Information and news about disease category

Dengue FeverAccording to the World Health Organization, dengue fever is one of the ten major global health threats of 2019. The mosquito-borne illness results in flu-like symptoms that can kill up to 20 percent of those infected. Approximately 390 million cases of dengue fever are reported each year across 100 different countries, although, many cases go unreported. Cases of dengue fever have also increased 30 times in the last 50 years, meaning that today, 40 percent of the world’s population is at risk of contracting the disease.

Why the Increase?

While dengue fever used to be concentrated in countries with extreme tropical climates, such as India and Bangladesh, the disease is now prevalent in countries that have more temperate climates, such as Nepal. With higher than average temperatures, rainy seasons are lasting longer which creates the perfect environment for the Aedes mosquito, the carrier of the disease. Unfortunately, the geographic regions that the Aedes mosquito inhabits coincide with low and middle-income countries. Many of these countries do not have sufficient health care systems to cope with this major health issue. Therefore, the effects of dengue are even more severe.

Protection from Mosquitoes

The World Health Organization is leading efforts to reverse the increasing threat of dengue fever. One common tactic used is immunization. The first immunization for dengue fever was approved in 20 countries in 2015. However, follow-up data from 2017 showed that the vaccine was actually harmful to those who had never contracted the disease, putting people at a higher risk of more severe cases of dengue. Now, the vaccination is recommended as a measure for those who have already been affected.

In addition to immunization, people can inhibit the Aedes mosquito’s survival and procreation by properly disposing of human waste, and not leaving out any stagnate, uncovered containers of water, as mosquitoes thrive and lay eggs in both environments. It is also advised to use spray insecticide to repel bugs and invest in screened windows and sleeping nets for protection in homes.

Combatting the Threat

The World Health Organization is partnering with local organizations and governments in affected countries to ensure that the number of deaths caused by dengue fever will decrease by 50 percent in 2020. In order to reach this goal, however, additional funding and research are needed so that the scope of dengue fever is properly understood. Health care providers also need the training and resources to properly address the issue and detect the disease in its early stages as well. If dengue fever is diagnosed before the symptoms become too severe, mortality rates of the disease become much more optimistic.

 

Madeline Lyons
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Macedonia
North Macedonia is a landlocked country in the Balkan Peninsula, home to 2.074 million people. Macedonia has struggled with poverty for many years, and while some problems still linger, citizens have been making great leaps in technology, security and medicine to increase the country’s average life expectancy.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Macedonia

  1. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, the average life expectancy in Macedonia is 75.9 years. In 2018, males lived an average of 73.8 years while females lived for around 78.2 years.
  2. In 2015, 21.5 percent of all Macedonians lived below the poverty line. Poverty has a direct link to life expectancy and one can see this all around the globe, even in the United States. In 2018, The Independent reported that U.S. citizens living below the poverty line died almost 10 years younger than the rich and found that those living in poor sectors showed a higher death rate due to illness.
  3. The main causes of death in Macedonia are stroke and heart disease, with strokes causing 23.3 percent of deaths and heart disease causing 20.5 percent of deaths in 2010. This is an almost 10 percent rise from the rate in 1990 when there was a 16.6 percent mortality rate for stroke and a 14.8 percent mortality rate for heart disease. In recent years, the Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) and other health organizations have been providing free screenings to determine a patient’s risk of stroke and established four stroke units around the country in order to combat this epidemic.
  4. Deaths due to tuberculosis have decreased to less than 20 percent of the rate in 2000, dropping from five out of 100,000 citizens to one out of 100,000 citizens. The World Health Organization also reported an 88 percent success rate in tuberculosis treatment in 2016. This change is due to more efforts to provide necessary medication to those afflicted and is likely responsible for the increase of the average lifespan of Macedonian citizens.
  5. In 2018, there was a 12 percent increase in murders, a 21 percent increase in attempted murders and a 31 percent increase in acts of violence, according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council. Poverty and crime correlate, so it is likely that Macedonia’s poverty rate and crime rate are connected. While there have been improvements in quality of life, a rising crime rate, especially in violent crimes, may cause an unnecessary drop in the average Macedonian’s lifespan.
  6. UNAIDS reports that the amount of people living with HIV in Macedonia has increased from around 250 in 2013 to more than 500 in 2019. As the number of people living with HIV has increased, UNAIDS has been making efforts to increase treatment. Starting in 2010, UNAIDS has implemented antiretroviral therapy to more and more citizens as the rate of affliction has risen. Due to these efforts, UNAIDS treated over 50 percent of the afflicted population in 2018, and the amount of AIDS-related deaths per year remains under 100 to this day.
  7. Macedonia suffers from heavily polluted air. In 2018, Macedonia’s two biggest cities, Tetovo and Skopje, reported air pollution indexes of 95.57 and 83.53 respectively. In contrast, New York’s air quality index stagnates between 40-45. Macedonia’s heavily polluted air has unquestionably affected the health of its residents, causing 1,469 deaths due to respiratory illness between 2015 and 2016. Recently, people like Gorjan Jovanovski have made great strides, who is a resident of Macedonia and developed an app to protect people from the densely polluted air. Jovanovski’s app draws information from air quality measuring stations around Macedonia and reports the air quality of the users’ general area based on readings from the nearest station.
  8. The CIA reports that people use North Macedonia as a hotspot for illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine to pass through from Asia and Europe. The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported that Macedonia suffered 14 drug-related deaths in 2011 and 18 in 2012. Reports also say that there were 47 cases of drug-related infectious diseases between 1987 and 2004. These diseases and deaths could be a strain on the average life expectancy in Macedonia.
  9. In 1990, UNICEF reported that the infant mortality rate in Macedonia was 36.7 deaths per 1,000 lives births, usually due to preventable diseases or injuries. In 2019, the rate is only 13.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. This steep drop in child mortality is due to the implementation of more in-depth medical practices. In 2017, 93 percent of children that supposedly had pneumonia went to a health care provider, 91 percent of all infants received three doses of DTP vaccine and 97 percent of children received a second dose of the measles vaccine.
  10. Unclean water has a direct link to the health and life expectancy of those who drink it. UNICEF estimated that, globally, 2,000 children die due to diseases that spread through unclean water sources. In 2013, the World Health Organization began an initiative to improve Macedonia’s drinking water and sanitation, after reporting that the country was disposing of most of its wastewater into its rivers and lakes. In 2015, North Macedonia reported that 99.4 percent of its citizens had access to clean drinking water.

Altogether, life expectancy in Macedonia is well within the world average. While there are still changes that the country could make, the quality of life has only gotten better in recent years. Macedonians have clean drinking water, few deaths due to AIDS and some citizens are even working to combat the pollution in the air to provide a better future for them and their country.

Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

Ebola Virus DiseaseImagine traveling 1,316 kilometers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Uganda seeking medical help for your nine-year-old daughter who seems to have been infected with the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

On August 29, 2019, a nine-year-old girl from the DRC was exposed and later developed symptoms of this rare and fatal disease. She was identified at the Mpondwe-Kasindi border point and then sent to an Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Bwera, Uganda. Sadly, not too long after her arrival, the child passed away.

This sporadic epidemic has come back yet again and bigger than last time. This disease has infected the North Kivu Province and has caused more than 2,200 cases, along with 1,500 deaths just this year. Thus, making this the second-largest outbreak in history following behind the 2014-2016 outbreak that killed about 11,000 people. As of September 4, 2019, a total of 3,054 Ebola Virus Disease cases were reported. Out of that total number of cases, 2,945 of them were confirmed reports and the rest of the 109 were probable cases. Overall, 2,052 of those people died.

This disease has had a total of 25 outbreaks since its first flare-up in the Ebola River in 1967. It has plagued countries spanning from the West to sub-Saharan Africa and has a 25 to 90 percent fatality rate. Even though reports are coming from 29 different health zones, the majority of these cases are coming from the health zones of Beni, Kalunguta, Manima and Mambasa. About 17 of these 29 health zones have reported new cases stating that 58 percent of probable and confirmed cases are female (1,772), 28 percent are children under the age of 18 (865) and 5 percent (156) are health workers.

This 2019 case is different because of the way that Ebola Virus Disease is affecting an area of the country that is undergoing conflict and receiving an influx of immigrants. The nation’s “political instability,” random acts of violence and “limited infrastructure” also contribute to the restricted efforts to end the outbreak.  As of June 2019, the disease started its expansion to Uganda, with four cases confirmed near the eastern border shared with DRC, South Kivu Province and Rwanda borders. The World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative of Uganda, Yonas Tegegn, stated that whoever came into contact with the nine-year-old patient had to be vaccinated.

Out of the five Congolese who had contact with the little girl, four of them have been sent back to their country for “proper follow-ups.” Another 8,000 people were vaccinated against Ebola due to “high-risk areas in the country.”  Overall, 200,000 people in DRC have been vaccinated against EVD along with “health workers in surrounding countries.” With this being said, there is no official vaccination that is known to effectively protect people from this disease. Therefore an “effective experimental vaccine” has been found suitable enough for use. Also, a therapeutic treatment has shown “great effectiveness” in the early stages of the virus.

Ugandan authorities have taken matters into their own hands, strengthened border controls and banned public gatherings in areas that have been affected by EVD. According to the August 5, 2019 risk assessment, the national and regional levels are at higher risk of contracting EVD while the global level risk is low.

The Solutions

The World Health Organization (WHO) is doing everything they can to prevent the international spread of this disease. They have implemented the International Health Regulations (2005) to “prevent, protect against, control and provide international responses” to the spread of EVD.

This operational concept includes “specific procedures for disease surveillance,” notifying and reporting public health events and risks to other WHO countries, fast risk assessments, acting as a determinant as to whether or not an event is considered to be a public health emergency and coordinating international responses.

WHO also partnered up with the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) to ensure that proper “technical expertise” and skills are on the ground helping people that need it most. GOARN is a group of institutions and networks that use human and technical resources to “constantly alert” one another to rapidly identify, confirm and respond to “outbreaks of international importance.”  WHO and GOARN have responded to over 50 events around the world with 400 specialists “providing field support” to 40 countries.

– Isabella Gonzalez Montilla
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Comoros
Comoros is a small country comprised of four islands located just off Africa’s eastern coast. Poverty is widespread across the island due to limited access to transportation to the mainland and very few goods that could be exported to encourage economic growth. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Comoros will demonstrate how poverty and other factors contribute.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Comoros

  1. The population of Comoros is rapidly growing with poor health services unable to keep up. As of 2018, the average was 350 people per square mile. Anjouan has the largest population of the Comoros islands. Overcrowding makes resources scarce and health is rapidly declining. The life expectancy of any person on the islands rarely exceeds the age of 65; in 2018, the CIA reported that only 3.98 percent of the population was 65 years or older. Most of the population are children from infancy to the age of 14 at 38.54 percent.
  2. Overcrowding on the island has led some to attempt illegal immigration to the French island of Mayotte. In 1995, the French government declared travel to Mayotte without a visa illegal. Immigration for the people of Comoros is more challenging, but it does not stop them from fleeing to find a better life outside of the overpopulated islands. As of 2017, 40 percent of the population of Mayotte comprised of illegal immigrants from Comoros. The journey is certainly not safe; The New Humanitarian estimates 200 to 500 deaths every year are a result of attempted immigration to Mayotte in the tiny fishing boats that the Comoros people call kwassa-kwassa. The majority of those who cross are children that parents send in search of a better life, contributing to the high mortality rate of children in Comoros.
  3. The overcrowding is due in part to the high birth rate as compared to the death rate. Despite the low age of life expectancy, the death rate overall is only seven deaths per 1,000 people as reported by the CIA. In comparison, the birth rate is 25 births per 1,000.
  4. The infant mortality rate, however, is extraordinarily high. The country ranks number 17 on the CIA’s list with an estimated 58 deaths per 1,000 births. The problem is, in part, due to the limit of financing toward health care and hospitals. Financing has not exceeded 5 percent in total government spending within the last few decades according to the African Health Observatory (AHO).
  5. Illness, as a result of low attendance to health care facilities, runs rampant in Comoros. Malaria was once the deadliest disease until 2011 when it finally began to decline. The Comoros government launched the Residential Spraying campaign to provide insecticide and treatments to the water. Transmittable diseases, according to a table released by the AHO, are the prime suspect for illness and fatality on the islands. Sixty-six percent of all deaths related to diseases are a result of transmittable illnesses, while only 25 percent are non-transmittable and 9 percent are due to injury or natural causes.
  6. Cardiovascular disease (CDV) is on the rise, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO); as of 2016, CDV has fatally affected 17 percent of the population of Comoros. The AHO links CDV to malnutrition and the consumption of less than adequate food to survive. Since 2005, cerebrovascular heart disease and ischemic heart disease have increased by 4.2 percent and 5.4 percent respectively. As of 2015, these diseases were the third and fourth most deadly in Comoros.
  7. Tuberculosis is also rampant on the islands; WHO estimates 28,000 of Comoros became infected with the deadly disease in 2017. Twenty-one thousand of those infected with TB died. Only 10 percent of the population receive a preventative for TB, clearly demonstrating the need for better health care access to increase life expectancy in Comoros.
  8. The leading cause of death as of 2015 is lower respiratory infections. This includes bronchitis, influenza and pneumonia, among others. According to WHO, 47 percent of all deaths in the country as of 2016 are due to communicable diseases such as these infections. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reported that between 1990 and 2010, lower respiratory infections remained the deadliest issue in Comoros with an estimated 27,000 years of life lost among the younger generations fatally affected.
  9. Though illnesses are slowly declining, other health issues are beginning to arise in their place. A lack of adequate nutrition is beginning to plague the people of Comoros. The CIA estimates that Comoros exports roughly 70 percent of all food it grows, leaving very little for its people. According to a report in 2011 by the World Bank, 44 percent of children in Comoros are malnourished and one in every four children is born with low birth weight. This contributes to the infant mortality rate mentioned earlier. Vitamin A deficiency and anemia are the leading causes of health issues among those who are malnourished in Comoros.
  10. Sanitation issues are on the rise due to the overcrowded population. Water sanitation is one of the top concerns. The islands have very little freshwater resources; Grande Comoro, the main island, has no surface water at all and the people import water from the mainland. Meanwhile, the other 50 percent of the population in rural communities rely on collecting rainwater. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) wants to change this dangerous way of living and ensure that all the citizens of Comoros have access to safe drinking water. With the government of Comoros, its goal is to increase the freshwater supply to 100 percent for all by the year 2030. With all parties assisting, the project has $60 million at its disposal.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Comoros show that in recent years, aid to Comoros has increased, especially with sanitation. The life expectancy in Comoros is only one part of the problem that the people of the country faces. Comoros must come to an agreement with Mayotte and other countries accept the refugees who are seeking a better life.

– Nikolas Leasure
Photo: Flickr

 

Four Tech Investments
Technology advances at a blinding rate with new innovations popping up every day. People can use these new technologies to make life easier, save lives, entertain the masses in new, creative ways and serve countless other purposes. In this age of technology and instant access to information, a consumer will find dozens of different companies vying for their money with thousands of different advertisements, promising new features and faster internet. If a consumer investigates further, they will find people around the world using the bleeding edge of technology to reduce poverty by increasing access to medical facilities, providing more energy to those in need, aiding struggling farmers and innovating on the use of technology in the classroom. Here are four tech investments to lower poverty.

4 Tech Investments to Lower Poverty

  1. TEAMFund: The organization Transforming Equity and Access for MedTech (TEAMFund) invests in companies that can increase medical access in impoverished areas. TEAMFund usually invests in companies that specialize in digital health or artificial intelligence in hopes that these innovations will help with the shortages of doctors and other health care specialists. Some investments that TEAMFund has previously selected include Forus Health, an Indian organization dedicated to using technology to lower cases of preventable blindness, and digital ophthalmology, the use of technology to prevent diseases like glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy. On September 18, 2019, TEAMFund closed a budget of $30 million to invest in low-income areas. As TEAMFund invests this money, many of those in impoverished areas will feel the benefits of easy medical access.
  2. The Rockefeller Foundation: Energy poverty is also a major problem around the world. Many developing nations do not have electricity with almost a billion people worldwide lacking the ability to live in comfortable temperatures or store food for long periods. On September 12, 2019, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty. This commission will explore the many sources of electricity, including microgrids to provide total energy access by 2030. One method it will use to achieve this goal is setting up solar microgrids in developing countries around sub-Saharan Africa, as suggested by Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.
  3. BICSA: Agriculture is a necessary gamble in any community. Long droughts could cause the loss of fields of crops, and without them, people could starve. Currently, no risk is greater than planting crops in India. Many farmers in India rely on monsoon rains to feed their crops, but the rains have been patchy and unpredictable recently, raining 35 percent below the predicted amount. Luckily, organizations like the International Water Management Institute and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research have combined their strength and formed the Bundled Solutions of Index Insurance with Climate Information and Seed Systems to Manage Agricultural Risks (BICSA). This organization will work with the farmers of India and try many different strategies to avoid massive crop loss and protect farmers from bankruptcy. BICSA claims that they will provide services like drought or flood insurance, more seed varieties, new methods to forecast the weather and different farming practices that suit the climate better.
  4. Education Technology: Education is arguably the most important factor in a developing country. Nevertheless, over 260 million children worldwide do not receive an education. Education Technology (EdTech) companies dedicate their resources to providing more access to quality education. They achieve this goal by teaching programming to young students, providing online college courses to those who cannot afford them, teaching foreign languages and much more in places like Nigeria and Kenya. These EdTech companies, like Andela, Coursera and Kramer have been receiving record-breaking investments in recent years. In 2018, EdTech companies received over $16.3 billion in funding from countries like the United States and China. As these companies grow and reach more people, the world should crawl closer to the total education of the entire world.

The use of technology to reduce poverty brings an age-old problem into the modern world. These four tech investments will not eradicate poverty overnight, but they show that the superpowers of the world are willing to give more for the benefit of the world’s poor. With easier access to medical facilities, energy, agriculture and education through technology, countries with a large poverty rate could move forward on the path to a developed, flourishing society, strengthening the global economy with their commerce and aiding other countries that require assistance.

– Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Oman
Oman is a country located in the southeastern Arabian Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. The majority of the country’s population is located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Wealthy in oil and progressive in culture, Oman is experiencing high levels of immigration and some expect its population to double by 2050. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Oman contribute heavily to this.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Oman

  1. Oman, with a population of 4.6 million (as of the last census in 2017), ranks 97th in the world in life expectancy with the average life lasting 75.9 years. The country ranks eighth in life expectancy out of the 19 Middle Eastern countries and fifth out of the seven countries on the Arabian Peninsula.
  2. Women outlive men by approximately 4.1 years on average with the female life expectancy at 78 years and the male life expectancy at 73.9 years. These averages are by no means abnormal on a global scale and are due to men being more prone to heart disease and accidents on the roadways.
  3. The life expectancy in Oman has more than doubled since 1950 when the average Omani life lasted just over 33 years. This is a 233 percent increase. The U.N. projects that the average Omani life expectancy will reach 80 years in the early 2030s. This is in large part due to the country’s advancing health care system. Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the Sultan of Oman since 1971, has stated multiple times that health care is a basic human right. He established the Ministry of Health (MoH) by a royal decree. The MoH guarantees that Omani citizens receive basic health care, free of charge.
  4. As of 2016, Oman had 69 hospitals and over 6,400 beds within them. That calculates out to slightly more than 15 beds per 1,000 people. This serves as a sign of substantial progress, given that when Qaboos bin Said Al Said came to power in 1970, only two hospitals were in operation.
  5. The World Health Organization (WHO) is working in collaboration with the MoH, and in 2014, the organization announced a long-term plan entitled Health Vision 2050. This plan calls for larger investments in the health care field. The WHO is assisting in the development and sustainment of health-related technologies. The organization also commits to teaching more proper methods of personal and professional care. The MoH currently covers more than 80 percent of the costs associated with these health care expenditures, which is roughly 11 percent of the Omani government’s entire yearly budget.
  6. Ischemic heart disease, road injuries, stroke, diabetes and lower respiratory infections are the leading causes of death in Oman. Communicable diseases have seen a sharp decline in frequency and severity in Oman due to the steadily increasing quality of life. Now, lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension are on the rise.
  7. Obesity has become substantially more prevalent within the past decade. As of 2017, approximately 27 percent of Omani adults are obese. Oman is now the 36th most obese country in the world. The MoH is attempting to address this by educating the populous on the importance of having a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
  8. Typically, as birth rates decrease, life expectancy increases. Omani women are having far fewer children than their parents before them. The average Omani woman living in 1982 had 8.35 children. As of 2016, this number has fallen to a mere 2.67 children per woman, and many expect it to continue to decrease.
  9. As the Omani family is getting smaller, individuals are receiving more attention. Literacy rates are rising quickly, and as of 2017, 97 percent of Omani citizens are functionally literate. This is drastically higher than the surrounding countries, with the average literacy rate of the Middle East and Northern Africa at 80 percent.
  10. Oman is a young country with a median age of 25.8. Roughly 30 percent of the population falls between the ages of zero and 14.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Oman highlight just some of the extraordinary strides the country has made since its renaissance in the early 1970s. Although its health care system still faces issues, the way the country has tenaciously planned to advance itself is admirable and people should view it as a model for what thorough and proper planning can accomplish.

– Austin Brown
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Panama
Situated as the southernmost country in Central America between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Panama has a population of nearly four million people across 29,000 square miles and a terrain which includes rainforests, mountains, beaches, wetlands and pasture land. The capital, Panama City, has a population of under half a million. Panama’s strongest industries include import/export, banking and tourism. It has enjoyed economic stability and growth, which can translate to good health and long life expectancy when residents can access education, health care, water and sanitation resources equitably. Here are the 10 facts about life expectancy in Panama.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Panama

  1. The first of the 10 facts about life expectancy in Panama is that currently, the average life expectancy of a man in Panama is 76.1 and 81.9 for a woman. This averages to 78.9 for the entire population. Panama ranks 58th worldwide for life expectancy.
  2. In Panama, the leading causes of death are chronic, noncommunicable conditions such as circulatory diseases (diabetes and heart disease). Diet, high blood pressure or smoking can cause these. Panama has taken action by implementing the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and passing legislation guaranteeing smoke-free environments. The United Nations suggests dietary guidelines for healthy eating and recently added recommendations for children under 2 years of age.
  3. Traffic accidents in Panama are on the rise. The World Health Organization reports a road traffic death rate of 14.3 per 100,000 in 2016, while that number was only 10 per 100,000 in 2013 with 386 actual deaths. While the law in Panama requires seatbelt use, hazardous conditions due to lack of road maintenance, poor signage and overly congested highways are causes of this increase in accidents. Investment in roads and highway infrastructure could lower the number of deaths.
  4. The WHO reports that homicides in Panama are decreasing. In 2010, there were 23.4 homicides per year per 100,000 and in 2015 that number went down to 18.7. More than six times as many men suffer homicide in Panama than women (32.3 men per 100,000 compared to 4.9 women per 100,000). Young people between ages 15 and 29 are the most frequent targets of homicide (40.5 per 100,000). Strong laws are in place to combat violence in relation to firearms and alcohol and the WHO reports effective enforcement of laws against intimate partner violence and elder abuse. Panama could make improvements in the areas of enforcement of sexual violence and child maltreatment laws.
  5. Because of Panama’s tropical climate and wet, forested areas, mosquito-transmitted illnesses such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever pose a risk for Panamanians. Death is more likely in vulnerable people, such as infants. When new outbreaks arise, such as with the Zika virus, the WHO monitors transmission and infections closely in case they become widespread or pose a risk to travelers in the region. People can transmit the Zika virus sexually and it can also pass from mother to fetus. Microcephaly, a severe birth defect linked to Zika, poses a risk to the fetus of pregnant women, though death is rare. The WHO reports one death of a premature infant. Another disease that has limited impact in Panama is the hantavirus (linked to contact with rodents). The WHO reports approximately 100 cases with only four total deaths occurring. There is no treatment or vaccine for the hantavirus. Recommendations state to control the rodent population to prevent it.
  6. Panama saw 1,968 new cases of tuberculosis in 2017 (co-occurring with HIV in 90 percent of patients). TB and HIV are amongst the leading causes of premature death in Panama. People with HIV have more compromised immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to contracting TB. Panama spends $1.9 million each year treating and combating TB and HIV. Relapse of patients and drug-resistance pose particular challenges. Tuberculosis affects twice as many males as women, and the greatest incidence is among people ages 25-34 years.
  7. Mortality in young children has steadily declined in recent years. Deaths of children under 5 in 1990 were 27.2 per 1,000 live births, and in 2017, 17.2.  Deaths of children under 1 per year in 1990 were 20.9 per 1,000 live births, and in 2017, 13.4. Between 2007 and 2017, neonatal disorders dropped from number one to number three as a cause of premature death, and congenital defects dropped from number four to number six. These statistics are a result of a dramatic improvement in maternal and infant care for non-indigenous rural Panamanian women through a program called Health Protection for Vulnerable Populations, instituted in collaboration with the World Bank and the Minister of Health.
  8. The education of girls in Panama is important to life expectancy and maternal health. UNICEF reports that girls with no education receive 30 percent less antenatal care compared with those who have received a secondary education. The antenatal care is beneficial to learn about life-threatening risks in childbirth such as eclampsia, as well as immunization against tetanus and HIV testing and medication to prevent perinatal transmission of HIV. UNICEF calls for increased equity in antenatal and postnatal care particularly for indigenous women and infants in Panama.
  9. The upcoming Burunga Wastewater Management Project will address the serious health risks posed by untreated wastewater. The World Bank cites the lack of Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) as a major risk to public health. Currently, people dump untreated water into several rivers in the areas of Arraijan and La Chorrera. Despite economic growth in Panama, impoverished people will continue to be vulnerable to reduced life expectancy because of waterborne illnesses such as giardiasis and cholera, especially without updates to infrastructure in rural areas with attention to access to clean water and sanitation.
  10. In 2018, The World Bank approved an $80 million project in Panama called the Comprehensive National Plan for the Indigenous Peoples of Panama. This project has the aim of improving health, education, water and sanitation for indigenous people who are more vulnerable to natural disasters, for example. Built into the plan is a goal to develop the cultural relevance of programs. In order for life expectancy measures to continue to improve, Panama must equitably address the needs of indigenous as well as rural groups.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Panama show that the country faces ongoing challenges in health care, but measures of life expectancy are hopeful and improving. With follow through on projects to assist the indigenous and rural people, and ongoing investment in infrastructure, Panama should continue to rise in the ranks amongst the world’s flourishing, healthy and stable nations.

– Susan Niz
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Togo
Although global aid has decreased, Togo has managed to increase its health expenditure as a share of GDP to 6.6 percent in 2016, a jump of about 8 percent from the previous year where this amount was actually negative. Due to the scarcity of hospitals and health centers, Togo’s 2018 population of approximately 8.2 million faces numerous obstacles from birth onwards in the battle to survive. Of every 1,000 Togolese infants, 49 will die before they are 1 year old and approximately 69.8 before they reach the age of 5. In addition to infant deaths, the maternal mortality ratio is 396 per 100,000 live births as of 2017. Overall life expectancy in Togo is 69 for females and 63 for males, the 178th worst globally. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Togo demonstrate the changes over time. 

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Togo

  1. Crime: In Togo, the homicide rate was nine cases per 100,000 people in 2015. Compared to the United States, it has 4.1 more cases per 100,000 people. Violent crimes, theft and pick-pocketing are common in marketplaces or along the beach of Lome. There is an abundance of scam artists that fake online friendships to steal or stage accidents to jack cars and there has even been a threat of kidnapping recently. The ECOWAS Regional Action Plan renewed for 2016-2020 to address crime and drug trafficking in West Africa.

  2. Sanitation: Most drinking water sources in the urban parts of Togo have improved with only 8.6 percent of urban populations not having access to reliably safe drinking water. In rural areas, however, 55.8 percent of the water sources have remained unimproved. Sanitation facility access has not improved much, either, with 75.3 percent of urban Togo and 97.1 percent of rural Togo having unimproved sanitation facilities. Public toilets are often unavailable as well, and when they are available, they generally range from sit-down and squat toilets to holes in the ground.

  3. Disease: As of 2017, Togo’s most prevalent diseases are malaria, neonatal disorders, HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infection, ischemic heart disease, diarrheal diseases and tuberculosis. HIV/AIDS afflicted approximately 110,000 Togolese or 2.3 percent as of 2017, ranking the country 22nd worst globally. An estimated 4,700 deaths were from HIV/AIDS in 2017, the 43rd worst ranking in the world. It is also common for infants to suffer from diarrhea, one of the main contributors to the infant mortality rate in Togo.

  4. Malnutrition: Malnutrition rates exceed 10 percent in three out of five regions in Togo, with 16 percent of children under 5 underweight. Many parents have been relying on feeding their children a simple paste that is filled with vitamins and minerals, called Plumpy’Nut, and has improved the situation of many Togolese children. An agricultural improvement is the development of a drought-resistant, high-yield rice, Nerica, specifically for Africa. For Western Africa, rice is a staple, but to meet nutritional demand, the region needs to import 3.5 million tons of rice per year, which costs nearly $1 billion.

  5. Overcrowding: The best example of Togo’s overcrowding problem is its 12 prisons. Though there is a set capacity for these prisons, they end up holding more than twice their capacity. As a result of these cramped conditions, hygiene, food and medical care are poor, and disease and death run rampant. Prisoners reportedly sleep like “sardines in a tin,” and even sleep in shifts, with some waiting for their turn against a wall.

  6. Immunization: Immunization coverage among Togolese children is severely incomplete. A study found that 36.2 percent of children did not receive all vaccines that the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) recommends. Togo has a multi-year plan (2016-2020), a national system to monitor adverse events following immunization, and a standing technical advisory group on immunization.

  7. Maternal/Neonatal/Child Health: Only 61.4 percent of Togolese births have skilled health personnel in attendance, and as a result, the maternal mortality rate in Togo is 396 deaths/100,000 live births as of 2017. Mothers already have to travel long distances to reach health facilities, and when said places do not have the necessary expertise or medication, they become discouraged from attending any appointments before birth. When these women do not attend regular checkups, health professionals cannot detect problems early on or provide mothers with rudimentary health care.

  8. Health Systems: Togo only has 746 health centers, which is approximately 11 health centers per 100,000 people, and only six regional hospitals, which is 0.09 per 100,000 people. There are only 0.05 physicians per 1,000 people as of 2015. This scarcity of health facilities results in overcrowding of existing ones and it stretches health professionals thin. With so few people operating each facility, Togo cannot meet average health standards and thus cannot help people efficiently. Life expectancy could improve in this respect by creating more health centers.

  9. Substance Abuse: Togo is a transit point of Nigerian heroin and cocaine traffickers. There were 2,000 drug users in 2001 (12 deaths), 3,000 in 2006 (68 deaths) and 3,575 in 2007 (100 deaths). Togolese drug use has only increased over time, stretching to 5.5 percent of students. The students consider drugs to be fortifying and have developed a dependency on drugs just for studying.

  10. Road Safety: People do not stress road safety in Togo. Many Togolese drivers do not obey traffic laws mostly due to traffic signals not functioning properly, and a lack of reinforcement. Sometimes they run red lights and stop signs or drive in the wrong direction on one-way streets. Not only do these driving standards threaten pedestrians and drivers alike, but they also set the stage for fake accidents.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Togo show that even the smallest of changes could evolve into much more for the Togolese. The ECOWAS is working diligently to improve the lives of those in West Africa by limiting crime and drug trafficking and abuse. Togolese life expectancy has even increased because of other countries’ efforts.

– Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

polio eradication in Nigeria
For the last three years, Nigeria has not had one case of polio. As the last country in Africa to still record the wild polio disease, this new health milestone of the eradication of polio in Nigeria has proven the success of public health campaigns for the entire continent of Africa.

The Decline of Polio

Back in 1988, polio paralyzed more than 350,000 children in over 125 countries around the world. Although the devastating disease infected children in almost every country, cases of wild polio decreased by 99 percent after 1988. While the wild polio disease exists in nature, several vaccine-derived outbreaks have occurred in six African countries. In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that Nigeria held more than half of polio cases worldwide. Total immunization then became the primary goal for the eradication of polio in Nigeria to ensure that the population has protection from the vaccine-derived and wild virus. Persistent efforts of immunization have helped immunize over 45 million children under the age of 5 in Nigeria. An estimated 200,000 volunteers in Nigeria have aided in giving polio vaccines in the last five years.

Children and Polio

At the start of the polio epidemic in Nigeria, 600,000 children did not have the polio vaccine and an estimated 90 percent of polio cases were within northeast Nigeria. Due to this area encompassing largely scattered communities, satellite imaging has aided volunteers with finding unvaccinated children. Vaccinators will also frequently set up clinics within local markets to find all the unvaccinated children.

Dr. Pascal Mkanda, the leader of the eradication of polio in Nigeria for WHO, set out to eradicate the disease within three years by first vaccinating children under 5 years of age. The poliovirus remains highly infectious and mostly affects children. In the worst cases, polio causes irreversible paralysis. No cure for polio exists, but the eradication of the disease through immunization has prevented outbreaks. Estimates determine that the eradication of polio in Nigeria has saved 16 million children from paralysis.

Women and Vaccinations

Many Nigerian women are at the forefront of the battle against polio. UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hire mostly young Nigerian women as vaccinator volunteers because Islam is the most prominent religion in northern Nigeria, and it prohibits men that are not family members from entering a Muslim home. The women volunteers go door-to-door to educate families about the vaccine and receive clinical training to give vaccinations.

Today, more than 30 million Nigerian children have received the polio vaccine. The volunteers are also in a continuous battle with skeptical anti-vaccination parents and the militant group Boko Haram. Boko Haram intentionally spreads misinformation about the vaccine and violently targets volunteers in order to keep Islam pure in Northern Africa. Some Nigerian people still have doubts about the vaccine, but now only 1 percent of people refuse the vaccination.

Overall, the eradication of polio in Nigeria represents an achievement for global health. The commitment of global health organizations and neighboring communities to the eradication of polio proves that investing in foreign aid can have a worldwide benefit.

– Nia Coleman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Guyana
Guyana is a country in northeastern South America that Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname border. In 1966, the country gained independence from its English colonizers. Since the liberation of Guyana, the country has found itself in political unrest that has resulted in an inability to thrive economically. As the country has grown and developed as an independent entity since 1966, it has seen a drastic improvement in life expectancy through government initiatives and treatment development. The 10 facts about the current life expectancy in Guyana will display that.

Though Guyana boasts rich gold, sugar, bauxite, shrimp, timber and rice industries – with great potential for expansion – the country still finds itself struggling to come out of poverty and attract foreign industry. However, in May 2019, the Guyanese government paired up with the U.N. Environment to tackle establishing the Green State Development Plan. The plan would work to develop sustainable economic growth in the country while still protecting its vast natural resources. The project would also work to diversify the Guyanese economy and steer them away from their current resource-reliant industry. Guyana would slowly transition into being a low-carbon developer bolstering a diverse economy, draw foreign investment, lower emigration rates and produce an ever-bettering quality of life for its people. Here are the 10 facts about life expectancy in Guyana.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Guyana

  1. Between 1997 and 2017 there has been a 13.47 percent increase in Guyana’s population. Population distribution in 1990 showed a consistent pyramidic tapering with zero to four having the greatest representation in the population. Afterward, there was a fairly consistent tapering off as age grew with the only seemingly notable inconsistency being with children five to nine-years-old. However, the shape became irregular in 2015, possibly due to a massive Chikungunya outbreak in 2015. In the age categories of zero to nine and 25 to 39, there were massive drops in population density.
  2. Sanitation is key in preventing many of the diseases that plague Guyana. In 2014, the Ministry of Public Health developed a plan to take action to improve the coverage and quality of waste management predominantly in rural areas. The plan started in 2015 and will end in 2025. It should improve the health and lifespan of many citizens.
  3. In 2015, Guyana became one of only 28 countries worldwide to adopt a national suicide prevention plan. The Ministry of Health issued the program after the World Health Organization called on it in 2014 for having one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Guyana has an average of 44.2 suicides per 100,000 deaths, four times the global average.
  4. Between 2005 and 2008, the leading causes of infant mortality in Guyana were respiratory disorders (31 percent) and congenital malformations (9.7 percent). For the respective years of 2005 and 2008, the infant mortality rates were 34.20 per 1,000 births in 2005 and 31.80 per 1,000 births in 2008. As of 2017, the reported rate has dropped to 26 per 1,000 births. Though still higher than the average in developed countries – the U.S. has an average of 5.5 per 1,000 births (2015)– there is a noted improvement in the country.
  5. From 2002 to 2014, the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women in Guyana dropped to 1.9 percent from 3.5 percent – a 1.6 percent drop. This drop is because of an AIDS protocol that a collective effort from UNAIDS and the National AIDS Committee of Guyana put in place. HIV/AIDS positive mothers take antiretrovirals which is a prescription drug that suppresses the growth of the virus and lowers the likelihood of the infected passing along the disease. After birth, within 48 hours, infants receive a course of antiretrovirals. Afterward, children receive tests at six and 18 months to look for the infection. No one has documented the number of children this protocol has saved, but early detection of the virus is key not only to the individuals’ survival if they do become infected with HIV, but also to lower the spread of the virus.
  6. Fifty-five percent of Guyanese people emigrate from the country. This leaves the country with a deficit of skilled workers like health care professionals. This lack of health care professionals augments the effects of diseases on the Guyanese people, as they cannot receive care if there is no one to give it to them. This lack of a staffed health care industry leads to lowering life expectancy.
  7. Due to the terrain of Guyana, there is great disparity in the delivery of health services from those who live on the more accessible coast to the predominantly indigenous peoples who live in the interior of the country. To help fight this disparity in 1991, the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) set up to help support and lobby in favor of creating more protections for the indigenous peoples of Guyana.
  8. Guyana’s resource reliant industries, gold and timber, require many of the coastal inhabitants to travel to the interior of the country to work. However, because of this migration, there has become a link with the spread of malaria. Guyana is 60 percent rainforest, and those forests mostly concentrate inland where a majority of indigenous people dwell. As coastal workers come into the inland to work, they may bring malaria. However, those coming into work have the resources to return to where they came from and receive treatment more readily. The indigenous people cannot receive care because of an inability to travel to the coast, as well as the difficulty there is in bringing treatment inland to them.
  9. In 2015, more than 200 people died of AIDS in Guyana. The country ranks as number 30 globally in adult HIV/AIDS prevalence. HIV is an incurable disease that will progress to AIDS and death without the treatment of antiretrovirals.
  10. In September 2016, Guyana started receiving funding from the U.S. government for efforts into Zika infection prevention and reducing the spread of the virus. With the funding, Guyana established The Maternal and Child Survival Program and worked to expand the capabilities of the Ministry of Public Health to provide therapies to affected children and their parents.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Guyana show that although Guyana is still struggling with disease control and various disease’s effects on life expectancy, it is taking great initiatives to work towards improving and solving its current issues.

– Emma Hodge
Photo: Flickr