matters of national interest, including AIDS. Overall, this environment is not conducive to rational decision making on the basis of sound research and policy analysis and results in less-informed debate about policy alternatives (World Bank, 1991). Such political environments also are not supportive of centers that might develop institutional capacity through research and training (World Bank, 1991).
Early in the epidemic, AIDS researchers faced considerable hostility. When AIDS was first discovered, there was a widespread perception that the European and North American press wanted to blame Africa for infecting the world with the disease; this perception caused many African politicians to deny the epidemic's existence (N'Galy et al., 1990). In February 1987, the President of Kenya, perhaps fearing that the presence of the disease would adversely affect international tourism and despite the fact that the Ministry of Health had just launched an anti-AIDS campaign, minimized the extent to which the epidemic had spread through the Kenyan population (Harden, 1987). Furthermore, given the many problems facing sub-Saharan African governments, the problem of AIDS may not appear as immediate as other social issues, a perception that may, in part, explain their attitude toward the disease. In Zaire, the government did not establish a national AIDS control program until 1987 or report AIDS cases to WHO/GPA until 1988, even though a well-known research team in Kinshasa had been presenting papers at international AIDS conferences as early as 1985 that showed hundreds of confirmed cases of AIDS in the country (Mann et al., 1992). Denial and complacency about the epidemic on the part of the general public were equally serious obstacles.
Second, many sub-Saharan African governments have become excessively bureaucratic, in part as a result of social welfare programs that have established governments as the employers of last resort. Researchers petitioning the government, whether for permission to undertake a project, for access to data, or for some other reason, must endure a long and laborious process of obtaining approval.
Third, the existence of corruption is poorly documented but extremely pervasive throughout the region (Kpundeh, 1994). Consequently, sub-Saharan African institutions have experienced serious problems in managing finances and disbursing supplies and equipment. Once widespread corruption and poor work habits had been established at senior levels, they rapidly filtered down through the administrative structure, becoming next-to-impossible to eradicate.
Institutes of higher learning in sub-Saharan Africa have not been shielded from the negative consequences of the current economic crisis. In some cases, universities have been viewed as the centers of organized protest against government policies, and as a result some have been closed or starved for resources.