Why are millions of AIDS-infected patients dying in Third World countries when there is affordable treatment available? Because they are poor. That is the simple answer, but I urge you to listen to the complex and uncomfortable questions that the powerful documentary Fire in the Blood raises. Written, researched and directed by Dylan Mohan Gray, this roughly 110-minute film throws a spotlight on the “crime of the century”. That, as this documentary slowly uncovers, is the insidious collaboration between Western pharmaceutical giants and governments over years to withhold HIV treatment for poorer countries in Africa and Asia, just so that they can continue to profit from this monopoly.
Gray’s film uses the conventional talking heads format to show how Western drug companies use patent laws to control the world from saving lives, even amidst an AIDS epidemic, especially in Africa. There is a narrative that strings together this complex nexus, and Gray takes care to show the human faces, the ones suffering from one-sided policies governed by greed. The film is in parts weighed down by dense information, yet it is very hard to stay unmoved in the light of such inhumanity.
The best part of Fire in the Blood is the fight by a band of unlikely heroes who stood up against these giants to make generic, life-saving drugs available to poor patients, from our very own Dr Yusuf Hamied, Chairman of pharma company Cipla, to AIDS activist Zackie Achmat and Ugandan doctor Peter Mugyenyi. You will want to contribute after this documentary, once you watch an African man speechless with emotion when he is offered treatment, or when you hear Dr Hamied say how the Western world is allowing “a genocide” by withholding affordable medicine.
Don’t miss Fire in the Blood. It tells you how YOU can help save lives.