Blog 4: The downside to health

The Sub-Sahara African country of Lesotho has been struggling to make great strides in protection of human rights. The new generation of “cheetahs” have made some progress though. One particular example is ‘Mathabiso Mosala and her work for women’s rights. She has worked hard for the past fifty years in part with the Lesotho National Council of Women (LNCW).

mosala1In the past women have had very few rights. Almost like ownership, a woman could not do anything without a man present. She was owned by her father, her husband, or even her son as he became man of the house. Several women in rural areas are still not aware that they can now open a bank account without their husband’s company.

Mosala is proud to announce she has trained over 5,000 people. Women in Lesotho now know how to make money for themselves. Although education is not required to make money, the LNCW still has goals to educate the women so that they would be able to read and understand the laws of the land. Mosala has worked with many foreign donors and spent a majority of her life advocating for women. She was notated for a seat in the Lesotho Senate, where she has severed the past 5 years. LNCW now acts as an umbrella organization for 13 other organizations working not just for women’s rights, but HIV awareness and caring for orphans and the elderly. Mosala was not going to take her country the way she came into it. She set out to make a change and made a pretty good impact.

When it comes to freedom, Lesotho is in the majority of what Freedom House calls “part-free”. This is a recent development, as they were previously listed as a free state before 2015. There has been a large amount of political instability including a failed coup against the prime minister Thomas Thabane. les3The Polity IV Index shows an almost even split in the time split between factionalism and a polity. The early 2000s was a time of transition due to events of State Failure.

The Young African Leader Initiative (YALI) has a program in the country of Lesotho. The program works with young individuals who want to lead Africa in a new direction. The students come from all over the continent to work towards the same goal. It is a sort of hands on learning experience to teach the youth of Africa tools to create a democracy. YALI’s presence in Lesotho shows hope in the right direction for the country.

Once again we are going to bring it back to Poor Economics by Banerjee and Duflo. Specifically the question of ‘What are effective health investments?’ Prior to reading this week, I would have thought that any aid in the health department would be a good investment to the individuals living in a poor society. It appears that is not the case.

It is true that many times poor countries are unable to afford the right amount of health care. Sachs argues that poor health can lead to a poverty trap. It is then in our best interest to help the next generation receive the right health care so that they are able to move above the poverty line. For example, many children under the age of 10 suffer from diarrhea. The disease is easily preventable by chlorinating the water or adding sugar and salt into their diets. The chemicals to do so are actually quite cheap and could be easily purchased by many people. The same goes with mosquito nets that could help prevent malaria.

Even when the price was dropped to nearly free, many families still would not provide the preventative substance. The culture relies much more on doctors and corrective procedures. This is where the investment should be placed. More regulations should also be placed on practicing doctors, many of which are not qualified for the service they provide. In many ways, the doctors are doing more harm than good by providing services that make the patients think they are receiving proper aid.

Education is important for the population to know that it is much cheaper and healthier to do the small and simple preventative steps instead of unnecessary extravagant procedures.

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