Observer Examines Calls For Reworking Health Spending Focus In Africa

The Observer examines the recent appeal by some health experts for an “overhaul of health spending in Africa,” which, they say, focuses on HIV/AIDS and overlooks other deadly diseases, such as diarrhea. “Childhood diarrhoea kills an estimated 1.5 million children under five each year worldwide – at least half of them in Africa – although it is easily treatable with zinc tablets that cost little more than $2 each,” the newspaper writes. While “[d]eveloped countries poured $13.2bn … last year into efforts to combat HIV … [d]iarrhoea received less than 5% of worldwide research and treatment funding.”

Alan Whiteside, the director of the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division at the University of KwaZulu Natal, said the ability for countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 depends on “us getting our focus on AIDS right. Where those goals are missed by the widest margins, AIDS will have been responsible,” Whiteside said. “The focus on treatment has distracted us from prevention. Solutions need to be tailored to the situation in each country. Money needs to be reallocated based on what we know now, not what we knew then.”

The article includes information on the leading causes of death in Africa as well as quotes from HIV/AIDS advocates (Smith, 10/25).

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