The poor need help from the rich


You don’t get much health care for $4 per person. That’s what India spends on public health each year, far too little to confront its growing aids crisis, said economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, Ph.D., author of The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

India must increase health spending 10-fold, and to do so, Sachs argued at a February conference, “Health Crisis in South Asia,” it needs help from the developed world. As its economy grows, India will be able to finance its own health system within a decade, but until then it requires assistance. That proposal is among the recommendations of the U.N.’s Millennium Project, directed by Sachs, a plan to meet the Millennium Development Goals, including halving the world’s extreme poverty by 2015.

Sachs points out that in 2002, 22 donor countries including the United States promised to give 0.7 percent of their gross national product annually as development assistance to poor countries. The United States’ rate is now only 0.15 percent.

“In many cases governments are ready to take action but need the donor countries to give the help they promised,” said Sachs.