deadliest of plagues.

Posted: October 17, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

Inequality, a distribution factor correlated with poverty and disease. Within the Philippines we often see high publicity on poverty and the clear divide of unequal capital. Visually, we can see this concept in the layout of most major cities within the Philippines, dense in population and a melting pot of poverty, HIV/AIDS, disease, poor living and working environments, etc.

 In O’Neil’s piece of, mainly, the discussion of capital he gives a clear emphasis on not only Global Financial Flows and the Mechanics of Trade, but also the entirety of Inequality on a global scale. For example, towards his concluding remarks, he discusses possible resolution to inequality but also suggests that it may be too late for such resolution.

 “Reducing inequality can be seen as the only rational response to containing them [cofactors of epidemics such as HIV and AIDS], as well as the other epidemics that will no doubt follow.”(179)

 Bernardo Villegas, an independent writer of the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation, wrote a brief piece to shed light on better understanding the poverty within the Philippines back in 2010. He stated:

 “The explosion of HIV-AIDS cases was a result of sexual promiscuity that was induced by the spreading of condoms far and wide even among adolescents and unmarried people. This goes to show that condoms do not prevent the spread of sexual diseases. Let us therefore limit the meaning of population management to an intelligent redistribution of population within the 300,000 square kilometers that the Philippine Archipelago offers.”

 If this were in fact remotely true, then clearly the issue of inequality would be more so of population factor than of capital—however—from any general research we can see (as well as in O’Neil’s content) that poverty is strongly correlated with low education availability as well as healthcare. Given that we accept Vellegas’ approach as opposed to that of balancing inequality, spreading dense populations out over a physical space would only add to the problematic factors of access. We see this issue commonly in AIDS treatment among multiple cities and villages in Africa. Many Haitians in interviews and documentaries have stated that they are HIV positive and cannot seek even free treatment because they cannot make the long trip to get their medications and shots.

 Furthermore, in the discussion of inequality among the Philippine population, the divide is most evident among the concept of “tourist” and “worker.” This same concept is applicable to most highly populated areas with high volumes of sex-workers (Thailand included). The issue is mainly in regards to the historical violence instilled structurally among the people of the Philippines. As O’Neil brings Farmer’s concept of structural violence into play, we are able to fully understand that poverty is part of the connection between disease, inequality, suffering, violence, and through to power of the state and the individual. Given that sex-workers are powerless and one of the main groups of those targeted by structural violence we can best understand that this targeting is a product of inequality. As O’Neil states “inequality is the deadliest of plagues and one that we dare not ignore” (179).

O’Neil, Edward. “Private Financial Flows, Trade, Multinational Corporations, and Inequality” in Awakening Hippocrates. American Medical Association. 2006: 143-179


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