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Opinions: Pragmatic Vs. Moral Approach To Health Care Access; Pres. Bush’s PEPFAR

Rights Advocacy Not The Best Approach For Global Health

“[T]he global campaign to equalise access to healthcare has had a surprising result: it has made global healthcare more unequal,” William Easterly, a professor of economics at New York University and co-director of its Development Research Institute, writes in a Financial Times opinion piece. According to Easterly, “It is impossible for everyone immediately to attain the ‘highest attainable standard’ of health (as the health rights declaration puts it). So which ‘rights to health’ are realised is a political battle.” Antiretroviral treatment, funded through donations, is the “biggest victory of the ‘right to health’ movement,” he writes. “Saving lives in this way is a great cause – except to the extent that it takes resources away from other diseases. Alas, many observers fear that is exactly what it did,” according to Easterly, who points to a 2009 World Bank evaluation, which “faulted the bank for allowing AIDS treatment to drive out many other programmes.”

“Rights advocacy also favours some aspects of health relative to others. Those who are HIV-positive advocate effectively for their right to treatment, while those who will get AIDS in the future cannot organise a lobby for a ‘right to prevention,'” he notes. “The pragmatic approach – directing public resources to where they have the most health benefits for a given cost – historically achieved far more than the moral approach,” Easterly concludes (10/12).

Pres. Bush’s Africa, HIV/AIDS Legacy 

Former President George W. Bush “did more to help Africa and more to combat the AIDS virus globally than any other president in history,” Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, an investigative reporter and lawyer, writes in a FOXNews.com opinion piece. Shapiro highlights PEPFAR as evidence of the former president’s success in Africa. He writes that the program “has reportedly saved at least hundreds of thousands of lives in the 15 African countries targeted as part [of] the legislation.”

According to Shapiro, “In a time when few leaders showed any interest at all, President Bush selflessly demonstrated tremendous leadership to help Africa and showed incredible compassion to people suffering from the horror of the AIDS virus.” He concludes, “These monumental strides should finally be taken into account when judging him in the historical record” (10/12).