Solving global pandemics

Normally, Ugandan princess Ndahendekire Barbara would be operating her orphanage, where she says more than half of the 520 orphans are infected with HIV.

Instead, Barbara, along with several other speakers, addressed issues affecting global health crisises in the Traditions Hall of the USF Gibbons Alumni Center Thursday night.

“I’m here today to be the voice of the people who haven’t been seen,” she said. “We are not going to wait for government to take action — we are calling on whoever wants to help.”

The speakers appealed to more than 200 spectators to join the fight against the poverty and diseases that are devastating many nations all over the world.

The event, “Rx For Survival,” was organized in conjunction with PBS and Vulcan Productions to raise awareness about issues related to child survival.

According to a press release from Save the Children, more than 10 million children under the age of 5 die every year.

Before the event, attendants filed into the lobby, where approximately eight computers were set up for donations.

Donations from as low as $5 were accepted and would fund child packs with health items such as antibiotics, vaccines and mosquito nets, according to event coordinator Reenal Doshi.

In a more hands-on approach, USF volunteers in conjunction with the College of Public Health visited a small village in Ecuador in July.

They improved plumbing conditions and dispersed antibiotics to villagers while there.

Tampa is collaborating with 30 other communities across America on the campaign to improve child health and survival worldwide.

“Today is a very pivotal time in human history,” cardiologist and philanthropist Kiran Patel said. “Global health issues, standards and solutions are a very important issue.”

Patel added that one in 20 Africans live to see their 60th birthday. She also said children in Afghanistan have only a 20 percent chance of living past five.

One of the underlying themes of the event was how individuals could help fight disparities like these.

The third speaker, Mary Powers, who is a senior reproductive health adviser of Save the Children, emphasized how unnecessary health methods in America could be curbed in order to benefit health conditions globally.

According to Powers, 15 cents could buy antibiotics, and $15 would afford vaccines for one child.

On a grander scale, the campaign will be brought to the attention of the entire nation Nov. 1-3, when PBS debuts the documentary Rx for Survival – A Global Health Challenge.

The documentary will touch on areas of the globe crippled by diseases that are easily preventable, Powers said.

An 8-minute trailer for the documentary contained footage from a poor village in Africa, where blindness plagued and debilitated the community.

According to the film, one dose of medication taken annually would discourage the blindness from progressing.

The documentary will also be complemented with a major piece in Time magazine due out next week.