Tag Archives: child health

Malaria: The disease that silences laughter

Today, I bought a coffin.

We spent the morning in a village in Mozambique visiting Marita, a dear little girl whose best friend had died of malaria last year.

Marita was still grieving. She sat quietly while the rest of the children played in high spirits, shouting and laughing through a game of soccer.

Marita’s mother invited us to come back later for supper. Hospitality can never be refused, even when the givers have so little. Marita’s father makes just $48 a year in a country to which both people and nature have been unkind.

PHOTOS: When empty shelves threaten lives

Here in the United States, when our little ones come down with common childhood illnesses, we have relatively easy access to over-the-counter medicines and supplies that can treat them and ease their suffering. Rarely, if ever, do such ailments become life-threatening.

Tragically, the opposite is often true in developing countries. Children who become ill with treatable conditions -- such as worms, diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria -- seek treatment at local clinics, but the shelves there are frequently empty. Poverty renders basic medicines and supplies unaffordable or inaccessible, and children's lives are needlessly placed at risk.

World Vision works with pharmaceutical companies and other corporate partners, who donate medications and medical supplies that we can ship and distribute to clinics around the world where they're needed most. The images below depict the problem -- and what we're doing to help solve it.

Malaria: Battling the "plague of the poor"

Today is World Malaria Day. One of the top killers of children globally, malaria remains a serious threat in African countries like Mozambique -- even though it's completely preventable and treatable, and even though it was eradicated here in the United States more than half a century ago.

Tom Costanza, a World Vision videographer, shares reflections from a trip to Mozambique, contrasting the elimination of malaria in the United States and its continued devastating effects, both on children and adults, in developing countries.

But simple solutions exist that save lives. And you can help.

Malaria: The source of a mother’s torment

World Malaria Day is coming up on April 25. This preventable, treatable disease was eradicated in the United States in the early 1950s -- but even today, it continues to devastate lives in places like Kenya, where simple interventions could end suffering for mothers like Elizabeth. Read her story below and consider how you can take action to help accomplish what was done in this country decades ago.

Fast facts on child health

I’m at that phase in life when a lot of my friends are having babies. Within six weeks, I will have gone to three baby showers! I’m thinking about how many prenatal doctor appointments women have in the United States -- and how many checkups and appointments most newborns have in their first year of life.

But what if there was no doctor to visit? No hospital or nearby clinic? No family doctor or trained midwife?

What would happen? Maternal and child mortality rates would go up.

What does "social justice" really mean?

Social justice is a catch-all term that has gone through many seasons of being en vogue and then going out of favor, often suffering from competing definitions and vastly different interpretations. It's like Silly Putty -- that popular substance we used to play with as kids that can be twisted and contorted into whatever shape your heart desires.

The malaria scare

[caption id="attachment_12514" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="Nicole Suka gives her 3-year-old son, Yangana, a sip of water as he receives a blood transfusion for his severe case of malaria."]The malaria scare | World Vision Blog[/caption]

People like me, who thought the world was winning the war against malaria, might have gotten a rude awakening earlier this month following the release of a report by researchers at the University of Washington.

The state of America's children

Have you ever asked yourself, “What am I doing to make my community, my country, and my world a better place?”

Perhaps you asked yourself something similar in your new year resolutions; or perhaps you ask it when you look at your own children. As a mother of three, I find myself doing this.

As I reflect on the words of President Obama's State of the Union address from last night, this is the question I hope we are all asking -- and doing something about it.

'If he survives' -- memories from Papua New Guinea

Tune in to your local ABC station on the evening of December 16 for a special edition of “20/20” with Diane Sawyer and ABC's Million Moms campaign as they examine modern-day health issues for children and mothers. For more from the ABC Million Moms Challenge, "like" their page on Facebook.

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As a photojournalist with World Vision through much of the 1980s and 1990s, I long ago lost count of the number of rural health clinics I have visited. The vacant looks on the faces of the mothers, too tired and stressed to focus; the babies in their arms, some crying softly, some shrieking in fear and discomfort; others -- too many -- lethargic and still, seemingly lifeless dolls on their parent’s laps or on filthy blankets on the floor of a decaying health facility.

It was hard to look into those tiny faces, some of which I knew wouldn’t survive much longer unless they received urgent medical care, which usually wasn’t available at the time.

Dr. Lisa Masterson of "The Doctors" works in Malawi with World Vision

Dr. Lisa Masterson, a host of the Emmy Award-winning TV series "The Doctors," traveled to Malawi earlier this year to work with World Vision at a local clinic. Here, she shares about her memorable experience assisting with the delivery of a baby, whose health was made possible through effective prenatal care and education.

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When I arrived, she was eight centimeters dilated. For this laboring mother, there was no cozy birthing bed, no epidural, no family member present to hold her hand. Sera, the clinic midwife, greeted me with a demure smile that I would later realize belied tremendous strength and skill.

In June, I had the privilege of serving in the Chiwamba Health Center in Malawi. The trip was the culmination of a year-long partnership with the UN Foundation and the television show I host, “The Doctors.”

For nearly a decade, I’ve made it my mission to improve child and maternal health in developing nations. I founded a charity, Maternal Fetal Care International, established clinics in Kenya and Eritrea, and worked in India. I tell you this because I want you to know that my experience with World Vision in Malawi was not new or unfamiliar, and yet it was profound.

What does 7-11 have to do with child and maternal health?

Watching the news or following blogs like this one the last couple of months may have you more curious about the international community's efforts to improve child and maternal health world wide (or at least we hope so). This blog and our homepage have intentionally featured an ongoing focus on child and maternal health recently.

Part of the reason is because of World Vision's Child Health Now campaign that is dedicated to providing children worldwide with access to basic medical care, adequate nutrition, and disease prevention -- all so that they can grow up healthy in their communities and avoid illness or death from preventable causes.

Additionally, our partnership with the ABC News Million Moms Challenge is a focused effort to raise awareness and funds to help mothers and children survive and thrive all across the globe.

On one level, child and maternal health may seem quite basic -- as simple as providing children and mothers with nutritious food, clean water, and basic healthcare (such as immunizations and medical consultations)...

But is it really so simple? In places affected by poverty, how do you deliver solutions to the most vulnerable children and mothers?

Malaria in the Congo: The ever-present scourge (PHOTO BLOG)

Here in the United States, malaria is often merely thought of as an exotic, foreign disease that was eradicated from our nation in 1951.

But when asked to describe malaria in one word, a nurse at Karawa General Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had this to say:

"Killer."

The hospital administrator said that 80 percent of the local population carries the disease. My assignment last week was to document the needs of children in the region, because World Vision is considering working in the Karawa area.

Malaria dominated almost every situation I covered. Here is a glimpse of what it looks and feels like.