Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul explained Wednesday that famines in Africa were a result of a lack of a "free market systems."

"All I know is if you look at history and if you compare good medical care and you compare famine, the countries that are more socialistic have more famines," Paul told CNN's T.J. Holmes. "If you look at Africa, they don't have any free market systems and property rights and they have famines and no medical care. So the freer the system, the better the health care."

Writing for the World Bank in 1996, Australian economist Martin Ravallion noted the importance of a social safety net for preventing famines.

"The literature on famines reviewed here has suggested that failures of both market and nonmarket institutions lie at the heart of famine causation; so it can be argued that famines can be ameliorated by longer-term development policies which strengthen the social and economic institutions (both governmental and non-governmental) which help protect poor people from economy-wide shocks," he wrote.

"Evidence in the famines literature and elsewhere also suggests that an effective social safety net for protecting poor households from severe shocks is consistent with longer-term goals of economic growth and environmental protection."

Holmes also gave Paul a chance to respond to a controversy that ensued after the tea party audience at Monday night's Republican presidential debate cheered the notion that an uninsured man in a coma would be left to die.

"This whole idea that they world will not provide for people if you don't depend on government -- freedom provides more prosperity and better health care than all the socialism and welfarism in the world," Paul said. "Nobody can compete with me about compassion because I know and understand how free markets and sound money and a sensible foreign policy is the most compassionate system ever known to mankind. So if you care about people you have to look to the freedom philosophy and limited government."

Watch this video from CNN's Newsroom, broadcast Sept. 14, 2011.

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