Money, Money, Money

Written by Sonia Ros in the category Said about hunger

The starvation which kills more than 25,000 people daily is that which leaves people malnourished, in such fragile health and so vulnerable that they die from just seeing a virus pass by. They die from hidden hunger.

Image by Rick Sacvetta. Malaria Diagnostics and Control Center of Excellence microscopy training - Nigeria, Africa, September 2009

Dr. RamahaniAbdallah, the Tanzanian doctor and researcher at Harvard, holds that hidden hunger is the most worrying of all forms of starvation. I couldn’t agree with him more. Not every type of starvation causes the extreme thinness seen in the ribs of the smallest children or enlarges adult eyes to the point they fill half their face.

The starvation which kills more than 25,000 people daily is that which leaves people malnourished, in such fragile health and so vulnerable that they die from just seeing a virus pass by. They die from hidden hunger.

But there is something on which Dr. Abdallah and I disagree profoundly: the global approach to solving this tragedy. Regrettably, his economic stance is extremely widespread and has been used repeatedly in the hope of making a convincing case, of managing to open the eyes of economic gurus the world over, those powerful people who decide where $10 billion a year goes. Much has been made of his investment strategy but little has been done, in real terms, to put it into practice. Dr. Abdallah must have wondered why over the last few years deaths caused by malaria and HIV have decreased by almost 40% whilst infant mortality due to starvation has fallen by just 1%. The answer is investment in research. That’s the unavoidable truth of the matter because, it should be known, they’ve counted those affected: more than 3 million children a year die due to starvation.

That’s the way things were and they have not changed.

Dr. Abdallah also points to the domino effect set in motion by the damage caused by malnutrition in that it impedes educational achievement and, ultimately, affects national economies. But he doesn’t even devote one single word to the crime that it is that a child doesn’t get to go to school and contribute to the national economy because they have died due to lack of vitamins which are available but too expensive for their parents to buy. Nothing about ethics, nothing about morals, nothing about rights, and nothing about politics.

Rather, it is the simple analysis of a statistical occurrence. A child going blind due to starvation is but one more element of the equation to be studied.

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