Tag Archives: travel

How and Why Coca-Cola is Restoring Water to Our National Forests

When I stepped out of the U.S. Forest Service SUV after nearly a two-hour scenic autumn drive from Taos, New Mexico to the Carson National Forest, we were standing in an expansive valley so big that huge cows below us looked like mere dots in the distance. We had finally arrived at Valle Vidal, a massive grassy meadow with vistas as far as the eye could see and elevations reaching close to 13,000 feet in Carson National Forest. Even though Valle Vidal is overwhelmingly beautiful to take in its environmental impact is being increasingly hampered by major stream and groundwater degradation that needs immediate remedying in order to protect fish and wildlife as well as to store more ground water for communities downstream.

I was in New Mexico visiting the Carson National Forest with Coca-Cola North America’s sustainability team last week to learn about their water restoration efforts in northern New Mexico as well as the company’s overarching nationwide partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Forest Foundation that replenished 1 billion liters of water to nature and communities reaching 60 million people in the United States. Coca-Cola also recently announced that it has successfully reached one of its principle global sustainability milestones ahead of schedule to effectively balance its water usage in its beverages and production. Coca-Cola has reached its goal five years ahead by replenishing 191.9 billion liters of water across the globe in 71 countries. In the United States, Coca-Cola North America has pledged to double the 1 billion liters of water that it has already replenished by 2018.

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[Photos] Family Planning Kits from Ethiopia, Zambia, South Africa

I have been fortunate to visit health posts and family planning clinics in a handful of countries. One of the things I always ask to see while visiting are family planning kits used for educational purposes for clients. Some of the kits have been fancy, others have been fairly rudimentary, but they all serve the same purpose: educating women about their options to space or prevent pregnancies.

Below are a few photos of family planning kits I have seen in Ethiopia, Zambia and South Africa. You can also check out a Marie Stopes clinic I visited this summer.

Family Planning - Ethiopia
Family Planning Kit – Ethiopia
Family Planning Kit
Family Planning Kit – Johannesburg, South Africa
Family Planning Kit - Zambia
Family Planning Kit – Lusaka, Zambia

And even though this isn’t  a family planning kit I loved seeing young teenage girls at the Fountain of Hope community center for street affected kids reminding each other about peer pressure, STIs, and pregnancy.

Fountain of Hope

 

Be sure to follow the following hashtags during this week’s International Conference on Family Planning: #FP2020,  #FullAccess#FamilyPlanning, and #ICFP2013.

Meeting Key US Players in Zambia’s National Health #ZambiaHealth

After spending nearly a week and a half in Zambia during the second half of July with nine other new media journalists we concluded our final day with an official visit to the United States Embassy in Lusaka. We met with representatives from USAID, PEPFAR, the Peace Corps, and the CDC. We also met with the US Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia, Mark. C. Storella. The visit provided a capstone to all of the site visits and panel discussions we had reporting from Zambia. It also provided a tightly wrapped conclusion to the information we learned on the ground not only in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, but also in some of the rural areas in Zambia’s Southern Province.

Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia, Mark Storella
Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia, Mark Storella

Dr. Lawrence Marum, the country Director for the CDC in Zambia mentioned that for two decades HIV transformed countries and now the best prevention is through early detection. “We have gone through a transformation I didn’t think I would see in my lifetime,” Marum said. “Five hundred thousand people are alive today in Zambia and on ARVs who otherwise would be dead.”

Marum also underscored the skepticism many in the west had in the early 1990s about African doctors’ ability to prescribe ARVs. Today thousands of Zambian doctors can prescribe ARVs which shows a significant sustainability and capacity change.

In Zambia, through work with these four key US partners as well as through the Department of Defense, Zambia is creating a climate of increased access to HIV testing, education, and counseling, PMTCT, access to ARVs, cervical cancer screening, voluntary male circumcision, and the reduction of maternal mortality. In fact, Zambia is one of three countries that is on track to eliminate PMTCT (Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission) and could create an AIDS-free generation. Zambia is also working diligently to rampantly reduce the maternal mortality rate of 591 per 100,000 live births. Compare that to 4 per 100,000 live births in the United States. Working in select districts in Zambia, the maternal mortality is dropping significantly. It’s only a matter if the interventions can be scaled.

Under the leadership of Ambassador Storella, Zambia is gradually becoming an active part in financing countrywide health services and is moving to accept country ownership of health programs. This is a process to be sure. Zambian officials have responded and have increased budget allocations for HIV/AIDS detection and treatment.

“Zambia is moving in the right direction,” Storella said.

In fact, Zambia has increased their health budget by 45 percent. Storella realizes that there will come a point where despite budgets health programs will have to be sustainable. “We cannot just provide treatment,” he said. “We have to ramp up health systems.”

One of the main goals of Ambassador Storella is to ensure that US-funded programs produce measurable results and that he shows good stewardship of the American taxpayer’s money. “Diseases don’t know borders,” Storella said. “We are the front line of protecting the American people and the world.”

I reported about HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria as an International Reporting Project Zambia fellow.

[Photo Gallery] Visual Storytelling in Zambia

From mid July through the end of the month I traveled throughout Zambia covering stories about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria with the International Reporting Project as an IRP Zambia Fellow. I joined nine other new media journalists who put a new spin on traditional reporting of these infectious diseases. You can read my published pieces so far below and see some of my photos from the trip. All of the trip photos have been captioned if you would like to learn more about a specific one.

Feeding Malnourished Children in Macha, Zambia #ZambiaHealth

I saw for the very first time in my life a severe acute malnourished child. He was two. I didn’t ask his name as not to pry into the intimate lives of two parents whose main concern was the life and health of their little one, but I will never forget his swollen face.

I met this toddler at the Macha Mission Hospital in the Southern Province in Zambia where I am traveling as an International Reporting Project fellow. His face was full of open sores, especially around his mouth, and he was severely lethargic, not even able to hold his head up and opted instead to rest his heavy head on his father’s shoulder. His father’s eyes met mine as he asked through them for me to help. I couldn’t. I was just there as an observer.

The malnourished child’s tiny bare feet were sticking out of dirty trousers and were exposing raw flesh that was trying to heal. I noticed his feet where also quite swollen, a noticeable sign of oedema and an exclamation point saying that he did not have the proper amount of nutrients and food coursing through his body to make him a happy and healthy little boy.

In this area of Zambia, in Macha, most of the people are subsistence farmers who live on homesteads and survive on less than $1.50 USD per day. This is consistent throughout the country where 60.5 percent of Zambians live in poverty and the top 10 percent of Zambians own nearly 48 percent of the wealth according to World Bank data. Poverty is rife here, especially in the rural areas where employment is a toss-up, and some of the outcomes of endemic poverty is malnutrition in children. In fact, 45 percent of Zambian children are stunted due to a lack of proper nutrition.

At this government-run hospital Macha Mission nurses provide malnourished children with HEPS (high energy protein supplement). They prepare this porridge-like mixture for the children during their stay and when they leave parents are given the supplement powder to continue providing necessary nutrition to their children.

While one of the most well-known international nutritional products for malnourished children is Plumpy Nut for children and Plumpy Sup for adults, the Executive Director of Macha Mission Hospital, Mr. Abrahan Mhango, told me that Plumpy Nut and Sup are not always available to them and so the hospital uses a powdered nutritional supplement instead.

HEPS - High energy protein supplement

Mixtures, of course, are made based on nutritional need and age and size of the children. The chart for mixture amounts is easily referenced in the hospital kitchen for the nurses.

HEPS Schedule

Breastfeeding in Zambia

At every clinic where I have gone and even in everyday settings I have seen pro-breastfeeding literature, billboards, and even handwritten signs. These seem to be working. In Zambia, 61 percent of mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and then it gradually tapers to 37 percent from 6 – 23 months. Save the Children recommends that children be breastfed during the first hour after birth.

Breastfeeding

I have no idea what Zambia is going to do about their malnutrition problem. I will follow this story and report from what I see on the Net. I hope malnutrition and stunting rates go down.