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what price a life?

We were 5 hours in to the flight to the UK today when the pilot announced that we needed to make an emergency stop in Nice. We descended very quickly. A child a few rows ahead of us in the plane has malaria and is suffering terribly from a very severe fever and needs urgent medical attention.  At this moment I guess there isn’t a single person on our plane who wouldn’t do whatever they can to help save this child who could die if not treated urgently.

Child survival is no longer a silent daily catastrophe but an urgent matter of life and death right here in front of us and we had the ability to do something. It needed dramatic action by the pilot, flight controllers as well as medical staff in Nice. It will have cost more money and delayed nearly 200 other passengers. Staff in Heathrow were scrambling to rearrange connections. But not a single passenger complained as we sat for an hour on the runway in Nice. People chatted together and wanted to know if the child was ok.  There was unanimous unspoken and unquestioning agreement that a child is worth saving, whatever the cost.

Behind us I hear another passenger suddenly announce that his wife has successfully given birth in London and he is a new Dad. A small celebration starts. The birth has gone well and the child and mother are doing just fine.

The journey home became a microcosm of our global campaign. Imagine if we had continued flying and let a child die. There would be global outrage. We diverted a plane today to save a life.

A child still dies every 3 seconds and we need to make the global emergency real. We need unquestioning support to divert money, expertise, and attention on a scale that reflects the true worth of every child. This is not a time to only look after ourselves with trillion dollar bailouts but a time for global collective action to save children’s lives.

This coming week the world’s most powerful leaders will meet at the G20 summit in London to find a way out of the global economic downturn.  Banks and big industry are on the agenda  but saving children’s lives isn’t.

Join our campaign to get UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to persuade world leaders to keep their promises to the world’s poorest countries.   These are the promises made at the Gleneagles summit in 2005   to increase aid by $50bn a year – half of which would go to Africa.

I have also heard that the President of Nigeria will be attending the G20 as a guest. It is time that the G8 and G20 give real participation and representation to African leaders and that includes decision-making powers.  This right would also bring responsibilities.

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