5 APRIL 1963, Page 15


SIR,—Those who read Mr. Jackson's interesting and informative article 'Enemies of Progress' in the Spectator may be tempted to throw up their hands in despair and conclude that much of the effort being devoted to assisting the developing countries is self-defeating. Industrialisation with its promise of economic growth carries with it the danger of the crowded slums of new 'shanty towns' with family disintegration and even less protein foods so badly needed by malnourished children. Irrigation schemes to develop electric power and bring new arid areas into food production provide ideal opportunities for the spread of dreaded diseases, particularly bilharziasis.

Progress unfortunately carries its own risks and we cannot hold up all efforts in development until every consequential risk has been eliminated. After all, in our own country in the past the consumption

of raw milk used to convey many diseases. The prosperity which the Industrial Revolution brought 'last century was at the expense of much misery and suffering, particularly amongst women and children. Mankind unhappily creates his own tragedies, but out of those tragedies learns the way to a better life.

The Economic and Social Council at its session in the summer of 1961 emphatically declared that we must no longer speak of 'economic development' but of 'economic and social development.' Health, education, satisfactory famils life and conditions of labour are not luxuries to be acquired when a country has achieved sufficient economic develop- ment to enable it to 'afford' such social improve- ments. Malnutrition amongst children in the develop- ing countries, particularly in the form of kwashiorkor, is very much the concern of such organisations as WHO. FAO and UNICEF. UNICEF has already shipped over 1,000 million lb. of skim milk powder to help in combating this disease due to protein shortage amongst children. it has spent over £7 million in providing 200 processing plants to increase the output of safe milk supplies in de- veloping countries. It is helping in the production of new protein foods from local vegetable sources in many countries—notably 'Saridele' in Indonesia and 'Incaparina' in Central America.

Bilharzia is indeed an increasing threat to human health as the result of the creation of irrigation canals. Campaigns are under way in Egypt and the Philippines, sponsored by WHO and UNICEF, whereby UNICEF is providing molluscicides, drugs, laboratory supplies, field equipment and transport to break the cycle of the disease. Education of the public is equally important and the provision of what is politely called 'environmental sanitation' to prevent human excrement from being deposited in the canals. Progress will unfortunately be slow, but the problem is increasingly recognised and more and more help being provided towards its solution.

Perhaps in the past too much emphasis has been placed on the spectacular aspects of economic de- velopment—darns, factories, harbours, roads, air- lines—important though these are for raising human productivity. But more and more attention is being devoted to realising that this increased productivity will not be achieved (or achieved at great cost of human suffering) if the human element continues to

and condemned to premature death. • •

I remember once talking with the late Dag Hamrnarskjold about the problems and difficulties: Which faced our international efforts, or were created by them. He interrupted to remark, 'We must be Professional optimists: otherwise we could not do Our kit): Being a professional optimist does not mean that we are callous to the immediate effects of some of our efforts, but that we will hopefully endeavour to apply the experience of the past and present, and in our attempts to speed economic and. social progress, we will do our utmost to avoid earlier mistakes and protect the 'victims' of progress from sonic of its unnecessary penalties. Perhaps the best contribution we can make, during this develop- ment decade, is to see that the children of the developing countries are not exposed to the suffer- ings which our own children experienced in the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago.