Kenya: AIDS -- The Lazarus Effect
December 30, 2010
In rural western Kenya, the effects of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy can be seen in improving household economics, researchers say.
"The 'Lazarus effect' is I think an effect that's been coined by medical professionals to describe this sort of pulling individuals from the jaws of death, an experience associated with giving ARV treatment to those who have HIV/AIDS," said Joshua Graff-Zivin, associate professor of economics at the University of California-San Diego. "We borrowed the phrase ... to say that there's an economic 'Lazarus effect,' as well."
The rest of the family is "no longer covering for a sick individual and the economic productivity of the household goes up," Graff-Zivin said.
"What the evidence suggests is that folks are making more long-term investments," said Graff-Zivin. Patients on ARVs are managing their farms in a more long-term manner, including crop rotation and fallow cycles, he said. "That means growing a little bit less in the current term in order to have higher productivity in the future, which is consistent with the idea that they would be more future-oriented once they recognize that they're going to be around to reap those benefits," he noted.
"We also see small increases in investments in assets, in particular livestock," Graff-Zivin said. "So, clearly, you're not going to invest in a cow and tie up all that cash now if you're not going to be around to see the fruits of that investment."
" ... What we need to recognize is not only are we providing health benefits for the patient, but we're providing a broad set of economic benefits for that patient, as well as the rest of their household," Graff-Zivin said.
Key partners in the research included AMPATH, a partnership of Indiana University and Kenya's Moi University; the US Agency for International Development; the World Bank; and the University of North Carolina.
Voice of America News
12.09.2010; Joe DeCapua
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