Hilts, a science and health journalist, issues a clarion call to devote many more resources, human and financial, to improving health conditions in poor countries, especially for children, and also to upgrade public health structures in rich countries to deal more effectively with future epidemic disease. The core of the book is built around four cases of dramatic improvement in health in a poor country, all of which involved only modest financial resources but required prodigious patience and organizational effort. Village rehydration applications to prevent early death from diarrheal diseases (including but not limited to cholera) in Bangladesh, the mobilization of 49,000 grandmothers to administer vitamin E to children in Nepal, the immunization of 167 million children against polio on a single day in India, and the persuasion of tens of thousands in Botswana to get HIV tests and take newly available antiretroviral drugs -- such episodes illustrate what can be done. Hilts forcefully argues for the creation of many more such programs.
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