Just a few months ago, the province of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, captured the world’s attention for unfortunate reasons: xenophobic attacks on foreign African nationals. This week, from June 9 to 12 in Durban, the same province is hosting the 7th South African AIDS conference, a gathering expected to bring together thousands of activists from within the country, the Southern African region and, indeed, the rest of the continent and the world, to “reflect, refocus, and renew” efforts in response to HIV and AIDS.
Although the global community has had significant success in reducing maternal and child deaths in the past two decades, they continue to die of preventable causes at an alarming rate. This is especially pronounced for the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations. Universal access to maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) commodities and services remains a major challenge, even among countries that are on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for reducing maternal and child mortality.
I am in Luanda, Angola right now, and what an interesting place. It is the most expensive city in the world: a can of coke costs $5, a car and driver for the day costs between $250-$300, and a basic hotel room with a view of people living in shacks below and cranes building more skyscrapers above is $380 (and it is difficult to find it for less).Luanda feels like Africa mixed with Latin American and European energy and music. The traffic is bumper to bumper. It is not possible to have more than two meetings in a day because it takes that long to get from one area to another in the city.