Helen Epstein is a writer specializing in public health and an adjunct professor at Bard College. She has advised numerous organizations, including the United States Agency for International Development, the World Bank, Human Rights Watch, and UNICEF. She is the author of The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa and has contributed articles to many publications, including The New York Review of Books and The New York Times Magazine. Her research for the article in the November 5, 2015 issue was supported by the Open Society Foundations.
A Mighty Purpose: How Jim Grant Sold the World on Saving Its Children
by Adam Fifield
The United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, was established shortly after World War II to improve the lives of children worldwide, but it was facing hard times when Jim Grant took over as executive director in 1980. In the poor countries where the agency did most of its work, 15 …
Eventually Ebola will be contained in Liberia, and next time people should be ready for it so fewer will die. Maybe none will die if new medicines are developed by then. But the virus has shed light on a far tougher problem. Many Liberians don’t trust their president or her government.
It’s become fashionable lately to disparage democracy. From the failure of “nation building” attempts in Iraq, to the rise of Donald Trump, some see government of the people as a liability in a violent and polarized world. Readers who find such arguments appealing might want to consider moving to impoverished, corruption-ridden Uganda, ruled by President Yoweri Museveni for thirty years through a combination of bribery, blackmail, and brute force.
In exchange for putting Ugandan troops at America’s disposal, Uganda has received some $15 billion in foreign aid from the West since 1990 and a virtual free pass from the US when it comes to human rights violations. Its presidential election on February 18 may be decided outside the voting both.
As the events in Burundi suggest, US support of ugly regimes may ultimately undermine the very stability we are supposedly seeking. In many cases, austerity programs, intended to lead to more efficient government, instead encourage unprecedented corruption.
Even as Ebola hysteria rages in the US, the epidemic here in Liberia, which is supposed to be its epicenter, seems to be subsiding. According to official counts, this impoverished country of 4 million people is currently home to fewer than four hundred Ebola patients and the number of new cases is declining. The paranoid US response could make the disease far more dangerous than it currently is.