|WIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 07, No. 4 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1995, 16 p.)|
The European division of the Monsanto Company, a multinational corporation , specializing in chemical manufacturing and agriculture has awarded a major grant to the Children of Chornobyl Relief Fund, based in Short Hills, New Jersey. The grant of up to $263,000 will be designated for rural health care programs in several Ukrainian oblasts, including Vynnytsia. Dnipropetrovsk and Luhansk where Monsanto has made large investments in agricultural development. Funding will be; made available for health programs which have been designed by CCRF to reduce. infant mortality and to promote community education on a wide range of issues I related to prenatal care, fetal alcohol syndrome, childhood nutrition. Significant resources will also be allocated for Strengthening the immune systems of children exposed to radiation and other environmental hazards.
In a letter to CCRF's office dated November 22nd, Monsanto's General manager for the CIS and Central Europe, Robert A. Noels stated, "[W]e're proud to be part of the project and look forward to discuss with your team as to how we can best participate in the programmes as a principal sponsor..."
The rural health program will be coordinated by CCRF and a network of hospitals under the direction of the Kyiv Institute of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology (POG). Since 1992, POG has worked closely with CCRF and has established a strong track record in distributing and monitoring Western medical aid shipments at the grassroots level. Past shipments from CCRF have included neonatal incubators, cancer medications, and postoperative drugs.
Last summer, Monsanto and its subsidiary, Searle Pharmaceuticals provided a large donation of gynecological medicine to CCRF as part of the Fund's 15th airlift to Ukraine. The Searle products (maxaquin and metrazine) are regarded as highly effective agents for fighting infections in reproductive organs.
"The grant from the Monsanto Company will be tremendously beneficial to the mothers and children of Ukraine who are threatened not only by the effects of Chornobyl but also by a wide variety of other health factors which are environmental, economic and sociological in nature," said Dr. Zoreslava Shkiryak-Nizhnik, the research director at the Institute of Pediatrics. Beginning in 1993, Dr. Nizhnik and a team of researchers based in 6 regions have been tracking the health of 15,000 patients over a 7-year period. "Thanks to Monsanto and CCRF, we will now have the resources to address many of the problems we have witnessed in the villages and rural clinics which have been participating in our study."
Since 1990, CCRF has established itself as the leading U.S.-based charity involved in providing aid to children and families affected by the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear disaster. The Fund has organized 16 air-lifts, and delivered more than $38 millions dollars worth of medical aid including cancer medication, diagnostic equipment, antibiotics, and surgical supplies to hospitals which specialize in the treatment of children affected by radiation and environmentally-caused diseases.
The rural health program comes in response to growing evidence that Ukraine is suffering from a sharp decline in population. Infant mortality in Ukraine stands at 14 deaths per 1,000 live births - more than twice the European average. Stillbirths and birth defects have doubled since the Chornobyl accident, and the rates of infectious disease, anemia and immune deficiencies have also risen. CCRF hopes to reverse this trend through physicians' training, community outreach, technical assistance and through the delivery of antibiotics, vaccines and other basic commodities needed to protect children's lives.
"We are deeply grateful for Monsanto's contribution," said Assistant Executive Director Alex Kuzma. "The medical crisis in Ukraine is so great that it requires a massive infusion of resources. Monsanto has set an important precedent, and we hope to secure additional funding to prevent the tragic loss of life and the needless suffering that these communities have witnessed. We cannot expect to meet the needs of these children and their mothers without the sort of leadership and compassion that Monsanto has shown."
For information on CCRF's health program, interested readers
are urged to call (201) 376-S140. Tax-deductible donations may be addressed to:
CCRF, 272 Old Short Hills Road, Short Hills, NJ 07078.