One of the joys of being involved in social media is learning about organizations that focus on bringing the best quality of health to all areas of the world, including those that may not have optimal economic and social means to promote and sustain such quality.
One such organization introduced to me personally by the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS) is the United States Global Health Initiative (GHI). This program strives to bring health to lower resource countries in a way that is both real and sustained. To get a better idea of how this is happening, watch this incredible video in which CSIS shows exactly how GHI is working in Kenya.
The video is called “On the Ground with the Global Health Initiative: Examining Progress and Challenges in Kenya” and is really worth the 11 minutes of your time to watch. If you are interested in learning more, you can even read the report.
What’s most appealing to me is the fact that the GHI is at its core a Germ Fighter on a Global Scale. The programs read like a microbiologist’s dream. They include:
- HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases
- Maternal and child health
- Neglected tropical diseases like leprosy
- Safe water
There are other wonderful aspects to the GHI that make my germy heart swell. The initiative involves groups such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and several non-governmental organizations, such as CSIS.
Even more incredible is the fact that these groups are working together to achieve a common goal in an apolitical manner. In these days of political polarization, it’s a true comfort to know that when it comes to bringing health to the world, there can be unanimous prudent policy.
One aspect of GHI that excites me is the belief that health really does equal economic development. A few months ago, I posted a video on how this might be achieved. What I didn’t know at the time is that this is exactly what President Obama has mandated as a goal for any regional efforts.
The idea that health can be equated with a better economy might seem odd for most people in developed countries; however, just imagine how prosperous a country could be if all their citizens lived knowing that their health and quality of life was at the core of any economic effort. Perhaps what’s more encouraging about this mantra is that a country will want to make health a priority if they can see economic indicators rise. It may be a far cry from Wall St. but even the people there may one day see the logic and the light.
And to those who might feel that this is all inspiration without implementation, I have some good news. The results are significant. If you take the time to read the report, you’ll find the following successes:
- Rise in immunizations: Proportion of fully immunized children has increased from 57% in 2003 to 77% in 2009.
- Significant declines in child mortality since 2003: Under age-five mortality has declined from 115 to 74 deaths per 1,000 live births, while infant mortality has dropped from 77 to 52 deaths per 1,000 live births.
- Slight increase in percentage of women receiving antenatal care from a professional: From 88% in 2003 to 92% in 2009.
- Increase in insecticide-treated net (ITN) ownership to fight malaria: 56% of households had at least one ITN in 2008–2009, up from 6% in 2003
If you are as concerned about germ fighting and overall global health, there’s only response to this work…
After all, the perspective that I give here on this blog may offer ideas and incentive to be healthier and more hygienic to some 500 people a month ; but these results show that change on a global scale can better the lives of millions. If I could have that kind of reach, I would be humbled and overjoyed.
The people behind CSIS and GHI do it without asking for credit or career advancement. They do it because they know it’s right.
I should mention that for those of us who are desensitized by those 2 minute long commercials featuring a national celebrity asking for assistance while they roll images of starving children, all of this may seem like just another ruse to get us feeling guilty for our status and that we need to “give to live”. As you’ll see in the video and the report, this is nothing like that. This is a new direction that has the real potential to improve the world’s health.
I just hope that my small contribution here helps and that those of you reading this post will realize that nothing is impossible…there just needs to be the right mindset, the right message and most of all, the right reason.
I’ll end this by saying that this program is indeed one that has been created and developed by the United States, but there are similar programs in Canada. One that I encourage everyone who reads this post will visit is Grand Challenges Canada. The hard work and courage of CEO Dr. Peter Singer is an inspiration to all of us who want to bring science, innovation and health to the world. I hope one day to be given the opportunity to work with him to develop creative perspectives on germs and to assist in the improvement of overall global health.
I would love to hear your comments.