Tag Archives: child health

French first baby already a winner in the geographic lottery

Maybe you're like me: You have a sudden feeling of joy every time you hear of a baby being born, or a newly announced pregnant mother-to-be. Two months ago, I sat in the hospital, awaiting the birth of my new nephew, ready to hear the sweet melody of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" that's played each time a baby is born.

It's the same feeling of joy I had earlier this week, hearing the announcement of the birth of the daughter of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. I recall when we heard the wonderful news in May that the Sarkozys were expecting -- around the same time G8 leaders gathered in France to discuss issues of economic and global development.

At the time, my colleague, Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz, was in France, representing World Vision at the G8 Summit. While there, she hand-delivered a baby gift basket intended for the French first lady. The basket included everyday items readily available to women in Western European or North American pharmacies and grocery stores -- such as hygiene supplies, safe birthing kits, and nutritious foods -- that are often inaccessible to pregnant women living in poverty in developing countries.

In a press release yesterday from my colleagues, World Vision congratulates the Sarkozys on the newest addition to their family.

World Food Day in a time of famine (Blog Action Day)

World Vision New Zealand's nutrition specialist Briony Stevens has just returned from East Africa. She blogs about her experience as part of today's Blog Action Day, dedicated this year to discussion on the topic of food given that today is also World Food Day.

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World Food Day seems such a bizarre concept when you’re standing in an over-crowded refugee camp in East Africa where there is a distinct lack of anything edible. When you’re measuring the circumference of a child’s upper arm as a means of determining how malnourished they are. When you watch a mother continue to clutch her baby to her, long after he or she has passed away.

The mystery of suffering: A before-and-after photo story

I’m often asked how I’ve been able to photograph human suffering for so much of my career and still maintain my sanity and belief in the goodness of God.

Suffering is a mystery. I’ve met many good, righteous, faithful people who have lives full of misery. My dear sister-in-law, Karen, passed away last week after years of battling cancer. She volunteered with orphans in Haiti and gave to people in need in India. She made sure her home was always open to visitors, both family and strangers, even during her illness. She was generous to a fault, wonderfully kind, encouraging, and selfless. Her life of service was lived to the glory of God. Yet she died painfully and young. Suffering is a mystery.

One thing I do know: In the midst of the worst of the worst situations, God is still there.

The success of the world’s greatest to-do list

Every morning, I begin my day by writing a to-do list in my diary. I can’t remember when I started this habit, but I’m certain my productivity has increased exponentially as a result.

I write down irksome duties that nevertheless must get done; I break down complex tasks into several simpler ones -- and, whoa, what looked like an impossible mountain to climb suddenly appears as a series of manageable mole hills. Every time I complete a task, I put a check next to that item on the list.

I’d be lying if I said I manage to get everything done every day. If I did, I’d probably be running for president by now. All the same, at the end of the day, I have a record of achievements, plus an itemized account of what needs more work -- something that will inform the to-do list for the following day.

Perhaps the greatest to-do list of all time is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that all United Nations member states agreed to work toward in September 2000. The object of this to-do list is nothing less than the radical reduction of the most extreme forms of poverty by 2015.

The moral imperative of humanitarian aid

The following commentary is based on remarks Mr. Hill presented on September 5 at a forum entitled “Reforming Aid, Transforming the World,” hosted by Global Washington at the University of Washington. For more information on Global Washington, visit: www.globalwa.org.


“I think back to what Camus wrote about the fact that perhaps this world is a world in which children suffer, but we can lessen the number of suffering children, and if you do not do this, then who will do this? I'd like to feel that I'd done something to lessen that suffering.” —Robert F. Kennedy, in response to a question, a few weeks before his assassination, about how his obituary should read

From books to blogs, it has become fashionable to focus on the failures of foreign assistance. To be sure, there have been failures, and there is plenty of room for improvement.

That said, it would be a travesty to ignore what has been accomplished. In the early 1960s, preventable child deaths exceeded 20 million per year. In 2011, that number is around 8.1 million. While humanitarian aid may not have been the sole cause, I contend that it was a major factor in reducing these preventable deaths.

Where kids’ books meet the real story: Building a healthy village

In the afternoon of our first day with World Vision in Sinazongwe, Zambia, Emily Syabubila, a widow and mother of three, gives us a tour of her compound. It consists of a one-room house with two beds for her and her daughters; another one-room home for her son; three raised chicken coops; an outdoor cook hut; and a raised drying rack for her corn.

In my last post, I shared how microloans (similar to those described in my book "One Hen") had enabled her to restore her family to economic and food security after malaria claimed the life of her husband. She now invites us to share in rituals of harvest and shuck dried maize with her. Hard. Then she throws the kernals in the air to winnow the chaff, catching the good grain expertly in a metal bowl. We don’t even dare. But we do take turns pounding the grain in her mortar, and manage to spill enough to attract her hens for the good eats. Where Emily sings as she pounds, we grunt!

Food is an answer, but what's the solution?

What if there was one nutrient that would take away feelings of constant fatigue, keep hearts beating regularly, and help kids to get better grades in school and reach their potential? What if this “magical” nutrient would prevent dizziness, provide strength and energy, protect against other diseases, keep mothers from dying during delivery, and keep babies alive past their fifth birthday?

If you had access to that food, would you buy it for yourself? If you had it, would you give it away -- even to someone halfway across the globe?

In the world of global nutrition, that nutrient does exist. It is called iron. Iron is all over the place in America -- beef, pork, chicken, seafood, beans, breads, cereal, and dark leafy greens. With all of these food sources, it seems like it would be so simple to get enough iron.

Fast facts: Hunger

Editor's note: June is National Hunger Awareness Month. This weekend, more than 8,000 students across the country will participate in World Vision's 30 Hour Famine. They'll experience hunger firsthand, while raising funds to care for children who face this stark reality every day -- going to bed hungry.

In the past half-decade, global food prices have reached historic highs. The grocery store -- and restaurants, when we can afford them -- account for greater portions of our paychecks. Eating in or eating out costs more now than it did even seven or eight years ago.

But where increasing food prices are merely a source of frustration for Americans, they can be devastating to people who live in poverty in other parts of the world.

In places like sub-Saharan Africa, where staple foods like grains account for nearly half of all calories consumed, rising food prices can cripple families and communities. The price of maize increased by 80 percent in just two years. Wheat prices shot up 70 percent, while the cost of rice increased by 25 percent.

Bad news... good news

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the first-ever issue of Reject Apathy.

Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Nuclear disasters. Crazed dictators. War. Sex trafficking. Blood diamonds. Rape. Poverty. Racism. Disease.

The stark reality of all the “bad news” in the world can leave you reeling. Like a high school physics equation with a minute amount of force working against a massive, immovable object, at times it can feel impossible to make a significant impact.

But consider one more piece of bad news: According to World Vision, 24,000 children die each day around the world from preventable causes. Preventable causes.

We may not be able to stop a tsunami, but we can prevent malaria deaths by providing inexpensive mosquito nets. We may not be able to halt a tank, but we can end the fatal transmission of parasites by equipping impoverished communities with sanitary water for drinking and cooking. We may not be able to cure AIDS (yet), but we can supply medicines that prevent transmission of HIV from a pregnant mother to her unborn child and that extend the lives of AIDS patients so their children aren’t left orphaned.

There are many things we cannot do—but there are countless things we can. And there’s a new opportunity to directly provide medicine and clean water to impoverished children around the world that may surprise you...

Sponsorship 101 -- from a child sponsor

World Vision’s child sponsorship program has been part of my life for nearly two decades. My dad started working at World Vision when I was 9 years old. I’ve worked here for nearly five years now, and my husband and I sponsor three children of our own.

We love getting letters, drawings, photos, and progress reports from the children in our global family. And we love sending them cards, pictures, small packages, and the occasional extra gift.

But even as a staff person and a longtime child sponsor, I’ve still asked myself: What does sponsorship actually do? How does it actually work?

In putting this blog post together, I’ve learned that, in a nutshell, sponsorship connects you with a child in need and empowers the child’s community to become healthy, safe, and self-reliant, breaking the cycle of poverty.

It’s not a handout. It’s more like a hand up. By helping to provide access to life essentials, we, as sponsors, don’t just “give away” our money and cross our fingers. We actually help World Vision in giving the entire community of our sponsored child a “boost” up and out of poverty.

In order for children to experience life in all its fullness, they must have reliable access to all of the essentials for life: clean water, a secure source of food, healthcare, education, etc. That’s why World Vision takes an integrated approach to helping our sponsored children’s communities become whole, because each piece of this puzzle intertwines with the others.

[caption id="attachment_4665" align="alignright" width="162" caption="In Senegal, a World Vision water pump in Mballo's village gives her community clean water. ©2010 David duChemin/World Vision"][/caption]

Clean water: This is often where our work starts. Simply providing access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene can cut a community’s child death rate by more than half.

Food security: We help farming families learn better crop cultivation and food storage techniques, provide essentials like seeds and tools, and distribute food aid to help make sure that children get the nutrition they need.

Health care: We help to make basic health care accessible by stocking health clinic shelves with medicine, training parents and health workers to treat illness, and coordinating HIV-prevention education and care for those affected by HIV and AIDS.

News that matters: Tornadoes, conflict minerals, maternal health

Editor's Note: This is the second post in a new, periodic series called "News that matters," meant to highlight coverage in news articles and blog posts about important, current issues that affect those living in poverty around the world.

Recent breaking-news headlines might lead you to believe that some of the less prominent stories lack significance and aren't worthy of our attention. The truth is, there are many equally critical issues that directly affect the lives of the world’s poor and dispossessed – and so many of them don’t see the kind of coverage they really deserve. I’ll let you follow the breaking news on your own, and I’ll highlight some other stories that you may not see otherwise.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these issues and others that you find interesting!

Tornadoes in the U.S. South

Late last week, the media heavily covered the damage and loss of life caused by a series of tornadoes that touched down in Alabama and other states in the American South. Although the headlines have moved on to other issues, the damage there remains. World Vision and other organizations are now part of a rebuilding effort that could take years.

Storms Ravage Alabama; Death Toll Rising Fast
Crosswalk.com, 28 April 2011
World Vision plans to begin moving in emergency supplies -- including personal hygiene items, paper supplies and even mattresses -- within 24 hours. The organization also plans to aid with rebuilding efforts, focusing on families who do not have any insurance or enough insurance to cover the damage costs.

After the storm: How you can help the South rebuild
USA Today, 28 April 2011
World Vision's domestic relief team is preparing to deploy this Saturday morning from the Dallas area to Alabama and nearby states hardest-hit by last night's storms. They plan to work with local churches and other organizations to identify families with limited means, families left destitute, or people who may have difficulty accessing other assistance.

Conflict minerals

When I started at World Vision about 10 years ago, we were part of a multi-agency campaign trying to end the trade of diamonds that were mined in several West African countries. At the time, the trade of those diamonds was used to fund related civil wars going on in Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as conflicts in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fast facts: Malaria [infographic]

In honor of World Malaria Day, observed every year on April 25 as a day of awareness and recognition for global efforts to end malaria, we challenge you to educate yourself on the facts, raise awareness, and take action against this deadly but preventable disease.

Malaria is a disease of massive proportions that disproportionately impacts children. Each year, approximately 780,000 people die from malaria, 85 percent of whom are children under 5. World Vision works in 62 countries affected by malaria, 23 of which are in Africa.

Impact on children and families

  • Malaria is the 4th leading cause of death for children globally. According to latest figures, globally 8% of under-five child deaths are attributable to malaria and in Africa it is 16%.
  • More than 1,800 children under 5 die each day from malaria. That's approximately 1 child every 45 seconds.
  • Half of the world's population is at risk of malaria: There are 106 malaria-endemic countries with 3.3 billion people at risk. Malaria infects approximately 250 million people each year.
  • Malaria has been estimated to cost Africa more than U.S. $12 billion every year in lost economic productivity, and can cost households as much as 32 percent of their entire monthly income.
  • Insecticide-treated bed nets could prevent as many as 1 million deaths from all causes of malaria for children under 5.

Global malaria prevention

  • If universal malaria prevention can be achieved by 2010 and maintained until 2015, an estimated 2.95 million African children's lives can be saved.

ACT:S to end malaria

Editor's note: In lieu of World Malaria Day (Monday, April 25th), the following post was written for us by our friends at RELEVANT Magazine.

Recently, the RELEVANT staff became aware of a problem.

If you watch the news (who does that anymore?), or follow the news feed on Facebook or check in online with the media outlet of your choice, you know the world is in trouble. Our world’s issues have created issues that have created more issues that could lead one to believe the world, in its current state, is not right. How does one respond when the world seems to be on fire?

Apathy is our worldview

Some have chosen to bury their heads in the sand and pretend this “world on fire” doesn’t affect their everyday life. They’ve embraced apathy as a worldview—it informs the way they spend their time, money and conversation. Others have chosen to respond by passionately standing up for a cause they feel called to. But how do you go about choosing what evil to war against when there is so much evil in the world?

The problem that caught our attention was the very problem we thought had gone away. Several decades ago our U.S. government decided to wage a war against the threat of malaria. Along with relocating people away from river beds and dangerous bodies of water that hosted deadly mosquitoes, we launched an all-out chemical assault on malaria with DDT. We attacked the disease at its origin. Since the threat has now been all but eliminated in the U.S., most of us have seen malaria as that virus you might get on a mission trip that, at its worst, is similar to a common cold and a few trips to the bathroom.

Truth be told, malaria isn’t on our radar anymore because it’s no longer a deadly threat to our culture. We’ve moved on to “bigger” problems—economic development, child mortality, education, health care, ending poverty, fighting global AIDS, etc. But the fact is, if you care about any of these issues, you have to solve the problem of malaria first

The numbers don’t lie

Nearly 1 million people die every year due to diseases that were caused by malaria—85 percent of them are children under the age of 5. If you care about solving other issues in the world, you have to pay attention to the fact that 30 percent of all school absenteeism on the entire continent of Africa is the result of malaria. It slows the economic and educational development of countries around the world by perpetuating the cycle of poverty and becomes exponentially more deadly when accompanied by AIDS and malnutrition.

How have we lived on this planet without knowing? Ignorance is killing more people right now than all the great wars described in our history books.

Fast facts: Child health

Today is World Health Day. World Vision joins the World Health Organization to draw attention to issues of global health, particularly the health of children. Part of this year's theme tagline is "no action today, no cure tomorrow." Consider this challenge as you read these facts.

  • Malnutrition contributes to more than half of all child deaths. (Source: World Health Organization)
  • Every year, 8.1 million children die of poor health. That is ...

22,191 per day,
924 per hour,
15 per minute,
1 child dies every 4 seconds.

(Source: UNICEF, Levels & Trends in Child Mortality, September 2010)

  • 195 million children are stunted due to hunger (1 in 3 children in developing countries). (Source: UNICEF, "Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Nutrition," November 2009)

[caption id="attachment_3644" align="alignright" width="231" caption="In Kenya, a malnourished child is weighed at a World Vision health center. (Tim Freccia/WV)"][/caption]

  • In the time it takes you to brush your teeth in the morning (average of 45 seconds), another child dies of malaria in Africa. (Source: World Health Organization)
  • Each year, 272 million school days are lost for children due to diarrhea. (Source: UNICEF)

Football frenzy: A super (bowl) success

On Sunday, many of us will be tuning in to watch the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers compete in Super Bowl XLV. The Super Bowl is always one of the most-watched events of the year, and I’m looking forward to gathering with friends to watch the game — and the commercials. But when I watch the big game this weekend, my mind will...

A kick in the ribs: Children enjoy good health

My son has really long feet. Well, at least I think he does. I’ve only seen them during my 20-week ultrasound, but every day, I am reminded of these feet as they practice future soccer skills on my right ribs. Sometime during the next few weeks, I’ll actually get to see these feet, tickle those toes. As I approach the birth of my first child...