Inclusive Education in NepalNepal has made great strides to improve education on a broad scale and currently boasts a net enrollment of 97%. However, issues of inequity persist especially in terms of factors such as gender, economic status and location. A group that has been neglected more than the average is the large population of disabled children in Nepal. Of the approximately 200,000 disabled children in Nepal, a study found that around 30.6% of them did not attend any school at all. There are also limited lesson plans for disabled students, and those who do not attend school are provided with very few basic skills. For these reasons, the government and various organizations have focused on making inclusive education in Nepal a standard and not an outlier.

Implementation of Inclusive Education in Nepal

Since 2017, the Nepal government has publicly supported legislation that would combat the lack of education services for disabled students. In that year, both the Disability Rights Act and the Inclusive Education Policy for Persons with Disabilities were created. Both aim to put a focus on the issue and ensure that no student is discriminated against in school based on their disability. In addition, the Disability Rights Act seeks to have a curriculum set by 2030 and allow disabled students to get their education in community schools or independently.

However, weakness in the Act has resulted in limited success since 2017. Despite the intent of the Disability Rights Act, inclusive education in Nepal remains very sparse and tens of thousands of disabled children still have no prospect of receiving some form of formal education. Some of the clearest factors that are causing the slow change in inclusive education include:

  • Lack of funding: The Nepali government has made acquiring the funds necessary to implement change difficult for many schools. One specific rule indicates that there must be a minimum number of students with a given disability at a specific school before it can qualify for funding. This lack of funding means that there will be less money to improve the structure of the school, such as ramps and conditions that many disabled students will require.

  • Lack of educators: In-line with low funding, many schools are having problems training and retaining educators that will teach disabled students. Some schools utilize “resource classes” with advanced teaching curriculums and trained teachers to cater to specific disabilities. However, the prevalence of such classes has been limited, with only 380 of the roughly 30,000 schools in Nepal offering them to disabled students. Training of teachers has also been slow, and currently, there are issues even ensuring that there are enough educators for these students. Often, this will mean that students with similar disabilities will be taught in over-packed classrooms, or more likely will have no school able to teach them.

  • Lack of materials: Lastly, many schools are still having trouble acquiring enough materials for all disabled students. This includes specialized equipment, braille textbooks and audio programs. Without more focus on inclusive education in Nepal’s budget, there will be no effective way to ensure all students are being provided for.

Programs Making a Difference

  1. Nepal Youth Foundation: The Nepal Youth Foundation is a scholarship organization that assists families of physically disabled children with the cost of boarding school. They are aware of the hardships in finding affordable inclusive education in Nepal, especially for the poorest of the nation. They aim to alleviate some of the strain on Nepal families, providing financially for students with added dietary and living requirements.

  1. Inclusive Education Initiative: Launched by the World Bank in 2019, the Inclusive Education Initiative aims to broaden inclusive education in impoverished nations, including Nepal where it deploys training and other materials today. As part of the broader initiative, there is also a pilot program that has delivered an additional $2 million in funding for students with disabilities. In the coming year, they aim to create a working response to the COVID-19 outbreak that will still allow disabled students to receive some education.

  1. Autism Care Nepal Society: The Autism Care Nepal Society is responsible for the creation of daycare centers focused on children and young adults with autism. This includes daily attendance at the centers, education and development assistance and adult supervision. Even now, as the COVID-19 outbreak forces children out of the center, there is still some assistance available online. While not an exact substitute for classroom education, this Society ensure that more disabled young people have at least some options to pursue an education.

While relief to disabled students has been slow to begin, it is clear that the Nepal government and outside groups are determined to find a solution. Continued support for inclusive education in Nepal and added funding to structural improvements and accommodating materials in the country could allow for faster development across the country.

– Matthew McKee
Photo: Flickr

Malaria in MozambiqueNearly half of all Mozambicans live in poverty, with poverty rates rising in rural areas over the past two decades. However, things in Mozambique are changing because of organizations like Malaria Consortium. This nonprofit organization works to fight communicable diseases, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. Its focuses include the treatment, prevention and control of malaria, dengue, diarrhea and more.

This is vital work, as in 2017 there were 219 million malaria cases that caused 435,000 deaths, most of which were children under 5 years of age. Malaria Consortium also helps nations develop public policy and provides expertise and training to help build capacity in healthcare systems.

Malaria Control and Prevention

A major tool that the Malaria Consortium uses is Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets or LLINs. LLINs are placed over beds and can reduce the risk of death for children under 5 by 20%. Further, widespread usage across a community can even reduce mosquito populations. The distribution of LLINs can even help those without nets over their heads at night.

LLINs are laced with insecticides that can last for years, making them a cost-effective and sustainable solution. LLINs have already had success in Mozambique: in 2017, Malaria Consortium distributed more than 1 million nets to 415,000 households in the Niassa province, where in some parts there are as few as nine inhabitants per km2.

Limited access roads frequently cause issues with the delivery of aid to rural Mozambicans. To overcome this, Malaria Consortium used a top-down approach. LLINs were distributed at the district-wide level, all the way down to the local level. Malaria Consortium credits the local government, the District Directorates, support teams, various service providers and more as critical in the delivery of the nets.

Malaria Consortium also has a focus on community outreach. It sends workers to schools to educate both children and teachers about the risks of diseases like malaria. Additionally, health workers undergo training provided by Malaria Consortium so they can better protect Mozambicans.

Through one of Malaria Consortium’s projects, significant progress was made in public awareness. The project titled Malaria Prevention and Control in Mozambique ran between 2011 and 2016 and reached more than 200,000 people. Mozambicans received vital information regarding the spread of malaria and what they can do to prevent it. This was just one of many ways Malaria Consortium is helping global health initiatives.

Looking Forward

Like many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Mozambique sits at an unfortunate intersection of poverty, widespread tropical diseases and insufficient healthcare. Organizations like Malaria Consortium are working to improve conditions bit by bit. Malaria mortality rates for children under five have already fallen by 34% since 2010. Much remains to be done –e specially in the face of the coronavirus pandemic — but as the distribution of LLINs continues, things are looking up.

– Evan Driscoll
Photo: Flickr

Torch Tiles

University of Southern California (USC) has a course called “Innovation In Engineering and Design for Global Crises.” As part of the class, a team of USC undergraduates visited the Moria refugee camp to learn from and engage with the displaced peoples about their experiences. The need for more livable housing was the impetus for students’ project development. The result was Torch Tile — an adaptable, low-cost, user-friendly solution to the sheltering challenges of the displaced peoples in Moria.

Living Conditions of the Sprawling Moria Refugee Camp

On the eastern coast of the Greek island of Lesvos, is the Moria refugee camp. Moria is the largest refugee camp in Europe. It is the landing pad for the daily stream of refugees fleeing from Afghanistan, Syria and Turkey via a harrowing boat trip across a six-mile stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. The camp was originally designed to shelter 3,000 people. Currently, it is overflowing with over 13,000 refugees.

Tents sprawling the foothills surrounding Moria have constituted as impermanent shelters or “homes” for these refugees. Some asylum-seekers have even established residence with flowers, hand-made tandoori ovens and power cords for hijacking electricity. Despite these additions, the tents are no match for the temperature swings of Greece’s climate. In the summers, heat waves can break 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters on the island bring lasting snow from the sea moisture. Asylum-seekers can expect to wait a year before their asylum applications are processed ensuring they will experience both extreme weather conditions.

In the past, asylum-seekers have employed cardboard and tarps in an attempt to block out the extreme cold and heat. Increasing the temperature a few degrees led to refugees living in environments with dank, humid air that condenses on the tent inner walls. Running water is only available inside of Moria, and these moist environments put asylum-seekers at risk for health complications. Many suffer from pneumonia and heat stroke, which there are limited resources with which to treat.

In stepped the Torch Tile.

The Product

After over thirty different prototypes and dozens of hours of overnight testing, the team created the Torch Tile. The users’ needs were at the forefront of the creation’s design. The product comes in 36 or 55 sq. ft. sheets that can be laid side-by-side (like tiles) to fully surround a tent. The sturdy, lightweight and flexible material of the tiles is Aluminet.

The knitted screen-like material allows for airflow, reduces indoor humidity and lets light into the tent for visibility. Secured using zip ties and draped over the tent ceiling, the Torch Tile cools the interior by deflecting outdoor heat and light on warm days. Similarly, in winter weather one layers a tarp over the Torch Tile to warm the tent by 5-15 degrees by reflecting body heat inward.

Then, the team founded Torch Global Inc., a nonprofit currently fundraising to mass produce tiles for distribution. The goal is to provide tiles for those in Moria and for the unsheltered populations in Los Angeles.

Protecting Homes during the Coronavirus Pandemic

The distribution of Torch Tiles has been paramount to enabling people to self-isolate during the coronavirus pandemic. One Torch Tile user from Los Angeles shared, “I have COVID and can’t isolate because my tent is too hot. This product will keep my tent cooler, so I can actually stay inside and isolate.” Recently Torch Global Inc. fundraised $13,000 for the ordering of 1,500 more Torch Tiles — protection for 1,500 more people in their homes.

The collective, global mobilization and coordination of resources necessary to resolve the refugee crisis in Greece is unlikely to occur soon enough. Even when it is, situations and conflicts will likely displace more people in the future, and asylum-seekers living in tents will be inevitable. By thermo-regulating shelters, Torch Tiles alleviate one aspect of refugees’ vulnerability and address the downstream effects of displacement.

Tricia Lim Castro
Photo: Flickr

Congress advocating for foreign aidThere is plenty of debate on the significance of foreign aid as well as a lot of misconceptions. John F. Kennedy once said regarding foreign aid, “…our economic obligations as the wealthiest people in a world of largely poor people, as a nation no longer dependent upon the loans from abroad that once helped us develop our own economy – and our political obligations as the single largest counter to the adversaries of freedom.” Although foreign support is met with resistance from some, the majority of Congress and its constituents see the importance. According to a Chicago Council survey in 2019, 69% of Americans thought it would be best for the U.S. to take an active part in world affairs. However, 30% thought the U.S. should not be involved at all. Despite attempts to cut the budget and its value put in question, there are many members of Congress advocating for foreign aid.

U.S. Foreign Aid

Foreign aid is funding allocated from the United States’ budget for global health programs. It also goes towards U.S. military training, United Nations peacekeeping and global development assistance. There are many aspects in which U.S. foreign aid is beneficial to the entire world. For example, foreign aid increases national security. U.S. foreign aid does this by helping alleviate the poor conditions that lead to terrorism by stabilizing poverty-stricken and conflicted countries.

When other countries are doing well, there is more exchange for American goods and the increase of global trade partners. Giving aid to others also improves our nation’s diplomacy and higher position in world leadership.

According to most opinion polls, Americans think about 25% of the U.S. budget goes to foreign assistance. However, in reality, it’s significantly less. In 2018, the United States allocated an estimated $46.89 billion to foreign aid which is only about 1% of the total federal funds. Many political leaders are aiming to protect and increase the foreign assistance budget. Here are just a few of the many members of Congress advocating for foreign aid.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH

One of the members of Congress advocating for foreign aid is Senator Shaheen. She is currently serving as the senior United States senator from New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen is also a member of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations. She advocates for a strong and clear foreign policy to restore and sustain global relations and national security. She co-sponsored The Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009. This is a bill aiming to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective and transparent.

Shaheen also raised concerns about foreign aid budget cuts. She said there is too much humanitarian work needed in the world right now.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ

Senator Menendez served as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 113th Congress and is now a ranking member. He is serving as Senator of New Jersey and has a reputation for his global leadership and staunch commitment to helping others. While Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he sought to modernize foreign policy and give substantial support to the most vulnerable; always advocating for the underdog. In regards to cutting the foreign aid budget, he equated it to cutting funding for human rights and democracy which he states doesn’t speak to the nation’s core values.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL

Currently serving as a Majority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and senator of Florida, Senator Rubio has advocated the importance of bolstering foreign aid and foreign affairs stating, “foreign policy is domestic policy”. For instance, Senator Rubio has been noted to advocate for global engagement through foreign aid. In acknowledgment of past suggested budget cuts, he responded that retreating from global engagement is bad for national security and our economy.

Strengthening the Foreign Aid Budget

The many members of Congress advocating for foreign aid understand the importance of protecting and maintaining a healthy budget for foreign assistance. Foreign policy is a non-partisan interest and it benefits the entire world. Foreign policy is not charity, it is imperative for the nation’s diplomacy, security and economy. For all developed countries and global leaders, assisting developing nations is also a matter of human rights. It also concerns maintaining peace and prosperity for all. In conclusion, when we help others, we help ourselves.

– Tara Hudson
Photo: Unsplash

Swim Instruction in AfricaThink Global Health recently conducted an interview with Olive Kobusingye, the Executive Director at the Injury Control Center in Uganda, addressing drowning and drowning-related injuries happening in Africa. “There are many risk factors that congregate around these communities [that] result in high rates of drowning,” she mentioned, “…a majority of people here are actually drowning away from their homes, and they are young adults.” According to this interview, half of the Africans who regularly use or work on lakes do not know how to swim, resulting in high injury and mortality rates among not only young children but working citizens.

According to the World Health Organization, there are an estimated 320,000 global deaths by drowning annually, with 90% of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization lists Africa as having the highest rate of drowning in the world, with the region accounting for 20% of drownings worldwide. In response to these harrowing statistics, these three organizations are making efforts to expand swim instruction in Africa, with hopes to eliminate the danger that bodies of water present for a large percentage of the African population.

3 Organizations Promoting Swim Instruction in Africa

  1. The Help Africa Swim Foundation – The Help Africa Swim Foundation identifies itself as, “a small organization with big ambitions.” The organization teaches necessary swimming and fitness skills through an integration of local customs and traditions, providing enrolled Africans with a culturally-relevant swimming education. This organization sees swimming as, not only a life-saving skill but a therapeutic activity that is capable of promoting joy and encouraging physical and mental development. One of the organization’s major projects is The Swim Education Foundation of Gambia. With 11.5% of Gambia being water, 99.3% of the population cannot swim. Professions in fishing, lifeguarding and water sports are unable to be carried out properly, as many workers have little to no swimming experience. The Help Africa Swim Foundation looks at swimming as a skill that both improves the safety and wellbeing of families and bolsters the region’s workforce.

  2. Swim Strong Foundation in Africa – Since 2007, the Swim Strong Foundation has provided more than 10,000 people with swim instruction and safety courses. Priding themselves in promoting attributes such as discipline, goal setting and commitment, the Swim Strong Foundation is on a mission to save lives through water safety education and classes. This foundation has recently expanded swim instruction in Africa, conducting lessons throughout Rwanda and Kenya. The Swim Strong Foundation also includes out-of-water training as well. The organization’s “Know Before You Go” series is a course that emphasizes the dangers of water and steps people can take to ensure safety for all.

  3. Swimming South Africa – Based in South Africa, the Swimming South Africa organization provides a plethora of opportunities, from a water polo league to a disabled swimming program. The Education and Training Unit of Swimming South Africa is one of the most transformative services that the organization provides. With a thorough instructor training program, Swimming South Africa emphasizes comprehensive swim programs that prioritize water safety. The organization targets not only children but adults in these courses, as they believe that “it is essential that as many adults as possible receive water safety education…this premise will make it easier for children to be keen on taking part in aquatics.” The organization realizes that in order to drastically improve swimming rates in Africa, the mindset of adult Africans toward swimming and the need for swim education needs to positively shift.

Looking Forward

Although expanding swim instruction in Africa will not completely eradicate drownings, studies suggest that formal swim instruction reduces drowning rates among 1 to 4-year-old children, as well as reduces the risk of drowning among the adult population. With a continued effort to promote swim and water safety education, these organizations hope to see a severe decline in Africa’s high drowning rates, as well as improved life-saving water practices throughout the region.

– Karli Stone
Photo: Flickr

Films from AfricaIn the age of digitalization, film is quickly becoming one of the most popular and accessible forms of art. As cameras and filmmaking equipment become increasingly universal and affordable, filmmakers from around the world are able to use film as an expression of culture and art. In particular, the expansion of film is transforming how the world views Africa, as cinema serves an agent in expressing the reality of issues Africa is facing. Below are five films from Africa that will challenge the way you look at poverty, not only within the region but as poverty as a whole.

5 Films from Africa that Will Change the Way You Look at Poverty

The First Grader – This film is a 2010 biographical-drama that is based on the true story of a Kenyan farmer named Kimani Ng’ang’a Maruge. As an illiterate member of the Kikuyu tribe, Mr. Maruge enrolls in public school at the age of 84 following the Kenyan government’s order for free universal education in 2003. Daniel Battsek, a National Geographic Entertainment prexy, commented that this film “is not only about historical political events, but it tells a personal story with great warmth and humor.” The First Grader balances telling a story of poverty through an image of tribal struggle and illiteracy, all while painting an intricate view of Kenya and its people.

Neria – The highest-grossing film in Zimbabwe’s history focuses on a recent widower named Neria. Living in a small village still under the grip of ancient traditions, Neria is stripped of her farm and belongings and cast aside by her family after the death of her husband. Director Godwin Mawuru challenges the narrow view the world has of Africa by infusing themes of feminism, family dynamics and the defiance of culture.

Big MenThis film tells a story of corporate oil firms working off of the coast of Ghana in 2007. The documentary beautifully juxtaposes corporate big men in suits profiting off of these resources with African citizens living in poverty and experiencing the effects of exploitation and greed. This piece of cinema has been applauded by The New York Times as a “cool and incisive snapshot of global capitalism at work”. “Big Men” is sure to challenge not only viewers’ perceptions of poverty but their beliefs about the causes behind it.

Tsotsi – This South African production is a crime drama set in the slums of Johannesburg. The protagonist is a street criminal who unintentionally kidnaps a baby while stealing a car. The film is saturated in empathy and warmth as the young criminal is transformed and softened by the helplessness of a baby. Winning an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, “Tsotsi” extends beyond a story of poverty and despair and into one of hope. It humanizes the delinquent and breathes life into the hopeless.

Stealing AfricaThis documentary highlights corruption in the copper mining industry in Zambia. Essentially all of Zambia’s copper mines are owned and operated by large corporations, and within the last ten years, they have extracted $29 billion in copper. Yet, Zambia remains one of the top 20 poorest countries in the world. Zambia is home to the third-largest reserves of copper in the world, while 80% of their population is unemployed and 60% live on less than a dollar a day. “Stealing Africa” is one of the many films from Africa that uses corporate greed and exploitation to explain why poverty remains prevalent in the country despite an abundance of resources.

 

These films from Africa provide an elaborate and complex layer to poverty that is sure to challenge many stereotypes that Western society holds about what life looks like in the region. To appreciate international cinema as a means to assert and express culture, tradition, and socio-economic conditions is to have an open-mind towards accurately understanding diversity and poverty.

Karli Stone
Photo: Flickr

Raising ChickensMalnutrition affects 52 million children around the world and, according to Dr. Francesco Branca of the World Health Organization, is considered the main cause of death and disease. One group tackling this issue is Heifer International, a non-governmental organization based out of the United States that combats global poverty and malnutrition. It does this by promoting sustainable development and supporting rural farmers. Heifer International is also known for its charitable model in which a farming family receives a female cow, with the expectation that they will give the first-born calf to another family in need.

Starting in 1944 with the delivery of 17 heifers to Puerto Rico, Heifer International has since helped lift more than 34 million families out of poverty. There are now many more projects that have been launched by Heifer International, including Hatching Hope. This particular program aims to improve the nutrition and livelihood of 100 million people by 2030 through sustainable poultry farming.

Practical Solutions to Poverty

According to the organization, raising chickens is among the most practical ways for families to be lifted out of poverty. Hatching Hope provides funding for the construction of coops so that chickens can live safely and produce healthy eggs. It also gives vaccinations for chicken in order to protect the flock and ensure its longevity.

On the ground, Hatching Hope is providing quality and affordable chicken feed so that both the chickens themselves, as well as the eggs they are laying, are healthy. For example, take the work Heifer International has done in India with the help of Cargill, an international food corporation. Experts ran nutritional analysis tests on ingredients commonly present in Indian farmers’ chicken feed. With the information they found, Cargill came up with a recipe that would provide the chickens with the best nutritional value available.

Women’s empowerment is another benefit to raising chickens that Hatching Hope promotes. In developing countries, many women are without work and depend on their male counterparts for financial security. Through raising chickens, women are given the means to provide for themselves so that they can become self-reliant.

In Mexico, Hatching Hope is focused on communities in rural regions to bolster poultry production. It hopes to increase the size of chicken farms, and similar to India, create more nutritious diets for the animals. In turn, this will help malnourished Mexicans meet the recommended daily values for protein intake.

Hatching Hope is active in three countries, the last of which is Kenya, where the population and demand for food are both growing quickly. Connecting farmers to new markets is another part of Heifer International’s approach. It pushes for a shift toward farmers within Kenya’s markets, which has the potential to connect 6,000 new households.

Further Impact

Hatching Hope is contributing to seven of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In India, Heifer International has supported more than 750,000 families through technical training and building resilience. It has provided assistance to 366,000 families through the promotion of poultry farming in Mexico.

All around the developing world, Hatching Hope is making a difference. Heifer International’s work is promoting sustainability in farming communities, providing better nutrition for both chickens and people, granting women self-reliance and more. Moving forward, Hatching Hope intends to continue chipping away at global malnutrition and seeking its goal of improving 100 million lives by 2030.

– Evan Driscoll
Photo: Unsplash

Child Poverty In Somalia
Statistical analysis has shown that Somalia has been an impoverished nation for generations and child poverty in Somalia is a particular challenge. Civil war and political instability have contributed to the lack of economic and educational resources in the region. Despite this, economic recovery is not out of the books for Somalia. The current poverty rate is at about 73% with many of its population being under 30 years old.

As a result, children living in poverty in Somalia, as well as their families, have previously had access to poor education and resources. However, these should become possible in the future. Here is some information about the challenges regarding malnourishment and education in Somalia, along with how some are providing aid.

Malnourishment in Somalia

In Somalia’s population under 30, about 2.5 million people are children and youth. In this region of the world, a child under 5 frequently experiences malnourishment. In fact, according to UNICEF, there are about 1.2 million malnourished children in Somalia. At times, if mothers are malnourished, the children can be as well. Globally, about 45% of child deaths are due to malnourishment.

A drought has occurred since 2015, impacting child poverty in Somalia. Moreover, one in eight children die before their 5th birthday and 25% of children have had growth stunts due to malnutrition. With economic development and government solidity, Somali youth and children can have access to clean water, employment, resources and education. Child poverty in Somalia is definitely something that global nations need to pay attention to. A glimpse into the educational factors in Somalia is also an important topic to discuss. There are organizations like USAID trying to help reduce these conditions in Somalia by providing support to the UN Food Aid program in its efforts to transfer food to the Somalian people. Moreover, in 2019, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FPP) provided treatment to 647,000 malnourished children in Somalia.

Child Education in Somalia

According to UNICEF Somalia, improving access to children’s education could be a positive step towards a better future for Somalia. Moreover, the future Somali generation under 30 could have better access to education in the coming generations. A child cannot go to school if their parents cannot fund it or there is no formal education system to allow them to attend. The lack of availability of teachers, resources and financial stability is also a reason why children in Somalia typically cannot obtain an education.

In Africa alone, 235 million children do not receive formal education and about 3 million of those children are Somali. In Somalia, about 40% of children do not attend school.

SEDO (Somali Education and Development Organization) formed in 2001 to raise awareness and provide support for the education system and development in Somalia. It carries out activities to improve knowledge in educational, scientific, social and cultural aspects. It also acts as a platform for the youth to express their want for action.

While child poverty in Somalia is ongoing, some are making efforts to improve education and reduce malnourishment. Through USAID’s efforts to grant food to Somalian people and treat malnourished children, and SEDO’s role in improving Somalia’s education system, hopefully, child poverty will reduce in the country.

– Amina Aden
Photo: Flickr

Dominica, a small country in the Caribbean, has a population of about 72,000. Currently, general taxes are what finance healthcare services in Dominica. There are seven healthcare centers and 44 clinics around the country that provide primary healthcare at no cost.

 9 Facts About Healthcare in Dominica

  1. Dominica spends equivalent to $418 per capita on healthcare. As of 2011, healthcare costs were 4.2% of the GDP. Those healthcare services are provided by the Ministry of Health. Also, as of 2017, there were 1.1 doctors per 1000 people in Dominica.
  2. There are five hospitals in Dominica. Four of these hospitals are government-owned, while the other one is privately owned. The Princess Margaret Hospital has one small intensive care unit, meaning it is most equipped to deal with emergency situations. However, the other three, the Marigot hospital, Grand Bay hospital and Portsmouth hospital, are not as prepared.
  3. Dominicans generally have somewhat long lifespans. For men, life expectancy is 74.4 years, and for women, it’s 80.5 years. Therefore, the total average life expectancy is 77.4 years, exceeding the global average of 72 years. However, as of 2019, 30.9 infants died out of 1000 live births, which is a rate of about 3.29%.
  4. There are both primary and secondary healthcare services in Dominica. There are seven health districts in which primary healthcare services are provided by clinics. These clinics serve about 600 people each within a 5-mile radius of the district in which they are located. Princess Margaret Hospital provides secondary healthcare to the people of Dominica.
  5. Some individuals are exempt from charge for medical treatment. Those who are considered poor or needy, pregnant women, children younger than 17 years old  are exempt from the medical care charges. People who may also have an infectious and contagious disease that can spread through multiple ways (such as bodily contact, contact with bodily fluids, or breathing in the virus) are also exempt from the charges that arise from medical care.
  6. The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 0.75%. About 506 people out of a population of 72,293 people in the Dominica have HIV/AIDS. Countries that have a prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS that exceed 1% are considered to have Generalized HIV Epidemics, so Dominica is currently below that even though its rate is higher than places like the U.K. 70% of those infected by HIV/AIDS are male. In 2019, only 95 adults and children were receiving antiretroviral therapy in Dominica.
  7. The Citizenship By Investment program in Dominica helps rebuild medical buildings and infrastructure, as well as provide treatment abroad. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, the CBI program helped fund the rebuilding of six hospitals and three healthcare centers in Dominica. Similarly, the program also sponsored 16 children to receive treatment abroad in 2017-2018. The treatment was critical for the of health of the children in Dominica.
  8. The Order of St. John is an NGO project working to improve healthcare in over 40 countries, including Dominica. This international charity has over 300,000 volunteers and staff and provides multiple services such as healthcare, first aid and other methods of support. This organization, registered as an NGO in 1964, had an income of 1.44 million pounds in 2018. Its mission is to help improve the health of people around the world and alleviate worldwide sickness. Additionally, St. John works to provide volunteers with disaster preparedness training in Dominica in the case of tropical storms or other natural disasters. The organization accepts donations, 100% of which go to their programs.
  9. Another NGO, EACH, also works in Dominica to provide healthcare communication. EACH works to promote healthcare communication that is concentrated around patients. EACH also works to provide healthcare communication research, skills and tools. They strive to ensure that patients worldwide receive specialized care with regard to autonomy and safer, efficient healthcare, as well as ensuring that patients are more likely to recover from diseases. EACH became a nonprofit and charity organization in 2014.

Many organizations and hospitals are working to provide effective healthcare in Dominica. The general public can help assist these organizations through donations or volunteering. Learning more about healthcare in Dominica, as well as in different countries around the world, can help one understand both the domestic and global situation of healthcare today.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Unsplash

Indigenous People of the Congolese Rainforest
Notable for their short stature, “Pygmies” or the African Rainforest Hunter-Gatherers are a group of ethnic minorities living in the rainforests of Central Africa, most commonly in the Congo Basin. “Pygmy” is a hypernym to refer to various ethnic groups that reside in the Central African rainforests. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),  the term “indigenous peoples” refers to the Mbati, Batwa and Baka. Indigenous people of the Congolese rainforest consider the term offensive. The DRC is home to around 60% of this indigenous population. According to University College London, Manchester Metropolitan Museum and the University of Malaga, an estimated 960,000 indigenous peoples belonged to this ethnic group in Central Africa in 2016.

Discrimination: Extreme Poverty and Corruption in the Workplace

The African rainforest indigenous people have historically faced oppression in their homeland. In fact, other ethnic and rebel groups ostracize them. In 2011, the Agence-France Presse revealed that the Bantu people of the Congo have been exploiting Pygmies as properties or slaves. In fact, many only saw them as ‘pets’ or extensions of their own property.

Due to rapid modernization, the indigenous people of the Congolese rainforest must abandon their traditional ways of living in exchange for the lowest paying jobs available. Due to their inhumane wages, many do not receive adequate nutrition. When these indigenous people must find work outside of the rainforest, they frequently become ill due to sudden changes in their lifestyle. In 2016, reports determined that working indigenous children received moonshine or other addictive substances instead of money.

Ethnic Cleansing and Murder

Congolese rebel forces are often the culprits behind acts of violence and murder against the Mbati, Batwa and Baka people. In 2003, the United Nations confirmed that the indigenous rainforest people of the DRC have suffered rape, killing or being eaten. One of the most notable instances is the Effacer le tableau, an operation that the Movement for the Liberation of Congo led. Its main goal was to exterminate the Bambuti people of Eastern Congo. The Bambutis experienced mass murder in the span of a few months between 2002 and 2003. The rebels even ate some of the Bambutis due to the belief that ‘Pygmy’ flesh contains supernatural powers. In total, about 60-70,000 total indigenous people experienced killing, which was about 40% of the indigenous population in the eastern Congo region.

In 2017, the ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature) fatally shot a young Congolese Batwa boy named Christian Mbone Nakulire. These guards received an assignment to manage protected regions of the Congo. After this tragic incident, the Batwa people have unsuccessfully pleaded for their right to ownership of their land as they believe that is the only way to prevent future deaths of their innocent people.

Fight for the Forgotten

Former Greco-Roman wrestler and MMA fighter Justin Wren has founded the Fight for The Forgotten initiative. Justin Wren met the Mbuti people of Congo in 2011 and lived with them for a year. Wren, who received the name “Efeosa” (the man who loves us) by the Mbutis made it his mission to help the marginalized community. Fight for the Forgotten has drilled 86 wells, freed 1,500 enslaved pygmies, aided 30,300 overall villagers, granted 3,048 acres of land and provided sanitation and agricultural training. Wren believes that justice for these indigenous people is possible if they “acquire their own land, access clean water, and develop sustainable agriculture” as these three factors aid in ending the cycle of continuous poverty and discrimination.

Currently, the organization is helping the Batwa people of Uganda by providing them with their own land, building wells for clean water, constructing various buildings and educating on agriculture, along with providing literacy training and much more. People can donate to its website, fightforthefortten.org, and even obtain the opportunity to start their own fundraiser to help the cause.

Survival International

This charity organization is attempting to end the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) conservation zone project in the Congo Rainforest. Some have accused the WWF of hiring park rangers who have abused and murdered multiple Baka villagers. According to Survival International, eco guards have instigated many accounts of abuse against the Bakas. In 2017, WWF eco guards whipped Baka men, women and children while they crawled on the ground. In 2018, four Baka individuals received accusations of hunting elephants and eco guards beat them although there was no concrete evidence of poaching. Two of those Baka men experienced unlawful arrest and went to prison.

To this day, the Baka people live in daily fear as eco guards frequent their communities to physically abuse villagers and burn down homes. Survival International fights to protect the Baka people as the WWF has continuously denied these abuse cases. Leaked WWF reports have shown major discrepancies between the internal reports on the violence against the Baka people, and the statements it has made publicly.

 In February 2016, Survival International submitted a complaint to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The OECD has admitted its complaint and opened an investigation against the WWF, a major accomplishment for a nonprofit like Survival International.

Taking Action

People can contact the embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo to express concerns for the Congolese indigenous rainforest people and give suggestions on how things can reform and change. Contact information exists on its website.

Although the indigenous rainforest people of the Congo Basin continue to face extreme economic hardships, violence and ethnic issues, others are beginning to hear their voices. Change and reform, despite its difficulty, is starting to look like a possibility. Hope is not bleak for the indigenous people of the Congolese rainforest, and the light at the end of the tunnel is slowly but surely getting brighter.

Kelly McGarry
Photo: Wikimedia Commons