Sunday, December 01, 2002

Some links on privilege and AIDS

I have thought and rethought about posting these links. In one way, I can certainly respect someone who feels like I am forwarding an anti-capitalist agenda at the expense of a greater issue. I hope it is understood that I am only adding my angle to the wide array of links to information out there. By posting these links, I am in no way implying that this is the ONLY issue...merely one of the issues.

Stop Global AIDS dot org:

In 2001, 5 million people became newly infected with HIV, and 3 million people died from AIDS. Nearly 20 million Africans have already died from AIDS and millions more will die during 2002.

If the US government provided a fair share contribution to the global effort to stop AIDS (with education, prevention, care, and treatment) it would cost the average US taxpayer 4 cents a day.

Providing life-extending medications to AIDS patients in developing countries would cost under $3 a day per patient. Brazil has been successfully providing AIDS medications to patients since 1997.

Guardian Unlimited, 11/14/2002, US Drug Makers Accused of Bullying

"While many factors conspire to keep medicines out of reach of poor people, it is now widely accepted that unduly restrictive patent protection raises prices and therefore reduces access for poor people," says the report.

"Price discounts by companies can help but generic competition is the only sustainable way of reducing prices and increasing access. This in turn requires a more flexible application of patent law in developing countries. And for this to happen, the US government and pharmaceutical companies must stop their bullying."

Noam Chomsky on the privilege of adequate health care:

We should therefore be asking ourselves what we have done about these two crucial issues. Answer, very little. Foreign aid is always tiny, and mostly hypocritical (a form of export promotion, to mention only one aspect). With the end of the Cold War, there was little motivation to pay even marginal attention to the needs of the overwhelming mass of the world's population, and what little substantive aid there was declined sharply in most countries, most dramatically in the richest country in the world, which is simply off the spectrum. The US provides virtually nothing. A fraction of the military budget would suffice to overcome a very large part of the severe suffering throughout the world. What are we doing about that? As for drugs, the system works pretty much the way the rest of the economy does. A very large part of the cost and risk is transferred to the public; half is probably a conservative figure, if we take into account the work in fundamental biology on which applied R&D rests. The profits are then entirely privatized. The pharmaceutical corporations, which are among the most profitable, claim that they need the profits for R&D; therefore they insist upon protection, under the extremely rigorous patent regime imposed on the world under the World Trade Organization rules, a regime that the currently rich countries never accepted during their own period of development, and that not only sharply inflates prices and profits but also is designed to retard development, innovation, and growth. The few attempts to analyze the problem closely (there's an excellent study by economist Dean Baker, not sure whether it's been published) indicate that if the public assumed the total cost and drugs were then sold at market prices, there would be an enormous welfare benefit, dwarfing the total benefits predicted by optimistic forecasts about the WTO.

This is only for starters. These problems are here, not in South Africa. One can understand why the doctrinal institutions demand that we focus attention on the failures or crimes of others, refusing categorically to look into the mirror. But we all know that we should do exactly the opposite.

More information and more experiences can be found at the following places:

  • kd: a blog
  • negropleasedotcom
  • living nappy
  • uffish thoughts
  • jhames
  • randomWalks: here and here
  • jadedju
  • easy bake coven
  • all the extra bits
  • j.kinyeta
  • bedside manner
  • cocokat in slumberland
  • starmama

    (I'm really hoping that the reason my internet connection is PAINFULLY slow right now is because people are linking and thinking like mad.)

    (cross posted at full bleed)
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