$60 Million – Improve Health for 112 Million Kids or Run Dirigo for One Year?

$60 Million – Improve Health for 112 Million Kids or Run Dirigo for One Year?

June 8, 2008 Posted by Tarren Bragdon - No Comments

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a meeting of the world’s top eight economists (five Nobel laureates) at the Copenhagen Consensus Center in Denmark.  The economists recommended, in priority order, the way to acheive the most good with finite resources, in this case $75 billion worldwide over four years. 

Their recommendations are enlightening and available here:

  1. Micronutrient supplements for children (vitamin A and zinc) – Malnutrition – $60 million
  2. The Doha development agenda – Trade – $0
  3. Micronutrient fortification (iron and salt iodization) – Malnutrition – $286 million
  4. Expanded immunization coverage for children – Diseases – $1 billion
  5. Biofortification – Malnutrition – $60 million
  6. Deworming and other nutrition programs at school – Malnutrition and Eduction – $27 million
  7. Lowering the price of schooling – Education – $5.4 billion
  8. Increase and improve girls’ schooling – Education – $6 billion
  9. Community based nutrition promotion – Nutrition – $798 million
  10. Provide support for women’s reproductive role – Women – $4 billion
  11. Heart attack acute management – Disease – $200 million
  12. Malaria prevention and treatment – Disease – $500 million
  13. Tuberculosis case finding and treatment – Disease – $419 million

Total $18.75 billion a year

To quote the WSJ: “…providing vitamin A and zinc would help some 112 million children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia for merely $60 million a year. The minerals would help prevent blindness and stunted growth – increasing lifetime productivity by an estimated $1 billion. “

To put this in context, the world’s top economists recommend the best way to improve health is to spend $60 million worldwide on vitamin supplements for 112 million kids.  Interesting, $60 million is about what Governor Baldacci wants to Maine taxpayers to spend on Dirigo Health in fiscal year 2009.

Where are our State’s priorities?  What logic drives such foolish decisions?