Tuesday, April 25, 2006

WSJ.com - Catching Malaria

WSJ.com - Catching Malaria: "Today is Africa Malaria Day, which is intended to raise public awareness of a disease that each year kills more than a million pregnant women and children under five. We suspect many readers are plenty 'aware' of this health travesty already. The good news is that private individuals have begun to attack the disease after years of official aid and policy failure.

In his new book, 'The White Man's Burden,' economist William Easterly says medicine that would halve the number of malaria deaths world-wide costs just 12 cents a dose; a bed net that wards off malarial mosquitoes costs $4; and 'preventing five million child deaths over the next 10 years would cost just $3 for each new mother.' But despite spending $2.3 trillion on foreign aid in the past half century, the West hasn't managed to get 12-cent medicines and $4 bed nets to poor people.

A big part of the blame can be laid to bureaucratic incompetence at international aid agencies such as the World Bank. Eight years ago the Bank launched an ambitious campaign to halve malaria deaths by 2010. Yet according to Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa, malaria cases have actually risen in recent years as the Bank has reneged on promises and wasted money on ineffective medicines."

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