Today marks the anniversary of the birth of Sir Alexander Fleming in 1881. If you’re scratching your head trying to remember why that name sounds familiar, let us help you out. Sir Fleming discovered penicillin – he’s the father of antibiotics. His life-saving discovery has saved millions of lives, and Linked Foundation is dedicated to providing access to it even in the poorest, most remote Latin American communities.
It wasn’t until the 1940’s that the production of antibiotics was at a level that could truly help the masses. Until that point, the mortality rate for things like staph infections was high. For example, President Calvin Coolidge’s 16 year-old son developed a blister on his toe while playing lawn tennis at the White House with his brother. An infection ensued, and he tragically died within a week. President Lincoln’s only grandson met a similar fate at the age of 16 after bacteria entered his body during the removal of an abscess under his arm. Imagine how many lives could have been saved during the Civil War and World War I had antibiotics been available to treat the wounded.
Now take a moment and reflect on how many times you yourself or your children have used antibiotics. Imagine what tragic outcomes may have taken place had you not had access to this life-saving miracle drug. Those tragic outcomes are still very real for the people we serve in Latin America. When your tiny village is nestled in a mountainous region accessible only by durable off-road vehicles or reliable four-hoofed creatures, your access to modern pharmaceuticals is perilously limited.
We have dedicated a substantial amount of foundation resources to develop and expand scalable, sustainable rural pharmacies in Latin America. Tiendas de la Salud (TISA) in Guatemala and Boticas Similares (BOSI) in Mexico share the goal of providing critical pharmaceuticals and health related products to rural communities at affordable prices. In addition, pharmacy owners are trained in basic and preventative health care and can sell the appropriate medicine in their communities.
Imagine waking up at night realizing that your child has a fever – the nearest town is a torturous day’s walk away. You know you’ll need to pay for expensive medicine, not be able to work that day, and therefore you will be unable to feed your family that night. Before TISA and BOSI, you were alone with difficult, and often uninformed decisions to make. Now, health store owners are available to people in their community 24/7 and play a role in addressing the health needs of their neighbors for many common illnesses such as upper respiratory infections, parasitic infections, and severe diarrhea.
Our newest partner in Mexico, Farmacias Similares, launched the rural pharmacy initiative or BOSI this year and shares an ardent desire to improve the health of these communities with access to essential medicines. So as you tuck your children into bed tonight, consider a quick moment of thanks for the miraculous work of Sir Fleming – and for our partners who are out there on the frontlines fighting to bring his gift and other medicines to all the world’s children.