World Pneumonia Day – November 12, 2011

Save the Children received a grade of A in the December 2011 Charity Rating Guide & Watchdog Report.

I knew instinctively that childhood pneumonia deaths, once too common, are now very rare in the US. I’ve been told that they have decreased almost 99% since 1939, thanks to the discovery and availability of effective medications. But children from developing countries aren’t so lucky. Each year 1.4 million children under 5 die from pneumonia – more than any other cause. More than from AIDS, malaria, and measles combined!

Here’s a short Mission: Pneumonia Quiz. Better yet, go to the World Pneumonia Day page to watch a video and read a personal story of how pneumonia affected one family.

This event is sponsored by Save the Children, which, not so incidentally, received a grade of A in the December 2011 Charity Rating Guide & Watchdog Report from CharityWatch, formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP); I’m a member of CW, and I checked its database to verify that indeed STC’s cost to raise $100 is only $10, quite low as these things are calculated. Moreover, they have an “open book” policy when it comes to finances. The 2011 Save the Children Gift Catalog is now available.

Pneumonia is the world’s leading killer of children, but there are viable solutions. I recently read the Lancet study about how the administration of oral amoxicillin to the children aged 2–59 months in a Pakistan region by community health workers has provided “strong evidence” that the methodology used is likely to “contribute further to a reduction in the number of pneumonia deaths.” That is quite promising news, but it takes resources, money well spent in creating a solution.

Photo credit: In Pakistan’s Haripur district, Lady Health Worker Naseem bibi counts 1-year-old Usama’s breaths, before successfully treating him for pneumonia. A new Lancet study by Save the Children shows that children treated by community health workers at home were more likely to recover from severe pneumonia than those referred to a health facility, the current standard of care. Just ahead of World Pneumonia Day, the study offers new hope for treating the world’s leading child killer in communities where hospitals and doctors are out of reach. Credit: Save the Children

Military Losses

Here’s a weird thing. A friend of a friend of mine had a husband in the military. She (FoF) started making comments on her Facebook page that people should send pictures of her husband so that her children would have mementos by which they would be able to remember him. Oddly, she never actually wrote that he had died.

So I began searching. I discovered that the most comprehensive listing of those who were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I could find is provided by, “honoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.”

But, as it turned out, he didn’t die in battle. He was stateside and had committed suicide. Apparently, after a third tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, it was just too much.

From this ABC NEWS story:

The increase in suicide deaths is one of the most distressing issues facing military leaders who want to reduce the rates among active-duty service members. More than 2,000 of them have killed themselves in the past decade [PDF], including 295 last year compared with 153 in 2001.

Despite their best suicide-prevention efforts, reducing the number of military suicides has been a frustrating challenge, military leaders acknowledged [in September 2011] at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. Recent efforts have included increasing at-risk service members’ access to mental health professionals, while reducing the stigma attached to mental health care. Internet outreach, including “video chats,” has also shown some promise.

The difficulty, however, is in identifying which initiatives work best and deciphering the multiple triggers that can lead to suicide within the armed services, which accounts for a small fraction of the total number of people who serve.

Despite my lack of understanding of the reasons for going to war, I feel real grief over the sheer despair these men and women must have been going through to take their own lives. Here’s hoping that the Telehealth programs now being used by the military can stem the tide of these horrible losses.

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