'Silo' Effect Of Western Health Aid To Africa Damaging Continent's Future

In a two-part series in his Slate blog “The Reckoning,” author Michael Moran examines the “silo” effect of Western aid to improve health in Africa, writing in the first part, “Charities know that raising money for exotic disease eradication in the West is a good deal easier than, say, funding upgrades to substandard cardiac facilities. Yet the later is the real win in the long run.” He references an article published recently in Foreign Affairs by Thomas Bollyky, which Moran summarizes by saying, “Bollyky argues coordinated action to confront communicable crises like HIV/AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis must be part of the world’s approach to global health. But by ignoring far greater, non-communicable problems, he says, we doom Africans to low life expectancies and fail to create the impetus for reform and behavioral changes that could be transformational” (5/28).

In the second part, Moran writes that “the Western approach to aiding developing countries, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, [has] done inadvertent harm,” and discusses how the global financial crisis is affecting aid to the continent. He mentions a discussion with Council on Foreign Affairs Senior Fellow for Global Health Laurie Garrett and a book by economist Dambisa Moyo, both of whom support a broader approach to improving the continent’s health, and concludes, “[O]ur current approach treats symptoms, leaving the problems to create new crises in the future” (5/29).