OK. I get it. It is cute…but also borderline disturbing. I guess that is what is effective these days at getting a message across.

This video is courtesy of the Gates Foundation. Immunizing my son has been one of the hardest things about being a mom as my son cries so much after each and every shot – with a really terrible scream unlike the cute ones in this video. But I understand the value of immunization and so I immunize my child.

This issue is incredibly pertinent even today in the United States. We are currently on track to have the highest recorded cases of measles in over a decade, likely as a result of upper/middle-income highly educated moms like myself who have decided to stop or delay immunizing their kids. This is a real pubic health tragedy. So let the screaming babies scream on.

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Busy times around here as the academic year winds down here at NYU-Wagner. In addition, this past weekend saw my son’s first birthday, including his first birthday party, my dog’s sixth birthday, and of course Mother’s Day. My son was born 3 days before Mother’s Day last year so this was in fact the second time I got to celebrate the event.

Despite the fact that I was recovering from a cesarean section this time last year, this years activities definitely made it the best:

My mother’s began with my husband getting up to take care of my son, which meant that I got about 20 minutes more sleep than usual. My husband then watched my son while I headed out for a jog along the Hudson River. Beautiful sunny spring days are blissful in New York City and this Sunday was no exception. We then headed out for a fantastic brunch at one of our favorite french restaurants and then we took a 3 hour stroll around the East Village and the Lower East Side checking out every food shop along the way. In short, it was a fabulous and wonderfully relaxing day.

A new report out this past week by Save the Children reminded me about how lucky I am and how different my life would be if I were a mom in – say Afghanistan or the Central African Republic – rather than in one of the wealthiest geographic enclaves in the world.

Using a composite index, which they call the “Mother’s Index“, Save the Children has most of the countries in the world based on how they perform on key mother and child health indicators such as maternal and under five child mortality but also indicators such as female participation in government and maternity leave policies. You’ll notice you don’t actually see the United States up there on that top 10 list. The US actually ranks relatively poorly on many of these dimensions relative to other industrialized nations, including the maternal mortality ratio which is much higher here than in some countries, such as Ireland.

I’ve been impressed with the advocacy efforts of Save the Children over the past few years – opinionated but generally based on data. Say what you want about the value of cross-country comparisons based on an arbitrary index of poorly measured indicators, I think these rankings are effective at generating much needed discussions. I noticed quite a bit of discussion about these findings this week in both traditional and new media channels, including this fantastic photo essay in Foreign Policy.

I loved this photo of a woman in Niger because of the look of happiness on her face despite her surroundings:

Progress is being made in maternal and child health programs around the world, but the rates of improvement have been far too slow. It is deplorable that a woman in Afghanistan has a 1 in 11 lifetime risk of death from childbearing and that baby girls born there in 2010 was only 45 years. On this mother’s day, it is useful to be reminded how unequal the world continues to be and how much, much more must be done to address these challenges.

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