Dear Editor,

It is amazing how the birth of a child can trigger global attention.

The birth of a baby boy in a stable over two centuries ago has led to the biggest festival known to man, Christmas, which is just days away. Millions of people from all parts of the world and from all walks of life celebrate Christmas which is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Yet millions of babies are born every year many of whom never live to see their first birth anniversary due to poverty and lack of access to medical care.

It came as a pleasant surprise when it was announced that a whopping sum of US$45 billion amounting to some 99 per cent worth of shares has been donated by Facebook’s Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla on the birth of their daughter to a Foundation set up to make this world a better and safer place, especially for children. That donation amounts to more than the entire GDP of Guyana and represented I think one of the largest donation ever made by a couple.

This is a commendable gesture which should be emulated by others with plenty of money at their disposal. No amount of financial resources can be considered too much when it comes to reducing infant mortality and maternal deaths.

However, there is need to go beyond donations and handouts if we are to make significant progress in this regard. The resources are there to do so, but too much of them are spent on military spending and the conspicuous lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Regrettably, the targets set under the Millennium Development Goals (the deadline of which comes to an end this December) have not been met, especially in terms of poverty reduction, infant and maternal deaths and literacy rates. Some progress have been made overall in terms of the set goals, even though wide disparities still exist between the developed and the developing world and between rural and urban populations.

Guyana still continues to lag behind other Caribbean countries with respect to infant mortality rates and maternal deaths according to a WHO survey. It is clear that we still have a lot of catching up to do.

Yours faithfully,

Hydar Ally

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