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Global poverty marches on – Time for Christians to blow the whistle

autumn 2006

From triple helix - autumn 2006 - Global poverty marches on – Time for Christians to blow the whistle [p5]

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In the last few years we have seen the Millennium Development Goals, the UN declarations on AIDS, Blair's Africa Commission and the Gleneagles G8 Declaration. But despite all these good words and agreements, the evidence suggests that most governments are not delivering on aid, debt relief or opening up global trade in the ways that they agreed.[1]

12,000 people will still die today from preventable illnesses, including 8,000 children who will lose their lives to immunisable infectious disease such as measles and TB. Still nearly 1.5 billion people will live on less than 1 US dollar a day. This is not news, but despite all the high level rhetoric, there is still not the collective will to bring about real change.

It is bitterly ironic that Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, two arch capitalists, will do more in 2000 and in the years to come to fight the diseases of poverty than many governments.[2,3] The UN reckons that its eight ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) to halve global poverty and dramatically reduce chid and maternal mortality are in some trouble less than halfway towards their target deadline of 2015.[4] Asia, some of Eastern Europe and Latin America are doing well in reducing hunger, poverty and the burden of disease, but in Sub-Saharan Africa the problems are getting worse, not better, as AIDS, war and famine exacerbate the problems caused by corruption, unjust trade rules and spiralling debt problems.

However the fact that these issues are being talked about at the G8 and the UN at all (AIDS was only discussed at the UN General Assembly for the first time in 2001) shows that Christians can exert influence. Christians started the Jubilee 2000 campaign in the late nineties to see a cancellation of debt amongst the poorest nations and it began to change things. Make Poverty History last year moved things further forward. In 2007, a new global Christian movement, the Micah Challenge [5] launches another campaign to get the British churches engaging with the issues of global poverty, and calling on our government, and the governments of the world to meet their commitments to the MDGs and the other promises made.

The Blow the Whistle campaign will be part of a ten year long project by Micah Challenge to remind Christians of the biblical call to 'act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God',[6] to 'give voice to the poor and oppressed, and stand up for justice'.[7] CMF is getting behind this campaign, because we believe that justice for the poor is on God's heart, and that fighting global health problems is an issue of justice as well as of good public health policy and medical care.

References

  1. Keeping the G8 Promise to Africa. The DATA Report 2006
  2. Donald G et al. Buffet's Billions Will Aid Fight Against Disease. New York Times 2006; 27 June
  3. www.gatesfoundation.org
  4. United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report 2006
  5. www.micahchallenge.org
  6. Micah 6:8
  7. Isaiah 1:17



Article written by Steve Fouch

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