opinionBy Angeyo Kalambuka
Nairobi — By the time US president Clinton declared HIV/Aids a national security emergency, it was obvious that no one was safe from it. But the world had already lost a quarter century in the war against the pandemic. Over 33 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV.
When shortly thereafter, then South African President Mbeki made his famous controversial remark -- in essence, a revolt within global institutions for poor nations to gain access to affordable, generic anti-retrovirals -- Western media and African NGOs bayed for his blood.
Reason? Because he threatened not only to break the death grip of the pharmaceutical cartels, but some of our own lives. Behold how the HIV/Aids game has become a multi-billion dollar industry in many African countries
The paradox of HIV/Aids in Africa, however, is this. That a fairly morally-restrained people who have historically endured all manner of atrocities, natural and man-made, now should succumb to a 'Holocaust' right below their belts.
With the current rate of destruction of forests, we will surely soon run out of coffins. By UNDP figures, more than half of today's 15-year-olds will die of Aids -- even if new infection rates drop in the next few years. About 13 million people have already died of the virus in sub-Sahara Africa. Projected changes in life expectancy and demographics imbalance are even more horrifying.
To contain HIV/Aids, war-time like emergency measures are necessary. Cuba's experience is worth emulating (Cuba has one of the lowest - 0.02 per cent --prevalence rates of HIV infection, which has been achieved via homegrown, radical approaches).
Soon after the US State Department published the Global 2000 Report for the President in 1980 advising that the world population must be reduced by 2 billion people by the year 2000, Thomas Ferguson of the Office of Population Affairs elaborated in the Executive International Review that "the quickest way to reduce population is through famine, like Africa, or through disease, like in the Black Death . . . population reduction is now our primary policy objective".
In the Black Death of 1346-1350 AD, a quarter of Europe's population -- mainly Jews -- perished of a strange ailment, which was believed to be mass poisoning. The surviving Jews were accused of spreading the pestilence, racially attacked, and beaten to death.
Had the World Bank's population policy began? Its former President, Robert McNamara, in 1979 remarked that "there are only two possible ways in which a world of 10 billion people can be averted. "Either the current birth rates must come down more quickly, or the current death rates can go up".
Perhaps by coincidence, early in 1983, Aids became a widely recognised, rapidly spreading disease. But it was, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, just "a peculiar biological curiosity among New York City homosexuals".
Speculation went rife, particularly after the Aids conspiracy theory spawned media headlines all over Europe (suppressed in America) that HIV is a man-made germ warfare to destroy the undesirables, developed between 1969 and 1972 and first released in Africa by WHO in 1975 with laced doses of the smallpox vaccine, and in the US in 1978 -- laced with doses of Hepatitis B vaccine distributed by the Centers for Disease Control.
Evidence? Countries with vast black populations (Haiti, Brazil, Uganda, India) were heavily infected. The London Times of 5 November 1987 reported that over 100 million Africans were doped with HIV-laced smallpox vaccines.
In 1988, the WHO reported Aids was sweeping Central Africa. A year later, West German State television predicted Burundi would be wiped out by Aids.
Seasoned cynics on foreign-funded population programmes in Africa began to see the hand of neo-eugenicists. Perhaps a number had sneaked into the new field of population control after WWII. Whites were encouraged to breed more while blacks were pressured to reduce populations, if necessary, through compulsory sterilisation campaigns.
Prof Hams Harmsen, whose name is associated with the compulsory sterilisation of the handicapped in Nazi Germany, which Prof Eugene had began based on his research among the Herero of Namibia, founded the German branch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation IPPF.
Harmsen was president of the institution for a long time, during which he played a big role in shaping population control policies for the Third World.
Dr Kalambuka teaches physics at the University of Nairobi.