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NOTES AND
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FINAL PAPER TOPIC           HUMAN RIGHTS            PHILOSOPHY 19A

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How Can $100 Prevent Thirty Children from Dying?

II. How Can My $100 Keep Thirty Children from Dying? Can You Break It Down for Me?

"Each year millions of children die from an easy to beat disease, from malnutrition, and from bad drinking water. Among these children, about 3 million die from dehydrating diarrhea. As UNICEF has made clear to millions of us, with a packet of oral rehydration salts that costs about 15 cents, a child can be saved from dying soon.

"By sending checks earmarked for Oral Rehydration Therapy, or ORT, to the U.S Committee for UNICEF, we can help save many of these children. Here's the full mailing address:

United States Committee for UNICEF
United Nations Children's Fund
333 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016

Now, you can write that address on an envelope well prepared for mailing. And, in it, you can place a $100 check made out to the U.S Committee for UNICEF along with a note that's easy to write:

WHERE IT WILL HELP THE MOST, USE THE ENCLOSED FUNDS FOR ORT.

So, as is reasonable to believe, you can easily mean a big difference for vulnerable children.


"Toward realistically thinking about the matter, I have used a figure far greater than just 15 cents per child saved: Not only does the U.S. Committee have overhead costs, but so does UNICEF itself; and, there's the cost of transporting the packets, and so on. Further, to live even just one more year, many children may need several saving interventions and, so, several packets. And, quite a few of those saved will die shortly thereafter, anyway, from some sadly common Third World cause. So, to be more realistic about what counts most, let's multiply the cost of the packet by 10, or, better, by 20!

"Forgetting one more Third World youngster to escape death and live a reasonably long life, $3 is a more realistic figure than 15 cents and, for present purposes, it will serve as well as any. Truth to tell, in the light of searching empirical investigation, even this higher figure might prove too low. But, as nothing of moral import will turn on the matter, we can postpone a hard look at the actual cost.

"With this $3 figure in mind, we do well to entertain this proposition: If you'd contributed $100 to one of UNICEF's most efficient life-saving programs a couple of months ago, this month there'd be over thirty fewer children who, instead of painfully dying soon, would live reasonably long lives. Nothing here's special to the months just mentioned; similar thoughts hold for most your adult life, or from the time your allowance was big enough for you to send so much as $100 to UNICEF. And, more important, unless we change our behavior, similar thoughts will hold for our future." (Much about the causes of childhood death, and about the interventions that can nullify these causes, is systematically presented in James P. Grant's The State of the World's Children 1993, published for UNICEF by the Oxford University Press in 1993. And this information can be cross- checked against the (somewhat independent) material in the more massive World Development Report 1993, published for the World Bank by the OUP in 1993. (Adapted from Unger)

Man and Ox Plow, Bangladesh





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February 14, 1998
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Oxfam America and CARE
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