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close this bookOvercoming Global Hunger (WB)
close this folderSession two - macroeconomic reform: its impact on poverty and hunger.
View the documentMacroeconomic reform: its impact on poverty and hunger
View the documentDiscussant remarks
View the documentWorkshop spokesperson remarks
View the documentWorkshop spokesperson remarks
View the documentFloor discussion
View the documentSpecial address: the scope for public action to reduce chronic hunger

Workshop spokesperson remarks

Shafika Nasser

I find myself in a very awkward position, because being a physician and nutritionist speaking to economists, we are always at a disadvantage. Yet in the world of today we always believe in, and we are trying to push forward, the idea of interdisciplinary approaches, particularly to a problem that affects a lot of people today, and that is the problem of hunger.

A few years ago, with the green revolution, with our knowledge of nutrition, we thought the world would get rid of malnutrition, as we call it technically. But today we are seeing more malnutrition, more starvation, and more deaths from starvation than ever in the world.

The group that met yesterday to discuss macroeconornic reforms came up with about eleven items, but then we decided that we could put them together in fewer visions. The first of them would be the vision that by the year 2000 we will have more participation by people in developing macro-economic reforms that affect their lives. These people have to be informed to be able to discuss and choose what is best for them, because it is going to affect them. As a physician, I consider this as a sort of informed consent. We have to develop the tools and mechanisms and refine them, instead of denying that it is feasible. Participation should be not only by the poor, but by all sectors of civil society. Mr. Preston has said that he wants to ensure participation of the poor in the development as well as the implementation of projects. This is a very big statement, and we hope it will be fulfilled.

The second vision is that we would like macroeconomic reforms to be people-centered by the year 2000 with people's well-being, the investment in human beings, measured not only by progress, by economic development, by monetary measures, but by social development criteria The human development index should include measures of nutritional status. When the United Nations Development Programme has been trying to put forward various indices that could be used for longevity, life expectancy, education criteria, and monetary criteria, but I think nowadays we have to concentrate on nutritional criteria.

The third vision is that by the year 2000 we would like the progress of countries to be measured correctly, taking into consideration natural resources that have been depleted.

The fourth vision is government priorities. We would like to see that the burden of debt is faced, because when governments decide they want to cutback, they usually cut expenditures on health, education, or subsidies of essential foods. We have to reach a consensus as to how much of this could be included or not included in an adjustment program.

The last vision is equity. By the year 2000 we would like to see macroeconomic reforms directed to address gender equity between men and women, inter-regional equity between people and children, and designed so as to create more opportunities for people.

In short, we would like these visions to be covered in our reflections, and I was glad to hear from Dr. Birdsall that some of the visions—at least the first one were part of her intervention.