Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Friday, 14 February 2014

It's our responsibility to #stopthemyth on foreign aid

Nikuze Aziza at the Kiziba camp in Rwanda
Foreign aid helps refugees like Nikuze Aziza at the Kiziba camp in Rwanda feed their families and stay healthy. Photo by: Gates Foundation
Two weeks ago, Bill and Melinda Gates released their annual letter for 2014. I was excited to see it focus ondebunking persistent myths in development aid, and it got me thinking about the myths I’ve encountered working in advocacy, government relations and communications at the Gates Foundation for the past decade.

One constant refrain about aid that I’ve heard — particularly in more recent years living in Europe — is this: “We have to choose between helping the poor here at home and helping the poor abroad.”

The truth is that framing the discussion in these terms poses a false choice, that if we only cut off resources for overseas aid programs, we could fix our domestic financial challenges at home. The truth is that the amount of assistance provided to poor countries is a tiny fraction of national budgets, contrary to prevailing public opinion. We all share a common interest in ensuring continued support for both programs at home and internationally.

Huge return on small investment

Let’s be clear — funding support for domestic issues comes first, and it always has. Take the United Kingdom for example, one of the largest aid donors in the world. In 2012, the combined expenditure for many of the biggest domestic social programs (pensions, welfare and health care) accounted for more than 50 percent of the U.K. annual budget, while the amount spent on overseas aid by contrast is less than 1 percent. This general proportion of spending is the same for all major aid donors, including the United States.

When you then see what relatively small investments can lead to — including expanded immunization coverage, declines in chronic hunger amongst children and big gains in agriculture productivity — the case for foreign aid is undeniable.

Why then does this myth persist? The biggest reason is that so few people are aware of how little is spent on overseas aid and the great impact it is having. A recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most Americans believe that 28 percent of the U.S. budget goes to foreign aid. The same survey also showed that when people understood that aid was only about 1 percent of the budget, they were much more supportive of maintaining and even increasing the amount.

Click on the image to view larger version.

The bottom line

Quite simply, if 1 percent of the budget was redirected back to domestic issues in a donor country, it would only be a drop in the bucket — but invested in the developing world, it is helping to spur historic progress and prosperity.

As Bill and Melinda Gates pointed out, by many measures the world is better today than it has ever been. Upwards of a billion people have lifted themselves out of poverty; many countries that used to be recipients of aid are now self-sufficient, and some have become emerging donors.

What this says to me is that if more people knew what is undeniably true — that aid is a small piece of the budget and that it works — they would support it. We need to do a better job sharing the success stories and each of us has a shared responsibility to help #stopthemyth.

Join the Devex community and access more in-depth analysis, breaking news and business advice — and a host of other services — on international development, humanitarian aid and global health.

Share on delicious del.icio.usShare on digg DiggShare on facebook FacebookShare on linkedin LinkedInShare on stumbleupon StumbleUponShare on twitter TwitterGoogle+
Joe Cerrell
Joe Cerrell is managing director for global policy and advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to his current role, Cerrell was head of global health policy and advocacy, and before joining the foundation in 2001 he was assistant press secretary to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Cerrell is also currently serves on the board of directors for the ONE Campaign and Comic Relief.

Humans have a beautiful mind it is schizophrenia that shatters it

Advertising Space - After your Hub is published advertisements may be placed in this space.

There are film stars who have persisted with Schizophrenia

There are people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia. Some are famous like Dr. John Nash who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. This person has a film made about him.Dr. John Nash in the film titled 'Beautiful Mind' reminds us of not stigmatizing persons with schizophrenia. Such persons still contribute to society in many ways. By being treated as a distinguished member of society, feted at various platforms helpedDr. John Nasha lot. The film shows Dr. Nash's apparent capacity to move from insanity to sanity. Thisis attributed to engaging in work. His own claim, "I began to tire of certain types of irrational thinking. I was doing things at the time, studying or doing some calculations,” is testimony to this. In 1994 he won a Nobel Peace Prize. Let us attempt to understand schizophrenia then.


Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by impaired emotional responses (Concise Medical Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 2010). Genetics, early environment, neurobiology, psychological and social processes appear to be important contributory factors. Some recreational and prescription drugs appear to cause or worsen symptoms. Clinically it is a splitting of mental functions.

Schizophrenia in our life

Have you or someone you know suffered from Schizophrenia?

  •  Yes
  •  No
See results without voting

Symptoms of schizophrenia

The common symptoms include delusions, such as paranoid beliefs; hallucinations; disorganized thinking; and negative symptoms, such as lack of emotion and lack of motivation. Not all symptoms may be present in all forms of schizophrenia. The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia are usually divided into two categories- positive and negative symptoms. A third category of cognitive symptoms is also included in some descriptions of the disease. Symptoms are further characterized by type. These types include motor, behavioral and mood disturbances. Symptoms can be positive or negative motor, behavioral, or cognitive disturbances

Classifications of schizophrenia

The major classifications of schizophrenia fall into the following: In 2013, theAmerican Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-5). To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, two diagnostic criteria have to be met over much of the time of a period of at least one month, with a significant impact on social or occupational functioning for at least six months. The person had to be suffering from delusions, hallucinations or disorganized speech. A second symptom could be negative symptoms or severely disorganized or catatonic behavior. The definition of schizophrenia remained essentially the same as that specified by the 2000 version of DSM (DSM-IV-TR), but DSM-5 makes a number of changes.Psychotic symptoms may be present in several other mental disorders, including bipolar disorder,borderline personality disorder,drug intoxication anddrug-induced psychosisDelusions ("non-bizarre") are also present in delusional disorder, and social withdrawal in social anxiety disorder, avoidant personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder (Buckley PF, Miller BJ, Lehrer DS, Castle DJ. Psychiatric cormobidities and schizophrenia. Schizophr Bull. 2009).
Ads by Media PlayerAd Options

Challenges of dealing with schizophrenia

Some people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia stop taking the medicines. This could be because of mood disorders. Disorders of mood and affect include what is known as affective flattening. It is a reduced intensity of emotionalexpression and responsiveness that leaves patients indifferent and apathetic. But some of the causes of not taking medicines are clinical others are social. Homelessness can affect priorities. In the case of young people, peer pressure can affect the way they take medications.
Mood disorders patterns are also known as disorders of mood may manifest as unchanging facial expression, decreased spontaneous movements, a lack of expressive gestures, poor eye contact, lack of vocal inflections, and slowed speech. Anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure, is also common, as is emotional emptiness. Patients may also exhibit inappropriate affect. Inappropriate affect examples are: expectation of visitation by long dead loved ones, laughing at a funeral. Hallucinations (hearing voices), delusions (often bizarre or sense of being persecuted), and disorganized thinking and speech. The latter may range from loss of train of thought, to sentences only loosely connected in meaning, to speech that is not understandable known as word salad in severe cases. Social withdrawal, sloppiness of dress and hygiene, and loss of motivation and judgment are all common in schizophrenia (Carson VB (2000). Mental health nursing: the nurse-patient journey).

Schizophrenic persons in a family setting

There are many challenges in dealing with a schizophrenic person. Most of the problems arise because persons suffering from schizophrenia are not conforming. “People conform to gain social acceptance and to avoid disapproval,” Sears, Freedman and Peplau, 1985, page 331. The schizophrenic person's behavior considered inappropriate in a family setting of people who are not trained or counseled may trigger disapproval. At the level of society this may cause stigma. Stigma and discrimination followed by ill-treatment are common. Individuals with severe mental illness including schizophrenia are at a significantly greater risk of being victims of both violent and non-violent crime (Maniglio R. Severe mental illness and criminal victimization: a systematic review. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2009;119(3):180–91).
It is hoped that through education and empowering communities with information on schizophrenia decisions to support those diagnosed with it will improve reception and regard.

Take back home messages

1. Avail yourself literature or education sessions on disorders.
2. Join support teams in your community
3. Educate others about disorders such as schizophrenia.
4. Help fight and eradicate stigma-related to schizophrenia
5. Humans are dignified whether one has schizophrenia or not.