Vaccines, foreign aid and why we are doing it wrong

At a summit in London, where the world is being asked to donate an extra $3.7 billion by 2015 for child vaccines, the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisation is saying that  four million lives can be saved in four years. All very laudable, every human life is valuable. But in perspective the World Health Organisation says that tobacco smoking kills 5 times as many people. And we aren’t being told how much it is going to cost us to feed the people who will be saved by this vaccination programme.

For us in the West it is hard to realise how poor much of the world’s population is, around a half live on less than a dollar a day and the UN reckon that 850 million people go to bed hungry each night. This is a terrible situation but the root cause is not lack of vaccines, it is overpopulation.

The fact is that mankind is the dominant species on this planet and we hold all other life under our dominion. We are free to breed and increase our numbers at will, which is what we are doing, with no concern about the planet’s ability to support the consequent rapidly expanding population. The 1994 InterAcademy Panel Statement on Population Growth demanded a halt of the population expansion when the global population was just 5.5 billion, it is now 7 billion headed for 10 billion, growing at 740 million per year. This is quite simply unsustainable.

In much of the world there is no such thing as pension schemes, instead offsprings provide for the older population, so the more children you have the richer you become as they grow up. With this system the population would expand to infinity so historically it is famine, disease and war that have kept the population under control. Take these away, as the altruistic West is doing, and you create a population explosion which then creates an even bigger mass of people needing our aid to survive.

Let’s take Ethiopia, in 1960 it had a population of less than 23 million, but by the 1985 Live Aid concert organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure it had risen to 41 million. In fact the 1984/5 famine had no effect whatsoever on the upward population growth, the opposite happened, with all the aid flowing in it accelerated! Today it is over 90 million with an average woman there having 6 children. Aid from the West is massive, we have cancelled their debts and the IMF continue to throw emergency funding at them. The government use this aid to bribe voters and, of course, there is famine again.

The simple fact is that the population of Ethiopia will now continue to expand towards infinity unless and until something is done to stop that expansion. The current Western policy of throwing money and food at the country just makes things worse. All it does is provide the resources for further population expansion so even more aid is needed. We are propagating a vicious spiral where we are paying billions to make things worse. And by improving infant mortality with vaccinations we are just going to make the problem grow faster.

And there are many countries just like Ethiopia.

The simple fact is that most aid from the West should be directed at population control, at bringing the number of people on this planet back in line with the planet’s sustainable ability to support them. Until this nettle is grasped the do gooders are actually doing a lot more harm than good.


  1. I think there are more bacteria than humans…what sort of population control are you recommending? Hands off famine?Or a bit more involved…..


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