Luanda, Angola. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

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. But it feels calm. Drivers in Luanda have figured out how to navigate the maze...slowly weaving in and out, letting a car in as they make a two lane road into three, and double parking with half the car on the sidewalk. Hardly anyone honks, it is hot and slow, and it feels like there is a sense of order to the chaos.

Angola is a country that has tremendous wealth, primarily derived from oil and other minerals. That wealth is controlled by an elite few, and there are wide disparities between the rich and the poor; 54% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. The public health challenges in Angola are significant. The under-five mortality rate in 2010 was 161/1,000 births, and the maternal mortality rate is 610 per 100,000 live births.

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