Information and news about disease category

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

Cost of Measles
A virus spreads measles; the disease is highly contagious and can cause further serious health problems, including death. Globally, 111,000 deaths occurred from measles in 2017 and most of these deaths were of children under the age of 5. While there is a cost-effective and safe vaccination available, there are gaps in vaccination coverage, especially in developing countries. This allows outbreaks of measles to continue to ravage communities and causes the death toll to rise.

Measles in the Developing World

The global cost of measles is high, but it is highest in the developing world. It is estimated that in the United Kingdom, the medical cost of a single measles case is $307, while the vaccine costs are $1.93. Estimates also determine that currently in the developed world, the cost of a measles outbreak can range between $4,091 and $10,228 per day, depending on the size of the outbreak. Each of these outbreaks can last an average of 17.5 days as well. Economies spending little on health care funding might find the cost of quarantining and ending a measles outbreak daunting and that it would cost more resources and funding than is available.

In 2014, the Federated States of Micronesia saw its first measles outbreak in 20 years. Starting with two confirmed cases of measles, the outbreak grew to over 50,000 people, causing 110 deaths. The cost of this measles outbreak matched the cost of measles outbreaks in the industrialized world; the total costs to treat and contain these 50,000 cases were nearly $4 million costing roughly $10,000 per case. Medical costs accounted for approximately a quarter of the total cost of measles in this example. The other costs came from the loss of productivity for those measles infected as well as their caregivers, and the majority of the cost of this measles epidemic was to contain the outbreak. In total, the country spent around $3.5 million on containment. Containment costs are high for countries struggling to provide health care for their citizens, and the loss of productivity for many families in the developing world can mean the difference between feeding their family and starvation.

Measles’ Recent Appearances

The first quarter of 2019 saw a huge upswing in reported measles cases worldwide versus the same time period a year prior. From January through March of 2019, there were over 112,000 cases, and the vast majority of these cases were from developing countries. For comparison, the same three-month time period in 2018 had only 28,000 reported cases of measles. If the cost of measles containment and medical treatment averaged $10,000 per case, as evidenced by the Federated States of Micronesia, then subject countries have spent at least $1.1 billion in a three-month time span to care for patients worldwide. The effects of the loss of productivity on impoverished families, including starvation, added a deficit of several million more dollars to the cost of measles in 2019.

Combatting Measles

To combat the rise of measles, five leading global health NGOs have formed a partnership to control measles deaths, giving support to immunization drives, and working to lower child mortality rates overall. The partnership includes the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation (U.N. Foundation), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

When asked about the origins of the partnership, Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, said, “It is increasingly clear that every citizen, every sector and every nation has an interest in working together to promote progress in health, human rights, the economy and the environment. Those who think progress in these areas is elusive need look no further than this very tangible, impressive collaboration.” If ever there was a chance to lower child mortality rates, these five NGOs working in connection with one another would be the closest the world has seen.

Vaccination is the Key

Vaccination rates have drastically improved over the last few decades. Measles outbreaks have dropped 80 percent since the year 2000 thanks to increased vaccinations. One can partly attribute the recent increase in measles cases to a decrease in vaccinations worldwide. The cost of measles outbreaks is far too high to continue battling a disease that people can avoid with a vaccine costing less than $2. The cost of lost productivity can continue the cycle of poverty for developing nations for years to come. Measles vaccinations must increase and become available in all reaches of the world to counter the issues that measles outbreaks pose.

Kathryn Moffet
Photo: Flickr

Cholera Health Crisis in Yemen
A massive resurgence of cholera afflicts Yemen, a bacterial infection that can kill within hours if untreated. Between January 2018 and June 2019, reports have determined there have been about 800,000 cases of cholera in the country. Here is a breakdown of the cholera health crisis in Yemen and the response from four notable organizations.

What is Cholera?

Cholera is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause diarrhea, severe dehydration, nausea and vomiting. It mainly spreads through the consumption of water and food contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

Industrialized countries with proper water sewage filtration systems are unlikely to experience surges of cholera outbreaks. However, countries with inadequate water treatment are at a much higher risk of experiencing a cholera epidemic. Areas afflicted by natural disasters, poverty, war and refugee settings are at an exacerbated risk of experiencing cholera outbreaks.

The oral cholera vaccine is highly effective but the vaccine was not available in Yemen prior to the epidemic outbreak in 2017. Since then, more than 300,000 Yemenis received the cholera vaccination but continuous conflict provides a barrier between health care officials and the rest of the population. Doctors Without Borders maintains that the vaccine, while highly effective, is not enough to end cholera due to its low supply and short term protection.

Cholera Health Crisis in Yemen

As Yemen faces its fourth year of war, the country also fights a looming health crisis. The cholera health crisis in Yemen affects 22 of 23 governorates and almost 299 of Yemen’s 333 districts. Recording over one million cholera cases in 2017, Yemen’s crisis is the worst cholera epidemic on record.

Driven by years of war, the country has experienced a significant collapse in access to food, safe drinking water and health care. With millions of Yemenis facing famine, malnourishment increases the risk of cholera infections becoming fatal.

Many organizations are on the ground in Yemen, treating as many cholera cases as possible. Organizations responding to the health crisis in Yemen include Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, Islamic Relief Foundation and World Health Organization (WHO).

If left untreated, the mortality rate of cholera can be very high. With proper treatment, cholera is very easy to cure. The problem is that it is not easy for cholera victims to get to a medical center quickly, especially amidst times of war. One MSF treatment center in the governorate of Khamer explains the hardship that increasing fuel prices pose on those seeking health care.

During the peak of the cholera health crisis in Yemen, MSF treated over 100,000 patients with cholera. The use of cholera kits, essentials to treat the infection, allows the charity to respond quickly and effectively to any cholera outbreak. MSF also has cholera treatment centers in the heart of areas with cholera outbreaks.

Since cholera can lead to severe dehydration, the main cause of death in cholera cases, MSF has rehydration points conveniently located closer to communities than medical centers. Such rehydration points are effective in treating mild cholera cases.

Save The Children Offers Health Care

Since children with malnutrition are three times more likely to die from cholera, groups that provide nourishment in Yemen are essential. Save the Children, the first-ever international aid group in Yemen, not only distributes cash and food vouchers to families but also provides food for children and pregnant women.

Supporting 167 health facilities in Yemen, Save the Children provides training to health care professionals and volunteers in malnutrition management and prevention, a step taken to further alleviate the cholera crisis in Yemen.

Islamic Relief USA Provides Access to Clean Water

Islamic Relief USA works to provide vital aid, emergency food assistance and emergency water supply in the war-torn country. Clean water is vital to the country because cholera mainly spreads through contaminated drinking water. Islamic Relief USA is actively providing a clean supply of water to the governorates of Aden and Taiz. Both Taiz and Aden will have water tanks installed close to homes and schools so they remain water-secure when the organization is no longer active in these governorates. About 4,000 internally displaced people in these governorates will be at a decreased risk of cholera infection due to an increase of clean water supply from the water tanks.

The World Health Organization Increases Defenses Against Cholera

The World Health Organization maintains that Yemen is beginning to see a decrease in cholera infections. Financial aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are contributing to this decrease. Millions of Yemenis now have access to health care unlike before. WHO is working on increasing the availability of diarrheal treatment centers, cholera vaccines and training of health providers in Yemen.

With 17.8 million water insecure people, Yemen is a breeding ground for cholera. Organizations like those listed above are essential to promoting prevention, care, and hopefully soon, the suppression of the cholera health crisis in Yemen.

– Rebekah Askew
Photo: Flickr

End Neglected Tropical Diseases ActApproximately one billion people are affected every year by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in an estimated 149 countries. In tropical and subtropical areas, NTDs abound in a variety of 17 communicable diseases, including Chagas disease, dengue fever, leprosy, river blindness, rabies, worms (round, whip and hook) and trachoma to name a few. This is why the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act was created.

Rep. Christopher Smith introduced the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act to the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 28, 2019. The proposed bill addresses international development regarding NTDs as well as provides funding for those who strive to help end NTDs. The bill also states that it will expand the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Neglected Tropical Diseases program and the Global Fund. Here are five facts that explain the primary objectives of the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act.

Five Facts About the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act

  1. The bill proposes that USAID help individuals suffering from or at risk for contracting NTDs by providing drug treatment packages. Rep. Smith also urges beginning similar programs that target large at-risk communities, particularly children five and up. These programs will have a high impact with relatively low costs.
  2. These programs will also attempt to coordinate with USAID and its development sectors. Specifically, the program aims to organize with USAID regarding aspects such as “education (including primary and pre-primary education), food and nutrition security, maternal and child health and water, sanitation and hygiene.”
  3. The End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act addresses the need for the Global Fund to start recognizing and working with NTDs. The Global Fund is a public-private entity that focuses on assisting people with AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The bill urges the Global Fund to focus on female genital schistosomiasis in addition to providing treatment for HIV/AIDS.
  4. Rep. Smith’s proposed bill also addresses the need for a center of excellence. This section of the bill addresses the provisions for obtaining a cooperative agreement or a grant. The grant can be given to either a public or private nonprofit organization. It will fund the basics costs needed to create the centers in order to “conduct research into, training in and development of diagnosis, prevention, control and treatment methods for neglected tropical diseases.” These funds can be used for basic operating costs such as staffing and administrative duties as well as patient care costs. The grant funds may also be used for the training and continued education of health professionals as well as for establishing programs to educate the public on NTDs.
  5. The bill would create a panel for worm infections. The Secretary of Health and Human Services would use this panel to research worm infections and deworming solutions and medicines. It will also develop five strategies for preventing recurrent infections, providing sanitation solutions, developing safer, better medicines and improving the cost-efficiency of the existing programs regarding worm infections.

The End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act aims to produce programs that will help eliminate tropical diseases that are rampant in developing countries. If it passes, it could bring much-needed hope for approximately one billion people in developing countries around the world.

– Logan Derbes
Photo: Flickr

Top 5 Nonprofit Foundations
Throughout the world, millions of people face the development of disease. Many of these diseases are not yet curable, which has forced many to be fearful for their lives. Several organizations have come up with ways to fund research and provide information to those suffering from these diseases so that they can live longer and happier lives. These top 5 nonprofit foundations are among the many nonprofit organizations that have dedicated their lives to curing disease.

The March of Dimes Foundation

The March of Dimes Foundation is a U.S. nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies. Formed the day before World War II, the March of Dimes Foundation, formerly the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP), became very popular like its founder, Franklin D. Roosevelt. With the war in full effect, the Foundation was able to gain its rise through “radio, Hollywood and the personal appeal of the president.” The organization established the Office of Global Programs, that allowed worldwide partnerships with communities in Latin America, Europe and Asia bringing in prenatal education and care. The March of Dimes Global Network for Maternal and Infant Health has supported programs in China, Brazil, Lebanon, the Philippines, Malawi and Uganda.

United Way

United Way’s mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world and advancing the common good. The organization collaborated with the Shanghai Charity Foundation to provide teacher training, a place for children to learn, educational toys and other learning materials for 20 kindergarteners. In 2010, the United Way worked with the Airbus Corporate Foundation to create the Flying Challenge, which encourages at-risk middle and high school students to stay in school. So far, the challenge has allowed more than 600 students from Wichita, Kansas to Getafe and Cadiz, Spain the opportunity to receive mentorship through the Flying Challenge initiative.

The Global Fund

Among the top 5 nonprofit foundations listed, the Global Fund is the newest organization to raise, manage and invest the world’s money towards infectious diseases. Since 2002, the Global Fund has focused on three infectious diseases; AIDS, TB and malaria. The organization has invested more than $4 billion a year to support programs in more than 100 countries. Many of these programs are occurring in countries within Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and mainly, Sub-Saharan Africa.

The WHO

The World Health Organization formed in 1948 and is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. WHO has six regional offices, including its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO regional office in Africa and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention work together to end disease outbreaks and build stronger health systems. WHO has provided technical leadership in surveillance, vaccination and case management, and has deployed 700 international experts that respond to disease outbreaks. On July 2019, the Ministry of Health reported 2,620 Ebola cases with 1,762 deaths and 737 survivors.

UNAIDS

UNAIDS is the main advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Young women between the ages of 15 and 24 are more likely to obtain the virus. Four in five new infections in Sub-Saharan Africa among adolescents aged 15 to 19 years are girls. More than 35 percent of women around the world have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some time in their lives. This makes it 1.5 times more likely for them to obtain HIV than women who have not experienced this form of violence. Towards the end of 2018, UNAIDS used $19 billion towards the AIDS response in low-and middle-income countries, which was $1 billion less than the previous year. UNAIDS believes that the AIDS response in 2020 will require $26.2 billion.

These top 5 nonprofit foundations have continued to raise money to fund research for cures that impact millions of people in the world. They have made it their responsibility to ensure that patients and their families gain the necessary care to gain power over their lives.

– Emilia Rivera
Photo: Flickr

African Sleeping Sickness, also known as African Trypanosomiasis, is common in rural Africa. It is spread by the tsetse fly, which is only found in 36 sub-Saharan countries, with about 70 percent of cases occurring within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When the tsetse fly bites, a sore develops and within weeks hosts suffer from fever, severe headaches, irritability, extreme fatigue, joint pain and skin rashes. As the disease progresses and invades the nervous system, people face confusion, personality changes and ultimately sleeplessness. African Sleeping Sickness can prove to be fatal within months, if not treated.

Due to regional differences, there is both an East African Sleeping Sickness and West African Sleeping Sickness. The Eastern disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, with a couple hundred cases reported each year by the World Health Organization (WHO). The West African Sleeping Sickness on the other hand is caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, with nearly 10,000 cases reported annually by the WHO.

The Span of the Disease

Unfortunately, due to the lack of medicine and awareness in these rural African regions, there is minimal caution taken to avoid the disease. The African Sleeping Sickness is often neglected by other countries due to its limited region. A majority of those in affected regions have minimal access to health care or knowledge of disease prevention and treatment. Due to overcrowding and poverty, transmission increases among both animals and people. In fact, 40,000 cases were reported in 1998 from the WHO, but researchers estimate that at least 300,000 cases were left undiagnosed that year. The fear with this is that the disease will be allowed to escalate. There have been cases in which the patients have attacked their own family members, experienced frightening hallucinations or have screamed in gut-wrenching pain.

Treatments

The limited research and knowledge of this disease puts the victims at a heavy disadvantage. While there are a few drugs available for both East and West African Sleeping Sickness, at the moment there is no cure or vaccine. The most commonly used drug, pentamidine, is often used for first stage West African Sleeping Sickness, with other CDC approved drugs being uramin, melarsoprol, eflornithine and nifurtimox. However, these approved drugs can also have negative side effects, with melarsoprol found to have reactions that can prove to be fatal, and pentamidine causing stomach issues. The disease, if left untreated, can lead to meningoencephalitis, coma or death.

Organizational Support

Despite the grim standings of the disease, organizations are making efforts to change the status quo. The WHO is working to supply technical aid to national programs in Africa and are having volunteers deliver anti-Trypanosoma medicines for free. In 2009, the WHO established a biological specimens bank for researchers to conduct studies regarding new drugs and treatments. When attention towards the disease began to fade, the WHO developed a coordination network for victims of the disease to secure and maintain efforts against it. Starting in 2002, Bayer, supplied 10,000 vials of suramin treatment annually for an entire decade. Bayer took steps to expedite the fight against the disease in 2013 by funding and supporting mobile intervention teams in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through combined efforts, non-profit organizations as well as private companies are taking great strides against the deadly African Sleeping Sickness.

Haarika Gurivireddygari
Photo: Flickr

What is Davos
For the last 50 years, world leaders have been flying across the world to take part in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) facilitated conversations that might leave people wondering what is Davos, exactly? The small Swiss town, Davos, is home to the annual meeting held by WEF where invited elite address global issues and how to solve them.

In 2019, there were 3,000 people that joined together in the Swiss Alps to propose new initiatives for various issues, including how to help those in developing countries. The organization has been present in the creation of successful initiatives to provide vaccines and water to those in poverty as well as in the development of a project to prevent sickle cell disease in Ghana.

Gavi the Vaccine Alliance

Nearly two decades ago, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance launched at Davos, an organization that aims to provide vaccines and immunizations to children living in poverty. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided $750 million to get the organization running.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also founded Gavi and began partnering with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2008. UNICEF distributes vaccines and immunizations on behalf of Gavi, having spent $1 billion in 2014. In 2018, UNICEF distributed products to nearly 70 countries for Gavi, and plans on doing the same in 2019, according to its shipment plans.

Gavi’s goal is to immunize 300 million children between 2016 and 2020, already having provided 700 million children with immunizations. When people living in poverty receive vaccines to common diseases, it removes a financial burden and could eventually allow them to alleviate their poverty, according to a Harvard Health Policy Review article.

Water.org’s Clean Water Initiative

At the 2017 Davos meeting, Matt Damon and Gary White, founders of Water.org, announced the organization’s partnership with Stella Artois in providing water to 3.5 million people. According to WHO, 2.1 billion people lack access to clean, safe water in their home which can lead to the spread of diseases and death. To combat this phenomenon, Water.org is selling Stella Artois chalices and using a portion of the profits for WaterCredit, a system that allows local communities to take out loans to improve their water situation. This can mean different solutions for different communities allowing them a choice that best serves their needs, according to NPR. This partnership is just one of the initiatives in place by Water.org; Water.org and Stella Artois have been working together since 2015 and have helped over 1.7 million people gain access to clean water.

Sickle Cell Screening in Ghana

At the 2019 Davos meeting, the government of Ghana signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, to treat sickle cell disease within the country. Two percent of Ghanian newborns are born with sickle cell disease, according to a 2005 study of over 200,000 newborns. Director of Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, stated at Davos that he hopes that the MOU will allow for the placement of treatment centers in all regional hospitals and the screening of every newborn while also collecting and analyzing data on the disease.

As of March 2019, 5,600 doses of Hydroxyurea, a daily drug treatment for the disease, went to Ghana for sale at a reduced price, according to Ghana Business News. By September 2019, 40,000 more doses should enter the country.

In answering the question, “what is Davos?”, it is a small city where big leaders have been working towards making changes for more than 20 years, like the alleviation of poverty through acts such as providing vaccines, clean water services and disease screenings to countries in need. At varying levels of success, these initiatives have reached millions of people suffering from poverty and seem to be maintaining momentum.

– Makenna Hall
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Fiji
Fiji is an island that attracts tourists with its beautiful beaches and humble hosts but is one of the top 100 countries when it comes to short life expectancy. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Fiji.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Fiji

  1. In 2017, 25 out of every 1,000 babies died before their fifth birthday. Malnutrition is one of the primary causes of such a high under-five mortality rate. UNICEF reported that in 2004, over 40 percent of children in Fiji were malnourished and parents did not have the funds to buy their children the food they needed to survive.
  2. In 2013, 28 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. Currently, over 250,000 of the 900,000 people in Fiji are in poverty. Due to a lack of income, many people that live in rural areas moved to urban areas in order to increase livelihood and potentially live longer.
  3. Neonatal mortality was at 11 per 1,000 births in 2017. Neonatal mortality was another reason the death rate was high in Fiji. Premature births, birth defects and low birthweight were the leading causes. According to UNICEF, lack of access to food due to economical shortages contributed to early childhood deaths.
  4. Fiji had 49 tuberculosis incidents per 100,000 of its people in 2017. People who lived in urban areas were susceptible to tuberculosis due to pollution and overcrowding.
  5. In 2016, there was a 31 percent mortality rate due to heart disease, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease. Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease. In 2016, there were 81 percent of women and 55 percent of men who were overweight.
  6. Fiji has both private and public health care facilities, but both suffer from limited access to medication. According to a survey by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, this is due to affordability, as unemployed patients can not always afford their required medication. Based on the survey, 16 out of 48 people were unable to receive medication due to lack of funds. Fiji is trying to improve this through better water infrastructure, more centralized resources and community aid.
  7. Dengue fever is a common illness in Fiji. Dengue fever is a mosquito illness that causes flu-like symptoms. The symptoms can be fatal if it goes untreated. The death rate spiked due to how common the illness is and doctors’ inability to treat patients in rural areas. Estimates determine that 100 million cases occur each year, especially during the summer. Fiji destroyed mosquito habitats and recommended avoiding mosquito bites to combat this.
  8. Statistics estimate that Fijians should live until age 73. As of 2018, rankings placed Fiji at 141 out of 223 countries, which made life expectancy in Fiji the 82nd worst country. Diseases, lack of medicine and poverty are the main reasons why Fijians do not live longer.
  9. Sixty-eight percent of Fiji’s population drink unsafe tap water in urban areas. In some cases, the people who lived in the urban areas of Fiji became sick because they had to rely on rivers for fresh water. Organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization worked on the development of Fiji’s water quality by training environmental health officers to test water supplies and make sure it was safe to drink.
  10. In 2016, the death rate was seven per 1,000 people. Noncommunicable diseases accounted for 84 percent of these deaths. Others included physical violence toward women, infant deaths and malnutrition.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Fiji should not be a cause for concern, because, despite Fiji’s low life expectancy, it has improved over the years. Poverty was at 35 percent in 2009 and it is now at 28 percent. As long as the government continues to find ways to increase the stability of people in rural areas, Fiji’s life expectancy should continue to increase.

– Reese Furlow
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Germany
Germany is a developed country that offers decent living conditions for its citizens. The average life expectancy is 81 years, which aligns with Europe’s average life expectancy. While there are numerous factors that play a role in determining life expectancy, Germany makes a tremendous effort to manipulate these factors and extend the average. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Germany

  1. Education and Skills: When examining the 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany, it is important to consider schooling. To benefit its citizens, Germany features a highly respected dual-apprenticeship system in its high schools. Students receive both general and occupation-specific education, indirectly improving job quality and earning potential. Eighty-seven percent of German adults between the ages of 25 and 64 have completed upper-secondary education, which is well above the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) determined 78 percent average.
  2. Jobs and Earnings: Job security and salaries often determine the living conditions of families, making it an important factor in determining life expectancy. Seventy-five percent of Germans between the ages of 15 and 64 have a paid job. Only 1.6 percent of Germany’s labor force do not have employment, which is less than the OECD’s average of 1.8 percent. The government recognizes the importance of income and takes a stand by protecting its labor force. In 2015, Germany established a statutory minimum wage. Collective bargaining has diminished, allowing financial-security for low-income workers.
  3. Environment: The German government has made a public effort to make public transportation more efficient by investing in cleaner trains and hybrid buses in order to reduce emissions. The government has also acted to modify heating units such as wood-burning stoves. In 2010, Germany mandated the refitting of these units with particulate filters by 2024 if emissions do not reduce by then.
  4. Social Connection: While it seems odd to include social connections in a list of 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany, people’s social network plays a large role in guiding their life. In Germany, the FAMILIENwerkSTADT project aids migrant families by easing them through the process of assimilation. In this program, childcare facilities focus on providing children with better access to education. Immigrant families are less isolated through such programs. Ninety percent of Germans are confident that they know someone outside of immediate family that they can count on in bad times, similar to the OECD average of 89 percent.
  5. Health Status: Germany has a life expectancy of 81 percent, slightly above the OECD average of 80 percent. The government is able to provide equal health care for all of its citizens by recognizing those with disabilities. Any workers with health issues have the right to receive aid from their employers such as a modified workplace, special help and part-time opportunities. Germany has spent a GDP of nearly 0.3 percent on disabled people, which is much higher than in other OECD countries.
  6. Work-Life Balance: The government encourages flexible schedules because of the importance of family commitments. In 2015, Germany instituted the Erfolgsfaktor Familie (Family as a Success Factor) to achieve work-life balance. This program advocated for flexi-time for all employees as well as more affordable childcare. Later that same year, Germany established a parental reform in which parents receive money for taking more time off. Currently, full-time Germans are able to spend 65 percent of their day (15.6 hours) for personal care, compared to the OECD average of 15 percent.
  7. Civic Engagement: When people are more satisfied, their life expectancy increases. The German government has a “strong youth policy infrastructure,” in which it gives younger generations higher importance. This means to allow people to feel involved in their community and be much happier. In recent German elections, estimates determined voter turnout as 76 percent, which was much higher than the OECD average of 68 percent.
  8. Housing: Clean and safe living conditions determine whether people can have healthy lives. German households have an average of 1.8 people per room, which is in line with the OECD standard. The government launched a program to expand housing in 1993 and it modified 1.1 million units. In fact, 99.8 percent of every household unit in Germany has access to a private indoor flushing toilet.
  9. Personal Security: Another factor that determines life expectancy is personal security. While organized crime was a major hazard in the streets of Germany, the police have conducted a major crackdown on Middle Eastern crime families. Before the police crackdown occurred, “The streets are [were] actually regarded as a separate territory. Outsiders are [were] physically assaulted, robbed and harassed.” The homicide rate in Germany is at 0.5, whereas the average of the OECD 3.7.
  10. Cardiovascular Disease: As the leading cause of death in Germany, cardiovascular disease takes a large toll on the population. In fact, cardiovascular disease caused 92 percent of deaths in 2018 for people 65 and older. In order to draw attention to current research, the government gave the German Heart Center of the State of Bavaria membership in the German Center for Cardiovascular Research. The German Heart Center of the State of Bavaria is the leading center in Germany for therapeutic interventions and treatments. By giving the Center membership in the German Center for Cardiovascular Research, it will receive more funding and opportunities to continue its research.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Germany go well beyond a person’s living conditions, health, happiness or education. In fact, the German government has demonstrated its role in ensuring that people are living their lives to the fullest.

– Haarika Gurivireddygari
Photo: Flickr