aNewCenturyForAfricaJust 10 years ago with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, tuberculosis, and malaria all exacting a heavy toll on Africa's future, the Economist magazine's cover story labeled Africa "The Hopeless Continent." But a few weeks ago, the cover story of that same publication signaled a more optimistic tone exalting the "Rising Africa."

Africa has indeed been a rising giant over the past decade with its economy growing faster than most of East Asia, including Japan. Organizations like the IMF are predicting that African growth for 2011 will be in the order of 6% and by 2012, its growth rate could equal that of Asia.

Changes observed in Africa over the first decade of the 21st century are a testament to the resilience and potential of the African people and the combined commitment of the global community to lend a hand in combating the continent's challenges. But nothing has been more important in creating a foundation for progress than a commitment to improving access to quality healthcare throughout the continent.

Health, economic development, and hope are inextricably intertwined. Diseases, inadequate health services, and sheer poverty rob the African people of vital human security. Africare works to prevent the spread of HIV through a continuum of activities so as to encourage prevention and foster education; promote HIV testing and counseling; prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV; provide treatment and care for the victims and people living with or impacted by HIV and AIDS including orphans.

Africa needs a voice. For four decades, Africare has worked in partnership with African communities to promote healthy, productive, and economically sustainable societies.

We place communities at the center of our development activities as we believe that only through strong communities can the African people feed HIV/AIDS themselves; educate and protect their children; advance the economic and social well-being of all Africa; and live in peace with each other.

In doing so, we have supported national efforts to coordinate resource investments intended to help empower and give voice to the African people, especially to the most vulnerable groups—women and children.

We still have a long way to go. In the development world there are no "silver bullets," but we do know that health–particularly that of mothers and children–is an essential foundation for economic development.

So as the world's businesspeople laud Africa's economic growth, let us not forget the important and painstaking work that helped set the foundation for economic progress.