Friday, January 4, 2008

Anarcho-Syndicalist Strategy For Africa: Health Councils


Senegal is a country located in western Africa. It's population numbers over 11 million, with 70% living in rural areas. Approximately 54% of all Senegalese households live below the poverty line. Thus, similar to most Sub-Saharan countries in Africa, Senegal suffers from numerous health problems typically associated with severe poverty.

Poverty, and various health problems, follow the same geographical distribution and reach high points in rural areas. This is due to the fact that the poorest live in the poorest sanitary conditions. Only 48% of Senegal have access to improved sanitation conditions. In Kolda, the poorest area, only 27% has access to piped water and 7% to toilets.

The Under Five Mortality Rate is 139 per 1000 live births in the year 2000 and estimates of maternal mortality rates(MMR) have are estimated to be around 690. The correlation between poverty and health can also be seen in accordance to Infant, Under Five and maternal mortality rates. From statistical samples, it is clearly evident that these rates increase in the poorest areas as well.

Malaria is Senegal's most serious concern and is the leading cause of death for children under five years old. The Global Fund reports that a total of 800,000 people have been diagnosed with malaria as of July 2003, meaning that approximately 8.9 percent of Senegal’s total population is infected with malaria (Global Fund 2004). According to the United States Pharmacopeia, the problem impinges on every region of the country and is exacerbated by the free flow of poor quality antimalarial drugs and increasing parasite resistance to traditional first-line drug treatment.

Tuberculosis is another concern of Senegal. Close to 9000 cases were reported in 2000 and 5832 were considered contagious. According to the UNAIDS 2002 update Senegal had an HIV/AIDS prevalence of 1.43 percent, with an estimated 27,000 adults and children living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2001, 24,000 being adults (aged between 15-49) (UNAIDS Country Profile 2004).

These startling figures are due to many medical and social failings, including, but not limited to, inadequate nutrition and healthcare, poor access to improved water supply and sanitation and of course, poverty. Only 40 percent of the population of Senegal has access to health services. However, healthcare personnel are concentrated in the two largest cities of Senegal, Dakar and Thiès, leaving the majority of the rural population poorly or uncovered. Not only that, but Senegal suffers from "Brain Drain", an epidemic where skilled and qualified people(including doctors, nurses, dentists) leave Senegal in search of a more stable life in France or another Western country.

Is There No Alternative?
A revolution in which society is reorganized where the people are in control must remedy this situation. It can do so by providing an alternative economy. One where there is equal distribution of health services and resources being made to the whole population of Senegal. It will also provide a stable society to prevent "Brain Drain", as well as increasing and perfecting medical services to provide the best possible service to the population. This equitable allocation alone can cut cases of malaria and tuberculosis, as well as the infant, under five and maternal mortality rates.

Diego Abad de Santillan, in his work After the Revolution, notes, "There will be no private doctors, since the entire profession will be at the service of all. They will be incorporated, however, along with dentists, pharmacists, etc., in respective Councils and form similar organizations as in other branches. The Council of Sanitation will create schools and research institutions, and will also take care of public health in the cities and in the country." What specific role or function, a "Council of Sanitation" is to play, is to be determined in the future by the Senegalese. Yet, from this passage we can gather that an anarcho-syndicalist strategy upholds the anarchistic values of self-management and anti-authoritarianism. An alternative economy will need to incorporate these and other anarchistic values into new institutions to provide equitable circumstances and services to the Senegalese.

An anarcho-syndicalist strategy holds that self-managed workers organizations and mass organizations will form the basis of a self-managed society. These new values and institutions, which vary greatly from the ones of capitalism, allowing for advances to be made and services to be exchanged not for profit, but for the benefit of all Senegalese. Thereby reducing hunger, poverty, child mortality and achieving universal primary education, improved access to water, sanitation, and healthcare services.

Ba suba ak jam(Goodbye in Wolof)


Sifuna said...

A link to this blog has been posted at
and a comment has been made on it. It would be nice if the author could respond at the link given above.
Thanks in advance.

blackstone said...

Thanks for informing me, comrade!