Retired San Antonio MD Ed Dodge Creates Foundation for Healthy Africa to Address Underreported Long-Term Threats, Silent Killers Due to Unhealthy African Diets

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While the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation -- starvation in Somalia -- has captured the world's attention, an even more serious long-term threat to the health of all Africans has gone largely unnoticed. A menacing epidemic of heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes, and obesity is growing elsewhere in Africa. Retired MD Ed Dodge of San Antonio, TX, has created the Foundation for Healthy Africa to meet this crisis head-on.

While the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation -- starvation in Somalia -- has captured the world's attention, an even more serious long-term threat to the health of all Africans has gone largely unnoticed.

A menacing epidemic of heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes, and obesity is growing elsewhere in Africa, according to reports from the Harvard School of Public Health. "WHO (the World Health Organization) projections for Africa show chronic diseases outstripping infectious diseases in the coming years and causing 46 percent of deaths by the year 2030 if nothing is done," the Africa/Harvard School of Public Health PaCT (Partnership for Cohort Research & Training) has reported.

The Foundation for Healthy Africa (http://www.foundationforhealthyafrica.org) has been created to do something about this lesser-known, long-term crisis. The Foundation will help fund the Africa Center for Lifestyle Excellence, a new research and educational center to be established at Africa University.

"Western" diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke were rare in Africa until recent decades, but they are beginning to strike hard in many African countries, where officials are ill-prepared to cope because their resources are still focused on the communicable diseases that remain major threats to health and well-being.

While thousands of Somalians starve, millions of Africans in the continent's developing urban areas have fully embraced McDonald's fast food and other unhealthy offerings from the Western world. There are now more than 180 McDonald's restaurants in Africa. And "an expanding consumer base with an appetite for fast food is making South Africa an appealing option for quick-service expansion," QSR Magazine has reported. (http://www2.qsrmagazine.com/articles/features/112/south_africa-1.phtml)

"Unhealthy lifestyles are becoming more common with a shift from agrarian to urban living," Harvard's Dr. Michelle Holmes has noted. "People switch from eating fresh to processed food, replace physical labor with sedentary habits, and breathe more polluted air... In a region with few resources, this lifestyle shift will have untold consequences." Holmes' warning of a "chronic disease tsunami" in Africa was published in The Boston Globe as an op-ed piece in August 2009. She reported that the "absence of large-scale preventive research on Africans is an appalling gap as the continent's chronic disease epidemic looms."

Recognizing this problem, the Faculty of Health Sciences at Africa University is establishing a Center for Lifestyle Excellence to:

. Conduct research to determine what lifestyle characteristics are prevalent today, and what approaches to strengthen healthy lifestyles will work best in Africa now and in the future.
. Teach students the principles of lifestyle excellence so they in turn can become teachers and models of healthy lifestyles in their own communities.
. Teach the principles of healthy living in African schools, churches, and other community organizations.

More information about the NCD crisis is available on the Foundation for Healthy Africa's website, http://www.foundationforhealthyafrica.org.

Dr. Ed Dodge, who created the Foundation for Healthy Africa this year, grew up as a missionary kid in Angola, Africa. Some of his adventures included living in the wilds of northern Angola, hunting for wild game, and traveling across many poorly charted areas of Africa.

Dodge obtained his medical degree from Indiana University and his Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University.

After teaching public health in Ethiopia, he served as Director of the Citrus-Levy Health Department, 1971-74, and as a Family physician in Inverness, Florida, 1975-96. Dr. Dodge retired from family practice in 1996.

Now a resident of San Antonio, Dodge serves as visiting Adjunct Professor of noncommunicable diseases in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Africa University in Zimbabwe. He is the author of Tim's Story: Spiritual Perspective of Health: Dan's Story: One Man's Discovery of His Inner Health Power; and Ten Steps to Exceptional Health. Dodge's newest book, The Joys of Healthy Living, is scheduled for publication in 2012.

Dr. Dodge publishes a monthly Wellness Newsletter. He recently hosted The Joys of Healthy Living Radio Show for VoiceAmerica network. Podcasts of his interviews with experts from Harvard and Johns Hopkins, among others, are available at http://www.thejoysofhealthyliving.com.

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Ed Dodge, MD

Ed Dodge, MD

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