Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pay No Mind to the Gap

Hans Rosling gave a great talk this morning. The website he founded (along with his son and daughter-in-law) is called Gapminder, which presumably refers to the gap between developed and developing countries.

Ironically, the thrust of his talk was about how we shouldn't be minding the gap so much. He showed how there's no clear division between "developed" and "developing" --- how mixed the countries of the world are in life expectancy, infant mortality, income, HIV infection. It's clearly more of a continuum.

He's a great speaker, and I see his point. But I do think most people who work in global health already understand it. The terms "developing" and "developed" are not perfect, but we need some kind of language to describe the differences between countries. I prefer Low, Middle, and High income myself.

Whatever language we choose, we're inevitably going to divide the world into categories in order to understand it. What Dr. Rosling didn't do today was propose an alternative set of categories.

Maybe that will be his talk next year.....