I believe in giving credit where credit is due, so I feel the need to highlight something really great that the American government did in 2011 to stabilize economies and enhance peace abroad. What’s that? Providing life-saving HIV treatment for 13 million people.
That’s right, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), USAID provided crucial HIV treatment for 13 million people last year. 13 million teachers and nurses and business men and students and mothers and fathers and babies. A generation kept alive through medicines that used to be unavailable in poor places. In the best yearly Mother’s Day present ever, PEPFAR provided the medicines to prevent HIV from spreading from 660,000 HIV-positive infected women to their babies. That means that more than 200,000 infants were born HIV-free who would have otherwise been infected. Best Mother’s Day present ever.
The system of clinics with which I work in Kenya is supported through PEPFAR, and I get to see how lives are changed for the 130,000 patients we have cared for in those clinics. Mercy, who is back in school and telling me all about her dreams to become a scientist. James, who just started walking and could not be more plump and cute. Joyce, who cried tears of joy when I told her that her baby was uninfected thanks to the medicines she had taken during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Beatrice, who used to be the child “people would move away from because of the sores all over her body.” Now, she is a healthy eighth-grader, planning her high school coursework. Lives changed. We say, “Thanks!”
PEPFAR released their annual report about their work to Congress, and I can only rejoice in the good that has been done. Sure, we could argue about whether more could have been done or how funds should best be allocated in the future, but this is still a great thing. 13 million lives.
P.S. – No one from PEPFAR paid me to write this or endorsed this blog in any way. Just one thankful physician-researcher expressing her honest gratitude.
If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she’s gonna call me Point B…
Sharing this poetry performance by Sarah Kay was among my gifts for my mom on this day to celebrate mothers. Watch the first 4 minutes in honor of your mother or your children or yourself as a caregiver of children.
When it comes to issues of motherhood, there is one issue I care about: some kids don’t have one.
I thought that this blog entry at Rage Against the Minivan was particularly great in the midst of all the mothering discussions this week. Inspiring and a reminder to focus on what’s most important.
Need to soften the blow of a harsh message about restroom etiquette? SLAM. There I am.
Concerned mothers may not like the language on this one, but “I’m Comic Sans” has to make typography snobs (or design wannabes) everywhere laugh. McSweeney’s is one of my trusty fall-backs when I need another smile, which I needed today. And I have not found a funnier monologue than this old favorite.
My Kenyan dog is a great runner (at least for a slow one like me.) Seeing the transformation of this former orphaned street puppy with a badly broken leg into a spry and speedy companion reminds me that small, wounded creatures have a marvelous capacity for healing.
I think I need to start referring to my “running” as “jogging.” I was much amused by this quote from my friend Justyn on her blog Dunia Duara:
* The word jogging has gone out of favor since the 80s. I am bringing is back. It sounds much better than saying, “I was running, at a snails pace”. Wiki says :
Jogging is a form of trotting or running at a slow or leisurely pace. The main intention is to increase physical fitness with less stress on the body than from faster running.
That pretty much covers it
(Justyn is a talented photographer with four lovely children who I adore. Her blog makes it looks like the world’s most beautiful adventure to have and home-school four children. And I suspect for her it is.)
I have been feeling rather smug about my regular snails’ pace running in light of the recent publicity about research on the benefits of running. You get virtually all of the benefits of running (better heart health, longer life expectancy) with the most basic running routine – 30 minutes, 3 times a week. Good news for me, as I am definitely the most minimal of regular runners (ahem, joggers.)
I have begun to think that maybe our third book should be called “I’ve told you 100 times…” I keep seeing myths that we have debunked over and over again (sugar makes kids’ hyper, you need to stretch before you run, you need 8 glasses of water a day, the G-spot confusion) repeated in magazines and news stories. Maybe we’ll do a collection of these myths that we can’t seem to get rid of.
I love coconut and all things coconut-flavored. I had the best coconut ice cream I’ve ever tried last week. It was actually a coconut sorbet made with coconut milk, by Ciao Bella. This vegan delicacy was so good that it made me fleetingly think of becoming vegan just so that I would have a reasonable excuse to eat copious quantities of this stuff.
I took the two dogs with me on a short walk to get ice cream from the Dairy Queen the other night. Although I regularly walk both of the dogs together, I underestimated how their enthusiasm over the ice cream would create leash- and leg-tangling chaos. I also did not anticipate that the taller Kenyan dog would pee on the pug’s head. Nor did I realize the extent to which is it difficult to hold ice cream and two leashes. Nonetheless, dairy delights prevailed!
I recently read an article all about how to distinguish “real” gelato from “fake” gelato in Rome. (It’s all about what is naturally flavored and hand-crafted.) Now, I feel I must return to Rome for some serious gelato-investigating detective work.
Duncan Baumgarten is 11 years old and wants to be a pediatrician.
For a big school project, he has been considering the issue that I work on all the time – what is it like to be a child in Kenya taking medicines for HIV? Duncan read through the stories I have collected from HIV-infected adolescents in Kenya who talk about what it means to be on all these medicines that you have to take twice a day, every day. He listened carefully to these stories on paper, shared by kids around his age across the ocean.
These older kids in Kenya describe a lot of problems with taking their medicines. They grow tired of the medicines. They wrestle keeping the medicines secret and trying to seem normal when they are around their friends. The medicines spill and get lost and have to be remembered every, single day. Their families are often in chaos; they are the unwanted, orphaned nephew or the burdensome granddaughter who requires money for food and school and traveling to clinic. They face so many challenges in taking these medicines every, single day. Even though we know that these HIV medicines are vital to keeping them alive into adulthood…
As part of his project, Duncan painted this amazing picture capturing some of what the Kenyan adolescents were sharing in their stories – their challenges with all these medicines to be taken every single day and how often they miss doses of their medicines.
I thought it captured perfectly the daily struggle of taking HIV medicines – so many medicines, so many days, and so many things that can go wrong in taking all of those doses. I also think Duncan is on his way to being an excellent pediatrician. Listening to your patients and their families is job number one.