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Letter: Saving Africa

If there ever was a God forsaken place it has to be sub-Saharan Africa. The plight of most Africans is so dire that one has to wonder where to begin were one inclined to help. Disease is rampant. Malaria, ebola virus, Aids/HIV, yellow fever, dengue fever, typhoid fever, cholera, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, intestinal worm infection, dysentery, the list is endless. Many of these also occur in other parts of the world also but for the most part are under control. Mostly not so in Africa.

It is estimated that one billion Africans do not have enough clean water and as a result 2,500 children die each day. Add to all this the fact that parts of Africa are prone to severe recurring droughts and one has the makings of a disaster.

It is admirable that the developed world has finally decided to make a substantial effort to reverse this appalling situation. Bill and Melinda Gates along with Warren Buffett are doing wonderful work especially in their effort to control diseases. But I am skeptical of this effort achieving sustainable results.

Of the 20 countries where women have the most children 16 are in sub-Saharan Africa. It ranges, in these 16 countries, from 6.88 children per women in Niger to 4.92 in Benin. At these rates, were the health of Africa comparable to the Western world population levels would explode. (A rate of about 2.2 children per woman just sustains a population level in a healthy nation). In many countries the number is far less than 2.2. For example Japan 1.27 and Russia 1.36. In Catholic France it is less than 2.

So it seems that before implementing disease control one had better face the birth rate problem. If the disease control effort is only partially successful it will create a population explosion of epic proportions resulting in famine the likes of which have never been seen.

In the Western world at least 80 percent of people use some form of modern contraception. Even in Catholic countries the percentages are the same. But in Africa the percentage is no higher than ten percent and is as low as one percent.

Now simple logic tells one that you cannot improve Africa’s situation unless you first face the birth rate problem. If the logic is so clear cut why is it that no one has suggested facing the population problem as a first step. The answer is simple and understood by everyone. The primary culprit is religion.

Theodore Theodosen