(Photo: European Commission DG ECHO/Flickr/Creative Commons)
The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa officially over this past week. The Ebola epidemic that swept through Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and into Nigeria last year highlighted the importance of rapid response, and strong health infrastructure. Credited for halting the spread of the virus more widely in Nigeria was the Polio tracking system and stations already put in place by GAVI (Global Vaccine Alliance). Unlike the surrounding countries, Nigeria was able to use that already existing health care network and alert system to quickly track down possible exposures. Also highlighted by the outbreak was the importance of nutrition in preventing disease to begin with. Well-nourished children have much stronger immune systems than malnourished children, and are more resilient to bounce back when they do get sick. Sustainable Development Goal number two is zero hunger, a global priority since WHO estimates that malnutrition is the underlying cause in half of child deaths world wide.
I knew that malnutrition made immune systems vulnerable, but working with a local non-profit specializing in the treatment and prevention of child malnutrition on a global level has given me new insight into just how critical proper nutrition is for the individual, and the world as a whole. You might be surprised to learn that the second largest producer in the world of a nutritionally fortified peanut paste used to treat malnutrition called Plumpy’Nut is located in the smallest state in the USA. Edesia is a non-profit that partners with organizations on the ground such as World Food Program, UNICEF and USAID to offer treatment and malnutrition prevention solutions to those who need it most. Countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia had been receiving shipments of Edesia’s products long before the Ebola outbreak, where malnutrition was already an issue for many children before the virus hit. In the countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone the compounded crisis of child malnutrition was both a contributing factor, and then a cruel aftereffect of the Ebola epidemic.
Rhode Island infectious disease specialist Dr. Tim Flanigan, who traveled to Liberia in August of 2014 stated that
“More people were dying from malnutrition and other medical illnesses than from Ebola.” even at the height of the outbreak. “ So many infectious diseases are intertwined with malnutrition to begin with.”
The communities impacted the hardest were already fragile when the virus hit.
Dr. Flanigan explained, that the countries impacted by Ebola were some of the poorest countries on the continent. After years of civil wars, the destruction of the infrastructure had already made it a challenge for people to get enough to eat. Hunger, malnutrition, and starvation were already common realities in these vulnerable populations. All efforts and resources available then went to tackle Ebola when it hit, leaving any of the already challenged social services in place, like school meals or vaccine clinics, to flounder. When 20-day quarantines of people in homes with no running water, or electricity, (meaning no refrigeration for food), were instituted in some households, malnutrition rates were bound to soar.
Children are often the most vulnerable population in crisis scenarios, they are at much higher risk of disease when malnourished, even if they escape succumbing to any number of viral threats malnutrition puts them at risk of never growing to their full potential. The products produced in Rhode Island at Edesia, such as Plumpy’Nut and Plumpy’Sup, can literally save the lives of these children. In just 6 weeks on average a child suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition, or SAM, can get back to their full healthy weight when treated with Plumpy’Nut. Last year Edesia reached nearly a million children. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimate is that nearly 795 million people (out of the 7.3 billion world population), so 1 in 9 people, suffered from malnutrition during 2014-2016. The goal at Edesia is to reach as many children as possible to help them thrive, and that means being prepared to react when the need arises. One of the essential building blocks to good health is proper nutrition, and a healthy community is a more resilient community. We saw how effective it was in the case of Nigeria and the Polio network to have systems in place when disaster strikes. The investment in global nutrition not only can help to prevent future outbreaks of disease, but ensure that all children have the opportunity to grow into healthy, productive adults.
What are some of the other lessons that this outbreak Highlighted?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay who also writes at documama and is the Digital and Social Media Specialist at Edesia.
Many of us might hear the word “cancer” and automatically think that such a diagnosis would be a death sentence. This could be based on things we’ve heard, images we have seen portrayed in the media, or perhaps a personal experience – a friend or relative who has been affected by this “c” word. The truth is it greatly depends on the type of cancer…how early it is diagnosed…and whether or not a person has access to treatment.
In the US, January is #CervicalHealthMonth. Today we are talking it about it here because cervical cancer is an international issue and I’m sharing on World Moms Blog because it is an important topic to me, too. More than half a million women around the world are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and over half of them die from the disease. The majority of these cases and deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.(1) (more…)
My daughter’s grade school class presented a “Wax Museum” yesterday. It was a program where the students dressed up as prominent historical figures from past and present chosen from short biographies in the school library. Each prepared a short summary of the life of their chosen person to memorize and recite. All the children were adorable. We parents walked out laughing about the cuteness of the kids and the creativity in the costumes they created. As we headed out to the cars, moms and dads chimed in about how that wonderful presentation had the unfortunate side effect of making us think about our own mortality and legacies.
“Man, there’s not a lot of time yet for me to do something amazing!”
“Bill Gates built his fortune by age 31. What have I accomplished?”
“Nobody’s ever going to have write a book about me for the children’s section.”
On the drive home, I started to think about incredible people I know in my own life who don’t happen to be famous enough to be in the biography section of the elementary school library. I wondered what the wax museum would have looked like if some of my everyday heroes had been chosen?
What would their humanly complex, heroic yet ordinary lives sound like in the simplified words of a third grader’s summary?
There would have been a little boy with a taped on blondish mustache and a Hawaiian shirt saying, “My name is Bob Dickerson. I don’t want any child to die especially from something that can be prevented. One time, I saw two girls drowning when they were swimming. I rescued them by grabbing them and bringing them to safety, so I know what it’s like to save a life of a child. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought I wouldn’t have much time to live so I quit my job and dedicated the rest of my life to ending needless childhood deaths from disease and hunger by fighting poverty with an organization called RESULTS. Over and over, I asked Congress to use our tax money to save kids’ lives with vaccines, good nutrition, and easy medical treatments. Every single month, I worked with other volunteers to figure out how to talk to our representatives and senators. Together, we brought the number of daily child deaths from 40,000 a day to 17,000 per day. I encouraged and inspired many young leaders to follow my example. “
There would have been a little girl in hiking boots or running shoes saying, “My name is Teresa Rugg. When one of my friends lost his wife and baby to Tuberculosis (TB), I said I would help however I could to make sure people didn’t die from such a terrible disease. I started an organization called TB Photovoice to gather stories of TB patients and survivors and share them to improve the lives of people and their communities. The storytellers take incredible photos of their experiences and present their own words and pictures to people who need to know about TB. I did all this to raise awareness about a disease that most people think doesn’t even exist anymore. I spoke out to Congress about stopping TB in the US and all around the world. I did all of this while living out in Washington State where I could hike and run all over having a fun outdoorsy life, enjoying nature with my two wonderful children, my husband, and my dog.”
There might have even been a little girl wearing either a nice dress and a snappy brown coat or maybe a sweatshirt and yoga pants saying, “My name is Jennifer Burden. When I was a kid and people were saying bad things about people from the Middle East, I thought, ‘If only they could know my Grandma, they could never think something like that!’ I started World Moms Blog from my house, so that moms all over the world could share stories together and foster understanding between cultures. I also became a champion of women’s and girl’s issues, encouraging others to write and speak out about them. I taught my own daughters about being fair and how we can save lives of people who need our help even if we are far away.”
And you know what else? There would probably still be that little boy up there playing Bill Gates. But instead of saying what year he made his first billion dollars, he’d be saying, “In 2015, I promised to give away 1.5 billion dollars – more than even the United States – to the GAVI Alliance to help vaccines reach every child and end polio in my lifetime.”
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Cindy Levin.
Who would be in your wax museum?
Today was a landmark day for funding for the GAVI Alliance, which provides life-saving vaccinations for children around the globe. Over $7 billion US Dollars was pledged to GAVI, with the UK and the US leading the way. A group of our contributors have been working with Shot@Life, the ONE Campaign and RESULTS to put pressure on the U.S. government to fund GAVI. World Mom, Cindy Levin, also on the Board of RESULTS, is celebrating the lives that will be saved with this funding with her daughters in Missouri, USA. Read her reaction, as well as that of her daughters’, on her blog, The Anti Poverty Mom.
And World Mom, Michelle Pannell, writes from the UK about the momentous funding to save lives. It was a spiritual reminder for her on why she continues to write. Read her post at Mummy From the Heart.
In Missouri, USA, World Mom and activist, Cindy Levin, and her daughters celebrate the importance of pledged funding to the GAVI Alliance for global vaccination programs for children.
Michelle Pannell in Ethiopia advocating for world poverty with the ONE Campaign in 2012.
Thank you for your hard work, Cindy, Michelle and fellow World Moms!!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog.
Photo credit to Cindy Levin.
Host a GAVI Global Tea Party!
Who wants to add a spin on their regular ladies night out?
We all do!
How about throwing a GAVI Global Tea Party? It’s easy!
The GAVI Alliance is a public and private global health partnership which carries out vaccination programs in developing countries. And the GAVI Global Tea Party is a grass-roots movement of people talking around the world over tea, about immunizations for children in developing nations. There is even a documentary being made out of these international tea parties.
Want to join the movement? Here’s how to host a GAVI-WMB tea party:
- Brew some tea, get out your tea-cups, throw in some snacks, cakes or anything you prefer to eat with a cuppa!
- Next, fire up the computer and fire up some GAVI videos featuring mothers and children around the world benefitting from well needed immunization programs. These videos are great conversation starters! You can discuss what you saw in the videos and your views about spreading awareness.
- Just get talking!
Just three steps – it is as simple as that. Host a party, drink tea, talk about immunizations, ask how interested your guests are about continuing the conversation on immunizations.
Your tea party can be as varied as you want it to be. You can have a minimum of 2 people to 50 people, or however many people, talking about helping to save the lives of children. Did you know that a child dies from a vaccine preventable disease every 20 seconds? Consider helping us shout out about how important it is to have these conversations on global health.
Ideas for your own party can include your own ethnic or geographical spin on it! Or you can just do something as simple as hanging around in a coffee shop for just 5 minutes to view and discuss the videos or host a party in your child’s school for half a day along with the other parents.
There are no hard and fast rules about how you go about raising awareness to help immunize children, many who lack access to vaccines and good medical care.
Some World Moms Bloggers have already hosted their own GAVI-WMB tea parties! Jennifer Burden, founder of World Moms Blog hosted the first party. Allison Charelston of New York did a very memorable party. Lady E of Indonesia did her party in a very scenic place with very beautiful china cups. From India, I did a very informal tea party with my neighbours.
Check all the above links to see how each blogger did it her own way.
Join the GAVI Global Tea Party movement and help save the lives of children in your own fun tea-party kind of way! And…why tea? It’s available in most places on the globe, something to bring us and our compassion to the cause together.
Social Good for international mothers and children efforts are a part of our collaborative mission statement that the writers created at World Moms Blog. We are happy to volunteer this grass-roots awareness idea that we created especially with the work of The GAVI Alliance in mind!
In fact, this tea party was the first international opportunity for social good in the long list of volunteerism for World Moms Blog. We’d like to revive it and get the ball rolling again!
Do you want to be a part of the oldest and first social good initiative of World Moms Blog? Contact me, Purnima Ramakrishnan or Jennifer Burden at email@example.com, and we shall guide you in this socially conscious spin on your next gathering!
This is an original World Moms Blog Post written by Purnima RamaKrishnan in India.