On Monday David Cameron pledged another £814m ($1,335m) that we supposedly don’t have to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) over the next 4 years. This brings, according to the figures in their press release, the UKs contribution up to $2,449m once money already contributed is added in.
The other big (min $200m) contributors (in descending order) are:
|1,341||Bill and Melinda Gates Charitable Foundation|
* With another $90m subject to congressional approval.
Yup, that’s right. The UK is contributing, all told, over 33% of the monies pledged and a sum which is greater than the next two donors put together.
Feel free at this point to repeatedly bash your head against the nearest solid object as you marvel in the astonishing profligacy of the UKs elected politicians when it comes to other people’s money.
But is this really all about the money? Is not preventing deaths from diseases which no longer plague what we refer to as the Developed World a good thing? You’d have to be a cold hatred, callous individual to think otherwise, surely?
I won’t try to be that person but I will attempt some crystal-ball gazing.
Let’s work on the premise that preventing the deaths of a projected 3.9m people from diseases such as yellow fever, meningitis, various strains of hepatitis, rubella, typhoid and others over the next 5 years is a good thing and look then to a future where all these people are walking around.
Some obvious items spring to mind:
These are all things that, if certain groups are to be believed, are already in crisis due to the current population count. I’m not one of those but I’m not foolish enough to say that adding these extra people, plus whatever offspring they produce, to the system isn’t potentially going to result problems in countries where they already struggle by on subsistence level farming.
Are we also therefore going to subject them to enforced industrialisation, accelerating them through a process which started in the UK at approximately the turn of the 18th Century with agriculture as we moved away from subsistence farming and consequentially were able to develop new industries? That countries in the third world need industrialisation in order to thrive is indisputable but what right have we to force it up on them? And if we don’t are we going to be spending yet more money in the years ahead to provide food aid to all these people we have saved and their descendants?
Those who are ashamed of our colonial past argue that aid is a way to relieve guilt, bloody money as it were, to apologise for leaving them trapped in a world that is technically and socially well beyond where they might otherwise have been. But does continued aid, however it comes, not reduce these countries to the status of welfare dependents, encouraging them to rely on ‘free’ money from overseas instead of standing on their own two feet and moving forwards?
As always there are no easy or glib answers but once again I am left to wonder if anyone is actually even considering the questions.