News and Views

Issues Affecting Children Around the World

By: Paul Moede and Tim Glenn   |   Posted: May 23, 2012

Practical Interventions Sting Malaria Rates

Compassion is seeing some great strides in the fight against malaria in two African countries, due in part to training programs offered through local partner churches.

In Burkina Faso, 71 caregivers learned about the disease and how to avoid it through house cleaning, eliminating stagnant water sources, using insecticide-treated bed nets, and clearing rubbish in their immediateenvironments.

Caregivers were also encouraged to take their children to medical centers when their children show signs of malaria — something they were reluctant to do in the past.

In Togo, more than 4,500 bed nets have been distributed through Compassion church partners. Gouta-Davi K. Honore, the attending physician for children at one Compassion center in Togo, says the average number of children coming into the clinic each month for malaria treatment has dropped from 40 to about six.

One mother told us, “I did not earn much money, but the little I had I was using to pay the hospital expenses either for my child or for myself. I want to thank the program for the supply of bed nets because today my money is no longer used to cure a disease that I could easily avoid.”

Study: Poverty Solutions Begin in Infancy

The New York Times has reported in an op-ed piece by columnist Nicholas D. Kristof that when it comes to poverty, “the most effective window to bring about change isn’t high school or even kindergarten … but in the early years of life, or even before birth.”

These findings, released by the American Academy of Pediatrics and based on two decades of research, point to the “toxic stress” that results when children are subjected to consistent neglect. This can be as basic as failing to comfort a crying child or as traumatic as beatings and threats from an abusive or alcoholic parent.

The results in educational attainment and health are long lasting. “The upshot is that children are sometimes permanently undermined,” Kristof writes.

Kristof’s conclusion underscores in principle the value of a personal, nurturing approach early in life. “The science is still accumulating. But a compelling message from biology is that if we want to chip away at poverty and improve educational and health outcomes, we have to start earlier. For many children, damage has been suffered before the first day of school.”

Compassion-assisted children — from infants to young adults — are part of a program in which being known, loved and protected are bedrocks of the child development ministry. Mothers in Compassion’s Child Survival Program, for example, receive regular home visits from specialists.

Their pregnancies are monitored and mothers are trained to provide the skills that nurture their babies’ health, nutrition and social development.

To read Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed column, access www.nytimes.com and link to “A Poverty Solution That Starts With a Hug,” January 7, 2012.