WORLD VOICE:  The March Of Dimes Marches On

WORLD VOICE: The March Of Dimes Marches On

Baby in NICU

Photo Credit: March of Dimes

The tiny translucent fingers of a premature baby are stark reminders of the fragility of newborn life no matter where in the world a baby is born. When I asked a friend who works for the March of Dimes exactly what it was that the organization did I was struck that I knew so little about it. While I had traveled in the past few years on maternal and newborn health reporting trips to Ethiopia and South Africa, and written for a number of global non-profits on related issues, I was unaware that the March of Dimes was fighting for Newborn lives right here in the US.

As a mother of four and the daughter of a Polio survivor I am an active advocate for global vaccines with the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign where one of our major goals is global Polio eradication.  The March of Dimes was Founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 to eradicate Polio in the US, I was fascinated to find out that the March of Dimes had led the fight against Polio eradication, and although it still exists in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, it was successfully eradicated in the US in 1979. Thanks in large part to the March of Dimes campaign.

The robust infrastructure of the March of Dimes was then shifted to tackle birth defects, and in the mid 1980s shifted to Community, Advocacy, Research, Education and Support services around premature birth. (the birth of an infant before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Premature babies can have serious health problems at birth and that last later into life, and about 1 in 10 babies in the US are born prematurely.

According to the March of Dimes Global Action Report on Preterm Birth; Born Too Soon :

  • 15 million babies in the world are born prematurely each year, and that number is rising.

  • Preterm birth is the greatest cause of neonatal death, in the first 28 days of life.

  • It is the second leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 years old.

  • 60% of preterm births occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

  • 75% of the deaths of premature babies could be prevented with proper medical care

Here in the US the preterm birth rate is at 9.6% , while across 184 countries of the world the statistics range from 5 to 18% for preterm birth rates per 100 live births. That means that here in the US, I was shocked to learn, we only get a report card grade of a C. You can find out where your country ranks on the Born Too Soon Global Map as well.

There is a lot of research going on to find out what factors cause preterm birth, because even healthy mothers who have done everything right during pregnancy can experience it.  The risk factors that are associated with it include mothers of multiples, or who have previously had a preterm birth. Getting little or no prenatal care, being overweight or underweight during pregnancy, smoking, drinking alcohol, and drug use are all known to contribute. But there are demographics as well, if you are under 17 or over 35 these are risk factors, and here in the US researchers are working hard to find out why race also seems to play a part in the statistics.

Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait® is a comprehensive initiative by the March of Dimes to prevent preventable preterm birth, with a focus on reducing elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation. Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait involves an education and awareness campaign, hospital quality improvement and community intervention programs. These strategies are focused on interventions and activities that have the potential to make an immediate, substantial and measurable impact on preterm birth. – www.marchofdimes.org

My friend Michelle invited me for a tour of the NICU at Women & Infants Hospital to see the work being done there by the March of Dimes.  There was a stark differences between the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that I had visited in Ethiopia at the Black Lion Hospital on my International Reporting Project Fellowship and the one we toured here in Rhode Island. I could see it had a lot to do with the presence of the March of Dimes. On the sterile 6 year old  50,000 sq. foot wing here in Rhode Island 82 babies can receive care. In the corner of the floor an entire center for family support provides programs, food, and a fun filled space for siblings to play. The support given in the hospital space seems an extension of the March of Dimes website where it encourages community support through the Share your story feature .

Mom Holding Baby

Photo Credit: March of Dimes

On my tour I could not help but think of the mothers I had seen across the world in Ethiopia in the largest NICU in the country  with only three incubators and one nurse for every 10 babies.   The mothers folded over their teeny babies with the same concerned and protective stance as the ones I saw here in Rhode Island, but with the difference of a world of support from the March of Dimes programs at hand. I was happy to learn that over the past 15 years the March of Dimes Global Programs have formed alliances with partners on the ground to help improve birth outcomes in developing countries around the world as well.   All mothers love their babies with the same fierce intensity no matter where they live, and all babies deserve the chance to survive no matter where in the world they are born. I was impressed to learn about all that the March of Dimes programs do to see that happen.

This is an original post written by Elizabeth Atalay of Documama for World Moms Blog.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

More Posts

WORLD VOICE: In The Wake of Ebola

WORLD VOICE: In The Wake of Ebola

(Photo: European Commission DG ECHO/Flickr/Creative Commons)

(Photo: European Commission DG ECHO/Flickr/Creative Commons)

The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa officially over this past week. The Ebola epidemic that swept through Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and into Nigeria last year highlighted the importance of rapid response, and strong health infrastructure. Credited for halting the spread of the virus more widely in Nigeria was the Polio tracking system and stations already put in place by GAVI (Global Vaccine Alliance). Unlike the surrounding countries, Nigeria was able to use that already existing health care network and alert system to quickly track down possible exposures. Also highlighted by the outbreak was the importance of nutrition in preventing disease to begin with. Well-nourished children have much stronger immune systems than malnourished children, and are more resilient to bounce back when they do get sick. Sustainable Development Goal number two is zero hunger, a global priority since WHO estimates that malnutrition is the underlying cause in half of child deaths world wide.

I knew that malnutrition made immune systems vulnerable, but working with a local non-profit specializing in the treatment and prevention of child malnutrition on a global level has given me new insight into just how critical proper nutrition is for the individual, and the world as a whole. You might be surprised to learn that the second largest producer in the world of a nutritionally fortified peanut paste used to treat malnutrition called Plumpy’Nut is located in the smallest state in the USA. Edesia is a non-profit that partners with organizations on the ground such as World Food Program, UNICEF and USAID to offer treatment and malnutrition prevention solutions to those who need it most. Countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia had been receiving shipments of Edesia’s products long before the Ebola outbreak, where malnutrition was already an issue for many children before the virus hit. In the countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone the compounded crisis of child malnutrition was both a contributing factor, and then a cruel aftereffect of the Ebola epidemic.

plumpy copy

Photo Credit: Heidi Reed

Rhode Island infectious disease specialist Dr. Tim Flanigan, who traveled to Liberia in August of 2014 stated that

“More people were dying from malnutrition and other medical illnesses than from Ebola.” even at the height of the outbreak. “ So many infectious diseases are intertwined with malnutrition to begin with.”

The communities impacted the hardest were already fragile when the virus hit.

Dr. Flanigan explained, that the countries impacted by Ebola were some of the poorest countries on the continent. After years of civil wars, the destruction of the infrastructure had already made it a challenge for people to get enough to eat. Hunger, malnutrition, and starvation were already common realities in these vulnerable populations.  All efforts and resources available then went to tackle Ebola when it hit, leaving any of the already challenged social services in place, like school meals or vaccine clinics, to flounder. When 20-day quarantines of people in homes with no running water, or electricity, (meaning no refrigeration for food), were instituted in some households, malnutrition rates were bound to soar.

Children are often the most vulnerable population in crisis scenarios, they are at much higher risk of disease when malnourished, even if they escape succumbing to any number of viral threats malnutrition puts them at risk of never growing to their full potential. The products produced in Rhode Island at Edesia, such as Plumpy’Nut and Plumpy’Sup, can literally save the lives of these children. In just 6 weeks on average a child suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition, or SAM, can get back to their full healthy weight when treated with Plumpy’Nut. Last year Edesia reached nearly a million children.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimate is that nearly 795 million people (out of the 7.3 billion world population), so 1 in 9 people, suffered from malnutrition during 2014-2016. The goal at Edesia is to reach as many children as possible to help them thrive, and that means being prepared to react when the need arises. One of the essential building blocks to good health is proper nutrition, and a healthy community is a more resilient community. We saw how effective it was in the case of Nigeria and the Polio network to have systems in place when disaster strikes.  The investment in global nutrition not only can help to prevent future outbreaks of disease, but ensure that all children have the opportunity to grow into healthy, productive adults.

What are some of the other lessons that this outbreak Highlighted?

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay who also writes at documama and is the Digital and Social Media Specialist at Edesia.

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

More Posts

#UNCA Awards: And The Award Goes To……

#UNCA Awards: And The Award Goes To……

Purnima Ramakrishnan

 

 

IMG_5127

Purnima, 

Congratulations on your achievement!  It was our honor to attend the UNCA Gala and accept this award on your behalf. We wished that you were with us, but we thought of you at home in Chennai helping your family during this time of crisis with the flooding. All of us at World Moms Blog know that our families are our first priority. You are exactly where you need to be.

We will further recap the event soon!

 

 

PicMonkey Collage

Thank you for the opportunity!

Love, 

Jen & Elizabeth

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by CEO and Founder, Jennifer Burden and Managing Editor, Elizabeth Atalay. 

Photo credits to the authors.

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

More Posts

SOCIAL GOOD: A Hidden Gem, Heifer International’s Heifer Farm

SOCIAL GOOD: A Hidden Gem, Heifer International’s Heifer Farm

heifer Collage

One day I was in New York City at the United Nations among World Leaders, and the next in rural Massachusetts milking a goat. Though the two may seem totally unrelated, they are actually intertwined. It will take both the efforts of world leaders and small share farm holders for the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals to ever succeed. As a social good writer I had been to New York City for UN General Assembly week and the Social Good Summit, and then to Heifer International’s Farm located in rural Rutland, Massachusetts, where World Moms Blog had been invited to their first ever Media Day.

The new set of Global Goals are focused on sustainability which is one of the cornerstones of Heifer International’s approach. Heifer International was founded by Dan West based on his experience as a relief worker. He realized the aid work he was doing needed a new model to help those in need become self-sufficient as opposed to continually reliant on aid. As a farmer he knew that a gift of livestock was a gift that would keep on giving. A heifer refers to a pregnant cow, and in 1944 the first dairy cattle were shipped, and Heifer International born.

“Heifer International is a non-profit, humanitarian organization dedicated to ending hunger and poverty and caring for the earth. Heifer currently provides livestock, trees, seeds and training in environmentally sound agriculture to families in 30 countries, including the United States. We work with smallholder farming families and communities because we believe they are key to feeding us all.”- Heifer International

The goal of Heifer International is to help communities transform themselves through education, environmental stewardship, empowerment of women in the community, and the legacy of passing on generations of animals and knowledge. This in turn generates the accomplishment of the once recipient turning into a donor in their community.

HeiferCollage1

At World Moms Blog we have written about Heifer International in the past, included Heifer International in gift guides, and followed their trip last summer to Malawi with our friends at ONE Girls and Women. We had no idea however that Heifer International had a farm to showcase their programs this close to home. As it turns out, just over an hour from where I live is this hidden gem of global education!

At Heifer Farm in Rutland Massachusetts we toured the flourishing ¾ acre farm garden where we were encouraged to pull vegetables out of the ground and taste as we went along. A delicious fresh beet hummus, with a rainbow of carrot colors I had no idea they grew in, was served.  Apparently the massive size of the vegetables grown at Heifer Farm has to do with the rich soil quality based on the farming techniques used,  the same techniques taught to small share farmers working with Heifer International around the world. After the garden tour we had lunch in Peru.

Peru is one of the eight global villages at Heifer Farm that provide experiential, hands on learning through programs ranging from day trips to week-long camps for all ages. We then meandered through China and Ghana on our way to the barn. This brings us back to milking the goat, and to the tiny baby piglets we got to hold, and all I could think was how crazy my kids would have been for everything. I can not wait to bring them back to experience Heifer Farm! Other Heifer International sites in the US include Heifer Ranch in Perryville, and Heifer Village in Little Rock, Arkansas. If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it. If you do be sure to bring the kids, after all they are the future generation who will be seeing these new Sustainable Development Goals through to 2030.  Global Goals that all stakeholders will need to be involved in, large and small.

HeiferCollage3

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay who also writes at documama.org.

 

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

More Posts

SOCIAL GOOD: Gifts For Him

SOCIAL GOOD: Gifts For Him

Here in the United States of America, on Sunday, June 21st, we will celebrate Father’s Day. I thought for the occasion I’d put together a list of gifts that World Dads would love, but that also give back in some way. There are so many great companies that give back to choose from these days, but below are a few World Moms favorites.fashionable copyScreen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.03.40 AMI had the pleasure of visiting the FashionABLE factory in Ethiopia last year and have been writing about and wearing the gorgeous scarves made in Ethiopia for years. That made it such a thrill to finally meet founder Barrett Ward at the ONE Girls and Women AYA Summit this past fall where he participated on the Change Through Economic Opportunity panel. I am also excited that they are expanding their operations to include products made in Kenya including a beautiful line of leather products. Some of which are perfect for him! All products contribute towards social service programs of health care, education in a trade, and assistance with child care for their artisans to help build better, sustainable futures for the artisans and their families.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.38.48 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.27.50 AMWine can be a great gift to share, and one with a meaning behind it is even better. Of course I was introduced to One Hope wines by none other than World Moms Blog founder Jennifer Burden when she served it at a gathering of World Moms for the Social Good Summit a few years ago. A portion of the proceeds of each bottle of One Hope Wine  goes to the organization that that wine selection supports, be it saving the environment, fighting heart disease, or supporting our troops among others.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.50.15 PM

 

Warby Parker

For every pair of Warby Parker glasses sold, another pair is given to someone in need, along with funding the training of eye care professionals in developing countries.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.56.50 PM

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.55.52 PM

The Men’s styles of Tom’s Shoes are hot! Let’s face it, what makes them even hotter is the fact that each pair bought gives a pair of shoes to someone without.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 7.07.40 AM

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 7.12.18 AM

Whoever curates the (RED) shop ROCKS! They have the most amazing product selection and all funds from (RED) purchases go to The Global Fund to help the fights against AIDS.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.33.51 AM

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.00.42 AMI also met Jane Mosbacher Morris at the AYA Summit where she participated in the panel on Change Through Economic Opportunity. I love her story from policy to retail and was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her a few days ago and get more insight into her path to founding To The Market. To The Market is a marketplace for survivor made goods, whether it is from war, disaster, or abuse, To The Market provides a market for the beautiful handcrafted goods that give women survivors a chance to support themselves and their families. The website has an entire section of goods for men.

Please share other great gift ideas for the man in your life that also give back. We’d love to hear from you!

Is there a “Father’s Day” celebration in your country? If so When? 

This is an original post written by Elizabeth Atalay for Word Moms Blog. Her writing is also found at documama.org.

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

More Posts