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Can We Really Save the Children?

Musicians Bob Geldof and Bono may be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the series of Live Aid concerts they've organized to raise money for aid to Africa. They've pledged to wipe out poverty there by raising $50 billion, which is twice what Africa gets now. But while large donations are welcome, they aren't necessary: If developed countries gave the 42 poorest countries as little as $1.23 per child per year, 6 million children could be saved. Even the poorest countries could get enough food and medicine for needy children if they had just that small amount of extra money.

In 2003, The Lancet published a study estimating that the lives of six million children could be saved each year if 23 proven interventions were universally available in the 42 countries that have 90% of child deaths. Dr. Robert Black found that an additional $5.1 million would do the job. This works out to a little over a dollar per child.

Jennifer Bryce, lead author of the study, says, "...$5 billion is about 6% of expenditures for tobacco products in the US?this reflects a choice being made by policy makers and donors?a choice that allows 6 million children to die each year, over 16,000 each day."

Dr. Barbara McPake says, "...it is unquestionably a shameful indictment of our global society that when known effective interventions have been developed and could be financed at a cost of this order, millions of children are denied access to them?This is a sobering reminder of how little a life costs in some parts of the world."

The 23 interventions include: breastfeeding and other nutrition interventions, which are effective in reducing deaths from diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria and measles; antibiotics for the treatment of pneumonia and other infections; zinc, for the prevention of diarrhea and pneumonia and the treatment of diarrhea and insecticide-treated nets for the prevention of malaria.

Critics say that any extra money given to Africa will simply end up in the pockets of the wealthy ruling classes there. In the June 25 issue of the UK magazine The Spectator, Aidan Hartley reminds us that China's Chairman Mao owned 23 expensive Mercedes-Benz cars, despite the fact that Communism was originally designed to prevent poverty, and today Kim Jong II of North Korea, where people are literally starving to death, owns dozens of them.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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