Monday, July 25, 2016

                           Every Child’s Life is Precious

During World Immunization Week (April 24-30) organizations around the world raise their voices to educate, promote and increase the rates of immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Why? Because every child’s life is precious!  Yet in developing countries around the world, a child dies every 20 seconds of diseases that can be easily prevented with a vaccine.  When you think that every 20 seconds a child dies (which equals 3 children per minute), 180 will die in an hour and 4320 children will die in a day.  Can you imagine 1440 children dying during your shift of 8 hours at work? I know for many of us here in United States this seems astonishing and incredible, but this is a reality for many mothers and children in developing countries.

As a former nurse, an avid educator and as an advocate for children’s health, I know the impact vaccines have in improving children’s chances to grow healthy and to get an education.  I personally witnessed firsthand the pain and sorrow of mothers when their children were suffering.  I remember their stoic faces as others held back tears while holding their dead children in their arms.  I witnessed how diarrhea took the lives of little children because their mothers did not realize they could die from it.  The sad part is that all of these childhood diseases could have been prevented with a simple vaccine.

Every year I volunteer and travel to do humanitarian missions in developing countries.  My personal focus is to educate the rural community leaders and adults about childhood diseases and of the importance of immunizations as a way to prevent these diseases in their children.  Without regard to the distances and sacrifices they bear, these parents are eager to learn and walk 5-10 hours to get to a clinic to ask for help and receive proper care.  Poverty, malnutrition and lack of education keep these little communities isolated and far away from common notice or knowledge.

I traveled to Uganda with the Shot@life teamand witnessed their Childhood Immunization Family Health Day hosted by UNICEF in the districts of Mumbende and Fort Portal after mosque and church services.  Mothers with their children lined up and waited patiently to receive medical care, some of them having walked 10-15 miles to get their children immunized.  My favorite part was talking to the mothers and listening to their concerns and worries which were not unlike ours.  I met mothers that had lost as many as five children before their 5th birthday.  Other mothers did not name their children until they were sure they would not die young.  In developing countries, many mothers never see their children live to celebrate their 5th birthday.  Instead of celebrating a birthday, they have to prepare for their child’s burial.

I talked to doctors and country representatives of Fort Portal and they told me that 386 children under the age of five will die in one day and that 141,000 children under five are lost annually.  Uganda is one of 30 countries in the world with the highest number of deaths of children in that age group.
I know these mothers and children seem a world far away from us, but they are no different than we are and each child life is precious.  Children everywhere deserve a shot at a healthy life no matter where they live.

The good news is that the worldwide measles vaccination program has resulted in a 79% drop in measles-related deaths (between 2000 and 2014)- and we, here in the U.S., can have an impact on the lives of children around the globe.  Funding for global vaccine programs is less than 1% of the total U.S. budget, but this funding helps save 2.5 million lives every year.

Vaccines don’t just prevent illness!  They give children the chance to grow up healthy, attend school, and become productive members of society.  They are a “best-buy” in global health with a low cost and a long-term payoff that extends far beyond the health of an individual child.

It is also important to remember that vaccinations are not just a global issue - vaccinations are a local and a national issue. We all are part of the human race and we have a shared responsibility for the less fortunate.  Policymakers, both here and in Washington, should stand up and support US-led global health programs, specifically those programs focused on saving the lives of children in developing countries by providing them with vaccines.

As a mother and a Shot@Life Champion Leader I know that each of us can make a difference this week!

 Join us in supporting global health by; meeting with your legislators and asking for their support in funding global vaccines programs. You can also make a donation to support the work of the UN and vaccine partners around the globe at 

Think about it – in the 6 or 7 minutes it took you to read this article, 18 to 21 children died of vaccine- preventable diseases.  Please, every child life is precious.  Together we can save more children!

Felisa Hilbert is former nurse from Mexico that worked and participated in many rural vaccine campaigns where she saw firsthand the pain and sorrow that many  children suffer due to the lack of vaccines and medical care. She is also a Nurses Who Vaccinate member. 
Mrs. Hilbert humanitarian mom & wife with a heart to help children in or from developing countries. Global health, poverty and  participate in education are some of her favorite passions.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

No Parents Left Behind: Giving Tuesday:Give the Gift that change lives for...

No Parents Left Behind: Giving Tuesday:Give the Gift that change lives for...: Giving Tuesday: Give the Gift that change lives forever What is it in a gift that makes everyone so excited and happy?  So happy that i...
Giving Tuesday: Give the Gift that change lives forever

What is it in a gift that makes everyone so excited and happy?  So happy that it makes them cry with joy and excitement?  A gift means that you are special!  It means that somebody cares about you!
Today is GivingTuesday, the perfect time to start the Holiday season of giving a gift to others.  A gift that is carefully selected with someone in mind has the power to change the receiver forever.  Especially if these gift can make the difference between the life and death of a child in need.  With this simple act of thinking of others rather than yourself, you are given others the precious give of life, happiness and love.  That is the power of a gift - it tells the receiver that someone cares and that they are loved.
Today I am supporting and fundraising for the Shot@Life campaign.  Shot@Life is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation that educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries.
Can you help me this Holiday season to provide the gift of life and protection, for other children like these,from deadly diseases - like polio.   Polio used to cripple hundreds of children a day, but thanks to vaccines it is nearly eradicated! Today only, MAM Baby, a pacifier company, has agreed to DOUBLE your gift to Shot@Life by matching all donations dollar-for-dollar. We are raising money to protect a new generation of children from polio. We can stop this disabling disease in its tracks!
 Your gift to Shot@Life TODAY will be doubled. With a gift of $20 or more, you can protect at least 40 children from this debilitating disease.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

No Parents Left Behind: HAPPYPNEUMONIA DAY!  (Not Really…)November12th is...

No Parents Left Behind: HAPPYPNEUMONIA DAY!  (Not Really…)
November12th is...
: HAPPY PNEUMONIA DAY!   (Not Really…) November 12th is World Pneumonia Day!   This is an effort to create more awareness and understan...


November 12th is World Pneumonia Day!  This is an effort to create more awareness and understanding about how this terrible disease is the number 1 Infectious killer of children under 5 years of age.  Here are a couple of my experiences of working in the field with children in developing countries:

This Summer I was in the mountains of Sierra de Mixtla of Altamirano, Veracruz to work and volunteer in Texiquila with children that live in the top of the mountains, far away from any cities and medical facilities.  These children are smart, eager to learn and have many dreams and hopes for their futures.  The sad part was seeing the poverty and living conditions where they lived, lacking basic foods and care while growing up in unsanitary conditions and poor nutrition.  While most healthy children can fight an infection with their natural defenses, children in poor countries - like these - are at a higher risk for developing many childhood diseases like diarrhea, measles and pneumonia.  These kids have immune systems that are easily compromised and weakened by malnutrition and undernourishment and live too far away from access to adequate medical care and proper health facilities when needed.  

Talking to the parents of these children, I learned that in a day’s work - from dawn to dusk – most of them earn only the equivalent of $8.00 to $10.00!  Their financial poverty is yet another disease afflicting them and their families - and severely limiting their children’s future prospects.
Having lunch with the leaders of Texiquila, Veracruz

While there, I shared meals with them.  Because I was a guest and benefactor they prepared the best meals they had... bean tacos! Bean tacos! BEAN TACOS!  (All the containers on the table in the picture are filled only with bean tacos.  There’s absolutely no variety among them!)  We also dined with some chili, water and a corn-mix drink; but mostly bean tacos.  I felt humbled for the honor and grateful for the experience! 

However, by the end of the week I was very sick with diarrhea and had to go to the hospital.  The closest one was 4 hours from the mountains where I received treatment and antibiotics.  I was dehydrated and sick for the whole week afterward!  Luckily I had the resources and money to pay for proper medical care and I knew what to do. 

Sadly, for many mothers there – and in other poor countries – they can only helplessly watch their children struggle with diarrhea, fever and pneumonia while gasping for air.  It is terrifying for them to not know how serious or urgent their condition is upon being forced to witness such suffering.  In these circumstances a mother only knows that her child needs care and urgent attention, but doesn’t have the money or transportation needed for travel to the nearest clinic or to pay for a doctor.  

Here are some of the children I am talking about in my blog:

                                  Children like these in Mubende, Uganda

Children like these in the Railway School in Kampala, Uganda

Children in Texiquila, Mixtla the Altamirano, Veracruz, Mexico

Shockingly, pneumonia kills more children under the age of five than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.  Pneumonia is the leading cause of preventable child deaths in the world, killing 1.3 million children a year.  The mayority of these deaths occur in developing countries which are among the poorest and in the most difficult-to-reach areas of the world.  The pneumococcal vaccine is an easy way to prevent pneumonia in these children and only costs $5.00 for one dose.  You can fully protect a child for $10.00.

On September 26-28, world leaders visited New York City for the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit.  They decided upon 17 Global Goals, committing to end poverty and inequality and tackling climate change by 2030.  We must tackle pneumonia as a part Goal Number 3: “Good Health and Well-Being”.
A total of 47 million children have received the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine since the first Gavi-supported introduction in 2010.  Yet, there is still more to be done.  The U.S. government has strongly supported global health programs, but we must be vigilant and continue our efforts.

We need your help and support to decrease child mortality by:
  • Donating money to fully immunize a child.  $10.00 will fully protect one (1) child against pneumonia.  (You can save as many you’d like!)  
  • Helping to expand access to vaccines for children in developing countries.
  • Meet with your members of Congress and ask them to support global health.
  • Providing good nutrition and sanitation practices for all children, world-wide.
  • Helping to promote & provide easy access to medical treatment as needed.
  • Training health workers to diagnose and treat the disease

Thursday, August 20, 2015