Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Healthier Africa for African development

Health is very crucial for development achievements. Indeed, development is a people-achieved action and in the event poor health conditions prevail, development is threatened.

Malaria and HIV-AIDS are the main reasons for health related deaths in the world, reports the World Health Organization. Despite the fact that malaria can be prevented and treated, it kills more than 1 million people in the world and mostly in Africa. The equatorial and tropical zones, with intense rains are the most favorable environments for the vectors of malaria, known as anopheles. These mosquitoes (anopheles) transmit the disease by a simple bite.

Since two years and half that I have been living in South Africa, I never suffered from malaria despite my several trips back home to Kinshasa (DRC). I use to take measure such as preventive pills before and after traveling. My father, a medical doctor, always make sure that I do that. South Africa is not the ideal place to talk of malaria. Most South African regions are malaria free, except some few areas, thus the disease might not be given same amount of attention compared to central Africa where I come from.

In response to the ravages malaria causes to the humanity, some years back, the WHO has launched the global malaria programme, which is responsible for malaria policy and strategy formulation, as well as operations support, capacity development, and coordinated action to fight malaria. Beside that, other UN agencies such as the UNICEF also have their own frameworks to implements strategies and programmes against malaria. All these strategies plan to meet the Millennium Development Goal 6 (MDG), which aims at combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Unfortunately, limited use of available research, poor monitoring and evaluation in some regions make any fight against malaria not effective as wished. Since 2001 for instance, the WHO demanded countries to change their strategies and switch to the ‘artemisinin-based combination therapies’ (ACTs), which combines some drugs together and better fight the disease. Despite such a requirement and a huge boost in health aid, many governments have not done better five years later.

Yesterday, the world joined Africa to celebrate its 6th malaria day which focused on how to provide universal access to artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) and call for these treatments to reach those who need them as quickly as possible. We all hope that this issue will be given enough attention at global and national levels, mostly in countries that are most concerned. Otherwise we cannot make development happen!

Monday, April 24, 2006

ARVs or Ubejane: silence from the government and dilemma for patients!

The effects of the HIV/Aids pandemic are so devastating that institutions, countries and people have to reconsider their behavior. On the last development, Vatican announces that the Catholic Church is about to publish a statement reconsidering its view on condom use .

Back to South Africa, the HIV-Aids debate over the past few weeks is mostly dominated by Zuma’s statement on his post sex shower for reducing risks of HIV infection and the microbicide conference in Durban.

The silence from the ministry of Health on Zuma’s declaration has surprised both local and international communities, throwing a mixed sentiment of confusion and interrogations in the public.

Over that realm, masses are subject to a very difficult test of choosing between a proven cure of ARVs and a non-toxic mixture of herbs (ubejane).

Bringing the debate on the media, guests of SABC3 Nikiwe had two contradicting views on interface last Sunday:

  • ARVs is not accessible to the majority of South Africans, let’s try the last no-toxic recipe from traditional medicine;
  • Proven cure can’t just be replaced by alternative solution that has not yet been tested to provide same or better results.

Besides the proven non-toxicity of Ubajane, advocates of the first viewpoint back their arguments with some cases of people feeling better. Leaving that aside, they also raise the old debate of western versus African medicine. Their argument: given that the majority of South African consults traditional healers who are now providing a cheaper but efficient solution, why don’t we delve into such an alternative?

I love Africa and home-based solutions, but I think this is too risky. Ubajane’s prescriber says he has no proof that his medication is efficient when associated with ARVs, patients have to choose between the two.

Proving non-toxicity or ability to increase appetite is not enough, information from the Medical University of South Africa says Ubajane does not heal HIV/Aids . However, this is a room for further researches such as the possibility of association of traditional medicine with other western solutions.

This is exactly what a government is supposed to do. Seemingly, the SA health department decides to keep quite. The official from the Department of Health decided to decline the invitation at interface last Sunday on SABC.

On the other hand, western medicine is not left behind. The microbicide
conference in Cape Town is going to expose on advancements made to reduce risks of contamination from HIV/aids.

As a result, despite major achievements that both western and traditional medicine can provide, the HIV/Aids situation in South Africa is likely to get worse as the government decides to entertain confusion!

Friday, April 14, 2006

I am back to blogging!

My blogging activities on the past two weeks were very uneven and slow. I kept on pondering on how to be blogging as long as technology would allow me. This question came to me when I closely questioned the WOW 2006 team and individual blogging. Most of our blog posts consist of the presentations we listened to. Not bad. That was what we have been most exposed to.

But, I felt like trapped: what am I going to blog about after these presentations will be over?

I allowed my self a moment of thought. During that time, I have been reading some other blogs to get a better grasp of the blogosphere.

Another concern I had was about the theming of the teamblog. I am not against the idea of being guided by a theme, but at certain times I feel like writing pieces of university essays. I like change and I always go green. Having been studying development since my first year at university, when preparing a post for the teamblog, I felt like writing assignments. I have certain stuff that I never dared to post. It looks like writing assignments again and again. That is the very reason, whenever I have to post on the teamblog on the theme of African development; I try my best to link it to news or any other topic. Moreover, I avoid making it as formal as an assignment given that there are so many books, websites, experts, journals, etc that address the topic better than I do. Hold on, I am not underestimating my self. I was a very good student.

Thus, I try to find the right balance between the scientific requirement of the theme and whatever I want to share. I felt encouraged in this approach when I read John T hunger’s blog, comments left in Roy's blog, Kawasaki's, Seth, Microsoft Geek blogger, especially this one.

I learnt a lot from other bloggers and mostly that blogging is a way of socializing, sharing your experiences, making friends (the post on Naked conversations is a good case of socializing through bloggs). That does not exclude purely professional blogs. Where one decides to write on what he knows the best, Kasawasaki is an illustration. There are political blogs, journalists’ blogs, etc. Since life is all about choices, I chose to blog for socializing and build up professionalism in the process.

Memorial days

When I was still attending high school, History and geography were not among my favorite subjects though I was doing well. Later on, I became quite familiar with memorial dates. However, I never memorized a third of them.

It all started when in 2001 I was the SRC Chairperson in my university, Facultés Catholiques de Kinshasa. One of the innovations my term brought was to run at least twice a month, one conference on an international event or world memorial days. Since then, I have been closely watching events such as world water day, world tree day, world health day, etc.

The month of April for instance, reminds us about some very important world day celebrations:
v The World Health Day: 7th
v The World Parkinson Day, 11th ,
v On the 17th , we celebrate the World Prayers Day, world Peasant Struggles Day as well Hemophilia Day,
v And many others,

For today the 14th, my record shows me no great celebrations. However, some events that coincidently happened in this very same date are worth to be remembered. They are religious, political, and social tragic or joyful events:

v 1191 Consecration of pope Celestin III;
v 1865 American president, Abraham Lincoln, wounded on an attempt of coup. He died on the following day;
v 1907 an earthquake destroys a area within the city of Acapulco in Mexico;
v 1907 François Duvalier, "Papa Doc", self proclaimed president of Haiti and ruled for life,
v 1912 the Titanic hurt an iceberg, few hours later it was tragic, 1 513 dead;
v 1942 birth of Valeri Brumel, an athlete, Olympic champion who won the high jump in 1964 and break the record 6 consecutive times;
v 1945 Canadians soldiers arrive to the city of Arnhem and liberate the Netherlands;
v 1945 Americans bombard Tokyo and the King Palace.
v 1972 South Africa is excluded from the Davis Cup because of Apartheid.
v 1986 the famous French female philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir died;
v 2002 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is back to power after a failed attempt of coup by de Pedro Carmona;
v 2005, I, Cyrille graduated for my postgraduate diploma in Social welfare at Wits;

Look at how the very same day brings either happiness or catastrophes. That’s life!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Responding to my career expectations

I carried a worry for the first two weeks of the WOW training ( since most of the presenters were talking of very informative things but no specific connection with my career expectations. They were all good and I learnt a lot, then I asked my self, how useful is this going to be if I do not get an intern position after the training?

At the beginning of the third week, Jean Power asked us to give an overall assessment of the programme so far. One of the things we asked was that some of us have not yet heard from organizations they were interested in for a career. All we have heard that far was quite good and related to development in a sense. But for people like me, working within a multicultural and multitasks development organization has always been a target. The programme reacted very quickly. Thank you Jean and Lesley. I felt so satisfied when some guests addressed us on behalf of Independent Develop,ment Trust-IDT (, CIVICUS (, Environmental Resources Management-ERM (, and Social Surveys (

Having studied development since my undergrad, there is nothing exciting than interacting with people from various backgrounds. The issue however, is that development studies are multidisciplinary, it touches at economics, sociology, almost everything and sometimes you feel lost, immersed, not focused, even confused, that’s the beauty of it.

When some speakers started talking of empowerment, poverty alleviation, policy analysis, people’s participation, etc, it started stirring up my passion and I reach the peak of my joy. The three organizations I named above on are exactly the sort of environment I want to see my self in. Mostly, grown up in a French-speaking environment, cultural diversity is something I always look at for my career choice. By culture diversity I go beyond language environment and I see the richness that combines different origins, backgrounds, knowledge, and lifestyles. Thank you very much to Audrey, Barkers, Lorenzo, Libby, Mpumi, Tshepo, Bangani, Mkise and Gadija.

But, on the other hand, I intend not to work for more than fifteen years; I wont cope with that routine. I do not want to offend potential employers, but I am trying to be true soul. For that reason, I am going to retire and concentrate on my own business, especially the mining one in the DRC. I am going to get some advices from Marius Venter (Open For Business) and Endeavour ( Some courses I did with UNISA have already prepared me to that, moreover, my EQ (entrepreneurial intelligence) is high enough. There again, I will work for while and end up in politics. All the knowledge and experience I would have accumulated will be useful to contribute to the development of the DRC. Remember, change is constant, go green from time to time.