News and Views - Compassion Magazine Fall 2013

By Willow Welter   |   Posted: October 1, 2013


  |   Posted: October 01, 2013


Excitement is growing in India about a rotavirus vaccine that could be available by next year. If approved, it will be the first low-priced rotavirus vaccine developed in India.

“This is an important scientific breakthrough against rotavirus infections, the most severe and lethal cause of childhood diarrhea, responsible for approximately 100,000 deaths of small children in India each year,” says Dr. K. VijayRaghavan, secretary of India’s Department of Biotechnology, which partnered with pharmaceuticals firm Bharat Biotech to develop and test the vaccine. “The clinical results indicate that the vaccine, if licensed, could save the lives of thousands of children each year in India.”

In May, Bharat Biotech and India’s biotechnology department released results of clinical trials showing that their vaccine reduced severe rotavirus-caused diarrhea by 56 percent in a child’s first year of life, with protection continuing into the second year. At the equivalent of $1 per dose, the vaccine will be 40 times cheaper than rotavirus vaccines made by Britain-based GlaxoSmithKline and U.S.-based Merck.

The World Health Organization estimates that rotavirus causes 527,000 deaths each year, most of them among young children in Africa and Asia.


Developing countries with abundant natural resources can make dramatic advances toward universal education by managing their resources better, says a new United Nations study. The study argues that if their governments properly managed revenues from natural resources, the 17 countries studied could raise an extra $5 billion for education each year.

Revenue from the natural resources, if transparently handled by governments and used for education, could enable these countries to reach more than 11 million out-of-school children, the study says. “Many countries have mismanaged the income from their natural resources, have poorly negotiated with extractive companies or have made misguided spending choices,” says Pauline Rose, Director of the Global Monitoring Report. “In some cases, the funds have been channeled into armed conflicts instead of towards education.”

Most low- and middle-income countries that are rich in natural resources have struggled to channel their riches toward sustained development, the study says. Many of these countries have been unprepared to deal with the sudden discovery of an oil field or ore deposits. If countries with recently discovered resources, such as Uganda and Ghana, set aside a significant chunk of revenue for education, they could offer universal schooling, the study found.

PERU’S POVERTY RATE FALLS AGAIN news-and-views_story3-fall-2013.jpg

Continuing a hopeful trend, Peru’s poverty rate fell 2 percentage points last year to 25.8 percent, reported the South American country’s national statistics agency, INEI. Just three years ago, 30.8 percent of Peru’s population lived below the poverty line, according to INEI.

Still, about 7.8 million people live below the poverty line in Peru, including 1.8 million in extreme poverty — defined as living on less than $1.25 per day per person. And it’s worse in rural areas than in cities: 16.6 percent of the urban population lives in poverty, compared with 53 percent in rural areas. And yet, those numbers also have been dropping in recent years.

The statistics agency, which bases its figures on annual household surveys, credits continued economic growth with the decline in Peru’s poverty rate.

The Peruvian economy has grown by an average of 6.4 percent each year since 2002, according to the World Factbook.

CHILDREN NEED HOPE TO THRIVE news-and-views_story4-fall-2013.jpg

The importance of hope among children is catching the interest of researchers, readers and reporters. A new book about the topic has become a best-seller, and a Gallup poll revealing that hope helps students succeed is making headlines.

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough notes that children’s abilities to overcome setbacks are pivotal in developing traits such as optimism, perseverance, grit and curiosity — characteristics that Tough calls “noncognitive skills.” Tough writes that children living in poverty face a significant disadvantage compared with children living in affluence, so developing skills such as optimism and perseverance is crucial for children in poverty.

Meanwhile, a Gallup poll of American high school seniors looked into the hope, engagement and well-being of U.S. students in grades 5 to 12. It found that hope — defined as the combination of ideas, energy and excitement for goals — more accurately predicted students’ success in college than their test scores.

“Helping students uncover their strengths, rather than their weaknesses, and develop their potential should be the paramount focus for education,” writes Eric Cooper, founder and president of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, in an article reflecting on the Gallup poll results.

Compassion has long realized the importance of hope, and our local partners nurture it within sponsored children. Sponsors can incubate hope by encouraging children to think the future will be better and to take specific steps to make it so. At Compassion’s child development centers, children learn that they are loved and that God has a plan for their futures. Many complete “My Plan for Tomorrow,” a guide to help them set goals for success in school and beyond.