THE END OF DENGUE?
Dengue fever kills nearly 20,000 people every year — many of whom are children. But a French drug manufacturer may be close to creating a vaccine that could prevent millions of infections — and save thousands of lives. Researchers at Paris-based Sanofi are getting ready to test the three-stage vaccine on 4,000 children in Thailand, with hopes of marketing the inoculation by 2015.
Dengue virus is spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito and can cause intense joint and muscle pain. The World Health Organization reports that there has been a 30-fold jump in cases over the past 50 years. Dengue has been a serious health issue since the 18th century, but it became a pandemic after World War II because of military troop movements throughout the Pacific Theatre — where the mosquito is very common. During that war alone, some 90,000 American troops were hospitalized with dengue.
MALNOURISHED CHILDREN IN AFRICA RECEIVE LIFELINE
In the Sahel region of Africa (west and central Africa), between 7 million and 12 million people are in need of emergency assistance due to food insecurity. Drought, locusts, blister beetles and the migration of families and their livestock are taking their toll on agricultural areas. The area is desperate for rain. Food costs have skyrocketed. Oxfam International, a confederation of organizations working to end poverty and injustice around the world, reports that many vulnerable families spend up to 80 percent of their income on food alone.
The U.S. State Department recently announced that it is increasing aid to the Sahel region to $200 million this fiscal year. The aid will provide lifesaving food for malnourished children and will help develop small-scale projects and infrastructure to withstand future drought and establish lasting food security.
INFANT MORTALITY DECLINING IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Infant mortality has declined in the Dominican Republic, according to the World Bank. In January 2000, there were 33 deaths for every 1,000 live births. That number dropped to an all-time low of 23.5 last year.
Compassion church partners are working throughout the Dominican Republic to bring those numbers even lower.
As part of the Child Survival Program, churches like Iglesia Metodista Libre Casa de Restauracion (House of Restoration Free Methodist Church) have organized training meetings to provide expectant mothers with medical care and teach them how to keep themselves and their growing babies healthy. Pastors and public health doctors host the training sessions and speak on topics ranging from prenatal care to breast cancer prevention.
NICARAGUAN PASTORS TACKLE DRUG PROBLEM
In Nicaragua, Compassion’s church partners are working to fight a growing drug problem in their communities. In addition to teaching kids about the consequences of drug abuse, the churches are also focusing on drug-addicted parents of Compassion-assisted children. And they are beginning to see results.
"Our church celebrates evangelistic campaigns in the community," one pastor says, "where we share testimonies of church members who were totally submerged in drugs, touched bottom, but nowadays are completely restored through our Lord. We tell them that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us."