Friday, October 29, 2010

Death by the Preventable

This week, tragedy struck one of our friend's workers family. Their son, who was 4, had been diagnosed with a combination of Chicken Pox and Measles, but seemed to be be fighting the sickness with success. He was running a fever, but still had an appetite and was drinking plenty of fluids. Then on Thursday morning, he told his mom that he needed to vomit. Shortly after vomiting, he passed away.

I can't overemphasize just how often people die here from the preventable. On a daily basis, I pass people in wheelchairs who have been rendered crippled because of polio. It's common to hear of infants of HIV infected mothers who die from severe diarrhea because of being exposed to unclean drinking water in their formula. As we've wrote about in the past, children and elderly die often here because of Malaria. And yes, children die here every day from chicken pox and measles and other preventable diseases. Sometimes, it's just hard to swallow.

So what's the reason or cause? And yes, I know I keep coming back to this subject, but a lot of times it is poverty. Zambia is one of the poorest populations in the world. A majority of the population lives on less than $1 per day. Look at these statistics from the World Health Organization:

+ Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.

+ In 2008, there were 164 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour.

+ More than 95% of measles deaths occur in low-income countries with weak health infrastructures.

+ Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2008 worldwide.

+ In 2008, about 83% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.

Many Zambians just cannot afford simple medicines and vaccines that would prevent a lot of the diseases that are killing people each day.

We have visitors who come from the West all of the time and their reaction is to say "being here shows you just how blessed we are to live in the West. We are very fortunate." While this is very true and a commendable observation, I think it stops a little short of where God wants us to take it. He wants us to be the "Good Samaritans," to go the extra mile, to make the sacrifices necessary to help these who are suffering. I believe he desires for us to say, "Lord bless me so that I may bless others or Thank You for blessing me, how may I use what you have given me (both materially and spiritually) to show your love to those who are hurting." He's calling us all to more than thankfulness.

One way that you can be a blessing to this family, today, would be to lift them up in prayer. The funeral is at 8:00 am this morning. Pray for peace and comfort for the parents and siblings as they mourn the loss of their dear child & brother. Pray also for Warren and Vicki as they mourn and minister alongside this family.

1 comment:

Christy said...

Unbelievable. It's painful to read about ... I just can't imagine being surrounded by such suffering every day.