Friday 31 December 2004

the reason for my heart's fragility

UK private donations to the Earthquake disaster have now topped £32m - all raised in the 48 hours since the appeal was launched.

The death toll from the earthquake has now soared to 124,000 but many nations around the world have now donated £259.1m towards the world's largest-ever relief effort; that's half a billion US dollars from 30 countries.

There's naturally a lot of debate about how stingy the governments of some of the richest nations in the world are being, and how they ought to be giving so much more... I've said it before, but whilst I recognise that this money will be making an immediate impact on the lives of some of the millions of people affected by this tragedy, we still need to give more; we need to do more.

Something else has been nagging me though:

Over the course of the next year, around 11 million people, most of them in developing countries, will die from preventable and treatable infectious diseases.

That's 30,000 people per day.

[source: Oxfam "How world trade rules threaten the health of poor people"]

PREVENTABLE and TREATABLE. That means that those deaths are avoidable.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some two billion people in developing countries lack regular access to vital medicines:

"This year alone, there will be over 40 million deaths in developing countries, one-third among children under age five. Ten million will be due to acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria -- all conditions for which safe, inexpensive, essential drugs can be life-saving. Simple iron-folate preparations can reduce maternal and child mortality from anaemia of pregnancy; treatment of sexually transmitted diseases reduces transmission of the AIDS virus; and treatment of hypertension reduces heart attacks and strokes."

Access to essential medicines should be guaranteed as a critical component of the human right to health [source: MSF]

The illnesses that make up 90 percent of the global disease burden get only 10 percent of the research money because they primarily affect poor countries. [source: New York Times]

There are more than 36 million people in the world living with HIV/AIDS. 90% of them live in developing countries. 22 million people have died of AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. In sub-Saharan Africa, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that today some 26.5 million children and adults are living with HIV. The treatment of HIV/AIDs has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few decades, but access is restricted. Of the 5.5 million HIV-positive people in need of treatment globally only 440,000 are receiving it. In Africa, not more than 4% of people living with HIV/AIDS are on ARV treatment [source: MSF]

So what's my point??

Well, although I think it is brilliant that we are collecting money together to send to the site of a massve catastrophe that is affecting millions of people, we must NEVER lose sight of the fact that there are things that we can do EVERY DAY OF EVERY YEAR to ease suffering and to prevent needless deaths and the spread of disease. Millions of people are continuing to die of treatable diseases.

This is wrong, and WE CAN MAKE IT STOP.




Save The Children

Give As You Earn

it's not hard to find a charity. The difficult bit is deciding to sign up to regularly give them some cash.

Happy New Year.

Make 2005 the year that you make a difference.

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