BOOK REVIEW | Epidemics and the Health of African Nations


By the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA)

Edited by Zamanzima Mazibuko

Epidemics and the Health of African Nations, explores Africa’s vulnerability to disease, and demonstrates that this disease occurs commonly because of political and economic influences. These factors also determine the way epidemics are managed and controlled.

News footage of epidemics and disease in Africa is a familiar sight. Yet these outbreaks are often presented without reference to the preceding events and conditions that have triggered them.

Authors extract lessons from case studies in different parts of Africa; challenge conventional frameworks about disease to argue for a multi-faceted ‘syndemics’ approach that takes account of the interrelationship between disease and political and socioeconomic contexts; examine the factors affecting the efficacy of frontline healthcare workers and point to the diseases and health challenges of Africa’s future.

Building strong health systems across Africa

A key argument is that a well-functioning health system is at the core of a country’s capacity to provide quality healthcare to counter an epidemic.

Authors argue that it would be more productive to mobilise resources to build strong health systems across Africa than to mobilise international resources in a panicked response to an outbreak. Alongside this, a case is made for the equally important need to address the structural drivers of vulnerability to diseases.

It is futile to treat patients who will return home to poor nutrition and inadequate water services that will expose them again to disease.

This volume brings African experts together to probe possible solutions to the continent’s heavy burden of disease. The recurring themes in this book and the insights extracted from individual case studies will be helpful in devising policy for the control of disease and the combating of epidemics in Africa.

About the author

The Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) was founded by a group of South Africans with experience in research, academia, policy-making and governance who saw the need to create a platform of engagement around strategic issues facing South Africa.

It is an Institute that combines research and academic development, strategic reflection and intellectual discourse. It applies itself to issues such as economics, sociology, history, arts and culture and the logics of natural sciences.

About the editor

Zamanzima Mazibuko is a senior researcher in the Knowledge Economy and Scientific Advancement Faculty at MISTRA. She is a Wits university alumni and holds a BSc degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and a BSc honours in Pharmacology.

She obtained her MSc (Med) in Pharmaceutics cum laude and has published on nano-enabled drug delivery technologies in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. She has a patent filed with Wits Enterprise for a nano-enabled drug delivery system designed and formulated for her master’s degree.

Zamanzima’s current research interests are on the low-carbon economy; beneficiation of strategic minerals in South Africa, particularly platinum group metals; nanomedicine; and epidemics and health systems in Africa.


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