Response to COVID-19
Doctors Without Borders has aided more than 70 countries including Yemen, Syria and countries in Latin America throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by providing extra medical professionals to help ease overwhelmed medical facilities. The organization’s main goal is to ensure that medical services can continue to run while protecting vulnerable populations. Medical services could shut down in many developing countries without the help of Doctors Without Borders. The volume of COVID-19 infection rates across the world resulted in Doctors Without Borders’ intervention in countries that traditionally have not required assistance in the past, such as Italy, France and the United States. Doctors Without Borders’ response to COVID-19 has been crucial in fighting this global pandemic. 

About Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders began in 1971 after the war in Biafra, Nigeria and the floods in eastern Bangladesh. A group of French doctors and journalists created the organization because they aspired to make a change in the medical world. Since 1971, Doctors Without Borders has expanded globally and saved millions of lives.

Today, Doctors Without Borders continues to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters and wars. In 2010, the organization rushed to Haiti after an earthquake put millions of lives in danger. Its team began treating victims within minutes. It provided emergency kits to solve any condition that could potentially occur during a natural disaster.

The organization has expanded to contribute to more long-term medical aid projects. This includes providing renovations for existing clinics, creating treatment programs and setting up ambulance services.

Doctors Without Borders’ Response to COVID-19

The Guardian reported that Doctors Without Borders began implementing outbreak preparedness measures including creating training programs in prevention and spreading, helping health facilities adapt to COVID-19 patients and sending additional doctors wherever necessary to help ease surges in January 2020. In the U.S., the organization ensured that vulnerable populations had equal access to healthcare. Doctors Without Borders’ response to COVID-19 involved the creation of education programs about COVID-19. It also designed mobile testing for migrant farmworkers in Florida.

A complication that emerged around the world since the beginning of the pandemic was that other diseases and viruses took a back seat while COVID-19 soaked up all medical resources. As a result, Doctors Without Borders reinstated HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide antiretroviral therapy treatments. 

COVID-19 has created several different obstacles for Doctors Without Borders to operate efficiently. Some of the obstacles include travel restrictions, risk of viral transmission, loss of access to services and more. The obstacles have been difficult to overcome but the lack of vaccine supply has been the most challenging.

Doctors Without Borders has pleaded for the European Union, the U.S. and other wealthy nations to reconsider the stance on South Africa and India’s patent waiver proposal. South Africa and India’s patent waiver proposal would lend a hand to developing countries by allowing the manufacturing of generic COVID-19 vaccines. As the fight for immunity continues, Doctors Without Borders believes that without sharing, the world has no chance of creating global immunity. However, the E.U. and the U.S. remain set to allow vaccine production to remain in the hands of pharmaceutical companies opting for profit. 

Looking Ahead

Until every country has equal access to immunity, the whole world is still at risk. Doctors Without Borders has vowed to continue helping the world cope with the damages that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.

– Jessica Barile
Photo: Flickr

World of Warcraft's Fight Against the PandemicThe COVID-19 pandemic has caused Activision Blizzard to host their annual gaming convention, Blizzcon, online this year in what was known as Blizzconline. At Blizzconline, Blizzard announced many updates and future releases for the company, as well as this year’s charity event in World of Warcraft. This year’s charity event will aid in World of Warcraft’s fight against the pandemic. In 2021, the popular role-playing game is partnering with Doctors Without Borders to donate to the nonprofit’s COVID-19 Crisis Fund.

Blizzard Charity Events

Since 2010, Blizzard has partnered with charities and nonprofit organizations to donate millions of dollars through player donations. In years past, Blizzard would donate 100% of proceeds made off of player purchases of in-game cosmetic items like World of Warcraft pets or Overwatch skins.

This year, Blizzard is changing the way donations are being made. Players will be allowed to donate however much they want directly to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors without Borders, and these donations will be tracked by Blizzard. After reaching preset goals, players will be rewarded with in-game pets as a reward for contributing to World of Warcraft’s fight against the pandemic.

Blizzard’s previous charity events have generally gone toward alleviating domestic issues in the U.S. This will be the first time the company partnered with an international humanitarian organization, except for its partnership with WE Charity in 2019. The WE Charity works internationally to end poverty by establishing education access and resources, providing more than one million people with access to clean food and water and empowering women to be self-sufficient.

Doctors Without Borders

Blizzard’s charity event with Doctors Without Borders will have player donations going directly to the nonprofit’s COVID-19 Crisis Fund. Doctors Without Borders is a humanitarian nonprofit organization working in more than 70 countries, providing people with medical aid and assistance. The organization has been combating malnutrition in children, treating preventable diseases and providing people with access to medical services and care since being founded in 1971.

The COVID-19 Crisis Fund has a current target of €150 million, or more than $181 million. All the funds will go directly toward Doctors Without Borders’s global response to the pandemic. For instance, the funding will be used for supplies for patients and staff and research ways to combat the virus. The goals of the COVID-19 Crisis Fund are to help stop the spread of the virus, reinforce food and water systems for at-risk populations and provide medical aid to those suffering from illness in more than 70 countries where the nonprofit works.

To reach its goal of €150 million, Doctors Without Borders will need more donations to its COVID-19 Crisis Fund. By partnering with Blizzard and the World of Warcraft, Doctors Without Borders is one step closer to reaching its goal and contributing to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, this charity partnership will help improve the current global COVID-19 response and save lives.

– Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

South African PovertyThe battle against poverty has always been a difficult one, but the novel coronavirus pandemic has presented many new challenges. Actions currently being taken to combat South African poverty and COVID-19 have proven that, with new options and renewed commitments, there is still much that can be done to alleviate poverty. Impoverished people around the world need aid now more than ever.

An Ongoing Struggle

Historically, South Africa has struggled to aid its most economically vulnerable citizens. According to the most recent government analysis, almost half of the adult population is living under the poverty line—an alarming figure. It seems apparent that this South African poverty crisis would be seen on nearly every level of society. Sadly, this widespread poverty has had a notable impact on which necessary resources are available to people. While electricity infrastructure is fairly widespread, between 28% and 30% of poor households lack access to water and sanitation services. As is relatively common in cases of inequality, the most vulnerable frequently lack access to basic necessities, making their struggles far more urgent.

COVID-19 Developments

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is poised to exacerbate South African poverty. The World Bank has predicted that while the pandemic will increase poverty worldwide, the hardest-hit region will be Sub-Saharan Africa. Although South Africa has been relatively spared from the worst of COVID-19 on a health level, the poverty-inducing effects of the pandemic are daunting—it is projected that some 23 million South Africans will be pushed into poverty in 2020. Beyond the immediate tragedy, this decline will present new challenges. In order to protect them, governments will need to find new ways to offer meaningful support throughout the crisis.

Innovation Brings Hope

Fortunately, the government of South Africa has begun to take steps to properly aid its impoverished citizens during this time. They have rolled out a new, easily accessible digital tool called HealthCheck in order to provide self-assessment resources. Members of the public can download the program, which will ask them a few simple questions and then provide a COVID-19 risk prediction along with a pertinent guideline and suggested actions.

While HealthCheck is designed to be available to the entirety of the South African populace, it aids low-income South Africans in particular. Although only a third of the population uses smartphones, feature phones enjoy more widespread use, so a lack of hardware is not necessarily an issue. For many impoverished people in South Africa—and across the world—receiving the proper healthcare needed to determine a risk of infection may be difficult or outright impossible.

Partnerships Increase Access

To further alleviate this issue, the South African government has coordinated with network operators MTN, Vodacom and Telekom, to have facilitate free access to the USSD line. This way, South Africans who could not typically afford cellular or wi-fi services can make use of the HealthCheck tool. As a matter of fact, they have—authorities have reported that so far, over one million members of the public have used HealthCheck.

The digital tool has been utilized in conjunction with NGOs like Doctors Without Borders.  The NGO has worked to fill the gap in fighting South African poverty by creating impromptu field hospitals in otherwise-ignored townships. In Khayelitsha, it has opened up 70 additional beds in a basketball arena in order to serve as many people as possible in the area. This was part of a broader government plan to have over 1,400 extra beds ready as needed. Providing aid such as this is an important part of the battle against poverty.

Just a Start

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the growth of the continental African economy, and threatens its growing middle class. Across the entire continent, nearly eight million people are predicted to fall into poverty, in many cases due to the lack of a social safety net. By providing essential resources, NGOs like Doctors Without Borders are working to limit the economic burden that falls on the South African populace.

While it’s just a start in terms of supporting the impoverished population, these initiatives have clearly provided accessible ways for low-income citizens to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and healthy. There are still many hurdles to overcome in the fight against South African poverty, but these recent initiatives have shown that we can still work to effectively aid the poor.

Aidan O’Halloran
Photo: Flickr

Documentaries About Healthcare
During quarantine, many people resort to watching Netflix shows and movies. Though the pandemic has freed up more time for binging meaningless films, one can also use this time to learn about how impoverished countries are handling the COVID-19 pandemic. While documentaries have a reputation for being boring, many documentaries about healthcare are the opposite. Here are five documentaries about healthcare around the world.

1. “The Final Inch” (2009)

Rating: PG-13

Where to Watch: HBO

In the late 2000s, polio spread through India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. “The Final Inch” focuses on efforts to eradicate polio in these countries (it has since seen elimination in India, but there are ongoing efforts to reduce the numbers in Pakistan and Afghanistan). Produced by the philanthropic division of Google, this documentary aims to increase awareness of the outbreak of polio in these countries and the efforts of healthcare workers to eradicate the disease. This documentary follows numerous workers and volunteers in their efforts to administer the polio vaccine in these vulnerable places. While dangers arose in Afghanistan while filming, this documentary about healthcare provides a raw outlook on the polio epidemic and its effects on these countries.

2. “Sicko” (2007)

Rating: PG-13

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

Directed by Michael Moore, “Sicko” is a political documentary that investigates healthcare in the United States. Centered around the American pharmaceutical industry, this film compares the non-universal U.S. healthcare system to systems in Canada, France and Cuba. “Sicko” follows Moore’s journey to understand the difference in how the United States and other countries around the world handle the same problems. Moore considers issues of health insurance and money, revealing horror stories behind healthcare policies. Moore effectively combines tragedy and comedy in this raw film and exposes the truth behind American healthcare. 

3. “Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders” (2008)

Rating: Unrated

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

Doctors Without Borders is a nonprofit organization that provides medical care in impoverished countries around the world. Set in the Congo and post-conflict Liberia, Oscar-nominated documentary “Living in Emergency” follows four doctors and their efforts to provide emergency medical care to the public. Through the chaos, this documentary about healthcare follows these volunteers as they confront many challenges and make tough decisions. The doctors often face limited resources, personnel and poor living conditions. “Living in Emergency” provides a new, more realistic perspective for those privileged enough to access proper healthcare.

4. “Period. End of Sentence” (2018)

Rating: TV-PG

Where to Watch: Netflix

While menstruation is a shared experience across the world, it is a taboo topic in India. In rural communities in this country, sanitary products are out of reach, as proper healthcare is often available only in urban areas. “Period. End of Sentence” follows a group of women in the Harpur district outside of Delhi, India as they create sanitary products. Throughout the film, these women not only learn how to produce pads, but they also rid their community of stigma against menstruation. Nominated for an Oscar, this documentary about healthcare in India has severely changed the view on periods in healthcare systems and rural communities as well. Beyond changing the way people view menstruation, “Period. End of Sentence” has also yielded significant praise as a documentary.

5. “Cervical Cancer in Uganda: Three Perspectives” (2014)

Rating: Unrated

Where to Watch: YouTube

In sub-Saharan Africa, the most prominent form of cancer is cervical cancer. Research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information concludes that cervical cancer causes the most cancer-related deaths in Uganda. While cervical cancer is common in this country, however, it does not get mainstream attention. This documentary follows Sascha Garrey as she travels through the country to understand the prevention and treatment options for women in Uganda. Produced by the Pulitzer Center, this documentary on healthcare educates viewers on cervical cancer and its prevalence in impoverished countries.

While these five documentaries may not all be the most recent, watching them during the pandemic can provide valuable insight into healthcare in impoverished countries. Instead of watching mindless films to pass the time, consider watching an informative and interesting documentary about healthcare conditions around the world.

Aditi Prasad
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Haiti
On the Caribbean island of Hispaniola lies two countries: Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR). Despite being on the same island, poverty in Haiti far exceeds that of its neighbor.

The Statistics

The United Nations evaluated Haiti and the DR for human development considering three factors: “a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.” The DR ranked 94th out of 182 countries, indicative of its high human development. Haiti ranks much lower at 168th. The average life expectancy in the DR is 74 years, in contrast to Haiti’s average of 63. The DR’s expected years of schooling are approximately 14 years, while Haiti’s is about nine years.

The difference in development is evident in each countries’ economies as well. In the DR, rates of poverty decreased from 21.7 percent to 19.9 percent from 2015 to 2016. Within five years, the DR’s average rate of GDP growth was 5.8 percent per year. This economic boost has translated into a decrease in poverty and income inequality. In contrast to the DR’s economic success, the Haitian economy is suffering, leading to the majority of its population (58.5 percent) being in poverty in Haiti. In Haiti, GDP has decayed at a rate of 0.2 percent. Rapid inflation also plagues Haiti, indicating its struggling economy.

Differing Geography

There are several reasons behind these stark contrasts in development. The geography of the island is one explanation. The mountains dividing the island are able to prevent rainfall from coming to Haiti. Northeast trade winds blow towards the DR, promoting rainfall on its side. Additionally, deforestation is a serious issue on the Haitian side of the island, creating environmental and agricultural roadblocks.

These geographical features make it troublesome for Haitians to grow crops, which takes a toll on their primarily agricultural economy. This lack of cultivation decreases opportunities for farms in Haiti. The deforestation also diminishes the scenic beauty in the country, while the DR uses its natural scenes to promote tourism additionally bolstering its economy.

Looking to History

Deforestation in Haiti began with its colonization by the Spanish. When the Spanish colony gave a part of Hispaniola to France in 1697, the French began to import an excessive amount of slaves into the land. Although the Spanish also used slaves, France used nearly 10 times as much. The French over-cultivated the same cash crops, coffee and sugar in the same soil, which led to the environmental devastation of the country today. Haiti was the first independent black state, which came at a large cost as well. Its extreme amount of debt to the French government deteriorated its economy, as well as disputes about how to construct its new autonomous government. Although U.S. occupation and political instability riddled both the DR and Haiti, Haiti has received continuous exploitation and its leaders have had little regard for economic development.

Although there have been many countries that have provided international aid and relief, notably the U.S., the country has not been able to solve much. This is mostly due to the country not having the necessary investment in its aid. In fact, Haiti has even pursued policies that actively diminish its economy.

Organizations in Haiti

Although many countries have not aided Haiti with its recovery from exploitation, several non-governmental organizations have pursued several projects to tackle poverty in Haiti. After Haiti’s disastrous 2010 earthquake, Global Communities implemented several initiatives to remove rubble. The organization has now removed over one million cubic meters of rubble, providing 20,000 locals with short-term jobs. Global Communities also created the Lavi Miyo Nan Katye pa’m Nan (LAMIKA) program, which translates to “a better life in the neighborhood.” It focuses on Carrefour-Feuilles, a poverty-ridden neighborhood greatly affected by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince. It is reconstructing 1,500 meters of roads, almost 2,000 meters of pedestrian footpaths and nine schools. It has also worked to improve the water and sanitation systems of the country.

The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) has also conducted several projects to alleviate poverty in Haiti. To improve the economy, PADF implemented the LEAD program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). LEAD connects investors from the U.S. and Canada to Haitian businesses, helping them develop into larger enterprises. Collaborating with American Red Cross and USAID, PADF encourages “resilient urban development” in the area of Canaan under the program name, Ann Boust Canaan. The program has introduced vocational schools to better train residents for jobs. Additionally, it has created 1,500 new jobs and linked citizens to businesses to better access their finances.

To expand the limited medical treatment in Haiti, Doctors Without Borders manages three hospitals in Port-Au-Prince. There is a prevalence of burn victims that require medical care in this region, so, in 2017, the organization administered 1,300 emergency room visits and aided approximately 700 patients. Victims of sexual and gender-based abuse obtained care, with 769 patients receiving treatment in 2017. Doctors Without Borders educates hospital staff and has begun building a new hospital in Haiti as well.

What Individuals Can Do

For those who would like to be more involved in the process of reducing poverty in Haiti, they can make donations to programs through the organization Hope for Haiti. The program allows donors to choose where they would like their donation to go, such as health care, education and environmental development. Another more active approach is volunteering for Haitian organizations. The organization MedShare sends medical supplies to Haitian hospitals and clinics and requires volunteers to package the items in the U.S. before shipping.

Haiti has undergone exploitation throughout its history. The DR has experienced exploitation, but to a lesser extent, which its better economic and environmental conditions today show. Since countries have not aided Haiti sufficiently, there are several non-governmental organizations that have helped in recovery from its instability. Individuals can also help by volunteering their time or supplies to Haitians in need. Being born on different sides of the same island should not determine drastically different life outcomes.

Diana Piper
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Poverty
Bettering the world seems like a broad concept to discuss or even think about, and that’s because it is. There are many ways to improve the way people live, whether it’s picking up trash or volunteering at a local food kitchen. The opportunities appear limitless, but narrowing them down is a great place to start the journey. Specifically, fighting poverty can be one goal to set in mind which has plenty of jumping-off points. Below are just a few ideas, organizations and nonprofits anyone can participate in if they want to lend a hand to the greater good.

Donating

When imagining charity or volunteer work, the very first thought is often donation. It can be a simple and easy way of fighting poverty. The best part is the donor gets to pick the charity, and thus, the effect they wish to make. For instance, if someone wants to improve access to water in underdeveloped nations, they could donate to The Thirst Project. This nonprofit is an organization that aims to provide water to impoverished nations.

While this is one example of providing aid, there are plenty of other companies with different focuses that could always use the aid. Additionally, the donation doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary; other companies accept food, clothes, toys, household items—anything that might be useful to a family or person in need.

Volunteering Locally

Donating is easy, but volunteering is fun. Volunteer work is available in nearly every part of the globe in some shape or form. As a result, these opportunities can vary depending on the season, location and amount of time one would like to spend. For instance, local foods banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and other meal programs pop up all over the world. They allow the volunteer to get involved directly by providing food to those who can’t afford it otherwise. These projects can provide nourishment in various ways, from full and hot meals to canned goods or groceries.

Volunteers usually find work as laborers within the location, often in the form of food servers. The most popular name associated with food banks is Feeding America, a nationwide nonprofit which is a direct purveyor to these food banks. The company also helps to organize the volunteers by guiding them toward local locations through the Feeding America website. The work is a well-appreciated way of fighting poverty, as one full belly is a step closer to improving an underprivileged life.

Volunteering Globally

While volunteering locally is wonderful, it’s often more rewarding if it’s taken out of the locale and put into the global frame of work. It might require more time and effort, but it can have an even greater impact. By sending volunteers to countries in need, nonprofit organizations improve community development through infrastructure construction, meal programs and health centers. Common names of the industry include UNICEF, the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders—just to name a few. These organizations run on donations and governmental funding, which allows them to have a larger global stance and allows volunteers to have the bigger role of direct involvement and assistance. This is seen with Doctors Without Borders, which sends medical professionals to areas in need.

From a single dollar to a single brick, every ounce of effort helps a cause. While these are just a few ideas to launch a career of good deeds, there are plenty more out there. Searching the internet, local communities and simply listening to the concerns of others can lead anyone to a great opportunity. Anyone and everyone can—and should—take a moment to explore their place in bettering the world and find a way to fight poverty.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Disaster Relief Nonprofits
In 2017, 318 natural disasters were recorded worldwide with repercussions in at least 122 countries. These disasters killed over 9,500 people and affected 96 million. The majority of those affected by natural disasters reside in India and Sierra Leone.

Natural Disasters and Poverty

According to the World Bank, natural disasters force 26 million people into poverty annually and can erase years of poverty reduction progress. The estimated effects that natural disasters can have on welfare in most countries is equivalent to a loss of $520 billion per year in consumption.

Natural disasters and poverty are linked together as impoverished populations are unequally affected and have an inability to subsist. The poor are more likely to be exposed to natural hazards due to climate change. Furthermore, those affected lose a portion of their income and are often unable to receive aid from the government and financial systems.

An example of the disproportionate burden of natural disasters endured by the poor is Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. Following the cyclone in 2008, at least 50 percent of poor farmers were forced to sell land as means to pay off debt after the storm. The cyclone’s social and economic consequences still exist 10 years later.

President Jim Yong Kim of World Bank Group said: “Storms, floods and droughts have dire human and economic consequences, with poor people often paying the heaviest price. Building resilience not only makes economic sense, it is a moral imperative.”

In order to rebuild a country after a natural disaster, there must be an immediate response from governments and disaster relief programs. Those affected need access to resources like food, shelter and medical care. Various disaster relief nonprofits are working to lessen the burden of the impacts of natural disasters around the world.

Top 10 Disaster Relief Nonprofits

  1. The International Red Cross (IRC) acts as the globe’s largest humanitarian network, delivering instant aid with trained disaster responders and relief supplies. By supplying water containers, shelter tools and cooking kits, IRC helps 100 million people who are affected by natural disasters every year. To date, IRC has also reunited over 9,900 families separated by natural disasters.
  2. All Hands and Hearts is one of the world’s leading disaster relief nonprofits. After All Hands and Happy Hearts merged into one group, they began working nationally and internationally to provide disaster relief. The group created the “Smart Response” method to acknowledge the immediate and long-term effects of natural disasters. Over 35,000 volunteers act as first responders to rebuild disaster-resilient homes and schools for affected communities.
  3. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) provides emergency response medical aid to communities affected by natural disasters, epidemics and conflict. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, MSF began treating those injured within minutes. MSF offers long-term care to affected populations and distributes medical disaster kits to countries even before they arrive on the ground.
  4. Samaritan’s Purse is a non-denominational evangelical Christian organization that works with ministry partners to meet the urgent needs of crisis areas. Samaritan’s Purse distributes staple food kits, relief essentials, emergency medical care and, when needed, constructs traditional shelters for families in recovery.
  5. Active in over 80 countries, Direct Relief International improves the lives of those affected during emergencies by providing shelter, water, food and medicine. Direct Relief tailors medical aid to the location’s circumstances while prioritizing search-and-rescue, emergency medical services and logistical flexibility.
  6. Currently responding to the global food security crisis, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) also responds to global disasters, funding relief kits, shelter and food to disaster-hit areas. MCC works to rebuild homes, provide employment, help individuals cope with trauma and prepare for future natural disasters. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, MCC educated populations on secure building construction.
  7. REACT International is a nonprofit organization consisting of volunteers who work to increase local resources in an effort to expand disaster relief work. REACT teams use communication technology to provide first-aid, special equipment and tend to other needs of the community.
  8. AmeriCares has three main courses of action: Ready, Respond and Recover. This group tries to anticipate need based on vulnerable areas and have supplies on hand so that they can respond as quickly as possible. Responders work with government and health sectors to prepare local hospitals and position medical supplies. AmeriCares remains in the affected location as long as necessary to help the health system recover and prepare for future disasters.
  9. Since 1988, International Relief Teams (IRT) has been mobilizing volunteers to provide immediate and long-term relief, medical supplies and funding to partner organizations. In the last 30 years, IRT has deployed 420 disaster relief teams, distributed over $100 million in emergency supplies and assisted families in 95 global disasters, including the Armenian earthquake in 1988.
  10. ShelterBox puts families first and believes that no family should be without shelter. They provide emergency shelter and tools to lessen the impact following a disaster and enable a faster recovery for families.

Listed above are only a few nonprofit organizations making an effort to relieve communities of as much suffering as possible after a disaster. Though there are many more disaster relief nonprofits dedicated to providing aid, this list highlights some of the support is available after a disaster. For a more comprehensive list of disaster relief nonprofits, take a look at The Humanitarian Travel website.

Since natural disasters can have catastrophic effects, the issue is being taken seriously as various improvements are being made annually. In order to successfully rebuild communities, it is crucial to support disaster relief nonprofits with a long-term impact and policies in favor of foreign aid.

– Diane Adame

Photo: Flickr

 

 

Preventive Cholera Vaccination
South Sudan’s health system faces major challenges. These challenges stem from prolonged civil war repercussions, a great lack in medical care and vaccinations and historically long-running cholera outbreaks. Although South Sudan recently declared the end to its longest recorded cholera epidemic, cholera is endemic to the nation and will most likely return within the next few months as the rainy season begins.

However, some improvements and achievements are being made towards South Sudan’s health system. Today, the preventative cholera vaccination campaign — operated by Doctors Without Borders — works to prevent the acute infectious disease from spreading across the nation any longer.

Preventative Cholera Vaccination Campaign

From April 24th to May 12th, the preventative cholera vaccination campaign has progressed in Juba – South Sudan’s largest city and capital. Doctors Without Borders’ campaign is designated for 12 hotspot areas in Juba where numerous people were identified as at-risk in previous cholera outbreaks. Cholera outbreaks are not new to South Sudan – the country just faced its most severe and prolonged cholera outbreak in its history which protracted from June 2016 to February 2018, and lead to over 20,000 suspected cholera cases and 436 reported deaths.

Additionally, since 2013, the nation has endured multiple cholera outbreaks that particularly target vulnerable populations living in internally displaced people’s camps, urban informal settlements, cattle camps, rural populations, island dwellers and communities along the River Nile.

In order for the oral cholera vaccine to take effect, people need two doses for increased immunity. A single dose of cholera vaccine supplies some immunity for up to one year and the second dose must be ingested within eight months of the first dose to increase the level of protection and increase immunity to three to five years. Also, sustaining sanitation infrastructure and improving hygiene and water supplies, in addition to implementing vaccination campaigns, can help prevent infections by contaminated food or water, which is how cholera is spread.

Goals for Reducing Death by Cholera

In 2017, the Global Task Force on Cholera Control announced a new strategy to reduce deaths from cholera by 90 percent by 2030 in South Sudan and other affected countries. This strategy will involve strengthening case detection, prevention of avoidable cases and deaths and applying multi-sectoral interventions comprising of water and sanitation hygiene measures to eliminate cholera outbreaks in cholera transmission hotspots.

While preventative cholera vaccination campaigns aim to save lives in South Sudan, the world’s newest country still deals with several other complex challenges that need to be addressed.

Current Causes and Future Improvement

Severe food insecurity and acute malnutrition, an increased demand for care due to high HIV and AIDS prevalence, a lack of resources to purchase drugs and other medical supplies due to the oil shutdown, a 73 percent illiteracy rate for adults, limited availability to crucial maternity care services and poor access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are all some of the current factors contributing to the country’s extreme poverty.

However, with the current and essential health and medical care help from Doctors Without Borders and other international organizations such as Oxfam, CARE, WHO and Save the Children, conditions in the country could improve in the near future as more organizations find opportunities to provide aid to the country in need.

– Natalie Shaw
Photo: Flickr

Aid to the Rohingya
At the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh, almost 700,000 people are living in makeshift refugee camps in a location called Cox’s Bazar. These people are Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar in late August due to targeted violence and persecution. Faced with such challenges, various agencies are providing aid to the Rohingya refugees.

The Rohingya are a Muslim population formerly located on the western coast of Myanmar. Myanmar is a majority Buddhist country and the Rohingya are among a small number of people who practice Islam. The minority group has endured prosecution for centuries, but a new wave of violence escalated in the summer of 2017 to levels never before witnessed in the country.

Primarily an issue of land rights, the tension between the Rohingya and the majority of Myanmar’s population has caused thousands of people to flee and cross the border into neighboring Bangladesh. After a treacherous journey across the river, refugees find themselves in a country without persecution but with no place to go.

The refugee camps are not a sustainable solution. Makeshift homes have been created out of primarily plastic and bamboo. Inadequate water and sanitation conditions persist as more and more people flee across the border. The refugees are stuck in limbo as Bangladesh does not have room for an additional 700,000 people and the prospect of going back to Myanmar is off the table for many of the refugees.

In the midst of all of this uncertainty and desperation, many international organizations are working to provide aid to the Rohingya.

Doctors Without Borders

One of the larger organizations providing aid to the Rohingya is Doctors Without Borders. The organization has been present in the camps since the beginning of the crisis in late August. At first, Doctors Without Borders focused on water, sanitation and emergency health care assistance. As the crisis continues to unfold, the organization has been adapting to the needs of the refugee community.

Mental health services have recently been offered as the trauma of the violence continues to haunt many of the Rohingya victims. Additionally, Doctors Without Borders is working with both other aid organizations and the Bengali government to address the crisis and how to proceed.

UNICEF

UNICEF is another organization working to improve camp conditions and provide aid to the Rohingya. The group is looking to move toward a more permanent solution for the refugee population. Mostly focused on proper shelter, adequate food and clean water, UNICEF also has plans to install water pumps in the future.

Another major project for UNICEF is providing vaccinations. In September, the organization set a goal to vaccinate at least 150,00 children against diseases like rubella, polio and measles.

Bracing for Rain

As spring approaches, the Rohingya refugees must brace for a new crisis. Monsoon season in Bangladesh brings the threat of floods and landslides. Cyclones are also a major threat to the area, with their primary season spanning March to June.

The U.N. is fervently working on prepping for the potential crisis. In February, U.N. agencies sent out engineering crews to clear blocked sewage canals that had the potential of overflowing during the monsoon season. Rice husks have also been distributed to refugees as an alternative to firewood.

U.N. agencies are working on relocating 100,000 refugees from the major camp at Cox’s Bazar. As monsoon season quickly approaches, all of the organizations working will need the support of the broader international community to lift up efforts to provide aid to the Rohingya.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: Flickr

Accomplishments of Doctors Without Borders
As poverty is addressed around the world, there is a need for people in all kinds of specialties but especially the medical field. 
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international medical humanitarian organization helping people from over 60 countries threatened by violence, conflict, neglect, natural disasters, epidemics, health emergencies and exclusion from healthcare.

They address areas where the need is greatest, unbiasedly delivering emergency medical aid. There have been many accomplishments of Doctors Without Borders, but here are three of their most recent projects:

 

1. Hospital in Tasnimarkhola 

Doctors Without Borders constructed a new hospital in Tasnimarkhola camp, Bangladesh in three weeks. The hospital has an emergency room, an intensive care unit, a pharmacy and sterilization unit. In its first month of operation, MSF staff admitted 220 patients with more than half needing treatment for measles.

 

2. Medical Assistance to Refugees

MSF provided medical assistance to refugees and migrants in the central Mediterranean. At sea, the search and rescue vessel Aquarius — run by MSF in cooperation with humanitarian organization SOS MEDITERRANEE — rescued 3,645 people and brought those rescued to ports of safety in Italy.

Doctors Without Borders also provided psychological first-aid after tragic rescues while also running several mental health and healthcare projects in Sicily. In Libya, the MSF teams provided medical assistance to refugees and migrants that were arbitrarily held in detention centers nominally under the control of the Ministry of Interior.

 

3. Treatment of War-Wounded People in Taiz 

Doctors Without Borders has a team treating war-wounded people in Taiz. Currently, Taiz is one of the most intense conflict zones in the country with extremely high humanitarian needs. Doctors Without Borders are one of the few medical organizations in Taiz who remain committed to working in Yemen.

These three specific accomplishments of Doctors Without Borders are some of many; the staff continuously works hard, laborious hours to save the lives of those affected by poverty.

War, disease and lack of resources are major contributing factors of poverty, and Doctors Without Borders have been able to impact these areas beyond its immediate activities, reaching populations or developing the use of practices in ways that have far-reaching and lasting consequences (see MSF-USA’s 2012 Annual Report). 

The accomplishments of Doctors Without Borders are so powerful because so many people are committed to addressing the great needs of poverty and bringing hope to those around the world.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr