Letter: Need for worldwide health care

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The Independent Online
Sir: Save the Children welcomes the report from the World Health Organisation (report, 20 May), warning of the resurgence of old diseases and the emergence of new ones.

However, part of the problem is of our own making. The effectiveness of any treatment or preventative measure is only as good as the system that exists to deliver it. In our report entitled Poor in Health, (produced in April this year) we highlighted that almost one sixth of the world's population is excluded from any effective health care due to a lack of money to "run the system", and that the gap between rich and poor is widening in almost every country of the world. The rising problem of diseases such as cholera, diphtheria and TB in the former Soviet Union is a good example of the effect of collapsing health and other welfare systems rather than the emergence of new disease strains.

What is required is a complete revision of the way we share resources internationally, and a considerable increase in developmental aid that serves the interests of communities in poorer countries by addressing their needs, with them, rather than serving the political and economic interests of Western donor governments.

If we ignore the risks outlined in the WHO report, by failing to ensure that global poverty is addressed and that effective health care systems are available worldwide, we will eventually reap the rewards of that failure in the worldwide epidemics of diseases which are already beginning to emerge.

Dr PETER POORE

Senior Health Adviser

Save the Children Fund UK

London SE5

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