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Book examines heath care delivery in war-torn Africa

Improving health care and addressing social justice issues in war-torn African countries are subjects close to Aaron Buseh's heart.

Buseh, an associate professor of nursing at the University of WisconsinMilwaukee (UWM) who grew up in Liberia, recently published a book focused on improving health care delivery in war-torn African countries.

"Empowering Resilience: Improving Health Care Delivery in War-Impacted African Countries," is a case study of Buseh's home country of Liberia, but has implications for other countries ripped apart by war and civil violence, he says.

Buseh says he wrote the book to provide guidance for both international supporters and, more importantly, the people of African countries as they begin to build new health care systems out of the destruction.

"I am a man living in two worlds," he says. "I am a Liberian and African, and I am here in the U.S. studying and teaching about health issues. This book is my way of helping my people without being physically present."

He based the title of his work on what he sees as the best hope for health care improvement in Africa the resilience of African peoples in the face of horrendous violence and painful loss.

An African model for health care

For example, he says, African countries can look at replacing old European health care models which spend huge amounts of money building large hospitals and tertiary care medical complexes with a system that focuses on primary and preventive care. When it comes to improving the health of people in Africa, Buseh says that improved sanitation and health care education reaches many more people and is more cost-effective than building huge medical complexes.

He adds that many of the diseases that affect millions in sub-Saharan Africa are preventable through vaccination, or easily treatable with inexpensive medications.

Improving health care can also be part of the peacemaking process. "All of the warring factions need health care," says Buseh, who suggests giving Africans incentives to collaborate on rebuilding their countries.

Looking at ways to decrease violence against women is a global phenomenon, with implications in Milwaukee as well as in Africa.

"I strive every semester to help my students to think globally and act locally about health care and social justice issues," says Buseh. "There are vulnerable populations here in Milwaukee, too. If I can get my students to feel outrage about the roughly 16 percent of Americans who struggle to access health care without health insurance, it becomes possible to elicit compassion from them for sub-Saharan Africans in need of health care in conflict-ridden countries such as Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia."

Citizens worldwide should care about what is happening in these nations, for both for humanitarian and economic reasons. "It's not just groups of people who can't get along," says Buseh of the strife in these nations. The fighting among warring factions in these areas impacts access to valuable minerals and natural resources that are an important part of the global economy.

Buseh's areas of research and expertise include factors associated with HIV/AIDS prevention, social stigma, quality of life, and structural barriers associated with health care delivery in sub-Saharan Africa and the African American community in the United States.

While his book has implications for other regions of sub-Saharan Africa, the destruction of Liberia became the inspiration for the book.

Buseh lost his two youngest brothers to the violence, as well as several nursing colleagues and friends from a hospital where he once worked.

"It was an agonizing process to watch your country which in the 1970s and 1980s was seen as a shining beacon on the continent of Africa, playing a major role in the African affairs and international community be torn apart," he explains. "Health is one of those issues we can look at in rebuilding any country emerging from civil strife."


Contact: Aaron G. Buseh
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

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