browngirlintherain said: John! John! I just saw your video from a NICU in Addis Ababa. THANK YOU. I loved that you spoke about KMC. I am a doctor and a newborn receiving KMC is the single most beautiful thing I have ever seen. May I suggest you read Abraham Verghese's Cutting for Stone? It is about growing up in Ethiopia and medicine and life and beauty and I think you will love it and I would love to hear you talk about it! Love your work!
I have read Cutting for Stone!
I was very impressed with what I read about Kangaroo Mother Care after talking to Dr. Gessesse. One of the things Bill Gates said to me was that a lot of the effective strategies for improving health care in the developing world (like KMC) aren’t that expensive, and many don’t require highly trained specialists.
Obviously, we need more Dr. Gessesses in the world, but a lot of the improvement in Ethiopian child mortality and vaccination rates is due to health extension workers and the amazing volunteer Women’s Health Army. These people provide prenatal care, talk to their neighbors about issues like family planning and when to introduce solid food to keep infants growing, and how to get folic acid and iron supplements inexpensively. Health extension workers, meanwhile, have only a tenth grade education and a year of training, but they can diagnose and treat illnesses from malaria to rotavirus to TB. (You’ll meet some of these people in future videos.)
All that noted, I don’t want to make it sound like a solved problem: Even with this progress, over 6% of Ethiopian children die before the age of 5. Most of those deaths are preventable, and if you believe that all human lives have equal value, you have to acknowledge the ongoing injustice and needless suffering in poor countries like Ethiopia. But the progress is real, and I think Ethiopia is blazing an important trail for the developing world.