The weather has turned here in the Johannesburg suburbs. For this reason, we work from day to day not knowing exactly what kind of participation we will have from the Munsieville residents. Mondays are spent with Engelinah, Eva, and Betty meeting with their women's groups for most of the day, and Glenn and I focusing on the specifics for our needs assessment survey. Health screening is usually every Tuesday but due to the cold weather last Tuesday (June 23) only 4 mothers attended. The weekly baby bathing held on Wednesdays have had a similar fate. The temperature was much too cold for the mothers to bath their babies even in the fellowship hall of the Catholic church for the past 3 weeks. The women did attend but we did not set up the baby tubs. They received food and clothes from other organizations as usual.

Senator Frist was interviewed by Maria Bartiromo on the Wall Street Journal Report.  The discussion centered on health care reform.

Munsieville Update

Jun 22 2009

We have completed our first working draft of the Munsieville Survey, and plan to field test it this week after Stefan (our boss) goes through it to work out some kinks. In addition to things that have been going on in previous e-mails, we've also ventured out into Randfontein (about a 50 minute drive from where we're staying) twice in the past week. We've met several times now with the local government officials there (both with Stefan and Loni and myself independently). I assure you that we have been good ambassadors for the USA, ETSU, and Project HOPE! A former mayor of Randfontein gave us a formal tour of his town on Thursday and described to us it's rich history (very fascinating!). We conducted some surveys and did some home counting in the informal settlements within Randfontein as well. Once we've collected enough surveys, we plan on analyzing the data within the next couple weeks to determine what the needs are and how we might be able to use the Munsieville Model.
The United States is engaged in a historic debate over government's role in reforming health care. But on the continent of Africa, there is little debate that U.S. investment has reaped major rewards. Yet there, too, reforms are necessary.

By fighting measles, then AIDS and, more recently, malaria, the United States has partnered with African nations to help save millions of lives since the turn of this century. It's a remarkable achievement, and the American people have led; the American taxpayer should be proud.
So far things are going well in South Africa. My accommodations are nice and I am starting to become acclimated to the J'oburg suburb lifestyle. My work started here last Monday with a debriefing session with Stefan. We work out of a container that is on the property of a Catholic church. Each day there is a different task scheduled. On Tuesdays, we go to a little Protestant church in the informal settlement to meet with several of the women who are participants in a small savings and loan program called Village Savings Fund (VSF). Mostly all of the women have young children.

Engelina and Eva, two local women, lead these meetings and act as interpreters for Glenn and me. With such an attentive audience, it is the perfect venue to do health education. A retired health advisor, Mama Tandi, then discusses the current women's health topic. Last week, it was breast and cervical cancer. After the health talk, we begin the health screening. With the help of Engelina, Eva, and Mama Tandi, Glenn and I record height, weight, BP, and whether the children take breast milk, formula, or solid foods. We will continue to collect the data mostly to asses the health risks of obesity and hypertension.
Things are going well down here in the Southern Hemisphere. I've been here now for about 3 weeks and MAN has it flown by! Calandra Miller and I have both been comissioned to design and implement a needs assessment survey over the course of this summer. Project HOPE has about nine Village Savings Fund (VSF) groups set up and are being taught by 3 local volunteer workers (the majority of participants in these groups do not speak English, hence the need for these volunteers). The groups are comprised of about 20 women each, and the purpose is to educate these women on microeconomics. Ultimately, after undergoing the entire education course (which takes about 2 months of one day a week, weekly meetings), these women will have set up amongst themselves a system for both saving and loaning out money to group members. We're about halfway through the program with multiple groups right now, and Calandra and I have been going out with translators to survey these women on their progress. We are also obtaining a baseline survey for the orphans and other vulnerable children (OOVC) under the care of these VSF members with the same survey tool.

We can save a child for just $44
By William H. Frist

For the Journal-Constitution

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Since swine flu grabbed the world's attention a month ago, 750,000 young children have died.

So you might wonder why nobody is talking about a pandemic of pneumonia or diarrhea -- the two biggest killers of these children.

One reason is that the word "pandemic" means worldwide epidemic.

In other words, there are more cases of a disease than normal, and they're occurring everywhere, even in the United States. Sadly, 25,000 children dying each day is "normal."

It's also widely unnoticed, because most of the young lives are lost in poor countries far away.

But most of these deaths are easily preventable. Why should we treat this as business as usual?

Through remarkably low-cost proven solutions and committed leadership, the United States can usher in an era where millions of mothers don't have to bury their babies within the first five years of life.

And we can accomplish the task with a smaller price tag than the well-spent money we've put toward the global fight against AIDS in the last several years.

What's grown to more than a $5 billion annual investment in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has brought life-saving treatment for and prevention of HIV to millions.

It's also brought us goodwill and a safer and more secure planet.

For just a fraction of that money, Congress can follow President Obama's cue and prevent many more needless deaths of mothers and their children, and the incalculable suffering these bring.

I congratulate the president not only for pledging to continue his predecessor's initiatives to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, but for envisioning a new comprehensive global health strategy focused on the key interventions that will safeguard the health of mothers, newborns and children.

Now the dollars to do something about it must follow. U.S.-funded programs strengthen and expand the delivery of a package of basic child health interventions that cost about $44 per year per child.

These interventions, delivered by local health workers in clinics and in communities, include immunizations, breast-feeding and newborn care counseling, and treatment for childhood killers like pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.

What a legacy for our 44th President to establish -- $44 to provide preventative and curative care to children in impoverished lands.

These affordable interventions work. If we double the $495 million the United States currently spends in this area, we could reach more than 22 million children with care and save more than a million lives each year.

Our leadership could encourage other G8 nations to make significant contributions of their own.

But our government must first commit the resources to make all of this happen.

Even as we grapple with a financial crisis and economic downturn, polling shows that the American people favor foreign aid that saves children's lives.

I've witnessed how powerful our contributions can be.

Every year I go to Africa, where I've seen expanded access to health care save lives and spread peace and goodwill.

In Sudan, men from different sides of the conflict showed up at a school where I performed surgery.

In Nairobi, I met a mother who named her young daughter America because U.S.-funded HIV treatments gave the girl a future.

Just think what wiping out millions of child deaths could mean to parents and societies around the world.

Let's lend the name of America to a new legacy that redefines normal for child mortality worldwide.

Former GOP Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist, a physician, is the chairman of Save the Children's Survive to 5 campaign.

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