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10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Argentina
Between 2010 and 2014, mortality from HIV/AIDS rose from 3.2 deaths per 100,000 people to 3.4 deaths per 100,000. Some people in Argentina also face water scarcity, a lack of basic services and supplies, low wages and limited access to food markets. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Argentina display the quality of life and health of Argentinians.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Argentina

  1. Over the years, life expectancy has increased for Argentina‘s citizens, reaching 76.7 years in 2017 while it was just over 65 in 1960.
  2. Due to Argentina’s increased focus on allocating resources frugally, creating a relatively high inpatient service availability and undergoing rapid socioeconomic development, Argentina’s improving health care system has worked to optimize available medical resources. These resources help sustain and slowly increase the average life expectancy in Argentina to 77 years, four more than the global average.
  3. Access to affordable clean drinking water in Argentina has dramatically improved over the last two decades while millions still encounter drinking water contaminants dangerous to public health. According to a book by Eileen Stillwaggon, Argentina has “Twenty thousand child deaths a year from avoidable causes, such as summer diarrhea…” The spread of disease with relative ease creates grim conditions for Argentina’s working and lower class, who have comparatively inadequate health care. Currently, 84 percent of residents have access to water from a public grid, while 58 percent have access to sanitation services. According to the World Health Organization, approximately half the population has no proper waste disposal service. The socio-economic conditions of the indigenous population in Argentina suggests a fundamental flaw in their health and safety infrastructure, that ultimately allows for the easy spread of disease.
  4. Despite the appearance of affluence and impressive medical infrastructure, the economic disparity between the rich and poor creates disproportionate aid distribution. This disparity explains the unusually high life expectancy, where the rich often live longer and healthier lives near the developed parts of the country. The 40 percent of those impoverished in Argentina have “no unemployment compensation, health coverage or pensions” living in slum conditions due to Argentina’s splintered health care system. As a result, certain areas are more prepared to fight disease outbreaks.
  5. With arduous living and drinking conditions, and most of the poor being children, infant and maternal mortality rates are surprisingly lower than in other countries with a smaller GDP. According to the World Health Organization, maternal mortality declined from 331 deaths to 298, a decline from 4.4 to 3.9 maternal deaths per 10,000 births in certain regions. The maternal mortality rate increased above the global average in other areas.
  6. Chagas disease has infected more than five percent of people in Argentina. With a crippling medical infrastructure, these health hazards fester and allow the spread of disease, where the impoverished live off garbage from dumps with mixtures of industrial and medical waste due to improper disposal.
  7. The percentage of people below the poverty line has decreased by five percent since 2016. COFESA, the federal health council, is working with the national authorities in Argentina to create and implement an effective universal health care system to reintegrate impoverished people back into the workforce. Its primary focusses are specific health problems and the lack of access to medical care in various regions.
  8. Argentina has eliminated many preventable diseases such as measles and rubella. Most universal vaccinations have been very successful with outbreaks of hepatitis A and B on the decline. A study in 2012 confirmed that the rate of measles outbreak has remained steady for almost a decade. Argentina spends seven percent of its GDP on health care initiatives, one of the highest in South America.
  9. Despite 37 percent of Argentina’s population being classified as overweight and 20 percent obese, food protection agencies have developed better public health initiatives to educate people about the dangers of overconsumption. The overall decreased consumption of salt demonstrates the success of these government programs aimed at fixing the conditions of marginalized rural and urban communities and increasing public health along with improved life expectancy.
  10. Infection by Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas disease) affected 2.5 percent of pregnant women and 5.7 percent of children during pregnancy and leading up to delivery. Infections in pregnant women are of paramount importance due to the relative ease of passing diseases onto offspring.

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay created a joint initiative to study the socio-economic conditions of the more rural regions to discover why diseases plague certain parts of their countries and not others. With an increasing life expectancy, Argentina’s has one of the largest labor forces in the world. Universal access to health care is Argentina’s end goal and some of the information in these 10 facts about life expectancy in Argentina demonstrate that things are looking positive for the future.

– Adam Townsend
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Namibia
Namibia has continued to make large strides in many aspects of life, including life expectancy. Having suffered a history of colonization and oppression, Namibia struggled for years with political, social and cultural issues. However, as the country has begun to strengthen and mingle on a global level, it has and is continuing to make exceptional progress. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Namibia will bring attention to the country’s progress and highlight the necessary changes.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Namibia

  1. Life Expectancy in Namibia is Improving: The CIA World Fact Book rates the average life expectancy for Namibians at 64.4 years, ranking the country 189th worldwide. This is a giant increase from the previous life expectancy rate of 53.5 years in 2005.
  2. Infant Mortality in Namibia is Improving: Coinciding with the steadily increasing life expectancy is the steadily decreasing infant mortality rate. According to the World Bank with data going back to 1967, the infant mortality rate has halved, going from a staggering 62.6 deaths per 1,000 births down to 31.8 deaths per 1,000 births. This is in line with countries that share a similar history to Namibia, like South Africa, which has an infant mortality rate of 28.8 deaths per 1,000 births. Both of these countries still trail behind other nations within the continent, like Egypt, which has an infant mortality rate of 18.8 deaths per 1,000 births.
  3. The Namibian Economy is Improving: There is a strong correlation between Namibia’s continually improving social and medical situation and its continued economic prosperity. According to the World Bank, the country’s GDP has more than quadrupled from the 1980s to today jumping from $2.4 billion in 1980 to an impressive $14.5 billion in 2018. Namibia continues to improve economically and was the top emerging market economy in Africa in 2013. It is also important to note that there have been continued efforts to distribute the wealth that the country is coming into. In 1990, after Namibia had gained its independence, it had the highest levels of income inequality in Africa. After policy changes, however, income inequality has significantly decreased.
  4. Social Justice Has Helped Namibia Prosper: Similar to South Africa, Namibia has a long and unfortunate history of apartheid. Apartheid prevented black Namibians from having any political rights and restricted social and economic freedom. It was not until the 1990s that Namibia gained its independence. Namibia’s large population’s roadblocks resulted in the before mentioned wealth inequality. However, once everyone received an equal footing and the Namibian Government looked at the entire population rather than a small few, the poverty rate decreased from 53 percent to 23 percent.
  5. Health Care in Namibia is Not Consistent: As Namibia has continued to improve, so has its health care. There are currently both public and private health care options with 85 percent of the population having the former. There is, however, a severe discrepancy in the service provided between private and public health care. Public hospitals are understaffed and offer limited services. The government has expressed its awareness of these issues and commitment to solving them. Its commitment is outlined in the National Health Policy Framework 2010–2020 and it is implementing efforts to grow the government budget line for health.
  6. Namibians Suffer From Preventable Diseases: Similar to many African countries, the impoverished sectors of Namibia are suffering from preventable diseases, but that is not to say that there have not been major improvements. The country has eliminated neonatal tetanus and the African Regional Certification Commission recognizes it as polio-free. This is due to the Government’s intense focus on fixing these issues. The Namibian Government has even decreased the number of malaria cases by 97 percent in just a decade.
  7. HIV is on the Decline in Namibia: One of many countries suffering from an HIV epidemic, Namibia is thankfully showing improvement. A report published by the Namibia Statistics Agency showed that the new infection rate had decreased from 14 per 1,000 adults to four per 1,000 adults. The same report stated that “as with the fight against extreme poverty, it is possible that a continuation in this effort can lead to zero new infections in the country by 2030.”
  8. Climate Has an Impact on Namibia: According to the World Health Organization, climate change and environmental safety are two major issues facing Namibia. Droughts, floods and disease outbreaks highlight the need for better planning and coordination as well as the importance of attending to environmental health as a preventative method when considering social, economic and cultural progress. Groups all over Namibia dedicate themselves to different issues within the larger context. Two of those groups are Namibia Nature Foundation, which is committed to conservation, and the Africa Drought Conference, which is part of the Government’s efforts to address the drought issue.
  9. Namibia is Rapidly Urbanizing: Urbanization has long been a sign of prosperity, but mass urbanization presents challenges. In Namibia, there are constantly high unemployment rates stemming in part from rapid urbanization. A staggering 34 percent of the total labor force, which mostly affects youth and women, do not have employment. This has been contributing to a growing number of poor who lack access to food and other social services.
  10. Namibia Has a Food Problem: Although Namibia is an upper-middle-income country, it still faces many problems including poverty and malnutrition. Namibia only produces about 40 percent of food consumed and is very reliant on imports. The limiting of access to food leads to price fluctuations harming up to 28 percent of Namibian families. The Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA) is just one of the many groups trying to improve the quality and access to nutrition. It also has an increased focus on sustainability.

Some have labeled Namibia one of the most promising countries in Africa because of its increasing social, cultural and economic status. One, however, cannot ignore that there is still a lot of room for progress, especially when looking at the less privileged groups in the country. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Namibia highlight all the good that has taken place and should pose some insight into the future.

– Samira Darwich
Photo: Flickr

 

BARKA Foundation

Burkina Faso is a small, land-locked country located in western Africa. Due to recurring droughts and the lack of efficient infrastructure, access to clean water remains an issue in Burkina Faso, especially during the dry winter months when two of the country’s three rivers dry up. In addition to water scarcity, many areas still do not have the sanitation facilities necessary to ensure drinking water is clean and safe. An organization called the BARKA Foundation is working to change that.

Barka is an African word meaning gratitude, blessing and reciprocity. These three words embody the mission of the BARKA Foundation, an American non-profit that strives to bring clean water to all parts of Burkina Faso. In 2015, 93.3 percent of the rural population and 80.3 percent of the total population did not have improved sanitation facility access. Nearly half the country still lives without clean water. Dirty water can spread diarrheal diseases and other infections to the public. Below are descriptions of the BARKA Foundation’s current clean water projects, and the positive effects these projects have had on communities in Burkina Faso.

WASH

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (WASH) is a long-term initiative that not only supplies rural villages with clean water but also educates the villagers on important sanitation and water purification practices. The goal here is sustainability. By giving village members lifelong sanitation skills, BARKA can be confident that their positive impact will continue after they have left. WASH objectives include digging wells, building latrines and educating members of the community.

Part of what makes the BARKA Foundation special is its culturally sensitive and community-based approach to clean water. Before any project starts, BARKA makes sure it is in accordance with the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ Principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). This principle ensures that all beneficiary communities agree to the non-profit’s presence and initiatives, have the right to negotiate the terms of the agreement and can withdraw consent at any time.

BARKA also makes a point of developing sustained personal relationships with each village, so the two groups can develop trust and collaborate effectively. The foundation establishes water and sanitation committees in each town, which are run by the villagers and must be made up of equal parts men and women. These principles are central to WASH’s desire to create a sustainable system of clean water and sanitation. So far, more than 25,000 rural villages have been improved by WASH. The organization has drilled 6 wells and built 14 bathrooms in 5 primary schools in rural areas.

Social Art

BARKA recognizes the cultural importance of song, dance and performance in Burkina Faso. Therefore, to engage village members, the BARKA Foundation uses theater to relay information to the public. These performances involve a portable stage along with light and sound equipment. The plays often contain themes such as female empowerment and sustainable agriculture. After a performance, the audience and the actors on stage have a lively debate where questions may be asked or points challenged. The goal is to create an immersive and interactive learning experience in which everyone can participate.

The adult literacy rate in Burkina Faso is only 34.6 percent. For this reason, engaging and participatory education is extremely important in rural areas. BARKA wants to get the necessary information out there in an effective way that does not exclude illiterate members of society. BARKA has involved 10,023 people in villages and public performances to date, benefiting more than 16,000 people. The average audience size per performance is 432 people.

Walk for Water

A great way for people in their home countries to get involved with the BARKA Foundation is to do a Walk for Water. When there are no wells close by, villagers must travel to a water source to fill up heavy jugs of water and lug them home. The chore typically falls on the shoulders of women and girls in the village, so they usually have to attend to small children while making the journey. Often, those going to get water are barefoot or equipped with poor footwear. This practice is physically tiring and time-consuming and takes time away from girls’ education.

Walks for Water are an imitation of this daily burden. Classrooms, schools and clubs raise money and awareness by carrying water jugs and walking for a set distance (usually 6 kilometers). The fundraiser engages the entire community and is a great way to get everyone involved in an important cause.

Ceramic Filters

Ceramic water filters are a cheap, environmentally sustainable and generally effective way to purify household water. The CDC found that people who used ceramic filters were 60 to 70 percent less likely to contract diarrheal diseases from their drinking water. While these filters are useful for removing most protozoa and bacterial pathogens, they are typically not as effective at removing viruses. For this reason, filters should not be considered a long-term solution but rather an important step.

The BARKA Foundation uses a “cross-subsidization” model to distribute filters to impoverished areas. Essentially, BARKA sells the filters to NGOs and the Burkinabe middle class that can afford them. They then use those profits to distribute ceramic filters to poor areas, often visiting rural villages with little to no sanitation facility access. These filters represent a simple and effective way to ensure every household has at least some method of water purification.

The Future of Clean Water in Burkina Faso

Although the federal government recognized the importance of clean water distribution with the Water Act in 2001, Burkina Faso’s local governments largely do not have the money or resources to maintain filtered water and sanitation practices. The BARKA Foundation seeks to fill these gaps, and its efforts have no doubt resulted in success on the ground.

While it can be difficult to quantify exactly how much improvement BARKA has brought about, they are headed in the right direction. In 2005, a year before BARKA was founded, the life expectancy in Burkina Faso was 53.3 years. Today, the country’s life expectancy is about 61 years. BARKA’s various projects will continue to fight poverty by bringing clean, safe and sustainable water to Burkina Faso.

Morgan Johnson
Photo: Flickr

Tropical Cyclones in Bangladesh Monsoon season in the Bay of Bengal usually lasts from June to September and can be characterized by sudden, violent downpours of torrential rain. These heavy rains are integral to the climate and culture of this part of the world, but can also pose a threat to lives and infrastructure when storms become severe. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh, monsoon rains and cyclones can trigger landslides on the steep, uneven ground. These landslides have become increasingly deadly in recent years. Substantial landslides in the second half of the 20th century typically recorded few to no deaths. This changed by the turn of the century: in the 2007 and 2017 landslides, 136 and 170 people died, respectively. Landslides in Bangladesh are becoming deadlier and the government must take measures to prevent further loss of life.

Rapid and Unplanned Urbanization

With an urbanization rate of 3.17 percent, Bangladesh has experienced a large amount of internal migration. People who seek better job and educational opportunities are moving to urban areas. Urbanization itself is not a bad thing, but problems can arise when local governments do not utilize appropriate city planning measures. For example, 21.3 percent of Bangladesh’s urban population lived below the poverty line in 2010, and 62 percent of the urban population lived in slums in 2009. These statistics reflect an inability to accommodate a quick, large influx of people.

In the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, unplanned urbanization can be deadly. People seeking land in the area often end up settling on the hills just outside of urban centers. Building is supposed to be prohibited on these landslide-prone areas, but zoning is typically not enforced and people ignore the warnings. The Department of Energy found that there are about 2,000 families in the area currently at high risk.

Indigenous Displacement and Land Conflict

Land in the Chittagong Hill Tracts has a contentious history. Groups of indigenous people in Bangladesh have long fought for rights and protections that the federal government is reluctant to give. In the 1970s, an indigenous guerilla group launched an insurgency on settlers who were encroaching on their territory. The 1980s saw no more protection for indigenous lands, but a large influx of Bengali settlers moved to the area as part of a government-supported migration effort. Violence has since persisted between landless Bengali settlers building in the hills and indigenous communities who once called the area home.

Indigenous communities in Bangladesh suffer disproportionately from land conflicts and lack of governmental support. It is estimated that about 90,000 indigenous people were displaced as a result of the conflict, with many families setting up temporary structures on the steep and unstable slopes. Amnesty International has called on the Bangladeshi government to be more proactive in recognizing indigenous rights, but concrete progress on the issue remains evasive.

Increased Cost of Building Materials

Because many indigenous communities have lived in the Chittagong Hill Tracks for generations, they have the knowledge necessary to allow them to build homes that are less vulnerable to landslides in Bangladesh. Ideally, homes on these slopes would be stilted so that mud and water can pass underneath without causing damage. The increased cost of lightweight building material like bamboo, however, has recently made this practice much more expensive. When families cannot afford materials to stilt their homes, they are forced to build on the ground and in the path of landslides. These ground-level homes can also make the hills more unstable, as digging increases the amount of loose earth on the slopes.

Increased Storm and Monsoon Intensity

Monsoons have been changing in recent years. Increasingly, rain comes in powerful torrential downpours that may only last a few days but can dump as much water as would previously be recorded over the span of a month. This pattern is likely to increase the frequency of dangerous landslides as water has less time to seep into groundwater deposits.

Cyclones, known in North America as hurricanes, are single storm systems that form over the ocean and carry rain and wind to land along the coast. Only about 5 percent of the world’s tropical cyclones form over the Bay of Bengal. However, out of 10 cyclones that recorded very high loss of life, five were in Bangladesh. This statistic reflects the vulnerability of people living on the exposed hill tracts.

Measures Being Taken

Local governments have recently been more proactive about implementing storm warning and evacuation systems in vulnerable areas. Only 11 people died from landslides last year, which is significantly less than the 170 landslide fatalities in 2017. However, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts district, there are no official storm shelters. This means that during periods of evacuation, government-run buildings such as radio and TV stations must accommodate people fleeing their homes. These buildings sheltered about 4,000 people last year. Official storm shelters would be better equipped to handle the increasing number of people fleeing storm damage.

The Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) is recommending that until more concrete preventative measures can be taken, schools and faith-based organizations should work to prepare and educate communities about the dangers of landslides in Bangladesh. If people living on the slopes of the Chittagong Hill Tracts cannot avoid landslides, they may have to learn how to adapt to them.

– Morgan Johnson
Photo: Flickr

RTS,S VaccineA new vaccine known as the RTS,S vaccine is currently being piloted in the African nations of Ghana, Malawi and Kenya.  The RTS,S vaccine has been in development for over 32 years. It is the first malaria vaccine that has been shown to provide young children with partial protection from malaria.

What is Malaria?

Every single year, the malaria virus kills one million people around the world. It is estimated that 300-600 million people suffer from malaria every year. Additionally, 90 percent of malaria cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of malaria’s victims are children under the age of five.

According to UNICEF, Malaria kills one child every thirty seconds, which is about 3,000 children every single day. Malaria hinders children’s social development and schooling. Furthermore, malaria is a major cause of poverty. For example, the cost of malaria control and treatment actually slows economic development in Africa by 1.3 percent.

RTS,S Malaria Vaccine Pilots

In clinical trials, the RTS,S vaccine was found to prevent about 4 out of 10 malaria cases. Additionally, it proved to prevent 3 in 10 cases of severe, life-threatening malaria. The malaria vaccine has also been shown to reduce severe malaria anemia by 60 percent. Severe malaria anemia is the most prevalent reason that children die from malaria.

The organizations of Unitaid, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria funded and supported these pilots.

Impact

Currently, an estimated 360,000 children are expected to receive the RTS,S vaccine through immunization programs in certain areas of Malawi, Ghana and Kenya. However, the main weakness of the immunization programs is in how they store and transport the vaccines. The effectiveness of a vaccine is dependent on whether it is in a properly-functioning cold chain. This refers to a system of transporting and storing vaccines at the proper temperatures from when they are manufactured to when they are used.

To ensure that vaccines properly fulfill their duty of vaccinating children from malaria, there needs to be an increased focus on the protection and storage of these vaccines in their proper cold chains. It is vital to invest in proper storage equipment and maintenance of that storage equipment. This equipment will retain the vaccine’s efficacy. It is also crucial to invest in roads and infrastructure so the vaccines can be properly transported to those in need.

Innovation

A technological innovation that has changed and improved the transportation of malaria vaccines is the use of drones. The Rwandan tech firm Zipline has already launched drones that are used to transport medication, vaccines, blood and other essential health care items.

Starting out in Rwanda, the firm has also expanded its lifesaving services into Ghana. The drones fly at 100 kilometers and are able to make deliveries in 30 minutes that otherwise could take five hours by car. The drones also are able to fly through any type of terrain. Therefore, they can easily reach remote villages without requiring any sort of local infrastructure at the scene. ZipLine is able to make up to 500 delivers a day. Thanks to its services, ZipLine has provided 13 million people instant access to urgent, life-saving treatments.

The RTS,S vaccine is an effective vaccine that is vital in protecting young children from malaria. By drastically reducing cases of severe malaria anemia, the RTS,S vaccine is saving lives. To continue saving lives and to further build the efficacy of the vaccine, it is crucial to focus on investing in the proper infrastructure for storage and transportation of the vaccine.

– Nicholas Bykov
Photo: Flickr

mRNA VaccinesVaccinations have been one of the most successful disease prevention tools the world has ever seen to date; the rise of vaccinations and a decrease in disease mortality go hand in hand. The World Health Organization is cited stating that vaccinations prevent about six million deaths worldwide every year. That number could increase if a new type of vaccine, an mRNA vaccine, proves effective.

Some of the more impoverished nations of the world encounter a variety of setbacks when trying to implement vaccinations on a wide scale. Some populations simply cannot afford vaccines while others living in rural areas may not have access or transportation to reach a medical facility. Further, others still may live in unsanitary environments that allow pathogens to easily thrive and spread throughout their communities. Fortunately, scientists in Germany have been testing mRNA vaccines that could have the possibility of eliminating some of these issues.

Testing mRNA Vaccines

Last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with CureVac and BioNTech (two biotechnology corporations) to experiment with new ways to make vaccines. These new vaccines utilize the body’s naturally administered mRNA, which are the molecules that turn genetic information into proteins. In 2018, the companies found positive results while testing these vaccines on both small and large animals.

Later that year, mRNA vaccines designed to combat rabies began phase I of their testing on human participants. The testing took place in Germany and involved 130 participants who had not yet received a rabies vaccine in their lifetime. Then the results of the mRNA vaccine were compared with the results of another treatment.

“The first study participant enrolled in this rabies clinical trial is a significant milestone for CureVac, and allows the company to demonstrate its ability to trigger an immune response in vaccine naïve populations, which is different from vaccines just boosting an already existing immune response such as a flu vaccination,” explained Dan Menichella, CureVac’s CEO.

Implications of mRNA Vaccines

Though the study is not expected to be fully completed until 2021, researchers are finding that mRNA vaccines may be potentially more durable than standard versions of preventative vaccines.

If that is proven to be the case, the implications of how these new vaccines could help the world’s poor are huge. The mRNA vaccines would be able to be developed quickly—quickly enough, it is speculated, to respond to grave infectious disease outbreaks like Ebola. They would also be considerably cheaper to manufacture. And while most vaccination plants cannot be renovated or repurposed to produce other vaccines, only one mRNA vaccine plant could create multiple vaccines that target different diseases.

While mRNA vaccines still have a long way to go in the way of human testing and production, they seem to be off to a good start. It may one day completely revolutionize the way developing countries—or any country, for that matter—vaccinate. And although the medical field is a complicated one, one thing is for certain: CureVac and BioNTech are companies everyone should keep their eyes on for future breakthroughs.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr

solution to diabetes and obesity
Currently, almost 80 percent of diabetes deaths occur in low or middle-income countries. Halo Life Sciences, a company based in Austin, Texas, plans to change that. It has developed a product that it calls Naturalin, a naturally occurring phytonutrient that can go into snack foods, dairy, protein products, beverages and more. The addition of Naturalin makes these products far more nutritious. Naturalin has a massive potential to enact positive change in the food industry in a number of nations around the world as a solution for diabetes and obesity.

Naturalin Basics

Entrepreneur Michael Reyes originally developed Naturalin as a response to the growing number of obese, diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals in developing countries. Island nations such as the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Nauru have the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Individuals who are diabetic often contract the disease because their bodies are insulin resistant. Many different things can cause insulin resistance, but it is closely associated with excess weight and body fat. This, in turn, places an undue burden on both these individuals and the health care providers in these countries, as individuals with diabetes often require specific medications, such as short and long-acting insulin, amylinomimetic drugs, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors and DPP-4. Naturalin can help reduce this burden by fortifying common foods such as rice and flour. In addition to its nutritional benefits, Naturalin is a sustainable product and is a renewable resource, ensuring that it will be available for usage by future generations.

Plans for Expansion

Halo Life Sciences is currently in the process of getting Naturalin into markets around the world, including in Brazil, India, China and Israel. The company has partnered with a number of individuals and corporations in these countries. It is also planning to start developing its own CPG’s (consumer packaged goods) that will already have Naturalin in them. These recent developments will likely result in Halo Life Sciences receiving investments from those who see Naturalin’s potential as a solution for diabetes and obesity. Such investments will make the process of expanding into global markets much easier.

Potential Roadblocks

While Naturalin has the potential to enact real global change, it does face some potential roadblocks in the implementation process. For one, a strong marketing campaign must back the product, so that people know about its benefits. Halo Life Sciences has already done some work on this end, as it has invested heavily in scientific research; researches at the University of Texas-Austin validated Naturalin as safe, functional and effective when they tested it. However, it must continue to work on getting its message out to people around the globe. The company must also navigate the oftentimes tricky process of delivering its product into rural communities. If Naturalin can deal with these two potential roadblocks, it will be able to thrive as a product in countless nations around the world.

Changing the World

Naturalin has the capacity to change the world for the better by being a solution for diabetes and obesity. It provides individuals with a quick and easy way to consume more nutritious food, and upon implementation, will almost certainly reduce the total number of individuals suffering from diabetes and obesity worldwide. It is, without a doubt, a very promising solution to one of the most pressing issues facing the modern world.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Pixabay

Enteric and Diarrheal DiseasesEnteric and diarrheal diseases affect 1.7 billion children around the world every year killing over 500,000 children under five annually. The most common enteric and diarrheal diseases are rotavirus, cholera, shigella and typhoid.

Types of Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases

Rotavirus: Rotavirus is a highly transmittable disease and is one of the main causes of severe diarrhea in children. The disease affects millions of individuals around the world every year and is the cause of death in over 215,000 cases. The disease most often transfers via consumption of fecal matter, which can occur when individuals do not have access to proper handwashing and sanitation facilities. The Rotavirus vaccine can help prevent rotavirus. It is effective in preventing severe rotavirus in 90 percent of cases and the WHO has recommended it for use. Typically, children that are two to six months old receive two to three doses of the vaccine. Individuals who do not receive this vaccine and contract rotavirus (or cholera, typhoid, or shigella) most often receive treatment with either zinc supplementation or rehydration therapy or both. Zinc supplementation can reduce the severity of diarrhea in an individual while oral rehydration therapy can help rehydrate an individual that has become dehydrated due to diarrhea.

Cholera: Cholera is another diarrheal illness that individuals can contract by consuming contaminated food or water. It affects roughly three million individuals around the world every year and is the cause of death in nearly 145,000 cases. Furthermore, there have been recent outbreaks in countries like Haiti, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Guinea. Like rotavirus, a specialized vaccine can prevent cholera as well as sound sanitation techniques. Individuals older than six receive the vaccine in two doses while younger individuals receive three doses.

Typhoid: Like rotavirus and cholera, typhoid is transmitted through fecal contamination. It affects 22 million people annually and is the cause of death in roughly 200,000 cases per year. Before recently, no one had developed a vaccine to treat typhoid; however, in 2018, the WHO approved a vaccine called Typbar TCV. Scientists from Bharat Biotech International, a biotechnology company based in Hyderabad, India, developed the vaccine. Hundreds of thousands of individuals have received the vaccine and it has played a key role in stemming a recent typhoid breakout in Pakistan.

Shigella: The last major form of an enteric/diarrheal disease is shigella. Over 165 million individuals contract shigella every year (causing one million deaths), in large part due to the fact that there is no preventative vaccine for the disease. Because of this, much of the effort that has been given to prevent Shigella recently (as well as rotavirus, cholera and typhoid) have focused on ensuring proper hygiene and sanitation in areas that are at risk for fecal contamination. Listed below are some promising solutions to improve hygiene and sanitation in developing countries around the world.

Solutions to Reduce Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases

Janicki Omni Processor (JOP): The Janicki Omni Processor is an innovative solution that can help turn waste into clean drinking water. To do so, wet waste enters the JOP which dries and burns the waste in a controlled fashion. The JOP filters and condenses the resulting steam from the burning process, distilling the water. This water then receives treatment in order to meet clean drinking water standards. The JOP is environmentally friendly (the entire process is self-sustainable) and, through heavy funding from NGOs such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it is a cheap and efficient way to provide clean water to communities throughout the developing world.

Nano Membrane Toilet: The Nano Membrane Toilet is a promising solution with regards to sanitation practices throughout the developing world. The toilet is sustainable and requires no water or electricity to function. It works like this: after an individual uses it, the toilet utilizes a waterless flushing system to separate the urine from the feces. The feces are then chopped up into small bits and placed into a combustion chamber. After roughly a week, the feces will turn into a substance similar to ash and people can safely deposit it in the trash. The water, meanwhile, enters a separate tank to purify. The purified water then enters a tank at the front of the toilet for the purpose of outdoor irrigation and cleaning. The Nano Membrane Toilet is a promising solution to help reduce feces contamination because it does not require water to function and is easily implementable in many communities around the world.

Hand Washing: Hand washing isn’t a new technology, but it can go a long way towards preventing a multitude of enteric and diarrheal diseases. Research indicates that diarrheal deaths could decrease by as much as 50 percent if the prevalence of handwashing increased around the globe. NGOs such as The Global Handwashing Partnership and World Vision have done great work in recent years to lead handwashing programs in developing nations and increase awareness about the importance of handwashing.

Looking Ahead

The prevention and treatment of individuals with rotavirus, cholera, typhoid and shigella are some of the biggest challenges facing the world in the coming years. The transmittable nature of these diseases makes them difficult to eradicate, and people cannot fix many of the reasons that they are prevalent (lack of sanitation, poor water quality, etc.) overnight. Continued investments from governments and NGOs around the world in promising technologies like the Janicki Omni Processor and the Nano Membrane Toilet are a step in the right direction towards the prevention of enteric and diarrheal diseases in individuals around the world.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Pexels

worst earthquakes and the human toll
While the death toll and size of an earthquake can provide logistical data, other factors influence the devastation victims face and the rate they can recover. For communities already struggling, these disasters can be particularly devastating. Ranked below are the 15 worst earthquakes and the human toll of each.

15 Worst Earthquakes

  1. Haiti (2010): At the top of the list of 15 worst earthquakes and the human toll, Haiti suffered an initial 7.0 magnitude quake followed by two aftershocks killing 316,000 people. Due to a lack of adequate reinforcement, buildings across the country crumbled. A loss of power and phone lines interfered with efforts to provide aid. After nine years, Haiti still attempts to repair itself.
  2.  Nepal (2015): After crumbling landmarks and 10-story buildings, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake added landslides and avalanches to its path of destruction. An estimated 9,000 citizens died and 22,000 more suffered injuries. More than 600,000 people lost homes and began facing extreme poverty. However, its government and humanitarian organizations responded quickly. Temporary education centers and shelters helped the displaced, and over the last three years, facilities are recovering.
  3. Sumatra, Indonesia (2004): The 9.1 magnitude disaster in the Indian Ocean produced severe casualties and devastation. The earthquake itself likely killed 1,000 but the tsunami that followed left 227,898 dead or missing. Because of the short time span between the earthquake and tsunami, no one could create separate death tolls. Indonesia had damages of $4.4 million.
  4. Sichuan, China (2008): Whole villages lay flattened after a massive 7.9 quake. Schools and other facilities collapsed, trapping people inside. Estimates determined there were around 90,000 dead, 5,300 of them being children attending class. Buildings injured an estimated 375,000 more citizens and rescue teams attempted to find missing children after the chaos.
  5. Tohoku, Japan (2011): An unfortunate 15,703 deaths occurred after an earthquake and tsunami struck the east coast of Japan. The total economic loss racked up to $309 billion to provide reconstruction and services. A nuclear power plant near Okuma suffered damages to its reactors, causing a radiation leak. Thanks to evacuation efforts, the leak did not harm anyone. Several fires occurred after and the event destroyed docks.
  6. Izmit, Turkey (1999): Lasting less than a minute, an earthquake striking southeast Izmit left 17,000 dead and 500,000 homeless. Thousands of buildings and an oil refinery were among the destruction. There was a large outcry of people persecuting contractors for their poor workmanship and their use of cheap materials. Authorities found very few of them guilty, however. The 7.4 magnitude earthquake caused an estimated $3 to 6.5 billion in damages.
  7. Rudbar, Iran (1990): A 20,000 square mile earthquake devastated homes and farms at midnight. An estimated 50,000 people died and 135,000 injured, some living in simple houses that lacked support. An aftershock the following day caused a dam to burst, adding to financial losses and further loss of farmland. Estimates determined that the reconstruction of the region cost $7.2 billion.
  8. Kashmir, Pakistan (2005): Kashmir, the disputed area between India and Pakistan, suffered a loss of 80,000 people after a magnitude 7.6 earthquake. Four million others became homeless. Sections of towns completely slid off sides of cliffs; landslides also created a blockade for relief workers. In addition, the fact that it occurred just before winter worsened the conditions of those seeking shelters.
  9. Mexico City, Mexico (1985): Mexico City fell to chaos when 400 buildings crumbled, and the power and phone systems blacked out. Public transportation also halted, leaving panicked citizens without communication or instructions. An estimated 250,000 people were without shelter, and a final death count totaled 10,000.
  10. Yunnan, China (2014): Around 4.7 in magnitude, this earthquake killed 398 citizens. The earthquake injured an estimated 1,000 people and displaced over 200,000. Several homes and infrastructure susceptible to earthquakes faced damages as well. The Committee for Disaster Reduction had issued its highest-level response to provide aid: emergency responders prioritized search-and-rescue and the organization directly allocated resources for this purpose.
  11. Puebla, Mexico (2017): A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico on the anniversary of its 1985 earthquake. Since the 1985 quake, people underwent earthquake drills which helped limit the damage in the 2017 earthquake although 225 deaths still occurred. Additionally, the earthquake damaged buildings and Mexico had to evacuate its people. Nearby, homes had also crumbled.
  12. Norcia, Italy (2016): After suffering multiple previous quakes in a short timeframe, another 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred between two towns: Norcia and Amatrice. Numerous aftershocks, magnitudes 5.5 through 7 then followed. Because of its unfortunate location between cities and mountain villages, the quake took 247 victims. Rubble from mountains trapped others and blocked roads.
  13. Ecuador (2016): After this earthquake, 100,000 people needed shelter, 6,000 suffered severe injuries and 700 died. The earthquake destroyed schools and homes along with health care facilities. Flooding following the crisis worsened an outbreak of the Zika virus, but World Vision helped lessen its impact. It provided information on mosquito control and provided activities to teach sanitation in order to prevent the spread of Zika.
  14. Balochistan, Pakistan (2013): The largest province in Pakistan, Balochistan felt an immense tremor from an earthquake with a 7.7 magnitude. Awaran, one of six districts affected, lost 90 percent of its houses. The death toll stood at 328 with more than 440 wounded. Excessive mud that the earthquake brought in buried food, water and houses.
  15. Chile (2010): In 2010, a severe 8.8 magnitude earthquake damaged 400,000 homes. Copper production, crucial to Chile’s economy, halted until power resumed. Including loss of exports, the damages totaled $30 billion. The government estimated that the earthquake directly affected 2 million people, while another 800 had died.

Sporadic and unrelenting, earthquakes affect both coastal and inland areas. However, all of the 15 worst earthquakes and the human toll experienced in each have a uniting factor in that they received aid. Despite the severity, government programs and humanitarian bodies rushed to the scene, supplying temporary homes and rations to those suddenly without a place to live. Also, even though most major cases take years to restore themselves, organizations and governments often do not stop giving aid.

– Daniel Bertetti
Photo: USAID

Helps Ethiopean ChildrenAfrica has the highest child mortality rate of any continent. Ethiopia sits in the middle of the child mortality ranking of countries throughout Africa with 59 out of 1,000 children dying before the age of five. While it is not as high as the rate of 76 per 1,000 children found in sub-Saharan Africa, it is much worse than many developed nations, which average around 6 deaths per 1,000 children annually. New research, however, shows that childhood mortality can be significantly lowered in Africa using an antibiotic that could help Ethiopian children prevent blindness.

Azithromycin Helps Ethiopian Children

Trachoma is the leading bacterial infection that causes blindness. In an effort to lower the number of cases of trachoma, researchers preemptively gave azithromycin, an antibiotic effective at fighting trachoma, to thousands of children under the age of nine in Ethiopia. The researchers administered these doses of azithromycin to children twice a year.

After observing the children for several years, they came to a shocking discovery: azithromycin will help Ethiopian children live longer. Not only did the bi-annual antibiotic prevent against trachoma, as the researchers believed it would, but it also protected against many other common ailments as well. For those children in the case study, the childhood mortality rate was cut in half.

The discovery seemed too good to be true, so this group of researchers tried to replicate their findings in other African nations with higher child mortality rates. Close to 200,000 children were given azithromycin in Tanzania, Malawi and Niger. While the results were not quite as impressive as cutting the child mortality rate in half, as seen with Ethiopia, the results were still high. The twice-yearly drug lowered child mortality rates between 14 to 19 percent in each country.

Research Into Other Illnesses

Research must continue before Africa will see widespread use of azithromycin for children. If approved for widespread use, this antibiotic could help prevent some of the common illnesses that lead to child mortality. These common illnesses include:

  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia kills nearly 100,000 children per year in Africa. This accounts for 16 percent of childhood death under the age of five. Currently, when children contract pneumonia, only one third are able to receive lifesaving antibiotic treatment.
  • Diarrhoeal disease: Diarrhea is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. Diarrhea is a common infection in the bowels. It is completely preventable and treatable, yet it is estimated that 525,000 children in Africa die annually from this illness.
  • Malnutrition: Malnutrition contributes to childhood mortality rates. While the use of azithromycin will not be able to prevent malnutrition, it may be able to help prevent other ailments that the body is not able to fight off because of the lack of nutrients and calories.

Long term effects of azithromycin used to prevent ailments in children are not known. However, the studies have shown promising results in saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of African children. With a few more years of research and more funding, these researchers may be able to permanently lower the childhood mortality rate in Africa. Not only will this research continue to help Ethiopian children but it will also help children of other nations, ensuring they live into adulthood.

Kathryn Moffet
Photo: Pexels