January 10, 2005
The numbers have been
"BANDA ACEH, Indonesia
(CP) - Two weeks after a tsunami slammed into coastlines around
the Indian Ocean, thousands of bodies were still being pulled
out of the mud in remote villages, as the official death toll
from the catastrophe rose above 150,000. In a rare positive note,
the World Health Organization said no major disease outbreaks
have been reported in the crowded camps where millions have sought
refuge after losing everything. ... The UN agency has warned that
disease could put as many as 150,000 survivors 'at extreme risk'
- doubling the disaster's toll."
There are additional
devastating and incomprehensible numbers that do not make it to
the front pages.
"Every year in the
developing world 12.2 million children under 5 years die, most
of them from causes which could be prevented for just a few US
cents per child. They die largely because of world indifference,
but most of all they die because they are poor."
Here are some more numbers
that are more than just numbers:
"Almost one third
of young children in developing countries are malnourished --
150 million are underweight for their age, while another 175 million
are stunted from chronic malnourishment."
The "number of people
who go to bed hungry: more than 800 million
"number of people
who die every day from hunger and related causes: 24,000."
And malnutrition is only
part of the problem....
"Today malaria is
found throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the
world and causes more than 300 million acute illnesses and at
least one million deaths annually."
"Every year in the
developing world acute respiratory infections, particularly pneumonia,
kill more than 4 million children under 5 years - one death every
8 seconds - and are a leading cause of disability."
And there are the diseases
no one wants to talk about...
resulting from unsafe water and poor sanitation coupled with poor
food-handling practices, are responsible for a further 3 million
deaths a year among children under age 5 in the developing world
- one every 10 seconds... Many of the deaths from diarrhoea could
be prevented by using oral rehydration salts, which cost just
US $0.07 on average."
And the diseases that
periodically make it into the news...
"AIDS deaths in
2004 Total 3.1 million [including 510,000] Children under 15 years."
The world health situation is filled with incomprehensible numbers.
The recent Tsunami has helped to add more lives to these numbers
while bringing attention to some of the health issues that many
around the world face every day. Whether it is 150,000 people
or 12 million, it can be difficult to grasp the humanity of the
Questions of the Week:
What can people do with these numbers in their minds when they
hear them? How can they process them and/or put them in perspective?
How can people living in areas less affected by such tragedy personally
deal with this information mentally, emotionally, and physically?
How can these health issues affect you, your peers, and your community?
What impact can you have upon these issues? How would your answers
to these questions change if you lived in a different part of
the world or in a different community?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum