Kristen Sparrow • June 20, 2012
Of course it’s great for Bill Gates to be putting a spot light on malaria, but whether he can apply the same skill set used to build Microsoft to stamp out malaria, remains to be seen. For anyone interested in the issue of the corporate mindset, and the reliance on metrics, and complicated public health issues, education and the like might like these articles.
Our Billionaire Philanthropists
…But the public should take note when a billionaire philanthropist‘s tough-guy decision-making effectively sets social policy in ways that can alter the life chances of millions of other people.
The Gates Foundation’s efforts against malaria, for example, may end up doing more harm than good. An apparent rebound of malaria in Senegal last year speaks ominously to former WHO malaria czar Arata Kochi’s warnings against the Gates Foundation’s monopoly on malaria research and policy back in 2008; the Senegal study, published last year in the Lancet, found not only an increase in insecticide-resistant mosquitoes, but also rebound infections in older children and adults. That troubling trend suggests that some Senegalese may have lost their acquired immunity in the years they’d been sleeping under pesticide-treated nets, which the Gates Foundation has been distributing by the millions in Africa. Malaria expert and science writer Sonia Shah laid out the issues for me in an email:
I think the lesson of history is pretty clear that if economic and other conditions remain the same, malaria resurges when control efforts flag or fail. There is certainly growing evidence that this is happening now. […]..
… Just a few months ago, for instance, the headlines were all about a 40 percent drop in global malaria mortality; today the headlines are all about a huge increase! There’s a lot of hype about malaria, mostly because of the quest for funding, which is a mess right now.
I and others had warned that if the massive scale-up that Gates and Roll Back Malaria were so proud of wasn’t maintained that lives would be lost due to resurgence. Malaria is like a coiled spring; you can depress it by sitting down on it, but as soon as you get up, it jumps back up.
June 19, 2012How the controversy at the University of Virginia reflects the broad shift in our national values
…For as much as this has been described as “remarkable” and “unprecedented,” I can’t help but see it as the microcosm of a dynamic playing out in our politics and across our public institutions. The constant denigration of government and public service, coupled with the often unjustified veneration of business, has led to a world where successful capitalists are privileged in all discussions. In an earlier time, we understood that the values and priorities of the market weren’t universally applicable; of course you wouldn’t run a university like a business. It has different goals, serves different constituencies, and more important, has a broad obligation to serve the public…For the last thirty years, however, we’ve deferred to capitalists and businesspeople in nearly all decisions. A handful of rich people think they know how to run the economy? Great, we’ll let them take care of it. A few billionaires think they know what’s wrong with our education system? Well, we should listen to them! As U.Va professor Siva Vaidhyanathan put it in a piece for Slate:
At some point in recent American history, we started assuming that if people are rich enough, they must be experts in all things. That’s why we trust Mark Zuckerberg to save Newark schools and Bill Gates to rid the world of malaria.