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U.S. News

PBS' "Rx for Survival: The Heroes" Profiles Health Leaders Worldwide

April 12, 2006

PBS' "Rx for Survival: The Heroes" is a two-hour special documentary containing excerpts from "Rx for Survival: A Global Health Challenge," a six-part miniseries that aired in November 2005 and examined how public health discoveries have more than doubled life expectancy in developed countries over the past 100 years but are not being utilized to stop the spread of preventable diseases in developing countries ("Rx for Survival: The Heroes," PBS, 4/12). "By highlighting a few individual efforts, the film delivers signs of progress and hope," the New York Times said Wednesday in a review of the program, adding, "all the projects seem realistic as well as idealistic" (Stanley, New York Times, 4/12). The series, which is produced by the WGBH/NOVA Science Unit and Vulcan Productions, was filmed in more than 20 nations, and was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Merck Company Foundation and developed in partnership with the Global Health Council and other global health organizations and individuals (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/1/05). The special, which is narrated by actor Brad Pitt, profiles health leaders worldwide fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, including:

  • A businessman leading an HIV/AIDS prevention program in Botswana that provides universal testing and free antiretroviral medications;

  • Two physicians in Peru implementing a community-based care program to fight multidrug-resistant TB;


  • A group of grand prix racers delivering sidecar-equipped motorcycles to African countries and training local health workers to use and repair them as mini-ambulances to deliver supplies to remote areas;

  • A group of 49,000 grandmothers in Nepal distributing vitamin A to 3.5 million children and educating parents about the supplement; and

  • An engineer building a water system to deliver clean water to a Ugandan village ("Rx for Survival: The Heroes," PBS, 4/12).

In an interview with TV Guide, Pitt said the series makes both the humanitarian and self-interest arguments for paying attention to global health. Pitt said the families he met while filming the series "really break [his] heart," adding, "You hold these children, who have already lost their parents to these diseases -- TB, AIDS, malaria -- and you know how vulnerable they are. And I look at them and I can't help but ask, 'What is their future?' And my response is, 'This is unacceptable'" (Rudolph, TV Guide, 4/10). Check local PBS listings for show times.

Back to other news for April 12, 2006

Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2006 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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