Thursday, August 23, 2007

AIDS in Africa

I picked up a Vanity Fair in a doctors office and read an interesting story on AIDS in Africa. The scope of the problem is overwhelming, but it appears that there is some good news. The author, Alex Shoumatoff, explores the efforts to raise money and the impact of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) on the AIDs epidemic. In 2002, only 1% of the 5 million in Africa with AIDS were being treated with life saving ARVs. Only five years later, 28% are getting ARV treatment and the number is rapidly increasing. Shoumatoff gives little credit to the pharmaceutical companies supplying the medicine for a fraction of their average cost ($125 for a year's supply that would cost $10,000 here) or the companies selling "Red" products (4o% of the profits from "Red" Apple, GAP, Nike, etc. products go to fighting AIDs) and the extra $15 billion President Bush has authorized barely gets a mention. Instead, most of the praise is reserved for Bono. Certainly we can do better at helping the poor around the world, not just those with AIDs, but the greater numbers who are starving to death , but what is often missing from the discussion is how to help Africa become self-sufficient. Jennifer Brea argues in The American that aid often has the unfortunate effect of stifling entrepreneurship and incentivizes laziness in African government. Maybe some of the aid money would be better spent on investment or infrastructure. Given the opportunity, who can doubt the potential of Africans? Check out the homemade windmill. I think World Vision strikes a good balance between meeting basic needs and promoting self-sufficiency by addressing the causes and results of poverty (in the interests of full disclosure, my uncle works for World Vision). Give here, if you're interested.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Jon, great post. I agree that a wholistic approach including BOTH charity and development working toward long-term sustainable change and self-sufficiency is essential! World Vision is great and I think CRWRC has a really well-rounded perspective and approach to this devastating issue as well. All of us need to do what we can within our sphere of influence to try to address this pandemic! Thanks for writing about it!