Invisible Children: Unintended Victims of Gates Foundation?

by Joseph Parker

Critical thinking is important; not just for our kids, but for us as well.

We should be considering every angle of every decision we make, or it may affect our kids in unintended ways!

I came across a front page article in the Los Angeles Times yesterday; an investigation into the Gates Foundation inadvertent affects of Africans due to their emphasis on victims of Aids and Malaria.

Here are a few short excerpts from the article dated December 16, 2007 by Charles Piller and Doug Smith:

…The Gates Foundation has targeted AIDS, TB and malaria because of their devastating health and economic effects in sub-Saharan Africa. But a Times investigation has found that programs the foundation has funded, including those of the Global Fund and the GAVI Alliance, which finances vaccines, have had mixed influences on key measures of societal health:

* By pouring most contributions into the fight against such high-profile killers as AIDS, Gates grantees have increased the demand for specially trained, higher-paid clinicians, diverting staff from basic care. The resulting staff shortages have abandoned many children of AIDS survivors to more common killers: birth sepsis, diarrhea and asphyxia.

* The focus on a few diseases has shortchanged basic needs such as nutrition and transportation, undermining the effectiveness of the foundation’s grants. Many AIDS patients have so little food that they vomit their free AIDS pills. For lack of bus fare, others cannot get to clinics that offer lifesaving treatment….

…By 2005, health expenditures per capita in Botswana, boosted by the Gates donations, were six times the average for Africa and 21 times the amount spent in Rwanda.

Deaths from AIDS fell sharply.

But AIDS prevention largely failed. HIV continued to spread at an alarming pace. A quarter of all adults were infected in 2003, and the rate was still that high in 2005, according to the U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS. In a 2005 survey, just one in 10 adults could say how to prevent sexual transmission of HIV, despite education programs.

Meanwhile, the rate of pregnancy-related maternal deaths nearly quadrupled and the child mortality rate rose dramatically. Despite improvements in AIDS treatment, life expectancy in Botswana rose just marginally, from 41.1 years in 2000 to 41.5 years in 2005.

Dean Jamison, a health economist who was editor of Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, a Gates Foundation-funded reference book, blamed the pressing needs of Botswana’s AIDS patients. But he added that the Gates Foundation effort, with its tight focus on the epidemic, may have contributed to the broader health crisis by drawing the nation’s top clinicians away from primary care and child health.

“They have an opportunity to double or triple their salaries by working on AIDS,” Jamison said. “Maybe the health ministry replaces them, maybe not.

“But if so, it is usually with less competent people.”…

…Eyes brimming with tears of frustration, Majubilee Mathibeli, the nurse at Queen II hospital who gives Moleko her pills, said four out of five of her patients ate fewer than three meals a day.

“Most of them,” she said, “are dying of hunger.”

In recent interviews in Lesotho and Rwanda, many patients described hunger so brutal that nausea prevented them from keeping their anti-AIDS pills down…

…Bill Gates told CNBC earlier this year that GAVI vaccinations had “saved several million lives.”

But experts in global vaccination programs said such claims were hard to validate because so many children in developing nations die of conditions for which no vaccine exists.

Click here to read the full article.

When working with the “widow, the orphan, and the poor,” we must consider the unintended consequences…the collateral damage…caused by our lack of thinking, lack of research, and lack of willingness to do what it will take.

Granted, some will argue the Gates cannot help everyone (which I would agree)…that they are focusing on a specific need…but if even a small portion (a few million) of that money donated (in the billions) could go toward basic health needs, they could help a lot more people than they already are.

In the context of after school programs, mentoring, walking with kids and their families through life…

What are we doing…or not doing…that could be creating inadvertent, unintentional, victims in our desire to do good?

How could our desire to do the right thing be inadvertently be causing more problems?

Are we doing everything we possibly can for the Invisible Children in America?

Let me know what you think.

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One response to “Invisible Children: Unintended Victims of Gates Foundation?

  1. Unfortunately the broader the base that you’re donating to the lower your oversight is. If aid is given for basic infrastructure across a whole society, oversight is near impossible and corruption and bad planning will take a huge bite out of the money that might have reached the people who need it.

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