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The World in Medicine
October 13, 1999

Making a Difference in Africa

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JAMA. 1999;282(14):1322. doi:10.1001/jama.282.14.1322

The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has pledged to focus attention on improved use of scarce resources in combating Africa's considerable health problems.

"In order to make a difference to global health, WHO must make a difference in Africa," Gro Harlem Brundtland, MD, MPH, told health ministers and others during a WHO regional committee meeting that concluded last month in Namibia.

Brundtland said WHO's "unshakable" commitment to fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa includes efforts to make the blood supply safe and prevent vertical transmission, and trying to make antiretroviral drugs available to as many people as possible. She estimated that in some southern African nations, AIDS has cut life expectancy by as much as 10 to 15 years.