May 25, 2012

AIDS and Government responses: Brazil X South Africa

AIDS and the State:The Politics of Government Responses to the Epidemic in Brazil and South Africa. I've chosen this article that best illustrates what I'm studying right now. It analyses the case of both countries and lists factors that contributes to explain why the Brazilian program to fight HIV/AIDS had a faster and better impact than the South African one. I copy here the abstract but it's worthy to take a look at the entire article, that is available on the internet (just follow the link). Enjoy!

"Political scientists have paid little attention to the politics of epidemics. This article begins to fill this gap by taking up the question of why some states have responded to the HIV/AIDS epidemic more aggressively than others, conceptualizing AIDS responses as a form of state-building. We attempt to answer the general question by comparing two countries, Brazil and South Africa, in which we might have expected similar state responses but in which we in fact observe substantially different policy trajectories. Our method of structured comparison tests for covariance between policy outcomes and political causes, and it identifies intermediate and logically plausible steps between cause and effect. We present evidence that Brazil’s response was more aggressive than South Africa’s with respect to bureaucratic development, and was much more aggressive with respect to both the prevention of HIV and the treatment of persons with HIV and/or AIDS. We argue that two factors explain the divergent responses: institutions established more space for policy entrepreneurship in Brazil, and the scope of the national political community, especially as it facilitated a racial interpretation of the virus, hindered the state response more in South Africa. We examine and reject several rival hypotheses that might explain the largely divergent response in the two countries: the nature and timing of the democratic transition, who was infected and when, the relative strength of civil society, the quality of leadership, general state capacity, and international linkages."

Authors: Varun Gauri, Economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank & Evan S. Lieberman, Assistant Professor, Department of Politics, Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

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