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Caring about aid : an ethics of care approach to global health aid Seekings, David Robert


Taken on face value the concept of foreign aid seems to imply some level of caring on the part of donors for recipients, but in reality aid is given for all kinds of reasons, many that have nothing to do with care. This project seeks to understand what aid would look like if it was designed and delivered from a caring perspective and how that change would impact aid recipients. Using an ethics of care perspective I examine current thought on our ethical obligations to the poor, demonstrating how the relational perspective of a care approach moves the discussion away from abstract debates to focus on the concrete daily realities of people struggling with poverty and poor health. A care approach helps expose the broader social, political and economic background against which global health and development problems occur. Mainstream approaches to global health that focus on human rights, economic growth and security provide only a partial picture of that background. In contrast a care approach to global health keeps the focus sharply on the targets of aid, working to create space for them to give voice to their experiences and empowering them to create more responsive aid programs. After discussing what a care approach to health would look like at the theoretical level I apply it to the case of global aid for HIV/AIDS. By analyzing three of the largest HIV/AIDS relief efforts, the U.S., U.K. and Global Fund programs, I show both the strengths and weaknesses of these programs as well as how they could be adapted using a care approach to become more responsive to the needs of target communities. A care approach offers scholars of global aid an important critical prescriptive that brings to light aspects of poverty and poor health that can be missed by conventional perspectives and provides policy makers with a tool to build more caring and responsive aid policy, empowering aid recipients as active partners in the aid process.

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