Apr 30, 2007

SRM-- The African Aids Crisis

"Sub-Saharan Africa... has been more severely affected by AIDS than any other part of the world. In 2006, the United Nations reports, there were in the range of 24.7 million HIV-positive persons in the region, which has just over 11% of the world's population but about 64% of the worldwide total of infected persons. The overall adult rate of infection in Africa in late 2005 was 6.1%, compared with 1% worldwide. By the end of 2005, an emstimated 28.9 million or more Africans had died of AIDS since 1982, including 2.1 million in 2006, which comprised about 72% of global AIDS death in 2006. AIDS has surpassed malaria as the leading cause of death in AFrica, and it kills many times more Africans than war. In Africa, about 59% of infected adults are women."

That's from this link.

The WHO and UN and all those other organizations responsible for the oversight of potential crises on a national scale, predicted this several years ago.

Here's the sad part: because of patent protection on the medications that were developed to combat the virus and its opportunistic morbidity, very few in Africa had access to the help that they needed. It was only in 2005, when the protection period for the patents ended, that generic versions of the drugs could be produced and distributed on a large scale. Before the period ended, it was about $100,000 per year per person for AIDS medication. Now we're running int he hundreds of dollars.

There are people who would say that this is a necessary evil, in order to promote research and free economy etcetera. But here's the deal-- when a necessary evil results in millions of deaths, I think it goes from being necessary to just plain evil.

Nelson Mandella initiated a program to produce generic drugs to help the afflicted in South Africa, and the pharmaceutical companies attempted to sue him. In the words of the (now famous) aphorism, "It's a bad idea to try to sue Nelson Mandela."

Now, thank goodness, Aids medicines are not prohibitively expensive. The Gates foundation, among others, actively campaigns for AIDS relief.

No comments: