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.