The Editor’s Desk

It did not take long. Only 4 months old, Jennifer Mansua has already been infected by the malaria parasite. Her mother, Cecilia Nakabu, brought her child to the Kintampo Health Research Centre in central Ghana, where Shaul Schwarz took the picture of mother and daughter that appears on our cover this week. Jennifer underwent a blood transfusion that the doctors and nurses at the clinic believe will save her. Meanwhile, Dr. Fred Binka, who is working at Kintampo, is helping with a pioneering study to develop a malaria vaccine in the hopes that children like Jennifer may one day be immunized before the disease can strike at all.

Binka's work is emblematic of a renewed global effort to discover and safely disseminate vaccines and other treatments across the planet. It is work that Bill Gates knows well. In the 1990s, Gates and his wife, Melinda, began traveling to countries in which it was assumed that, as Gates writes in an essay for us, "millions of poor people would die each year from diseases that are preventable, treatable, or no longer present in the developed world." Temperamentally unsuited to allowing problems to remain unsolved, Gates, through his family foundation, has helped lead the effort to make vaccines and other medical advances more widely available. The result: one organization alone, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, is now saving 3,000 lives a day. (Melinda Gates is a director of The Washington Post Company, which owns NEWSWEEK.)

How seemingly simple things can make an enormous difference is the focus of our "Giving Globally" cover this week. The phrase may sound gimmicky—I can say that; I thought it up—and some of our readers may be suffering from what is known as "compassion fatigue." From the environment to HIV/AIDS to Darfur, from Bill Clinton's new book "Giving" to Rick Warren's push to engage evangelicals on global health issues, there is no shortage of talk about good causes around the world.

Talk, though, is one thing, and action is another. By their very nature, problems of global scope often seem insoluble, and some may well be. Interesting people are doing interesting things, however, to try to make at least a few of those problems go away. The stories we tell this week are about the men and women engaged on the front lines, fighting the good fight day in and day out in new and creative ways. Edited by Nisid Hajari, David Noonan and Nancy Cooper,our pieces include offerings from Mary Carmichael (on vaccines), Steven Levy (on a $200 laptop), Christian Caryl (on clean water), Scott Johnson (on Africa) and a gatefold that looks at some of the most serious global challenges and what kind of funding they receive.

Elsewhere, we report on the still-mysterious Israeli raid in Syria, a military strike, shrouded in secrecy, that could well foreshadow a dangerous conflict, and even war, with Iran. In Israel trying to piece the story together, our longtime foreign correspondent Rod Nordland e-mailed some thoughts: "This is the first time in years that I've been to Israel to report on anything other than the Sturm und Drang of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and I was very struck by the intensity of feeling among Israelis of all descriptions about the Iranian nuclear threat and the need to do something about it. Even one Palestinian friend said, 'You know, at the end of the day that is even more important than our conflict'—a tall admission from a Palestinian nationalist."