World Health Organization Urges More Funding for Fight Against Tuberculosis

The World Health Organization recently released a report on the state of tuberculosis in the world and called on donor nations to provide funds to distribute and monitor the administration of anti-tuberculosis drugs in the developing world.

The WHO’s basic conclusion is that the tuberculosis situation is declining fueled by the twin killers of AIDS and poverty. WHO estimates that one in three of the world’s 42 million HIV positive individuals also has tuberculosis.

Back in the early 1990s WHO declared tuberculosis to be a global emergency, and the situation with the disease today is much worse.

The cost of drugs that combat tuberculosis is only $10 for a complete regimen of drugs that will cure about 95 percent of cases. But in order for this to work, the entire series of drugs must be taken on a timetable. Poor health care systems in the developing world mean that even among individuals who receive drugs, few actually complete the entire regimen. This not only renders the drugs useless, but also dramatically increases the risks of more drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis.

According to WHO estimates, fewer than 1 in 3 African patients receives the entire series of drugs, and in Russia that percentage is even lower.

Aside from the devastating toll the disease takes among those afflicted with it, there is a bigger danger that a drug resistant form of the disease could emerge that would spread the disease along the lines of India. India is the epicenter of the tuberculosis epidemic with two million new cases annually.

WHO estimates that it needs another $4 billion or so to fulfill its plan to stop the spread of tuberculosis by 2005.


WHO calls for widespread free access to anti-TB drugs for people living with HIV. Press Release, World Health Organization, July 15, 2003.

TB drugs ‘should be free’. The BBC, July 15, 2003.

TB advocacy report 2003. World Health Organization, 2003.

Study Highlights Extent of Corruption in Russia

Corruption is a major problem facing developing countries and a couple of recent reports suggest that Russia may lead the world in the bribery business.

This month Transparency International reported that companies in Russia are more likely to pay bribes to officials than in any other emerging market country in the world. That report was followed up a couple days later by a report from the Indem think tank highlighting the staggering toll that bribery takes on the Russian economy.

Indem’s study estimated that bribes add up to almost 12 percent of the total Russian gross domestic product — a staggering $36 billion a year.

Almost all of that is paid by businesses, who spent an estimated $33.5 billion a year in 2000 and 2001. Bribes made up about 10 percent of the cost of all business transactions in Russia.

Individuals paid about $2.8 billion in bribes, generally in order to procure “free” government services such as health care or access to education.

That is a level of corruption that is difficult to fathom. Clearly Russia will have a difficult time achieving decent economic growth with this hidden corruption tax and lack of transparency in its economy.


Study: Bribery a $36Bln Business. Valeria Korchagina, Moscow Times, May 22, 2002.

Corruption, Instability Deters Investment in Caspian Sea

A recent conference on the status of the Caspian Sea area highlighted the ongoing lack of development due to corruption and a lack of any stable structure determining who has development rights over the area.

Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, control of the Caspian Sea was divided between Iran and the USSR. Currently five nations — Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan — claim rights over the sea, though so far the five nations have been unable to come to an agreement over the sharing of those rights.

That has left a lot of confusion that has deterred investment in the region. As U.S. envoy Steven Mann told the conference, “Successful development of the Caspian basin is not something we can consider inevitable.” That is true especially when the problem with corruption in the former Soviet republics is taken into account.

So what should be one of the wealthiest regions of the world, thanks to enormous untapped oil reserves, is nowhere near its potential due to a lack of a predictable legal structure.


Corruption ‘deters Caspian investors’. The BBC, February 26, 2002.