Faith-based aid

Last night I read this Times article with groing unease:

A new campaign to save lives and prevent drug resistance by driving the price of the best malaria medicine down to as little as 20 cents was announced Friday by international health agencies and European governments.

…But the United States, the world’s biggest donor to the war on malaria, is not supporting it yet.

What is it this time? The drug lobby? A lingering aversion to science? And then…

The United States has declined to put any money in yet. Dr. Bernard Nahlen, deputy coordinator of the President’s Malaria Initiative, said that he wanted more studies proving that subsidies would work before hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in them.

“I sometimes joke that this is the biggest faith-based initiative in the world of malaria,” he said. “I’m perfectly willing to be convinced, but sometimes the advocacy gets out ahead of the evidence.”

Mr. Adeyi of the World Bank task force said that “a few pilot studies” had convinced the plan’s backers that it would work, but Dr. Nahlen dismissed those as “two highly controlled Clinton Foundation studies in two districts in Tanzania.”

A smokescreen, perhaps, but could good sense be prevailing in American aid?

Update: I thank TS, a commenter, for a pointer to Aid Watch’s depressing look into malaria research