Survival: Lives in the Balance
Series Description: Millions of people in the developing world, mostly children, die each year from treatable and preventable diseases. Slowly, that is beginning to change as economic growth lifts hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty and the circumstances known to perpetuate disease. SURVIVAL: LIVES IN THE BALANCE is a landmark documentary series about global health. Four one-hour films take viewers into villages in the Philippines, Uganda, Niger and Bangladesh, where people suffer from diseases and conditions long since conquered in other parts of the world. Cameras following subjects from pregnancy to birth, through the formative years of a child's development and into adulthood to capture the pain of loss and witness the triumph of hope.
Nineteen-month old Nazario can barely breathe. He has pneumonia, the world's number one child killer. Nazario has been coughing for weeks. Burns scar the toddler's chest where a traditional healer splattered hot wax to ward off evil spirits. The build up of fluid in Nazario's lungs and chest cavity have pushed his windpipe and his heart across his body. His parents have finally taken him to the hospital. They have never heard of pneumonia, even though in the Philippines one in every five children under the age of five suffers from the disease. World wide, pneumonia kills two million children every year. Now throughout the Philippines, every day people are armed with training to help parents recognize pneumonia in time to provide life-saving treatment. [50 minutes]
Tropical diseases threaten a billion people in the world today. Most of those people live in countries that do not have the resources to combat these diseases. In a striking move, a group of pharmaceutical companies pledged to donate enough drugs to target five tropical diseases that affect tens of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. They then faced a dilemma: how to effectively deliver these drugs to millions of people. The elegant solution came from the people themselves. Community leaders appointed trusted individuals to receive training to distribute the medicines. The drugs are safe and can be administered widely to at-risk groups. The plan works, but only buys time until better sanitation and safer housing allow the people in these villages to live healthier lives. [50 minutes]
Malaria threatens half of the world's population. Malaria killed Clovis's young daughter. Clovis learned too late that, if caught early, a three-day course of drugs easily cures malaria. The drug is called Coartem. The main ingredient is Arteminisin, a chemical extracted from the Artemisia plant. The drug is expensive. Most developing countries cannot afford to buy enough to meet the needs of their people. Clovis discovered he can easily grow Artemisia on his farm in Uganda. He has invested much of his family's resources into farming the plant. He's created a community of small farmers that can produce enough Artemisia to sell it in bulk to a processing company. A new company policy, however, may stand in the way of income for this cooperative of farmers. [50 minutes]
A young woman - just a girl, really - is crouching on the floor of her family's house. She's in labor. She isn't being whisked away to a hospital to give birth. This is rural Bangladesh. She's going to have her baby at home, just like over 90% of mothers in Bangladesh. A dhai is at her side, a woman with no medical training, yet she has delivered most of the children in this village. Her tools are a razor blade and a string to tie off the umbilical cord. In different village, another young woman gives birth in a clinic with the aid of trained medical professionals. A health specialist had coached her through her pregnancy, and will visit the family during the first weeks of the baby's infancy. This child and her mother stand a much better chance of surviving birth and the first year of life. [50 minutes]