Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The pink sheet of the world bank

Two months ago, the World Bank predicted an economic growth for Sub-Saharan Africa for the next 3 years. Forgive me my dear reader for I am not in position to furnish you with the better and further particulars of this prediction as my economics cannot analyze this report to confirm their prediction, so let us take this prediction on the World Bank’s pink sheet for now. And besides the trusting ratings of World Bank is near 100% if not 100% so there is no need to doubt this prediction.

Back to the  pink sheet from World Bank. On the face of this pink sheet, I would say it is good news for the continent as it implies a reduction of poverty, elimination of hunger, the building and improving of infrastructure and many morein the coming few years. As much as I would love to talk about poverty and hunger please permit me to comment on the infrastructure bit . I believe if you have spent your entire undergraduate years living with students of planning and building technology programmes like I have, you will understand my interest in infrastructure plans is not only born out of public health.

Infrastructure plans! I imagine they will be far advanced in Sub-Saharan African countries, as their leaders like all leaders in other continents are keen on making their countries better for both their citizens and those of other countries and other continents. I believe in these plans will be roads, bridges, electrical grids etc. I also believe their various ministers, mayors, district chief executives are having a hard time deciding on which plan to approve or disapprove, continue or terminate or make changes to meet objectives. I hope in these objectives will be one that seeks to prevent disease, promote and protect the health and wellbeing of Sub-Saharan Africans. One of the objective towards health and wellbeing of the population I hope to see will be one that seeks to provide a supportive physical activity environment.

In my post yesterday on the international student, I mentioned how a supportive environment must be built to encourage individuals to be physically active and also stay active as this together with other health behaviours (eating balanced diet, no smoking) will improve the quality and length of life? Hence on my mind today are there questions. Do the infrastructure plans that are being approved or executed by the transport ministry, city, and town councils in Africa have provisions made for cycling lanes to encourage more cycling among their citizens and less bus and train transport? Do the road infrastructure plans being approved or executed have in them demarcated pedestrian walkways and zebra crossings to encourage people to walk and also have traffic lights and street lights been checked to ensure they have been properly placed to encourage walking at all times? Yes an all time-walking by people. You know we are different people with different schedules so a one sized jacket cannot fit as all. Thus my call for the need to ensure all individuals can engage in physical activities that suit their schedule. I know this will mean adequate security in our cities and towns so let us hope, the city and town councils, ministers and governments have included security in their plans. Have sport centres being included in ther country, cities and towns’ infrastructure plans? Have opens spaces and parks being demarcated in these plans?

I can go on and on with questions but let me not bore you with my numerous questions. You know when it comes to the health and wellbeing of a population questions are always on my mind. In this situation, my concerns are as result of how it is difficult to find cycling pathways, open spaces and parks in the country I hail from. I wonder how many there even are. It is also difficult to for me to go for a walk as pedestrian walkways and traffic lights are either poorly placed or absent. Even if I wanted to visit a sport centre or gym, I would have to travel quite a distance to get to one and if I got to one, the price will be another headache I have to painfully endure as it is high due it being privately owned and also not having the owner speaking the promotions language. All these have made my mind to be filled with too many questions.

I strongly believe when a supportive physical activity environment is built, together with other factors (food etc.), the predicted booming economy would not just be felt in the pockets of Sub-Saharan Africans but also in their healthy bones and flesh. For what use will the money be for an ailing Sub-Saharan African body if not for treating illness? Perhaps, you might not be a Sub-Saharan African, but these concerns of mine on a supportive physical activity environment which you have read are not just concerns for only Sub-Saharan Africans but for every individual, city, town and country as we all deserve better health and wellbeing. Thus, I believe it is about time, we all start taking interests in the infrastructure plans of our town, city or country.
My dear reader, considering the benefits of being and staying active (diary of an international student), am wondering, if it is about time leaders of Sub-Saharan Africa and all other continents call KPMG (in this instance the public health officer) to audit the pink sheets (infrastructure plans) presented by petitioners (planners) before they are approved and to be executed especially if they are not doing so? Should populations take keen interest in these plans or should they place their faith in their town, city and country planners?

As I end this post, my last question is this, while some of us wait for a supportive environment to assist in being and staying active, are there any basic things we can do to keep us, active?


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