Tuesday, August 07, 2007

An Open Letter to Grayden Carter and Bono himself

Well, it appears that Vanity Fair, in its infinite wisdom, has decided not to publish my letter to the editor. But, the wonderful thing about blogs is that you can publish yourself instantaneously in the face of rejection letters (or in this case, in the face of deafening silence regarding my online submission. I mean, I didn't even get an auto reply! Come on!) At any rate, here is the rant I promised you when I first bought the Africa issue in June. I'd love to hear your thoughts, and I promise to acknowledge all comments in the spirit of encouraging dialog.

Dearest Grayden Carter and Bono,

I picked up your Africa issue with great enthusiasm because I have just returned from Uganda. My team and I were filming a documentary about the controversy surrounding the proposed use of DDT for Malaria control.

My initial enthusiasm was quickly replaced with disappointment; your Africa issue contained only passing mention of the disease that kills 3 million Africans every year. That disease is Malaria. Malaria is completely preventable and curable, yet in Uganda alone, 320 people die every day. The most vulnerable groups are pregnant women and children under the age of five. They are dying because they don’t have access to basic prevention or health care. The Artemisinin Combination Therapies that could save their lives cost less than $5.

The HIV/Aids epidemic is enormous and the publicity and funding being channeled to it are necessary and valuable. However, in many places, the death toll of Malaria rivals that of AIDS. The Global Fund certainly recognized this by including Malaria in their campaign against the major killers in the developing world. I wish Vanity Fair had given Malaria and the efforts being made to combat it the same kind of attention. If we gave Malaria the same attention we give AIDS, we could save 3 million people.

Because AIDS touches our lives in the developing world, we find it easy to give our money and time to fighting the problem. When it comes to Malaria, which has been eradicated from wealthy nations for more than sixty years, we are less compassionate.

As James Shikwati of the Inter Region Economic Network said during our interview “If AIDS is taking away the adults, and malaria is taking away the children, you are looking at an empty continent.” We cannot afford to ignore the burden of Malaria in Africa. Three million preventable deaths a year is an outrageous and avoidable tragedy.


Becky Larson


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Nice letter! If I ever become editor of Vanity Fair (an unlikely event, however) I will certainly publish it. Unfortunately, the general public chooses certain things to go ga ga about and ignores other things that are at least as important. I am afraid that you are Cassandra on this, doomed to speak the truth yet not to be believed.

Daddy G

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