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Apr 26, 2006

World Bank Accused of Dropping the Ball on Malaria Program

As I continue the course of anti-malarial tablets that I'm supposed to take for four weeks after returning from India, an article from yesterday’s Independent caught my eye:
The world's largest foreign aid organisation is accused today of deception and medical malpractice that has contributed to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of children from malaria.

The World Bank, which has a $20bn (£11.2bn) budget and a mission to reduce poverty, is alleged to have published misleading financial claims and false statistical accounts and wasted money on ineffective medicines for treating the disease, which kills more than a million people a year, 90 per cent of them children….

… Today, 13 malaria specialists from around the world accuse the World Bank of reneging on its promise to spend at least $300m on malaria control in Africa. They say much of its spending from 2000 to 2005 has been concealed, but the available figures suggest it has spent less than half the amount pledged….

… Writing in the online edition of The Lancet, the authors, led by Professor Amir Attaran, a lawyer and malaria specialist from Ottawa University, say they made repeated attempts to raise their concerns with the Bank but were refused a meeting. "We therefore introduce our recommendations here, for concerned citizens to contact their elected representatives and urge the necessary changes on the Bank," they write.

It’s unclear whether these allegations tell the whole story or if these charges are trumped up, but the authors of the Lancet article raise an important issue, and this will be an interesting story to follow.

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