Keep room for traditional healers in Africa

Regarding your June 30 article "African healers join the AIDS fight": The fact is that approximately 85 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa receives both its health education and healthcare from traditional healers and traditional health practitioners. Traditional healers and indigenous scientists are a respected, well-dispersed set of providers. They can and must play a key role in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Modern medicine and funding agencies should support research studies that test and validate the efficacy of traditional therapies and practices. Proven traditional medicine is an important source of healthcare for Africa - affordable, accessible, and acceptable.
Virginia Davis Floyd
Stone Mountain, Ga.

Mediator vs. financier in Middle East

Regarding "For rich, foreign aid is a tool of persuasion" (June 26): Mr. Bush's war in Iraq, with incentives for partnerships coming from the taxpayers' pocket, is an excellent example of the failure of reason in foreign aid. Turkey surprised the big guys.

If the billions of dollars we give Israel each year stopped entirely, the attitude toward the US in the Middle East would change instantly. We might even find ourselves in the position of being a sincere mediator.
Ann Hymes
St. Michaels, Md.

US not perfect 'freedom' model

Regarding John Hughes's July 2 Opinion column, "Finest US export: liberty": As a South African, allow me to point out that the desire for freedom was just about the only thing that was not exported from the US to South Africa. Our desire for freedom arose in the face of active support by your government for the apartheid regime.

People do not desire to come to the US because of freedom so much as because of economic opportunity - which your government seems keen to hug to itself. If China and Russia offered great salaries and opportunities for entrepreneurs, believe me, people would be rushing there, too.
Mandi Kraft
Johannesburg, South Africa

Southerners and racial harmony

Regarding your June 30 Editorial "Racial past and future": There is irony in the fact that most of our recent racial incidents have happened well north of the Mason-Dixon line. We in the South have reached an understanding about racial issues, and integration is proceeding "with all deliberate speed." However, Northern critics have yet to face their own biases and hypocrisies. Racial demagogues and guilt-ridden liberals keep demanding more "reparations" for past wrongs, thus driving the wedge further between the races and hindering integration.
Frank Powell
Florence, Ala.

Progress continues in US education

Regarding your June 24 article "Can Johnny read yet?": Dire warnings about the state of our education have been issued nearly every decade. Rarely, however, have prominent reports come out that education has greatly improved. If all the reports about declining American education were true, then schools must have been deteriorating almost since Horace Mann began one-room public schooling in the US.

What cannot be denied is that the students who came from past "failing" schools today populate the best universities; produce the most patents; and lead technological, scientific, and medical research. The US still has the best university system in the world, and more of our children go on to college than in most other countries. While it is undeniable that our schools suffer many problems, we should not assume that the current system is a total failure.
Matthew LaGro
Milford, N.H.

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