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The TPP Agreement & Implications for Access to Essential Medicines

“Recently, in a meeting of trade ministers in Maui, Hawaii, negotiators failed to finalize the text of the [Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)] Agreement due in large Read More

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The Rise of Violence Against Women up the Global Health Agenda

In recent years violence against women (VAW) has won itself a steady position on the global health policy agenda. Historically, women have faced power inequalities Read More

Ebola

Ebola vaccine shows promising results

Efficacy and effectiveness of an rVSV-vectored vaccine expressing Ebola surface glycoprotein: interim results from the Guinea ring vaccination cluster-randomised trial   Source: Ebola vaccine shows Read More

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Angus Deaton’s Cartoonish Moral Calculus

In July of 2015, I posted this article in the Boston Review to address not only the absurd comments from Angus Deaton, but also the shocking, pervasive racism that is so often expressed by intellectual yet arrogant people.
I spend a lot of time explaining and promoting Rwanda’s record on public health to audiences around the world. Together with our research and funding partners, Rwanda has made unprecedented strides on almost every health measure. We are one of the few developing countries that will meet all MDG targets. All Rwandans have access to health insurance, and maternal mortality has fallen at historically unprecedented rates.
For Angus Deaton, these gains only served to entrench dictatorship and repression in Rwanda. How? By threatening to let our children die unless altruistic and gullible Westerners pay our government to keep them alive.
Deaton believes that we ‘provide health care for Rwandan mothers and children’ in order to ‘insulate ourselves from the needs and wishes of our people’. I can’t tell if he means that Rwandans don’t wish for good health, or that our country would be more democratic if we neglected basic needs.
As a Rwandan, and as a physician, I have heard a lot of outrageous statements in my life. But Professor Deaton has invented an entirely new level of absolutism.
How does one begin to reply? More facts and figures about Rwanda’s progress would only reinforce Deaton’s grotesque logic. Testimonials from the donors and researchers who know Rwanda best would be dismissed as compromised.
Moreover, Rwanda is not the issue here, and I would feel no satisfaction if Deaton apologized to Rwanda and then went to pick on a different country that better exemplifies his stereotypes.
The issue is moral, and it concerns all of us. Deaton’s theory rests on the assumption that Africans don’t feel love for their children. It follows that President Kagame, being an African, sees children as a commodity, like copper or sweet potatoes, to be sold to people in the West who value their lives more highly.
Angus Deaton doesn’t know Paul Kagame from Kunta Kinte. The president is just a cartoon character he uses to argue against foreign aid. Deaton isn’t referring to the real Paul Kagame or the real Rwanda, but to a generic ‘other’ whose moral inferiority is so self-evident that it requires no elaboration.
In other words, Deaton knew his readers would share in the contempt. In point of fact, Paul Singer replied complaining about Deaton’s criticisms of his work; but he made no mention of the scandalous libel of President Kagame.
This is neither ignorance or carelessness. It is an ideology of moral superiority, a form of racism that is all the more pernicious because it has no name and leaves no marks on its victims. Eventually the victims internalize it and come to despise themselves.
By dropping the mask a little, perhaps Angus Deaton has done us all a favor. We need to have more honest conversations about the assumptions implicit in judgments we make about each other.
Rwanda’s story is tragic and hopeful in equal measure. Maybe the first step is for Angus Deaton, Paul Singer, and anyone else who feels concerned by this exchange, to visit Rwanda and see for themselves what kind of people we are, and how we care for our children. They would not be the first visitors to Rwanda who left with a deeper appreciation for our common humanity.


Being Black as a Global Health Hazard

In the US American media, relatively little attention has been devoted to a recent emergency in the Dominican Republic. Thanks to controversial legislation passed there Read More


The TPP Agreement & Implications for Access to Essential Medicines

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“Recently, in a meeting of trade ministers in Maui, Hawaii, negotiators failed to finalize the text of the [Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)] Agreement due in large Read More


Weekend Whinge

Well, what the heck. Here are some of the things that made me roll my eyes this weekend: Give a Goat, Save a Girl. This one pushes all of my buttons, but I’ll just mention two: Dollar handles: For only $117 per year, you—yes you—can save a girl in Zambia. Or you can go with […]


Attitudes and behaviours of maternal health care providers in interactions with clients: a…

Background: High maternal mortality and morbidity persist, in large part due to inadequate access to timely and quality health care.


My journey from civil war to global health

Dr Jibril Handuleh (centre) is physician, researcher and lecturer with dual nationality in Somalia and Djibouti. After training as a general practitioner in his homeland, he overcame multiple challenges to publish 15 papers over the course of two years, in some of the world’s most widely-read medical journals. This is his story. Somalia’s wars, droughts and famines are well known, but less attention is paid to how these problems undermine the nation’s mental health.


Erratum to: Medicines availability for non-communicable diseases: the case for standardized…

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The Rise of Violence Against Women up the Global Health Agenda

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In recent years violence against women (VAW) has won itself a steady position on the global health policy agenda. Historically, women have faced power inequalities Read More


On est ensemble: social capital and maternal health care use in rural Cameroon

Background: Every day approximately 1500 women worldwide die due to pregnancy or childbirth related complications.


Ebola vaccine shows promising results

Ebola

Efficacy and effectiveness of an rVSV-vectored vaccine expressing Ebola surface glycoprotein: interim results from the Guinea ring vaccination cluster-randomised trial   Source: Ebola vaccine shows Read More


Health Aid: Insights From A Review Of Cost-Effectiveness Studies

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Health Aid Is Allocated Efficiently, But Not Optimally according to a new review of cost-effectiveness studies published in Health Affairs. Source: Health Aid Is Allocated Efficiently, Read More


Efficacy and Long-Term Safety of a Dengue Vaccine in Regions of Endemic Disease — NEJM

nejm

A new study on a Dengue Vaccine from The New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates an unexplained higher incidence of hospitalization for dengue in year 3 Read More


Represent

So, I just watched The Gunman (I was stuck on an airplane, okay?). Maybe it was the jet-lag. Or maybe it was the fact that I am still somewhat crabby from Haiti, but I have to say that I just found the portrayal of aid workers and aid NGOs, well, offensive. Not to be all dramatic […]


“Ketamine: a growing global health-care need”

Ketamine__aka_Vitamin_K_by_iDominate

  Ketamine is a valued anesthetic tool in all clinical practice settings. In LMICs, however, ketamine is indispensable for addressing the growing burden of surgical Read More


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