Having lived for several years in East Africa, I am struck by two observations which seem to me to have escaped sufficient reporting. The first concerns the health crisis on the continent. Unlike anywhere that I have ever lived, and especially over the past 5-10 years, I am overwhelmed by the illnesses. When one walks among villages in Uganda, or on the streets of cities such as Nairobi and Kamapal, one sees AIDS. There is no need to go to the local newspapers and read the latest counts. It is right in front of ones eyes. Perhaps more depressing than the AIDS crisis is the problem with malaria. Unlike AIDS, for which we have only the weakest medicines, we certainly do have the medical technology to eradicate most of the problems with malaria. Cracking this problem will not, however, require medical expertise alone. Rather, it will require a creative team of doctors, anthropologists, sociologists, and economists working hand in hand, trying to understand the local mores, the local economy, and the struggles of daily life. It will also have to crack the problem of medical distribution, still a problem in much of Africa.
A second problem comes from my experience teaching in Uganda. I had the great pleasure, and honor of teaching students in Uganda. I have never seen such a thirst to learn. And yet, much of the educational system is lacking in basic supplies and materials that would transfer these students into highly educated scholars. Like the poor distribution of medicinal supplies, there is an equally poor level of educational distribution. The inequities here are dramatic. Those of us who write for the Edge, should put our heads together to think of some way to help, to lend our minds to theirs. Any takers?