Salma Hayek: Mom on a Mission
Motherhood inspired Salma Hayek to take on one more high-profile role: saving women and children in Africa.
Tetanus in developing countries continued...
Hayek even helped vaccinate some of the women who had come to receive their
immunizations. “It’s not brain surgery. You just go in at an angle!” she says.
“I was impressed that these young women, many of them really girls, were so
eager to get this vaccine. When I was 15, if somebody wanted to give me a shot,
I’d run away. But they line up for it … because it’s for their babies.”
Sierra Leone is not the only country where tetanus afflicts mothers and
children. According to the World Health Organization, the disease -- which
is the 5th leading cause of childhood mortality around the world --
kills 128,000 children annually (down from 800,000 in the mid-1980s),
which is a testament to the power of the neonatal tetanus vaccine. “We have
made dramatic progress,” says François Gasse, MD, a senior project officer at
UNICEF, “but it remains an unacceptable cause of death as it is the easiest to
prevent and affects the poorest populations of the least developed
(The World Health Organization estimates that more than 2 million children
worldwide under age 5 die every year from diseases that could be prevented by
routine vaccinations such as those most American children receive at their
regular visits to the pediatrician. These diseases include: pneumonia (leading
cause of death in children younger than age 5, with 1.7 million children dying
of it annually); rotavirus (causes severe diarrhea and kills 500,000
children worldwide annually); measles (380,000 deaths annually); and pertussis
(270,000 deaths annually).
Salma Hayek’s life changes
Since the birth of Valentina, Hayek personally understands that mindset.
She’s still an ambitious force to be reckoned with in the entertainment
industry -- Entertainment Weekly praised her as one of the “25 Smartest
People in TV” in December 2008 -- but because of her daughter, she’s made some
changes in how she looks at her career.
“I haven’t had the guts to do something violent or dark. I’m not there,” she
says. “I actually canceled a movie. They said, ‘You can really move yourself as
an actress with this role and go to a really dark place.’ I said, I don’t want
to go there! Maybe I’ll change my mind later, but right now, I want easy movies
that I can take my child along to. I want uplifting movies for the world.”