f_0020455_17217 - C NVERSATION There Are No Quick Fixes A...

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© 2010 World Policy Institute 41 C NVERSATION Dr. Sam Zaramba is chairman of the executive board of the World Health Organization ( WHO ) and served as the Director General of Health Services in Uganda. As an early advocate for in- tegrated disease control, Dr. Zaramba is credited with the success of the “Child Health Days Plus” campaign in Uganda, which included a deworm- ing program and vitamin distribution for chil- dren. He initiated several other public health re- lated projects including routine immunization, health and hygiene education, and distribution of insecticide soaked nets. Dr. Zaramba has also published a number of articles on neglected tropi- cal diseases, such as river blindness and sleeping sickness. Trained in Uganda as a physician, he retired from his post as the country’s top medical officer and now devotes much of his energy to the WHO , the United Nations agency overseeing its global health strategies. He spoke with World Policy Journal from Geneva, where the WHO has its headquarters. WORLD POLICY JOURNAL : You have an interesting take on international health, both from a global and African point of view. From this perspective, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the primary health emergencies facing the world today. DR. SAM ZARAMBA : There are the age-old challenges—tropical diseases like sleeping sickness and tuberculosis—that have been mostly eliminated in the first world, but continue to plague the develop- ing world. Such diseases have been particu- larly lethal, especially since the advent of newer viruses like HIV / AIDS , which have led to further health deterioration in at-risk populations. If you look at some African countries, particularly a country like Ugan- da, we have had the HIV / AIDS crisis alongside the Ebola epidemic—a combination of dis- eases we never imagined. WPJ : Do these problems need to be ad- dressed on a local level, country by country, or globally? ZARAMBA : There is no such thing as a solution that fits all countries. The approach to so many of the diseases we’ve talked about should be local. The health challenges facing Sub-Saharan Africa are not the same as those facing Southeast Asia, and often we try to provide quick fixes with input that ultimately overlooks the systems in place. Instead, we should be focused on the sys- tems themselves, assessing whether they are capable of managing whatever solutions are offered. This is where the global community is quite often mistaken. It is eager to pre- scribe solutions and imagine that they will apply universally, but this is not the case. WPJ : Hasthe WHO beeneffectivein build- ing competentlocalhealthcaresystems? There Are No Quick Fixes A Talk with Dr. Sam Zaramba
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42 WORLD POLICY JOURNAL • SUMMER 2010 ZARAMBA : The principles and guide- lines are very clear: the WHO aims to com- plement countries, while at the same time it doesn’t dictate what goes on there. On the other hand, WHO depends on contributions from the member countries and donors. I
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f_0020455_17217 - C NVERSATION There Are No Quick Fixes A...

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