Prof. Jeffrey Sachs and Millennium Village


In the year 2000, Millennium Development Goals(MDG) was announced by the United Nations and “MDG Report” was published in 2005 under the initiative of Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University. It is pointing out the goals for each country towards 2025.   Very challenging goals, but I am sure that they are great steps towards the future of the world. I  feel that the leadership of Prof. Sachs who managed this is truely amazing.
Dr. Sachs and I have been working together for a year. As you see in my postings of 2006/2/5 and 2006/1/28 ; we have been friends since our first encounter in Davos forum in 2005.   Just taking a look at his HP is enough to convince you how extraordinarily a brilliant person he is. At the age of 29 he became a professor at Harvard University and is a worldwide famous economist who has contributed tremendously in working out plans for the restoration of economy of Latin America and Russia. Last year he published a book by the title of “The End of Poverty” which was also highly appreciated throughout the world.  Japanese version is also available.  Magnitude of his activities is just incredible.

He is always smiling and has a relaxed attitude, not a trace of arrogance. Even now he acts as an advisor to many countries and especially travels to various African countries as  Advisor to the Government.  In addition, he is taking up the honor of BBC “Reith Lecture” this year. From what I have heard, it has been already recorded once.

Dr. Sachs came to Tokyo from March 4th to 6th   from North Europe and Berlin. After Tokyo he will be visiting Seoul and Beijing. He requested me to arrange for various meetings in the available timeframe, which naturally summed up to a bulk of work for us. The purpose of the visit was to thank for the contribution of Japan and ask for further support for Africa. Do you know why? Because, he has started Millennium Village Project (MVP) to help achieve this difficult goal as much as possible through his own effort.   First, he started with a village in Ethiopia and Kenya.  The New York Academy of Sciences covers this story in a moving article "It Takes A Village" .

His wife is Dr. Sonia Ehrlich Sachs, a great granddaughter of Dr. Paul Ehrlich. As you know, Dr. Paul Ehrlich was the mentor of Sahachiro Hata.  Together, they discovered the first chemical compound Salvarsan (a specific remedy that works against spirochete causing syphilis) which is effective on infectious disease. He received a Nobel Prize in 1908. Dr. Sonia is a pediatrician but she has completed MPH (Master of Public Health) and is now working as superintendent of MVP.  Truely amazing! 

At the Millennium Summit of the United Nations held in September 2005, only Japanese government has offered to support MVP in 8 other places (Prime Minister Mr. Koizumi was there to participate). It’s a wonderful international contribution but the news was not much told in Japanese newspapers. Just before the general meeting of United Nations, I received an e-mail from the associates of Prof. Sachs saying "Really wonderful job and we are very much impressed”. Since then, I am telling about “MVP and contributions of Japan” in every occasion; domestic and international.

With the help of Japan, funds were raized for MVP of Prof. Sachs and currently 12 MVPs are conducted in Africa.

Though the stay of Prof. Sachs was short, we managed to have him visit Minister of Finance, Minister of Health, Vice-minister of Health(Mr. Takemi), Dr. Sadako Ogata, chairman of JICA, and foreign affairs dignitaries. I also arranged several interviews including  an interview with Mr. Yonekura, director of Sumitomo chemicals (covered in Nikkei, a major newspaper among the Japanese business establishment) which I served as a host. Dr. Sachs was very happy with those schedules of 3 days. Many thanks to all the people concerned for their great support. I think you will be finding  articles on this at various places. The photograph is of Prof. Sachs, NPO colleague Dr. James Kondo and me.

Through this, I am aiming to spread the wonderful contribution of Japan, especially in Africa, to all the citizens of the nation and to the world with Prof.Sachs.

By the way, Sumitomo Chemicals is a worldwide successful company, producing 10 million mosquito nets called “Bed Net (Olyset Nets)” per year. This innovative net, which prevents malaria, is supplied to Africa. It is also being used in MVPs. It reduces malaria and keep children healthy thereby improving their productivity. Education and food production is also increasing. Moreover, there are 2 manufacturing factories in Africa and 1 each in Vietnam and China. Employments are provided to these countries and the employees are also doing their work with pride of contributing this product to Africa. This story is introduced in the interview with Prof. Sachs which I will post soon. Please look forward to it.


Photo:Prof. Sachs at the center