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Sustained inequities in global health funding

By Morris DC Komakech

Despite the increase in global wealth, global inequalities have also expanded

We have reached that phase of life where our imagination of foreign cultures, traditions, and certain practices should have changed for good. The technological boom in the last two decades has fused the world, bringing international boundaries and communities in proximity. We now have command of what we want to know and when we want it.

We know events world over the moment they happen and share our emotions of happiness or empathy of it as global citizens on social media.    With this proximity, one would imagine that we are becoming acquainted with and appreciative of our differences. But it appears that the closer we get, the more we become conscious of persistent global inequities.


It is accurate to say that the major social innovation of our generation is the discovery of the internet. Because of this innovation, the volume of global wealth has increased. The 2013 Credit Suisse Global Wealth report shows that global wealth has increased to a new height, standing at US$241 trillion, a 4.6% increase from the previous year, representing 68% increment since 2003. And there is great hope that global wealth will increase by 40% to US$334 trillion by 2018. The CSGW measures and analyses trends in wealth across nations – from the very bottom of the “wealth pyramid” to the ultra-high net worth individuals.

Despite the increase in global wealth, global inequalities have also expanded. According to World Bank, 95% of the world’s population is surviving on less than US$10 a day. The poorest 40% of the world’s population account for 5% of global income. The richest 20% account for three-quarters of the world’s income. UNICEF estimates that 22,000 children die daily due to poverty. There are over 40 million people living with HIV in the world today and 80% – we are told – live in Sub-Sahara Africa.

These trends reveal that the wealth being created is accumulating in the hands of few individuals, moreover within specific geographic locations – Europe, Australia, Japan and North America.

With increasing global wealth, there is also increasing global inequality and inequities. Ironically, the countries where much wealth is being accumulated are also countries which lack in almost every ingredient for the wealth that they accumulate. They do not have sufficient mineral wealth; they suffer from harsh periodic weather conditions and endure some of the worst natural calamities such as hurricanes and so forth.

The poorest areas in the world are also the richest in resources; Gold, Oil, Diamond, Cobalt, Coltan, Uranium, Timber, Grass, Rain forests, fertile soil, great weather, steady supply of solar energy, fresh water bodies, rivers, and exceptional spread of coastal lines, among others.

Over the years, I have thought hard about the gloom that has befallen Black Africa since the start of modern civilisation. The racist global world order has set low expectation for black people. In 2011, the American Republican Party students held a bake sale at the University of California, Berkeley. They baked cakes for sale and colored them according to racial composition of America. For pricing, the White cakes were $2, followed by Asian cakes for $1.5, the Latinos for $1 and the blacks cakes were priced lowest, at $0.75.

Although the cake sale organisers claimed that they were showcasing realities of racism and inequities in American society, they made their point.

The wealth of the world has been distributed in a similar unequal manner. It is reflected in resources and funding for global health. Usually diseases considered to be for white people including its medical research attract large funding. When it comes to funding for diseases and conditions considered affecting predominantly Black communities, the story changes – always series of debates followed by long unexplained delays until a crisis level is obtained. A clear example is the politics behind securing sufficient funding for HIV/AIDS research and treatment of malaria, tuberculosis and other tropical diseases.

Morris Komakech is a social critic and political analyst. Can be contacted via [email protected]

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