I am not really an optimist…no big surprise to the people nearest and dearest to me. I try to be. I want to be. Alas….not. Optimism is counter intuitive to me. So this weekend….on the ride home from visiting my mom, I was challenged by a few quotes I read in a blog post on the Rebel God website. (I was able to read on this trip because Keith came along. It was nice having his company….and he drove!!! Leaving me hands free to play with my new IPad on the trip there and back!!!)
"We used to say that 40,000 children die each day from preventable causes. In the 1990s, that number dropped to 33,000 per day. By 2008, it dropped again to 24,000. Now it is down to 21,000. That means that in a generation we cut that number in half.
1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty today. That's a staggering amount, but let's put those numbers in perspective: In 1981 52% of the world lived in extreme poverty. Today it's 26%. Again, that means we have cut the number in half, and we did it in one generation."
As Scott Todd explains, there are many reasons for this unprecedented progress,
"Over 600 million people gained access to safe drinking water since 1990. This, along with an increased awareness of the nutrition in breast milk and the use of oral rehydration therapy, explain why water-borne diseases are no longer the leading cause of death for children under five. We are simply executing the practical strategies that work.
Vaccinations are another example of a practical, life-saving strategy. 733,000 children died of measles in 2000; but, that number dropped by 2008 to 164,000–a 78% reduction in only eight years. Simply using the vaccines that we’ve had for decades is saving hundreds of thousands of children every year."
Wow…and there are people who actually think we can end extreme poverty in our generation. And there are lots of initiatives and programs and individuals working toward that goal.
Another thing that struck me in the quote above was the dramatic drop in deaths due to measles… attributed to the vaccines we have readily available in this country.
A soap box issue of mine…..those folks who refuse to vaccinate their children without a really good medical reason. It’s only because of people like me….who chose to vaccinate our children in spite of the minimal risk….that they even have that option. If measles and diphtheria….pertussis…polio…. and the other diseases kids are routinely vaccinated against were rampant here in the States, they would not have that luxury. Families like mine helped eradicate those diseases. Families like theirs threaten to bring them back to life.
Many look on vaccinations as a plague…an evil forced upon the unsuspecting public by the big pharmaceutical companies. Most of those 733,000 kids who died in 2000 didn’t have the option. I choose to look upon the vaccines we have available as a privilege rather than an arbitrary harm forced on our kids. And yes, I did the research before I vaccinated Matthew, my firstborn….with great trepidation and concern. I know there are risks. I signed the consent forms that listed them in several pages of small print detail. There ARE risks, I know that….but perhaps, in addition to protecting my own children from diseases that are, indeed, making a comeback in this country, I did it for the greater good?
I digressed from the initial point of this post….but will leave it as is…hoping that I have not offended anyone who reads here. This is one of those hot button topics. At least for me it is. Comments are, of course, welcome.