A SMALL HITCH IN THE BANDWAGON?
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/05/29
“Health expert calls for end to UN HIV programme” (InTheNews.co.uk, 9 May 2008 )
“The joint United Nations programme on HIV and Aids should be ‘closed down rapidly’, according to . . . Roger England, chairman of Health Systems Workshop — an independent advisory group on health management in poor countries — . . . [because] its mandate is “wrong and harmful”. . . . Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Mr England says the agency was set up on the argument that HIV and its impact are exceptional. But he writes that this argument is no longer valid and says the claims HIV needs its own body as it can tip households into poverty would also apply to all serious diseases and disasters. ‘HIV is a major disease in southern Africa, but it is not a global catastrophe, and language from a top UNAids official that describes it as ‘one of the make-or-break forces of this century’ and a ‘potential threat to the survival and well-being of people worldwide’ is sensationalist . . . . Worldwide the number of deaths from HIV each year is about the same as that among children aged under five years in India. . . . far too much is spent on HIV relative to other needs and . . . this is damaging health systems . . . . HIV causes 3.7 per cent of mortality but receives a quarter of international healthcare aid and a “big chunk” of domestic expenditure. ‘HIV exceptionalism is dead — and the writing is on the wall for UNAIDS. . . . Why a UN agency for HIV and not for pneumonia or diabetes, which both kill more people? . . . UNAids should be closed down rapidly, not because it has performed badly given its mandate, which it has not, but because its mandate is wrong and harmful. Its technical functions should be refitted into [the World Health Organisation], to be balanced with those for other diseases.’”
Similarly, in the United States the expenditure on HIV/AIDS research dwarfs that on major killers like cancer or cardiovascular disease: 20 times as much per “HIV” death than per cancer death, 100 times as much per “HIV patient” as per cardiovascular patient (STOPPING THE HIV/AIDS BANDWAGON—-Part II, 1 February 2008).
Perhaps free-market economics can slow the bandwagon?
After all, if funds start to dry up, then the propaganda will also begin to ebb. So long as UNAIDS exists, it will seek to justify its existence by putting out the scary pseudo-statistics that James Chin, for example, has debunked (CONDOMS AND HIV: WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS IS ONCE AGAIN WRONG, 10 February 2008; B***S*** about HIV from ACADEME via THE PRESS, 4 March 2008).
But I am not holding my breath. Too many careers and livelihoods depend on the disproportionate attention paid to HIV/AIDS. And what happens to drug sales and profits if TB, malaria, intestinal worms, malnutrition, become the focus? All those can be handled at far less expense than the provision of toxic antiretroviral drugs.