Africa High School Debate Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its public health assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa.

See the video on the economics of development in Africa. Ghanaian economist George Ayittey (link fixed, 1/2011) unleashes an almost breathtaking torrent of controlled anger toward corrupt leaders and the complacency that allows them to thrive. These 'Hippos' (lazy, slow, ornery) have ruined postcolonial Africa, he says. Why, then, does he remain optimistic? Because of the young, agile 'Cheetah Generation,' a 'new breed of Africans' taking their futures into their own hands.” [Text and video from TED website]

Click here to learn how Rwanda's recently liberalized coffee industry is not just raising incomes but also promoting peace and reconciliation!

Hamlet DDT To DDT or not to DDT, that is the question... Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles...

CORE Africa Malaria is the number one killer of children under the age of five and pregnant women in Africa. In Uganda about 400 lives are lost daily to this preventable disease. The CORE-Uganda Anti-Malaria Campaign focuses on making the grassroots people, in the villages as well as urban centers, to become more aware of malaria, how it is contracted, its cure, and prevention, through community driven initiatives and programs.

Africa Fighting Malaria

Firms provide clean and safe water to save lives. A major public health advance for Africa. Aug. 14, 2007 Wall Street Journal article discussing operations in India. (at NextBillion) Company website with details. Founder and President is Ghanaian Dr. Tralance Addy.

In the news... Improve public health in Africa by reducing costly government food transfers to Africa...

Public Health

Very cool GapMinder animation of family size and child mortality rate improvements over last 40 years. Note the color of bubbles that stay with high mortality rates. And note at end of animation the significantly better progress in Bangladesh compared to Pakistan. Bangladesh was East Pakistan before independence. Significantly lower child mortality rates (a key public health measure) in Bangladesh are attributed in part to microfinace success in funding rural enterprises. See discussion and links on ET Debate page. Micro-lending and improved public health. A speech by Nobel Peace Prize winner, a project of Mercy Corps (a major NGO), has prepared a page with links to articles for the Africa/Public Health debate topic. GlobalEnvision and Mercy Corps should be a major resource for debaters. Their staff has first-hand knowledge and experience with public health projects around the world. Campaign for Fighting Diseases has many scholarly articles on global public health.


2006 Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus for the 4th World Health Care Congress, 22-24 April, 2007, Washington. Presentation links microfinance to health care improvements. Transcript of 2007 speech here.Adobe Acrobat version of 2005 talk here. • Video here. M. Yunus explains origin of Grameen Bank (small loans to the poor, allowing them to escape local moneylenders), and explains why it is important for the poor to pay for their own health insurance and care: "the important thing they must pay something, they must feel that this is a service they are buying, so that they feel equal, they don’t feel small. When you are taking something free, you feel small. You cannot claim, you cannot demand something, because you have not established any claim because you’re not paying. Payment is a claim that I do this and you do this. It’s a kind of two-way relationship." (from transcript of interview that follows speech).

Designs for the developing world... the other 90%. Short video on design innovations to improve public health. At least a dozen affirmative case ideas here. "They are very entrepreneurial, they will do the rest... They don't need a handout, what they need is an opportunity."

A major public health problem in Sub-Saharan Africa is respiratory infections from air pollution. Not from factories or coal-fired electric-power plants, but indoor air pollution from wood burning stoves. Dr. Amy Smith is featured in 15-minute TED video and outlines public health benefit of new cooking fuel that: "has the potential to make a huge impact around the world. It addresses one of the biggest health issues on the planet, the number one cause of death of children under five... breathing the smoke from indoor cooking fires....can't we make cleaner burning cooking fuels... how is it that this can lead to two million deaths a year?..." Affirmatives can push "carbon macrotube" technology. Video segment begins with Haiti, moves to India, and then to Africa. "Worldwide you could prevent a million dealths switching from wood to charcoal as a cooking fuel." Trip to Ghana and fuel is "fully functional, field-tested, ready to roll out..." Health benefits, environmental benefits, economic benefits. Microfinance and microenterprise to implement basic new technologies...

Bias in academic research is always a concern. If 75 percent of scientists calling for increased government funding of climate change research were themselves funded by government agencies, skeptics would be reasonably be suspicious of their research agenda and conclusions. Similarly, if 75 percent of economists whose articles had been published in a leading development journal were themselves employed by or receiving funding from government-funded development institutions (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, U.S. AID, United Nations, etc.), skeptics would reasonably be suspicious of their studies claiming foreign aid was good for the developing world. This article in EconJournalWatch found 75 percent of articles published in the Journal of Development Economics had ties to the "Big 8" development agencies. And 25 of the 26 journal editors had ties with these government-funded agencies. Who in this clubby world of development aid expert/recipients would be willing to report fairly on failed foreign aid programs? Click here for pdf of this 2004 article.See also this Spring, 2007 EJW article on trail-blazing development economist Peter Bauer.

"No amount of foreign aid will make a difference in Africa" John Githongo, former Kenyan anti-corruption official (in Stossel segment with June Arunga and Jeffrey Sachs on foreign aid). Click here for BBC article and video segment "A fearless Kenyan whistle-blower." Click here for Cato Center for Global Liberty & Prosperity study Kenya's Fight Against Corruption. Audio and video from Cato Inst. presentation.

Watch Hernando de Soto "Capitalism Redefined" segment on Peru/Tanzania legal institutions segment.
Online interview here.

Monique Maddy is from Liberia and worked for the United Nations before going to Harvard Business School and then launching a telecommunications company in Africa. Her book, Learning to Love Africa: My Journey from Africa to Harvard Business School and Back is highly recommended. Here is an excerpt from Monique Maddy's website on the book: Born in Yekepa, a tiny village transformed into a utopian global community by a Swedish multinational corporation, Maddy introduces us to her remarkable father, Emmanuel, an enterprising driver-turned-restaurateur, and her mother, Julia, the descendant of an equally remarkable family of Mandingo entrepreneurs. With loving descriptions of life in this developing world, Maddy introduces us to the sophisticated business skills of her ancestors and shows how her family's acumen and emotional strength became a launching pad for her own ambitions. Google Video of presentation • Information on Learning to Love Africa (Amazon). Also, see the Global Envision interview with Monique Maddy.

The Cell Phone Revolution in Kenya (pdf of study). Are cell phones and other western gadgets just an uneeded expense and distracting gadget for Africans. A BBC reporter seems to think so--until he travels to Africa and learns how cell phones have quickly brought tremendous benefits to everyday people. In Kenya, where government has a monopoly on telephone land lines, only the rich and politically-connected had telephones.

At DataDyne, we are developing sustainable, opensource information technologies to help CDC, WHO, the American Red Cross, UNICEF, and others use information technology to collect and share health information in service to the world's most needy populations. -- Former Collegiate School and St. John's School debate coach David Beers, now president of PikeSoft, helped develop the EpiSurveyor software for DataDyne's public health data collection technology, now used in Africa.

Another wireless technology able to deliver public health services to rural Africa...

The Economic Freedom of the World Index compares countries on various key measures of economic freedom (sound currency, low taxes and tariffs, transparent legal systems, limited government, etc.). This annual study provides empirical evidence that economic freedom leads directly to economic growth and improvements in health and other measures. The entire report, along with all the data sets, can be downloaded.

See malaria article in July 2007 issue of National Geographic (I am unable to find the graphic above online. It is on page 63 of the print edition). National Geographic gives an overview of malaria and the effetiveness of DDT, but can't quite bring itself to admit that pressure from environmentalists (influenced by Rachael Carson's flawed Silent Spring) to reduce DDT use in develping countries led directly to the resurgence of malaria in Africa and other countries, and to millions of unnecessary malaria deaths.

For more on malaria in Africa see (the text in graphic above makes clear that when DDT use stopped, malaria skyrocketed. The chart (click it for larger version) claims malaria was reduced when "Multidrug therapy with artemisinin becomes standard in KwaZulu-Natal." Only in text does NG note "Renewed DDT spraying in 200 and new drugs helped turn the tide.")

Here is Wall Street Journal report on public health debate over WHO and DDT use.

Here is John Teirney's excellent Science Times article (New York Times, June 5, 2007) contrasting Rachael Carson's claims with review by University of Wisconsin agricultural bacteriologist I.L. Baldwin.

A separate Wall Street Journal oped (Give Us DDT, June 12, 2007 ) by director general of health services for the Republic of Uganda, Sam Zaramba (excerpt):

Although Uganda's National Environmental Management Authority has approved DDT for malaria control, Western environmentalists continue to undermine our efforts and discourage G-8 governments from supporting us. The EU has acknowledged our right to use DDT, but some consumer and agricultural groups repeat myths and lies about the chemical. They should instead help us use it strictly to control malaria.

Environmental leaders must join the 21st century, acknowledge the mistakes Carson made, and balance the hypothetical risks of DDT with the real and devastating consequences of malaria. Uganda has demonstrated that, with the proper support, we can conduct model indoor spraying programs and ensure that money is spent wisely, chemicals are handled properly, our program responds promptly to changing conditions, and malaria is brought under control. [Full oped here.]

More on Africa...

Recommended DVD's... Stossel DVD free for teachers and features segments with Jeffrey Sachs, and June Arunga.

More DVD's at Economic Thinking's store: Africa and Devil's Foothpath DVDs featuring June Arunga available from Economic Thinking.

Growing up in Kenya: June Arunga's Story: June Arunga has been featured in a number of documentaries on Africa including The Devil's Footpath (see top right sidebar), and her BBC documentary with Jerry Rawlings, the former President of Ghana, Africa: Who is to Blame? (preview here), and Globalisation is Good, with Johan Norberg (sometimes online with Google Video).

The Devil's Footpath: A Young Person’s Journey through Africa Cato Institute POLICY FORUM - Tuesday, March 30, 2004 4:00 pm Featuring June Arunga, Inter-Region Economic Network, Nairobi, Kenya, and George Ayittey. Click here for Cato audio and video from the Cato Institute.