2016 Public Health Gift Guide

On this most hallowed online shopping day, Cyber Monday, as we traverse a plethora of retailers – from Amazon to Zappos – take a moment to check out these charities that are addressing much-needed pubic health issues:

1.This bar saves lives. Otherwise known as Plumpy’Nut, this shelf-stable, nutrient-rich paste made from peanuts, milk powder, sugar, vegetable oils, vitamins, and minerals saves the lives of severely malnourished children worldwide.  Hailed as the most important public health innovation since penicillin, Plumpy’Nut’s little brother, Nutributter, is designed for children under two to prevent stunting caused by malnutrition which can save children from lifelong health issues.

Partnering with Save the Children and the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children, Plumpy’Nut produces amazing results for very little money.  It costs $50 for a two-month supply.


How can you help? It’s easy: Buy a bar, feed a child.  Every purchase of the Non-GMO, gluten free, fair trade, bee friendly bars gets Plumpy’Nut to the children who need it most.  Click here for a 60 Minutes piece about Plumpy’Nut.

2.  Apopo. As a rat owner, Apopo is a cause near and dear to my heart, and one I’ve written about before on this blog.  Apopo trains Gambian pouched rats to save lives through mine and tuberculosis detection.  From humble beginnings in 1998, Apopo has exploded (pun intended) into a force that has destroyed over 100,000 landmines, cleared 20 million square meters of land, and freed nearly a million people from the threat of explosives.

Apopo added tuberculosis detection to its ratty repertoire in the mid-2000s.  Rats can sniff out TB in a fraction of the time it takes to run a diagnostic test, and with great accuracy.  This means that over 10,000 additional TB cases have been detected with 60,000 TB infections halted.

Training rats takes time and money, but the people of Apopo have made your Holiday shopping that much easier.  Donations between $10-20 will buy a basket of bananas (a favorite treat of HeroRats), safely detonate one landmine, or provide a health checkup for one rat.  If you have a little more to give, consider $32.00 to clear 30 square meters of a minefield or $56.00 to screen 200 TB samples.

Want to follow the journey of a HeroRat?  Consider adoption!  For $7.00 a month, you can adopt a rat.  Your donation comes with a welcome pack, adoption certificate, and monthly updates about your rat’s progression and life-saving successes.

3. Days for Girls. Nothing quite says Happy Holidays like a donation of menstrual care products, but the reality is that girls worldwide miss school and face social isolation because of their periods.  Without modern menstrual products, girls are forced to use whatever they can find, including leaves, rags, mattress stuffing, feathers, and cow dung to name a few.

Days for Girls makes it easy to get involved.  Can you sew?  Consider making Days for Girls kits, which included washable, reusable pads, soap, washcloth, two pairs of underwear, and visual instructions on use of all items.  You can also join an international team or fundraisers or donate directly to this great cause.

Dignity for girls during their period is the first step toward making 2017 the Year of the Girl!

4. Against Malaria Foundation. In 2015, there were 214 million cases of malaria worldwide.  While deaths caused by malaria have decreased nearly by half between 2000 and 2015, there are still roughly half a million deaths each year.

For just $2.50, you can send one long-lasting insecticide treated net (LLIN) which lasts for 3-4 years and protects up to two people from mosquitos that are most active between 10 pm and 2 am.  For every 50 to 250 nets that is implemented, the life of one child is saved.  So far, nearly half a million people have donated $92 million to distribute over 30 million nets.  One-hundred percent of your donation goes toward purchase and distribution of LLIN.

5. The Natural Resources Defense Council. If saving the planet is your thing or you’ve read the startling report that the world’s top soil could be gone in 60 years, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is for you.

Focused on all aspects of the environment, from climate change, to food, to the wild, NRDC is working hard to safeguard our planet in a way that is meaningful to you.  You can donate to save elephants, protect the ocean, or give the gift of clean water.

So, there you have it!  A very short list of some worthwhile causes that could use some help today and always.  Know of a great charity that is addressing a public health issue?  Leave it in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The International Health Section is not affiliated with nor does it endorse any of these organizations.  All opinions are the author’s own.

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