Survival: Lives in the Balance "The Plant that Cures Malaria" & "Fit for Life"

Survival: Lives in the Balance "The Plant that Cures Malaria" & "Fit for Life"

Fri, 07/22/2011 - 7:00pm

Pictured, this Ugandan farmer lost his daughter to Malaria. He learned too late that, when caught early, malaria is easily treatable. Now Clovis grows the plant that contains the compound most successful in fighting malaria.

This series takes viewers into the lives of people struggling for survival against health problems perpetuated by extreme poverty.

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 "The Plant that Cures Malaria" & "Fit for Life", airing Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m. on WXXI World (cable 524/DT21.2), are part of a landmark documentary series about global health. These one-hour films take viewers into villages in Uganda 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. 

The Plant that Cures Malaria (Uganda)
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.

Fit for Life (Bangladesh)
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.