Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Millenium Development Goal #6" - by John G. Miers

Millennium Development Goal #6
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

"Jesus went throughout Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues and
proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and
curing every disease and every sickness among the people."
- Matthew 4:23

Curing every disease and every sickness among the people……

When I read this Bible verse, I naturally thought of my career in the federal service. I worked for the National Institutes of Health for nearly forty years. Others in my family have worked there and some still do. My mother was a nurse. Health is in my family. Health is important to me.

When I read the text about “curing EVERY disease” I am stunned as to how large a task that must have been. I am continually overwhelmed by what it must be like to be a member of a medical team in a foreign country. There are so many diseases in evidence. HIV/AIDS and malaria are cited in this goal, but so are “other diseases.”

Other diseases, too. There are infectious diseases, life-threatening diseases, disfiguring diseases, childhood diseases, easily diagnosed diseases, hard-to-diagnose ones, visible ones, and invisible ones. How do we prioritize just what to treat? How are conditions different in developing countries? What can we do here in the developed world to try to assist others? I still am astounded that the Millennium Development Goals were agreed to in 2000 by 189 heads of state and government -- including the United States. This was in response to the deepest material brokenness in the world today. Poverty the likes of which we just don't see within the United States. Poverty levels that lead to a child under 5 dying every three seconds from preventable, treatable causes, and 8,000 people (more than died in the September 11 attacks) dying each day of HIV/AIDS.

When I visit doctors here in the US I always give thanks for what we have here for our medical care. But I also worry about what other people don’t have. This is why this is such a crucial MDG goal. Medical care must be made available in all parts of the world. This is not a complicated project, but it is both expensive and hard to attain. I think of invisible diseases. These are the really tricky set of those “other diseases.” These include addictions, mental illness, heart disease, diabetes, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and other illnesses and disorders that often go unnoticed by both the patients and medical staff. Each can lead to long-term illness and incapacitation, but medical teams often have their hands full with the gruesome and visible disabilities. All must be addressed.

The MDGs seek to provide treatment to all people in the developing world who suffer from these diseases, both visible and invisible. Jesus healed “every disease and sickness.” We can do no less. Jesus was obviously capable of doing this; we need to provide needed resources so his example can be followed.

John Miers is from Bethesda, Maryland, where he was employed at the National Institutes of Health from 1968 to 2005. He served on the board of St. Luke’s House, a halfway house for persons recovering from mental illness and also serves as Jubilee Officer for the Diocese of Washington. He was a member of National Commission on Science, Technology and Faith for the Episcopal Church and is active in his local church, where he is in the choir, worship committee, pastoral care committee, and the prayer team, and he also visits patients in a local hospital on behalf of the Chaplain.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Goals 4 & 5: Child and Maternal Health News

An article for you from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Maternal, Child Health Lag Behind Other Millennium Development Goals, Study Finds

Despite signs of progress in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and childhood diseases, efforts to reduce maternal and newborn health as part of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) lag behind, according to the 2009 Report of the Global Campaign for the Health Millennium Development Goals released Monday, Inter Press Service reports.

The study "highlights practical ways to 'reduce the continuing and unnecessary death toll in developing countries,'" including : "increased political mobilisation; adequate financing and effective delivery; streamlined and harmonised aid operations; free services for women and children at the point of use and the removal of access barriers; skilled and motivated health workers at the right place at the right time; and accountability for results with robust monitoring and evaluation," according to IPS.

To implement these changes, the study "calls for scaling up health services to the tune of 36-45 billion dollars by 2015, over and above the current spending (and cumulatively about 114-251 billion dollars from 2009 to 2015)" – a gap the authors of the report hope can be closed during the G8 meeting in July, IPS writes (Deen, IPS, 6/15).

"Women and children are facing even graver health threats because of the global economic downturn. Even before the crisis, women made up 60 percent of the world’s poor, and maternal mortality was the worst health inequity in the world," U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said during a luncheon ceremony to release the report. "Your influence, your individual passion and your institutional commitment can help us succeed. Together, we can achieve a long-overdue breakthrough for women and children in the developing world. The consensus outlined in this report provides a clear way forward" (ISRIA, 6/15).

"We welcome this report's timely emphasis on the need to increase investments in women's health despite the current economic crisis," Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the UNFPA, said. Obaid added that an investment in the health of women and girls worldwide does not only improve lives, but can generate economic growth as well.

"If we balk now in our efforts to achieve the health MDGs, we will put our present and future generations at risk," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "But if we rise to the challenge, we can set the world on course for long-term prosperity and stability" (IPS, 6/15).

This information was reprinted from kff.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Death in Birth

Important article about the realities of childbirth - Maternal Health - Please Read!

Death in Birth: Where Life’s Start Is a Deadly Risk
Published: May 24, 2009, New York Times

More than half of the 536,000 women who die each year in pregnancy and childbirth are in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

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