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[afro-nets] RFI: Fight against malaria - Media Effectiveness (3)

  • From: "George Kent" <kent@hawaii.edu>
  • Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2006 08:56:29 -1000

RFI: Fight against malaria - Media Effectiveness (3)

I want to thank Peter Burgess for this commentary. It makes very important points. However, I would like to place it into a broader context.

While it is true that malaria kills millions of children every year, there are several other things that are big killers as well. Here is a graphic from UN agencies that shows the distribution of causes of death.

Regardless of which of these causes may interest us, it is important to know that every single year, over ten million children die before their fifth birthdays. There are two important things about this:
(1) the number is so large, and
(2) many people don't know it. Isn't that strange?

Of course, there is something to what you say Peter. But why are the current patterns of management so dysfunctional? I think it is because there is no serious commitment on the part of the rich countries to help
the poor countries. Thus, the rhetoric is fine, but the delivery is not. Just look at the Millennium Development Program.

I appreciate Peter's concern with clarifying the relevant values. (My paper at http://www2.hawaii.edu/~kent/Valuation%20in%20Development%0Projects.pdf may be of interest.) However, I think there is an important point that is missed. In the World Bank's recent book on Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Development, they make the argument that "investing" in nutrition would be wise because small inputs are likely to yield large benefits. However, there is little discussion about who is to do the investing and who is to get the returns. If I am told that if I invest a thousand dollars in some project, you will get fantastic returns from it, I donât really have much incentive to make that investment. If you were my brother or my uncle, I might consider the investment, but if you were a complete stranger, I would walk away from this so-called opportunity.

I think the bottom line is that the rich really don't care that much about the poor. How do you fix that?

Aloha, George

Professor George Kent
Department of Political Science
University of Hawai'i
Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822

Phone: +1 808 396-9422
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