Dr. Mario J. Azevedo, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Jackson State University, is an established author with two additional releases – one on health disparities in Mississippi and a more recent publication about failed strategies to curb preventable diseases in Africa.
‘Iwant people to understand that health affects all facets of life through what the World Health Organization calls social determinants of health,” said Azevedo. These elements include income, poverty, environment, education, race, gender, policies, laws, resources, geography, and many other factors.
Azevedo is a nearly 20-year JSU veteran with an academic background in health and history. He once served as interim dean of the College of Public Service, associate dean of the School of Health Sciences and chair of the Department of Epidemiology.
‘It has been made clear from scientific and empirical evidence that absolute poverty begets disease and that disease is the mother of poverty.’ — Dr. Mario J. Azevedo, dean of the College of Liberal Arts
Azevedo exposed Mississippi’s unequal distribution of its scarce resources in a 2016 book, the “State of Health and Health Care in Mississippi” (University Press of Mississippi). For this body of work, he wrote five chapters and included contributions from 20 renowned health academicians and professionals.
He blamed discrimination and unfair access to quality care for health disparities among the Magnolia state’s indigent population.
Dr. Rick deShazo, professor of medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and host of “Southern Remedy” at Mississippi Public Broadcasting said the book provides “opportunities and innovations for change … to make health and healthcare better, right here, right now.”
AND Jackson Medical Mall epidemiologist Jin Zhang describes the book as “the bible” of Mississippi healthcare.
This year, the JSU administrator turned his attention to problems of Africa. He was born in Mozambique – a former Portuguese colony in East Africa.
His recently released 12th book, “Historical Perspectives on Health and Health Systems in Africa” (Palgrave-MacMillan Publishers), spans from the Neolithic Age to the present.
He said if he did not spend valuable time writing on the history of health he would “feel empty because there is so much more to know about the world, particularly Africa.”
Azevedo: Africa suffers from a ‘lack of vision from many of its leaders and a deficiency in resourcefulness, rather than a lack of resources.’The manuscript is published in two volumes and explores how Africa has overcome centuries of major hurdles, ranging from the rigors of tropical climate to the devastation of slavery.
During the latter part of the 19th century, the continent even endured the partitioning of Africa by European powers. Its problems were compounded by a legacy of post-colonial dependency, selfish capitalism and the political and cultural onslaught of globalization.
Azevedo conveys the following message about the world’s second-largest and second-most populated continent: Africa can no longer focus its resources simply on infectious diseases known as “first disease burden” because such illnesses have been controlled or eradicated in other continents.
Instead, he said, Africans must now confront the “second disease burden” that is associated with Western opulence: diabetes, obesity, strokes and cardiovascular and pulmonary illnesses. Azevedo asserts that these maladies were “transplanted from the West through cultural graft.”
NEVERTHELESS, whether problems for the geographical area have been self-inflicted or result from outside influences, Azevedo argues that Africans must now stop blaming the West for its crumbling health infrastructure and prevalence of infectious diseases and chronic illnesses.
Rather, he said blame is due to mismatched priorities, a lack of vision from many of its leaders and a deficiency in resourcefulness, rather than a lack of resources.
He especially wants readers to know that “health is a right of all people of the world.”
Africa’s health issues and the proliferation of current diseases result from the influence of ‘Western opulence: diabetes, obesity, strokes and cardiovascular and pulmonary illnesses.’ Furthermore, he said Africa’s health crisis is blamed on a lack of priorities from leaders responsible for “ministries of health.” He said a more appropriate title would be “ministries of disease” because leaders spend very little to defend against pestilence in the early stages. Thus, the result is a surge in infant and maternal mortality in Africa’s dilapidated hospitals.
Azevedo said another culpable factor is a reliance on international handouts from “people who think they know better than Africans what is good for their continent.”
Because disease is the “mother of poverty,” Azevedo advocates self-reliance and independence through free and compulsory education and infrastructure improvements to move the continent forward.
How to order both books:
“The State of Health and Health Care in Mississippi” can be purchased from the University of Mississippi Press, Marketing Department, 3825 Ridgewood Road in Jackson. The two volumes of “Historical Perspectives on Health and Health Systems in Africa” can be purchased from Springer Nature, 233 Spring Street, New York, N.Y., or by calling 212-460-1500.