Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Good Life Begins with Good Health

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Dear Friend,

Dr. Omeonga Senga, an Ebola survivor and general surgeon at St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital, consultants a young patient and his father prior to surgery. CRS' support has helped St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital reopen, keep health care workers safe and communities healthy. Photo by Michael Stulman/CRS

Dr. Omeonga Senga, an Ebola survivor and general surgeon at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, consultants a young patient and his father prior to surgery. CRS’ support has helped St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital reopen, keep health care workers safe and communities healthy. Photo by Michael Stulman/CRS

“At least we have our health.”

So many times you hear those words on TV spoken by someone after a natural disaster—a flood, a hurricane, a tornado—often as the person stands next to the ruins of a home. As upset as they are over the loss of their material possessions, they are letting you know that they realize what’s important.

Physical health is one of the cornerstones on which we build our lives, on which we build our societies, our economies. Striving for every one of us to be as healthy as possible—in every country of the world, no matter how poor—is striving for the dignity and hope that God intended for each of us. It is an expression of the respect that we have for life itself.

When we think of health, often we think of doctors and medicine, of treating disease. And that is an important part of what we do at Catholic Relief Services. During the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa, we worked with the Church and local governments both to stem the spread of the infection and to treat those suffering from the disease.

As the epidemic abated, we helped reopen St. Joseph’s Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, which had closed when Ebola tragically decimated its staff. It is now functioning at a higher level than ever. We did the same in Haiti after the earthquake there, helping the important Catholic teaching hospital St. François de Sales to rebuild and provide even better medical care and training.

It is this kind of work at CRS that leads us to realize what those people standing next to their destroyed homes understand: health is so much more than caring for the sick, as important as that is. In fact, health is so fundamental that almost everything that we do for the poor around the world addresses it.

In this briefing, you can read about a CRS microfinance program that allows people in Benin villages to pay for health insurance. This is not the kind of health work you might see from some humanitarian organizations—rushing in, treating the sick, then leaving. That certainly helps people, but this is thinking about health in a different way, putting in place a sustainable system that will be foundational to good health in these communities for generations.

The same is true of many of our agriculture programs. We know hunger is not just a matter of having enough to eat. It is having the right kinds of foods to eat—not just calories, but proper nutrients.

So in Africa right now we encourage the planting of staple crops like maize, as well as legumes and other vegetables. These add important variety to diets, and help protect and replenish depleted soil, so plots can continue to provide sustenance for years to come.

Other CRS programs seek to determine the nutrients needed in the first years of life. Good nutrition helps babies and children avoid stunting—a failure to grow and develop properly that will affect their health for the rest of their lives.

And more than just food, many medical historians say that the single most important health advancement in history was the provision of clean water, so many lives were spared by stopping the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera. Look no further than Flint, Michigan, to see how much we rely on functioning water systems in our country.

At CRS, we work around the world to provide people with reliable sources of clean, safe water. In Ethiopia, local water committees ensure that deadly minerals are removed from water pulled from deep wells. In Madagascar, we assisted in the development of a public-private partnership to see that clean water is delivered consistently to poor neighborhoods.

And, of course, the health of thousands is guarded from the scourge of violence by our peacebuilding work going on right now in places like the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

So let us toast, “To your health!” And to the health that God intended for every one of us, wherever we live.

May blessings overflow,

Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
President & CEO

The Happiest Birthday

Friday, June 20th, 2014

By Benjamin Backe

Amid the ruins of the Cagayan de Oro flooding emergency of 2011, CRS met this Filipina girl, celebrating her fifth  birthday in her family's badly damaged home.  For many children around the world, reaching the age of 5 can mean the difference between life and death. Photo by Jennifer Hardy/CRS

Amid the ruins of the Cagayan de Oro flooding emergency of 2011, CRS met this Filipina girl, celebrating her fifth birthday in her family’s badly damaged home. For many children around the world, reaching the age of 5 can mean the difference between life and death. Photo by Jennifer Hardy/CRS.

This year, 6 million more healthy children are turning 5.

During the week of June 23, members of the 5th Birthday and Beyond Coalition, including faith-based organizations, secular NGO’s, members of Congress, and representatives from partners around the nation and around the world, are meeting in Washington, DC, to celebrate what has been achieved in the campaign for child survival over the last 25 years, particularly for children under 5 years of age.

Throughout the developing world, the most uncertain time in a child’s life is from conception until her or his 5th birthday. It is during these years that the child is especially vulnerable to threats such as disease and malnutrition. Every year the lives of millions of such children are lost to pneumonia, measles, Malaria, AIDS and starvation.


Immunization, Cucumbers and Civil Society

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

by Brenda Hegarty

I was digging worms out my cucumber (the African equivalent of ‘organic’ labelling) when my neighbor trundled into my compound with her belly as swollen as a gestating giraffe’s.

“Foreign girl,” she said (a term of endearment…I’m told). “I’m dying. You’ve got to help me.” She sat down on my compost heap and started moaning. “The doctor says I have malaria and typhoid. My head hurts. I’m exhausted. And I can’t move myself in any sense of the word.”

I was surprised. I told her she was the first person I had ever met who had typhoid.

She stared at me. “What are you talking about, you strange creature? Everyone gets typhoid.”


Somalia Refugees: Hygiene Trainer Measures Up

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

In a refugee camp in northern Kenya, someone is teaching people how to wash their hands properly. The demonstrator lathers the soap, pours water, and rubs her hands together in a circular motion. She works slowly and systematically, making sure her nails are clean too. A crowd of children gathers, watching. Their “teacher” is three years old.

Read the rest of the story here.

Video: Peril and Paradise for Pregnant Women

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Lane Hartill’s video on the perils of pregnancy in Guinea-Bissau is CRS’ most-viewed on our Youtube channel. It’s both a chilling and poignant look at the hardships pregnant women face in many parts of the world.

Edgy in Egypt: Bird Flu Worries Egg Fan

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
Egypt birds

CRS helps impoverished Egyptians prevent deadly bird flu by educating women poultry raisers about the disease. It also runs vaccination campaigns. Photo by CRS staff

Until I moved to Cairo, I was never scared of eggs. They were incredible, edible. Plenty of protein in a little white package. What’s not to like?

I am now very, very afraid of eggs. I don’t cook with them much, and when I do, I spend quite a while cleaning their suspect gunky shells with surgical precision-rinsing, gently scrubbing them, soaking them in a water-vinegar solution-all with thick gloves on. Making Duncan Hines brownies from a box (yes, they sell it here) takes a lot longer than it used to.

Egypt is one of the top three countries on the world watch list for avian influenza, a strain of flu that can leap from sick birds to humans if the humans are in close enough contact with poultry. It’s not just a flu that knocks you out with fever and keeps you home from work for a week; it’s deadly. Approximately 60 people have contracted bird flu in Egypt since February 2006, and of those, more than a third died from it. The scenarios that scientists paint of a worldwide epidemic remind me of a Stephen King novel.

Ambulances to the Rescue for HIV+ Kenyans

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Debbie DeVoe, CRS regional information officer in East Africa, reports on a recent ambulance delivery.

Kenya ambulances

By providing six ambulances to local health partners, the CRS-led AIDSRelief consortium is increasing community access to HIV services. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS.

Six local health partners in Kenya received brand-new ambulances for HIV service delivery from the CRS-led AIDSRelief consortium last week. Funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the ambulances will enable the six mission hospitals to transport extremely ill patients and extend service outreach in remote communities.

“We are investing in the people working on the frontiers of the HIV epidemic,” said Hanna Dagnachew, chief of party for AIDSRelief Kenya. “The services we are helping our partners to offer and the success rates they are achieving are worthy of honor in even the most developed countries.”

World Toilet Day: Arbor Loos in the News

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Abraham Desta, a Catholic bishop in Meki, Ethiopia visited Milwaukee and talked to editors and reporters of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. His visit resulted in, among other things, an article by Patrick McIlheran on how a little can go a long way in helping people across the globe.

The article quotes Milwaukee Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan, head of CRS’s board, and mentions use of arbor loos, described in Voices in November.

McIlheran wrote: “World Toilet Day wasn’t invented to sell either cards or plumbing. Rather, Nov. 18 was the day on which one was reminded that roughly 2.5 billion people around the world lack what the United Nations calls “improved sanitation” – anything from a pit latrine on up.”

“… As the absurdity of World Toilet Day reminds you, even a few dollars can do good.”

HIV Fight Finds Voice in Liberian Woman

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

CRS information officer for West Africa, Lane Hartill, attended this weekend the Pan African Christian AIDS Network Conference in Dakar. CRS Senegal helped organize it. He met Africans from across the continent working on HIV and AIDS issues. But one lady from Liberia
stood out. Here’s her story.

Liberian woman

Cynthia Gonleh an HIV positive Liberian talks with at-risk young people, lectures Church groups, and is a frequent guest on radio shows in Monrovia. Photo by Lane Hartill/CRS.

I was at the Pan African Christian AIDS Network Conference yesterday. It’s a gathering of people, most of who are affiliated with the Christian Church, interested in fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa.

The day’s sessions rolled out as expected, and lively discussions got going. In one session on orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), a man from South Africa said grandmothers should be included in programs for OVCs because they are often the primary care givers. People nodded in agreement. A woman from Denmark said that orphans need a voice in the decision making process. After all, they know what it’s like to live on the streets, not a bunch of executives in offices. Again, more nods.

HIV Caregivers Feted in Zambia

Monday, December 1st, 2008
AIDS orphans

Two CRS caregivers attend the Zambia Caregiver and Volunteer Appreciation Day in Lusaka on Nov. 26. Photo by Paul Macek/CRS.

CRS volunteers were among those honored during Zambia Caregivers Appreciation Day on Nov. 25 which feted some 18,500 people who provide home-based care for HIV and AIDS patients as part of the PEPFAR-funded RAPIDS program.

At the main celebration at a sports complex in the capital Lusaka, CRS country representative Paul Macek introduced caregiver Nora Tabita Chama to the distinguished guests, which included Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, and the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, Donald Booth.