Public Health and Political Economy of Development in Africa

  • Innocent Chirisa
  • Brilliant Mavhima
  • Tariro Nyevera
Part of the Palgrave Handbooks in IPE book series (PHIPE)


The purpose of this chapter is to examine the nexus between public health and political economy of development in Africa using spatiality as a cog of theoretical and conceptual reference. Informed by document, literature review and content analysis, the chapter identifies that political decision in Africa has played a large role in perpetuating the various diseases. The chapter pays particular attention to the recurrent diseases on the African continent, particularly Ebola, cholera, typhoid, dysentery, cancer, malaria and HIV and AIDS. Some of these are communicable while others are not yet all account for high morbidity and mortality levels on the continent. It is argued that Africa is often ravaged by the diseases with more than 11,315 dying of Ebola between 2014 and 2016 alone (leading to UN declaring it an International Public Health Emergency), 2,160,000 since year 2000 dying of cholera, 14.4 million succumbing to dysentery since 1991, 8.2 million dying of cancer and 940,000 perishing from the HIV and AIDS virus in 2017 alone. Issues like biological warfare and water contamination are being proffered as some of the reasons behind the ever existence of the deadly diseases in the continent. Are the diseases just diseases linked to the terrain of Africa or have they become a political issue? In West Africa, Ebola was first recorded in March 24, 2014. By 2016, 4809 had died in Liberia, 3955 in Sierra Leone, 2536 in Guinea and 8 in Nigeria. Cholera has struck every part of Africa, and since 1991, dysentery cases have been recorded in ten countries (Angola, Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia). The shocking statistics are a testimony to the urgency of the matter of public health. The chapter acknowledges the centrality of the political economy, as an intersection between the economy, politics and decision-making by the responsibility, in the harnessing, distribution and management of resources. Living conditions with respect to housing adequacy, water and sanitation constitute both the problem and solution to the matter at hand. The majority of Africans live in gross squalor and their per capita incomes are depressed making them prey to malnutrition, disease and poverty. Societal inequity is a major contributor to the debilitating situation in both urban and rural settings. The chapter recommends autonomy in decisions at local levels, hence devolution with respect to the management of financial, technological and human resources in managing disease and ailment. Part of the solution also become infrastructure development and reduce the vulnerability to the deadly diseases.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Innocent Chirisa
    • 1
  • Brilliant Mavhima
    • 1
  • Tariro Nyevera
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Rural and Urban PlanningUniversity of ZimbabweHarareZimbabwe

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