Talk about your “no shit, Sherlock” moments. How long did it take them to realize that unequal distribution of wealth is a major killer?
Economic growth does not necessarily translate into improvements in child mortality, major new research suggests.
Ten million children still die every year before their fifth birthday, 99% of them in the developing world, according to Save the Children.
A study comparing economic performance with child mortality reveals that some countries have not translated wealth into improvements across society.
Survival is too often just a “lottery”, said Save the Children’s David Mepham.
He said that even the poorest countries can cut child mortality by following simple policies, but at the moment “a child’s chance of making it to its fifth birthday depends on the country or community it is born into”.
English-to-English translation: If you’re born into a socialist country, which is definable as one that taxes the richest heavily in order to supply free healthcare, education and a social safety net to all, your chances are excellent. If you’re born into a backward country, where the wealth of the rich is left untouched, you’re fucked. Best of luck, mate, you’re gonna need it.
UNDP statisticians calculate that more than half of the babies who die in Angola could be saved were the country to spread its wealth more fairly.
Some of the poorest countries in the world – Nepal, Malawi, Tanzania and Bangladesh – are among the top ten performers in this index, showing success in cutting mortality.
But India, the fastest growing economy in South Asia, lags well behind its poorer neighbours.
Some states in India, including Orissa, Rajasthan and Bihar, have child and maternal mortality rates that are among the worst in the world.
Any guesses as to why that is?
On a visit to rural Orissa, it was not difficult to see why child survival is a matter of chance.
It can take days for villagers to reach medical help, and travel may involve boats or auto-rickshaws.
Dr Baharudat Mishra said that although the government did give a bonus to doctors to work in the outlying regions, it is not enough to entice many, especially compared to the salaries that can be earned in the new technology sector.
“If a doctor does not have a residence with water supply or electricity, and there is no vehicle to reach the affected villages, then naturally obstructions will come up,” he said.
“The figures for child mortality in India are shocking,” said Shireen Miller, from Save the Children India.
“They are close to sub-Saharan Africa, and one does ask that if we can make such rapid development economically then why can we not do the same socially?
“And in fact are we actually a developed country if we still have hundreds of thousands of babies dying and starving?”
Very pertinent questions. Unfortunately, the answers are rather impertinent:
But government health officials in Orissa blamed ancient customs and practices in the villages, such as starving babies at birth and giving them cold baths, for the poor mortality rates.
They said that where they have been able to train traditional birth attendants, many more babies and mothers do survive.
Here, unfortunately, the fallback position is the same old same old: blame social, rather than economic, backwardness. While I don’t want to discount the socially-backward aspects of Orissan life (and child death), the glaringly overlooked fact that economic backwardness is at the root of the problem is apparent in the Beeb’s header, “Wealth ‘may not lead to health’.” I bet that with a little digging, the reporter could have uncovered huge disparities of wealth in India, and particularly in Orissa. (I could!)
The article ends, depressingly as so many articles do, on yet another empty blahblah from a politician:
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the Save the Children report is a development “wake-up call”, and that the world “can and must do more”.
Yes, it can, and yes, it must. And how about starting with India? And more specifically, how about starting with India dispensing with neoliberalism and making its rich pay up?