Sunday, December 2

World Aids Day - some discrepancies

I am watching that admirable man, Nelson Mandela on TV, with his AIDS charity 46664 holding a concert on the occasion of World Aids Day. Quite an interesting global effort to drive solutions on this disease, but again, I am a bit curious about  which diseases get global attention and which do not. For example, see here. The graph of projected global deaths from various selected diseases on page 12 shows that cancers, heart diseases and strokes deaths are higher than AIDS. Another interesting factoid:

The total number of tobacco attributable deaths is projected to rise from 5.4 million in 2005 to 6.4 million in 2015 and to 8.3 million in
2030. Tobacco is projected to kill 50% more people in 2015 than HIV/AIDS and to be responsible for 10% of all deaths.

So you don't really get the same kind of attention to tobacco deaths across the world as you get for AIDS, do you? I suppose this is what is called as the diseases of affluence syndrome. Or is this because AIDS is more "sexy" than say "dysentery"? which kills more? See this (Annex Table 3). This shows how the deaths pan out in various regions by cause. Then map how many "World ???? Days" do you see against that mortality list. Curious, no?

Another couple of points for which I do not have any facts or figures but just struck me. Why there is more western media attention paid to AIDS in Africa compared to AIDS in say India?.

And another discrepancy, at the concert in Johannesburg, most of the attendees seemed to be white in colour. I am not sure why that was the case. Bit puzzling that.

All this is nothing to take away from the fact that AIDS needs to be fought, but wearing my economist hat, I am curious why resources are being invested in diseases which, prima facie, show lesser returns). I wonder if there is any kind of resource modelling aspect around? Then again, World AIDS Day is more "sexy" than World Dysentery Day??

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