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Opinion: Childhood Deaths; World Bank Health Programs; World Economic Impact on Africa

‘Committed’ U.S. Leadership Can Help Prevent Millions of Childhood Deaths in Developing Countries

Every day, thousands of children in developing countries die from pneumonia, diarrhea and other preventable diseases, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and Save the Children’s Survive to 5 campaign chair William Frist writes in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion piece. Frist continues, “Through remarkably low-cost proven solutions and committed leadership, the United States can usher in an era where millions of mothers don’t have to bury their babies within the first five years of life.”

Citing the success of PEPFAR and lauding President Obama’s “new comprehensive global health strategy focused on the key interventions that will safeguard the health of mothers, newborns and children,” Frist says that “the dollars to do something about it must follow.” If the U.S. spends $44 annually per child, children in developing countries could receive a range of basic health interventions that cure and prevent childhood killers, according to Frist. “If we double the $495 million” the U.S. spends in this area, “we could reach more than 22 million children” and save more than a million lives each year, Frist writes. He adds, “Even as we grapple with a financial crisis and economic downturn, polling shows that the American people favor foreign aid that saves children’s lives” (Frist, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/27).

Hold the World Bank Accountable for Failed Health Programs, MP for Ottawa Centre Says

Though the World Bank should be commended for its transparency in its recent release of an Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) report that found three-quarters of the bank’s health programs in Africa are failing, Paul Dewar, a member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre and the New Democrat foreign affairs critic writing in the Ottawa Citizen, says the World Bank should be held accountable for the flawed health programs.

Despite billions of dollars invested in “inefficient” programs, “millions of people [are] still dying of diseases such as AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia and other preventable diseases,” Dewar writes. “And, because the bank lends rather than gives money to the poor, this report confirms that low-income countries that are already reeling from the economic crisis are also going into debt for sub-par World Bank programs that are not delivering,” Dewar adds. He continues, “If success is to be measured in terms of number of lives saved, we must focus on outcome-based, proven, cost-effective solutions that work to prevent needless suffering and death” (Dewar, Ottawa Citizen, 5/27).

Global Community Must Support Africa in Financial Crisis

Although Africa made “great progress” before the global financial crisis, its economic growth is projected to “dramatically slow to 1.7%” this year and U.N. Millennium Development Goal targets “will be much harder to reach,” Marwan Muasher, World Bank senior vice president for external affairs, writes in a Daily Monitor opinion piece. In the article, Muasher describes some of the World Bank’s efforts deal with the challenges in Africa, noting that the bank “recently added a third seat for Africa on our Board.” Muasher writes, “The global community should see Africa’s continued growth as an essential component of the global rebound” (Muasher, Daily Monitor, 5/28).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.