Unite For Sight

The conference just happened to fall the weekend before the start of my 7 finals, but I don’t regret the hours of sleep lost upon my return for one second. The conference was full of amazing speakers presenting on a wide variety of topics. There were a few hundred speakers, so I am including some of the highlights and key information learned. 

Jim Kim- hands down one of my favorite medical lecturers. I have had the good fortune to hearing him speak twice this year and I am captivated by every word out of his mouth. Much of the “theme” he covers in lectures is included in his part of PIH’s annual Thomas J. White Symposium. The link to the 2007 symposium cab be found at http://www.pih.org/youcando/events.html on the right side of the screen. Development work done right! 
A Sunday morning with the Sach’s. Both Jeffery and Sonya handed out their individual e-mails to all 2,000 of us in the audience. They are the kind of people you would love to have the opportunity to go over to their house for dinner and chat. I was blown away at their down to earth appeal. It really felt like you were sharing conversations with them, not sitting in a lecture hall with 2,000 other individuals.

Jeffery Sachs delivered one of the best speeches I have ever heard. He speaks from the heart with no notes and covers a vast array of topics. His newest book, after the huge success of “The End of Poverty” is entitled, “Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet and the very successful The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time.” He had so many moving points, but here a few that stuck with me:

-We must stop trying to sell things to people with no money (he was referring to low versus no cost bed nets)
-The sustainable development budget is only 1.5 days worth of the Petagons 700 billion dollar budget
-1 year of Pentagon spending is greater than all of our aid EVER in the US to Africa

10 POINTS TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
1. End the War
2. End the Bust tax cuts
-Alone 1 & 2 would save 450 billion dollars/year-
3. Increase spending on sustainable energy to at least equal what we spend on mental health (30 billion dollars/yr)
4. Snd an envoy around the world to put the issues of climate change back on the table
5. Stop putting our food into the gas tank. It is bad public policy and a waste of resources.
6. We need to return to international law (the U.S. only abides by national law) and sign the Law of the Sea and the UN convention on biological diversity.
7. Leaders of the dry lands need to get together to find water solutions.
8. RE-establish funding for the UN Population Fund
9. Millennium Development Goals- he would like to see them be the centerpiece of international development (in the Presidents inaugural address)
10. Our government does not “see” the issues- a cabinet level position is needed for sustainable development
Sonya Sachs spoke of her work with the Millennium Village Project.http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/ It currently has sites in 11 countries chosen in different ecologic zones to enhance generalizability to the globe. Foreign aid currently comprises 0.7% of the developed worlds GDP. There are many promises with no follow through. These village projects, the brain child of Jeffery Sachs, aim to provide a package of integrated interventions based on “needs assessments.” They are community led initiatives.

The figures show that it costs $110 per person/year to get out of poverty in developing nations. After international, nation, NGO aid and a $10 contribution from the home village there remains a $50 gap per person. The integrated approach they are taking with their village projects is founded on the principles of:
-Increased food production
-Universal primary education
-Safe drinking water and sanitation
-Comprehensive malaria control
-Scaling up clinical services
-Connectivity of roads, electricity, telecom and technologyThe Sachs’ were very open to ideas and encouraged us to e-mail them

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