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Malaria, Obesity and More (Notes from TED2010 Day 1)

Lithium Alumni (Retired)


Haiti. It was a terrible terrible disaster. By most estimates 200,000 people lost their lives.  
But according to Esther Duflo, a TED speaker today on stage at TED2010, Haiti happens every 8 days. 9 million children under the age of 5 die every year from poverty-related causes. 1 million die each year from Malaria alone. That’s 1 million lives that could be saved with a $10 bed net.
Duflo’s research shows that if you give bed nets to poor families, 80%+ will use them right away, and months later, they invest their own money in buying more bed nets for their families because they see that it saves lives.
But we don’t talk about Malaria very much. In the chart below, the total mentions of Malaria is the yellow line across the bottom. Basically nothing.
The media tends to gravitate toward covering dramatic events that happen quickly and can be covered in short bursts. People dying in great numbers every single day is not news, for some reason.
Jamie Oliver echoed the thought today when he accepted the 2010 TedPrize for his work as a healthy-eating activist. He said TV is filled with talk of homicides and drownings and the like. Your chances of dying from homocide? 1 in 314. Chances of drowning? 1 in 1,008.
Obesity-related diseases are the leading causes of death. You have a 1 in 5 chance of dying of heart disease and a 1 in 7 chance of dying of cancer. Stroke? 1 in 24. However, mentions of drowning are neck and neck with heart-disease and obesity:
Obesity did rise above the fray this past week (note the recent spike) when Michelle Obama announced a campaign against childhood obesity. On stage Jamie saluted her commitment but set out the following wish for the coming year:
“My wish is to have a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, to inspire families to cook again and to empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”
In TED fashion, countless people and organizations around the world, inspired by Jamie’s passion and commitment, stood up to commit money, time, web site development, access to prominent people, office space, media time, even buses for road-trips to schools. Congratulations to Jamie Oliver, the Brit, for winning the TEDPrize and for working so hard to save American kids.
All the TED Talk videos will be posted online for all to see starting in about a month. Stay tuned and join in.



Previously posted on on Feb 11, 2010

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