Friday, January 22, 2010

Disease now the big threat in Haiti

From a friend at Global Action for Children...
A new threat is looming large in Haiti.

As if the immediate deaths from the earthquake were not enough, now the growing risk of infectious disease threatens to take more lives in Haiti. Infections like diarrhea, pneumonia and measles flourish in places with unsanitary conditions, lack of access to clean drinking water and increased exposure to the elements—places like Haiti today.

Tragically, it is the children of Haiti who are most seriously affected by these age old killers. Before the earthquake only 50 percent of Haitian children were vaccinated against these preventable diseases, so now in its aftermath, the likelihood of their emergence is even greater.

The good news is, we know how to stop more childhood killers than ever before. In this last year alone, two new vaccines were introduced to prevent deaths from the biggest child killers of all—diarrhea and pneumonia. Globally, these two diseases are responsible for over 3.5 million deaths each year.

Vaccines have both short- and long-term ramifications for children and their communities. Today, vaccines can avert thousands of needless child deaths during this time of crisis. And long into the future, vaccines will give Haiti’s children the chance to remain healthy, stay in school, live longer and contribute to their community. In short, vaccines are the smart start to help Haiti re-grow.

As the aid continues to roll into Haiti we cannot forget these killers that are lurking in the background waiting to emerge. We must ensure that everything is done to provide the children of Haiti with the medicines and vaccines they need to grow, thrive and rebuild their country.

Stacy Carkonen
National Field Director
Global Action for Children
(206) 715.4986

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