Global Officials just issued a
Warnings from leading authorities like the CDC and WHO are escalating. The enemy is not what you think it is. We could go to “red alert”
levels if we don’t act now, putting future generations in great peril.
But there is good news, as you can read below:
My eyes teared up while I put together this alarming research.
I have three children, plus several nieces and nephews – all in their 20s. These kids face a rapidly increasing threat to their freedom and well-being. This is a threat unlike any we’ve ever known – and it’s certainly not one I’ve ever had to face before.
I’m not sending you this letter to scare or depress you. I want to increase awareness of this growing threat. I’m hoping that after you learn about this, you’ll see we have no choice but to take action right now. Even taking very simple measures can result in a much more positive outcome for you, your family, your neighborhood and our world.
By being proactive, we can battle the enemy causing so much alarm. This enemy is not terrorism. It’s a seemingly innocent creature… yet it’s the most deadly animal known to mankind. I’m talking about the mosquito. Mosquitoes kill more than 1 million people each year, and they cause sickness and suffering for millions more.
I’m sensitive to global epidemics spread by mosquitoes. A revered great-great-uncle of mine died young as a result of yellow fever… before anyone knew yellow fever and cholera were actually viruses spread by mosquitoes. People used to think they were caused by something in the air, like a gas.
I’m also the Chair of a nonprofit health center located in a poor but beautiful part of coastal Central America. For years, we’ve helped surrounding communities battle dengue fever and the chikungunya virus. So when news of yet another mosquito virus hit, I was crushed. I knew we had more work cut out for us.
Yellow fever is actually still a threat today. But this Zika virus… it’s even worse. That’s because Zika is unlike anything scientists have seen before. We now know that not only can it be transmitted by mosquitoes, but it can also be transmitted sexually. This is unprecedented. Even if we killed all the mosquitoes in the world, this virus could still continue to spread.
I first read about Zika last January. I found it buried in a short newspaper article. The article said that the Centers for Disease Control just confirmed that Zika had moved past Brazil and was now spreading throughout the Americas.
That’s when I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach.
I was traveling abroad with friends for a winter break, having fun in the tropics. News like this was the last thing anyone wanted to hear. But there was something ominous about this small obscure article. As a publisher, I reacted to its stark and factual nature. No need to emotionally embellish this one.
The announcement haunted me on my trip. I called Dr. José Mosquera, world health expert and president of our Roberto Clemente Health Clinic, the nonprofit I chair. Of course, he had already heard the news. He agreed it was time for our Nicaraguan health center team to start taking precautions for Zika.
When I relayed the news about Zika to my travel companions, they nodded with polite concern. I suggested we take precautions and apply bug spray. After all, we were traveling close to the equator.
Not surprisingly, they reacted the way most people react to dire global health news. There is usually pretty much no reaction until they or someone they love is directly affected.
My “go natural” friend did react. She replied that she didn’t trust DEET or any insecticide spray. “Anyway, it’s not the rainy season, and I’m not getting bitten,” she said.
My friends didn’t want to hear it then. The world still doesn’t want to hear it now. But for the sake of our friends and families, it’s time to take the CDC’s worldwide yellow alert seriously.
Last January, I didn’t expect Zika to be such a complicated threat. Nor did I expect it to spread up north so quickly. After January, more and more cases were reported each month.
But still there was little media coverage… except around the Summer Olympics, as Brazil was ground zero for Zika cases hitting the Americas.
Soon after, we heard about the first Zika case hitting the U.S. in Florida. This was followed by news of Miami having a cluster of cases. We heard about Puerto Rico getting overwhelmed with confirmed cases. This woke us up a bit.
Health officials are becoming more concerned about the disease the more they learn about it. Just recently, Johns Hopkins linked Zika to Guillain-Barré, the neurological disorder that causes paralysis.
Now take a look at this chart. It may surprise you:
This chart does NOT show all cases in the U.S. And it’s not about Florida.
Where are these statistics from? New York City.
Thankfully, New York has the largest municipal healthcare delivery system in the U.S. It just implemented a “Zika Action Plan.”
Zika keeps delivering a punch to our gut in terms of what to expect. Still, there’s relative silence in the media. I understood why there was silence all summer and fall, with the crazy U.S. elections dominating front-page headlines for months. But now that the elections are over, I thought we would hear more about it.
There is one group starting to talk more about Zika: millennials.
A young couple in my own family just canceled plans to travel overseas to our family reunion. I’m hearing concern from my employees as well. Certainly there’s concern from my Clinic team in Nicaragua.
The sobering fact is that this global yellow alert could turn red soon – like it did with yellow fever and cholera back in the day. The CDC’s number of U.S. cases is increasing every day.
There are 4,128 reported cases in the U.S.* and more than 30,000 cases in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico.
There are also more than 3,268 confirmed cases of pregnant women having Zika in the U.S.*
(*As of November 4.)
Remember, zero cases in the U.S. were reported last January.
Thankfully, our states work with the CDC, EPA, WHO and other health organizations for prevention. States will sometimes proactively spray entire communities, from planes or trucks, without people realizing it. For example, states took extensive action spraying after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and after hurricanes in Florida.
But spraying pesticides to kill adult mosquitoes is controversial. It doesn’t have to go that far. The CDC recommends a four-stage approach to prevent Zika… with No. 4 – spraying pesticide – being a last resort.
For your personal prevention, it’s best remembered this way… Do the “three D’s” advocated by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA):
Congress just approved $1.1 billion to go toward fighting Zika. In my city of Baltimore, Johns Hopkins and the Institute for Global Health at the University of Maryland are conducting research.
It feels like we’re in good hands here in the U.S. because we can afford to be. But in many countries in the tropics, the cases are worse, and the money is not there.
We need to take action and start supporting the “forces” fighting Zika… not just in our backyard but in those places where mosquito-borne illnesses traditionally flourish.
Unfortunately, these breeding grounds are in parts of the world that can’t afford to fight – or don’t know how to fight – on their own.
This is where the good news finally comes in.
Please allow me to share the exemplary actions of one team in Nicaragua that has been helping to prevent the Zika epidemic since last January – one community at a time. With your help, they can continue to do so.
The Roberto Clemente Health Clinic is a nonprofit registered in Maryland as a 501(c)(3) and located on the southwestern coast of Nicaragua.
The Clinic team has helped prevent, diagnose and treat this epidemic where it counts – in poor neighborhoods getting little help from their government.
Tola, Nicaragua, is in one of the poorest regions in the Americas. As you may be aware, most families that live in Nicaragua reside in deplorable conditions.
They live on dirt roads sharing two-room tin shacks, often without clean water, in dusty or muddy conditions with stagnant water. With mosquito-borne dengue fever and other viruses, they had enough to contend, even before Zika.
The Clinic also contends with chronic endemic problems like diabetes, heart conditions, asthma, obesity and other diseases.
It’s important to note that our Clinic is not located in the middle of nowhere where there is a small population.
It’s located in a peaceful, stable and fast-developing region of Central America.
It’s such a beautiful place with very warm people… and it’s become a popular destination for world travelers, so tourism is taking off, as is job growth and other opportunities.
Unfortunately, world travelers are the biggest threat when it comes to the spread of Zika.
I believe we are most effective when we help a single region like this one, in a focused way, with urgent healthcare. We are helping communities that lack the health resources we have in the U.S. to fight this epidemic.
The Roberto Clemente Health Clinic also goes beyond the Zika prevention program, offering urgent care, primary care, healthy eating initiatives, clean water treatment and distribution, as well as diagnostic, dental and pediatric services. All this with a staff of only 27 working 24/7 on a small budget.
The Clinic has come a long way since we opened our doors in 2004. The pressure on our budget is increasing. Our team’s helped more than 10,000 patients each year with urgent care.
Our educational programs have greatly expanded. The kids in the surrounding 15 Nicaraguan communities often don’t go to school past the sixth grade, and many don’t go at all.
The Clinic is changing all this, with great success.To get to know our clinic, let me introduce you to our community.
Juan Perez, 83-Year-Old Patient
“I am grateful to the Roberto Clemente Clinic and the staff that took care of me when I most needed it. I was in bed with terrible pain in my lower back with constant vomiting. I also couldn’t breathe very well. My neighbors found me and took me to the Clinic immediately. I was diagnosed with an infection of the kidneys (pyelonephritis) and pneumonia.
“After receiving treatment at the Clinic, I had to be hospitalized, but I didn’t like the conditions of the public health center and decided to go home. I am a very old man and have no family to take care of me, so a doctor and a nurse from the Roberto Clemente Clinic visited me for a whole week to give me the medications I needed, and I am now healthy again. I was also given medication to control my blood pressure. I couldn’t be more grateful for this wonderful gesture.”
Gustavo Ibarra, General Manager
“I am pleased to be working with a group of people that has become like family to me. Together we are driven by the desire for social well-being. We like to work with the community, empowering people to discover what healthy living means to them.”
Dr. Rogelia Palma
“We are the only health center in our region with an ambulance. We practice for events like the emergency we had last month. We were called to attend a patient with heart failure. He had been diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes in the past. Last month, his wife found him without any reaction. She called the Clinic asking for help. I was on my shift with nurse Karina Palma when the ambulance arrived. It had called us ahead of time, so we were waiting for the patient in the emergency room. He was unconscious and having seizures. We stabilized him, took his vital signs and were able to get him to the hospital in Rivas in time. I’m proud of how we were prepared.”
Dr. Hazel Ruiz, Medical Director
“Last August, we had a patient we all know from the community. He was traveling on his motorcycle and had a terrible accident. We received a call and our EMTs, Julio Arias and Hary Ibarra, rushed to the scene, stabilized our friend and brought him to the Clinic. I worked with Dr. Justo Gonzales and nurse Lidieth Marin to help our friend with extensive emotional and physical wounds. Thankfully, the injuries were not life-threatening.”
Dr. José Mosquera, President and Executive Director
“I became aware of the first cases of Zika in November 2015. Soon after, I met with our team to create an awareness, prevention and fumigation plan for the community around the Clinic. We coordinated our efforts with the Ministry of Health in Nicaragua. A donation from PASS LLC let us get our fumigator. While Zika and dengue fever cases have grown in Nicaragua and Central America, mosquito-borne cases in our region are not growing as fast. According to the Pan American Health Organization and WHO, there have been 2,005 confirmed cases of Zika in Nicaragua as of November 3, 2016. This includes 1,083 pregnant women. In our region, 91 cases have been reported, but very few cases have been confirmed. We want to keep it that way.”
Ronnie Prado, Volunteer and Padrino Program Coordinator
“This year, I especially enjoyed working with one child who has had multiple surgeries on her pancreas. It affects her eating habits. She became sponsored through our Padrino Program. We provide medical care and education to help malnourished children be able to go to school. We work with her parents too, promoting healthier habits. She is now attending school, and her nutrition improved with the Clinic complementing her special diet.”
Here on our website, you can see all the amazing projects we’ve accomplished this year – including our “Sponsor a Child” program, community gardens, emergency ambulance service and Zika prevention actions.
Right now, the Clinic urgently needs funds to battle the increasing mosquito-borne viruses and to support the Clinic’s emergency protocols for safe fumigation, diagnostics, treatment and education of this killer.
Sometimes we take these “first responder” health services for granted. Even in the U.S., we consider them “free,” maybe paid for by the government or other charities.
In Nicaragua, this is not the case. The cost of one urgent health initiative of this magnitude for even a small community now costs more than $20,000 a year.
We don’t have grants or any large estates funding our initiatives. We depend on individual donors like you.
I’m asking you to please help by supporting our efforts in this poor community.
By donating today to our Roberto Clemente Health Clinic, you can help us fund our Zika prevention program, which is based on CDC and WHO guidelines and includes use of the three D’s and environmentally sensitive fumigation (as necessary), especially in the rainy season.
In this calendar year, The Oxford Club LLC is providing corporate matching funds for this campaign.
In this giving season, please consider making the Roberto Clemente Health Clinic one of your supported charities.
And it will make an impact immediately.
We are proven to make focused, professional, efficient and positive changes in this region.
There are many additional reasons to be proud of the Clinic’s contribution to this region, especially this past year.
But what I’m most proud of is that our team and facility and programs have become an integral part of the surrounding communities – and a part of why the people in this part of Nicaragua continue to strive for a better life.
With your help and support, we’ll work hard to make Nicaragua a safer, cleaner place for young people to grow up and have healthy families.
I hope this letter has given you some ideas not only for giving to charity, but also for helping your family stay aware and prevent Zika. I wish for you a healthy and fulfilling holiday season,
Julia C. Guth
Chair of the Board
The Roberto Clemente Health Clinic
P.S. The Roberto Clemente Health Clinic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit registered in Maryland. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible. Also, The Oxford Club is matching your donation to the Zika prevention program until December 31, 2016.
Please act today to make a positive difference now.