Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge



In this Issue

  1. Rx for Survival in the News
  2. Broadcast News and Updates
  3. Web Site News and Updates
  4. Rx for Child Survival™ Campaign News and Updates
  5. Global Health Headlines
  6. Global Health in History
  7. Success Stories
  8. About Rx for Survival
  9. Success Stories

Dear concerned global citizen,

Thank you for subscribing to the Global Health Update from Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge.™ Each issue will feature important information about world health and tips you can put to use in your daily life. We'll also suggest links to Web sites that can help you better understand how global health affects each one of us, and what individuals can do to make a difference.

What's more, we'll keep you updated on our progress as we prepare for the PBS broadcast of Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge.™ In this issue, we examine the impact of a common disease vector — the mosquito — on the health of people around the world. This issue is explored more fully in the series fourth program, Deadly Messengers (airing on PBS November 2 at 10 p.m. — check local listings).

Did you know that the West Nile virus, identified in Uganda in 1937, has infected more than 16,000 people in the US? Since its identification in America in 1999, more than 650 deaths have resulted. This sometimes-deadly virus is transmitted during warm months by infected mosquitoes. Protect yourself and your family from West Nile Virus by taking a few important steps toward awareness and prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using mosquito repellent containing DEET when outdoors; installing and repairing window screens to keep mosquitoes out; and draining standing pools of water — breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Additional valuable facts and advice are available online at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/prevention_info.htm . Preventive measures like these are not so simple elsewhere. Be sure to read on to find out what the challenges are in the developing world, and what you can do to help combat the mosquito problem.

Rx for Survival in the News

In his March 14, 2005 letter to readers entitled "Journalism with a Conscience," Jim Kelly, Managing Editor of TIME Magazine — a media partner of Rx for Survival, announced that TIME will publish a special issue on global health to coincide with the PBS broadcast of Rx for Survival. This issue will be available on news stands October 31, 2005.

In addition, TIME will host the TIME Global Health Summit, bringing together the world's leaders in medicine, government, business, public policy, development and the arts. Jim Kelly explains, "Through these efforts, we intend to focus the world's attention on global health this November, and beyond. Because global health is not just an issue for developing countries; it is our issue, yours and mine."

Learn more at http://www.time.com/time/2005/globalhealth/

Broadcast News and Updates

Actor Brad Pitt will narrate the upcoming PBS series Rx for Survival. On a trip to Save the Children's programs in Africa this past spring, organized by DATA and the ONE Campaign, Brad Pitt reported, "I saw firsthand how societies are crippled by disease. I met children who want to be doctors, engineers, pilots, and teachers when they grow up, but their potential is limited because they are sick and — according to statistics — they may be one of the millions of kids who will die this year from preventable or treatable problems like pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. It's heartbreaking to see avoidable illness take away lives. I'm pleased to narrate Rx for Survival and help tell the stories of people like us, different only because of where they were born."

Mr. Pitt's charity work ranges from child survival to solar energy advocacy.

Web Site News and Updates

The Rx for Survival Web site has added new features, including Dispatches from the Field. A monthly feature on the Rx for Survival Web site, Dispatches From The Field chronicles first-hand stories from frontline health care workers around the world and field producers for the Rx for Survival series. Each entry conveys eyewitness views of life at the forefront of the battle to stem global health crises and reduce human suffering worldwide. The latest dispatch posted is from Dr. Houleymata Diarra, Save the Children's health care manager in her home country of Mali. Read her remarkable story at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/series/dispatches/index.html

Rx for Child Survival Campaign News and Updates

Rx for Child Survival — A Global Health Challenge™, in collaboration with CARE and Save the Children, and in association with The Global Health Council and UNICEF, launched on July 12th. Rx for Child Survival, together with the Rx for Survival television series, will raise awareness of the fact that children bear the brunt of the world's health problems and will offer ways for Americans to give time and voice their own opinions about global health issues. The campaign will also encourage people everywhere to make a donation to improve the health of the world's most needy children.

Worldwide, more than 10 million children under five die each year — a majority from preventable causes. And, experts agree that nearly all of them would have had a much better chance at life if they had access to simple, inexpensive health interventions. The funds raised for Rx for Child Survival will be used to deliver five such life-saving interventions to the world's most vulnerable children to dramatically increase their chances of survival. The children will have access to:

  • Vaccinations to fight childhood diseases, including measles and tetanus
  • Insecticide-treated netting to stop mosquitoes that carry malaria
  • Vitamin A and other micronutrients to help fight infection and prevent nutritional deficiencies
  • Oral rehydration packets to help reduce diarrhea-related illness and deaths
  • Antibiotics to fight pneumonia and antimalarial drugs

Additionally, where it is appropriate, pregnant women and new mothers will be educated about the health value of breastfeeding their infants.

To learn more about the campaign, our partners, and how you can participate, go to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/campaign/about.html

Global Health Headlines

To help readers grasp how global health affects each one of us, below are links to global health-related stories currently in the news.

Scientists unveil mechanism behind resistance to severe malaria

Sierra Leone: Face to Face With Malaria, Pneumonia

Preventing West Nile Infection Could Be Just a Spray Away (free registration required)

Global Health in History

On September 8, 1900, Jesse W. Lazear, acting assistant surgeon with the U.S. Army Corps stationed on Cuba, allowed himself to be bitten by a mosquito infected with yellow fever. Seventeen days later, he died; his sacrifice ultimately led to the positive identification of mosquitoes as the carrier of yellow fever, then running rampant on the island.

After Lazear's death, Dr. Walter Reed and the U.S. Army launched an all-out war on the deadly pests — draining swamps and spraying insecticide. In only five months, Cuba was completely rid of the disease.

Read more about this global health hero at http://yellowfever.lib.virginia.edu/reed/lazear.html — and be sure to tune in to Deadly Messengers, the fourth episode of Rx for Survival on PBS November 2 (check local listings) for more on Lazear and other global health heroes.

Success Stories

Mosquitoes are the deadliest creatures on Earth, but many organizations are finding ways to fight back.

In Malawi's Mangochi District, where 50 to 70 percent of the children have some form of malaria at any given time, new treatment kits provided by Save the Children have resulted in a significant drop in malaria-related deaths. The program began by delivering kits to 33 schools and training the teachers to diagnose the disease and give medicine — which resulted in more children receiving timely treatment, a 72% drop in the death rate of school children due to malaria, increased school enrollment, and lower absenteeism.

Save the Children has expanded the program to 100 schools in Mangochi District, and will add an additional 50 schools in the neighboring Balaka District. Read the complete story at http://www.savethechildren.org/health/malaria_success.asp

For young children living in remote regions of Africa, where the nearest health center may be a half-day's walk, the signs and symptoms of malarial fever often go untreated until it is too late. Through the Uganda Malaria Partnership Programme, three nongovernmental organizations are educating parents in remote Ugandan communities to seek prompt and appropriate treatment for children under age five with fever. The program also trains volunteer drug distributors to provide anti-malarial medications free of charge to parents of children under five and pregnant women. Similar treatment programs have reduced deaths of children under five by 40% in Ethiopia and 53% in Burkina Faso.

Learn more in this CORE Group "Story from the Field" which examines the challenges and opportunities related to home-based treatment of malarial fever in Uganda, drawing on interviews with parents, drug distributors, traditional healers, outreach workers and health center staff — at http://www.coregroup.org/document/Uganda_Malaria_rpt_mech.pdf

About Rx for Survival

A multi-media project that includes a six-hour PBS television series airing November 1-3, 2005, Rx for Survival - A Global Health Challenge™ is a co-production of the WGBH/NOVA Science Unit and Vulcan Productions, Inc.

Rx for Child Survival - A Global Health Challenge™, a project of the WGBH Educational Foundation and Vulcan Productions, Inc. in collaboration with CARE and Save the Children, and in association with The Global Health Council and UNICEF, urges Americans to get informed and involved in making a difference in the lives of young children around the world.

Major funding for Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Merck Company Foundation.

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Visit the Rx for Survival Web site at http://www.pbs.org/rxforsurvival to check out the program descriptions and get more information about the project and partners. We also welcome your questions, comments, and feedback. Submit them at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/feedback/index.html


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