Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge



In this Issue

  1. Project News and Updates
  2. Web Site News and Updates
  3. Rx for Child Survival ™ Campaign News and Updates
  4. Global Health Headlines
  5. Global Health Hero
  6. About Rx for Survival

Dear concerned global citizen,

Health care workers are modern-day heroes at the heart of public health systems . But around the world, the health workforce is in crisis — a crisis to which no country is entirely immune. The results are evident: clinics with fewer health workers and hospitals that cannot recruit or retain key staff.

Which is why World Health Day — observed on April 7, 2006 — will be devoted to the health workforce crisis. On this day around the globe, hundreds of organizations will host events to draw attention to the global health workforce crisis and celebrate the dignity and value of working for health. In addition, the day will coincide with the launch of the 'World Health Report 2006: Working for Health' and the launch of the Health Workforce Decade (2006-2015).

Learn more about World Health Day events and how you can participate at www.who.int/ world-health-day/2006/en/

Continue the celebration of global health heroes by tuning in to Rx for Survival™ — The Heroes, a two-hour special program from the Rx for Survival series, which takes viewers inside the global health campaigns that have saved countless lives and given renewed hope to poor communities around the world. Meet the ordinary people — grandmothers, motorcycle enthusiasts, businessmen, engineers, and doctors — doing extraordinary things that pave the way for a safer and healthier future for humanity. Narrated by Brad Pitt, the program premieres April 12th at 9p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

And please read on for the latest on Rx for Survival — more on the April 12th broadcast, Web site updates, partner activities, and more!

Project News and Updates

Rx for Survival new broadcast
Rx for Survival — The Heroes, a two-hour special edition of the acclaimed Rx for Survival series, will explore the stories of eight global health heroes, including: An eye doctor from Baltimore discovers that two drops of Vitamin A could not only save children's sight, it might also save their lives. Motorcycle enthusiasts turn their passion into unique transportation for health workers, enabling vital care to reach people in remote areas. A young businessman managing a landmark HIV/AIDS program in Botswana proves AIDS can be treated and contained. Community volunteers spread health education to millions of rural mothers, empowering them to lead their families and Bangladesh out of extreme poverty.

Rx for Survival Presence at Harvard Medical School
On February 21st, a group of medical and doctoral students at Harvard Medical School gathered to hear a presentation on the Rx for Survival project and to screen one of the episodes from the series. This group, which includes graduate student Nina Dudnik, a partner in the Boston coalition, is engaged in gathering and recycling lab equipment from American universities for use abroad in medical laboratories. "We know that researchers in other countries don't have access to the wealth of resources we do, and we feel we're in a unique position to help bridge that gap," stated Ms. Dudnik, "This project makes us a more active part of the world community of scientists."

San Diego State University Students Attend Rx for Survival Screening Before Traveling to South Africa
On March 1st, more than 40 San Diego State University students and staff as well as several area high school students attended an Rx for Survival screening and discussion. These very special students then headed to South Africa on March 4th, where they spent 3 weeks participating in an Alternative Spring Break program. At the screening, they watched clips from the episodes "Delivering the Goods" and "Back to the Basics" before listening to a presentation by Dr. Rodney Hood, past president of the National Medical Association. After their return from South Africa, the students will share their experiences with local Girl Scouts troops and the KPBS/San Diego and San Diego State University communities.

Web Site News and Updates

Preview Rx for Survival — The Heroes
Visit the "About the 2-hour special" page at www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/series/about/special.html and look for the "2-hour Special Video" box on the right, which will open and play one of two video clips highlighting some of the global health heroes profiled in Rx for Survival — The Heroes. Stay tuned for more!

Rx for Child Survival Campaign News and Updates

Rx for Child Survival Inspires Students Across the Country
Students and schools across the country are being inspired by Rx for Survival to do their part in the fight to improve global health and child survival. We hope you will be inspired by these young global health heroes and join them.

Eureka (CA) High School senior Kari Lentz devised a school project intent on preventing the spread of malaria among the people of Africa. Inspired by the Rx for Survival series as well as extensive personal contact with mosquitoes during a previous school trip to Guatemala, Miss Lentz decided that for a senior project, she would raise funds for insecticide-treated mosquito nets through the sales of her handmade chocolate roses. In addition, she is accepting direct donations for the nets with the help of Eureka High School. Kari has already raised enough money for 62 nets, and will most likely raise more, as the fundraising continues through the rest of the school year. For more about Kari's project, visit: www.eurekareporter.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?ArticleID=8449

Another inspired project is occurring at Louisiana State University and is being conducted by the Student Campaign for Child Survival's LSU chapter. The "Mile of Change" event is an opportunity to teach students about child survival issues and solutions, as well as a means to fundraise for the Rx for Child Survival campaign. The coalition plans to provide informational fliers to students directing them to a table that will feature a section of a mile's worth of tape. Students will be given the opportunity to stick their spare change on the tape. Once the "Mile" is complete, the total sum of change will be sent as a donation to Rx for Child Survival.

The Rx for Child Survival campaign received a large donation from the 6th graders at Valley Forge Middle School in Wayne, PA. The students were inspired by the stories about global health in the November 4th issue of TIME for Kids, and wanted to help the children about whom they were reading. They decided to do a fundraiser and each child came up with ideas on how to conduct it. The winning idea was that of a "penny war".

These were the rules:

  • Jars were placed in each of the grade's "home bases."

  • Each penny placed in a jar was worth 1 point. The home base that collected the most pennies/points in their home base jar won the war.

  • However, other home bases had the right to place currency other than pennies in their opposing teams' jars. This was a way to sabotage their rivals, since any other form of money — nickels, dimes, dollar bills — would result in point deductions in the amount of the incorrect currency. So, a nickel would subtract 5 points, a dime 10, a dollar 100, and so on.

  • At the end of five days the total amount in each jar was counted and the team with the most points was named the winner and given a pizza party by the principal. In addition, all of the money raised by this extraordinary collaborative effort — $1,885.00, mostly in pennies — was donated to Rx for Child Survival.

On April 11th the Lakeshore Middle School in Grand Haven, MI is holding a charity fashion show called "Sneak Peak to Summer Fashion." Tickets will be priced at $5 for adults and $3 for students/children and are required for admission. All proceeds will go to the Rx for Child Survival fund. A variety of local clothing stores are donating the fashions to be modeled by high school, middle school children, and two 1st grade students. Tickets will be sold by the high school's National Honor Society officers, the models, and a few local clothing stores. Now that's one way to look good and feel good!

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.

WHO announces new global TB strategy

Childhood Obesity Is Projected to Increase Dramatically by 2010

Bangladesh to Resume Polio Vaccinations

Global Health Hero

Uche Amazigo works with the World Health Organization on the challenge of controlling onchocerciasis, widely known as river blindness. "The people that have river blindness are the poorest of the poor," Amazigo explains. "They live far from the cities, and they're beyond the end of the road." In the mountainous river valleys of Togo, West Africa, there's a saying that "the river eats your eyes." River blindness affects 12 African nations, and in some communities, 15 percent of the population is blind, with up to 40 percent of adults visually impaired.

In 1987 the CEO of Merck & Co. stunned the world by announcing that it would donate Mectizan™ — a medicine which, when taken just once a year, can prevent river blindness — free of charge to affected countries for as long as it was needed (The Merck Company Foundation is a funder of the Rx for Survival project.) Merck enlisted the help of the World Health Organization, The Carter Center, and a consortium of aid agencies to help distribute the drug, and soon mobile teams of health workers fanned out across Africa to deliver the drug to every far-flung village.

But the agencies found that these arduous journeys could not be made every year; the task was simply too enormous. Amazigo and her team were stymied: "We needed a low-cost and sustainable strategy. We asked ourselves one question: Can the communities themselves distribute this drug?"

Amazigo devised a plan to train volunteers to distribute the medicine in their local villages, and to take it by foot or bike to the most isolated farms. Mectizan™ has now been distributed by such means to more than 40 million people in 34 countries and to more than 60,000 villages worldwide. Amazigo knows she and the volunteers must keep up their efforts to maintain the progress made so far. "If we still leave people harboring these worms," she says, "the flies will pick up the worms from those that are infected. We cannot stop now, because the disease will come back."

Learn more about Dr. Amazigo's work at
www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/series/champions/uche_amazigo.html and in Rx for Survival — The Heroes airing April 12th on PBS (check local listings at www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/airdates.html).

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


©/™ 2005 WGBH Educational Foundation and Vulcan Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All third party trademarks are owned by their respective owners and used with permission.

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