A woman at the end of her life shows us all exactly how to live.
Temwa Mzumara knows firsthand what it feels like to watch helplessly as a loved one fights to stay alive. In fact, experiencing that level of fear and vulnerability is what inspired her to become a nurse anesthetist. She wanted to be involved in the process of not only keeping critically ill people alive, but offering them peace in the midst of the unknown.
"I want to, in the minutes before taking the patient into surgery, develop a trusting and therapeutic relationship and help instill hope," said Mzumara. Especially now, with Covid restrictions, loved ones are unable to be at the side of a patient heading to surgery which makes the ability to understand and quiet her patients' fears such an important part of what she does.
Temwa | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com
Dedicated to making a difference in the lives of her patients, Nurse Mzumara is one of the four nurses featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series by CeraVe® that honors nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to their patients and communities.
When she isn't working in an official capacity at the hospital, Nurse Mzumara devotes her time to a local ministry known as SALT (Service And Love Together). While there are multiple arms of the organization, Mzumara works most closely with their Hospital Ministry. Pre-Covid, groups of hospital volunteers visited patients to lift their spirits with singing and encouragement. However, since that's on hold for now, they've found other ways to help meet the needs of the central Florida community—like focusing on the growing homeless population. SALT's Homeless Ministry has created trailers that provide the community with food, clothing, and access to showers, and laundry, all of which help those experiencing homelessness get back on their feet.
"My faith is what drives me to be the best person I can be and drives my passion in life to help people in need," said Mzumara. She says she truly loves people and tries to see the best in everyone she meets because you never know what someone else might be going through.
"When I am with my patients, I strive to bring them hope and healing...gaining that trust from them and being appreciated for what I do is invaluable. Nursing is more than just a job. It's a calling," said Mzumara.
Nurses like Mzumara are what inspired CeraVe® to launch the Heroes Behind the Masks campaign.
"While CeraVe® has long appreciated and supported the invaluable work of the medical community, their service and commitment to their communities has never been more profound or worthy of recognition," said Jaclyn Marrone, Vice President of Marketing for CeraVe®. "We're thankful to all nurses everywhere for their unparalleled selflessness and compassion."
Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe® is a brand rooted in the medical community and committed to supporting healthcare professionals. As part of its commitment to nurses, CeraVe® is also a proud sponsor of the ANA Enterprise and their Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ initiative, a movement designed to transform the health of the nation by improving the health of the nation's 4.2 million registered nurses. Through the initiative, ANA is connecting and engaging with nurses to inspire them to take action in five key areas: activity, sleep, nutrition, quality of life and safety.
Additionally, over the past year, CeraVe® has donated more than 500,000 products to hospitals to help provide therapeutic skincare relief to healthcare workers and is continuing the product donation efforts. Nurses looking to engage with the brand and learn more about these initiatives can join the Shift Change: Nurse Essentials Facebook group, an online community hosted by CeraVe® where nurses come together for personal and professional empowerment.
To see more stories about nurse heroes, visit https://www.heroesbehindthemasks.com/.
As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.
Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.
Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.
"Despite repeatedly violating Facebook, Instagram and Twitter's terms of service agreements, nine of the Disinformation Dozen remain on all three platforms, while just three have been comprehensively removed from just one platform," the report states. It also says platforms fail to act on 95% of the COVID and vaccine misinformation that is reported to them.
Despite many people's understandable resistance to censorship, health disinformation carries a great deal of weight—and consequence. As the CCDH writes, "The public cannot make informed decisions about their health when they are constantly inundated by disinformation and false content. By removing the source of disinformation, social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can enable individuals to make a truly informed choice about vaccines."
So who are these 12 individuals? The report names them and provides some basic info about them starting on page 12 of the report (which you can read here). They are:
1. Joseph Mercola
2. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
3. Ty and Charlene Bollinger
4. Sherri Tenpenny
5. Rizza Islam
6. Rashid Buttar
7. Erin Elizabeth
8. Sayer Ji
9. Kelly Brogan
10. Christiane Northrup
11. Ben Tapper
12. Kevin Jenkins
Several of these folks are physicians, which ups their credibility in the eyes of their followers. But as vaccine skeptics themselves say, "Follow the money." These anti-vaxxer influencers rake in the dough by preying on people's paranoia with monetized websites and social media posts, as well as by selling books and supplements.
Some of them may be "true believer" conspiracy theorists and some of them may be opportunistic grifters, but they all benefit from misinformation mongering.
In addition to these individuals, the report names organizations linked to them, including:
- Children's Health Defense (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.)
- Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) (Del Bigtree)
- National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) (Barbara Loe Fisher, Joseph Mercola)
- Organic Consumers Association (OCA) (Joseph Mercola)
- Millions Against Medical Mandates
Don't the names chosen for these organizations sound like things many people would support? Who isn't in favor of defending children's health or informed consent? The "National Vaccine Information Center" sounds downright official, right? Organic consumers? That's me. How would people know whether or not these organizations were trustworthy sources of information, especially if people they know and love are sharing posts from them?
They wouldn't. That's the entire problem.
The report offers suggestions for how to handle misinformation pushers, starting with deplatforming.
"The most effective and efficient way to stop the dissemination of harmful information is to deplatform the most highly visible repeat offenders, who we term the Disinformation Dozen. This should also include the organisations these individuals control or fund, as well as any backup accounts they have established to evade removal."
The CCDH also recommends platforms "establish a clear threshold for enforcement action" that serve as a warning before removing someone and present warning screens and effective correction to users when a link they attempt to click leads to a source known to promote anti-vaccine misinformation. In addition, the report recommends that Facebook not allow private and secret anti-vaccine Groups "where dangerous anti-vaccine disinformation can be spread with impunity."
Finally, the CCDH recommends instituting an Accountability API "to allow experts on sensitive and high-importance topics to perform the human analysis that will ultimately make Facebook's AI more effective."
The information age is also the misinformation and disinformation age, unfortunately. When it's people pushing that the moon landing was a hoax, it's annoying, but when it's people pushing falsehoods about a deadly pandemic and the life-saving vaccines that can end it, we can't just brush it off with an eye roll. Disinformation is dangerous, figuring out how to stop it is tricky, but at least knowing where most of it comes from might give us a chance to limit its spread.
The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.
Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.
Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.
Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash
The international nonprofit
CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.
"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."
Nunn believes a comprehensive vaccination program needs to be sufficiently funded to not only acquire enough vaccines to inoculate people who may be missed otherwise, but also to ensure transportation, delivery, and administration of the vaccines. For every $1 in supply, $5 is required for delivery costs, she says.
"2021 finds us at a crossroads. One road leads from pandemic to endemic – and what some may see as 'acceptable apathy' where the lives of the vulnerable in low-income countries are deemed less valuable... "The other road is built on understanding the true cost of vaccines and the human cost of failing to deliver vaccines to the most vulnerable, and a joint commitment by all who walk it together to equity, equality, and human dignity. Our destination is a place where each of us is safe because all of us are safe," says Nunn.
The best interests of everyone on the planet are served by an investment in comprehensive global vaccination. For 75 years, CARE has been doing lifesaving work in the global community—and while the fight against Covid is far from over, the organization invites everyone to commemorate just how far we've come.
On Tuesday, May 11, CARE will host An Evening With CARE with Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others, to mark the 75th anniversary of this amazing organization and take stock of the work that lies ahead. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.