The top news at the BBCA newscast this morning was [UK] Chancellor Gordon Brown has said the UK will give $15bn (£8.5bn) in overseas aid for education in Africa and Asia
The 10-year funding plan is part of the pledge by the world’s richest nations to help every African child have access to a primary school by 2015.
This is part of the Make Poverty History campaign, about which I have previously blogged. My skepticism is shared by the UK’s Telegraph, which considers Brown’s proposal an offer of false hope to Africa
The spending of Â£8.5 billion is not just a worthless gesture; it is actively harmful, for three reasons. First, it will encourage the fallacious belief that a good education is chiefly a question of state spending. This is demonstrably untrue.
. . .
Second, the subsidies will confirm the view of many Africans that they should look to the outside world, rather than to themselves, for betterment. Put another way, they will allow corrupt and inefficient governments to remain in office, shielded from the consequences of their own mismanagement. Third, as well as infantilising Africans, they infantilise British taxpayers. We should be free to decide for ourselves how much we want to give to overseas charities. By compelling the money from us, Mr Brown destroys our capacity for virtue.
And it is this that makes such a huge contrast between the “feel good” rhetoric of our dismal politicians and the reality of the situation on the ground. That reality has children dying by the hundreds of thousands in Dafur, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and, of course, in Kenya and elsewhere from the real but unfashionable scourge of Malaria.
Yesterday morning this was front-page news at the NYT: Beyond Swollen Limbs, a Disease’s Hidden Agony. The disease is lymphatic filariasis, and it’s incurable. I have only met one person who had elephantiasis, a symptom of this painful and disfiguring condition. She used to live across the street from us when I was six. She caught the illness while working in Africa as a missionary.
“It’s tied in with grinding poverty – where you find it maps almost perfectly with the poorest of the poor,”
as indeed it is. How is the illness transmitted?
it usually requires hundreds of bites from mosquitoes carrying male and female worms
Equally devastating are two other mosquito-borne diseases: dengue fever and urban yellow fever.
The cheapest, most effective way to prevent all mosquito-borne illness is DDT.
So on one hand we have palliative feel-good ideas, like Gordon Brown’s, and on the other hand, incurable mosquito-borne illnesses that are killing millions of Africans, which can be effectively prevented by the judicious use of DDT.
Before you go protesting about how harmful DDT is, read 100 things you should know about DDT. This study by the American Enterprise Institute assessed the validity of the allegations that DDT is harmful to human health and the environment and found that they lack credibility.
The UN has proposed a worldwide ban of the use of DDT; the EU bans the importation of foods from countries using DDT, which would mean economic disaster for the exporting countries. Only India and China still produce the pesticide, mainly for domestic use. However, in African countries where people are dying, like South Africa, Swaziland, and now Uganda, the choice is between economic disaster or millions of deaths, and they are opting for DDT. Ugandan Health Minister Jim Muhwezi (via EUReferendum) explains why
“We have to kill malaria using DDT and the matter has been settled that DDT is not harmful to humans and if used for indoor-insecticide spraying. It’s the most effective and cheapest way to fight malaria,” Mr Muhwezi said.
He said a study released in November 2005 found no link between DDT and conditions such as impotence, infertility, neurological damage, congenital abnormalities and cancer.
The figures support his decision:
A 2001 World Health Organisation report put hospital deaths due to malaria in Uganda at 38 per cent and the percentage of households using insecticide-treated mosquito nets at 6 per cent.
As a final thought, if you believe these illnesses are limited to Africa, I leave you with a final thought:
Malaria is now on the increase, not just in Africa but in all tropical regions of the planet.