Saturday, July 28, 2007

5 for Fighting

I wanted to use this post to tell you all about Doctors Without Borders (Medicans Sans Frontiers, aka MSF), the charity I'm blogging to raise money for today.

From MSF's website, since they say it better than I can this early ;)

"Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an independent international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters, or exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries.

Each year, MSF doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation experts, administrators, and other medical and non-medical professionals depart on more than 4,700 aid assignments. They work alongside more than 25,800 locally hired staff to provide medical care.

In emergencies and their aftermath, MSF provides essential health care, rehabilitates and runs hospitals and clinics, performs surgery, battles epidemics, carries out vaccination campaigns, operates feeding centers for malnourished children, and offers mental health care. When needed, MSF also constructs wells and dispenses clean drinking water, and provides shelter materials like blankets and plastic sheeting.

Through longer-term programs, MSF treats patients with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, and HIV/AIDS, and provides medical and psychological care to marginalized groups such as street children."

A few examples of what your donations can provide:

$15- A month of clean water for refugees

$35- Two high-energy meals a day to 200 children

$50 - Vaccinations for 50 people against meningitis, measles, polio or other deadly epidemics

$70 - Two basic suture kits to repair minor shrapnel wounds

Infection-fighting antibiotics to treat nearly 40 wounded children

A sterilization kit for syringes and needles used in mobile vaccination campaigns

A medical kit containing basic drugs, supplies, equipment, and dressings to treat 1,500 patients for three months

When you live in a country where things like clean water and basic medical care are taken for granted, it's hard to picture what it's like elsewhere in the world where the simple everyday things just don't exist. There are places where thousands of people die from things like the measels, just because they don't have access to the drugs that will prevent it.

One of my favorite parts of what MSF does is their campaign for access to essential medicines.

Of the estimated 40 million people currently infected with HIV, 28 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease has orphaned thirteen million children. Drugs are available now that make it possible to live with HIV much better than in the past, but in most of the developing world, where they're needed the most, they simply aren't available, or are too expensive.

Malaria kills between 1 and 2 million people every year. The most vulnerable are young children in remote rural areas, pregnant women, and refugees. Malaria hits poor and rural communities more than any other disease. In some regions, malaria has taken on epidemic proportions. This is mainly the result of armed conflicts, mass population displacements, economic crises and climatic changes. Unlike HIV, malaria CAN be cured, although some strains are becoming drug resistant.

Both of these diseases are focused on by the Access to Essential Medicines campaign. MSF is working to make the drugs to treat HIV, malaria, and other life threatening diseases available to people who need them. They've made it possible for people who would be dead otherwise to go on living normal lives.

I planned to say a lot more about MSF, but this is already quite long, so I'll stop here for now!
I do want to share another YouTube video here- This is Part 1 of Angelina Jolie's video diary from a trip to Africa, where she saw exactly the sort of conditions that MSF is working to improve.

I'm incredibly inspired by her- while other celebrities are out getting arrested for drunk driving and falling in and out of rehab, she's making a difference by bringing issues like this to the attention of the public. I read her book about her work with the UNHCR earlier this year, and I was amazed that her first trip to Africa with them was when she was 25- the age I am now. She also looks eerily like me on the cover.

Finally, here's a beautifully done 45 second AIDS awareness video put out by MSF:

Coming up in the next post- something cheerier, I promise!

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