I've been privileged to lead PEPFAR for a year now, working with countries to achieve the potential of an AIDS-free generation, together.
Open defecation causes significant harm to the environment and consequently, human health. Ninety per cent of sewage in the developing world is dumped, untreated, into lakes, rivers and oceans.
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Taking a shower, boiling some vegetables or just getting a glass of water is as easy as turning on a faucet. But taking care of life's most basic necessities isn't so straightforward for so many around the world.
I've been the small boy feeling he must face the world on his own, and the teenager in a war-torn country fearing for his life and the lives of his family members. For as long as these situations persist in the world, I speak from experience and believe there will always be love and families that can help these children overcome trauma and reach their full potential.
Every once in a while, a major innovation comes along -- one that has the potential to change the lives and health of families all over the world -- especially in remote, hard-to-reach areas.
Since I first picked up a camera, children have been my inspiration. To me they represent everything that is good in the world, and each and every one of them has the basic right to be protected, nurtured and loved.
If you were tasked to end hunger and malnutrition in the world, you might first ask: Where do such vulnerable people live? It may be a surprise that the majority of the world's hungry and malnourished live in large Middle Income Countries (MICs), some of which are global economic powerhouses.
When I visited the Sivile Primary School in South Africa's Western Cape, I was struck by a feeling. It was a feeling of the vulnerability of the children all around me, who are put at huge risk every single day.
Why does hunger persist in a world of plenty? In a world that has made so much progress in achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), cutting extreme poverty in half by 2010, why has it not yet cut hunger in half?
Syrians need a peace treaty to end the war in their country. They also desperately need food and they need it right away. Every time a donation is made to feed a child, the future that can be built from this generous act.
Poverty and health are intrinsically linked, yet the tools to combat them are frequently out of reach for poor women. More times than not, they find themselves in a constant cycle of scarcity -- scarcity of money, support, health and stability.
I don't know if I saved that child from anything. I don't know if he carried my support with him as he grew or if my words slowly faded away with time and age. I don't know if my whispers were audible enough to carry him through whatever obstacles he might have faced once he left residential treatment. But I do know that he taught me a very valuable lesson: Meet the children where they are and always love them anyway.
A challenge stands before us: ensuring immunization of the world's poorest children. If we as global citizens can meet it, we will help protect the lives of millions in places too poor to afford vaccines.
At the height of the Ebola outbreak, a woman came to our SOS medical clinic in Monrovia with her 16-year-old son. She was desperate for us to admit him to the clinic, and all signs indicated that he was already infected with the disease.
All four of my children received something 8 million children a year don't get -- a safe birth. So many children around the world have enormous needs due to poverty, political instability, natural disaster, or epidemic diseases like Ebola or measles. I encourage you to do more than worry.
For the nutrition community, the numerous links between empowering women and improving nutrition are well understood. However, less clearly understood is how we can build food systems that put women and children at the centre.
Water is life, and sanitation and hygiene are the basis of health. Yet worldwide, 748 million people don't have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people don't have basic sanitation. Each MDG can be advanced by greater inclusion of proper WASH practices, and there is more work to be done.
I meandered through room after room with children in cribs or lying on mats and saw a kind of a holocaust. The children in that orphanage, as in most institutions, were "ruined" by the lack of attention and malnutrition. Caretakers were not trained to be connected to the children. In fact, they were told not to love the children because there would be nothing to be gained.
Carrying water is not only hard work; it is dangerous work as well. A woman walking miles through the rural African bush alone isn't safe. So, women are exposed to violence and shame, which limits their possibilities for education, marriage, better health and other prospects.