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Opinions: Global Poverty; Global Fund Corruption; Tackling Poverty, Environmental Issues



At Davos, Ground Policy Debates In Reality On Global Poverty Numbers

Ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gert, both of the Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development program, reflect on “Poverty’s Success Story,” a Washington Post opinion piece. They note that the last time the World Bank issued global poverty statistics (the number of people in the world living on less than $1.25 each day) was 2005. “Between 2005 and 2010, nearly half a billion people escaped extreme hardship, as the total number of the world’s poor fell to 878 million people,” Chandy and Gert write, according to estimates based on updated $1.25-a-day figures. “The U.N. Millennium Development Goals established the target of halving the rate of global poverty between 1990 and 2015; this was probably achieved by 2008, some seven years ahead of schedule,” they continue.

“We hear far more about the 64 million people held back in poverty because of the Great Recession than we do about the hundreds of millions who escaped impoverishment over the past six years,” Chandy and Gert continue. “While there is good reason to focus public attention on the need to support those still stuck below the poverty line, there is also reason to celebrate successes and to ensure that policy debates are grounded in reality. … When talk at Davos inevitably turns from the haves to the have-nots, participants should avoid falling back on their long-held views. It is time to break our collective cognitive dissonance, by which we exalt the remarkable growth of developing countries while simultaneously bemoaning the intractability of global poverty” (1/26).

Expand Role Of Global Fund Inspectors General To Weed Out Fraud

“Maybe the shocking reports that corruption eats huge chunks of the money flowing through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria carry an important lesson for all of us: Just because famous people support a thing doesn’t make it a sound enterprise,” writes a Kansas City Star editorial that highlights several findings of misused funds uncovered by a Global Fund internal investigation.

“It wasn’t long ago that Bono was urging support for the fund, and Bill and Melinda Gates have been donating $150 million a year. The fund was set up as a way to get around the bureaucracy of the United Nations, and there is no doubt it has also done much good,” the editorial notes. “But the scope of these abuses serves as a good reminder that strict oversight is the best tool to curb waste and fraud. The role of inspectors general must be protected and expanded” (1/24).

Two Views: Helping The Planet Doesn’t Have To Hurt The Poor

In the first of a pair of essays in the Wall Street Journal, Princeton University Bioethicist Peter Singer writes: “We should help today’s global poor, but not at the expense of tomorrow’s global poor. To preserve the options available to future generations, we should aim at development that does no further damage to wilderness or to endangered species. … All of us living comfortably in industrialized nations should use more energy from sources other than fossil fuels, use less air-conditioning and less heat, fly and drive less, and eat less meat. And we ought to start doing these things now, for our own sake, for the sake of the global poor and for the sake of future generations everywhere.”

“Can we afford to both reduce poverty and clean up the environment? From an empirical standpoint, the answer is definitely yes,” Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School, responds in a Wall Street Journal essay. “The key, of course, is being smart about how we tackle these big problems,” he writes before describing several ways approaches to climate policy can rack up costs with little net environmental effect.

“By implementing the Kyoto protocol (at a cost of $180 billion a year), we could reduce the number of annual malaria deaths by 1,400. But we could prevent 850,000 malaria deaths a year at a cost of just $3 billion simply by providing adequate supplies of mosquito nets and medicine,” Lomborg writes. He proposes an alternative use for the $250 billion the EU is expected to put towards its climate policy: “First, we should spend about $100 billion a year on research and development to make green energy cheaper and more widely available. … This would leave $50 billion a year to develop adaptations for dealing with the impact of global warming and $100 billion a year for the world’s poor, a sum that, according to the U.N., would go a long way toward providing them with clean drinking water, sanitation, food, health and education” (1/22).