“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Good health is something that many of us take for granted. However, huge numbers of people across the world are unable to realise their potential due to a lack of good health and well-being. The effects of this are devastating. Although the latest medical research and technology will no doubt play a role in improving global health, the simple yet effective step of educating people about their health cannot be underestimated. I was lucky enough to be involved in delivering African Impact’s health awareness education project. This project allows people to be proactive about their own health, and in doing so empowers the community to take control of its future.
Global Goal 3 is focused on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. The goal encompasses a wide range of ambitious targets, including the reduction of maternal, neonate and under-5 mortality, ending the AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics, achieving universal health coverage, reducing road traffic accidents and substance abuse and ensuring global access to sexual health and reproductive services. The full list can be found at www.globalgoals.org/global-goals/good-health. Tanzania is a developing country and its people have a huge amount to gain from the realisation of Global Goal 3. For example, nearly one in 20 children born in Tanzania will not survive until their fifth birthday (Source: World Bank).
Education is a hugely powerful tool for health. African Impact facilitates a health awareness education project with the Tumaini women’s group in Moshi, Tanzania. This project aims to help these women to understand the health challenges that they and their families are facing, and to provide them with ways in which they can improve their well-being. Health issues that have been discussed at these sessions include diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and menstruation.
Access to healthcare is improving in Tanzania, but many people still cannot access care or do so too late. This is where health education becomes even more important. Providing people with knowledge to prevent and manage health problems is a very efficient way to reduce the burden of poor health on communities. For example, the cost of educating one person on how to prevent HIV infection is vastly less than that of treating an HIV positive person for the rest of their life. This is also a highly sustainable measure, as that person is likely to pass the message on to others. Enabling communities to help themselves work towards better health and well-being through education is very simple yet empowering, and is an important part of achieving Global Goal 3.
While I was volunteering with African Impact in Moshi, I prepared and delivered a session for the Tumaini Women’s Group about diabetes. Diabetes is prevalent in Tanzania and is predicted to increase at an alarming rate in the coming decades. It was truly enlightening for me to discuss this issue with the women there. They were so eager to learn about how they could help their families to develop healthier lifestyles to reduce the burden of disease. We shared ideas about why diabetes is becoming such a big problem in Tanzania, and most importantly what we can all do to prevent it.
It was a humbling experience to be able to share what I understood with a group of women who were so determined to take their futures, and those of their community, into their own hands. We didn’t need fancy equipment; just a tarpaulin to sit on, plenty of cups of coffee and some hand written notes to potentially change the course of someone’s life, and in a very small yet significant way, the course of the world.
I realised that although there are inherent challenges in combating disease in a developing country like Tanzania, if enough people get on board and become proactive about their health, Global Goal 3 doesn’t seem so daunting.
To join the team in Moshi, Tanzania, visit the Program Page