Image credit: From J N Ruxon, Medical Hostory, 1994, 38: 363-397
Early one morning in 1988 I arrived early for a meeting in Chinsali, a small town in NE Zambia. I went into the dilapidated council chamber. There was no one else there and on the table was a copy of the Mining Mirror. It stood out because I’d never seen a copy before (Chinsali is miles away from Zambia’s copper belt, where the Mining Mirror is published) and it was printed to a very high quality which contrasted starkly with the dilapidated surroundings.
On page three, bottom right was a picture very similar to the one that accompanies this text except that it was an African mother and child and there was no medicine so the photo smacked of desperation not hope. Along with the photo was a caption that went something like this:
1 in 5 of our children don’t make it to their 5th birthday
When we’ve sorted out this human catastrophe
we’ll start looking into the AIDS issue
At that time this view was not unusual. AIDS was seen by many people in low income countries as a preoccupation of the rich world. It’s something we, in the rich world, could actually catch and die of – a direct threat to us. A child dying in Africa from diarrhoea evokes our sympathy but not our fear. Not so in Africa. Today, in Africa alone, 4 children die every minute from simple causes like dehydration from diarrhoea. That’s 5,500 a day, 2 million a year. And those statistics have not really changed significantly since that morning in Chinsali twenty years ago. Tragically, the figure for HIV/AIDS deaths is now very similar: 1 every 16 seconds.
I wonder what the poor in Africa are thinking right now about the credit crunch? What do you think?