global health 2_opt
Contrary to popular opinion, globalization has several little known and widely unpublicized effects on overall health and longevity. Previously, this phenomenon was primarily centered around the interconnectedness of people, ideas and economic capital; however, recent findings show that it might not be operating within the preconceived limitations and that there may actually be some health benefits of globalization.

Researchers at the University of Netherlands and Luephana University collaborated to analyze the mortality rates of globalized versus non-globalized countries. Utilizing the Maastricht Globalization Index (MGI) as a barometer to measure the various associations between globalization and health in a nation, scientists were able to determine-via statistical analysis-certain positive outcomes. Their results were unexpected, and what emerged from the study were three surprising health benefits of globalization.

  1. Infant Mortality Rates – In comparing the MGI to infant mortality rates, research values overwhelmingly showed that those countries with greater globalization levels also had reduced infant mortality rates. Scientists theorized that the converse relationship between the two might have to do with the higher educational, GDP and neo-natal care levels of a globalized versus non-globalized nations.
  2. Under Five Mortality Rates – Following the completion of the study, researchers were also able to determine that under-five mortality rates were decreased in those nations exhibiting higher levels of globalization. In regards to under-five mortality rates, the decreased numbers of female smokers was a significant contributor to the health benefits of globalization.
  3. Adult Mortality Rates – Even more surprising, the MGI showed a significant correlation between higher rates of globalization and lower rates of adult mortality in a nation. These health benefits of globalization were the most unexpected, and researchers found that improved access to sanitation was the greatest statistical contributor.

It appears that based upon these findings, there is a certain amount of scientific evidence highlighting the health benefits of globalization. Thus, advocating for the increased economic stability and food security factors of global poverty reduction is exactly what is needed to combat infant, under five, and adult mortality rates.

Brian Turner

Source: Globalization and Health

Photo: Imperial International Public Health


The 10 countries with the shortest life expectancy can be found in one continent, Africa, with the exception of Afghanistan. Short life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa can be caused by famine, poor governments, low levels of education (research has suggested that education correlates with healthcare awareness), availability of clean water and the existence of widespread AIDS. In Afghanistan, the main reason for short life expectancy has been due to infant mortality and women not surviving through childbirth. According to The Guardian, better access to healthcare in the last decade has helped cut infant mortality rates in Afghanistan.

What can we do? Well, donating and persuading our government to give more foreign aid helps solve the poverty issue. Once these countries move up, they can begin to fund higher levels of education, afford advanced agricultural tools which can help sustain growth, and improve healthcare.

(Listed top-to-bottom from the country with the shortest life expectancy)

  1. Chad: 48.69
  2. Guinea-Bissau: 49.11
  3. South Africa: 49.41
  4. Swaziland: 49.42
  5. Afghanistan: 49.72
  6. Central African Republic: 50.48
  7. Somalia: 50.80
  8. Zimbabwe: 51.82
  9. Lesotho: 51.86
  10. Mozambique: 52.02

Leen Abdallah

Source: CIA World Factbook, The Guardian, Econs Guide
Photo: Google: Short Life Expectancy

End Poverty in Africa

As President Obama begins his second term, Reverend Derrick Boykin and his organization African-American Voices for Africa are asking that he make four policies his priority to end poverty in Africa. During the last decade, six of the world’s fastest-growing economies were in Africa. This is due in no small part to assistance from the United States. Sustaining this commitment, Boykin writes, “will help create the future we want for all of our sisters and brothers — a future marked by growth, shared responsibility, and mutual respect.”

  1. Maintain effective development assistance and trade policies for African agriculture. It is estimated that 80 percent of Africans make their living from farming. Initiatives that help to make resources available to develop agricultural infrastructure and diversify African economies are essential for the many people that rely on farming for their livelihood. Trade policies that encourage things such as revising subsidy levels, reducing tariff limitations and strengthening smallholder farmers are essential to achieving this goal.
  2. Continue efforts to promote maternal and child nutrition. The group that has been affected most by rising food prices and the global financial crisis are children under the age of two. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life from pregnancy to its second birthday are critical and any harm done is often irreversible. The best way to ensure that the first two years are healthy is to promote important habits of hygiene and nutrition such as breast-feeding, healthy staple foods, hand-washing with soap and therapeutic foods for those that are malnourished.
  3. Reduce the African debt burden. The United States, as a world leader, should use its leverage to convince multilateral agencies such as the International Development Agency to provide interest-free loans and grants to impoverished African countries. Once African countries are free from their past debts, the growth that they are already experiencing can really take effect and push its many economies to not just survive, but to flourish and end poverty in Africa.
  4. Encourage standards of social responsibility. In the past, outside sources doing private sector business in Africa have been less than fair. Through regulatory policies such as the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, established at the May 2012 G-8 Summit, organizations must now be transparent about the business that they are doing in Africa. This will lessen the amount of corruption in Africa by outside sources. It is important that we continue to hold companies accountable for the business that they practice to ensure that they work in Africa’s best interest.

Sean Morales

Source: Huffington Post
Photo: The Guardian

National Instruments 11
USAID’s Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement Research (PEER) and National Instruments have begun moving forward with a joint effort to make scientific research tools and materials more easily available to scientists throughout the developing world.

The goals of PEER include assisting in the funding of scientists that are looking for new ways to approach some of the most important issues that hinder the progress of many developing countries such as water quality, crop production, overpopulation and malnutrition.

This public-private team-up will work well for all involved. USAID has a funding partner that will be able to contribute additional funds to the cause. National Instruments will, over the long term, build new markets for their products and encourage the creation of projects similar to their current work with USAID. At the same time, scientists who receive this funding and the new tools will be able to continue with their research, promoting the advancement of scientific research in their home countries and helping solve some problems that are specific to the developing world.

It is often noted that a regular TI-84 calculator used in many high school calculus classes have far more computing power than the entire system that was used to plan and execute the lunar landing. This is a startling fact and really shows how far a bit of technology and a great amount of motivation can go.

The desire to better the countries certainly exists already and programs like this partnership will be able to add the necessary tools and technology to make the difference. This is a public-private relationship that may prove to be out of this world.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: PR Newswire
Photo: SMU

Earlier this week, North Korea set off its latest nuclear test, defying United Nations resolutions in a move President Obama called “highly provocative” as he promised swift action from international allies and the U.N. Security Council. The latest nuclear test was the country’s most powerful to date and was North Korea’s response to “American hostility” which was quickly condemned by the international community, including the country’s only ally, China.

North Korea is one of the most poverty-stricken nations in the world, with ongoing drought and famine plaguing its population of nearly 24.5 million. The communist regime has continued to build up a large military and allocated resources to further its nuclear program, with attempts at showing military power including launching ballistic missiles, sending satellites into space and two prior nuclear tests. Marcus Noland, with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, concludes that “the development of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems is the central political goal of this regime.”

Famous for its secretive and oppressive government and numerous human rights offenses, it is estimated that nearly 2.5 million citizens have died since the continuous famine starting in the 1990s. Rural communities are still plagued by starvation and a serious food shortage – conditions that the government continually downplays to international agencies. Andrew Natsios, author of The Great North Korean Famine, states “the quid pro quo of food aid for scaling back the nuclear program has become a pattern in the authoritarian state, which then reneges on the deal.” Natsios also asserts that the current food shortage and severe poverty are affecting an entire generation of North Koreans, with no end in sight. Citing evidence of severe malnutrition, the average North Korean soldier is 10 inches shorter than his South Korean counterpart.

Despite the deplorable conditions, North Korea has continued to aggressively increase military and nuclear programs, having the “third-largest land army in Asia,” while an estimated 8.7 million people remain destitute and in need of food aid.

The United States and other international powers are encouraging new sanctions at the U.N. Security Council that will slow North Korea’s nuclear and long-range missile development, but the consequences of North Korea’s defiance of U.N. resolutions and defiance of its usual Chinese allies for much-needed food-aid are still unclear.

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: CBC News; US News




Last week concluded the 19th annual Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa. The African Mining Indaba is an extremely important conference when it comes to maintaining global resources. With about 100 countries represented, 1000 international companies and over 7,500 attendees, AMI spans over four days, not including the golf tournament.

Over these four days, investors, government officials, professors, economists and directors from all over come to learn more about how to improve the mining culture in Africa and how it affects the global economy. A main part of the conference is the Sustainable Development segment. Here, speakers come together from different sectors to discuss mining’s environmental, economic and social impact in and outside of Africa.

In order to prevent Africa’s resources from becoming too depleted, mining experts urged companies and their directors to develop more sustainable practices. Improved practices will make resources more durable so that the land and communities near mining sites will remain intact and in good condition.

When dealing with treasuries and mineral reserves, the economics behind mining starts focusing on the labor force and the numerous labor strikes. It is no secret that there is corruption within the mining market and its involvement in funding rebels and civil wars within Africa. The panel discussion on transparency and anti-corruption was created to address this very issue: for mining companies to make public their audits and payments to foreign governments in order to gain the trust of their workers and the communities around the mines.

The most important thing attendees of African Mining Indaba can take away is the fact that mining in Africa has the power to completely change the lives of millions, both in the African Union and elsewhere. The more transparent mining firms become in terms of regulations and in abiding the African Mining Vision, which strives “to harness the continent’s mineral revenues for more sustainable human development”, the better the relationship between the general population, companies, and government officials will be.

With numerous keynote speakers and presenters speaking about this subject at the conference, the event brings hope that there will be a change in the African mining culture that is so desperately needed.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source:, Mining Indaba

Polio Vaccine
Nine public health workers were recently killed by gunmen in Nigeria, according to The New York Times. The women were giving the polio vaccine to patients as part of a drive to eradicate the disease. The United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization both have a hand in funding and running the aid effort. No group has claimed to have committed the murders but local militant groups are suspected.

Polio has not been an epidemic in the developed world for quite a long time. The polio vaccine is easily found and administered in most areas of the world. Nigeria is one of the few countries in which polio continues to cause a real threat to the population. A large factor in this deadly situation is a high level of mistrust of the vaccine. Rumors about the CIA and Western governments using the vaccine to spread AIDS and sterilize women have both been spread.

It is surprisingly easy to believe that such things would be happening since such things have indeed been done before. Building trust on both personal and international levels is important to defeating the last holdouts of polio. The absence of the disease from the rest of the world can’t be the only proof that health workers can bring to their communities, there needs to be greater trust and less fear.

To combat the myths about the polio vaccine and the fear of receiving it, Bill Gates of  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has begun to address those issues head-on. Bill Gates recently gave a lecture outlining the importance of the vaccine’s availability and dispelling the popular myths about what it does.

The presence of a big name like Gates will go a long way in getting rid of these misconceptions that are putting people’s lives in danger. Watch Bill’s lecture here.

– Kevin Sullivan

Sources: The New York Times, BBC
Photo: Vaccine Truth

Fair Trade Chocolate
Chocolate, called “xocoatl” by the Aztecs hundreds of years ago, has historically been a staple in life to many millions of people.

Cacao concoctions were drunk by Mayan royalty, lauded as a gift from the gods, and was even used as currency by the Aztecs as early as the 1500s.

Today’s chocolate is also worth a lot of money. Recent estimates of chocolate consumption patterns around the week of Valentine’s Day say that “consumers will buy more than 58 million pounds of chocolate candy, raking in $345 million in sales and accounting for 5.1 percent of total annual sales” in the United States alone, reports Sylvia Camaj of PolicyMic.

The history of chocolate has also always included a dark side, however.

Scholars know that Mayan and Aztec rituals regarded cacao beans as an essential element in some capacity; whether the ritual was religious, concerned life or death, did or did not involve the sacrifice of human life – cacao was seen as a representation of divinity.

Today’s dark side of chocolate stems primarily from the statistic that 40 percent of the world’s cocoa, produced for major companies such as Hershey, Nestle, Mars, Kraft and Dove, comes from plantations in Africa’s Ivory Coast and Ghana, and is responsible for the trafficking of an estimated 109,000 children, says the State Department. The children suffer terrible abuse for their work, beating beaten and forced to work long hours while being exposed to dangerous and stunting pesticides and equipment.

However, smart and dedicated consumers are demanding change from these multi-national companies, and the companies are responding. When Cadbury was bought by Kraft in 2010, Kraft promised “to honor Cadbury’s commitment to Fair Trade cocoa sourcing. Nestle has also committed to buying chocolate that meets international labor rights standards.” Hershey has made similar commitments, although the company still has much work to do regarding their Fair Trade labor practices.

Consumers pressuring companies into morally correct business practices is a healthy, growing global trend that must receive continued attention and support from the international community. A commitment to Fair Trade products helps companies achieve a better moral standing with consumers. They can then be seen as more credible producers.

An example of a global company adopting Fair Trade production is Starbucks, a global giant in coffee that has committed to streamlining several of their beans purely from Fair Trade sources.

Learn more about Fair Trade from Oxfam International.

– Nina Narang

Sources: PolicyMic, Smithsonian
Photo: Urban Earthworm

Capitol Hill
Non-profit charitable organizations all over the United States have been preparing to take their case to Congress to defend the ability of taxpayers to deduct their donations and charitable giving while filing their annual federal taxes.

As Congress looks to increase tax revenue by inspecting every possible option given to taxpayers, their gaze has fallen upon the deductions of citizens’ donations, about $40 billion in 2012. Brent Christopher of the Communities Foundation of Texas was one of the representatives of more than 42 non-profits that brought their testimonies to Congress.

Christopher called the deductions an “encouragement” to citizens to give more than they may have given otherwise. Many organizations fear that by eliminating the deductions, even if they were replaced with a tax credit, there could be a serious drop in the donations that keep many organizations afloat. The possible revisions could later affect the taxes on non-monetary gifts such as land.

The tax deductions apply to American money going toward both local and international charities, from the local food shelter to the largest programs. Talks about the issue will continue in an attempt to dissuade Congress from eliminating the deductions or finding another way to possibly encourage donations.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Dallas News
Photo: White House

Kenyan Flowers
Giving flowers is a globally symbolic gesture.

Red roses mean love and romance, yellow daisies and sunflowers symbolize friendship and joy; but how do all, if any of these, suggest that you’re helping fight poverty?

The story starts with Feed the Future, a U.S. government initiative to end global hunger and increase global food security. Feed the Future has partnered with Kenyan farmers to cultivate crops for sustenance, such as potatoes, as well as cash crops, such as “smallholder-grown cut flowers,” writes Ian Chesterman, Chief of Party for USAID-funded Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project.

Partnering with Kenyan flower farmers has lifted thousands of farmers into an economic situation that helps them produce crops that sustain both their wallets and their stomachs, meaning that thousands of families can afford previously unavailable medical care and that thousands of children can go to school, where they will learn skills to affect prospects for their futures and hopefully lift themselves safely out of poverty.

For about two years now, this USAID project has partnered with Wilmar Flowers Ltd., a private business that was looking to expand its ventures more thoroughly in Europe and worldwide, to hire thousands of more farmers for the project.

Wilmar has been able to “invest in collection centers, research and development trials of new flower varieties and new technologies such as shade nets, charcoal coolers, water harvesting dams and grading sheds,” expanding the company’s private business while simultaneously creating jobs in Kenya.

A long cry from Feed the Future’s initial investment in the partnership, Wilmar has taken over the project, meaning that USAID’s involvement has remained minimal at best while private industry manages itself.

Wilmar’s advancement might have never happened without the involvement of USAID, a foreign aid-giving entity of the United States Federal Government, once again demonstrating the value of the meager portion of the U.S. budget dedicated towards foreign assistance.

– Nina Narang

Photo: Hortidaily