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Hope and Obstacles Facing World Bank

July 12, 1986

Hope and obstacles, indeed--I refer to your editorial (July 6), "World Bank: Hope and Obstacles." I hope that the World Bank will see its role in very real terms as going as far as it can toward immediate and long-lasting relief for the world's poorest people. I see obstacles in the sense that its lending policies toward these folks won't find enough support.

With adequate support from the World Bank, global immunization efforts could save the lives of 3.5 million children every year. The World Bank can also increase its lending for agricultural development projects that aid the poor toward self-sufficiency--the ultimate goal.

It can increase its lending for primary health care, increasing the chance for survival for thousands and insuring the kind of health safety net we in the developed world take for granted.

The World Bank can also help a government shift its life-saving medical programs more toward grass-roots care serving more people, empowering parents in low-cost health measures for their children and thus having a greater overall effect on its population.

Finally, through its demands for structural adjustments, it can make requests that don't slight the poorest members of society who are often the first to suffer from government belt-tightening.

There are tough choices and priorities for the World Bank in coming years. Aiding Third World governments to bolster their economies and pay off their debts is necessary, but it seems ridiculous to spend an inappropriate percentage encouraging capitalism while Haitians drink sewer water and African babies die of preventable measles.

We, as ordinary citizens, can affect these lending policies of the World Bank by telling our representatives in Washington about our desire to see the bank perform its duty to those least able to ask for help. Hope is what we can offer through our actions--obstacles through our indifference.

RICHARD HILTON

North Hollywood

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