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Opinions: G8 And Maternal, Child Mortality; Rebuilding Haiti

G8 Summit Needs International Action Plan To Reduce Childhood, Maternal Mortality

In a National Post opinion piece, Canadian Member of Parliament Keith Martin, “who chaired the drafting committee at the 2009 G8 International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Rome, which put together a plan of action to reduce maternal and infant mortality,” welcomes the recent announcement by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper that maternal and child mortality will be a focus of the G8 summit this summer. Martin asserts that “the summit cannot be just another milquetoast, feel-good document. The leaders must announce a comprehensive International Action Plan to reduce childhood and maternal mortality.”

Martin outlines the plan to reduce maternal mortality that he and other parliamentarians crafted last summer, that included, as he writes, calls “for strategic investments in access to primary care: basic surgical facilities, medications, a full array of family planning options, diagnostics, adequate nutrition, clean water, power, and most importantly, trained health-care workers.” Martin suggests, G8 leaders “can use this as a template to mobilize the world’s most powerful nations when they meet in Ontario this summer to end this global tragedy” (2/4).

In Rebuilding Haiti Focus Is ‘Too Much On Bricks, Too Little On Trees’

Despite the international efforts to rebuild Haiti, the aid community is “making a potentially disastrous mistake – focusing too much on bricks, and too little on trees,” Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer writes in a McClatchy opinion piece. Oppenheimer reflects on a recent conversation with Carlos Morales Troncoso, vice president and foreign ministers of the Dominican Republic, who described how deforestation in Haiti reduced the country’s water supply and agricultural capabilities, making the country more vulnerable to flooding.

Following the earthquake, experts fear “Haiti’s deforestation problem will only worsen, because the hundreds of thousands of Haitians fleeing Port-au-Prince to the countryside in search of food and shelter will cut the few remaining trees in the country,” Oppenheimer writes. “At a personal level, it would be nice if all of us could donate one tree for Haiti. At the international level, it would be great if the big donor countries that will meet in March at the United Nations headquarters in New York to formally launch their 10-year plan to rebuild Haiti could resist the temptation to put all their energies on the reconstruction of buildings” (2/4).

Wall Street Journal Opinion Examines Why Marshall Plan In Haiti Won’t Work

“In our haste to help Haiti, we need to resist the kind of sloppy thinking that can lead to false assumptions and overly optimistic plans. The recent call by International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn for a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Haiti, which is now being echoed by many others, is a case in point. Such a plan, even if it was embraced by developed countries, has little chance of succeeding,” Peter Coclanis, a history professor and director of the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Coclanis outlines why he thinks a policy modeled after the Marshall Plan wouldn’t work in Haiti. According to Coclanis, law makers should concentrate on “creating the conditions – economic, social, educational, public health, political, and perhaps most importantly, cultural – necessary to put Haiti onto the first foothold of the development ladder.” He writes: “Before the quake there were more than 10,000 nongovernmental organizations in Haiti feeding the poor, providing health services and much more. This fact alone should give the world pause. Haiti doesn’t need to be rebuilt. It needs to be built from the ground up” (2/2).