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Africa is not charity

“Neither charity, pity nor prayer will change the material conditions that have been imposed on our people. Only by consolidating the dispersed African Nation in our struggle for self-determination and self-government will we ensure our collective safety as a people whether in Haiti, New Orleans, in the Continent of Africa or any other place African people are located….Although charity is the most popular and accepted way of dealing with the objective conditions in Africa and African communities around the world, it often demoralizes Africans, the recipients as well as other Africans who witness it. Furthermore, charity does nothing to transform the dismal reality of African people, and instead often works as a cover for the imperialist-imposed root cause of the symptom the charity attempts to address.” –  Dr. Aisha Fields, AAPDEP International Director

How many more Africans have to suffer before we decide to struggle for self-government?  How many more African Countries have to be destroyed before we decide it’s time to unite and take back our resources?  Well, Dr. Fields says it best in the above quote.

Join AAPDEP today and struggle for self-determination and self-government for All African People!

The United Nations’ refusal to accept responsibility for the devastating cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 9,000 lives in Haiti has been branded a “disgrace” by the organisation’s own human rights special rapporteur.

Human rights groups working with victims had reacted with jubilation earlier this year following the UN’s first tacit admission that it was to blame for the outbreak after doggedly refusing to address how its peacekeepers brought the disease to Haiti in 2010.

However, in a scathing report (pdf) to the UN general assembly, the organisation’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said that flawed and unfounded legal advice provided by the UN lawyers was preventing it from accepting responsibility for the outbreak.

“The UN’s explicit and unqualified denial of anything other than a moral responsibility is a disgrace,” Alston said. “If the United Nations bluntly refuses to hold itself accountable for human rights violations, it makes a mockery of its efforts to hold governments and others to account.”

Alston accused the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) for coming up with a “patently artificial and wholly unfounded legal pretence for insisting that the organisation must not take legal responsibility for what it has done”.

The criticism comes as the administration of the outgoing UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, is moving to provide compensation for the first time to victims of the outbreak. The UN plans to make cash payments from a proposed $400m (£328m) cholera response package, the New York Times reported.

Alston added that the OLA’s approach “has been cloaked in secrecy: there has been no satisfactory official explanation of the policy, no public attempt to justify it, and no known assessment of its consequences for future cases. This goes directly against the principles of accountability, transparency and the rule of law that the UN itself promotes globally.”

Peacekeepers who were relocated from Nepal to Haiti in 2010 in the wake of a major earthquake imported the deadly cholera bacterium with them. Studies have found that the UN troops could have been screened for the illness, and the disaster averted, for as little as $2,000.

Alston said the UN’s legal position appears to be largely explained by the approach of the US, the main contributor to the UN’s peacekeeping budget. “Despite numerous requests to do so, the United States itself has never publicly stated its legal position on the responsibility of the UN for causing cholera in Haiti,” he added.

“Instead, it seems to have pressed the UN to adopt the position frequently taken by lawyers in the US that responsibility should never be accepted voluntarily, since it could complicate future litigation. But this rationale is completely inapplicable to the UN, which enjoys absolute immunity from suit in national courts and whose reputation depends almost entirely on being seen to act with integrity.”

The special rapporteur said that the current stance of the UN’s lawyers ensures that it would never admit its responsibility for introducing cholera. “And avoiding legal responsibility hinders the UN from learning lessons and making sure that the fatal mistakes made in Haiti are not repeated elsewhere.”

Ban’s office said in a statement earlier this year that the organisation had decided to step up its efforts to fight cholera in one of the world’s poorest countries. A reference to the UN’s “involvement in the initial outbreak” was greeted as a breakthrough by groups working with cholera victims.

Ban appeared to have been bounced into making a clearer recognition of responsibility than ever before by the advent of a draft report by Alston into how the UN handled the crisis. Alston had also been one of five experts working for the UN who earlier this year wrote a heavily critical letter to Ban in which the secretary general’s resistance to accepting any responsibility was torn apart.

 

 

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Africans in Haiti and Everywhere Must Have the Black Ankh!

On Tuesday, October  4 2016, Hurricane Matthew, the strongest hurricane to hit the region in more than ten years, smashed into Haiti with 145 mile per hour winds and torrential rain.

Now, in the aftermath of the storm, the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis has been hard to take in.

More than 1,000 people are dead. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed. More than 1 million people are in need of food, water, medical treatment, shelter or some other form of humanitarian assistance.

Africans in Haiti, still reeling from the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated the island and took the lives of more than 220,000 people, are now bracing themselves to deal with a surge in cholera, a waterborne disease the people of Haiti have most recently been battling since 2010 when UN troops brought it to the island following the January earthquake.

The tragic scenes of this most recent crisis in Haiti that have been brought to our television screens, newspapers and computers are eerily reminiscent of the devastation Africans in the US experienced up close during and after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

In both Haiti and New Orleans, Africans lived in communities with poor infrastructure, leaving them unnecessarily vulnerable to storms and other natural disasters.

In New Orleans, the levees which should have held back waters from Lake Pontchartrain “collapsed because they were junk” according to an article in the Washington Post, creating the conditions for  the literal drowning of the majority African city.

Despite Haiti’s wealth of human and natural resources, its infrastructure is poor by any standard. Even prior to last week’s hurricane, many people lacked access to clean water, electricity, and medical facilities.  Only about one third have access to improved sanitation and many people live in slums with poorly constructed homes and roofs made of corrugated metal.

In both New Orleans and Haiti, the despair and helplessness of African people were on full display for the world to see, invoking pity and charity as a solution to the crises.

Organizations like the American Red Cross, which  brought in half a billion dollars in resources from the Haiti earthquake alone have been shown to be the worst kind of opportunists. In 2015 an NPR and ProPublica expose brought to the fore the fact that the organization built only six permanent homes in  Haiti with those resources.

The sad reality is that no matter where we find ourselves as African people, we are much more vulnerable to natural disasters than almost any other people. This is so because no matter where we have been forcibly dispersed, no matter the nationality of the president, governor or mayor, we are a colonially dominated people.

There is no government of our own working in our interests, making sure that our mineral, human and other resources are used to protect and defend us from our enemies or from a hurricane.

There is no government making sure that we produce nurses, doctors and medical facilities for our people. There is no government making sure that our engineers build strong bridges and buildings that can withstand what we know nature can sometimes throw our way or that we have sufficient and good sanitation and transportation systems and electrical grid.

Neither charity, pity nor prayer will change the material conditions that have been imposed on our people. Only by consolidating the dispersed African Nation in our struggle for self-determination and self-government will we ensure our collective safety as a people whether in Haiti, New Orleans, in the Continent of Africa or any other place African people are located.

This is the mission that has been set out by the African People’s Socialist Party which leads the Uhuru Movement.  This is the goal that must be struggled for and won.

As a part of the strategy to win our people into organization and unity with this mission, the All African People’s Development & Empowerment Project (AAPDEP) has an important mandate.

Established in 2007 in St. Petersburg, FL, AAPDEP promotes the understanding that Africans, no matter where we are located are one people who must contribute our energy, skills and resources toward overturning the conditions that have been imposed on us.

One of the most important features of AAPDEP that distinguish ours from other approaches is that we challenge African people to take responsibility for changing our material conditions and for building our collective future. We reject the concept of charity as a solution for our people.  Although charity is the most popular and accepted way of dealing with the objective conditions in Africa and African communities around the world, it often demoralizes Africans, the recipients as well as other Africans who witness it. Furthermore, charity does nothing to transform the dismal reality of African people, and instead often works as a cover for the imperialist-imposed root cause of the symptom the charity attempts to address.

AAPDEP branches and membership exist in several US cities including Houston, Texas, Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA and Huntsville, AL where our headquarters is located. In Africa itself, AAPDEP has one of our largest branches in Sierra Leone, West Africa and is actively seeking to organize branches everywhere African people are.

We have built African led maternity centers, trained hundreds of community health workers, built community rainwater harvesting systems, established community gardens and farms and built African Internationalist educational programs for both children and adults.

In 2014, AAPDEP established Project Black Ankh (PBA) as a response to the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa. Our forces in Sierra Leone provided food, water, medicines and counseling support to more than 40 survivors of Ebola and their families.

From the beginning, the vision for PBA has always been for it to become the African Nation’s emergency response organization. It would be OUR Red Cross. No more would Africans have to sit idly by watching as our people perish from one imperialist-imposed crisis after another.

No more would Africans have to join in the half-hearted efforts of others to save our people from flood waters, health care epidemics or other humanitarian crises. African people could be sure that our hard earned money would go where it was needed and not into the accounts and retirement funds of others living at our expense and off our misery.

In an effort to develop the economic infrastructure of AAPDEP which would provide the foundation for PBA and other important programs, we built Zenzele Consignment a clothing resale store which opened its doors in August of this year.    

In September of 2016, with the store opening behind us, AAPDEP began working to consolidate the leadership and initial plans for establishing Project Black Ankh as a permanent program of the AAPDEP Health Care Commission.  

As Hurricane Matthew loomed, and then later left its path of destruction in Haiti, AAPDEP leadership felt the painful criticism of our people’s lack of  National Response, as we have assumed for ourselves the responsibility of organizing our people for that purpose.

There is much to do. We are not where our people need us to be with the establishment of Project Black Ankh. Africans, however, are stepping up to contribute their skills and resources toward this effort.

An overall plan for mobilizing, training and deploying medical and other personnel through PBA is being consolidated along with the plan for African community-led funding.

AAPDEP plans to officially launch Project Black Ankh at our 2017 conference.

For now, we are calling on Africans in public health, African nurses, doctors and others who have experience in international emergency response or related skills to join AAPDEP at DevelopmentForAfrica.org and help us to forward our work to build Project Black Ankh.

We can and must have the ability to respond to African suffering anywhere in the world. While African Nationhood is the ultimate solution, the Black Ankh will be an important tool in the hands of the African masses, allowing us to step out of the helplessness that we experience today as we watch our people suffer needlessly, hoping that others will intervene on our behalf.

We must plan and work to make Project Black Ankh a powerful reality because as our beloved Marcus Garvey reminds us,“Chance has never yet satisfied the hope of a suffering people. Action, self-reliance, the vision of self and the future have been the only means by which the oppressed have seen and realized the light of their own freedom.”

Uhuru!

Join AAPDEP Today!

Build Project Black Ankh!

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info@developmentforafrica.org

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daniel conteh

White power to blame for devastation in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew

To those colonial and neocolonialist leaders, as well as parasitic organizations expressing concern for Africans in Haiti, we say “hands off of Haiti!” Hands off Haiti, hands off Africa and hands off Africans wherever we were forcefully displaced on this planet!

Free Haiti!  Join AAPDEP Today!

by Elikya Ngoma, African People’s Socialist Party

AYITI––Over 850 (and counting) Africans lost their lives to Hurricane Matthew—a category four hurricane with sustained winds of 145 mph—on Tuesday, October 4, 2016. Thousands are left homeless.

The hurricane hit Southern Haiti––“Le Sud”––one of Haiti’s ten departments. Cities in the South include Leogane, Petit-Goave, Jeremie and Les Cayes, all of which have been severely damaged by the raging waters. A key bridge in Ti Goave has been destroyed, keeping the most damages parts of southern Haiti isolated.

Prior to the hurricane, Port-au-Prince—the country’s capital—became a major safety concern. This is where the earthquake struck on January 12, 2010, killing hundreds of thousands of people, injuring at least 300,000 and leaving more than 1.5 million homeless.

Our pain, white power’s gain

When news first spread about the earthquake in 2010, people everywhere donated money to major charity organizations. The American Red Cross (ARC) and the Clinton Foundation were two of the organizations that received the most money, raising $500 million and over $30 million, respectively.

It was revealed that with half a billion dollars, the Red Cross only built six houses—if you can even call them that. The Clintons, on the other hand, pocketed the money and have no response to where the money has gone.

It has been six years since the earthquake and an estimated 55,000 Haitians are still living in tents. Disgustingly enough, both of these scamming organizations have asked for donations in response to Hurricane Matthew hitting Haiti.

Rightfully so, they received heavy backlash from various people on social media. It’s clear to us that they see these disasters as just another ‘come up.’ This is why we Africans in Haiti must be able to exercise our right to self-determination and self-reliance!

Haiti is not poor; it is being looted!

Whenever colonial media speaks about Haiti, the first thing they mention is that Haiti is “the poorest country in the western Hemisphere,” without ever acknowledging why that is.

Africans in Haiti are still paying for our victory as the first successful revolutionary liberation struggle of African or oppressed people, in the world. Defeating three European superpowers—the English, Spanish and the French—the Africans in Haiti stunned the world when we took freedom into our own hands.

Since then, Haiti was to be made an example of to all other Africans. Haiti was forced—by the U.S., Britain and France—to pay reparations to France for its loss of property. The property were the Africans themselves!

Haiti paid France $90 billion in today’s gold prices. The payments took 122 years, ending in 1947. Haiti’s Africans face attack after attack, placed on us by the U.S. and its allies, making it nearly impossible for economic growth.

Some of these include the sugar quota placed in the 1980s, being forced to drop the tariffs on imported subsidized U.S. rice—a move made by Bill Clinton—and being forced to keep the minimum wage at $.24 an hour instead of raising it to $.61 an hour by Hillary Clinton in 2009.

Colonialism at fault!

Hurricane Matthew alone is not what took many African lives; the lack of proper infrastructure also played a major role. Many of the Africans are living in slums, in shack houses with corrugated pieces of metal as roofs.

Deforestation and the lack of a natural defense against aggressive weather is another thing that caused so many lives to be taken. Haitian farmers are cutting down trees to turn into charcoal to sell and raise resources, because of the various agricultural policies placed on us by imperialist powers to keep the economy from flourishing.

To those colonial and neocolonialist leaders, as well as parasitic organizations expressing concern for Africans in Haiti, we say “hands off of Haiti!” Hands off Haiti, hands off Africa and hands off Africans wherever we were forcefully displaced on this planet!

We call on all Africans to join the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP), today! We Africans must be able to build to prepare for and protect ourselves against any natural disasters.

AAPDEP’s mission is “to collectivize the vast skills of Africans around the world in order to establish community-based development projects that improve the quality of life for African people everywhere while promoting self-reliance and self-determination as key to genuine,sustainable development.”

Donate to AAPDEP’s Black Ankh Project at www.DevelopmentForAfrica.org!

Uhuru!

Free Haiti!

Join AAPDEP

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Meet Daniel Conteh, AAPDEP’s New National Director for Sierra Leone

On Sunday, August 9th, Daniel Conteh was appointed AAPDEP’s Sierra Leone National Director, a position which places him on the International Executive Committee.

Danielobtained his Teaching Certificate in 2000 from the Freetown Teacher’s College and earned his Higher Teacher Certificate Secondary with a specialization in Agriculture and Community Development in 2007.

In 2008 he pursued a degree at the Evangelical College of Theology in Community Development Studies and graduated in 2011.

Danielhas been instrumental in developing and carrying out AAPDEP’s most recent programs in the country including our Ebola initiative, Project Black Ankh (PBA).

As a part of PBA, Daniel helped to train more than 40 community health workers in the prevention of Ebola Virus Disease and in psychosocial counseling methods.

Daniel recognizes his responsibility to organize the masses of African people in Sierra Leone and around the world and works hard to promote AAPDEP as a vehicle through which Africans can collectivize our skills and resources for African self-reliance and self-determination.

We salute Daniel for his hard work and dedication to the development of Africa and African communities around the world and look forward to his continued contribution to AAPDEP’s success.

Be like Daniel! Contribute your skills to making a better world for African people.

JOIN AAPDEP TODAY!

Project Black Ankh Takes to the Streets

SIERRA LEONE: The following is a Project Black Ankh: Ebola Response in Sierra Leone, update from AAPDEP forces.  It describes the community outreach and sensitization programs initiated by AAPDEP as a way to educate communities about some of the real threats of this disease.  This involved radio and street outreach.

March 26-April 26: Radio Sensitization

Two radio stations were targeted, African Young Voices Radio (AYV) and Star Radio because of their wider courage in Sierra Leone.

Key messages in the jingles includes prevention from Ebola and fight against stigmatization of Ebola survivors:

  • Ebola is real and have killed many thousands of people.
  • Avoid eating bush meat
  • Avoid touching dead bodies
  • Avoid coming in contact with people who become sick with Ebola
  • Call 117 for medical team immediately you experience high fever and other systems
  • Always wash hands with soap and clean water
  • Support Ebola survivors
  •  Don’t discriminate against them

“This message is brought to you from All African Empowerment and Development Project (AAPDEP) who have lunched project Ankh to fight against Ebola disease in Sierra Leone.”

The jingles were aired for a period of one month from 26th March – 26th April 2015 in those two radio stations as a sensitization campaign.

 

Stores Performance

 

April 1, 2015: Community Drama

  1. Community Drama is through street by street sensitization using comedians for counseling and passing on the message to those communities.
    • This process is completed and was done for week in targeted communities especially in market places, packs etc.
    •  The Community Drama was also geared towards the fight against stigmatization and prevention from Ebola and raising awareness.
  2.   The Sierra Leone government launched a three day stay at home mandate. We therefore saw the need to fully participate as community volunteers in sensitization. We were able to mobilize five members who participated in the house to house Ebola zero sensitization although there were challenges in meeting this objective. Members have to walk on foot to cover areas of responsibilities. But we knew this work must be done, so we stayed the course.

PBA: Community Training in Sierra Leone

SIERRA LEONE:  In February 2015 AAPDEP medical personnel trained forty Sierra Leoneans in the prevention of EVD and various outreach and counseling methods as preparation for its community outreach campaign working to spread the message of respect and positive reintegration of EVD affected community members.

With Phase II now in full swing, AAPDEP is focusing on distributing food, medical supplies for affected families as well as accessing media to conduct public education around Ebola in the Allentown and Lungi communities. Thanks to your donations so far.

In the coming months, AAPDEP plans to organize EVD survivors into our already established community farming, educational and economic development programs as part of its long-term approach to tackling the challenges they face.

The ongoing success of this project will be helped greatly by the plans that AAPDEP has to open Zenzele Consignment Boutique in August 2015, which will serve to fund this and other projects of AAPDEP. This institution will embody AAPDEP’s self-reliance, imperative for developing African communities around the world.


Testimony From Training – Angella Bangura

pba1

My name is Angella M. Bangura, I was one of the participants that attended the Ebola workshop as a member of AAPDEP. The workshop started at 12:00pm and ended at 5:30pm. During the period I learned a lot about this deadly virus, Ebola. There were facilitators that taught us about the  following

  1. The History of Ebola
  2. How it is spread
  3. How to prevent the virus
  4. Psychosocial counseling

We were divided into three groups and they are A, B, and C group A which was Omali group, group B which is Biko and group C which was Marcus Garvey. I was fortunate to be in Biko group, in our group we were seven (7) in number, this groupings was done in order for us to work as a team and after any session one facilitator asked us to write on the topic taught and to select one person in the group to make a presentation.

The workshop really helped me a lot, because it has expanded my thinking about Ebola and it also makes me understand how to protect myself and my community as a whole.

Uhuru!!

We’ve already collected over $4500 and now that we’re in Phase II we will need to raise $9500  which will help to complete this Phase and transition into Phases III and IV.of this project.

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Black Women: Stress, Its Effects, and Our Response to It

This is Part II of the series examining the health concerns of African women over age forty. Last time, our discussion highlighted the top five maladies affecting this group, with the intent to review the causes and most common therapeutic approach(es) for each.

Finally, we will become managers of our own wellness by retaining what is most useful from Western medical practice, and then seek best practices from what is referred to as alternative, natural or holistic medicine. Because my education and training is informed by a Western/allopathic tradition, I will seek credible information from practitioners of alternative health care systems. Hopefully it will provide insight for all.

The medical definition of stress is:

“…an organism’s total response to environmental demands or pressures.”

In humans, it results from interactions between persons and their environment that are perceived as straining or exceeding their adaptive capacities and threatening their well-being.

Risk factors for stress- related illness are a mix of personal, interpersonal and social; including lack or loss of control over one’s physical environment, or lack or loss of social support networks.

People who are dependent on others (e.g., children or the elderly) or who are socially disadvantaged because of race, gender, [or] educational level, are at greater risk of developing stress-related illnesses.

While the emphasis is mine, the intent is to focus on what some health providers believe is the origin of many health problems in the American African community.

Consider Africans in America as a people under siege (both observed and/or experienced); beset by low wages, low income, police harassment and violence, crime, violence, underperforming schools, with their quality of life devalued and undermined worldwide.

The impact of stress on African women is observed in subtle ways and in the usual places: hospital emergency rooms. Hypertension and cardiac ailments affect American black women twice as much as any population in this country; obesity from stress overeating claims many, while drugs and alcohol become the de facto means of treatment.

Many black women subscribe to the myth of the “Super Woman”, feeling obligated to solitarily manage a crisis and provide others a safe bridge, (over her very back if necessary!); all the while ignoring her own needs. Under colonialism it is almost a luxury for African women to consider our own health because our role as caregivers and nurturers, to others, is often seen as the primary responsibility. As an African woman, mother, grandmother, wife and professional, I have experienced this. This behavior, however, leaves one exhausted, angry, confused, depleted, more unwell and more stressed.

The Physiology of Stress

chart of physiology

When discussing the psychic and emotional toll of stress, remember that the body operates in a complex, integrated way. The condition of the body operating in balance and harmony is called homeostasis and represents the normal state of a smoothly operating organism. The external conditions faced by Africans deliver stressors creating a negative impact on heart rate, blood pressure, and as ingesting a toxic substance, moves the body away from homeostasis.

Above is a schematic diagram of your body*2, showing the effects that the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) has on selected organs. The ANS is a subdivision of the entire working nervous system. We move muscles voluntarily, as one part of the function of our central or peripheral nervous systems, but we have no conscious control of the ANS-it is autonomic or automatic in its response. It has two divisions: the PNS or Parasympathic Nervous System, managing the body during times of rest and relaxation. Food is digested, energy stored, breathing and heart rate is slow and steady. The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), releases chemicals under stressful and dangerous conditions. You may have heard it referred to as the “fight or flight” response. Hear noise in the night? This system stimulates some organs to slow down, re-route blood supply and send it to the large leg muscles so you can run away, or if trapped in a corner, the rush of energy required to mount resistance-to fight. Heart rate is elevated, pupils dilate, lungs are available to breath more air; the very hairs on your body are at attention (goose bumps/ gooseflesh). You become alert and attentive as the brain responds to increased blood flow. The chemical epinephrine, commonly known as adrenaline, stimulates this cellular response. In the short term, an adrenaline surge is invaluable when facing some challenges. It may mean the difference between survival and death.

Imagine, however, a constant influx of this chemical and its effect on your body. Ask what effect an overdose of amphetamines might have? (As most amphetamines are synthetic versions of adrenaline). A body facing such conditions experiences constant stimulation. In addition to the release of adrenaline, another hormone, cortisol, is released. It too, is helpful short term, but acts to suppress functions not required during times of stress- including cellular repair, energy storage, and digestion. The longer-term effects of a continuous surge of cortisol are so damaging that they eventually have a crippling effect on the body.

Consequences include exhaustion, impaired judgment, hyper vigilance (leading to exhaustion and impaired judgment!), glucose intolerance, (precursor to diabetes); fat and sugar overload and ultimate mismanagement (leading to obesity, diabetes and heart disorder); an over stimulated cardiovascular (CV) system correlates to stiffening of the arterial system, and plaque build-up along arterial walls. The stomach lining is damaged due to slow cellular turnover, allowing for ulceration, as protection from stomach acids is no longer present.

Too much cortisol impacts memory and affects behavior negatively. After observing many of the stressors confronting African women in this country, it is miraculous that they retain function at all!

Conclusion- Finding Competent Self-Management of Stress

We have reviewed some effects of stress on the human body. Not all stress is harmful. Humans require small amounts of stress (eustress) to remain motivated and develop life skills for survival.

African women in midlife are often in positions of leadership in our places of worship, community organizations or the workplace. We provide advice and mentoring to our sons, daughters and extended family members who are taking on their roles. It is essential that we learn, while operating under the system of global capitalism, to effectively manage our own health and well being in the face of an often indifferent, inaccessible or hostile health care system. But ultimately the goal must be to destroy parasitic capitalism so that we can live better and healthier lives. The African Nation is faced with disparaging health outcomes all over the world and we must understand that if it were not for colonialism (direct foreign control over our lives) we would be able to develop cures for living and not for profit and have better health management systems.

In future discussions, we will discuss what this looks like. Meanwhile, I refer interested readers to a primer for African women in midlife; Prime Time: The African American Woman’s Complete Guide To Midlife and Wellness, by Marilyn Hughes Gaston, M.D., and Gayle K. Porter, Psy.D.

There is no substitution for preparation, and from this point onward, we begin the task. Review what Drs. Gaston and Porter have to say. And remember: the goal is to live the remainder of our lives in as healthy, productive and creative a manner possible. That act is the most revolutionary thing we can do.

 

Michelle Strongfields, MD, is Director and Founder of IAMM Science Education Group, devoted to insuring the increased representations of youth of color in the sciences. She has more than 30 years experience as an educator, physician and advocate of quality health care and the elimination of health disparity. She has trained and worked in the U.S., Cuba, South America, Africa and throughout the Caribbean. She is a professor of Anatomy and Physiology, a community health advocate and health consultant. She is a longtime associate of the Philadelphia Black Women’s Health Alliance and the National Black Women’s Health Imperative, and an active participant in the Imperative’s longitudinal study of Black women’s health in the United States. She has lead the training of community health workers in the U.S. and abroad, and is associated with the Health Committee of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Program (AAPDEP), led by her daughter, Dr. Aisha Fields, PhD. A wife, proud mother of four and grandmother of five, Dr. Strongfields believes that good physical, mental and spiritual health is a divine human right.

Better Health for African Women is a Human Right!

PHILADELPHA–This blog is the first in a series of blogs, in which I will be sharing some of the challenges facing African women over age 40. We will discuss leading health issues, including the top five causes of death and disability, their causes, impact on quality of life, and an exploration of solutions, with much emphasis on self-care and self-healing.

The discussions come from both a professional and personal perspective, as I am an African mother and grandmother, physician and health educator in midlife. I am currently, or have recently, confronted some of these very same health challenges.

Why examine the health concerns of women over 40? It is in midlife when African women get diagnosed with many of the more serious and debilitating health problems. Our well-being as a demographic is crucial because African women at this stage of our lives are at our peak emotionally, maturationally, and professionally.

We are vital to the functioning of our communities. As mothers, teachers, activists and leaders, our presence and well-being are essential.

It is both strategic and sensible to improve the health of this group because doing so corresponds to better outcomes for others in their sphere of influence. Once Grandmother is on the road to better health, she’s going to improve the conditions of those around her, for example: her children and grandchildren. The result is a positive impact that is multigenerational.

Health Disparities

The National Institute of Health defines health disparities as “… gaps in the quality of health and health care that mirror differences in socioeconomic status, racial and ethnic background, and education level.”

While Africans in general suffer from the same health problems as the rest of the population of the United States, the issue of disparity becomes crystal clear when comparing the disproportionate numbers of us who suffer and how we more frequently end with negative outcomes.

Consider how world capitalism stacks the deck so that inequities inherent in this system produce the most damaging results to Africans and other colonized peoples. We see clearly how health disparity is manifested through overall bad health, poor quality of life and early death.

Top five health challenges for Africans and women over 40

In 2011, the average American could expect to live 78.7 years, while the average African in America could only expect to live 75.3 years, compared with 78.8 years for the average white American.

African women have higher rates of many illnesses, and by age 40, struggle disproportionately with diseases like hypertension, breast and other cancers, diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease and lupus.

We identify the top five most pervasive diseases that plague African women in the United States:

1. Cancers
In African women, the most common cancers are breast (34 percent) and lung (13 percent).

Africans in the United States continue to be less likely than whites to survive five years at each stage of diagnosis for most cancer sites. “Much of the difference in survival is believed to be due to barriers that prevent timely and high-quality medical care, including lack of education and economic disparities, which results in later stage diagnosis.”

2. Heart Disease
Heart disease is the second leading cause of death for African women over 40; nearly twice as many die from heart disease each year as white women; 46 percent suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease.

3. HIV/AIDS
African women are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS and by 2012 it was considered a leading cause of death for African women. The rate of new HIV infections among African women in the U.S. is 15 times that of white women, and over three times the rate among Latina women.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 32 African women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with HIV in her lifetime!

4. Diabetes and Hypertension
3.7 million (14.7 percent) of all Africans in the U.S. aged 30 or older have diabetes and are 1.5 times more likely to contract diabetes than whites. We also develop high blood pressure more often, and at an earlier age, than other ethnic groups. More than 45 percent of black women live with the condition. Research has shown that 85 percent of medical visits by black women are due to high blood pressure.7

5. Adult Obesity
Africans in the U.S., particularly females over 40, have the highest rates of obesity in this country. There is a 51 percent higher prevalence of obesity compared with whites. 53 percent of black women and 36 percent of black men are obese!

Begin to overturn these conditions

There must be a better understanding of the causes of these illnesses and the determinants of good health. After reviewing these statistics it’s clear how the advent of capitalism impacts African people within U.S. borders.

The health of our people has been in jeopardy since we were first taken from the African continent and dispersed around the world. We must recognize that the conditions of Africans within the US is part and parcel of the health inequalities that exist for African people all over the world; which is a result of our reality as colonized peoples.

In the coming issues, we will examine those illnesses that are preventable. We will then discuss some disease attributable to genetics or environmental causes and determine what we can do to improve our outcomes. Finally, we will invite the readers to join in when we discuss “Western” and “non-Western” approaches to health and wellness.

Ultimately, our objective is to become agents of our own wellness. Doing so means involvement in every aspect of your health: the physical, mental and spiritual.
It is your responsibility if you’re serious about improving the health of our people. It begins with you!
Stay tuned…

Michelle Strongfields, MD, is Director and Founder of IAMM Science Education Group, devoted to insuring the increased representations of youth of color in the sciences. She has more than 30 years experience as an educator, physician and advocate of quality health care and the elimination of health disparity. She has trained and worked in the U.S., Cuba, South America, Africa and throughout the Caribbean. She is a professor of Anatomy and Physiology, a community health advocate and health consultant. She is a longtime associate of the Philadelphia Black Women’s Health Alliance and the National Black Women’s Health Imperative, and an active participant in the Imperative’s longitudinal study of Black women’s health in the United States. She has lead the training of community health workers in the U.S. and abroad, and is associated with the Health Committee of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Program (AAPDEP), led by her daughter, Dr. Aisha Fields, PhD. A wife, proud mother of four and grandmother of five, Dr. Strongfields believes that good physical, mental and spiritual health is a divine human right.

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