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Not 'Beating Death'

John D. Rockefeller John D Rockefeller, JD, MPH '09

Having just returned from another series of internal meetings on battling the myriad diseases in Africa, I thought I would weigh in on this topic of disease and death in the upcoming Johns Hopkins Public Health.

The thing I've noticed most in working with widespread disease and associated mortality across Africa is the acknowledgment of death in cultural terms.  I am constantly amazed and humbled by the positive outlooks and the happiness expressed on the faces in so many cultures across sub-Saharan Africa.  I always wonder how this much happiness can be present in a world with so many health challenges and so much premature death, yet it persists as it rightly should.  In the U.S. we have such a focus on "beating death" that we seem to miss the simple joy I see on many faces across Africa.  I suppose when viewing each moment of life as a gift, the Africans are among the most appreciative and engaged residents of our planet.  All the more reason to eradicate the disease burden that threatens their happiness on a daily basis.

John Rockefeller, director of Social Venture Initiatives for the Clinton Health Access Initiative Inc., is currently a doctoral candidate in the Health Policy and Management Department at the Bloomberg School.

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