Water, Sanitation & Hygiene

Drink Malawi Study Aims to Reduce Childhood Deaths

Every year 750,000 children die from diarrheal disease.  This means in Malawi, nearly one out of every five children will not live to see their fifth birthday.   What compounds the tragedy is that these diseases are preventable and treatable.

Most diarrheal disease-related deaths are due to dehydration.  Since 1978, there has been a standard Oral Rehydration Solution or “ORS” – a mixture of clean water, salt, and sugar to replace fluids and electrolytes.  This mixture is safe, effective, and inexpensive, and it can be administered quickly and easily with no special training.

So, why are so many children still dying?   It may be because mothers cannot get their children to drink ORS, because it tastes very salty, describing it as “drinking the ocean in glass.”  Many sick children reject the life-saving drink, too young to understand the fatal consequences.

Africare and the University of Malawi have teamed up to find a solution.  Through the DRINK MALAWI Project at The Institute for Child Wellness in Africa, and with support from the Jackson Kemper Foundation, TICWA investigators are assessing a fortified new formula* that is more pleasant-tasting and therefore likely to save more children.  The unique balance of salts and sugars with fast-absorbing citrate gives it a pleasant taste.  Through DRINK MALAWI, we believe that Africare and TICWA are on the brink of revolutionizing dehydration treatment and saving hundreds of thousands of children from a cruel, preventable death.

 

*In partnership with the DripDrop Foundation

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Helping Children’s Brains as well as their Bodies Recover from Malnutrition

Millions of children in Africa go hungry every year. These children suffer during the formative years of their physical and mental development.  Tragically, when a child’s body and mind are denied essential nourishment, they can face many consequences, from stunting to decreased IQ and learning challenges to death.

Health workers and researchers who have watched children suffer from life-threatening malnutrition, specifically severe acute malnutrition (SAM), have armed themselves with emergency treatment tools.  One such tool is Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food.  RUTF, as it is referred to, revolutionized the treatment of SAM for children in Africa a decade ago, saving an estimated 25 million lives to date.  Its widespread use doubled recovery rates from 45% to 90% for what often was a terminal condition in small African countries like Malawi.  When RUTF was developed, the emphasis was on reducing deaths and creating a food with a stable shelf life that promoted recovery and could be used at home.  RUTF was made from locally available crops – peanuts, palm oil, and soybeans.  Today, 3 million children with SAM are treated with RUTF annually.

While RUTF has proven effective in improving children’s physical recovery, recently the same Malawian investigators who developed RUTF believe that the current standard formula is inadequate to stimulate brain recovery.

Africare is working in partnership with Project Peanut Butter, Washington University, Cornell University, University of Texas, and the University of Malawi at The Institute for Child Wellness in Africa to test a new RUTF formula that can support physical growth and provide the fatty acids necessary for brain development. The clinical trial, funded by Unorthodox Philanthropy, Open Society, and Washington University, is testing a slight adjustment in the formula, using newly-available non-GMO high-oleic peanuts. The findings of this study could change the management of malnutrition around the world to emphasize mental development, as well as physical recovery, and create a new global protocol –protecting children’s bodies and minds from the life-long repercussions of malnutrition.

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Africare and Merck Partner to Build a Better Future for the Children of Africa

Africare and Merck & Co., Inc.* collaborated this year to continue our commitment to building bright, vibrant futures for Africa’s children.

Through the MSD Fellowship for Global Health, three Merck employees spent three months in Malawi with Africare to focus on the development of a five-year strategic plan for The Institute for Child Wellness in Africa (TICWA).   With expertise in strategic planning, clinical research, and communication & stakeholder engagement, the Merck Fellows developed a clear roadmap to accelerate TICWA’s success.

“After speaking to over fifty officials from local Ministries, academic institutions, NGOs, and the funder community, we were heartened to learn that the experts that live and breathe in this space see a tangible, palpable need for TICWA to fill in a large gap in global efforts to advance child development and wellness in resource-limited settings.  Africare, through TICWA, is uniquely positioned to drive important translational research to improve child wellness in Malawi and throughout Africa”.   – David Hauben, Merck Fellow.

Thanks to Merck, Africare has a stronger strategic plan to ensure that TICWA is well positioned to advance its mission to keep children well and help them thrive.  Our heartfelt thanks go out to Merck Fellows Shobhna Gopal-Truter, David Hauben, and Susie Wood for their invaluable contributions in Malawi.

 

* Known as MSD outside U.S. and Canada

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Young Humanitarian Makes the World Even

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Nathaniel

Nathaniel Crossley is a young humanitarian living in Fort McMurray, Alberta. At the age of 13, he has a strong desire to “make the world even.” He has worked with the African Well Fund to build wells in Tanzania and has fundraised for projects of his own by partnering with his school and community. Nathaniel has been working to raise money for his project “Sports4Africa” in order to send sports equipment to African schools and is also working on his first documentary called The Kilimanjaro Project. Nathaniel plans to return to Africa on his 16th birthday to revisit the three schools that he has helped over the years.

“I want to make the world even: I want everyone to have the same rights, freedoms, and access to things we have in the first world.” –Nathaniel Crossley

Please tell me a little more about yourself and how you became involved with fundraising.

I’d say I’m your average 13-year-old boy. I enjoy gaming, building computers, hanging out, biking with friends and Pokémon. I enjoy different sports including rock climbing, badminton, soccer, football, swimming and I curl competitively.

It was mainly because of what I saw Ryan Hreljac* do for the people in Africa and what my dad was doing as a humanitarian.

*As a child, Ryan Hreljac raised money in response to the global water crisis, and has since raised millions of dollars for projects in Africa.

Why did you decide to raise money for sports equipment in particular?

When I visited the three schools in Tanzania, I enjoyed meeting many of the children and even played a game of football (soccer) with them. I was shocked to learn that the school only had one soccer ball for over 1000 kids. The schools were in desperate need of equipment. A few of the kids requested new equipment and I came up with the idea of Sports4Africa a few minutes later.  That’s when I decided to fundraise again to purchase sporting equipment for the three schools I visited.

All kids should have the ability to play and deserve the tools or equipment to do so. I want these kids to have some of the same opportunities that I do.

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How did you learn about Africare and why did you decide to entrust your donations to Africare?

When I chose the African Well Fund for fundraising in 2012-13, I found out that Africare was the parent organization. My school, Father Patrick Mercredi High School, partnered with me, and along with community donations, I raised more than $2000 CAN. Originally I planned to purchase the equipment in Canada and ship it to Tanzania, and then my mom thought we should be supporting the local African economy so we started to look for suppliers in Tanzania. My mom and I struggled to find a supplier online so we decided to ask Africare to source out a company for us. They agreed and also offered to transport the sports equipment directly to the three schools.

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Tell me more about The Kilimanjaro Project.

It is the documentary which I am currently producing with some local filmmakers about my adventures through Africa and my current project, Sports4Africa.

The Kilimanjaro Project is a deal that I made with Arlene Dickinson, a Canadian entrepreneur and former TV personality on the show Dragons Den. She would give me a GoPro (what I used to film the footage) if I teamed up with local filmmakers. Some of the challenges with the documentary is the fact that my computer has been having “technical difficulties” which makes it very hard to edit and produce. One victory was when we finally got a committed filmmaker to do the project.

Describe your favorite trip to Africa/ your favorite part about Africa.

My favorite part had to have been visiting the three schools in Tanzania and seeing how grateful the students, teachers and parents were for my efforts to provide them sanitization stations and a rain water collector.

What inspires you and what are your goals for the future?

It inspires me when someone does something for an area or person to enhance their quality of life. My goal is for everyone to have access to what we have in the west – adequate health care, clean water, etc.

Recent Tweet from Africare’s Kendra Davenport:

“Never underestimate the power of one – even one as young as @TheLegoFly.  Thanks Nathaniel.  You’re inspiring us to do more & be better!”

You can see the trailer to Nathaniel’s The Kilimanjaro Project here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEPMjbv9P38

Africare to honor Nathaniel

Africare will recognize Nathaniel’s dedication to improve African lives at the Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner Gala in Washington, D.C., on December 5, 2015, one of the largest fundraising events for Africa in the United States. For more information about the annual event and to reserve your seat, please click on this link. Hope to see you there!

This Donor Spotlight was written by Africare summer high school intern Hailey Voell.  Hailey will begin her senior  year next month at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Virginia.  Her mini- internship was spent in Africare’s Development and Communications Department.

 

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