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Twelve Zeroes and a Two

Twelve Zeroes and a Two. That’s better. 2 trillion dollars sounds a bit more digestible like that. Even quite fun. Like Three Men and a Baby, but with a bigger cast. A few more Tom Sellecks.

Two trillion dollars is the amount of money the world’s leaders have found so far to bail out / prop up / rescue / reassure the financial markets. (Actually it’s $2,473,000,000 according to the Economist – but I find the odd $473 billion just gets in the way a bit).

I’m sure some of that money is probably desperately needed. Some could even help people who are struggling and facing really hard times. But the point is this: if world leaders can come together and act for a global financial emergency, why is it so painfully difficult to get them to find a tiny fraction of that to save children’s lives – where we know the solutions, we know the cost, we just need the political will to make it happen?

The World Health Organisation and others in the great Countdown to 2015 report say it would cost an extra $10.2 billion each year to put in place the health systems to deliver the critical support mothers and children need. If you add that up over the next six years, it’s about 2.5 per cent of what’s been mobilised in the last few months for the financial crisis. So with another couple of cents on every dollar we could save millions of children’s lives and ensure their mothers make it safely through childbirth.

Will the G20 meeting in London deliver on this? Probably not. Will they declare a new determination to work together over the next year or so and put together a serious plan to meet their promises and achieve the Millennium Development Goals? That would be a start. If they fail, the twelve zeroes and a two could end up being the scorecard on the summit…

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