Something to Be Thankful For
J. Peter Nixon November 22, 2006 - 12:31pm
The Boston Globe reports that many African countries have sharply reduced the deaths of young children in recent years, belying the notion that the continent was making little progress against killer diseases:
Across sub-Saharan Africa, the mortality rates for children under age 5 in some countries have decreased by as much as 30 percent in the past five years because of increases in immunization and the use of vitamin A supplements and oral rehydration therapy; a rise in the number of women seeking prenatal care; and the end of regional conflicts, according to child-health specialists.
There is no question that Africa continues to face a number of challenges and this bit of good news does not, by itself, outweigh the enormous suffering that many people living in the continent have to deal with. But is also important to celebrate small victories. There seems to be a growing pessimism that "nothing works" when it comes to intractable social problems. But it seems clear that a combination of public and private efforts are having a measurable effect.
I wonder if this sheds any light on the somewhat heated debate we have been having both here and at Mirror of Justice about whether "liberals" or "conservatives" are more generous toward the poor. This seems to have become a debate about whether private charity or public provision is a better approach to relieving poverty. But surely we need both. Those who would disparage either government or private charity in the struggle against human suffering are like a boxer heading into the ring with one arm tied behind his back.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!