Opinion Pieces, Editorial Discuss Significant Decline In Child Mortality In Sub-Saharan Africa

The following summaries of two opinion pieces and an editorial explore a recent paper published by the World Bank discussing significant declines in infant and under-five mortality in Kenya and across sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Jeffrey Sachs, Guardian’s “Economics Blog”: Noting numerous major multilateral and bilateral policy and awareness actions over the past decade to improve health in Africa, Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, writes, “The critics of foreign aid are wrong. A growing flood of data shows that death rates in many poor countries are falling sharply, and that aid-supported programs for health care delivery have played a key role.” He concludes, “Aid for health care works — and works magnificently — to save and improve lives. Let us continue to support these life-saving programs, which uphold the dignity and well-being of all people on the planet” (5/30).
  • G. Pascal Zachary, Christian Science Monitor’s “Africa Monitor”: Zachary, editor of “Africa Works” and a professor at Arizona State University, writes that the paper has prompted “a serious, robust debate over what caused the decline: rising economic prosperity in Africa or improved international assistance.” However, “[m]ore critical is the new image of an Africa that is starting to address the importance of improving lives for ordinary people even as the sub-regional economies of Africa continue to boom,” he says, adding that “my own perspective [is] that the real problem of Africa today is wealth — what to do with it — and not poverty — which remains a scourge in Africa but which I believe will be most effectively addressed as a consequence of better management of African wealth” (5/29).
  • Washington Post: “This success story calls, first, for humility and flexibility, because it has no single explanation,” the Washington Post states in an editorial, noting that both economic growth and international aid, including agricultural assistance and the provision of insecticide-treated bednets, have played roles. “The other takeaway is hope, which is essential, given the necessity for future progress,” the editorial writes, noting “USAID will join with India and Ethi­o­pia in convening a Child Survival Effort on June 14 with the goal of eliminating preventable childhood death.” The editorial concludes, “The slogan of this effort reads: ‘Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday.’ We hope that Congress embraces this goal, recognizing a legitimate opportunity to prevent child deaths” (5/30).

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