death by bathroom floor

As I prepare for (pretty fabulous) spinning class at Kabira gym (seriously, the bikes are great and the music bumping), I gingerly touch a black-and-blue right knee. You see, a few days ago as I was doing some laundry in the bathroom, I absentmindedly spilled some soapy water on the floor.

After hanging the delicates to dry, I bounded back into the bathroom and shwoooop! Down I went. Left leg out, right knee down, into what would have been the splits if I had been more flexible. My hand automatically flung out to grab the towel rack, but somehow in that moment I thought of the landlord and decided not to hang my weight on it.

Fortunately, all I suffered was a sore (and not split) knee, and my head remained far from the floor. But do you know that there are at least 9,000 deaths per year due to bathroom accidents in the U.S.? And there are over 230,000 non-fatal ER visits due bathroom injuries among those 15 years and older? Silly as it feels when you are splayed across your bathroom floor, this is surely no laughing matter.

I got up thanking my lucky stars I wasn’t elderly (or just positioned differently), for I surely would have broken something.

Bottom line: beware Omo on a wet floor! And don’t underestimate the power of the loo.

Throwing aid at HIV

Some colleagues at APSA shared a new paper by Nunnenkamp and Öhler investigating the effect of official development assistance (ODA) on HIV-related health outcomes in developing countries. The authors write:

Optimally, ODA would help prevent new HIV infections as well as provide better care for the infected. Our results indicate that ODA-financed prevention has been insufficient to reduce the number of new HIV infections. By contrast, we find evidence of significant treatment effects on AIDS-related deaths for the major bilateral source of ODA, the United States.

However, the treatment effect proved to be insignificant when multilateral organizations represented the major source of ODA. In particular, our findings are in sharp conflict with claims of the most important organization in this field—the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria—that its performance-based support has saved almost five million lives by the end of 2009.

It seems HIV/AIDS related foreign aid is coming under increasing scrutiny these days, at least by academics. Like Bendavid and Bhattacharya (2009), Nunnenkamp and Öhler find U.S.-funded PEPFAR associated with reduced deaths due to HIV/AIDS, but not reduced prevalence of HIV. The inability of billions of dollars to reduce new infections is troubling indeed.