Week 9

Seeing the Whole Picture

Kalofonos’s article on the paradox of AIDS treatment interventions in central Mozambique was interesting read on how there are many different factors involved in analyzing a study or campaign. The treatment of people with HIV/AIDS in Mozambique can be seen as an improvement to outside perception, especially when media is calculated in its release of information. Like we learned a few weeks ago media is able to hide and expose the things they want you to know about. Even though the people infected with HIV/AIDS are being treated their treatment is not as powerful because the people are starving. The irony of attempting to cure someone of one disease while they suffer from another is crazy. Lack of hunger ruins community relations within the HIV/AIDS group as they compete and mistrust each other due to lack of opportunity and food. How are people supposed to heal when they are slowly dying inside? The ARVs are a step in the right direction but with all this biological improvements in technology and disbursement there has to be a move to treating hunger and malnutrition. Ignoring the socioeconomic inequalities causing people to suffer and die of hunger, is just missing the whole view. To understand and actually make a difference we must address the issue of the health in Africa and one common problem. The HIV/AIDs program should be combined with the food services for everyone in the area, but that is just my idealist approach on life.
Our second article of the week about female poverty and fear of infertility mad me really feel for the women who dealing with such hardships due to their geographic location. The women of Cameroon are fighting for their bodies without the proper fuel to keep them on the battlefield. I never really though about the ramifications it would be to not have children. Not being to have children is non- profitable and a disgrace in African communities. The poverty leads women to be infertile causing them to lose access to land if divorced by their husband, leading to more poverty. The cycle of poverty is endless. This is similar in Somalia and other Middle Eastern countries. Women have no access to land or rights, this all lies in their husband. America publicized the exploitation of the women in the Middle East but we never heard about the suppression of African woman’s rights and chance to life. African women are being forgotten and ignored, which in itself a genocide make that femicide, because they are being neglected basic human rights due to lack of fertility. I was born in Sudan, I could be one of those women if my parents hadn’t come to the U.S. I am grateful.

The beauty and strength of African Women ....

Some more info on the rights African Women

More Harm Than Help

“All I Eat is ARVs” by Andreas Kalofons discusses the implications of antiretroviral treatment that exacerbated hunger leading to intense competition for limited resources. It demonstrates how a health treatment can result in suffering and dehumanizing effects. Therefore, political and economic concerns are sidelined by targeting a biological condition. ARVs also affect the issue of food aid. Rather than attempting to create political change, people simply seek accomodation within the status quo.

In “Strerilizing Vaccines or the Politics of the Womb: Retrospective Study of a Rumor in Cameroon” by Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg, the author explores how people in Cameroon propagated a rumor that created hysteria by deeming anti-tetanus vaccinations to be sterilizing vaccinations implemented by the government. It demonstrates how history (“historically deep” analysis according to Paul Farmer) contributes to mistrust of the government.  Her article also discusses the role of women, especially because infertility contributes to female impoverishment by decreased interest from husbands.

Both articles refer to elements of public health that are supposed to help the people but instead creates detriment in the society. The idea of compulsory sterilization is reminiscent of the policies implemented during the Nazi regime in which 400,000 were sterilized by force during the 1940s. However, even in the 21st century where eugenics doesn’t seem to be to a pressing, people are wary of the government’s intentions when it comes to anything involving public health. In this article, NPR discusses how vaccine mistrust is prevalent in Africa:


Health Interventions

In the two articles, “All I eat is ARVs” and “Sterilizing Vaccines or the Politics of the Womb,” I learned that trying to help a population without taking into account other factor, such as the historical past (colonialism), culture/beliefs about medicines, or the social structure of families, can really put a stop everything to everything that you’re working to do, and can even make the situation worse for people.

Giving people in Central Mozambique antiretrovirals yet not addressing structural factors that are making people go hungry created problems, suspicions, tensions, and competition due to the food scarcity that exists. Those that were taking the ARVs became very hungry, and either had to work to get money for food—which made them weaker, or simply starve was a horrible situation that the PLWHA were in. Though the associations tried to plan ahead and provide food, it was simply not enough.

Trying to vaccinate only a female population without really stopping to think of how past vaccinations were carried out, why, and how effective they were, is vital to the success of future vaccination campaign or other health initiative. By not taking into account such factors, young women feared that they were sterilized and engage in unprotected sex which led to a rise in pregnancies, and led to a rise in abortions. In the pursuit of advancing medicine, people have and can be harm if inequalities are not addressed. As we know in the U.S, the Tuskegee Experiment was horrible and a completely pointless experiment since there was already a cure for syphilis. It’s been decades since the experiment ended, but the effects of the experiment have created distrust for African-Americans to participate in any type of testing or research.

Article on Tuskegee aftermath: “Ethical Considerations for Conducting Cancer Medical Studies: The Tuskegee Study Aftermath”



In Timothy Mitchell’s “Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity” , Mitchell provides a connection between the conditions of war and the expansion of disease. By analyzing the malaria epidemic of 1942 in Egypt, he states the connections to famines, wars and epidemics between food webs, rivers, and dams.”Disease often moves with the changing movements of people, and modern war causes large numbers to find routes outside existing networks of trade and migration. ” Often times when we focus on a genocide we neglect the effects the war maybe have on the biological human self. Not just having to deal with war, which weaken many people immune systems, the people in developing countries deal with health disparities that are in place due lack of income. 90% of the people infected with malaria in Egypt were below the poverty line. During WWII, the malaria epidemic and war where consequences brought to Egypt by the German invasion. ” The disease, combined with war conditions and the construction of the Aswan Dam which depleted the region of agricultural resources, sending Egypt into a state of famine, claimed the lives of more than 1 million people.” Mitchell attributed the fact that war route that the Europeans used was through Egypt, which explains how the epidemic was spread.
Very much like the spread of small pox to the Native Americans, the Europeans brought so many problems for the Egyptians through their war route. Through war Europeans are known for binging in diseases and hardships to the people of the land they are intruding on. By using globalization and the Western state of mind, Europeans believe everything they do is beneficial of the country they are affecting especially if they are a developing country.

Event though Malaria deaths have went down, Malaria still has its hold on developing countries today.”In 2010, malaria caused an estimated 655 000 deaths, mostly among African children…. Most deaths occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute of malaria.” —–> http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/



Timothy Mitchell’s “Can the Mosquito Speak?” was a real eye opening article. In it, he describes the “attack on the human” and the catastrophic effects of the malaria outbreak in a time of war. The article really exposes the intersectionality of people’s suffering, and how there are many more factors to consider. Dams were built in order to improve agriculture (though this was not the case), and was a “means to demonstrate the strength of the modern state” (Page 21) yet no real research of the area was done so the temperature, ecosystems were never understood and the end result was the spread of a dangerous malaria, that traveled along the route of the dam construction.

The year is 1942, and there in the midst of these malaria outbreaks is a war, WWII, which means there are shortages everywhere. The shortages affect Egypt greatly, because of their heavy reliance of chemical fertilizers which leads to their food shortage. People are stricken with hunger that lowers their immune systems, which then make them susceptible to death because of the malaria.

Outbreaks and diseases without a doubt harm the social fabric of a society. Outbreaks and genocides can also go hand in hand. Genocide by neglect occurs when the government neglects healthcare, or any type of aid to a group; especially when deaths can be prevented by inexpensive vaccines as in the case of the Matses people in Peru.


More Information on government neglect of Matses people:


Non-Human Agents

The first chapter entitled “Can the Mosquito Speak?” in Mitchell’s book Rule of Experts highlights the fact that the destructive consequences of malaria was responsible for more deaths than warfare and the German invasion of northern Egypt in 1942. Yet, there are rarely any accounts of the malaria epidemic. Mitchell argues that this is because mosquitos are a non-human agent of death and are therefore omitted from the history of Egyptian development. Even though he acknowledges that humans and non-human agencies are interconnected, Mitchell’s reading encourages social scientists to look beyond simply human agencies and consider non-human agents as variables.

Mitchell’s article makes a great point; while we focus on casualties of war and genocide that are inflicted directly by humans, non-human agents such as vectors of diseases are rarely given any attention. These non-human agents are propagated by conditions created by humans but because the causality is not as apparent, human suffering is often ignored. One of the non-human agents that also catalyzes suffering is the environment. For example, when we think of the Rwandan genocide we think of violence but rarely do we consider the environmental landscape that creates the backdrop for the Rwandan genocide. Factors like soil erosion, overgrazing, land scarcity, population pressures, and wetland destruction, have all contributed to the destruction created by the Rwandan genocide.

Learn more about environmental impact on Rwanda: Environmental causes and impacts of the genocide in Rwanda … (http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajcr/article/viewFile/63313/51197.)