The World Bank said that surging food prices have pushed an extra 44 million people worldwide into extreme poverty, which can often be a precursor to malnutrition. The number of undernourished people could rise to more than 1 billion this year.
Who’da thunk it? Poverty and malnutrition go together? And just this morning I saw the whiz kid, Sanjay Gupta, TV guru of medicine, tell all who would listen that fresh fruit and salad should be staples of our diet and replace cheeseburgers served in fast food joints. I made a note of that.
Instead of insipid nonsense, the World Bank should try its hand at banking. The World Bank often functions like thel traffic cop of capital. If it says “go” by committing funds to a development project or interim loans to a government, other private and public capital may follow. If a country resist the directives of the Bank, it will likely be cut off from both it and other sources of desperately needed assistance.
One example of this disastrous approach is that the Bank often requires countries to impose user fees for healthcare and education services. The impact of such a measure is borne by the same impoverished people that the Bank presumably wants to help. In Kenya, where one in seven people has HIV, Bank-mandated user fees for STD clinics have resulted in a decrease in attendance of 40 percent for men and 65 percent for women over a nine-month period. Although both UNICEF and the World Health Organization have reported that user fees compose a minimal portion of health and education budgets, the Bank insists on such fees despite the consequences.
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