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'Economic Compassion'

September 06, 1985

Thank you so much for your editorial (Aug. 22), "Economic Compassion." As you noted, the United States saves $10 in future medical costs for every $1 now spent to inoculate American children against five sometimes deadly childhood diseases--measles, polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus. How can anyone argue with a worthwhile investment like that?

Taken on a global scale, the potential to save lives and future overseas relief costs to those who are crippled by childhood diseases is, of course, greatly magnified. Right now 5 million Third World children die needlessly from the same five childhood diseases that we could be controlling better in the United States. In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF (the U.N. Children's Fund) are launching a drive to provide all children of the world with immunization by 1990.

For some, saving lives raises a difficult issue: What will we do with extra people in a world that is already overpopulated? The answer is surprising. Studies by major organizations such as WHO, Worldwatch Institute and UNICEF reveal that whenever a country's infant mortality rate drops, the population growth rate also declines! When parents see that their children will not die, the desire to have large families is reduced.

In order to achieve its five-year goal of global immunization, UNICEF and WHO will need the support of each country in the world. The U.S. share is likely to total $350 million over the five-year period--again, an insignificant sum compared with the future savings in lives and overseas relief to those who are blinded by measles or crippled by polio.

In September, all members of the Senate will be invited by Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) to view a presentation on the possibility of immunizing all the world's children by 1990. More than 80 House members attended a similar presentation in July put on by Rep. Mel Levine (D-Santa Monica) and a nonpartisan group of his colleagues. It is important to urge Sens. Alan Cranston and Pete Wilson of California to attend this meeting, and to urge all of our congressional representatives to vote for legislation regarding global immunization and economic compassion.

LINDA TAYLOR HOWITT

La Canada

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