Category Archives: child health

Three African Countries Chosen for First Malaria Vaccine Trials

For decades, there has been consistent chatter, research, and hope for a potential malaria vaccine. Now, all three are finally coming to fruition to roll out the world’s first clinical malaria vaccine trials. The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced today that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi have been chosen for the WHO-coordinated pilot implementation program that will make the world’s first malaria vaccine available in 2018.

“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a statement. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa,” she added.

Sub-Saharan Africa records 90% of all global malaria cases. Even though the number of cases and deaths have dropped dramatically since 2001, the rate is still astronomically high. In fact, malaria still remains one of the deadliest killers on the African continent, especially for children under the age of five.

To date, the most effective way to curb malaria cases is via the use of bed nets and indoor residual spraying.  Unfortunately, 43% of sub-Saharan Africans are not protected against either and 429,000 people died from malaria in 2015. After spending time with mothers in Tanzania with Malaria No More, I saw this to be true. I met moms standing in long lines to receive new nets, but the ones they had used for years had holes throughout, rendering them virtually worthless.

There is now new hope to curb child deaths with the injectible malaria vaccine targeted to children within five to 17 months called RTS,S. The vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline. Malawi, Kenya, and Ghana were chosen for the following reasons according to the World Health Organization:

  • high coverage of long-lasting insecticidal treated nets (LLINs)
  • well-functioning malaria and immunization programs
  • a high malaria burden even after scale-up of LLINs,
  • and participation in the Phase III RTS,S malaria vaccine trial

The countries themselves will determine the areas in their country where the trials will ultimately take place. The $49.2 million cost of the trials will be taken up by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID. The World Health Organization and GlaxoSmithKline will additionally provide complimentary funds for the malaria trial efforts.

Photo: UN Photo/Marie Frechon

How You Can Help Mothers and Babies in Syria’s Idlib Camps

War is suffocating every corner of Syria and has been for the past several years. In areas that are close to neighboring countries like Idlib province that borders Turkey, Syrians from all over the country are fleeing there for safety believing that those border regions won’t fall under severe air attack. Unfortunately, as we learned last week, that just is not the case.

Chemicals, including sarin gas, rained upon civilians in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province last week and while it definitely happened as we saw in newspapers and on the news leaders involved in the region are striking fingers at their enemies. The United States is blaming Russia and the Assad regime for the chemical attacks, the Assad regime is blaming the rebels, the rebels are blaming the Assad regime, and Putin is now saying that the United States is putting “false flag” attempts on Syria blaming them for the chemical attacks in order to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, men, women, and children continue to suffer daily. In the Idlib camps for internally displaced people, NGOs are providing as much aid as possible to the thousands of families who fled cities like Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs with intense hopes of crossing into Turkey where they instead found the border had been strictly closed.

Aid agencies provide food, water, and medical attention to those living in the camps, but they need as much help as they can get. Four Chicago mothers know this well and have started a fund to send baby supplies to 1500 babies in the Idlib camps with the help of Chicago-based Heroic Hearts Organization. Called a Parcel of Love campaign, you can donate as much as you’d like from bath essentials for $20 to feeding essentials for $80 to a fully equipped baby box for $240.

The Parcel of Love campaign has already raised $92,000, but there is a long way to go to help improve the beginnings for the children who have already come into this world with so little. 

To donate visit: http://hchearts.org/campaigns/parcel-of-love. And, also please spread the word to your networks to help this worthy cause.

Underserved Residents in Southern Haiti Receive New Access to Quality Health Care

Several vistors wait to be seen at new hospital (1)During my visit to Haiti two years ago I had the privilege of visiting two hospitals: L’Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley and L’Hôpital Sainte-Thérèse in Hinche, Haiti. Many of the patients at both hospitals, I learned, walked or took public transport over long distances for quality hospital care. As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haitians need many more hospitals and health workers to care after their sick. There are currently only six health workers for every 10,000 Haitians according to USAID. And, Haiti has the highest rate of infant, child, and maternal mortality in the Western Hemisphere. Most Haitians live on less than $1 a day and their life expectancy is only 64 compared to 74 for its neighbor, the Dominican Republic.

Quality health care in Haiti continues to be one of the country’s greatest problems. In fact, Haiti only spends 6 percent of its expenditures on health care and relies heavily on international funding.

Continue reading Underserved Residents in Southern Haiti Receive New Access to Quality Health Care

Double Your Donation Today By Giving to World Vision #GivingTuesday

When I travel to low-income countries I am most interested in learning about and reporting on maternal and newborn health. As a mother of two daughters it is my biggest passion.

Today on Giving Tuesday I am proud to work with one of my favorite international nonprofit organizations: World Vision USA. I had the distinct opportunity to travel with them to the Philippines a few years ago and saw their programs for women and newborns at a local clinic that had been rebuilt after seeing major structural damage by Typhoon Haiyan. I am always grateful to see up close the amazing work done by organizations I admire.

This year for Giving Tuesday I am happy to say that your charitable donation to World Vision’s lifesaving work with mothers and newborns will be generously matched in product by Thirty-One Gifts. Products like totes (such as the one seen below), blankets, apparel, and thermals will be matched up to $2,000,000 and will be given to help mothers and infants around the world where World Vision works. That’s a lot of giving in one day!

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My daughter wearing a World Vision tote by Thirty-One Gifts. You can choose any item to donate through World Vision today, but if you want to make a direct donation to support new mothers and their infants, I recommend the New Mother and Baby Kit!

Today in the spirit of giving you can give any gift to World Vision you’d like, but can specifically give a gift to help new mothers and newborns (my personal recommendation) in countries where they need it most.

Happy Giving Tuesday!