Saturday, September 24, 2005

IMF, Debt, and Millennium Goals

The IMF has agreed to follow through with a pledge to erase 55 billion dollars in debt from 19 African countries. This deal was originally proposed during the G8 meetings in Gleneagle, Scotland during July 2005 - thanks in large part to the work of Bono and Jeff Sachs. While 55 billion is not as high as many had hoped for, the amount does help and gives some promise to the future of those African countries most affected by extreme poverty.

Unfortunately, the US, nor any other nation, has met the promises made during the year 2000 which were aimed at reducing world poverty and outlined in the Millennium Development Goals. The G8 countries pledged 0.7% GDP annually to IMF/World Bank/UN programs aimed at reducing poverty (sustainable farming, infrastructure, education, and health initiatives). Yep, 7 cents of every 10 dollars is all it would take and during the Millennium conference the US promised to give just that. Last week at the World Bank meetings, those same countries looked at where they were 5 years later and realized that they were not on track to meet their 10 year goals and therefore, instead of ramping up efforts to follow through on previous commitments, simply SCALED BACK their earlier promises. However, at the same meeting Bush gave a speech citing the extreme burden of poverty on the future of global democracy, global trade, and economic sustainability, giving some hope that the administration at least understands why it is necessary to make serious commitments to future programs - such as Debt Cancellation.

Why is debt cancellation so important? If a country is trying to climb out of poverty, it needs to invest its money into infrastructure and new business. However, with a high debt, the financial price of servicing that debt is so high, that a country can never get ahead, no matter how innovative and successful its citizens, entrepreneurs, and businesses.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Abbreviated Summer Book Report

Before the summer started, I posted a list of books I would like to read. While I did read quite a few books (more than planned), my actual list of books read deviated significantly from my "wish list" of books that I planned to read. This was due largely in part to finding literature/material worth exploring immediatley within the confines of the book I was currently reading. Here is an abbreviated list of the actual books I read this summer.

1. Dream State
2. The World Is Flat
3. Freakonomics
4. Collapse
5. Rise of the Creative Class
6. Flight of the Creative Class
7. When Germs Travel
8. Mountains Beyond Mountains
9. The End of Poverty
10. Pathologies of Power
11. Infections and Inequalities
12. Beating Back the Devil - a look at the Epidemiological Intelligence Service
13. Cost Effectiveness in Health Economics
14. The Economics and Health and Health Care
15. The Economist - weekly from May - August
16. The Commanding Heights (3 part DVD documentary)

It may not be evident from this list, but a central theme developed in my reading. That theme was focused on what I now see as an ongoing global revolution that I really have only begun to fully comprehend and articulate. That revolution is based in a liberal-capitalism with an inevitible breakdown of nationalistic geopolitical borders as an unstated future goal with the creation of a largely universal governing body arising out of the UN, WTO, World Bank, and other trade institutions. The goal of this revolution is set in technological/economic determinism as the ultimate salvation for an increasing burden of poverty and a rapidly shifting demographic/income distribution throughout the globe.
The major obstacles to these revolutionary ideas are religio-fascist governments/organizations, anti-capitalists, corruption, and, maybe MOST important, poor health and its relationship to poverty.

That's really where things got interesting for me. Its obvious to me and to most people that poor health and poverty go hand in hand - but I had never realized how unified the globalists are in thinking about this relationship and how significant that burden really has become. This allowed me to begin focusing on Health Economics in the latter portion of the summer, with the understanding that implementing global health programs - including treatment, education, prevention are critical to a revolution that will either bypass the many citizens of the world, or crush the coming changes due to an inevitible future resistance by a desperate poor majority - potentially leading to a defeat of this large scale wave of globalization such as was seen in the early 20th centrury with the onset of WWI.

Anyway, as Paul Farmer and others know all to well, the language of global health programs is cost-effectiveness and health economics. As a medical student and anthropologist, I feel that an ethical and critical responsibility lies at my feet in my coming career to craft policy and programs that seek to provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number during a period of rapid economic change by ensuring that people do not needlessly die or lose productive, quality years, from their lives due to easily prevented disease which sometimes have more to do with income distribution and geographic location than they have anything real to do with a person's current health profile.

NY Times

The NY Times now charges for full access to their website. Previously, all material - including the archives, columnists, and the magazine, were free everday. In order to get more than basic news you must now subscribe to "times select" for 8 bux per month. I am dissapointed in this decision even though I realize that NY Times must find creative ways to make money in an increasingly digital news delivery age. However, I feel that the model uses would be most benign and would enable access to everyone with an interest while still making money. If you are not familiar with the website, non-paying customers can access all material by obtaining a "site pass" which includes a viewing a short commercial - not so bad.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

USF - Front and Center on CNN

The USF robotics program made in onto the front page headlines section on for their search and rescue work in Mississippi using robotic planes with mounted cameras

The article can be found at

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Back at it

My laptop died about a month ago - but I'm back up and running now. Combine that with the more standard med school schedule, and I hope to get back to fairly regular posting. Will update on dissertation progress from the summer soon, as well as some discussion on the Hernando Couny HIV project.