Two Pictures: One kid at a time

The beauty of relief workers is they understand the value of “one at a time.” Twenty-nine thousand children have died in the East African famine. One didn’t. That’s today’s story, reported by the Associated Press.

Minhaj Gedi Farah, a Somali baby, was literally the poster child for the despair in Kenya when this image was snapped in July.

kenya_famine_july.jpg

But just one month later, doctors said it wouldn’t be long before he would leave the hospital:

And this picture was taken just a few weeks ago. The boy is being held by Dr. John Kiogora at the International Rescue Committee.

kenya_famine_october.jpg

  • http://www.unicef.org/nutrition/index_breastfeeding.html vjacobsen

    These pictures are haunting, especially given the famine conditions….BUT:

    The reality is, if babies in these camps and conditions that lack clean water are not breastfed, this is what happens.

    So while I’m horrified, 1.5 million children die every year, famine or not, as a result of sub-optimal breastfeeding.

  • This is NOT lucy

    But,

    vjackobsen

    I would guess that maybe if mom is drinking unclean water she might be sick and therefore does not want to pass her sickness onto the baby,

    or because of the faminine there is barely any nutrition in the breastmilk provided,

    or some other of the many complications that could cause these problems in a region suffering from famine. It’s a cultural practice to breastfeed up to 3 years old in some regions in Africa.

  • vjacobsen

    1)The quality of the water does not affect milk.

    2) The quality of diet might affect milk production, but rarely does. It’ll make moms feel yucky, but there is no truth to the idea that “There is no nutritional value to breastmilk”.

    3) Reality is that this happens, famine or not, sometimes due to culture, but usually for other reasons. It’s complicated, sort of. And yes, some cultures do breastfeed for an extended time…but many don’t, and that’s when babies die. Again, it’s well documented by the WHO and UNICEF.

  • This is NOT lucy

    “There is no nutritional value to breastmilk”.

    I am sorry, you misunderstood what I wrote,

    I said ‘less value’ in the milk when mom is lacking in nutrition.

    If mom is sick, she is going to make the child sick

    Where are you getting your information from? It seems to be quite a bit off.

    “It’s complicated, sort of. And yes, some cultures do breastfeed for an extended time…but many don’t, and that’s when babies die.”

    Could you point out for me where in this story that this deficiency was due to the mother’s lack of breast feeding? I seem to have missed that part.

  • Jackie

    vjacobsen – ever consider that the mothers are dying so they can’t breastfeed their kids?

  • Jim Shapiro

    To paraphrase Stalin, ” 1 child dying of hunger is a tragedy. 29,000 dead is a statistic.”

    Kudos to those generous souls that have the compassion and courage to do relief work, and touch one life at a time in the face of staggering need.

    But the analogy of running to care for people who have fallen off a cliff and not going to the top to stop them from being pushed off is particularly apt in Africa.

    The continent is a collection of corrupt, failed, artificial states in which the ruling class has no concern for the people other than those from their own tribe.

    Shimon Peres brutally but accurately said, ” Foreign aid is the poor from rich countries giving money to the rich from poor countries.”

    We can feel better and try to make a difference by contributing to non-profits, but until the problem of governance is solved, millions will continue to starve in the midst of plenty.

    Then what are we to do? Part of me would favor benevolent intervention by the developed countries, but the travesty of the condescension and self-interested exploitation of colonialism is still fresh in the historic memory and thus would never succeed.

    Clearly as caring human beings we must not permit the predictable status quo of periodic starvation to continue.

    ( I, for one, am looking forward to the post-capitalist utopian Federation of Planets :-)

  • Vjacobsen

    Jackie- as strange as is sounds, no, I didn’t consider that. But it does not undermine my point. A dead mom will still lead to suboptimal breastfeeding….but thank you for pointing that out as a possibility.

    Not Lucy-

    I am a lactation counselor, and, I am quite proud to say, one who really knows the process inside and out. I am not going to argue biology with you.

    And yes, I don’t know the details, but I wanted to point out this baby did not get so ill because someone took his food, or a famine meant there wasn’t food to give him….but because, whatever the reason, he did not get the kind of food he should have been getting.

    Make sense?

  • nicki

    I would like to mention that it is possible that malnurished females will not be able to produce milk or their supply will dwindle/run out and that coule be exacerbating the problem.

  • tulipwood

    If there is any food available at all, feed the mother! The mother will breastfeed the baby. It’s quite simple.

    Mothers WANT their children to live – and in circumstances such as these the only chance this infant would have of living is breastmilk.

    As someone else intimated, breastmilk is breastmilk – just like blood is blood. The quality is maintained, always; the quantity is the issue during times of famine.

  • This is NOT lucy

    “And yes, I don’t know the details, but I wanted to point out this baby did not get so ill because someone took his food, or a famine meant there wasn’t food to give him….but because, whatever the reason, he did not get the kind of food he should have been getting.

    Make sense?

    Posted by Vjacobsen | November 9, 2011 9:50 PM”

    of course vjacobson, we all know what you meant. of course you would never blame the victim for somethng that is out of their control. of course you know bett er.

  • This NOT lucy

    ( I, for one, am looking forward to the post-capitalist utopian Federation of Planets :-)

    Posted by Jim Shapiro | November 9, 2011 8:16 PM

    MMMEEEEE TOOOOO, Jim, me too. ; )

  • This is NOT lucy

    “Kudos to those generous souls that have the compassion and courage to do relief work, and touch one life at a time in the face of staggering need.

    But the analogy of running to care for people who have fallen off a cliff and not going to the top to stop them from being pushed off is particularly apt in Africa.”

    Hey Jim,

    That there second statement is a powerful one!

    What’s more interesting is that as I was visualizing your scenerio of the cliff and the ones running to the rescue, oddly looked like the ones at the top who pushed them off in the first place.

    How does that happen?!

    You’re a pretty smart guy, why don’t you run for office? (Because you’re a pretty smart guy?)