Information and stories about global health.

Economy in the DRC
On June 25, 2020, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo declared that the 10th Ebola outbreak was over in three provinces. With the rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, Ebola cases have also increased significantly as social distancing became difficult in medical facilities. As of August 13, 2020, there have been 86 confirmed Ebola cases in the northwest Equateur province. As of July 3, 2020, there were a total of 3,481 cases in the entire country. With Ebola and COVID-19 cases rising, medical costs, personnel and resources will heavily affect the economy as government officials scramble to contain the outbreaks. Here is some information about how Ebola has affected the economy in the DRC.

Keeping Inflation in Check

The recent outbreaks in the Equateur province are in remote areas, regions that are difficult for medical supplies to reach. The lack of access to these areas requires an increase in medical cost support, however, the DRC currently cannot shoulder the financial burden due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The economy in the DRC has been stressed because of COVID-19 costs and has been adjusting rates in order to control inflation. During the week of August 10, the Central Bank of DRC increased the key interest rate from 7.5% to 18.5% in order to prevent inflation. Despite the pandemic, Central Bank experts are expecting an increase in the economic growth of 2.4% at the end of 2020. This would be a downward trend from expectations at the beginning of 2020.

Tracking COVID-19 and Ebola

The DRC will only be able to contain both viruses if it can properly document progression and transmission. However, the DRC has more than 500 regions of difficult terrain that do not have access to basic resources. These remote, populous areas are unable to receive medical resources or be properly tracked. They have less access to electricity, medical personnel and resources. The economy in the DRC has exacerbated most funds in order to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that almost 13,000 people have received vaccinations since the 11th Ebola outbreak that started near the end of July 2020.

International Aid

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is delivering an additional $7.5 million in humanitarian assistance to the DRC for Ebola. With these funds and WHO’s vaccine distribution procedures, testing facilities and medical personnel volunteers, the DRC will be able to more efficiently combat these pandemics.

Additionally, the DRC is receiving a $363 million loan from the International Monetary fund, $47 million from the World Bank and $40 million in emergency funds from the United Nations to strengthen the economy. These monetary aids will go toward the COVID-19 medical response, 11th Ebola outbreak vaccinations and necessary medical facilities.

Conclusion

Despite battling two pandemics at once, the DRC has maintained its composure and enacted the proper medical responses with the resources it has. The economy in the DRC has suffered because of the new Ebola outbreak. However, the DRC’s mission and determination to wipe out the last of the Ebola infections are unparalleled by previous responses. The DRC is on track to declaring another Ebola outbreak over.

Aria Ma
Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Sao Tome and Principe
Sao Tome and Principe is a developing country located on the African west coast. More than two-thirds of the population of this small island state lives on under $3.20 a day and faces the effects of critical disease. However, many organizations are working with the country to fight the war against diseases in Sao Tome and Principe.

Common Diseases in Sao Tome and Principe

Three of the most common diseases in Sao Tome and Principe are tuberculosis (TB), malaria and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

TB is an airborne disease caused mainly by air droplets that someone infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmits; it is endemic in Sao Tome and Principe. TB can cause various pulmonary symptoms and affect the lymphatic system, joints and even the central nervous system.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease; it is common in the country. Malaria can be very fatal to the victims and cause them to suffer from flu-like symptoms and high fevers.

Finally, HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and can lead to dangerous acquired immunodeficiency symptoms (AIDS); it is still a significant problem in Sao Tome and Principe.

Key Players in Supporting Sao Tome and Principe

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund have been key players in supporting the fight against diseases in Sao Tome and Principe. Since 2005, the organizations have funded the country in its efforts against HIV, TB and malaria.

Over the years, the organizations have spent $4.5 million for HIV, $3.9 million for TB and $25.4 million for malaria. Through this funding, the UNDP has been able to ally with the National TB Program to develop various treatment and education plans for patients. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, there was a 63% decrease in TB mortality since 2000, a 95% detection rate for the disease and a 78% success rate in treating patients.

The UNDP also runs an HIV program; it supports those living with HIV and counsels populations who are at a higher risk for HIV about preventative actions. From 2008 to 2014, the prevalence rate of HIV among 15 to 49-year-olds declined from 1.5% to 0.5%. According to UNDP’s data from 2018, 249,700 people received counseling and HIV testing.

Sao Tome and Principe observed its greatest success in defeating malaria. Mortality rates from malaria have declined from 3.9 to 0.5 cases per 100,000 people. Although the Global Fund is no longer supporting the malaria program, it helped distribute 503,000 bed nets, reaching 100% of the population, and treated 56,800 cases of malaria according to UNDP in 2018. The incidence of malaria morbidity decreased from 65.5 to 11.3 cases per 1,000 people in the time frame between 2012 and 2016. Further, UNDP has granted approximately another $6 million to support the complete eradication of malaria and further control TB and HIV.

Others in the Fight to Eradicate Diseases in Sao Tome and Principe

Although UNDP and the Global Fund have been the major players in supporting the country, there are other groups that have helped toward the goal of eradication of critical diseases in Sao Tome and Principe. In 2015, Brazil spent over $500,000 to build a laboratory that would be focused on diagnosing and treating TB. This laboratory would ensure that the patients would receive quicker lab results and correct diagnoses.

Medical Care Development International, a nonprofit organization, has also taken up a project that will last from 2019-2023. It aims to bolster the ability of the military to provide HIV/AIDs care for its members and population in Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. The project will increase its capacity to provide care in the military health facilities and laboratories.

A Ray of Hope for Sao Tome and Principe

Despite the dangers of malaria, TB and HIV, the people of Sao Tome and Principe can have hope in the fact that there are many international allies willing to provide support in their fight against these diseases. These common diseases in Sao Tome and Principe may still impose fatal effects on its victims; however, Sao Tome and Principe is not alone in its fight to protect its people.

San Sung Kim
Photo: Flickr

Dental Health in IndiaOral health issues are significant in India since the country has one of the highest rates of oral cancers in the world. Dental diseases in India are a result of many factors, including poor oral hygiene, tobacco use and a sugary diet. Additionally, the lack of awareness about the importance of dental health in India leads to the prevalence of dental health issues. These issues include dental caries and periodontal disease as well as inequality in the distribution of oral healthcare workers. Routine dental appointments are a solution to many dental health issues. However, with 72% of Indians living in villages, many are unable to access proper care.

Statistics on Dental Health in India

In India, about 85% to 90% of adults have dental cavities, along with about 60 to 80% of children. Also, around 30% of children have misaligned jaws and teeth. Over 50% of Indians with dental health issues receive treatment or advice from someone other than a dentist, such as chemists. About 51% of Indians use a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush their teeth. Around 28% brush their teeth the recommended two times a day. Therefore, access to information about dental health and how to properly maintain one’s oral health would prevent many issues and improve the overall state of dental health in India.

The Impact of Tobacco

Tobacco use, in any form, can lead to many health issues such as cancer, pulmonary diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Smokeless tobacco can cause a gingival recession and nicotine addiction, which only results in further health issues. Every year, about one million people die from tobacco use in India, and around 34.6% of adults consume tobacco, with 52% exposed to secondhand smoke. Furthermore, tobacco cessation, as opposed to prevention, could save many lives potentially lost to tobacco use in India.

Solutions

The Indian Dental Association (IDA) created the National Oral Health Program. Its purpose is to improve the overall health of the country by targeting oral health. The program’s initial mission includes providing optimal oral health for all by 2020. It also included decreasing the number of deaths and consequences due to oral diseases.

Under the program, the IDA implemented the Tobacco Intervention Initiative (TII) to eliminate tobacco use by influencing lifestyle changes among Indians. The TII aims to reduce the number of deaths due to tobacco consumption by spreading awareness of the effects of tobacco. Through the initiative, they will train a professional workforce to counsel people on the consequences of tobacco consumption. It will do this while aiming to have oral health professionals include tobacco intervention and prevention in their care. The IDA also founded the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) with the goal of the eradication of oral cancer. It plans on completing its mission by providing greater access to oral healthcare and early detection of oral cancer. It also plans on researching to gain a better understanding of how to implement prevention efforts.

Overall, there is a rising number of oral cancer cases and a prevalence of oral health issues in India. As a result, more solutions are necessary to improve the overall health of the country. Implementing changes will continue to be a challenge. However, education addressing oral health, the impact of tobacco use and equal access to dental healthcare can aid in solving many dental health issues in India.

Zoë Nichols
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in NigerNiger, officially the Republic of Niger, is a country in Western Africa. It neighbors Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali, and it spans just over 1.25 million square kilometers of land. Niger has faced several violent conflicts in the past. Some of the battles still pose a threat to the country and its 22.3 million inhabitants. Issues regarding inadequate healthcare are one of the several socio-economic problems Nigeriens live with on a day-to-day basis. Here is what you need to know about healthcare in Niger.

Human Development Index (HDI)

Out of 189 countries reviewed, Niger ranked the lowest on the United Nation’s 2019 Human Development Report. The major contributors to the ranking were the country’s life expectancy at birth and the average number of years of schooling. With a life expectancy of 62 years and only two years of education, Niger’s underdeveloped health and education facilities significantly strain them.

Global Hunger Index (GHI)

The majority of health problems stem from malnutrition and inadequate food supply. The Global Hunger Index score provides insights into the critical aspects of healthcare in Niger. The GHI comprises four categories to determine a country’s score: under-nourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality. The higher the GHI score, the more hunger and health issues within the state.

Additionally, Niger’s GHI score in 2000 was at an alarming 52.1 and steadily decreased throughout the years. Five years later, in 2005, the score dropped to 42.2 and is currently at the country’s lowest score of 30.2. A significant decrease in the overall GHI score is because of the individual declines in each category.

Over the years, under-nourishment decreased from affecting 21.6% of the population to 16.5%. Child stunting decreased by approximately 15%, and child wasting decreased by 6% and child mortality decreased by about 14% over 20 years.

Progress Throughout The Years

Furthermore, the healthcare facilities within Niger still lack investments. Through funding and continuing to struggle to provide Nigeriens with quality health, the country has come a long way. It has been almost 20 years since the start of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. With that, Niger has significantly increased the average life expectancy, literacy rate and poverty reduction initiatives.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported Niger to have a life expectancy of 46, a literacy rate of 17% and extreme poverty for 60% of the population in 2005. Since then, much progress has been made in all categories. In 2019, the United Nations and the World Bank reported Niger’s life expectancy as 62, literacy rate as 30% and an extreme poverty rate of 41%.

 Overall, healthcare in Niger still lacks adequate funding and consists of several underdeveloped facilities. However, the country’s continuous work with international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, UNICEF, USAID and more has led to a steady betterment and progress.

– Omer Syed
Photo: Flickr

Endosulfan TragedyEndosulfan is a pesticide developed in 1954. People extensively used it in farming with high consumption in the 1980s and 1990s. Later, it was highly toxic to human health and the environment. It poisoned entire populations of useful and necessary insects. The Endosulfan tragedy also caused many ailments. These ailments included skin irritations, destruction of nerve tissues and reproductive and developmental damage in human beings and animals.

For over 20 years, cashew plantations in Kasargod district in Kerala used Endosulfan as a pesticide. Tea plantations, paddy and fruit orchards in other areas of Kerala also used this pesticide administered via aerial spraying or manual pumps. Prone to long-range atmospheric transport, Endosulfan linked to serious health disorders in the citizens residing in these areas. In 2001, tests carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment in Padre village in Kasargod confirmed the deadly effects of the pesticide.

Cashew Plantations of Padre Village

In Kasargod’s Padre Village, residents reported that aerial spraying of Endosulfan in the cashew plantations began as early as 1976. A few years later, there were reports of calves being born with deformed limbs. Frogs, fishes, bee colonies, fireflies and jackals vanished from these areas. Many local children and a large number of people below the age of 25 were suffering from severe disorders. Families who lived along the Kodenkiri stream and its smaller tributaries endured the most. Protests and efforts mobilized by residents helped throw light on these troubles. However, it took many years for officials to fully address the dangers of the pesticide.

The Mango Orchards of Muthalamada Panchayat

Additionally, in Palakkad’s Muthalamada Panchayat, Endosulfan was used extensively in mango farms. Here too there were reports of animals giving birth to offspring with deformities, and residents witnessed the death of monkeys, reptiles and thousands of butterflies each day. A 2014 survey identified over 150 Endosulfan victims in Muthalamada, of which 40% suffer from chronic conditions. Even by May 2018, victims in Muthalamada who had been promised benefits, scientific studies and full-scale surveys to properly assess conditions in the area reported neglect.

The Ban of Endosulfan

The Kerala Government banned the use of Endosulfan in 2005. However, neighboring States still used them. In 2011, the seventh meeting of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s) placed a global ban on the manufacture and use of Endosulfan. In the same year, the Supreme Court of India banned the use, manufacture and distribution of the pesticide. A Supreme Court-appointed panel recommended phasing out the use of Endosulfan across a period of two years to avoid the high cost of incinerating.

Relief and Remediation Program

Furthermore, in 2017, the Supreme Court of India directed the Kerala Government to pay Rupees 500 Crores to over 5,000 victims of the Endosulfan tragedy. It also directed it to set up a medical facility to treat ailments resulting from exposure to Endosulfan. Relief and remediation plans focus on health, socio-economic welfare, rehabilitation and empowerment as well as a periodic assessment of environmental effects.

Overall, people favored Endosulfan for its low cost and effectiveness. Even after the ban of the pesticide, there were reports in 2013 that farms and plantations in Kerala still used Endosulfan. The tragic effects of the Endosulfan tragedy emphasize the importance of safeguarding the environment. It also emphasizes how strict regulations are crucial to deter the use of harmful pesticides.

– Amy George
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in the UAE
The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) has undergone many transformations throughout the years. This is because of the discovery of oil in 1958. In 1971, after gaining independence from Great Britain, seven different monarchies came together to form the federation that stands to this day. It is already a highly-developed country but continues to modernize and diversify. Moreover, many of the changes have to do with healthcare in the U.A.E.

The Evolution of the UAE

The U.A.E. has historically been very reliant on oil production with the region holding the fifth-largest oil reserve in the world. The availability of oil has been a great advantage to kickstart their economy and help it flourish into the second-largest economy in the Middle East. However, there has been a focus on transforming the oil-based economy into a service-based economy — similar to what is seen in other developed countries. Major infrastructure projects have been completed in the hope of making the U.A.E. a giant in the tourism industry. The country has made great strides from the era of British colonialism with a high standard of living and an estimated GDP per capita of $41,000.

Additionally, in past decades, the U.A.E. has worked to build off its oil-based society. Due to high temperatures, citizens of the U.A.E. are among the largest consumers of energy in the world. The government has looked to expand on alternative energy sources. In 2013 Abu Dhabi opened a major solar power plant, capable of powering up to 20,000 homes. Furthermore, in 2009, construction began on four nuclear power plants; one of them is currently operating.

Healthcare in the UAE

The U.A.E. has many advantages working in their favor when it comes to building a comprehensive healthcare system for its citizenry. As the U.A.E. was able to develop so quickly, consequently it lacks a current, deeply rooted healthcare network. The government can observe the most effective practices and employ the newest technologies. The quality of care in the U.A.E. has made it a hot spot for medical tourism.

In recent years, there has been growth in the private healthcare sector. As a result, healthcare in public hospitals is free for citizens. The government also subsidizes health insurance for citizens. The combination of premium quality care and low costs lead to world-renowned healthcare in the U.A.E. The system has been able to handle COVID-19 patients with relative ease. For example, 66,000 Emiratis have contracted the virus and only 370 have lost their lives.

Migrant Workers Slip Through the Cracks

Furthermore, the U.A.E. has gone through an unprecedented boom in the construction of skyscrapers. To fill their labor needs, the U.A.E. has a heavy dependence on foreign labor. Migrants make up about 90% of the Emirati’s population. Those 8 million migrants are mostly migrant workers from surrounding countries in search of economic opportunity. Employers exploit them while treating them as outsiders. They do not have access to the perks enjoyed by Emirati nationals. Less than 30% of Emirati, companies are required to provide health insurance to employees. Normally, only the most serious injuries receive medical attention. Additionally, construction work is very dangerous in the U.A.E.; between eight and 10 bodies are sent to their native countries, each month.

Although the U.A.E. is a very wealthy collection of states, they have been unable to guarantee quality healthcare for all. Migrant workers overwork for nominal wages. Whether it is by choice or a result of their societal structure, these laborers do not get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Matthew Beach
Photo: Flickr

Mental Illness in EthiopiaEthiopia is the second most populated country in Africa, with a population of over 100 million. With such a large population comes a prevalence of poverty as well as disease. In an estimate from 2014, around 30% of Ethiopia’s population was below the poverty line. According to statistics from this year, Ethiopia also makes it onto the list of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 7th poorest in the world in both GDP growth and GDP per capita. Along with this poverty comes a myriad of diseases. The top four causes of death in Ethiopia are, in order, neonatal diseases, diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections and tuberculosis. While these diseases are quite well-known, Ethiopia is also plagued by another type of disease: mental illness. Mental illness in Ethiopia may not be as recognized as the other diseases that plague Ethiopian citizens but mental illness can impact overall general health and the ability to provide for one’s family.

A Troubled Past

Despite the fact that an estimated 15% of Ethiopians suffer from mental illness and substance abuse disorders, for decades almost nothing was done to address or treat these issues. In the 1980s, there was only one psychiatric hospital in the entire country and such an insignificant number of psychiatrists, that it was almost impossible to find treatment. Moreover, the psychiatrists who did practice at the time were often not interested in developing new research and treatment techniques. Because of this, most cases of mental illness went untreated, leaving mental health sufferers to face both isolation and discrimination.

A Passionate Doctor

When Dr. Atalay Alem started his medical work, there was only one psychiatric hospital in the country. After his decades of work, spanning from the 1980s until modern day, his efforts to improve the psychiatric treatment of Ethiopians have had a massive payoff. He started as a medical doctor before receiving his degree in psychiatry. After that, he became a psychiatric professor at Addis Ababa University, where his research and his passion for better mental health services were instrumental in the expansion of Ethiopia’s mental health care. Alem was also a key founder of the graduate psychiatry program at Addis Ababa University, giving more Ethiopians a chance to make a difference in the field. Today, there are almost 90 psychiatrists practicing in Ethiopia. Apart from these psychiatrists, there are hundreds of psychiatric nurses as well. These nurses are part of what has made such widespread psychiatric care possible and their presence has aided in the addition of mental health services at most Ethiopian hospitals. For his efforts, Alem was awarded the Harvard Award in Psychiatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 2019.

A Positive Future

Though Ethiopia has a total of under 100 psychiatrists, the current number is a great improvement from just a few decades ago. Moreover, with the help of Alem and other passionate psychiatrists, research efforts continue to grow. Alem is currently working on a study that looks at the way severe mental illness impacts rural Ethiopian communities in order to evaluate how to improve treatment and maximize impact. The Ethiopian government is also invested in improving the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. The government, starting seven years ago, created a mental health strategy to aid the country’s mentally ill and allocated government funds to the overall improvement of mental healthcare. These funds have gone toward improving health services, such as more adequate healthcare training and increased access to psychiatric medications. Part of the reason Ethiopia’s mental health treatment has improved so much is due to the partnership between the Ethiopian government and the World Health Organization. WHO was absolutely key in providing guidelines for how to implement these new mental health care strategies.

Though progress always takes time, with the help of doctors like Alem and partnerships with organizations like WHO, Ethiopian mental health care has better days ahead.

Lucia Kenig-Ziesler
Photo: Flickr

Technological InnovationsCurrently, diseases such as HIV, malaria, meningitis and tuberculosis are among the top causes of death in Africa. In the U.S., these diseases are not within the leading 15 causes of death. Therefore, it is crucial to develop technological innovations to improve Africa’s ability to test and treat diseases to allow for safe, sustainable and prosperous economic growth to occur.

The prevention and treatment of deadly diseases provide a long list of benefits to countries and their citizens. For example, research has found that the decrease in child death slows population growth and reduces the average family size. This reduction in family size allows parents to spend their resources on their community or their family rather than on medical supplies or more family members.

Malaria Disease Tracing

CEO Dr. Eddy Agbo and his team at Fyodor Biotechnologies developed the Urine Test for Malaria (UMT). UMT was the first malaria test not to require blood. Therefore, a specialist is not needed to administer a blood test, process the blood, or dispose of emergency equipment. Patients can conduct the test themselves and receive results in less than half an hour.

UMT’s convenience has revolutionized the ability to test and trace malaria accurately. Since the introduction of UMT, regions in Africa have experienced dramatic decreases in malaria death rates. Before the UMT, it was also common for specialists in Africa to associate fevers with malaria. This association would lead to a large number of falsely diagnosed patients and, therefore, improper medical treatments. These incorrect treatments lead to other illnesses and more death.

Fyodor Biotechnologies focuses primarily on developing new technologies to solve global issues. The company will continue designing and manufacturing technological innovations to improve Africa’s ability to test and treat diseases.

HIV Testing

The convenience of self-testing reveals to improve disease tracing, disease prevention, appropriate medical treatments and reduce the amount of death. Members of Unitaid recognize the benefits of self-testing and have established the Self Testing Africa initiative (STAR).

The STAR initiative collects data regarding how to distribute HIV self-testing kits to various populations effectively. Over 80 countries have adopted HIV self-testing policies since the establishment of the enterprise. The World Health Organization believes that the STAR initiative contributed immensely to providing more opportunities for individuals to trace, treat and prevent the spread of HIV.

Plant-Based Malaria Medication

Dr. Valentin Agon developed an anti-malaria medication that virtually eliminates the disease found in the patient’s blood. The name of the drug is Api-Palu. Api-Palu originates from a plant extract and is considerably less expensive than other malaria medications. People hail this drug due its harmless effects on the human body. As a result, it is trendy in several markets. Dr. Agon hopes to have the drug available to every country in Africa. In 2016, Dr. Valentin Agon won 100,000 U.S. dollars for his creation. Dr. Agon plans to use this money to further aid in the fight against malaria.

Throughout the world, organizations aim to develop technological innovations to improve Africa’s ability to test and treat diseases. As companies push to provide large-scale availability for disease testing, disease treatment and prevention, it is vital to continue to raise awareness for this cause. Eliminating deadly diseases has a profound impact on poverty, education, population and economic growth.

John Brinkman
Photo: Flickr

Infant mortality rateEvery year newborn babies take their first breaths after their mothers give birth to them. Around the world, these same mothers hope that their children will grow into adulthood without any major health complications hindering their development. Unfortunately, millions of babies have died within their first few months of life due to health issues. Those born in areas with populations vulnerable to poverty experience more frequent cases of infections compared to others living in better environments. Therefore, organizations around the world have implemented ways to lower the infant mortality rate. It is important to understand what causes high infant mortality rate (IMR) and what groups across the globe have been doing to help lower the rate over the years.

Infectious Diseases

Babies born in areas of extreme poverty are at higher risk of contracting an infectious disease compared to those delivered in more sanitary locations. Every year, an estimate of about 2.6 million lose their lives within their first month. Moreover, roughly 15% of the total amount of deaths are attributed to severe infections contracted. Many of those cases involving infections could have easily been lowered if the necessary medicine was available to help the babies recover. However, the issue is that these treatments are too expensive for most families to purchase even if it would save their children.

Additionally, there are many different infections and diseases that newborns can contract due to unsanitary environments during delivery. Data taken from the 1990s to 2017 recorded which infections and disease were the leading causes of deaths among children. The top cause of death for children under 5 was lower respiratory infections. After lower respiratory infections, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxiation and trauma were the next biggest reasons. In addition, there are many more problems that contribute to the high IMR early in its collection of data. However, one good piece of information is that since the 1990s, the IMR has lowered significantly.

USAID to the Rescue

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked with several partners to produce cost-effective measures to help lower the IMR, especially for those in poverty. Expensive treatments have been one of the main reasons why children die at an early age —  a terrible outcome just because their parents could not afford the necessary treatments. In order to solve this problem, USAID has helped manufacture chlorhexidine to save more lives at a significantly cheaper rate. Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic product that comes in a liquid or gel form. It helps to treat infections for newborns, thereby lowering the infant mortality rate by lowering the cost of the product. This single intervention has helped lower the IMR in multiple countries.

Lower IMR Guidelines

The Guttmacher Institute released data explaining that practicing family planning can greatly reduce the IMR in countries with areas of poverty. They recommend that more contraceptives be made available to those who wish to use it. That will increase the likelihood of women giving birth to healthier children if they choose to have any. The institute argues that people living in areas of poverty lack access to such resources. It is that very lack of resources that increase the odds of children contracting infectious diseases when born.

While there are still many factors contributing to the infant mortality rate, there are also many out there who are working to lower that rate. Organizations like USAID and the Guttmacher Institute are trying to make sure that as many children reach adulthood as possible. It is through simple measures like lowering treatment costs and increasing access to medicines and family planning options that infant mortality can be reduced globally.

Donovan Baxter
Photo: Flickr

Fight Disease in NicaraguaIn Nicaragua, 30% of people live below the poverty line, making it the poorest nation in Central America. Not surprisingly, the risk of major infectious diseases in the nation was labeled as high in 2020. Therefore, a major step towards fighting poverty is to fight disease in Nicaragua.

The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC), Project Hope, and AMOS Health and Hope all fight disease in Nicaragua with different approaches. All of these organizations have similar health-related missions and make a considerable impact on the lives of those in need. Both FIMRC and AMOS focus their efforts on the youth impacted by diseases rather than the entirety of communities. Project Hope can assist a wider range of ages as it focuses its efforts on a smaller region than the other organizations.

The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children

The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children is a nonprofit working to create sustainable health services for those in need. For almost two decades, the organization has been helping vulnerable health communities through three areas of pediatric clinical services, health education and special initiatives.

The organization’s Nicaragua program Project Limón illustrates its success. Limón is popular for tourists; however, the surrounding areas are considered vulnerable as many locals are left without health services. For instance, 17% of children 5 years and younger in Nicaragua are impacted by chronic malnutrition. FIMRC is working to lower this percentage and disease in Nicaragua in general by catering its program around community needs. After assessing their needs, the organization began to build clinics and provide medical care.

Project Hope

Project Hope focuses its health services on those suffering from diabetes. It also stands out as it concentrates on supporting health professionals. For instance, the organization trains and assists health care workers to maximize the number of people they can help. It places a large emphasis on education rather than aid.

Project Hope began fighting disease in Nicaragua through its partnership with the University of León. Through the partnership, the organization began to establish itself in the nation and support the health infrastructure. For instance, with the help of one of its partners, it administered over a million vaccines of Pneumovax to the population. Also, one of its successful programs benefitted nearly 9,000 women and children through “health education as well as micro-lending training.”

AMOS Health and Hope

AMOS Health and Hope has a broader plan of action compared to the other two groups. The group’s mission statement is to ensure children are not dying from preventable diseases. Similar to FIMRC, it works directly with the community it aims to help to develop long-term health solutions. Its solutions to fight disease in Nicaragua are based around three main pillars: treat, prevent and strengthen.

Although its mission statement is broad, AMOS only works within Nicaragua, catering towards those in vulnerable communities. Within the nation, its efforts help 24 different communities in need. Thus far, it has trained 670 health services workers in those communities and has helped 74,600 individuals.

Overall, although groups have different approaches to fighting disease in Nicaragua, their efforts all work to assist those in need of health services. Supporting the health workers and those in need ensures that both sides of the issue are met.

Erica Burns
Photo: Flickr