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 highlight one of public health's great triumphs: the vaccine. William H. Foege, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and global health advocate, says, "Vaccines are the tugboats of public health." But he emphasizes that the health of the community will only be protected if the entire group agrees to participate. Learn more about the power of vaccines in the first episode of Rx for Survival, Disease Warriors airing November 1st at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
As students head back to school, parents are required to provide proof that their child is up-to-date on their vaccinations. And while immunization programs have virtually wiped out childhood diseases like measles, mumps, diphtheria and polio in the US and other industrialized countries, the war against preventable diseases in the developing world continues. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is the world's largest public health initiative. To date, global eradication efforts have reduced the number of polio cases from 350,000 annually in 1988 to 1,267 cases in 2004. Polio could be the first disease of the 21st century to be eradicated. The first and only disease of the 20th century to be eradicated was smallpox.
Contribute to global health — and the health of your family and community — by staying up-to-date on all of your vaccinations and supporting the effort to provide immunizations to needy communities throughout the world.
An unprecedented coalition of governments and health organizations joined together September 12th to underscore the critical importance of reducing child and maternal deaths as part of the overall campaign to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At an event at UNICEF House, leading advocates for women and children launched The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health to accelerate progress in reducing millions of preventable deaths.
The two-part event, attended by 200 stakeholders, was an official side event of the World Summit at the United Nations. A roundtable discussion planned by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health and the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunization (GAVI) focused on achieving MDGs 4 & 5 to reduce maternal and child mortality.
The new partnership unites the world's leading organizations on maternal, newborn and child health to galvanize global efforts and scale up the resources, strategies and political commitments needed to reduce maternal and child mortality. As part of the program, the preview clip for the Rx for Survival series was shown on a monitor during the luncheon break, with the Web site prominently displayed.
Get an early look at Rx for Survival — the series preview video has been added to the Web site. Tune in at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/index.html
Rx for Child Survival's partner, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, recently launched its Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF 2005 campaign featuring Rx for Survival on its traditional trick-or-treat boxes.
In the 55 years since its inception, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has evolved from a traditional door-to-door collection on Halloween into a month-long nationwide program that has educated, inspired and empowered American children to collect more than $127 million to fund UNICEF's lifesaving work for the world's poorest and most vulnerable children.
This year, for the first time ever, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF will help raise funds for American children, with 50 percent of the proceeds benefiting UNICEF's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Millions of Americans have supported UNICEF in providing emergency services, relief and counseling to children around the world, most recently after the tsunami struck south Asia. Now, UNICEF is encouraging American children to help raise funds for other American children who were affected by Hurricane Katrina.
American children are becoming real-life World Heroes by using the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF trademark orange collection boxes to raise funds and awareness for their peers in places from Biloxi, Mississippi to Banda Aceh, Indonesia. And this year, a tune-in message for the series Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge is featured prominently on the handle of the orange Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF collection boxes. Boxes are available and can be ordered by calling 1-800-4UNICEF or by logging on to http://www.unicefusa.org/. You can also pick up boxes at Pier 1 Imports and IKEA.
On August 24 and 25, Rx for Child Survival's community coalition partner KCTS Television in Seattle spent time with children at several local health centers. Arthur, the lovable character from the beloved children's program on PBS, made an appearance and talked to the kids about getting their immunizations — that it only hurts a little bit, why they're so important, and how some people do not have access to vaccinations and can get very sick. Arthur colored with the kids and read a few Arthur books that dealt with immunizations and other factors important to staying healthy.
WGBH in Boston hosted its annual Fun Fest September 17. The Rx for Survival project hosted an information/activity area. Visitors received handouts and viewed a preview clip of the series. Activities were available for a range of age groups — children age six and under enjoyed playing under mosquito netting and coloring enlarged images of mosquitoes to stick to the outside of the netting (while volunteers explained the importance of insecticide-treated netting to their parents), and slightly older children played a glitter epidemic game, which illustrates how easily infectious diseases can spread just by shaking hands. And older children and adults played the "Growing Up Healthy" board game, driving home the health challenges facing infants around the world.
These are just two of the many events planned by coalition partners in more than 20 communities across the country. The list of coalitions and the public television station anchoring each is below — watch for events in your neighborhood!
San Diego, CA
Georgia Public Broadcasting
Baton Rouge, LA
Maryland Public Television
Grand Rapids, MI
St. Paul, MN
New York, NY
Hato Rey, PR
Vermont Public Television
To help readers grasp how global health affects each one of us, below are links to global health-related stories currently in the news.
Vaccine plan 'will save millions'
Vaccines provide a dose of health
Remko Schats and Lina Gustin are two of a bold cadre of 2500 volunteers who deliver medical care and supplies to some of the most remote and risky places on earth. Founded in 1971 by a group of French doctors, Doctors Without Borders is the world's largest independent medical relief agency, and is frequently the first on the scene during times of a disaster.
One of Gustin's most important responsibilities is training community health workers to give measles vaccinations. She says, "When you don't have well-built latrines or showers or ways to take care of the garbage, it's very easy for epidemics to spread. Measles can kill a lot of people, but you can also vaccinate against it, and no one has to die from this disease." A major challenge is keeping the vaccine cold on the long, scorchingly hot drive from the hospital in Adré, 30 miles away, over unpaved roads frequented by armed bandits and Sudanese militias. It is a great relief when the truck arrives with the cold chain unbroken — indicating the vaccines are safe. As the camp children converge on Gustin, she says, "One thing I love is just the welcoming response you get from everyone. I get so much energy from these children."
Watch Schats, Gustin and other members of Doctors Without Borders in action in Delivering the Goods, the third episode of Rx for Survival on PBS November 2 at 9pm (check local listings).
The CARE Child Survival Project launched in the Koinadugu District of Sierra Leone in 2003. One of the key project strategies is to mobilize and empower woman through village health groups while providing training on 25 health topics of critical importance. When the CARE project began to collaborate with the local village women's groups, Hadiatu quickly joined the newly formed Community Health Club and was elected chairwoman.
Hadiatu remembers clearly the day that her Community Health Club discussed the importance of immunization. At that time, she was two months along in her fifth pregnancy. Sadly, she and her husband Mustapha had lost each of their four children at an early age from diseases ranging from measles to tetanus.
At the Health Club meeting, the discussion about the benefits of immunization was lively, interactive, and featured a description of the six diseases preventable through vaccination. In addition, the recommended schedule of immunization for children before reaching one year of age was shared with all the participants. After the session, Hadiatu resolved to make a change for her unborn child and traveled the next day to the local clinic to receive prenatal care, including a tetanus toxoid vaccine.
The 15th of July was a day of great joy as Mustapha reported that Hadiatu gave birth to a healthy baby boy. The head nurse at the local health clinic constantly thanks CARE for the opportunities they provide for women in such rural areas and has seen an increase in the number of parents bringing in their children for vaccination at the recommended age.
Read the complete story on CARE's Web site at http://www.careusa.org/newsroom/articles/ 2005/09/20050919_wgbh_sl_childstory.asp
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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