Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Prime Minister’s Commission for Africa

I read in today’s Guardian that the Prime Minister’s Commission for Africa met for the first time yesterday. I welcome the Prime Ministers steps to try and improve the lives of people in Africa.

Having lived in Malawi (one the poorest Southern African nation) for eleven months I think the more developed countries desperately need to help these poor countries tackle four major problems they have.

I believe that when the commission publishes its report next year during Britain's presidency of the G8 which will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Live Aid concert it will find that the main problems in the African countries are illness, ignorance and corruption which lead to massive gap between the rich and the poor with the poor living in absolute poverty.

In relation to illness the developed countries should start by helping the African countries in the fight against Aids because after all aids may kill far more people over the next 20 years than the bubonic plague ever did. Aids is mother natures weapon of mass destruction.
We should start by helping developing countries to provide anti-retroviral drugs to prevent mother to child transmission-but the problem is not an easy matter of simply providing drugs, however cheap they are. The drugs will not conquer the epidemic or do the trick. The drugs are far too complicated to take and need to be backed by things that are simple for us in the west, such as good nutrition, if they are to work.
These countries need good health workers who are educated in the delivery of Aids drugs if those drugs are to be any good at all. If we do not have such workers, the drugs will be taken improperly, resistance to the disease will develop and we will have to start all over again.
Vaccines are the ultimate weapons against any infectious disease, and the global fund, the Americans, the Gates Foundation, which has contributed a lot, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative have done some worthy work. Trials of AIDS vaccines are going on all over the world, but there are not enough of them. We must ensure that funds enhance research into Aids vaccines because that will lead to the end of the epidemic, as it did for smallpox and as it soon will do for polio.
Also I hear that African countries spend approximately $14 billion a year on servicing their debt. The global fund has estimated that those countries need roughly $10 billion to do something that will have an impact on the AIDS epidemic. I hope the commission will look at how we as a country can help with that after all Aids destroys economically active people in the population and will destroy the ability of any country to service its debt because fewer people will be working.
And finally I would like bring to an abrupt end this rant by saying that the distribution of condoms from the USA amounts in Botswana to one condom per annum per man. How many people reading this blog can cope with that?

I hope to continue with this rant when I have some more time.


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