As you probably might have noticed, I have not been posting regularly since last Friday. It has been a difficult week for my family and me. It has been a difficult week especially for my 5-year old daughter.
I may have mentioned to some of you that my wife and daughter have gone on vacation to Bangladesh for the summer. This is my daughter’s first trip to Bangladesh. Unfortunately last Friday my daughter was stricken with bacterial diarrhea and vomiting. This illness, unfortunately, is an all too common one for millions of children in the Third World. It is serious and too many children succumb to it worldwide.
My daughter became severely dehydrated from continuous vomiting and was admitted to a hospital on Friday night. The doctors hydrated and stabilized her at the hospital. She was given IV fluids to replace the fluid she was losing. Then the long wait began. She finally started to eat a few days ago and her diarrhea has started to slow down. She was diagnosed with E. Coli poisoning from either contaminated food or water. She was discharged from the hospital yesterday and is now showing signs of improvement. I remain concerned about her. Her mother has been constantly at her side through this ordeal.
I am grateful to the doctors at Apollo Hospital in Dhaka for taking such good care of my little girl. I am especially grateful to the nurses who took care of my daughter and to Dr. Anjan Bhattacharya, her primary doctor.
As a parent, I do not believe there is anything worse in this world than bearing your child’s suffering. It is the most helpless feeling in the world. When your child is that sick, it focuses your mind on what is really important in this world.
Yet we are the lucky ones. My daughter received excellent medical care. That care should not be a privilege reserved for the few. Complications from diarrhea lead to about 2.2 million deaths of children in the Third World each year. That is a staggering number – and a preventable one. Death from diarrhea is preventable by oral rehydration therapy. The incidence of diarrhea can also be reduced by improving sanitation in the Third World.
Millions of children, our most precious resource, are losing their lives each year. Millions of mothers and fathers are grieving their loss. We are so desensitized by the images from the Third World that we have come to accept this abomination as normal. We are all human. The pain we feel when our own children are suffering is the same pain a parent in the Third World feels when going through the same. The pain a helpless child feels is the same no matter what economic class the child is born into.
I have argued before that the War on Terror has to address the roots of frustration amongst the world’s peoples. That frustration starts with poverty. Not being able to feed or nurse one’s child must be unimaginable frustration. Freedom is probably the furthest from the minds of a grieving parent or a suffering child. If we want to change the world, we should start with the world’s poor. I am tired of hearing from right wing blowhards that people are poor because they are lazy. I want to take one of these blowhards and deposit them with no food and money and no resources in a remote Third World village. I want to see them fight for freedom from those conditions.
Improving conditions in the Third World so that the world’s children are not dying at such an alarming rate is not a difficult task. It takes only commitment and some resources from the developed world. The $10 billion we spend every month in Iraq could instead change the face of this world in a hurry if used for improved sanitation and access to rehydration therapy in the Third World. Then we would really be fighting for freedom – the freedom to exist.