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Economics and the Backlash against AIDS-Specific Funding

Year: 2009
Working paper number: 254
Author: Nattrass, Nicoli
Unit: ASRU

There is a growing backlash against AIDS-related funding on the grounds that too many resources have been allocated to the AIDS response, especially to antiretroviral treatment (ART). Proponents claim that health systems have been undermined, money wasted and misdirected, and that Africans themselves believe AIDS resources should be allocated elsewhere. We argue that such sweeping generalisations are not supported by the evidence and that the backlash fails to recognise the cross-cutting nature of the AIDS response, the powerful role that civil society organisations can play in holding governments to account and the potential for building better health systems on the back of AIDS-specific interventions. The paper also discusses the contributions of economists William Easterly (2006) and Mead Over (2008) to the backlash, arguing that economists can contribute most constructively when they inform rather than pre-empt social choice, cast their analytical nets broadly rather than narrowly, and adopt a more political-economic perspective.

Publication file: WP254.pdf