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Classrooms with teachers, clinics with nurses, affordable medicines, running taps, and working toilets – for millions of people in poor countries these things are a distant dream, and there is no reason why this should be the case. Yet these vital public services – health, education, water and sanitation – can transform the lives of poor people. They make society more equal. They are the key to making poverty history. Building strong public services for all is hardly a new idea: it is the foundation upon which many of today’s rich countries are built. More recently, developing countries have followed suit, with impressive results. Botswana, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Uganda, and Kerala state in India, for example, have within a generation made advances in health and education that took industrialised countries 200 years to achieve. Building strong public services works. Poor countries must invest in free health, education, water and sanitation. And they should be given the money and power to do so.

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