Public Health Efforts in the Developing World Face Serious Challenges

Background Information from Cecilia Ibru and the Michael and Cecilia Foundation

High-quality health care in the developed world generally is far more readily available than in developing countries. The level of funding and infrastructure to support a widespread public health system varies significantly from country to country, even within the same region. Countries that lack adequate infrastructure suffer disproportionally from disease, malnutrition, and other public health crises.

The recent global economic slowdown translated into far fewer resources available to developing nations to supply health care for their people. Heads of state from nations across Africa have met to set goals for increasing support for public health programs, yet endemic poverty and increasing health-care needs have outstripped available funding. South Africa, for example, recently budgeted more than 9 percent of public funds for health care, but it has not been enough to assist all of the country’s more than 5 million people living with HIV/AIDS.

Nigeria is one of many sub-Saharan African nations facing significant health care challenges in the second decade of the 21st century. Poverty, and the associated lowered access to medical care and stable, sanitary sources of food and water, is a leading cause of disease in the region.

Improving health care is one of the goals of Cecilia Ibru and the foundation she co-founded, which also strives to bring education and employment opportunities to underserved populations throughout her home country of Nigeria. Officials with the foundation hope that the organization’s creation of a university and support for a variety of agribusiness and health care programs will be replicated in other nations throughout the world.