A group of public health doctors led by Amir Attaran, a professor at the Institute of Population Health and faculty of Law of Ottawa University, has recently hurled the following accusations against the World Bank:
- In the past 5 years, the Bank has failed to uphold a pledge to increase funding for malaria control in Africa,
- has claimed success in its malaria programmes by promulgating false epidemiological statistics, and...
- has approved clinically obsolete treatments for a potentially deadly form of malaria.
The group also recommended and argued strongly in their paper that the World Bank "should relinquish its funding to other agencies better placed to control the disease."
If you're a registered LANCET user, you can access the full text of their paper here. Otherwise, you can read news reports here and here.
I have long believed that people engaged in business and banking have little or no business taking care of medical/health problems. The respective orientations are simply different. Is there a good doctor taking care of the malaria program inside the WB? There should be. The lack of a good doctor might explain why a "wrong medicine" like chloroquine was continuously provided to a setting where resistant P. falciparum was the prevailing malarial infection present. Banking executives shouldn't be left to decide what the best medical decisions would be in a scenario like this. It's simply not their cup of tea.
"Yet despite these abundant warnings, the (World)Bank supplied India with chloroquine knowing the drug would be used for P falciparum malaria. In 2004, the Bank approved five separate purchases of chloroquine for India, totalling about $1.8 million. The quantities of chloroquine involved exceed 100 million tablets, making it probable that millions of patients having P falciparum malaria received such treatments inappropriately. Both money and lives are needlessly wasted by these decisions, which violate WHO's guidance."
-- excerpt from the original LANCET article