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Opinion Piece Responds to ‘Skeptics’ of Development Aid

After a recent trip to Africa, “to see firsthand the region’s fight against malaria,” Tachi Yamada, the president of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in a CNN opinion piece that a visit to a pediatric hospital ward in Zanzibar that did not have “a single patient” was the “single most memorable image of the trip.”

Yamada discusses some of the foundation’s work to combat malaria, highlighting the project in Zambia, where the malaria incidence “declined by more than 50 percent, and child mortality from all causes, including malaria, declined by 30 percent” because of the use of proven interventions, including insecticide spraying, bed net distribution and others. He writes, “Zambia, Zanzibar, and other success stories provide a beacon of hope for the dream of a world free of malaria, articulated by Bill and Melinda Gates in 2007 when they put out a call to eradicate the disease.”

Several “outspoken” voices “question the value and true impact of development assistance,” Yamada writes. However, malaria proves that “political will, advice on planning, funds to purchase sound, scientifically validated tools, and the courage to measure results objectively,” along with “development assistance can have an enormous impact in a short period of time,” according to Yamada.

“Where have all the patients gone? Home, where they can live happier, healthier lives. Let them be the retort to the skeptics of development assistance,” he concludes (Yamada, 10/5).