A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, titled, “Malaria strikes growing number of U.S. travelers,” brings to mind the problems of British travelers of years-gone-by when they went round the world enjoying the fruits of empire.

But, it isn’t just malaria that is making a comeback. The same can be said of infectious diseases such as diarrhea, Hepatitis A and typhoid.

The article cited recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that these diseases are now rampant in most of the developing world. In no coincidence, the very same areas are those suffering from the anti-people dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO), they will find a direct correlation.

The CDC is focusing on malaria because there has been an increase in the number of cases among U.S. travelers to Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and India – from 1,000 cases in 1994 to 1,500 cases in 2000. CDC also classifies parts of Tanzania and Costa Rica as “hotbeds” of malaria. The Journal is interested in the spread of these diseases because they have found that many of their readers are among the travelers to these countries.

But nowhere in the article was there any comment or expression of concern about the people in those countries who have malaria. Its only concern – and the main concern of the CDC – was for U.S. travelers.

So the article is supposed to elicit pity for U.S. travelers as they venture to parts of the world that are being devastated by the policies of their own country. Instead, visions of the British Empire and its White Man’s Burden flash before the eye.

These reports from the CDC and the worries of the Wall Street Journal are valuable tools for peace activists in putting a human face on policies of the IMF and WTO. They can also spur on efforts by public health and medical advocates as they demand that the World Health Organization and other international agencies provide medical supplies to people in need.

More importantly, these reports can be used to stop the IMF and WTO from imposing further policies that are degrading and destroying people’s lives across the world.

The reports of the United Nations Agency on Human Development offer the kind of international solidarity to continue the struggle against the IMF and WTO and, at the same time, to demand that medical and public health actions be taken to prevent and protect all affected peoples.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org


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