Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Acumen, Healthcare and Microfinance

Hat tip to my sister, Beata, for emailing me this one. I may have fallen in love (no, not with my sister). I am now following way too many blogs too many of whom post regularly with 3050 posts read in the last 30 days (I mean Instapundit alone posted 863 - which is a wonder that he gets anything done during the day). Anyway, just had to share this quickly as I am way behind on practically everything.

Acumen is a charity that advocates entrepreneurial solutions. It linked to a speech by Laurie Garrett (a medical and sci fi writer for Newsday). Here are a few quotes (as chosen by Beata):

"For decades global health has been treated as a charity. Billions of people the world over have, for decades, been dependent on the kindness of strangers for their health and survival. While other fields of development may have encouraged capitalist solutions, health has been treated as if it were too sacred to be besmirched by profits. In the wealthy world every aspect of health, from record-keeping to pill-making; ambulance driving to hospitalization, is a profit center. We seem to feel that if you are living in France, Denmark, Canada, Japan – in those places it's ok for hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals to realize profits from the health enterprise. We just don't think that is ok in poor countries.

"I think it's time to tell truth to power: The charity model of global health is racist. It assumes that the health leaders of the poor nations of the world will endlessly get on bended knee, and with outstretched arms beg for alms. It doesn't matter to whom the begging is directed – the World Bank, USAID, Bill Gates, Bono – it is still begging. The charity model offers no supply or resources guarantees over time. Yet it expects targeted achievements, realized in very short time windows, allowing the donor to brag about the numbers of lives saved, thanks to his beneficence.

"I think it's time to get out of the charity model, and get serious about investment. My take-home message is this: Invest in small businesses, even micro-finance approaches to health. Do not invest in models that promote health by subsidizing outside corporate interests. Rather, build local economies and businesses, employ the unemployed, and do so aggressively."
Breathtaking. May many hear and heed her words.

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