Thebastidge: Bjørn Lomborg's pretty smart
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    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    Bjørn Lomborg's pretty smart

    I like Bjørn Lomborg- he's a smart guy with some simple policy prescriptions. His contribution to the Foreign Policy article 21 Ways to Save the World is titled; "Take your Vitamins"

    "By Bjørn Lomborg May/June 2007

    Malnutrition is one of the world’s biggest challenges, afflicting 1 of every 6 of us. Although we are moving in the right direction—despite adding more than 70 million people to the global population each year, the number of those suffering from malnutrition has been falling—more than 3 million people will die this year from poor nutrition. Some 800 million are chronically undernourished.

    The most wellknown form of malnutrition is a lack of calories. But there is another, more prevalent form. It isn’t obvious or easily photographed, and so it attracts scant attention. Yet it could be solved with remarkable ease. It is the unsexy-sounding “micronutrient deficiency”—a lack of iodine, vitamin A, and iron.

    Children lacking iodine do not develop properly, either physically or intellectually. All they need is salt fortified with iodine. An absence of vitamin A increases the risks of blindness. The nutrient could easily be made more readily available in staple food items, such as genetically modified golden rice.

    Iron deficiency affects as many as 3.5 billion people—more than half the world’s population. An iron deficit stunts growth and impedes mental abilities—stealing up to 15 IQ points from the average child. It reduces a person’s ability to perform manual labor by as much as 17 percent. Today, it’s battering the health and energy of half a billion women and stunting the growth of 40 percent of the developing world’s children. Yet we already know how to solve this problem: The fortification of flour, rice, and salt is cheap and simple. In other cases, iron cooking pots, which slowly emit iron, could be distributed in poor countries.

    Dealing with micronutrient deficiency would quickly and cheaply improve the lot of billions of people."

    Read the rest at Like I said, he's pretty smart.

    On another note, HIV/AIDS in Africa. It's almost never diagnosed by a DNA test of the virus. Typically, it's assumed you ave AIDS if you have several of the symptoms. Since HIV/AIDS has no visible symptoms, this means symptoms of secondary infections, notably fevers, diarrhea etc. Well, Africa was known for fevers and Diarrhea LONG before AIDS- there are some voices in the wilderness out there saying that the AIDS crisis in Africa may be vastly overblown. This is not to say that the 40% of children left orphaned in some areas is not a problem, just that it's not all AIDS that is causing it. Shipping free or cheap AIDS drugs to Africa just seems to mean that they don't get allocated rationally (i.e. market-based medicine). some people who probably DON'T have AIDS are getting these drugs, and many people who probably DO have it are not, and we have no idea which are which or how many of each.

    If we really wanted to save potentially *millions* of lives in Africa this year, we'd be better off sending them anti-diarrhea drugs, because most people who "die of AIDS" there are actually dying of dehydration caused by diarrhea. And that's not a pretty way to go.

    But diarrhea doesn't command the attention of the Western world, because it's so simple to treat. We've forgotten what it is like to live close to nature- nasty, brutish, and short.


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