(HOST) Recently, commentator Nils Daulaire has been involved in a project that he hopes will improve the lives of families around the world.
(DAULAIRE) Today is November 1 – All Saints Day – a day to celebrate those remarkable people who dedicated their lives to
a higher vision of service, and to life itself. For most Americans
it’s been eclipsed by the revels of Halloween, and that’s too bad, because while our children were out trick-or-treating, a darker pageant was taking place in parts of the world where merely having a full stomach is a treat: Thirty thousand children under the age of five died yesterday, virtually all of them from preventable and treatable causes.
They died because nobody had brought childhood vaccines to
their communities. They died of pneumonia for want of simple
and cheap antibiotics. They died of diarrhea because no one
had told their mothers about the wonders of oral rehydration.
They died of malaria because they didn’t sleep under protective bed nets that keep the disease-carrying mosquitoes away. They died because they didn’t get the most basic food of all: breast milk – or for lack of tiny amounts of dietary supplements – and, as a result, half of them died hungry.
But mothers and fathers are the same the world around, and
none of these children died unloved or unmourned.
And there are modern-day saints today, who are out to make
sure all children have a chance at life, right up on the front lines
of poverty – nurses, doctors, and paramedics, community activists and public health workers – and they are truly achieving miracles. In fact, we now know that we could save six million children’s lives a year simply by applying what we know and funding programs that work.
It seems like the world is finally waking up to this preventable tragedy. This week’s TIME magazine is dedicated to the amazing things taking place around the world to improve health. And over the next three nights, Public Television is airing a documentary mini-series called Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge that will put the challenges and the opportunities of a healthy world right in our living rooms. (I’ve had the honor to advise this project.)
This is no abstraction for me. I’m a doctor, and I’ve spent thirty years working on child health in the developing world. We’ve come a very long way. I’ve held dying babies in Central America, joined in the promise of change as community-based health programs in Africa start to show their potential, and sat with village mothers in Asia marvelling at the miracles that simple science can produce in giving their children the possibility of a healthy life. I am enormously optimistic for the children of the 21st century.
But these life-saving changes, we now know are possible, won’t just happen. They require commitment, and they require money. Most importantly, they require that those of us with the means – and that’s us – care enough to do something about this preventable tragedy.
In the short time I’ve been talking, sixty children died needlessly. This is neither Nature’s nor God’s order, and we can change it if we care to. It’s time for all of us to get involved.
This is Nils Daulaire.
Doctor Nils Daulaire is president of the Global Health Council, headquartered in White River Junction.
RX for Survival