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Race Against Time:
The AIDS pandemic of Africa has killed 19 million people, 4 million of them children. It is the world's worst health disaster since the Middle Ages. The problems are so staggering they seem incomprehensible. But Canadian diplomat Stephen Lewis manages to explain their roots, give them a human face, and outline solutions in his important book Race Against Time. As the United Nations Secretary General's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Lewis has an insider's view of the political stonewalling of Western countries as well as the brutal realities of AIDS-ravaged villages in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Lewis is the son of federal New Democratic Party leader David Lewis and was himself head of the Ontario NDP. He is frank that he has "a love affair with Africa"--first kindled when he was a teacher in Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda during the early 1960s. After a stint as Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Lewis launched into a new career as an international diplomat, holding top jobs at UNICEF and the World Health Organization. He doesn't hide his fury at Western complicity in Africa's AIDS catastrophe. He says African countries were brought to their knees by World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies that forced many governments to gut health care and social programs in the 1980s. Africa's hamstrung societies were unable to care for their citizens when AIDS struck. "I have spent the last four years watching people die," he writes. "The ongoing plight of Africa forces me to perpetual rage. It's all so unnecessary, so crazy." Lewis's book is passionately written and poignantly brings home the truth that the distant tragedy in Africa is not so distant at all. --Alex Roslin [via]