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Malaria and Economic Development

Posted by: Annie Voy | January 20, 2011 | 15 Comments |

Here’s an interesting (and controversial) take on malaria. The author takes jabs at Jeffrey Sachs and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their response to malaria. The article is available here. Thoughts?

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I think the article on Malaria is a little interesting; essentially, he argues that the Westerners (such as Sachs and/or the Gates Foundation) are just meddling in affairs they don’t belong in. At first, in the article, it appears as though the author is simply trying to express that he wants the Westerners to support Africa financially, but not strategically. However, the further the article goes on, the more it appears as though he simply wants the Westerners to stay out of Africa. Essentially, the author comes off as a darwinist, who believes we ought to just leave Africa alone.

I am not even halfway finished with the article, and something does not make sense. “In the West, one of the fundamental assumptions of the axis of development economists, philanthropists, and NGOs involved in plotting a happy new future for Africa has been that malaria is a primary cause of misery on the continent, contributing to poverty and the AIDS epidemic” the article states. Malaria, I thought, was a disease caused by mosquitoes, and AIDS is an STD rooted in HIV. The only way I see these two diseases connected is if mosquitoes transmit HIV to people via a mosquito bite (otherwise, how would the two diseases be connected?).

“. . . Jeffrey Sachs has written that Malaria in Africa could be controlled with an investment of just three billion dollars a year. . . . In other words, Africa could be transformed by attacking a single mosquito-borne disease, and for the amount of money it takes to build a mid-market baseball stadium.” James, I believe your statement might be out of the ballpark (this pun is intended). (Of course, you do not define what a mid-market baseball stadium is . . .)

According to a USA Today article from 2009, Yankee Stadium construction costs were in the ballpark (intended pun as well) of $1.5 billion, and Citi Field (the New York Mets) had construction costs in the ballpark of $822 million (since the “Mets simply exercised a request for a 10% “completion” bond ($82.2 million), pun intended). (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2009-04-02-baseball-palaces_N.htm) In comparison, the ballpark of the Seattle Mariners had a price tag of $517 million (http://www.seattlepi.com/safeco/stadium/timesafe.shtml). The total cost of these three ballpark is $2.8 billion dollars.

“Shah’s response to this irony is to argue that “the only way” to get rid of malaria is for westerners to back off. Sort of. She wants western governments and companies to hand over technology and know-how—the production and distribution of nets and drugs—to African governments. Which is another way of approaching the problem that Bill Gates and Jeffrey Sachs face: the white man’s burden in the twenty-first century is to call the shots without looking like an overseer.” Interesting . . . you want your country to be self-sufficient in producing nets (and not depend on other countries for materials or shipping). This could help employ Africans in countries where unemployment is 20-30% or more at the expense of taking away jobs somewhere else in the world.

It seems counter-intuitive, yet I think we need to test the idea presented in the article. In a simulation, we should see if people would reverse their migration patterns and instead vaccinate every person on the African continent who does not have immunity to malaria (which could take a long time).

I agree with the previous posts diagnosis of the article. The author of the article seems to attack the foundations that have been set up to help people with this disease. I would say that I do not agree with his idea about these organizations. I also think that the idea of the organizations wasting their money is a personal opinion that many may not share. It may not be Westerners place to butt into the affairs of Africa but if they did not then where would Africa be today? It is impossible to tell but I personally believe that they would not be as far along as they are now without the outside help of other countries and organizations. In conclusion, I do not really agree with the idea that the author presents in his article.

I thought this article was interesting as an alternative view on the situation in Africa. Although I do not necessarily agree with what the author is saying about Westerners discontinuing their involvement on the continent, I do think a valid point is made. As members of the developed world, we do not really know what the situation in Africa is or how it should be fixed. Just because we ourselves live in a place that has successfully developed to the point it is today does not mean that we know how a country such as Africa should develop. The situation and environment is so drastically different that the process by which it will develop will be different.

I also agree to an extent with the author’s discussion of misspent aid dollars. Throwing money at the situation, in my opinion, probably isn’t going to lead to success because of factors such as corruption in the government and administrative costs that take away some of the positive effects. The change must come from within the country and cannot be imposed from the outside. If the African people want to fight Malaria, then the movement will have to come from them. We in the U.S. and other aiding countries can’t force that.

I thought this article presented an interesting dynamic as i have never read an article about eradicating malaria that included a quote proclaiming “the only way to get rid of malaria is for Westerners to back off.”

I think the author is correct in saying that there is an ego factor when it comes to those who have malaria as well as those trying to fight malaria. Some people are so arrogant and naive to the fact that simply throwing money at the problem will not work unless you have the full support of the local people and government. and if the people are unwilling to cooperate with Western support then one must look for other options.

I did find the solution of reducing rural-to-urban migration and creating stable rural communities very interesting as i believe a simple solution like this could serve as a gateway for Western support once a level of stability is achieved.

I mostly agree with the previous posts that state that we cannot force Africans to combat malaria; they need to find it within themselves to do so. Yet, at the same time, I would like to see some figures or numbers presented about how many people truly feel that they do not want foreign aide when it comes to the topic of malaria (aide whether monetarily or medically). It’s easy for the author in the article to say that “some Africans” feel that way, but that certainly does not mean the majority of Africans will refuse/not accept malaria help. All in all, he may have a strong opinion on what he thinks is right, but I highly doubt that Africans will want their fellow neighbors dying of this horrible disease, when the treatment is not too remote. So, no, I do not think we are wasting our time attempting to end malaria.

Wow this guy certainly has different take on the situation in Africa than I do. I feel that he might simply just be a little bitter due to the fact that he himself contracted malaria. He does make an interesting point that is somewhat both convincing and hard to ignore. At first when I heard his basic idea that westerners are wasting their time and money trying to end malaria in Africa I got a little confused and maybe even a little upset. But after I set my emotions aside and looked at his argument I noticed that he had a fairly logical argument. But just because it is logical doesn’t make it right.
I don’t think that we should give up on Africa. I tend to agree more with what Dr. Shah said, that westerners should hand over their resources to the Africans and have them properly reallocate them. I think that this would sort of take away the ego factor that we have talked about. Again it would be hard to tell Bill Gates to write a billion dollar check and not ask any questions. If we are doing more harm than good than we should step back and reassess where our money should go. So I agree with the article in that there is a more efficient way to get rid of malaria, I disagree with the idea that it can/would ever be accomplished without western support.

This article raises interesting points that definitely go against the prototypical stance towards world aid. His story highlights the attitude of Africans towards malaria. It is an attitude of acceptance and almost pride towards the illness. Although the Mauritanian individual who mocked his sickness provides evidence of African’s relationship with the sickness, it could very well be exaggerated and perhaps more of an isolated case. I think we, as Americans, do need to examine whether trying to treat malaria actually is the correct mode of fighting it. Also, it is difficult to fight something that the governments and the people of the country do not feel is a problem. I think that regardless if the people feel a sense of “pride” for obtaining an immunity towards malaria, we should feel obligated to help rid the people of a disease that kills millions of people, a majority being young children. Perhaps it is not our place or right to step in and dismiss their skewed attitude towards the disease, but economies can never find improvement if the youth and some adults are continually dieing from a preventable disease.

I have never heard the suggestion that the Western countries should leave huge health issues like malaria up to each country’s own government, when the likely outcome is that the domestic country can’t or won’t do what is necessary to eradicate the disease. What does make sense is Pogue’s discussion of how there is so much more to fighting a disease than funding. He points argues that there is a whole mindset which must be addressed too, like how the locals didn’t think that malaria was in their area, but it obviously was. It seems like a happy medium between doing nothing and doing everything for these countries would be to work with the governments, and to have part of the funding be for education and awareness of diseases. Even though foreign aid isn’t always used to its full potential, it doesn’t mean people like Bill Gates aren’t making a difference, or that they should give up.

Pogue provides a compelling argument discontinuing the fight to eradicate malaria. Perhaps, he is correct about the root causes of malaria? Do we need to address development and sanitation issues before we can really consider eradicating the diseases with science?

The Gates Foundation should consider Pogue’s advice. If his statements on the connection between development, migratory workers, sanitation and malaria are true, the Foundation is wasting it’s time.

This article was particularly upsetting to me due to the pessimistic nature the author seems to have towards malaria. Firstly, I do not believe that Bill Gates is trying to fight malaria in Africa in the hope that he will win a Nobel Prize. There are plenty of other causes Bill Gates could have taken up that would be less challenging than fighting malaria in Africa. Also, I understand why Bill Gates and other organizations against malaria in Africa want to be involved in the way their money is being spent due to one main consideration: corruption. Handing a large sum of money to an impoverished country can lead to a lot of temptation for any governmental leaders.

Another point which I feel the author completely missed is the fact that, in order for these African countries to ever have a hope of a thriving economy, they will have to be friendly to foreign countries in order to enter the world market. If foreigners are unable to visit these countries or trade with them due to the risk of malaria, then Africa will be left in isolation. As Sachs points out, economies do not thrive in isolated countries. Thus, I believe in the cause to find a vaccination for malaria.

This is definitely a very controversial article. I think that having real numbers of Africans that are for or against the help from American would help me form a more strong opinion on the subject. I feel that if Africa truly doesn’t want our interference, then we should stay out of it. At the same time though, we shouldn’t just hand over a ton of money and resources and let them do what they want with it. There is a lot of corruption in that country and we shouldn’t just give them the resources because there is a significant possibility that it will be improperly used.

This article brought up many points that I found interesting but one specifically was that the locals didn’t even think Malaria was in their area. Ergo, how do we as westerners even start to know where someplace is Malaria-free. Pogue mentioned that when he went to Zouerat, the “Canadian government maps showed it to be Malaria-free” when in all reality the people had it but were ignorant of the fact that they did have it. I think that in fighting Malaria from a foreign aspect gets tough because how do we even know when are efforts are creating a Malaria-free environment?
At the same time, I disagree with the author that the Gates foundation is wasting their money as they are still making a difference. I think the fine line is if there is a better way of going about fighting Malaria.

Like many others, I was surprised by the contents of the article. I am curious whether building stronger relationships with the locals and showing them that westerners are there to help with no intention of taking anything with them would help them to accept aid, or if their dislike of the intrusion would still override it.

The shift in the argument set forth in the article makes me think that no matter what, there will be a group of people who want nothing to do with receiving aid. Their pride about their immunity leaves all who are not immune at risk. Since immunity is partially genetic, whole families can survive, and the people who cannot are separate from them, and are therefore less important.

In this environment, aid needs to be given in such a way that it is desirable to the people. There will always be at least one group who is unhappy with the efforts, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to save lives. This cause might be more successful if it is handled in such a way that improves the overall quality of life in ways that minimize malaria without that being the only benefit. This could be done by improving the layout of villages and making the environment itself less mosquito-friendly.

I think it’s interesting because I have had Malaria, after returning from a month long trip in Thailand, and it wasn’t any fun to say the least. I understand where the author is coming from in that over time humans gain immunity from the disease. But, I wouldn’t go as far as to say funding and donations from these charities are worthless. Isn’t it nice to know that you have the option available to you and your family, if in fact someone does come down with the disease? I think they are looking at this from a more general wider outlook, but I would argue that on a personal basis, when it’s someone you care and love that’s suffering, the whole situation changes. Obviously there are advantages and negativities to both sides, which is why I think the donations and funding shouldn’t be cut. I think security comes in the ability of Africans feeling satisfied that they do have an affordable option available them if they in fact do want to be cured. Obviously, for some it may not be a concern or may be a way of life, but that decision solely rests upon each unique individual choice.