Term Paper: African Economy

Pages: 8 (3137 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature - African  ·  Buy This Paper

African Economy

One of the most serious tropical diseases seen around the world is malaria. Malaria has a very significant negative impact on the economic on many of the poorest nations of the world. This article does a survey on the direct and indirect significance of malaria on South Africa and studies the issues regarding the use of Dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane - DDT as an insecticide in the efforts to control the malaria vector. Malaria is recorded as early as the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the records of the Europeans and these records show that malaria had played a significant role in inhibiting the economic development of Africa and also had a role in causing severe economic costs. The areas that are still seen to display the malaria disease today are just one fifth of what was existing at the start of the twentieth century. The use of DDT in the control of the malaria vector is regarded as the cause of this historical success in controlling malaria. However in the recent years there has been an alarming rise in the number of malaria cases being reported from South Africa and this significant rise is seen throughout Southern Africa. (the Economic Costs of Malaria in South Africa: Malaria Control and the DDT Issue)

There have been several factors that have been attributed as the cause for this alarming rise in the number of malaria cases reported. These factors include the higher rainfall in the recent years, increased migration and the reduced use of DDT in controlling the malaria vector. This heavy rise in malaria cases in the recent years is likely to cost the local and national economies a heavy price. The direct costs on the economy of South Africa would include the costs of care and control of malaria while the indirect costs would include the losses in productivity and the loss of future earnings as a result of death due to malaria. The conservative estimates on this economic loss are estimated to be about twenty million dollars for the period 1997 to 1998. In a selected group of countries malaria is likely to cause an economic loss of one thousand million dollars which amounts to nearly four percent of the Gross Domestic Product -GDP for the year 1998. In South Africa malaria is more commonly seen in the rural areas, where agricultural and labor intensive industries rule the roost. The incidence in these rural areas thus has a severe negative impact on the economy and just as in the past has an effect in hampering the economic development of the region.

There are a number of reasons why DDT has been phased out from use in the control of the malarial vector in South Africa. The lobbying of a number of environment conscious organizations is one of the reasons despite the success the insecticide displayed in saving of lives and preventing the disease and its spread in the developing countries. DDT may not be an ideal insecticide, but it does display several advantages over the insecticides available as an alternative and also has a track record that is proven. Despite the fact that a number of countries in Southern Africa still continue to use DDT in an effort to control the malaria vector the UNEP Governing Council has gone ahead and pressed for the banning of DDT and eleven other persistent organic pollutants - POPS. This potential banning threat as seen in the case of DDT displays a trend in which environmental pressure from mostly the developed countries thrusting standards upon the developing economies, where these standards are not accepted nor are they considered appropriate. There are possible alternatives to DDT, but all these alternatives are more expensive and are more complicated in their use than DDT. Thus the banning of DDT would not only cause the removal of the most potent weapon in the control of the malaria vector but also result in the death of many people and bring on very significant economic loss which has been estimate to be about four hundred and eight million dollars on poor countries that can ill afford such losses. (the Economic Costs of Malaria in South Africa: Malaria Control and the DDT Issue)

The WHO report on the effect of Malaria on the African economy in 2000 indicated that the GDP of Africa could have been significantly higher up to one hundred billion dollars if the elimination of malaria had been successful in the earlier years. This report goes on to add that beside increasing the economic productivity it would have had a positive impact in increasing the income of the families in Africa. The evidence was strong in that malaria hindered economic development in Africa and malaria was the major cause in the poor economic performance of the sub-Saharan African countries where there has been a persistent decline in per person GDP since 1990. Statistical estimates show that had malaria been eliminated thirty five years ago then the sub-Saharan Africa's GDP would have been higher by thirty two percent and this would tantamount to five times the developmental aid that was made available to the whole of Africa in 1999. The economic growth of Africa is retarded by about 1.3% every year on account of malaria. This slow down in the economy owing to malaria is over and above the short-term costs of the disease. The short-term benefits by controlling malaria itself work out to be between three to twelve billion dollars every year. (Economic Costs of malaria are many times higher than previously estimated)

Malaria is thus has a negative impact on the living standards of the future generations, which many consider unnecessary and a handicap on the economic development of the continent that can be prevented. Malaria free countries are seen to average three times more GDP per person than countries ravaged by malaria. It is possible to have healthy year of life using one to eight dollars on the effective treatment of malaria and this makes malaria treatment as cost-effective a public health investment as is the case with measles vaccines. Malaria is seen as negatively impacting on the health and development of the children of Africa and acts as a drain of life on the African economies. The report goes on to recommend that one billion dollars be spent every year on the prevention and control of malaria and this expenditure be mostly centered on Africa. This amount is much greater than what is currently being spent on these measures. The argument in favor of this expenditure is that it is economically justifiable in that the short-term benefits by the effective control of malaria would bring about an increase of about three billion dollars to twelve billion dollars in the productive capacity of Africa.

Malaria is the cause of about one million deaths every year in Africa and of this nearly seventy percent are children. Studies have shown that the better availability and use of treated mosquito bed nets could prevent fifty percent of the malaria disease seen in children. This is surprising as today only two percent of the children are protected by the use of treated bed nets. Besides the availability and use of treated bed nets other factors that could reduce the spread of malaria include rapid diagnosis and quick treatment with the relevant therapies preferably at home, preventing malaria at the time of pregnancy, and detecting and responding to malaria epidemics quickly. Thus reducing the malaria disease by half is a realistic and achievable target as the tools and the economic justification are present. The factors that need to come into play are leaders fro both the private and public sectors to come forward to undertake the responsibility. (Economic Costs of malaria are many times higher than previously estimated)

The economic performance of the African countries in 2002 was not as expected with a drop seen from an average of 4.3% in 2001 to 3.2% in 2001. Taking into consideration all the fifty three countries in Africa only five countries met the Millennium Development goals of seven percent growth. Among the others forty three registered a growth rate of less than seven percent and five even showed a negative growth rate. The reasons for the poor economic performance in Africa can be put down to drought and HIV / AIDS in various parts of southern and eastern Africa and armed conflicts in Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. Yet well managed countries with solid reform agendas and a record of good governance and stability did show good performance with Mozambique standing out with twelve percent growth among then fastest in Africa. Countries like Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda with well managed reforms also performed reasonably well and shoeing a growth rate of six percent. The worrying trend for Africa includes the drop in the bilateral flow of official development assistance- ODA to African economies seen in the last decade with the exception of education. (Overview -… [END OF PREVIEW]

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