The Washington Post, December 2014
Ask your average American about the biggest health challenges for children in poor countries, and you may hear a range of things. Two words you are not likely to hear are “pneumonia” and “diarrhea.” That is because many don’t know that pneumonia and diarrhea are two of the biggest killers of children under the age of five in the developing world. And even more don’t realize that we have many of the solutions we need to end these preventable deaths.
That is why, for the very first time, we at PATH are commemorating World Pneumonia Day (November 12) and World Toilet Day (November 19th) together. While one is a disease and the other a critical tool, in tandem they draw attention to an important point: pneumonia and diarrhea are best tackled together. And, many of the solutions—like certain vaccines, basic sanitation, handwashing with soap, safe drinking water, and adequate nutrition—help defeat both diseases.
On November 18th, PATH and partners will host a “game night” on Capitol Hill to educate Members of Congress and their staff about what it takes to tackle pneumonia and diarrhea in poor countries and specifically the vital contributions of the United States.
Our policy goals are serious, but we’ve found a fun way to focus attention on improving children’s health.
This event will be a celebration of what has been accomplished to drive down child morbidity and mortality over the past 20 years, and an opportunity to learn about needed investments to promote what we know works and where research is needed in a light, fun environment. Participants will play educational games (like “ORS/zinc ball toss” and “I spy health worker”) to figure out answers to scavenger hunt questions. Those who complete the scavenger hunt will receive our exclusive toilet calendar, ”Oh, The Places We Go: Public Health’s Humble Hero.”
By playing, Members of Congress and staff can learn about important investments to deliver lifesaving tools and the need to develop those we don’t yet have. It is our hope, that when budget season comes around, policymakers think back upon what they learned and protect precious programs that have such a critical impact on children and families around the world.
We also hope you’ll raise your voice with us and encourage policymakers to commit to take action to defeat diarrheal disease and pneumonia. Join the conversation on social media at #stateofplay.
-- Erin Fry Sosne, Advocacy and Policy Officer for Child Health, PATH
For more information:
· Earlier this year, WHO and UNICEF launched the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea, the first ever plan to simultaneously tackle the two diseases.
· INFOGRAPHIC: Tackling the Deadliest Diseases for the World’s Poorest Children
Photo credit: PATH