Global economic crisis
The present world economic crisis which originated in
the so-called First World, to be exact in the United States of
America, in the third quarter of 2008, has swept across the
globe and engulfed not only the developed countries but also
spread its tentacles to the Third World. No country has been
spared and no country would be spared.
The Global Monitoring Report 2009 published by the IMF/World
Bank projects a rise this year in the number of extreme poor in
half of all developing countries, and in three quarters of
Sub-Saharan Africa. Fifty five to 90 million more people could
be trapped in extreme poverty as a result of the crisis.
In addition, over a billion people will be chronically hungry
in 2009, reversing gains in the fight against malnutrition,
endangering pregnant women and their babies, and stunting the
development of young children.
The crisis will also set back progress made in educating poor
children-especially girls. Health repercussions will be the
gravest, with slowed or halted progress in fighting HIV/AIDS,
malaria and other deadly diseases.
Growth in developing countries in 2009 is now projected to be
only 1.6 percent, which is only about a quarter of what was
projected just before the crisis and this implies declining per
capita income in more than 50 developing countries in 2009.
In the light of these developments, it is highly improbable
that the commitment of the world leaders at their Millennium
Summit in the year 2000 to halve the world’s poor and to other
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be kept.
With shrinking exports and remittances the developing world
will be hardly able to meet its development goals. Growth in
developing countries in 2009 is now projected to be only 1.6
percent, which is only about a quarter of what was projected
just before the crisis and this implies declining per capita
income in more than 50 developing countries in 2009.
New methods and new policies are needed to meet the new
challenges imposed by the world economic crisis. Needless to say
that emphasis should be on agricultural development for many
developing countries, if they are to avert starvation due to the
developing global food crisis.
Regrettably the developed countries, whose policies of
neoliberal globalization have led to the present crisis, do not
seem committed to their MDG pledges.
International aid to developing countries only reaches 120
billion dollars. Considering the requirements it is only a drop
in the ocean. On the other hand, they have committed over US $
11.6 trillion to bail out bankers and industrialists.
This forces the developing countries to seek more South-
South Cooperation and regional integration as a way out of the
present crisis. It also calls for more prudent economic
planning, less waste, good governance and self-reliance,
development of indigenous technology in those sectors that are
What is more important is commitment by the people, their
dedication and hard wok which have proved their usefulness in
many a country.
The Health Ministry has made a timely move to prevent
the deadly swine flu now sweeping the US and Mexico from
entering Sri Lanka. Similar measures were taken earlier too when
epidemics such as bird flu and Ebola were threatening this part
of the world. However, that threat passed over with no cases
reported in Sri Lanka.
Already, orders have gone out to monitor passengers arriving
from the US and Mexico at the BIA and harbour.
According to our front page story today, over 100 people had
died from swine flu in Mexico last week and WHO has warned of
the possibility of Swine flu becoming a global threat.
The Ministry should also take steps to upgrade our quarantine
services since there have been instances of those carrying the
virus escaping undetected.
The Health Ministry should also place more emphasis on
preventive health in its bid to reduce instances of epidemics
from spreading in the country. We have had cases of rat fever
recently and the people thrown into a panic. Measures should be
taken to educate people on the nature of disease and epidemics
so that they would know what precautions to be taken.
This would also prevent overcrowding of hospitals and less
strain on the medical staff.