Friday, June 09, 2006

Mystery Plague Kills 29,000 Schoolchildren in Single Day

President declares state of emergency. Congress closes nation's school.

IMAGINE WAKING UP TO THIS HEADLINE. Now imagine that the very next day, it happened again -- and again. Each day for weeks, more children mysteriously died. Mass hysteria would break out. World governments would mobilize a global response. Congress would hold an emergency session. There would be a media frenzy. The world would not -- could not -- tolerate these catastrophic losses of innocent human lives.

Or would it?

In fact, the world tolerates exactly this kind of horror every single day as more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 die, most of hunger and preventable diseases. They die for lack of medicine or doctors. They die suffering and neglected. They die from simple things like diarrhea, respiratory infections, and measles, and they die of diseases virtually unheard of in America: malaria, or whooping cough.

Many of you reading this have children. Can you imagine your desperation at seeing your child slip away because of a bite from a malaria-bearing mosquito? What if all that was needed to save her life was a course of antimalarial medication costing just a few dollars?

But imagine that you cannot afford this, or there is no doctor or pharmacy nearby. I have visited many communities in which more than one out of four children die before their fifth birthday.

What these children really die from is apathy and neglect. The developed world has the knowledge, medicines, treatments, and enough money to save the lives of most of these children. What is lacking is the moral outrage to do something about it.

Who will speak up on behalf of these children and their mothers and fathers if we don’t? Earlier this year, the media ran stories commemorating the 50th anniversary of the polio vaccine. It brought back memories of my mother taking me to school to stand in line with hundreds of other children to be vaccinated. It was a time when the world declared war on a disease that struck some 50,000 children each year in the United States alone. The world had the determination to stop the disease, and we won. Fifty years later, only a few hundred cases of polio remain worldwide, and we are close to eradicating polio from our planet.

I believe we can do it again. But we’ll have to get a little angry first. Here are three ways to channel your anger:

  1. Join the ONE Campaign, a historic global movement of which World Vision is a founding member. The ONE Campaign urges world leaders to commit to reducing poverty this year. Go online to sign the ONE Declaration at

  2. Talk to your church congregation about what you can do to help children living in poverty, such as holding a child sponsorship drive or drilling a well.

  3. Pray for these children and their families. It’s no mystery what kills 29,000 children worldwide every day. And because we know, we have to do something.

With your help, in 2004, World Vision supporters enabled 1.1 million children to get vaccinations, provided access to clean water to 1.9 million people, and trained 810,000 mothers in health and nutrition so they can take better care of their children.

We need to do more. We can do more.

Please get angry. Please help.

Ways you can immediately provide aid...

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