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World's 'Silent Emergency'

January 08, 1987

Thank you for your article (Dec. 11), "U.N. Cites Children's Heavy Death Toll," about the UNICEF "State of the World's Children" report. It is often easy for the media to overlook the "silent emergency" that kills 280,000 children every week, year after year.

I am referring, of course, to the disease and death wrought by malnutrition and its consequent killing maladies, which make the world's loud emergencies pale in scope by comparison. More shocking still is how preventable these deaths are, and how simple and inexpensive most of the solutions.

The GOBI plan of growth monitoring, oral rehydration, breast feeding, and immunization does not require huge capital outlays nor sophisticated technological equipment. For the most part, it can be implemented by health workers with only a few months training. What is required is an awareness of the situation and the will to change these appalling circumstances.

Do we stand idly by when an earthquake or flood devastates even the most remote areas of the world? Do we withhold our sympathy and assistance when even a political adversary such as the Soviet Union suffers from technology run amok? Why, then, do we allow the thousands of children to go on dying slow and agonizing deaths on a daily basis? What will it finally take for us to care enough to bring this shame and waste to an end?

BILL BORTIN

La Jolla

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