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. Global Health Champions
  7. Success Story
  8. 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 ™ We're hard at work preparing for the television series premiere on PBS November 1 — 3, but still wanted to share this information with you about antibiotics — both the benefits, and the dangers of drug resistance.

It's difficult to imagine a world without medicines — and yet, before the twentieth century there were few. The discovery of the very first antibiotic, penicillin, and the subsequent development of more "wonder drugs" changed all that, transforming the face of modern medicine.

And now we are faced with a dilemma — while millions of people die from curable illnesses because they don't have access to antibiotics, the abuse and overuse of the same medications in other areas have given rise to "superbugs" — strains of germs, such as tuberculosis and staph, that are resistant to our best antibiotics. Can we provide the necessary treatments to those in need? Are our strongest medicines becoming obsolete, and can we develop new drugs in time to replace them?

Watch Rise of the Superbugs Tuesday, November 1st at 10pm (check local listings) for more.

Rx for Survival in the News

Rx for Child Survival is featured in November's issue of Glamour Magazine, including quotes from Nils Daulaire, President and CEO of the Global Health Council, as well as an adviser for CARE. In addition, Rx for Survival is highlighted in the latest issues of O, The Oprah Magazine and Town & Country. Look for us in these and other November magazines on newsstands now!

Project News and Updates

In 2003, when the WGBH/NOVA Science Unit and Vulcan Productions teamed up to take a careful look at issues related to global health, the result was Rx for Survival — A Global Health Challenge. Nearly three years of research went into the project — and information collected from national and international sources is now fully documented and available to journalists for free in the Newsroom Guide to Global Health: A Resource for Reporters.

The producers of Rx for Survival amassed thousands of facts and hundreds of personal stories. Rather than let this knowledge sit on shelves, buried in e-mails and file cabinets, we decided to commission a newsroom guide to share the basics about global health with our colleagues in journalism. Currently being distributed to journalists across the country, this compact, spiral-bound, 200-page guide includes five fully referenced sections: Global Health at a Glance; Preventable Diseases, Unnecessary Deaths; Critical Themes in Global Health Today; Health Equity is Possible; and Additional Resources (including reporting tools, glossary, expert contacts, sources of data, useful Web sites and references for further reading).

Web Site News and Updates

The latest addition to the "Dispatches from the Field" section of the Rx for Survival Web site comes from Robyn Munford, Director of U.S. Operations for Students Partnership Worldwide (SPW). In her dispatch entitled "Making a Lasting Difference," Munford describes her experience in a rural community in Nepal, where she spent four months volunteering and tackling issues ranging from deforestation and waste disposal to sanitation and the provision of clean water.

Read Robyn's dispatch at: www.pbs.org/rxforsurvival/series/dispatches/making-lasting-difference.html?enews

And watch for new features set to launch October 27th, including a global health atlas and collected profiles of global health champions.

Rx for Child Survival Campaign News and Updates

The Global Health Council has released a special edition of Global HealthLink on issues surrounding child survival available at http://www.globalhealth.org/news/article/6682

In the month of October, the Rx for Child Survival campaign is collaborating with the Global Health Council and religious groups of all faiths and denominations to observe a month of Prayer for Child Survival, including a number of activities from prayer breakfasts to town hall meetings. For more information, go to http://www.globalhealth.org/news/article/6657

Here is a sampling of the Community Coalition events taking place during the month of October around the country:

Maryland: On October 16, the United Nations Association of Maryland marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations by featuring Rx for Child Survival. The celebration at Towson University included multicultural performances by local arts groups and provided information about the UN's Eight Millennium Development Goals and their efforts to end global poverty. Maryland Public Television hosted a table featuring Rx for Survival.

Tennessee: Together with PBS member station WTCI and UNICEF, the Creative Discovery Museum is focusing on child health throughout the entire month of October. It features distribution of the UNICEF trick-or-treat boxes (featuring Rx for Survival) and Rx for Child Survival activities, with all staff wearing child awareness ribbons. The idea is to raise awareness, as well as promote viewing of the series and participation in the outreach campaign. They have also scheduled a screening of the Rx for Survival promotional reel with CARE and Save the Children on October 25 and a candlelight vigil on October 27.

Michigan: PBS member station WGVU is producing a 60-minute local program scheduled to broadcast following the final episode of Rx for Survival on November 3rd. The segment will feature a panel discussion about global health issues featuring local health care experts and project partners. Other community coalition partners include International Aid, Muskegon Community Health Project, Grand Rapids Rotary East, and the Grand Valley State University Kirkhof College of Nursing.

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.

Inappropriate Prescribing of Antibiotics by NPs and MDs Continues http://www.rxpgnews.com/medicalnews/healthcare/usa/article_2582.shtml

Study: Antibiotics often unnecessary but make patients happy http://www.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/06/22/antibiotics/index.html

Unusual type of antibiotic shows promise in defeating deadly "superbugs" (from 8/29/05) http://www.news-medical.net/?id=12765

Mushroom Yields First New Class of Antibiotics http://www.medpagetoday.com/Pulmonary/Pneumonia/tb/1928

Global Health Champions

In Peru, physicians Jim Kim and Paul Farmer of Partners in Health and Harvard University, have been fighting to stop an epidemic of multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). Although the disease is highly contagious, fifteen years ago it was deemed "too expensive and complex to treat." Thus the official policy around the world was to treat only those with conventional TB.

Until Farmer and Kim found funding, they took a Robin Hood approach and borrowed tens of thousands of dollars worth of rare antibiotics from sympathetic colleagues. To get the medicine to patients, they trained health workers from the community to oversee a complex regimen of medications, which was often painful because of the powerful drugs' side effects. No one believed they would succeed. Yet, 85% of the victims Kim and Farmer treated were completely cured. The program has succeeded among the poorest of the poor, encouraging health authorities around the world to try to treat MDR-TB victims. Still, only a fraction of those needing treatment are receiving it, due to a lack of financial resources.

Read producer Sara Holt's account from the frontlines of the battle against MDR-TB in Peru at www.pbs.org/rxforsurvival/series/ dispatches/something-truly-ambitous.html?enews

Learn more about Farmer, Kim and other global health pioneers in Rise of the Superbugs, airing on PBS November 1st at 10 p.m. (check local listings).

Success Story

A young mother brought her three month old baby to the monthly Save the Children community outreach meeting in Raro Kebele in southern Ethiopia. The infant had developed a cough and her mother was hoping a vaccine would help her stay healthy. However, when the case manager, Measa, examined the baby, it was clear she had pneumonia — one of the leading causes of death among children under five. With only one dose of antibiotics available, the baby's mother was given a referral to get the necessary next doses at a clinic in Jidola, more than an hour's walk away.

Knowing the child would die without the proper medicine, Measa set out to visit his small patient the next day. After his long journey he was greeted by a smiling baby, well on the road to recovery. "As soon as I got home, I didn't rest — I went straight to the health post," the mother said. She had gone to a different clinic and it took her two and a half hours by bicycle to get there, but the baby got the medicine she needed.

To learn more about how community efforts are improving health in hard-to-reach, rural areas, go to http://www.savethechildren.org/mothers/rx_ethiopia2.asp

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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