implement policies that will stipulate guidelines to be observed by the community in order to promote health (Isaacs, 2006).  In most cases the formulated policies are not useful and are a waste of the countries resources and time, as the government lacks the required financial ground to device effective strategies that will help in the implementation of the devised mechanisms to aid in promotion of health. Also the available resources that can be used to help in the implementation of the mechanisms stipulated in their policies are mismanaged by the government officials due to their corrupt nature and thus do not benefit the community as intended. The first world countries offer financial aid to Kenya in form of grants and loans to help improve their poor living conditions. The aid given is embezzled by the corrupt government officials who use the money to cater for their personal needs disregarding their oath to cater for the needs of their country. This in contrast to the effort displayed by the corporate in Kenya, for example the GBC-Corporate Africa Partnerships for Prevention and Care, which implements the policies they have formulated and greatly improve the health care and promotion situation in the country (Ewles ; Ina, 2003).

            As the Kenyan government tries to promote health by striving to distribute the countries resources equally to improve the welfare of all the communities in the country they first tend to cater for the welfare of the communities they come from developing those areas and distributing the remaining resources to the other areas. The remaining resources are usually not enough to cater for the needs or development of the other areas resulting to crop up of hatred between communities as they try to fight for the resources. This leads to tribalism and development of ethnic classes which is not healthy to the economy of the developing countries. Their approach of campaigning for the promotion of health with the inclusion of the community is not acceptable to the community like the mechanisms used by the corporations as the governments approaches tend to bring more harm to the community (United Nations Economic and Social Council et al., 2005).

            Educating the community on the awareness and benefits of health promotion is another strategy that the government uses. Though the initiative is  among the essential steps of promoting health the initiative have been received with criticism from the community as the funds set aside to cater for this provision are poorly managed crippling the health education plans. This is in contrast to the steps taken by the corporations in provision of health education to the community as they take the initiative of funding the process themselves. The efforts undertaken by the government in provision of human resources which are a key component in the process of promoting health is greatly harbored by the plans they have outlined to help them run the country. They do not promote good employment relationship and enough job opportunities to the available human resources thus contributing to the increased rate of brain drain of health workers, as they prefer to get out of the country and seek better employment opportunities that cater to their needs and respect their rights as employees.  The corporations takes the initiative of employing the available human resources in the education centers they set up and offer good employment relationship to the available human manpower by encouraging the recognition  and respect of their rights (Leonard, 2003).

            Most of the Kenyan government officials take their leadership to their advantage by privatizing most health care units and facilities that help to promote health care to commercialize them so as to gain money raised by these facilities, in the event the residents are exploited and their dilapidated lifestyle worsens. This is in contrast to the facilities organized by the corporations which are mainly non-profitable thus the services they provide are more beneficial than those provided by the government as they cater for the needs of a bigger population. Therefore the corporate initiatives greatly aid in the promotion of health in Kenya (United Nations Economic and Social Council et al., 2005).

            In contrast the government of Botswana has been the core component of improvement in the health delivery system of its country. Health care delivered by the Ministry of Health in Botswana is believed to be among the best health care delivery system in Africa as it is well organized and ensures the services it provides are equitably received. The nursing education curriculum in Botswana is well versed with up to date information and technology placing the health practitioners at a better position of dealing with the health issues that affects their country. The health care givers are also well distributed in the country to even reach the ill people in the grass root regions. Any problems pertaining health care and promotion are directed to the health administrators in the district level. The government has implemented national policies in regard to the Alma-Declaration that was formulated in 1978, as guidelines to the health care and promotion process in Botswana. The government plays a big part in involving the community in health promotion and any cultural hindrance that may occur are dealt with through culture breakage or culture re-patterning. The government has also enabled health clubs to be organized in the school levels where the students are taught on mechanisms of improving and maintaining health promotion. Specialized agencies that are formed by the government for example Botswana National Productivity Center (BNPC) hold regular training seminars that enable the community to be in a better position of promoting health. They also hold one week seminar annually to campaign for the awareness of the benefits that health promotion pertains. The recent health reform formulated by the Botswana government is Home Based Care (HBC) that caters for the welfare of the chronically ill patients especially the AIDS victims. Better ways of dealing with the after treatment services given to these patients at home are devised. The Ministry of Labor and Home Affairs has also taken the initiative of campaigning for health promotion by provision of health fitness information and equipments to the Botswana youths (Bomar, 2003).

Conclusion

            In a broad context the mechanisms implemented by corporate in the SSA countries are successful than those implemented by the government because, the corporate do thorough research and use the findings to improve and manage health care delivery system.  The corporate uses mechanisms that campaign for preventive health care issues, unlike the strategies devised by the government which rely on therapeutic and diagnostic mechanisms.  The plan that the corporate uses to improve health promotion is geared towards economic productivity while the plan used by the government is geared towards the social conditions of the community.

            To help eradicate the epidemic health condition that the SSA countries are facing the government and the corporations should work hand in hand to formulate policies that will help to implement mechanisms of promoting health. They should both work together to invest in the health sector thus enabling its development which will enhance the promotion of health. The government should use their leadership abilities to help in the process of equitably distributing the nation’s resources to the community to enable their welfare to develop and thus be in a better position of promoting health. More job employment that advocate for maintenance of good employment relationship should be created to curb the high rate of brain drain that is affecting the health sectors of the SSA countries. This will eventually help to improve the opportunities of health promotion and malnutrition cases in the countries. By promoting health the SSA countries will be able to accomplish their desires of development, as a healthy nation positively influences the development and economic status of a country (Edelman ; Mandle, 2005).

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