Meds and Foods for Kids (MFK) was featured on a CNN Special Report today. The article described the ongoing struggle of Haitian mothers as they're forced to choose between life or death for their children. The short clip highlights MFK's effort to treat malnutrtion with Medika Mamba (or peanut butter medicine). Medika Mamba is a ready-to-use therapeutic food made of peanuts purchased from local Haitian farmers. In the CNN article, MFK Executive Director commented, "You realize how absolutely blessed you are by the fate of your soul coming down the chute in the United States of America. You wonder: Why did this happen to me and not to them?"You can access the CNN report by clicking here. The article can also be found below.
Scott Schachter sent in the following blog about Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - an independent, international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid in more than 60 countries including Haiti, where it has operated since 1991. Doctors Without Borders is actively involved in recovery operations in Gonaives. The organization is competing for one million dollars in the Trip Advisor Challenge. You can cast your vote by clicking here. Read on or visit the Doctors Without Borders Website to learn more.
Project Medishare has been operating on Haiti's Central Plateau since 1995. Working with community groups, the Haitian Ministry of Health, Partners in Health, and the Green Family Foundation, Project Medishare has dramatically improved the health infrastructure of Thomonde and sorrounding areas. Construction is proceeding on their latest and most innovative project - a Nutrition Training Complex with three components: (1) An AK-1000 processing facility; (2) A treatment center for malnourished children; and (3) An education and training center. This community-driven approach will promote children's health and bolster the local ecomomy at the same time.
After four months of debate, the Haitian Senate finally ratified a Prime Minister. Michèle Pierre-Louis becomes only the second female in Haitian history to hold the post. This delay has had a high cost in the form of delayed infrastructure projects, delayed trade deals, and underminded confidence as to whether the country is ready to open a new chapter on governance. The Miami Herald notes under Haiti's constitution, Pierre-Louis must next present a governance plan and cabinet selections to parliament. We hope food security features prominently in the proposed plan - her tenure will largely be evaluated on whether she can accomplish the delicate balancing act of putting in place short term measures while working on long term solutions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released an interesting and easy to understand guide on the relationship between investments in water/sanitation/hygiene (WASH) and public health. The international community, and Haiti Innovation included, have been paying a lot of attention to food security. However, children with diarrhoea from poor water are not able to absorb nutrients, are more likely to become malnourished, and subsequently come down with a life threatening disease. Worldwide 1.4 million children a year die (6,000 a day) die from diarrhoea. In Haiti, 10% of all deaths are estimated to be water-related. Access to water, sanitation and hygiene, together are key to promoting public health in Haiti and elsewhere.
Malnutrition is a major problem throughout the developing world including Haiti. It saps the immune system, making it easier to get sick with and die from an infectious disease. It slows cognitive development reducing the contributions a person can make to his or her country. After years of business as usual, there have been several very promising developments such as the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food called Plumpynut. There is another important intervention called Sprinkles - a easy to use nutritional supplement that has proven effective in Haiti and elsewhere.
Copied below is a good article in Reason Online concerning the results of the 2008 Copenhagen Conference. The purpose of the conference was to bring together the world's leading economists to concentrate the attention of policymakers, charitable foundations, and members of the public on the relative urgency and costs of the world's big problems. You might be surprised by the number one solution - suppplying Vitamin A and zinc children who lack them in the developing world. The price tag is $60 million a year but the cost is dwarfed it by the benefits - stronger immune systems, less sickness and death, and improved cognitive development. Read their proposed solutions and then vote whether you agree or disagree with their findings.
I will be the first to admit I never really thought about philanthropy when I was young. I didn't even know malaria existed until I was in my late teens. It was inspiring for me to read this New York Times piece about children who have gotten involved in the fight against malaria, one of whom has raised $43,000 dollars! Children understand the damage malaria can do and the moral imperative of doing something in response. A long lasting insecticide treated mosquito net is a beautiful thing indeed. If a family receives one, retains it, and sleeps under it properly, it will have a major protective effect. At ten dollars (or under) a net, it is an excellent investment, whether in Sub-Saharan Africa or in Haiti which also is malaria endemic. The full article is copied below.
Sanitation is an often overlooked but very important component of public health. The United States government has an HIV/AIDS Coordinator, a Malaria Coordinator, and an Avian Influenza Coordinator. However, if we really wanted to focus on saving the lives of children worldwide, we would have a global diarrhea coordinator. As Rose George writes in the article below, "excrement is the real weapon of mass destruction." Alas, it is not a sexy public health issue and celebrities are unlikely to rally around this cause. But in countries such as Haiti, providing adequate sanitation is an essential part of promoting public health. The full article is below.
A press release by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announced the next phase of Haiti's largest vaccination campaign ever. According to PAHO, Haiti has the worst health indicators of any country in the Americas, including the highest rates of infant mortality and lowest rates of childhood immunization. This campaign will go a long way towards changing that. As Wyclef states in the Public Service Announcements that kicked off the campaign, "To vaccinate a child is an act of love".