10 Facts about Life Expectancy in ZambiaZambia is home to 16.45 million people. It had one of the world’s fastest-growing economies up until 2014. Despite this, rural poverty and high unemployment levels remain rampant across the country. As a result, the nation’s average life expectancy is lower than the global average. However, significant steps have been taken in an attempt to improve the situation. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Zambia.

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Zambia

  1. The CIA reports the average life expectancy for in Zambia to be 51.4 years for males and 54.7 years for females. This is a slight increase from life expectancy in 1980 when Zambian males had an average life expectancy of 50.4 years while Zambia females had an average life expectancy of 52.5 years. Zambia currently ranks 222 in life expectancy out of 223 countries.
  2. Over the last 10 years, there has been a 30 percent reduction in child mortality in Zambia. UNICEF reported that Zambia’s under-five mortality rate was 60 deaths per 1000 births in 2017. This is an extremely large decrease in comparison to the 1990 under-five mortality rate, which was 185 deaths per 1000 births.

  3. Zambia’s high rate of child stunting is due in part to lack of poor water sanitation and hygiene. Currently, 14 percent of the Zambian population and 46 percent of Zambian schools do not have access to basic hygiene services, such as handwashing facilities with soap and water.

  4. UNICEF has set up the WASH program in response to the lack of hygienic access in Zambia. In partnership with the Government’s Seven National Development Plan, UNICEF is helping Zambia achieve the Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals. WASH has been providing sustained access to clean water and encouraging the adoption of hygiene practices in schools throughout Zambia.

  5. Since 2010, Zambia has been part of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN) in order to further battle childhood stunting, which affects 40 percent of children under the age of five. Since joining SUN, the District Nutrition Coordinating Committees (DNCC) has expanded its efforts throughout several districts in Zambia. From 2010 up to 2017,  SUN in Zambia had reached 44 percent of its goal to create coherent policy and legal framework, 62 percent of its goal of financial tracking and resource mobilization and 81 percent of its goal to align programs around a Common Results Framework.

  6. The top cause of early death in Zambia is HIV/AIDS. However, new HIV infections have dropped since 2010 by 27 and AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 11 percent. In order to maintain this downward trend, comprehensive sex education have been implemented in schools. As of 2016, 65 percent of Zambians living with HIV had access to antiretroviral treatment to prevent further transmission.

  7. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has expanded its efforts to spread treatment for HIV/AIDS throughout Zambia. In 2018 alone, AHF provided treatment for 71,000 Zambian HIV/AIDS patients.
  8. HIV/AIDS, neonatal disorders, and lower respiratory infections are the top three causes of death in Zambia since 2007. However, the number of deaths caused by these diseases have dropped since 2007 by 63.1 percent, 8 percent, and 14.5 percent respectively.
  9. As of 2018, a total of $64 per person was being spent on health in Zambia. This money comes from development assistance for health ($28) and government health spending ($24) while $12 comes from out-of-pocket and prepaid private spending, respectively. This total is expected to increase to $135 by 2050.

  10. Though the Zambian uses 14.5 percent of its total expenditures on health expenditure, there is still much work to be done. Currently, Zambia benefits from USAID’s assistance in order to scale up prevention, care and treatment programs. However, the country does not have enough advanced hospitals to offer specialized treatment. Nationally, there is an average of 19 hospital beds per 10,000 people. Additionally, WHO reports that Zambia has a physician density of 0.1 doctors per 1,000 people, which is far below the comparable country average of 3.5 physicians per 1,000 patients.

The 10 facts about life expectancy in Zambia listed above can be corrected through proper planning, targeted efforts to decrease poverty, the establishment of water/hygiene practices and development of education throughout the country. With the help of other nations and organizations, life expectancy in Zambia can be improved.

– Shreya Gaddipati
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Healthcare in Belarus
Fewer than 30 years ago, maternal health care in Belarus was not treated as a top priority in the country and the numbers show it. In 1990, 33 out of every 100,000 live births resulted in the death of the mother. By 2015, that number had decreased to four out of every 100,000.

Reasons for Bad Maternal Health Care in Belarus

The reasons for this precipitous drop are numerous, but some stand out more than others. For a long time, public health in Belarus revolved around containing the fallout from two momentous events. One was the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 that directly affected more than 2.2 million people in Belarus, half a million of whom were children. Charities, nongovernmental organizations and United Nations system organizations focused on providing emergency care to those who had been exposed to dangerous amounts of radiation.

The other event was the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health care in Soviet-era Belarus was centered on the Semashko system. In this system, industrial workers, believed to be the source of productivity and prosperity for the Soviet Union, were essentially considered more important than the rest of the population. This resulted in addressing their immediate health needs first while overlooking larger public health concerns and it also meant that health care professionals were not as highly regarded as industrial workers. Low pay and little respect for medical workers perpetuated a cycle of subpar health care in Belarus.

Government Initiatives

Independence from Russia brought economic decline for Belarus in the short-term, but it also created an opportunity to revamp the country’s approach to public health. Maternal health care in Belarus received some overdue attention. Between 2005 and 2010, several health resolutions were initiated under the new Government of the Republic of Belarus, including a greater focus on reducing maternal mortality rates.

One such initiative was to build health facilities in rural areas, so that expectant Belarusian mothers in agricultural townships would have the same access to care as their urban counterparts. Another was to create a multileveled perinatal care system, made possible with the support of the head of state who approved the allocation of funds to improve maternal health care in Belarus. This included employing almost 2,700 obstetrician-gynecologists to treat a population of roughly 4.8 million women of fertile age. This initiative was implemented in 2005.

The Progress of Maternal Health Care in Belarus

A doctor visit at the earliest point in a known pregnancy is optimal for the health of mother and child. To ensure that expectant mothers would adhere to this guideline, a monetary allowance was given to them as an incentive for seeing a doctor within the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy. As a result of this bold initiative, prenatal visits within the first trimester increased by approximately 93.5 percent.

Paid maternity leave in Belarus lasts between 126 and 140 days, depending on the difficulty of the labor. Fathers are encouraged to play an active role in the birthing process, with maternity wards made to accommodate families. Today, maternal health care in Belarus ranks 26th in the world. Belarus is a shining example of how a country can evolve over a matter of mere decades and transcend seemingly insurmountable difficulties.

With a maternal mortality rate among the lowest in the world and a compassionate and comprehensive maternal health care system, Belarus has defied expectations across the board. The aid provided to the country during the low points in Belarusian history following the Chernobyl disaster and the fall of the Soviet Union was an important stepping stone toward a healthier and more independent Belarus. The state of maternal health care in Belarus is a magnificent reflection of that.

– Raquel Ramos

Photo: Google

PA 10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Tanzania
Tanzania is home to Africa’s highest peak and borders the continent’s deepest lake, but among these geographical wonders lives East Africa’s largest population struggling to reach adulthood. According to the United Nations, Tanzania has the world’s largest youth population in modern history that, if cultivated with proper programmatic support, could result in unprecedented societal growth and progress as the population ages.

However, surviving childhood and staying healthy are major threats to an aging Tanzanian population where life expectancy is low. Lack of quality health care and poor sanitation contribute to high infant mortality and lives lost to preventable diseases. International aid is bolstering local and government-sponsored programs to address some of the most critical issues contributing to life expectancy in Tanzania, but more support is needed. In the article below, these and other issues are discussed in a form of 10 facts about life expectancy in Tanzania.

Ten Facts About Life Expectancy in Tanzania

  1. Overall, life expectancy in Tanzania has increased by nearly 10 years in the past decade. According to the most recent data, Tanzanians are expected to reach nearly 66 years of age, compared to 57 years of age in the mid-2000s. Several factors contributing to this success include socioeconomic growth through employment, higher incomes and more education.
  2. Nearly 20 percent of deaths in Tanzania are preventable with proper access to surgical care. The Tanzanian government is aware of the gap in health care access and has launched the National Surgical, Obstetric and Anesthesia Plan, dedicated to improving access to surgical, anesthesia and obstetric services by 2025.
  3. Malaria is the leading cause of hospitalization and death of children in Tanzania and one of the leading causes of all deaths in the country. Tanzania’s malaria epidemic has sparked decades of solution-driven support and strategic oversight from the Millennium Development Goals and Roll Back Malaria Partnership. Both initiatives have helped address this preventable disease and allowed Tanzanian children to live longer.
  4. Every day, 270 Tanzanian children under the age of 5 succumb to preventable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. The need for a stronger health system and service delivery is reflected in the high rates of childhood mortality. The childhood mortality rate is, however, improving and has dropped by nearly half since the early 1990s due to concerted efforts from Tanzania’s government and international aid.
  5. Seventy-five percent of Tanzanian children have received all basic immunizations. With global immunization coverage consistent at 85 percent, Tanzania is taking health security for children seriously. One major barrier to higher coverage is the disparity between regions. International aid efforts like those from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) offer support for childhood vaccination which is a contributing factor for a drop of two-thirds since 2000 in child mortality.
  6. Tanzanian children born to mothers with little education are 1.3 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children whose mothers have secondary or higher education. Further, adolescent women in Tanzania who have not been able to access education are five times more likely to be mothers than those with secondary or higher education. Programs from the Girls Educative Collaborative like Launch a Leader, that prepares girls heading to secondary school, help break down barriers and expand access to continuing education for young women.
  7. Two-thirds of women in the country give birth in a facility with a skilled practitioner. The assistance of an attendant reduces the chances of maternal mortality during birth, however, large gaps in skill among delivery attendants leave women at risk for maternal mortality.
  8. Twenty-seven million Tanzanians lack access to safe drinking water and 35 million Tanzanians rely on unimproved sanitation. These unsafe water and sanitation conditions disproportionately affect children and rural communities. But, there is hope. Organizations like Water.org have begun tapping into Tanzania’s existing technology infrastructure to improve the country’s water and sanitation infrastructure through digital finance and the company’s WaterCredits program.
  9. Tanzania has one of the world’s lowest physician-to-population ratios. WHO estimates that there are three doctors, nurses or midwives for every 10,000 Tanzanians. With a population of over 50 million and a recommended minimum threshold of 23 providers for every 10,000 people in low-income countries, these numbers highlight a significant gap in health care coverage. One USAID program, in collaboration with Tanzania’s government, has trained over 500 health providers in more than 400 facilities to address critical needs.
  10. Almost 1.5 million Tanzanians living with HIV, the AIDS epidemic are being well managed. Tanzania’s extensive roll out of antiretroviral medications has helped minimize the impact of the country’s epidemic over the last decade and improved life expectancy in the country.

The above presented 10 facts about life expectancy in Tanzania speak about the positive outcomes international and government solutions have on Tanzania’s population, but also highlight areas for further growth. Malaria is one of the leading deterrents for economic development and foreign investment in the country, and Tanzania did not meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goal targets for childhood or maternal mortality. With the proper support, Tanzania is on track to excel. The country’s future looks brighter (and older) than it did a mere decade ago.

– Sarah Fodero
Photo: Flickr

Child Mortality in India
Child mortality rate, according to Our World in Data, is defined as the probability that the newborn baby will die before reaching the age of five. It is calculated as the percentage of babies that do die before this age, per 1,000 births. Similarly, the infant mortality rate is the number of children deaths occured before the child reaches his or her first birthday, per 1,000 births. Over the course of world modernization, the child mortality rate has declined greatly, in some areas more than others.

Child Mortality Statistics

In 1990, one in 11 children died before their fifth birthday worldwide, whereas in 2017 that number has more than halved and only one in 26 children died before the age of five. This positive trend can be attributed to improvements in the health field, education and technology, as well as many other factors. The drop in child mortality rate is not exclusive to developed countries, because the developing country of India has also seen tremendous declines in mortality rate over the past several decades.

Child Mortality in India

In India in the 1960s, anywhere between 20 percent and 25 percent of children died before their fifth birthday. This trend continued through the end of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st. As of 2015, only 4.8 percent of children are projected to die before they turn the age five. Despite the declining child mortality in India, the country still contributes significantly to the world’s children mortality rate, as it still has negative statistics of 42 deaths per 1,000 live births. The main causes of death for children under the age of five are highly preventable, given the right tools. The most prevalent cause is pneumonia, followed by newborn infections, birth complications and malaria. If more women in India were receiving effective prenatal health care, the numbers would likely drop even more.

The Decline of Child Mortality in India

The declining child mortality in India can be attributed to a number of factors. India saw a great increase in the funding of health care initiatives in the first two decades of the 21st century. The percent of GDP used towards public health was 1 percent in 2004 and jumped to 1.4 percent in 2014, which is a 40 percent boost over the decade. With increased funding towards health care, the country is able to set up set up health infrastructures in areas that did not have any and train community health workers. These trained health workers could serve as the frontline in the mission to improve health in India, and women and newborns would benefit greatly from the extra care.

The elimination of communicable diseases such as polio and tetanus also play a huge role in the declining child mortality in India. There are also plans being put in place for the elimination of more diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis in years to come. While the public health system is not yet in a place to focus on curing diseases, they are aiming for much funding at prevention.

While the declining child mortality in India has been a success for the country thus far, there is, of course, still a long way to go. One of the main areas that could be significantly improved is the time and health care to the women before the child is even born as not enough pregnant women are engaging in prenatal checkups, and many don’t have traditional deliveries in medical institutions. If both these practices were increased, child mortality would drop even more and children would have a better chance at living a healthy life from the beginning. Additionally, the continued improvement of water sanitation and hygiene would improve the lives of all people in India, and certainly contribute to healthier children.

Although the child mortality rate continues to drop in India year after year, the country still needs to understand that this battle is not won. While all citizens must participate in order for the country to continue the positive trend, the government must focus on improving the health care system and devote the attention to the mothers and young children.

– Charlotte Kriftcher

Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Poverty in the Democratic Republic of The Congo (DRC) can be interpreted as a combination of spillover conflict from neighboring African nations, as well as an embedded culture of governmental corruption. In the text below, the top 10 facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will address the underlying causes, as well as how DRC has been able to improve impoverished conditions in recent years.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. The Democratic Republic of Congo has a population of approximately 78 million people. Out of this number, 80 percent of the population live in extreme poverty. DRC is classified internationally as the country of medium concerning human development. Indicators of human development measure parameters such as population’s well being, regarding life expectancy, child/maternal mortality, infant mortality, malnutrition and mortality associated with a disease.
  2. Wealth is unequally distributed, far better in urban over rural areas and wealth is a determinant for access to sanitation and medical services. The poor in rural areas are most affected.
  3. Poverty is also a direct consequence of the political conflict that occurred during the 1990s, called the First and Second Congo War. The country has seen a dramatic transformation from a state engulfed in brutal genocidal violence into a relatively stable post-conflict society. Poverty is a byproduct of political violence that in turn has significant economic and social repercussions. The consequences of the war can be seen even today, as more than 900,000 people were displaced from the country. in 2016 War-torn communities have left approximately 4 million children orphans or living on the streets.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, poverty and development are linked. As African nations develop, their populations rise as a result. However, the flip side to this is that malnutrition and new diseases spread as the existing system of governance cannot keep up with the uptick of the population.
  5. DRC transitioned from a Marxist to free market economy that has relied heavily on wealth from the mining industry. Upon the transition, the new economy has not been managed appropriately, as wealth is spent lavishly on the patronage of government officials instead of humanitarian efforts.
  6. War impacted on poverty since infrastructure communities that rely on for clean water and sanitation were destroyed, contributing to the spread of disease. Waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera and malaria are the most common and deadly in the country. Less than one-fourth of DRC’s population has access to clean drinking water and sanitation services. DRC has a 45 percent inoculation rate of malaria, resulting from lack of access to cleaning drinking water and poor nutrition. Approximately 40 percent of deaths in the country is related to malaria.
  7. DRC’s governmental structure has had a tumultuous relationship with the population, engaging in genocidal violence during internal conflict, and an unstable kleptocratic government post-conflict system. Historically, the country functions under an economy and government of affection. Primarily, government investment is spent on personal relations to buy popular support, rather than on social programs that would earn support.
  8. The people of the DRC look to the international community and nongovernmental organizations for assistance. The Nouvelle Esperance (New Hope) program offered great assistance in the Millennium Declaration that is based in human development and humanitarian assistance but also has specific goals to eliminate poverty all together using a strategy that fosters national and international stability. The Global Partnership plays an integral role in improving education in the DRC, increasing access to education by providing $20 million in learning materials and renovating 728 classrooms. Other notable contributions have come from UNICEF and USAID that aid and monitor the quality of the services that the country’s government provides.
  9. Significant assistance programs have been provided by transnational banks such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank. African Development Bank’s helps reduce infant and maternal mortality rates through programs that equally distribute medical supplies. World Bank’s helps with the program aimed to increase standards of living through sanitation, energy and various accessible social services. World Bank has 29 total projects active in the country representing a total of $3.8 billion. World Bank has also funded medical projects assisting the DRC in the successful eradication of poliomyelitis. Since World Bank began humanitarian projects in the DRC in the post-conflict era of the 1990s, there is a vast improvement since the strategy has shifted away from emergency assistance programs to sustainable growth strategies.
  10. Different organizations are helping the country’s situation. With the help of the U.N. which the Democratic Republic of Congo joined in 2000, the country has successfully been able to demobilize and improve health and education opportunities. Britain’s Department of International Development has developed an initiative that aims to support long-term programs that tackle the underlying issues of poverty, with the goal of cutting the number of people in poverty in half, as well as ensuring all children have a primary education, sexual equality, a reduction in child and mother death rates and environmental protection. Other notable contributions have come from the French and Belgian governments that foster public management of resources as well as public administrative support.

These top 10 facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo provide an understanding of not only how poverty developed in the country and the effects poverty has had on the people, but also working solutions to address this issue. The Democratic Republic of the Congo can also provide an example of success for other post-conflict societies in improving poverty rates.

– Kimberly Keysa
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in NepalOf the people living in Nepal, 25 percent are living below the poverty line, having just U.S. 50 cents per day. This makes Nepal one of the poorest countries in the world. Rates of disease, malnutrition and child mortality are high. Fortunately, Nepal has experienced slight economic growth in the past few years. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Nepal:

  1. Nepal has experienced over 70 civil wars since 1945. This has led to around 20 million deaths and over 65 million people displaced. The most recent war ended in 2006. Conflict within a country is influencing heavily on poverty rates, as it limits resources, healthcare and the possibility of a healthy job market.
  2. Around 5 million people in Nepal are undernourished. This is in part caused by high food prices and limited access in rural areas to farming. High prices of food make it unaffordable for people in poverty which drives hunger.
  3. Nepal has been the victim of numerous natural disasters. With an already struggling economy and low political stability level, earthquakes in Nepal are another factor of the country’s instability. People lose their homes and their jobs and are forced to find other ways to make a living. Women often become more vulnerable to trafficking in the post-natural disaster.
  4. Nepal’s government is known for being corrupt. The country was ranked third most corrupt country in South Asia. Abuse of authority leads to a biased economic system and unfair distribution of resources, perpetuating the issue of poverty in Nepal.
  5. Poverty in Nepal contributes to high child mortality rates. In 2016, for every 1,000 children born in Nepal, 35 died before their fifth birthday. This can be attributed to lack of health care and education access in impoverished regions, and there are many such regions in Nepal.
  6. The geography of Nepal influences the country’s ability to mitigate poverty. Nepal is a landlocked and mountainous region, which makes development and transportation of resources difficult.
  7. A lack of advanced farming methods makes it hard for progress against poverty in Nepal to be made. Over 85 percent of the people in Nepal rely on agriculture as the main form of sustenance. However, outdated methods are slowing the farming pace. The Government of Nepal has also not provided proper infrastructure to farmers.
  8. Unemployment and underemployment significantly contribute to poverty rates in Nepal. In 2016, the unemployment rate was around 3.4 percent. Lack of well-paying jobs is a major contributor to poverty.
  9. Surging housing prices have made it difficult for the impoverished people of Nepal to afford a house. Up to 10 percent of urban inhabitants are squatters. Rates of rural-urban migration have also soared in recent years, further pushing up the price of houses in cities.
  10. There are many non-profit organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, that are working to help the people of Nepal. Habitat for Humanity has specifically focused on the last mentioned problem- housing crisis in Nepal. Working together with their partners, they are building 2.3 houses per hour. Thanks to organizations like this, communities in Nepal can become empowered and gain a better quality of life.

Nepal is lagging behind even undeveloped world when it comes to poverty. However, not all hope is lost. Efforts of volunteers and non-profit organizations have the potential to make a big difference, especially regarding the recent economic upturn. These 10 facts about poverty in Nepal highlight the various issues that contribute to the problem and the impact that they have on the country.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Unsplash

USAID's support for childrenAmong the groups that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) aims to support, children across the world are a top priority. From health-related aid to education opportunities and protection from violence, USAID’s support for children employs a variety of means to help kids survive and grow despite poverty and other adversities.

USAID Addresses Preventable Child Mortality

An important aspect of USAID’s support for children is access to medical assistance. An overwhelming 75 percent of child deaths under the age of five results from newborn deaths and treatable diseases: pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. These illnesses could be effectively countered by timely low-technology treatments, which USAID attempts to provide on the local level by bolstering public-private engagement and promoting Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM).

USAID strengthens iCCM programs that train and assist with local community members treating children. Such programs provide vital medical care on the ground in communities that are often hard to reach. USAID helps construct sustainable networks of monitoring and evaluation, clinical referral, supportive supervision and more, which in turn ensure the functioning of iCCM programs.

A USAID-supported iCCM program in Zambia led to a 68 percent early treatment rate of childhood pneumonia. USAID’s efforts to treat malaria have reached millions of children in Tanzania alone, where 70,000 people die from the disease annually. Within a decade, simple preventative action and treatment by community health workers have contributed to a 28 percent decrease of child mortality rate.

USAID’s Support for Children: A Comprehensive Action Plan

USAID’s efforts to help children around the world are not limited to medical care. USAID, together with other U.S. government departments and agencies, launched the ambitious and comprehensive five-year U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity in 2012. Backing the plan is Public Law (PL) 109-95, signed in 2005 to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which asks the U.S. government to effectively respond to vulnerable youths in low and middle-income nations.

USAID’s support for children is wide-ranged and well-coordinated under the Action Plan, focusing on the value of investing in boys and girls in order to achieve long-term economic and social progress. Among those receiving aid are children affected by HIV/AIDS, those living outside of family care, those who have been trafficked, those under sexual violence or exploitation and more.

Interventions employed by the Action Plan are evidence-based, meaning they are both effective and instructive for further action in the future. Such actions include improving the families’ socioeconomic status, rescuing youths suffering from the worst forms of child labor, promoting protective family care and protecting the education of both children and their surrounding communities.

According to the most recent annual report for Congress, the plan has reached millions of young lives since 2012. Understanding the significance of nutrition, especially in the first thousand days of life, USAID and Food for Peace sent food assistance to approximately 20 million children in 61 countries with funds from Fiscal Year 2015. Children separated from their families in 11 countries received help from USAID to return to family care.

Effective Utilization of the Private Sector

Many of USAID’s support for children take place in the private sector, via public-private engagement as well as recent “development impact bonds.” Public-private engagement is manifest in USAID’s Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS), which increases the ready supply of diagnostic and treatment-related products. The program works with local manufacturers and importers and also informs health workers regarding the appropriate use of medical knowledge and tools.

In December of 2017, USAID launched a new development impact bond for India, the Utkrisht Bond, that mobilizes private capital to make improved healthcare accessible to 600,000 women, aiming to save up to 10,000 mothers and their newborns. With private capital enabling an initial investment, USAID and Merck for Mothers will only follow up with its $4.5 million commitment after the development goals are realized, ensuring the effectiveness of aid.

Innovative, sustainable and replicable efforts such as these are consistent with USAID’s mission to help developing countries so that they eventually grow out of the need for aid. Continued assistance from the U.S. agency will ensure that millions of children around the world are given the help they need for a better future.

– Feng Ye
Photo: Flickr

Infant Mortality in Central African Republic
Newborns remain at high risk in war-torn countries, and in the case of Central African Republic, many women lack adequate resources to ensure a successful pregnancy. This absence has resulted in the nation having one of the largest statistics of infant mortality in the world.

In a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the infant mortality rate for Central African Republic in 2016 was 42.3 deaths per every 1,000 births, making Central African Republic one of the riskiest places for a child to be born.

Causes of Infant Mortality

According to a study by UNICEF, the main cause for infant mortality in third-world countries is preterm birth complications, which encompasses 35 percent.

Complications can often result from limited access to medical care. According to the same study by UNICEF, not only was infant mortality in Central African Republic one of the highest in the world, but as of the year 2009, there were only three healthcare professionals to assist with every 10,000 people in the country.

Also, due to the lack of trained medical professionals to assist pregnant women, many mothers decide to have the child at home or end up in labor before they reach a facility. In a 2012 report published by Doctors Without Borders, the report stated that 26 percent of newborn deaths occurred in a hospital, while 74 percent of deaths occurred at home or en route to a hospital.

Solutions to Infant Mortality

Due to the high risks that newborns encounter, organizations have provided and proposed solutions to infant mortality in Central African Republic. According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), midwives can serve as a substitute for mothers who are unable to make the journey to the nearest healthcare facility.

The organization stated that a midwifery program in Nigeria was able to see a 60 percent increase in the use of prenatal care and almost 50 percent increase in healthy childbirth, when there was the presence of a midwife during pregnancy.

The Importance of Breastfeeding

Another proposed solution is aiding mothers with breastfeeding before and after they give birth. UNICEF has addressed the importance of breastfeeding mothers by stating that, “delaying breastfeeding by 2–23 hours after birth increases the risk that a newborn will die by more than two fifths. Delaying it by 24 hours or more increases the risk by almost 80 percent.”

UNICEF has made efforts over the years to address this statistic and stated that it has supplied thousands of children and mothers in Central African Republic with Vitamin A supplements to aid with breastfeeding.

Safe and Quality Treatment

Furthermore, Doctors Without Borders has established a project in the town of Boguila that includes a hospital which operates and provides secondary health care, an outpatient department and 10 health posts in proximity to the town.

With access to safe and quality healthcare facilities, midwifes and proper nutrition before and after pregnancy, mothers can be in better means of having children that survive after birth — an occurrence that would decrease the alarming rate of infant mortality in Central African Republic.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Flickr

Child Mortality Rates in Mali
Mali
, a West African country with one of the highest child mortality rates in the world, has developed a health outreach program that is drastically reducing child mortality rates. Muso, a nonprofit organization, is fighting child mortality rates in Mali, where 78 percent of the population is living in some form of poverty.

Muso trains local Malians to become community health workers, who then go door-to-door in both rural and urban areas of the country to seek out sick children and provide on-site treatment. The healthcare package that the organization provides includes treatment for malnutrition, malaria and diarrhea, as well as family planning information. For only $8 per year per person, this program is able to provide healthcare services to millions of Malians across the West African nation.

Most of the community healthcare workers are women, giving the organization its namesake. In Bambara, a lingua franca and the national language of Mali, “muso” means woman. A well-known Malian proverb reads, “If you educate a woman, you educate her family, her community and her entire country.”

The program has been operating since 2005 and has already shown very promising results. Scholars from the University of Harvard, University of Southern California San Francisco and the Malian Ministry of Health conducted a repeated cross-sectional survey of the intervention from 2008 to 2011. The study found that during the time period, there was a decline in child mortality rates in Mali (child defined here as those under five years old). The study also identified that malarial and febrile illness treatment had nearly doubled during the time of the study compared to the national rates prior to intervention.

It is important to note, however, that the study was not randomized, so researchers cannot definitively conclude that the outcomes are a direct result of the program.

“The leading causes of child death are curable, but they are exquisitely time sensitive”, says Muso founder Dr. Ari Johnson. The organization seeks to remove barriers, such as fiscal constraints, to allow easy access to healthcare in Mali and eliminate preventable deaths that are rooted in poverty.

This nonprofit is reducing child mortality rates in Mali through incredible public outreach. Since the program’s inauguration, Muso has completed 3.2 million home visits with 93 percent of patients being treated within 72 hours, providing comprehensive and rapid care.

Not only is Muso providing healthcare, but it is also working with government-run health services to improve their healthcare delivery. Government-run clinics have fees and lineups that often create delays in care. Muso eliminates these barriers by bringing the care to patients and freeing up space in government-based clinics for those who cannot be treated at home. In addition, Muso provides training, staff and infrastructure to the government clinics, allowing more Malians access to healthcare.

Muso is demonstrating how one nonprofit can aid in reducing child mortality rates in Mali through a unique model of healthcare delivery and is removing barriers to access for many Malians. It will be interesting to see how the organization continues to expand and improve their work in Mali.

– Katherine Kirker

Photo: Flickr

child mortality rate in Somali
The child mortality rate, also known as the under-five mortality rate, is the number of deaths of children and infants under the age of five years per 1,000 live births. Many of these deaths are attributed to malnutrition, lack of safe drinking water or proper sanitation and diseases. Countless underdeveloped countries suffer from insufficient support systems that contribute to the child mortality rates increasing worldwide, one of these countries being Somalia. The child mortality rate in Somalia is among the highest in the world.

One out of seven Somali children dies before they turn five, measuring at a rate of 137 deaths per 1,000 live births with a staggering number in the south and central areas of Somalia. Pneumonia, diarrhea, diseases, polio, measles and neonatal disorders are among the leading causes contributing to the high infant and child mortality rate in Somalia.

The lack of government security and widespread internal conflict over the past several decades in Somalia has made it difficult for progression to occur and has left the country in extreme poverty. UNICEF has taken it into its own hands and has implemented interventions that have helped those at risk and created some highly recognizable accomplishments. Humanitarian interventions backed by UNICEF in South Central Somalia and some areas in Puntland and Somaliland protect about 2.5 million individuals.

UNICEF has given humanitarian assistance to those in need by providing health services and supplies for the polio and measles vaccination campaign plan and primary health service delivery at Mother and Child Health clinics, which have benefited roughly 201,550 people at risk. Through the Mother and Child Health clinics and Health Post, UNICEF supports about 70 percent of primary health services in Somalia by equipping the nation with medicine, equipment, vaccines and management supplies.

With the polio outbreak that began in May of 2013, the support offered by UNICEF has allowed for a little over 35 additional immunization campaigns to be implemented for children under five. Several of these campaigns have also targeted children under 10 years old and adults. In October 2015, the polio outbreak was declared over thanks to the support provided by UNICEF.

UNICEF has also established a community-based strategy through an Integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) in order to reduce common childhood illnesses that contribute to the child mortality rate in Somalia. The ICCM is designed to use skilled and supervised health professionals in regions that lack access to medical sites in order to deliver health assistance to children. The program is also building up a team of health officials, service administrators and community-based leaders to manage any health risk or crisis that threatens the area. The strategy has benefited roughly 21,000 households thus far. 

Somalia has also been scaling up its Essential Package of Health Services (EPHS). These packages, backed by UNICEF, have been adopted as the primary health programme by Somali Health Authorities. EPHS is the main outlet used to strengthen child healthcare and safe motherhood programs, which include child immunizations, maternal, reproductive and neonatal health and treatment of common diseases and HIV. The program has already begun in 39 locales in seven areas throughout Somalia and is continuing to grow. A potential 4.2 million people will benefit from the EPHS services.

UNICEF’s continuous collaboration with partners in working to reinforce the volume of Somali health officials that respond to the health concerns of the population will not only strengthen the governance and leadership of local health authorities but will also improve access to quality healthcare in order to ensure children survive past their fifth birthday.

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr