Published: 13th June 2005
The decision to write off the $40bn (£22bn; 33bn euros) debt owed by 18 mainly African countries by G8 finance ministers meeting last weekend is essential if the world is serious about curing health problems in the developing world, the Christian Medical Fellowship said today.
CMF General Secretary Peter Saunders said, 'We cannot deal with health while ignoring poverty. Clean drinking water, proper sanitation, adequate nutrition and good education have over the years saved far more lives than any single medical technology or treatment and these are all directly linked to poverty.
'Poverty is the main reason that babies aren’t vaccinated, that children catch dysentery from infected water supplies, that drugs and other treatments aren’t available and that half a million mothers die unnecessarily each year in childbirth.
'It is true that the legacies of colonialism, economic mismanagement, war and corruption have all played their part in weakening developing world economies. But a huge factor has been the need for already bankrupt countries to repay debts owed to developed world banks and nations. We welcome this initial move to do something positive about the problem and hope that it will be extended to other countries.
'The international debt crisis is having profound adverse effects on health world-wide, through the social and economic consequences of austerity measures imposed on developing countries by creditors. It is clear that it has resulted - at least in part - from the failure of Western banks, governments and multi-lateral finance institutions to follow Christ’s own teaching about no-interest loans to the poor, debt forgiveness, economic justice and generous charitable giving.’
'Christians wanting to make an impact on world poverty and health are right to be campaigning for governments to forgive debts, practise free trade and give generously, but the debt crisis is also a huge challenge to the churches urgently to rethink our own attitudes to interest and debt. It is often easy to point the finger at others, but as Christians we ourselves need to be living out Christian economic principles.'
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.