A drought and "security crisis as a result of political conflicts, civil war and anarchy" in Somalia are to blame for the famine recently declared by the U.N., but "[t]he international community is also to blame for responding too slowly and neglecting its responsibilities in this preventable disaster," a Lancet editorial says. "The USA, Europe, and other wealthy donors waited until pictures of starving children and desperate women made the evening news to hand over funds. China, Africa's second largest trading partner after the USA, merely said it would pay 'close attention' to the disaster, and only pledged a modest $14 million of food aid on August 5, after U.S. House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, urged the country to do more," the editorial states.
"More and longer-term investments in agriculture and health in Africa are needed alongside a collective global response. Notably, China, which experienced one of the largest famines of the 20th century and yet has harnessed seven percent of the planet's arable land to feed 20 percent of the population, should be more of a leader here and show that it has an interest in the welfare of Africa's people. Such a humanitarian disaster must never be allowed to happen again," the editorial concludes (8/13).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.