Just Breathe

So, I guess it’s about time for me to be wrapping up help with health month because, well, it’s  a new month. But I wanted to squeeze in one last thing I just happened to see today in the news. It’s especially relevant to me  because it involves pulmonary disease, which is what knocked my dad down for all that time  (he’s doing great now!)  and because it involves a pressing health care need in the developing world.

The subject is the disease that claims more children’s lives than any other in the world. That disease is:  any guesses?

Pneumonia.

I know. Pneumonia? To quote Liz Lemon on 30 Rock “What the what?” When I think of diseases that kill children living in poverty,  I -usually think malaria,  AIDS, or dystentary-like diseases. I get furious “How can we let kids die of the runs?” (That’s gross…)

 But according to Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times, using UNICEF stats, pneumonia kills 2 million kids a year making it the most deadly disease  facing the world’s children.  Also according to the article, a major problem right now is that pneumonia – though incredibly deadly- is flying under the news radar. AIDS and Malaria have large and growing advocacy bases– thank God.  But the fight against pneumonia remains underfunded and under-publicized.

I really reccomend the article, but one of the most eye-opening facts was this:  “A course of antibiotics used to treat pneumonia can cost only 27 cents.”  27 cents to save a kid’s life? Sounds like a good deal.

I also was struck by Kristoff’s call to action: “…anyone looking for a cause should grab pneumonia and run with it. Think of it not as a grim and depressing initiative, but as potentially a happy turnaround opportunity, for these kids’ lives can be so breathtakingly easy to save.”  Or breath-givingly easy, maybe.

So, what can we do? How can we be a drop in the Stop Pneumonia bucket? Well, there are a few things.

  • Read  Kristoff’s article for a good overview and one child’s story.
  • Explore the cool  Save the Children pneumonia awareness page.  If you’re a fan of the show House, Hugh Laurie is involved with helping get pneumonia more notice; so is Gwenyth Paltrow. I take back everything I said about her in Iron Man. (No I don’t, but, still…).
  • Another educational site is the one created for World Pneumonia Day

And then there’s this– which is where all you Facebook people come in:  World Pneumonia Day  has its own FACEBOOK PAGE which you can join and help grow. It probably takes like five seconds to join. And you know how fast you can get the word out on anything with Facebook. So I hope some of you will check it out and maybe join and pass it along to your Friends.

I know a lot of you who read this are parents and I can only imagine how you feel when one of your kids has one of those chest-shaking coughs that they need to see a doctor about. I know from my dad how tough it is waiting each day to hear how a loved one is doing at getting back to breathing on his own again. Luckily, when these situations arise, we have access to medicine and medical care. I know we can help give more people this same access.

And on that note, I leave health month behind. THANKS FOR READING!

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