Friday, January 21, 2005

A Plan to Save Over 1 Million Lives

A friend suggested I watch this report from Jim Lehrer, and I had to let others know about it.
Online NewsHour: United Nations Plan to Fight Global Poverty -- January 17, 2005
"Economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University is director of the U.N. Millennium Project and lead author of today's report. He joins us now. Welcome, Dr. Sachs.

JEFFREY SACHS: Thank you so much.

MARGARET WARNER: What is the main message you would like the American public to take away from this report today?

JEFFREY SACHS: The main message is that extreme poverty on our planet, which threatens us by causing instability, disease, causes millions of people to suffer and die unnecessarily, can be brought to a close by our generation. And the Millennium development goals, which are goals to cut by half that extreme poverty by the year 2015, are achievable. But we're not on course to achieve these goals right now. We can get on course through modest steps on our part, coupled with a partnership with the poorest places in the world.

MARGARET WARNER: Give us now some examples of these quick-win projects that you described in this report.

JEFFREY SACHS: I think it's important, as Americans have seen with horror the Indian Ocean tsunami, to realize that there is a silent tsunami under way all the time in rural Africa. Every month, as many children die of malaria in Africa as died in the tsunami -- about 150,000 children dying every month. And yet malaria is a largely preventable and utterly treatable disease. It's preventable by something as simple as a mosquito bed net that's impregnated with insecticide. And these nets are extraordinarily inexpensive -- about $1 per year, $5 for a five-year net. That is an effort that the rich world could easily help the most impoverished places in the world to gain access to these nets.

And ironically, it's an amount that still is too large for the poorest people in the world to gain access out of their own income. In other words, here's a quick win. We could save more than one million children per year that are dying of malaria by helping to distribute on a mass basis, like we do with immunizations, bed nets to protect the children against malaria, and with the modest additional expense to distribute effective medicines that would dramatically cut the disease burden and the number of children dying. Our estimate is that this would require about $2 to $3 per person per year in the rich world. Think about it: $2 to $3 per person in the rich world. A billion of us in the rich countries-- that's $2 billion to $3 billion per year-- could save more than a million lives."

I wonder how many mosquito nets could have been purchased with the amount of money corporate lobbyists spent on Inaugural parties?

It seems to me that would be a better way to spread freedom across the world instead of at the end of a gun barrel.

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