Monday, August 10, 2009

Zinc and Other Miracles

Any parent who has seen Rotovirus in action knows just how serious the ailment has the potential to be, even here, where emergency medical treatment is certain. I just finished reading an article from that explained how poor children of Africa die in huge numbers, from fluid loss due to severe diarrhea.

When my eldest became ill with Rotovirus at age two, he became very dehydrated within 24 hours and extremely lethargic, refusing to eat or drink at all, yet vomiting repeatedly and suffering from almost constant diarrhea at one point. I imagine where medical treatment is all but nonexistent and living conditions are unsanitary, a small, malnourished, child wouldn't stand much of a chance against that virus or similar viruses.

But this article is actually very positive and full of hope - scientists have discovered that simple zinc stops the effects of the virus rapidly. Not some expensive modern drug, but plain old zinc. I urge you to read the article - it's quite uplifting, despite the subject.
So far, the small programs have drawn little attention. But their impact has been dramatic. Zinc pills appear to halt diarrhea in its tracks. "Before, we were terrified when children's stomachs began running, because we knew some of them would die," says Sata Djialla in the Malian village of Morola. "Now our children are not dying of diarrhea."
The story reminded me of PlumpyNut, an amazing success story. And so heartening (yet ironic) that a little legume, one that could possibly kill my highly allergic four year old, is doing so much good for so many children.

I know it's quite important for us all to know that Britney Spears is back in bikini-bod shape this week, but really, when there's so much worthless or negative "news" in the media, it's refreshing to see something positive like this - something that makes a real difference.

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