Saturday, May 31, 2008

The world's best investment: vitamins for at risk kids

Copenhagen consensus 2008

For two years, 50 of the worlds top economists have wrestled with finding solutions for the world's top ten problems. And, during this last week of May, 8 of the top economists, including five Nobel Laureates, met together to assess all the research.

They've produced a prioritized list of 30 solutions to the top ten problems. [Article here, with links.]

Interestingly, at the top of the list is combating malnutrition in the 140 million kids who are undernourished. They've determined that providing micronutrients [vitamin A capsules and a course of zinc supplements] to 80% of the 140 million kids who lack essential vitamins would cost just 60 million dollars and yet provide an estimated yearly benefit of nearly 1 billion dollars.

In other words, each dollar spent in this program turns 17 times that amount in benefits provided -- better health, fewer deaths, and potentially increased future earnings, etc.

Ronald Bailey, in his article, "The Top Ten Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems," notes that the Copenhagen Consensus process is certainly not perfect [applying benefit cost analysis to world issues] but it surely helps elucidate the problems and brings potential solutions to bear, great market place awareness. [Note: a tip of the cap to Glenn Reynolds on this. Great site, that Instapundit place! :-)].

These findings have fascinating implications... related to orphan care and and BANA Project, for instance: what would it cost to provide courses of micronutrients [A and zinc] to Lesotho orphans, for instance? And what benefit would this bring to an already phenomenal [and exploding] grassroots care program there?

I think it's a win/win potentiality.


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