When Brande asked me to fill in for the Water = Hope Campaign, I couldn't have been happier. Having heard about the organization from her, I know it was an outreach effort really committed to making a difference in both the U.S. and abroad.

Coming primarily from a corporate event marketing background, I'm accustom to having a 'sell' at the events I manage. This time the 'sell' was easy - Everyone Everywhere should have access to clean drinking water. Period. Done.
We are very proud to be back out with Brad Paisley on his H20 Tour again this year. Our first stops in Virginia Beach, Hartford and Cleveland were a hug success; we talked to lots and lots of country fans about the importance of clean water. As always, we were impressed by how engaged fans were in our project, and how eager they were to help. Our first three shows were a big success, and we are very excited about the remaining dates over the course of the summer.

Like last year, we are also using our work with Brad to provide unique volunteer opportunities for those interested in this issue. By volunteering, you are not only contributing to your community (and getting a free Brad Paisley show as a thank you!) but demonstrating first hand the idea that a ‘small drop can make a big ripple’! To learn more about volunteering and to get signed up, visit:

http://www.waterequalshope.org/volunteer
Last night, Hope Through Healing Hands and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health partnered hosting a meeting with the members of the Tennessee Global Health Coalition (TGHC). Doctors, academicians, nonprofit leaders, faith leaders, and private sector leaders alike joined together representing over 80 different organizations to discuss their work in global health and ways in which we could all work together better.
Talofa (greetings)! I arrived in American Samoa almost a week ago, and have fallen in love with the Samoan culture. I have found the people to be very friendly, the fresh foods are delicious, and the oceanic and mountainous views to be postcard worthy.

I have also been fascinated by the beauty of the traditional Samoan garb. It is very common to find men wearing Lava Lavas which is a cloth like wrap skirt, and the women to be clad in beautifully printed dresses complimented by a flower in their hair.

As I witness the beauty of this island, I have also taken note of the obesity problem. It baffles me to see people of an island that has a plethora of nutritious food to have one of the world’s highest obesity rates.

June 8, 2011

In Case You Missed It...

The Tennessean

More than one-fifth of preschool children are overweight or obese. That’s 20 percent of kids 5 years old and younger who are already on track for chronic health problems such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease before their first day of kindergarten.

That’s more than 4 million toddlers already queued up for health issues that will last them a lifetime. And of the heaviest youngsters — those who are obese — more than 160,000 live in Tennessee.

Our state’s and our nation’s obesity epidemic is well-documented, and childhood obesity continues to be an appropriate focus. We are learning more and more how nutrition and exercise at the very earliest stages of life can have a dramatic impact on our bodies as we age.

If the body mass index (or BMI, the ratio of height to weight that is typically used to determine a healthy weight) increases too soon or too rapidly for a young child — as young as 3 years old — research shows that child has a much higher risk of obesity later in life.

In short, too much fat produced too early sets the stage for a battle against obesity that will last a lifetime. Before most kids can add 1 plus 1 and get 2, their bodies are learning that being overweight is a way of life.

To start our children in life along this path is simply unacceptable.

There are plenty of statistics to cite, from economic — nearly $150 billion per year is being spent nationally to treat obesity-related medical conditions — to national security — more than 25 percent of all Americans ages 17-24 are unqualified for military service because they are too heavy. But those statistics shouldn’t be necessary.

Being overweight doesn’t necessarily equate to low self-esteem or an inability to achieve, but we cannot intentionally start toddlers out with a predisposition to type 2 diabetes and cancer and heart disease and expect things to be easier for them.

The next 15 years are going to be hard enough; we don’t need to make things any more difficult.

Solving the problem, however, is more complex; there is no silver bullet. Private- and public-sector leaders all have a critical role to play.

Several mayors from across the country recently pledged to do more for those in early child-care education settings in their cities. Many private-sector companies are helping to curb this epidemic, too. Specifically, a recent commitment from the planet’s largest retailers and food and beverage manufacturers to reduce calories in their products by 1.5 trillion by 2015 is laudable.

Parents, get kids moving

Parents also play a role. That’s why we’re calling on everyone to get our youngest kids more physically active. Whether that’s taking a walk or playing a game, it’s just as important for the 3-year-old in your life as it is for the 33-year-old in your life (or, in my case, older still). Cut out the sugar-sweetened beverages for kids under 5 and look to low-fat or nonfat milk for kids over 2 years old.

Equally, the private sector needs to continue to step up. Parents don’t need more complexity and more costs; they need more answers and easier ways to provide a healthy lifestyle for their kids. We need the private sector to make healthy choices as easy and as economical as possible.

We’re asking private industry to better serve their customers and communities by helping them access healthier products. This allows kids to have healthy childhoods. We can do better.

For a nation that prides itself on opportunity, we owe our youngest and most vulnerable at least that: the pledge to ensure their future is as healthy as possible.

And that means starting right from the beginning.

The Honorable William H. Frist, M.D., is vice chairman of the Partnership for a Healthier America, an organization working with the private sector to solve the nation’s childhood obesity crisis.

Let me begin by introducing myself – I’m Katie Baker, a second year doctoral student in Community Health attending East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health. I was recently selected as a recipient of the 2011 ASPIRE Appalachia Scholarship and, as such, will be completing my summer field experience with the Tennessee Cancer Coalition, a state-wide organization focused on reducing cancer incidence, mortality, and morbidity and improving the quality of life for those affected by cancer in Tennessee. This experience could not have been better suited for me, as I have received intensive training in skin cancer prevention throughout my time at ETSU.
It usually comes to me in a super market, sometimes Wal-Mart. This time, it was in a Chili’s restaurant in Miami International Airport. I was returning from 6 weeks in Guyana and the bustling airport led me to seek refuge in a restaurant. The burger I ordered, with a thick slab of bacon, nearly overcame me with emotion. It wasn’t that it was such an incredible burger. It was my reflection, the contrast, of the place I often take for granted and the place I was returning from. The excess we have become accustomed to. Something so simple as a good burger is not obtainable everywhere. Many things aren’t.
I am sorry it has taken me this long to post again; the work here in Guyana is so great, and keeps me busy and exhausted. I’ll try to do better this week.

Today, I’ll share a bit about my hospital. Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is the primary referral center for the country of Guyana. The “Accident and Emergency” Department treats roughly 75,000 patients a year. In a country with a total of only about 750,000 people, that’s roughly 10% of the nation’s population. To get an idea of what that’s like, imagine if one emergency room in the United States saw 30 million patients a year!
She was only six years old. She had somehow fallen from a height, landing on her head…unfortunately on concrete. It’s always concrete here. Her father told me she had been knocked unconscious immediately and she had not spoken since she fell. She had not vomited, but she also had not moved since the fall.

My residents and I performed a physical exam on the girl based on the “ABCDE” pneumonic I had been reinforcing: Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, and Exposure. It is designed to simplify the assessment of trauma victims and to ensure that examinations are performed that same, every time, by every person. The theory is that if you do something the same way every time, there is less of a chance that you will miss something important.

Mother-and-child health challenges persist globally

The Tennessean

This Mother's Day, moms in Tennessee and around the world have more to celebrate than ever before. Infant mortality rates are declining in many communities and many countries. Yet even today, where a woman gives birth determines dramatically different odds of survival for her child. We can, and must, change that.

A baby in Shelby County has a 1 in 77 chance of dying before her first birthday. In some of our rural counties, 1 in 45 babies die. Those frightening rates are on par with Sri Lanka and Mongolia, respectively.

Overall, the U.S. child mortality rate is worse than in 40 other countries. It's one of the main reasons Save the Children ranks our nation 31 out of 43 developed countries on the Mothers' Index of its new State of the World's Mothers report.

Within the United States, Tennessee has long had one of the worst infant mortality rates. But our state's effort to change that is paying off. We've moved up from 46th to 41st in the latest national comparison on child health. That's good news, but I'm sure you'll agree, it isn't nearly good enough.

Even in tough times, state programs making a difference — including Healthy Start, which makes home visits possible for new moms in rural areas — must be protected if we are to improve the health of moms and kids across the state. Healthy kids lead more fulfilling and productive lives. They create jobs and grow economies.

Children's programs face possible federal cuts

Together,we must speak up for mothers everywhere. Federal programs that have helped reduce global child mortality by a third in the last 20 years are in danger of major cuts.

Worldwide, 8 million children still die each year, mostly from preventable causes. Imagine if diarrhea or pneumonia became a death sentence for your child. This is a daily risk for millions of mothers with no access to trained health workers or the most basic, inexpensive medicines. In Afghanistan, one in seven infants dies.

Why should Tennesseans worry about this when we have our own challenges right here at home? First, it's not an either-or proposition. We should save every child's life when we know how to do it inexpensively and so well. It doesn't take much more than political will to give a child a real shot as a long, fulfilling life,

And it's more than that. When we save children's lives abroad, we help countries develop and give them hope. And when we do that, we help create the conditions for growth and prosperity.

That relates directly to Tennessee, where 44 of our 46 export industries are growing and our state benefits from nearly $26 billion in exports every year. U.S. economic growth increasingly depends on growing markets in developing countries. We are living in a world that is increasingly interconnected. Simply put, by helping mothers and their children everywhere, we help ourselves.

So, as we celebrate this day for mothers, let's make a bold commitment to improve the lives of mothers and children in communities across the globe.

Bill Frist, a heart surgeon, served Tennessee in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007. He is co-chairman of Save the Children's newborn and child survival campaign.

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