Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge



In this Issue

  1. Rx for Survival ™ in the News
  2. Project News and Updates
  3. Web Site News and Updates
  4. Rx for Child Survival ™ Campaign News and Updates
  5. Global Health Headlines
  6. Success Story
  7. About Rx for Survival

Dear concerned global citizen,

Thank you for subscribing to the Global Health Update from Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge.™ In this issue, we consider the importance of promoting and supporting breastfeeding (where appropriate), and its impact on the health and survival of children.

While the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends infants be breastfed without supplemental foods or liquids for the first six months of life (known as exclusive breastfeeding), and the rate of breastfeeding continues to rise in the U.S., many in the world's poorest countries add water and other liquids to an infant's diet in the first months of life, risking infection from harmful bacteria and other pathogens. By protecting against diarrhea and pneumonia, exclusive breastfeeding could prevent an estimated 1.3 million deaths each year.

On November 22, 2005, child survival advocates gathered in Florence, Italy, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the landmark Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion, and Support of Breastfeeding. On this occasion UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said, "Exclusive breastfeeding is one of the most powerful tools we have to combat child hunger and death."

Rx for Survival in the News

In addition to print and radio coverage, Rx for Survival was the subject of lively discussion online, including scheduled chats with experts from the series on Boston.com and WashingtonPost.com. Selected highlights are below:

On November 2nd, Philip J. Hilts, accomplished health and science reporter and author of Rx for Survival: Why We Must Rise to the Global Health Challenge, was asked: "Can you expand on some of the "hopeful things" you witnessed going on re: HIV in Africa when you were there?"

Philip Hilts: Yes. The delivery of HIV drugs to Africa is astonishingly successful; it started in Botswana where I lived and is now happening in 15 African nations… There are many more stories, and citations of other articles and books that describe large, successful projects that changed, not just minor indicators, but death rates in these countries.

Read the complete transcript:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/ 2005/10/28/DI2005102801152.html

Al Sommer, Professor and Former Dean of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (featured in episode 5, Back to Basics) was online November 4th. He was asked, "I have a question about night blindness. I watched last night and saw that many children are eating mostly white rice, which doesn't provide them with vitamin A. Why does this cause night blindness first?"

Alfred Sommer, MD: The writer is absolutely correct that white rice does not contain any beta-carotene and therefore no Vitamin A. When one stops consuming sufficient Vitamin A the stores in the liver make up for the difference until the stores become depleted. One of the first manifestations is the inability of the retina in the eye to adapt to see under low levels of illumination.

Read the complete transcript: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/ 2005/10/28/DI2005102801322.html

The conversation continues! Visit the Rx for Survival discussion board at http://discussions.pbs.org/viewtopic.pbs?t=40388 to share your thoughts and hear from others on this vital topic.

Project News and Updates

Many public television stations are planning to re-broadcast Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge mid- to late-April following World Health Day (April 7th) — check your local listings for specific airdates and times. Or you can order the series DVD/VHS and companion book by calling 888-255-9231 or online at
http://shop.wgbh.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay? catalogId=10051&storeId=11051&categoryId=29154&langId=-1

On November 18th Sarah Holt, the producer of Rx for Survival program two, Rise of the Superbugs, joined a high school classroom in Muncie, Indiana via videoconference.

Holt spoke with students about global health issues and provided a first-hand account about the making of the film. In a lively, 60-minute conversation, students asked about what happened to the various people in the program, and what it was like to travel to places and meet people where she could be exposed to diseases like multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Students also inquired about the responsible use of antibiotics and the future of the MDR-TB disease.

When the videoconference concluded, the students were so eager to finish viewing Rise of the Superbugs that they skipped their lunch period to watch!

On November 29th, Rx for Survival executive producer Larry Klein and senior content director Linda Harrar addressed Professor Margaret Bentley's global health class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health. Professor Bentley asked her students to watch at least one episode of Rx for Survival and write a paper on a topic of their own choosing.

During the two-hour class, Klein and Harrar spoke about making the series and the development of the impact campaign, played clips from the series, and responded to questions. Also participating in the class discussion was teaching assistant Kimberly Chapman, chair of the board of directors of Carolina for Kibera (CFK), a UNC-based international NGO providing youth, medical and aid services to an impoverished community called Kibera, located near Nairobi, Kenya. CFK was recognized as one of TIME magazine's "Heroes of Global Health" in the October 31st issue and honored at the TIME Global Health Summit. Leading up to the premiere of Rx for Survival, UNC-Chapel Hill's Student Global Health Committee encouraged students to host Rx for Survival house parties by providing house party packs with information on the series, global health fact sheets and snacks.

UNC-Chapel Hill, a university partner of the Charlotte coalition, and the Muncie, Indiana high school are just two examples of many academic institutions nationwide bringing the Rx for Survival project into the classroom and curriculum. Visit the "For Teachers' section of the Rx for Survival Web site to access games, debates, and experiments for use in your own classroom at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/series/teachers/index.html

Web Site News and Updates

Your questions answered! We received an astonishing number of thoughtful, engaging questions from visitors to the Rx for Survival Web site "Ask the Experts" feature and the experts' responses on "The Vaccine Question," "International Health Aid," and "The Next Pandemic?" have been posted.

For more visit:

The latest addition to the "Dispatches from the Field" section of the Rx for Survival Web site comes from Amy Finnegan, Program Officer for World Education. In her dispatch entitled "True Health Warriors," Finnegan introduces readers to Dr. Barbara Nattabi, a young Ugandan physician who is fighting to provide quality healthcare in the midst of poverty, war, and deadly disease.

Read Amy's dispatch at:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/series/dispatches/ true-health-warriors.html

Rx for Child Survival Campaign News and Updates

This holiday season Americans have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children in developing countries by providing basic health interventions they need to survive. Each year, more than 10 million children worldwide die before their fifth birthdays, a majority from preventable or treatable causes such as diarrhea, pneumonia, measles and malaria. Experts agree that nearly all of them would have had a much better chance at life if they had access to simple, inexpensive health measures. To improve the situation, Rx for Child Survival — A Global Health Challenge™ (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/campaign/index.html) provides ways for everyone to become involved in child survival — a critical global health crisis with simple solutions.

Contributing funds towards an Rx for Child Survival "Neighbor Pack," a "Family Pack" or a "Child Pack" can help deliver the five vital interventions highlighted in past issues of this newsletter to one or several children in the world's poorest countries. Donations can be made by logging on to the site at

At least $0.88 of every dollar donated to Rx for Child Survival will be used by CARE and Save the Children to ensure that interventions are provided through existing programs in Afghanistan, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, and Vietnam. A percentage of the Rx for Child Survival donations will be used by UNICEF to purchase vaccines.

In addition to the Rx for Child Survival fund, the campaign helps people of all ages learn about and participate in global child health, both locally and globally. Whether volunteering time, informing others or donating funds, one person's gift can bring hope to a child, a family or a village in a developing country.

On November 9th, public television station KCTS in Seattle held a Teacher's Professional Development Workshop offering educators opportunities to discuss ways to integrate global health curriculum into the classroom. A question and answer session featured representatives from local coalition organizations PATH, CARE, Public Health-Seattle & King County, Health Alliance International and KCTS.

Maryland Public Television (MPT) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health hosted an Rx for Survival panel discussion on November 16th. The event featured remarks from Michael J. Klag, Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and comments from panelists Dr. Al Sommer, Dean Emeritus of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Nils Daulaire, President and CEO of the Global Health Council, and Philip Hilts, Author of Rx for Survival: Why We Must Rise to the Global Health Challenge. Brenda Wilson, NPR's Science Desk Correspondent and Editor, moderated the panel.

The Bloomberg School of Public Health also screened Rx for Survival for public health students November 2 — 9 and featured an encore presentation November 14th.

WGVU, the public television stations in Grand Rapids, MI, will present Rx for Child Survival as a holiday giving idea at the "Alternative Gifts International" event scheduled on Sunday, December 11, at Christ Community Church in Spring Lake.

Global Health Online Lecture Series — From clean water to nutrition, vaccine discovery to aid delivery, the experts involved with Rx For Survival showcase key milestones in public health — past and present. Listen or watch lectures and discussions with these experts and others to learn more about global health issues and how they effect you. Available via the WGBH Forum Network at:

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.

Breastfeeding saves six million lives annually — Report

Breastfeeding critical to children's health in some countries
hard hit by HIV

Exclusive breastfeeding may reduce risk of mother to child HIV transmission

Breastfeeding could save lives

Success Story

In northern Ghana, leaders of mother support groups tell of new mothers being encouraged to give water to their newborns for religious reasons, and of grandmothers instructing their daughters-in-law to throw away the first milk (colostrum) because it "is dirty," unaware that with its high levels of antibodies, colostrum protects against illness.

To overcome these obstacles, AED, through its global LINKAGES project, has worked to change social norms and educate communities through a variety of innovative interventions, including counseling cards, posters, songs, and radio programs that communicate the message that breastfeeding is a wise family choice for those wanting healthy, strong, and intelligent children. The Ghana program updated health workers on the scientific evidence supporting exclusive breastfeeding and taught them how to demonstrate effective breastfeeding techniques and provide ongoing encouragement and support. Local radio helped reinforce messages promoted by health workers and other community members and greatly extended the reach of the program's messages.

As a result, exclusive breastfeeding in infants 0 — 5 months increased from 68% to 79% in the program areas, vs. 53% in other parts of the country. During this same period, significant gains in timely initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding were also demonstrated in large-scale community-level behavior change programs implemented by AED and its partners in Madagascar and Bolivia. In Bolivia this translated into fewer cases of diarrhea. Non-exclusively breastfed infants less than six months old were nearly twice as likely to have had diarrhea in the two weeks prior to the interview as infants who were exclusively breastfed.

To learn more about breastfeeding and its contribution to child survival, visit

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.

Tell a Friend About this e-Newsletter

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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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