|Princess Nikky Onyeri|
|Madame Pohamba, Namibia|
On Monday, we heard presentations from the first ladies of Namibia, South Africa, Ghana, Chad, Niger, Swaziland, Nigeria, Mozambique, Uganda and Kenya.
In the afternoon, there were track sessions with a mixed bag of presentations. I attended a very interesting session on ethnomedicincal plants given by Dr Davis Mumbengegwi, UNAM. He was followed by a Ms Koegelenberg from CAN (Cancer Association of Namibia) who told us about their
projects. I was most impressed by the fact they have Acacia House which is open to anyone who needs to stay in Windhoek for cancer treatment. The last 2 presentations from Eunice Garanganga and Celestine Mbangtang were about the hospice movements in Zimbabwe and Botswana. They demonstrated what can be done with relatively little money and good organisation.
On Tuesday, the Windhoek declaration was signed by all the first ladies. Amongst other pledges, they agreed to intensify advocacy for HPV vaccinations in an attempt to prevent cervical cancer. Approximately 250 000 African women a year die from cervical cancer. HPV vaccination should be offered to every school girl.
Several presentations dealt with tobacco consumption. Tobacco companies see Africa as the next growth area and are targeting the continent. At present, there are an estimated 77m smokers in the continent. With the expected rate of population increase and increased usage, this is expected to rise to 700 million smokers by the end of the century. Dr Evan Bletcher called for action to be taken urgently.
I would like to thank Novartis for making it possible for me to talk about the nurses course. It was an excellent chance for me to network with health care providers from Botswana and Namibia.
I sincerely hope that the people with influence and power who were at the conference do not waste the opportunity to make a real change in the lives of people in Southern Africa.