MAPW tells UN: Cut war spending and achieve Millenium Development Goals

UN DPI CONFERENCE 1 SEPTEMBER 2010. MAPW told this major conference of NGOis, held this year in Melbourne, that the impact of armed conflict often gets overlooked in considering ways in which health can be improved, not only in developing countries but also in developed countries. Dr Sue Wareham's speech was acclaimed by participants, many of whom asked for copies of MAPW's Vision 2030 as they wanted more information on this issue.

  • See the video of the Plenary where Sue spoke, here : http://www.viostream.com/un/ - you hve to scroll down to plenary session 4 and choose either webcast (for fast viewing) or download (huge file). The format is Q and A so each speaker answers several questions.

Roundtable IV, : Achieving the MDGs in Our Changing World:

SUMMARY OF DR SUE WAREHAM’S PRESENTATION TO THE ROUNDTABLE

WAR AND HEALTH

The impact of armed conflict often gets overlooked in considering ways in which health can be improved, not only in developing countries but also in developed countries. War affects health directly and indirectly. For example:

War and preparations for war divert enormous resources from many national budgets, which means that greatly reduced funds are available to enable essential health programs to be implemented. Current spending towards achieving the MDGs pales into insignificance beside global military spending.

War itself can have a profound impact on the health, both physical and psychological, of communities and individuals. It has particular impacts on women who are subject to sexual crimes. These health impacts can last for a lifetime, and some can even affect the health of future generations.

Preparations for war, and war itself, create environmental toxicity that can have grave health effects. Particular weapons such as depleted uranium are suspected of causing long-lasting health and environmental damage. The health effects of nuclear weapons are in an even more catastrophic category.

The promotion of health and the promotion of peace can each reinforce one another. As an example, the negotiation of health interventions, such as the immunisation of children in a war zone, can help build trust between warring parties.

One of the rapidly changing features of our world is our deteriorating environment, including escalating climate change. Climate and other environmental challenges are likely to increase the risks of armed conflict in many places. Developing closer links between the environmental and peace movements could help to address this problem and promote climate change responses that are based on justice and not on armed force, such as to enforce "border security".

Dr Sue Wareham is a medical practitioner in general practice in Canberra, and Immediate Past President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War, which is the Australian affiliate of IPPNWi.

  • Following this session, delegates overwhelmingly voted in support of a conference declaration that called for the World to put health and well-being before profits and military expenditure. Read the declaration at makinghealthglobal.com.au/media/conference-releases/the-declaration/
  • They also endorsed by acclamation, a proposal put by Tim Costello to request that all nations and NGOis support a moratorium on Pakistan’s debt repayment as its annual debt servicing is on average US$3 billion, almost three times the amount the government of Pakistan spends on healthcare annually.