Sunday Forum

2009-12-06 10:10:00.000

Are We Our Brother's Keeper? Fighting Disease and Poverty Around the World

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Ed Scott

The Sunday Forum: Critical Issues in the Light of Faith
The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, host
 

Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III talks with Ed Scott about the topic, “Are We Our Brother’s Keeper? Fighting Disease and Poverty around the World.”

The discussion opens with statistics that Lloyd calls “overwhelming in their scale.” Half of the world’s population lives on the equivalent of less than two dollars per day, and a billion people—one-sixth of the world’s population—lack access to health care.

Scott asserts that public health and economic issues create most of the poverty around the world. Both of these major causes of poverty can be addressed through proven approaches and models. In the area of health, much poverty stems from illnesses such as malaria, which “the rich world has completely under control,” according to Scott. Malaria, once common in the United States, was eradicated nationwide long ago. HIV is controlled much better in the United States than in developing countries. Although medical treatment in the developing world does not yet keep pace with rates of HIV infection, worldwide efforts to distribute anti-retroviral drugs at a fairly modest cost have saved the lives of 6 million people, Scott says.

Economic development can also lift developing nations out of poverty, if those nations can export goods to other countries under fair trade agreements. Unfortunately, according to Scott, poor countries are required to pay the United States higher tariffs than are developed nations. “Bangladesh spends more money on tariffs to the United States than France,” he claims.

Scott also asserts that education and economic opportunity for girls and women will improve the lot of families and economies around the world. In some countries, girls never even enter elementary school. Tragically, girls without education have higher rates of HIV, which they later pass along to their babies during childbirth. Each year of education gives girls a greater chance to live healthier, more prosperous lives.

Faith-based organizations play a highly effective role in fighting poverty around the world. Unlike many programs, “the faith organizations are there forever,” Scott says. Even a village without a clinic or a well probably has a church. Scott says that in South Africa about 46 percent of health care is delivered by faith institutions. Throughout the developing world, many of the most effective efforts involve both Christians and Muslims working together.

About Ed Scott

Ed Scott is the founder and chairman of the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA) and co-founder of the Center for Global Development, a Washington-based think-tank, and DATA (now ONE), which he co-founded with Bill Gates and George Soros. A former high technology entrepreneur, Mr. Scott’s philanthropic efforts extend around the world, including orphanages in Central America, disease-prevention in Africa, and a fellowship program for economists and development specialists assisting the government of Liberia.

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