Another one for the “narrow focus kills millions” department:
Wikipedia on Rotavirus Vaccines, which are improving and will save *millions* of people:
An earlier vaccine, Rotashield by Wyeth-Ayerst, had to be taken off the market in the late 1990s after it was discovered in rare cases to be linked to a severe complication called intussusception. This event was so rare that widespread adoption of Rotashield in developing countries would nevertheless have saved millions of lives, but use of a vaccine deemed unsafe in the U.S. was seen as unacceptable.
Also notable is the fact that the new vaccines are very expensive in USA but heavily subsidized in developing world. However still it appears too expensive for widespread use. I remain unclear on how the pharma industry fits into the big picture but it’s a topic I’d like to take on soon as personal research.
When I’ve looked into specifics it generally appears they actually are NOT profiteering from the poor (though certainly they milk the rich like crazy, manipulating people with TV advertising and doctors with freebies). However it seems to me that in developing countries the big pharmas often do the right thing and either give away or heavily discount life saving drugs. But many activists argue they are the major part of the problem – I think due to big pharma’s opposition to widespread generics.
Unfortunately much of that debate is mired in socialist economic diatribes which often suggest that anything corporate is evil, and therefore not reasonably considered part of a solution, rather than looking for the optimal solution point.
Who’d have thunk that spinach was a pretty big biz. This article suggests that the spinach scare is losing a million per day for California farmers, some of whom are plowing it all under and laying off workers.
Of course if people are spending this million on *other* healthful veggies than the positive affects may wash out the negative, but it seems more likely they are buying something less healthful. If true the scare may have a (small) but net negative affect on health.
I think the overreaction to such small things offers great insight into how defectively we process the big stuff like global health and welfare, and lesser but still significant things like automobile and gun dangers and heart risks. Part of this is simple mental accessibility – “news” outlets report things that people can latch on to easily and we like “easy to digest” news sound bytes. But that’s no excuse. The news attention deficit syndrome is a perilous approach in these troubled times.
As with the ridiculous overreaction to Mad Cow non-disease, the spinach “cure” – basically nobody eating spinach for weeks or even months – combined with economic problems from the loss of milions of pounds of the crop, layoffs, and hardships in the agriculture sector, is likely going to have a more negative health impact than the problem itself.
When you expand this defective type of analysis to the overreaction to Global Warming and the underreaction to AIDs, Malaria, and Rotaviral diseases in underdeveloped world that kill millions per year the future looks … ummm….. green and leafy?
The Clinton Global Initiative is tackling the world’s major problems. It’s a great effort with the backing of one of the world’s most effective superpower schmoozers, Bill Clinton. Although I’d suggest that the Copenhagen Consensus is a more rational way to prioritize spending, Clinton’s group is far more likely to bring big money and big corporations and Government interests to the table.
Today’s announcement is that Richard Branson will donate 3 billion towards reduction of Global Warming via the Clinton Global Initiative. Although I’d much rather see the group put more towards current catastrophes at least this donation is consistent with the notion that big providers of greenhouse gasses like Branson’s many transportation interests should do the most to alleviate the effects of those gasses on the environment.
Perhaps my friend Linda was right to suggest that some people will support Global Warming initiatives in ways they won’t get behind those confronting global poverty. If we can do it all that’s great and for the first time in my life I do think there is a great, driving force on the part of most people, policy makers, and even Governments to initiate “Global Improvements”. Let’s do it!
Play Pumps attach a merry go round to water pumps to put the energy of kids to great use in the developing world where clean water is a top priority. Brilliant.