Information and stories about global health.

Malaria, the number one killer of children in underdeveloped countriesMalaria is a devastating disease that occurs mostly in tropical and subtropical environments in areas around the world. Malaria is the number one killer of children in underdeveloped countries and is often responsible for the child mortality rates of children under the age of five. Failure to eradicate this disease in these countries is a result of poverty, scarce resources and socio-economic instability. In regions like Africa, mainly south of the Sahara region, those are of the major causes of the continued spread of this devastating disease, creating a noticeable link between malaria and poverty in underdeveloped countries

Malaria in Underdeveloped Countries

Malaria is the number one killer of children in underdeveloped countries. Children who contract severe malaria frequently develop one or more of the following symptoms: severe anemia, respiratory malfunction and cerebral malaria. In areas where transmission is higher, children under the age of five are more susceptible to infection and death, with more than 70% of all malaria deaths falling into this group. Even though the number of malaria deaths within this age group had decreased by 155,00 in 2016, malaria remains the major cause of death for children under five years of age, ending a life every two minutes.

Malaria occurs when climate and other conditions suddenly favor transmission to areas where people have no immunity to malaria. They can also occur when people with low or no immunity move into areas of intense malaria transmission, for example, refugees and those looking for work. Human immunity plays a very important factor, especially in areas of moderate and intense transmission conditions. Partial immunity can be developed through the years, and while it never provides complete protection, can reduce the risk of infection. However, children under the age of five have not had the chance to build any kind of immunity because they have not been exposed to the disease.

The High Cost of Malaria

Malaria is directly related to poverty and economic inequality in underdeveloped countries due to the exponential costs that these countries must face by both individuals and governments. Costs include the purchase of necessary medication, treatment, maintenance, supply and staffing of trained personnel in health facilities, lost days of work with resulting loss of income, burial expenses and the overall loss of economic opportunities ventures through tourism during an outbreak.

Direct costs for illness, treatment and premature death are estimated to be at least $12 billion per year. Total funding for malaria control and elimination was only $2.7 billion in 2016, but this amount is not enough to eradicate the program to its completion. In order to hit the 2030 target from the WHO, an investment of $6,5 billion will be required annually by 2020. Which may be a problem because, on average since 2014, investments in malaria treatment and control have actually been declining in many highly affected countries.

Investing in the Eradication of Malaria

The level of progress in a specific country depends on the strength of that country’s national health system, the level of investment of the disease control and a number of factors including biological determinants, like the environment and the social, demographic, political and economic factors in a particular country.

Some of the challenges in trying to eradicate malaria include the lack of sustainable and predictable international and domestic funding, risks posed by countries in endemic areas, anomalous climate patterns, the emergence of parasite resistance to anti-malaria medicines and mosquito resistance to insecticides and other substances used for eradication and control purposes. In the 41 high-burden countries, malaria funding often remains below $2 per person.

All of these factors contribute to the reversal in recent progress of the eradication and continued treatment of the disease. Many high burden but low-income countries have reported reducing the funding per capita for the population at risk of malaria. For example, the complex situation of Nigeria, South Sudan, Venezuela and Yemen have all resulted in the interruption of services and increasing instances of malaria.

The Sucess of the Global Fund

The Global Fund response to malaria has been very successful, but it presents many future challenges in the battle of eradicating this disease. Between 2002 and 2017, the Global Fund has provided more than half of all international financing for malaria, investing $10.5 billion in programs aimed at controlling the disease in more than 100 countries. The approach targets several areas, such as education about symptoms, prevention and treatment; prevention methods like mosquito nets,  insecticides and preventive treatment for children and pregnant women and diagnosis.

The Global Fund works with at-risk communities by providing training and treatment to stop the disease. They provide information about what malaria is, how it is transmitted, what treatments are available and, most importantly, what action to take if malaria is detected. In Ghana, for example, village elders educate their community “not to let the sun set twice” on a child with a fever.

Malaria is a devastating disease that affects everyone but presents a higher risk in children under the age of five especially in areas like the sub-Saharan region in Africa. There is a noticeable link between Malaria and poverty in underdeveloped countries. The efforts to eradicate this disease have been enormous, but the lack of funding, the disease’s immunity to drugs and insecticides, the socio and economic instability of the governments of some of these countries and the lack of training and information about the disease present major challenges to the successful eradication of the disease. Investing must continue. Hopefully, the work of organizations such as the Global Fund will ensure a future without Malaria.

Mayra Vega
Photo: Flickr

Malaria in Uganda

More than 10,500 people die from malaria in Uganda annually. The country also has one of the highest rates of transmission and mortality rates due to malaria. Uganda has been described as a malaria-endemic country due to the particular hold the disease has on the area. Globally, Ugandans are one of the top five populations at risk for malaria. Malaria has been a serious health issue for decades and several measures have been taken to lessen the burden of the disease. The government of Uganda is working with several organizations to reduce the spread of malaria in Uganda.

The Uganda Malaria Strategic Plan

The Uganda Malaria Reduction Strategic Plan was implemented in 2014. The goals of the plan include reducing the mortality rate from malaria to almost zero by 2020, reducing the morbidity rate by nearly 80 percent by 2020 and reducing the malaria prevalence of the parasite to 7 percent by 2020. Their strategy is to quickly provide the general population with means of malaria control and prevention.

The plan has had great progress so far, the prevalence of malaria in the country has decreased from 42 percent in 2009 down to 19 percent in 2018, and deaths from malaria in Uganda have been cut in half. Although the plan has done well to ensure facilities are well stocked and prevention measures are taken, some are still receiving inadequate care.

Funding to Eradicate Malaria

The Uganda Malaria Reduction Strategic plan is being implemented by the government’s Ministry of Health and supported by organizations such as the Global Fund and USAID. The plan provides details of its budget and where that money will be implemented. It is projected that the six-year plan will require $1,316,700.

These funds come from organizations like USAID and Global Fund and are used in each phase of the structure of the plan. The phases include but are not limited to ensuring access to malaria treatments and prevention methods, increasing the community’s knowledge surrounding the disease, increasing the treatment of malaria during pregnancy and strengthening the detection and response to this epidemic.

Problems at the Local Level

One of the problems is that some people are receiving the wrong treatment and care. The Moroto Regional Referral Hospital discovered that some patients were being treated for malaria despite negative test results. USAID’s Uganda Health Supply Chain Program has taken steps to change these incorrect medical practices and provide training to improve medical practices at Moroto Hospital.

Their steps have had an impact. The testing rate rose from 45 percent to 86 percent, and the number of patients mistakenly receiving treatment without a positive test result decreased from 31 percent to 9 percent. Other hospitals heard of the success at Moroto Hospital and have expressed interest in undertaking similar policies.

The future for the battle against malaria in Uganda is bright. Uganda won an award in January of 2017 for their significant progress in fighting malaria. The African Leaders Malaria Alliance recognized Uganda and 7 other countries for striving towards a malaria-free Africa. With local governments, leaders and aid organizations working together, permanent progress can be made. The country has already made great strides in their fight against malaria and there is optimism for a malaria-free future in Uganda.

– Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Flickr

Student Organizations Can Improve Global HealthMany of the health crises in the world today are not only preventable but often man-made. However, disease outbreaks, conflict-created health emergencies and inefficient healthcare systems continue into 2019. Though there are very real threats to global health, there are also organizations working tirelessly to tackle these global health challenges. The efforts of internationally-focused college clubs, like GlobeMed at the University of Denver and Global Medical Training at the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrate that student organizations can improve global health.

GlobeMed at the University of Denver

GlobeMed at the University of Denver started in 2011 and is one of 50 college chapters across the U.S. The broader organization focuses on health disparities across the world by encouraging each chapter to partner with a grassroots health organization to work on local community health projects. GlobeMed at DU partners with Buddhism for Social Development Action (BSDA) in Kampong Cham, Cambodia, an organization started by Buddhist monks with the intention of bettering their community.

Jakob Allen, a Global Health Unit Coordinator for GlobeMed at DU, told The Borgen Project that their co-founders, Victor Roy and Peter Luckow, “realized that the key to sustainable project implementation was to listen and form a relationship with the local community. Too many NGOs today do not assume the population they are working with knows what is best for their community; GlobeMed at DU works to shatter this fallacy by working with our partners to find out what the community believes to be the best solution,” said Allen. “We then work to help make their visions a reality.”

How GlobeMed at DU Helps

Currently, GlobeMed at DU has two active microloan income generation projects, Chicken Raising Project (CRP) and Financing Futures (FF). The money generated by GlobeMed at DU goes towards financing these current projects, which were decided upon by BSDA with input from the community, according to Allen.

The beneficiaries of CRP are families with at least one member living with HIV/AIDS. Allen told The Borgen Project that the goal is to provide each family with a loan to purchase chickens and supplies, “thus enabling sick beneficiaries to cover their own medical transportation costs and receive appropriate treatment.” For the Financing Futures project, the beneficiaries are families with school-aged children. The intention of this project is to provide families with a microloan to start or expand a current business. The reduced cost to run the business encourages families to send the children to school.

Daniel Rinner, a Global Health Unit Coordinator for GlobeMed at DU, told The Borgen Project it is extremely important for GlobeMed at DU that health is not thought of solely in terms of medicine and healthcare institutions. “We also have to consider the social determinants of health: why certain health problems exist in the locations and communities that they do,” said Rinner. “We’ve had chapter meetings on how we can analyze gun violence as a public health issue and how Puerto Rico’s economic and political circumstances coincided with Hurricane Maria to create a public health disaster in our own country, for example,” Rinner added.

The ability to think critically regarding the larger dynamics of globalization and poverty and then utilize this knowledge in local communities is one of the reasons student organizations can improve global health.

Global Medical Training: University of California, Berkeley

Another example of how student organizations can improve global health is Global Medical Training (GMT) at the University of California, Berkeley. GMT is a national organization offering the opportunity to go to Latin American countries and experience “hands-on” clinical work for college students interested in policy or health care careers, according to Angela H. Kwon, President of U.C. Berkeley’s GMT chapter.

Andrew Paul Rosenzweig, Vice President of U.C. Berkeley’s GMT chapter, told The Borgen Project their goal is to reach communities with little access to healthcare. “Many Latin American countries’ health care is focused in populated cities, so we provide more rural communities with these resources,” said Rosenzweig.

In addition to providing healthcare resources to rural Latin American countries, GMT at U.C. Berkeley focuses on implementing public health and sustainability projects. “We recognize the limitations of being in a host country for only a week at a time…[so] the goal of these [public health] projects is prevention rather than treatment,” said Rosenzweig. “Educating individuals on how to live healthier lives can have tremendous impacts on not only their own life but the lives of their family and community.” GMT has worked with rural Latin American communities to teach the significance of healthy eating, reproductive health, dental hygiene and hypertension.

GMT: A Piece of a Larger Movement

When asked whether the “hands-on” approach of GMT at U.C. Berkeley has been successful in creating change in Latin American countries, Kwon told The Borgen Project that this “would be an overstatement. It’s only a very tiny step and the beginning [of] a bigger movement, which is sustainability and health equity.” Though Kwon stated that week-long trips to rural areas do not create immediate or lasting effects, she claimed “it’s a start and any contribution can help. It’s like a ripple effect.”

Kwon added, “Of course, as college students, our knowledge of medicine is limited but…we’re educating future practitioners or professionals about global health and sustainability. Although cliché, we’re making a difference in the patient’s day by providing them with answers, medication and showing them that we care.”

GlobeMed at DU and GMT at U.C. Berkeley’s efforts, with their dedication to education and prevention, understanding of the larger dynamics of poverty, and care for international communities, are a perfect example on how student organizations can improve global health.

– Kara Roberts
Photo: Flickr

Global HealthOn August 2018, The Global Health Council welcomed the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Extension Act of 2018 by the House of Representatives. This legislation reauthorizes PEPFAR for 5 years and is an example of bipartisan support for ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic and was sponsored by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Eliot Engel (D-NY).

Since 2003, PEPFAR has increased the likelihood of an AIDS-free world by providing more than 13.3 million people around the world with HIV treatments. This is but one example of The Global Health Council’s efforts to work with policymakers and community stakeholders to improve health worldwide.

What Is The Global Health Council?

Global Health Council is a nonprofit membership organization in The U.S. that identifies priority global health problems and reports them to an international and domestic audience. Formed in 1972 and originally called The National Council for International Health, The Global Health Council’s primary intention is to ensure that all who strive to improve global health have the resources they need to do so. The initiatives and programs for which The Global Health Council advocates are funded primarily through membership dues, grants, and sponsorship funding.

Danielle Heiberg, Senior Manager, Policy & Advocacy of Global Health Council told The Borgen Project that The Global Health Council contributes to the implementation of health programs worldwide by supporting its members, who, in turn, work to implement the necessary programs. “Specifically, GHC provides its members with key resources, advocates on their behalf and amplifies their work through its varied communications channels,” Heiberg told The Borgen Project.

Global Health Council is a membership-oriented organization that offers key stakeholders a platform for coordinated global health advocacy. Membership is offered to global health organizations and to individual global health professionals. Members receive important benefits, such as “high-level delegations and networking opportunities,” according to Heiberg. By creating a platform for the unification of global health issues and using the power of collaboration and collective action, The Global Health Council uses advocacy to advance international health programs and policies, such as PEPFAR.

What Does The Global Health Council Do?

Since its inception, The Global Health Council has worked towards advocating for strong global health policies, organizing and mobilizing stakeholders across geographic regions and improving health worldwide by building support. Although The Global Health Council represents a range of global health issues, according to Heiberg, it makes global health security, global health financing, and health systems strengthening” a priority.

In addition to its current initiatives, The Global Health Council’s efforts to advance global healthcare programs are noted in its organized calendar of events. The Global Health Council promotes awareness of global health issues by sharing news via social media, a bi-weekly newsletter, its website and by hosting events. “GHC also meets with U.S. Congressional staff and other government offices to advocate for sound policy and investments,” Heiberg said.

Most recently, The Global Health Council has worked with the global health community to ensure there are U.S. investments going toward global health initiatives to have the maximum impact. The organization intends to implement and maintain a successful global health program by publishing join global health recommendations, promoting member or partner grassroots campaigns and consolidating global health funding.

“With the current administration placing less of an emphasis on foreign assistance, demonstrating how these investments and policies not only save lives around the world but also benefit Americans is crucial,” stated Heiberg. If organizations such as the Global Health Council continue to advocate for international health programs and policies, like PEPFAR, there is hope for improved health worldwide.

– Kara Roberts
Photo: Flickr

Global HealthWith the many advances in science and medicine over the last century, it is no surprise that overall global health has been positively impacted. From the discovery of penicillin to the creation of the X-Ray machine, dedication to healthcare and these advancements have proved beneficial for both scientists and patients. The following is a discussion of the top five improvements in global health trends and their impacts on the global health conversation.

Top Five Improvements in Global Health Trends

  1. HIV/AIDS is no longer the leading cause of death in Africa. There has been a long-standing notion that the transmission of HIV was among the worst diagnoses imaginable and, furthermore, that the disease was becoming more and more rampant in many areas, especially poorer ones. However, many advancements have been made for prevention and treatment, which include newer and more effective medications, sexual education and safer sexual practices. These advancements have been used in poorer communities in African countries, where the epidemic is the greatest in severity. Thankfully, the prevention and treatment methods have been so effective that HIV/AIDS is no longer the leading cause of death in Africa. This advancement not only impacts health but restores communities’ economic success with more resources available for infrastructure and households.
  2. Vaccines are more varied and accessible. Over the last century, vaccines have not only become more varied, as well as more accessible, but their usage has risen. While vaccines have prevented diseases such as measles, polio and smallpox, a vaccine recently came out in 2011 that protects against the shingles virus. The shingles virus is a painful, blistery skin rash that originates from certain strains of the chickenpox virus, which is most common among children. However, unlike the chickenpox virus, the shingles virus is a higher risk for contraction in elders. The shingles vaccine greatly improves quality of life and has already made a huge impact. While vaccines are less standard in more disadvantaged areas, improvements are being made to include more vaccinations for more people, oftentimes cost-covered by charity organizations such as UNICEF.
  3. Mortality associated with childbirth has decreased significantly. Both infant mortality and maternal mortality rates were historically high compared to modern day rates. These statistics are an outstanding improvement from 25 years ago when infant mortality rates were as high as six and a half percent of all births and maternal mortality rates were around four-tenths of a percent. In 2017, a mere one-third of a percent of all children born did not survive past one year and an even lower percentage of mothers died during childbirth (two-hundredths of a percent). However, due to an increased overall implementation of sanitary health practices globally, these percentages continue to drop. In developed countries, where per capita income is higher, sanitary practices are at their most prevalent. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for countries with lower per capita income where there is lessened sanitary practice adherence. This, in turn, allows for a higher survival rate of both infants and mothers, leading to more families to have fewer children as they know infants have a greater chance of survival.
  4. Diabetes is no longer a “life sentence.” As recent as one hundred years ago, by the time diabetes was detectable, a person had mere months or years to live. Among the amazing improvements in global health, specifically thanks to the discovery of insulin in 1920 and all the advancements made in treatment as a result, diabetes will now have little to no impact on a person’s life expectancy. While people living in impoverished nations may have a harder time accessing treatment, great strides have still been made and are being made to provide treatment to people in disadvantaged regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, including the provision of diabetes education.
  5. Water-related illnesses are reduced by better access to clean water. Clean water, once a scarcity, has been augmented by greater attention, funding and resources for water sanitation. There is a connection between poverty, health and reduced access to clean water, where poverty exacerbates the situation and makes clean water harder to access, adding an extra layer to both poverty and decreased health. Over the last 18 years, world access to clean water jumped from 76 percent to 91 percent. This improvement has prevented illnesses such as malaria, diarrhea and dehydration.

The above list merely scratches the surface of recent improvements in global health. There is much more left in the healthcare conversation and many more advancements that are being enhanced, discovered and yet to be discovered. Improvements in global health afford people the opportunity to dissolve their poverty, allowing them to live a longer and better life.

– Alexandra C Ferrigno
Photo: Flickr


Poverty contributes to poor health and prevents people from access to treatment, which traps the world’s poor in a vicious cycle. The inverse is true as well. Poor health often forces people to purchase expensive care and medications, which over time reduces spending money on anything other than healthcare. Additionally, poor health can limit a person’s ability to work and earn an income, which, combined with the cost of healthcare, can lead to poverty. This has been the case with healthcare in Pakistan.

A study by the World Bank reported that 100 million people worldwide are forced to survive on merely $1.90 a day because of healthcare expenses for themselves or a family member. This problem is exacerbated in developing countries where healthcare services are underfunded and understaffed. Millions of families are being pushed into poverty for less than ideal care. Poverty is both a cause and consequence of poor health, especially in developing countries, which makes finding a solution crucial to ending the cycle of poverty caused by poor health. Affordable and accessible healthcare in Pakistan can help end this cycle.

Healthcare in Pakistan

Pakistan is one of the developing countries searching for a way to alleviate poverty for its citizens. Healthcare in Pakistan needs a great deal of improvement. In June 2016, the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform found that 39 percent of the country lived in poverty. While poverty rates in the country are declining, there are still over 70 million Pakistanis living on less than $2 a day.  The majority of families living on $2 a day do not have the resources to afford expensive life-saving treatment.

The problem is compounded by the lack of adequate care for the families that can afford health expenses. Less than 3 percent of Pakistan’s domestic budget is targeted towards healthcare, which has impeded medical research and infrastructure from flourishing. The public Pakistani healthcare system has a current backlog of more than 2 million people who are waiting to get surgery due to this lack of infrastructure and funding. Affordable and accessible healthcare is almost nonexistent for poor Pakistanis. This has motivated several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within Pakistan to work to improve health care and make it more affordable.

Transparent Hands

One of the NGOs in Pakistan is Transparent Hands.  Transparent Hands seeks to make life-saving surgery more affordable and accessible for poor Pakistanis by crowdfunding expensive surgeries and building medical camps where patients can receive these surgeries. Currently, the organization has performed 342 surgeries, spent over $350,000 and developed 25 medical camps that have served 8133 patients. Each of these surgeries has had a life-changing impact on different poor Pakistani families.

A representative for Transparent Hands told The Borgen Project that “most of the patients who reach us suffer from serious health conditions due to which they are unable to even perform their household chores. After they undergo surgical treatment, not only do they become active again, they also start working and earning for their family.”

As an example, they shared the story of a patient who actualized this incredible recovery process. “There was a patient who was unable to sit and walk due to Ankylosing Spondylitis. He was dependent on his family for every little need. After the surgery, he is not only able to walk and sit, but he has also started working and is now an independent person.” This alone shows how proper access to healthcare could have a positive impact on the economy.

Affordable and accessible surgery can change someone’s life for the better. It is crucial to bolster the efforts of organizations like Transparent Hands in order to expand their impact throughout the country. Transparent Hands plans to eventually expand their operations from the province of Punjab to all provinces of Pakistan. Affordable and accessible healthcare in Pakistan will help 70 million Pakistanis escape the devastating cycle of poverty and poor health.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Flickr

Monaco Tackling HIV Prevention and AwarenessThe number of newly infected individuals with HIV has halved since the mid-1990s. This is in large part due to the significant increase in care and treatment for HIV. The UNAIDS Program Coordinating Board called on UNAIDS for its support for new initiatives in country and new targets for combatting HIV.

These efforts branched out globally to arrive at the 90-90-90 targets. By 2020, this goal aims to have: 90 percent of all people living with HIV be aware of their HIV status; 90 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 percent of all people receiving therapy to have viral suppression.

To date, over 250 countries have joined the 90-90-90 plan in an attempt to properly care for those individuals with HIV, as well as improve treatments already in place. The movement is a part of the Paris Declaration which is implemented to outline a practical, action-oriented way of improving the quality of aid.

As of July 2018, Monaco became a part of the initiative to enhance the lives of those with HIV and treatments by 2020. By becoming part of the fast-track initiative, Monaco also became the first city-state to commit to the assurance of rapid decrease in HIV infections.

Monaco tackling HIV as a priority is not necessarily new news. Monaco has actually advocated for HIV treatment previously in its endeavors. Monaco’s Princess Stephanie created the Fight AIDS Monaco nonprofit organization which works to improve HIV treatment, promote prevention, and reinforce the Test in The City campaign. However, by focusing on the 90-90-90 plan, Monaco tackling HIV is vastly improving on fast-tracking treatment and prevention.

Monaco tackling HIV by joining the 90-90-90 program is also monumental because it is a developed, progressive city. Cities play a crucial role in innovation and research and can therefore better treat those infected with HIV or those who are at risk of infection. Such cities also have the capacity to branch out their methods to the less developed areas that need the treatments but do not have the resources available to access them.

The ultimate goal of the 90-90-90 plan is to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Part of Monaco’s signing of the Paris Declaration was to create a “Monaco without AIDS”. The eradication of AIDS will ultimately spark broader global health and development endeavors that will improve the quality of life for all countries including the underdeveloped. Its work will also inspire global solidarity and partnerships which will be beneficial to many countries when it comes to aid.

In the fourth quarter of Monaco’s campaigns for better HIV prevention and treatment is a communication-focused campaign based around the U = U; undetectable = untransmittable. Communication is a very important part of fast-tracking and spreading proper information about HIV, as well as ensuring proper prevention and treatment.

Monaco was already progressive in its efforts for better HIV care but the 90-90-90 movement has put those efforts on the fast track. With the help of more than 250 countries that signed the Paris Declaration and agreed to the 90-90-90 plan, the possibility of AIDS eradication is near.

– Samantha Harward

Photo: Flickr

 Cleft Lip and PalateEach year, more than 200,000 children in developing countries are born with a cleft lip or palate. It is the leading birth defect in nearly all developing countries. A cleft lip or palate may lead to premature death due to its effect on a person’s ability to eat, speak and even breathe properly. Many of these children are unable to lead normal lives because they often face discrimination in terms of access to education and job opportunities later in life.

The good news is that it only takes 45 minutes to surgically fix a cleft lip or palate, and this simple fix lasts a lifetime.

A Life-Changing Partnership

On July 19, Smile Train, an international children’s charity, and GSK Consumer Healthcare, a world leader in oral health care, announced a 5-year partnership to bring free cleft lip and palate surgeries and care to children around the world. With GSK providing funding and scientific expertise and Smile Train continuing their legacy of life-changing free care, this partnership has the potential to assist the wellbeing of both individual children and their communities.

Smile Train works using a sustainable model of education, training in locations across the globe. Since their inception in 1999, the charity has been responsible for more than one million cleft lip and palate surgeries and has left stronger, more capable communities in their wake. Smile Train is dedicated to empowering local medical professionals to create change for those around them, such as the ability to provide a better life for a child in just 45 minutes. However, Smile Train’s care continues after this life-changing surgery by providing orthodontic care and, in many locations, speech therapy to assist in the transition.

While the surgery itself costs around $250 USD, Smile Train, and now GSK, pays the bill for all patients. The communities themselves also benefit through Smile Train and GSK’s partnership; the education and training Smile Train provides helps communities continue their progress in creating a healthier world, which benefits the economy as a whole.  Due to an increase in patients’ economic prospects, local communities may benefit up to $42,000 per individual who undergoes this surgery.

Local and Global Benefits

In addition to local benefits, there is a connection between basic surgeries such as cleft lip or palate surgery and an economic boost on a global scale. One study shows that Smile Train’s one million new smiles added roughly $3 billion USD to the global economy between 2001 and 2011.

By providing free surgeries to children with cleft lips and palates, Smile Train and GSK are providing opportunities for education, socialization, jobs and, most importantly, for a healthy life. In a study on the economic benefits of cleft lip and palate surgeries provided by Smile Train over the past 11 years in 84 developing countries, it was determined that cleft lip and palate surgical programs could contribute up to $20.7 billion USD. The study’s author, Daniel Scott Corlew, states that the “expansion of surgical capacity in the developing world is of significant economic and health value and should be a priority in global health efforts.”

A Better Future for Children

One patient has already seen the benefits of free cleft lip and palate surgery and care provided by the Smile Train and GSK Consumer Healthcare partnership. Eight-month-old Jaya, from Chennai, India, was the first child to undergo a GSK-funded surgery. Her first surgery was successful, and she has one final surgery scheduled within the next few months to completely correct her cleft lip and palate. Jaya is just one example of the lives these surgeries will change. 

This five-year partnership will enable Smile Train and GSK Consumer Healthcare to provide life-changing cleft lip and palate surgeries and care to children of the developing world, changing lives both locally and globally.

– Anna Lally
Photo: Flickr

The Rise of Cardiovascular Disease in India
In recent years, India has been faced with a rapid increase in cardiovascular disease. Between the 2005 and 2016, the rate of premature death due to heart disease in India rose by over 41 percent. The risk of stroke has similarly increased, and cardiovascular disease in India is now extremely prevalent.

Cardiovascular Disease in India

In fact, cardiovascular disease is now the leading cause of death in the country, with a quarter of all deaths attributed to it. This is greater than the average rate of cardiovascular disease-related deaths across the globe. The high rate of cardiovascular disease resulting in high mortality is a growing concern in the country.

There are many risk factors attributed to cardiovascular disease. A significant portion of mortality from cardiovascular disease is brought on by smoking, which has a high prevalence among young adults and lower-income households.

Another risk factor for cardiovascular disease is a lack of nutrition from fruits and vegetables in a diet. Approximately half of all people in India consume one serving of fruit or less a week. In addition to the loss of nutrition from fruit and vegetables, there has been a significant rise in the consumption of unhealthy foods such as fat, particularly among Indians of the lowest incomes.

Treatment

Part of the larger problem of rising cardiovascular disease is treatment. People who have limited or insufficient education are less likely to identify the symptoms of hypertension that could lead to cardiovascular disease.

This population is also much less likely to treat hypertension. In addition, higher smoking rates are correlated to lower education levels. Lack of information and access to treatment significantly increases the danger of the development and fatal progression of cardiovascular disease.

In the face of these growing problems with cardiovascular disease in India, health improvement efforts have begun in earnest. These efforts include a foundation known as Swasth India. Swasth India sets up healthcare centers in low-income housing within urban areas. They provide physicians, diagnostics and treatment. The cost of care in these medical centers is significantly less than the average cost of the same care in the market.

Services and Organizations

In fact, the majority of services are provided at half the market rate. The medical centers also promote awareness on topics such as the management of hypertension. Swasth India provides affordable and easy-to-access treatment for people who would not ordinarily have access or be able to pay for the tests and medication they receive.

Another enterprise working to end the danger of cardiovascular disease in India is known as the Global Hearts Initiative. The Global Hearts Initiative was launched in 2016 in an effort to address the worldwide growth of cardiovascular disease. The initiative’s three focuses are:

  • The reduction of tobacco use
  • The reduction of salt intake
  • The improvement of management of cardiovascular disease within healthcare systems

The Global Hearts Initiative’s main purpose is to help countries implement new protocols and improve access to necessary health care. India is among the 14 countries focused on by the Global Hearts Initiative.

A Healthier World

Swasth India and the Global Initiative show that in spite of the daunting rise of cardiovascular disease in India and the high rates of mortality, efforts in play continue to improve lives.

Many people who ordinarily would not have access to information and care for cardiovascular disease are given the opportunity of treatment and methods of prevention through these initiatives. The increase of cardiovascular disease is a negative worldwide development, but progress continues to be made to offset such an occurrence and strive for a better, healthier world.

– Lindabeth Doby
Photo: Flickr

Global Healthcare FundingPresident Trump’s budget request for the fiscal year of 2018 includes drastic cuts — 32 percent — from foreign aid. The drop of 4.6 billion in humanitarian assistance and global health spending comes along with a call for “the world to pay their fair share” in terms of global healthcare funding.

While the U.S. did contribute nearly one-third of the global spending on Development Assistance for Health in 2016, foreign aid makes up less than 1 percent of the national budget; that same year it was only 0.22 percent.  Looking at countries’ spending as a percentage of gross national income, the U.S. ranks 23rd for foreign aid and healthcare funding.

What Would Cutting Aid Mean?

Cutting foreign aid would lead to:

  • Less disease surveillance
  • Decreased diagnostic testing and vaccines
  • A shortage of research
  • Less life-saving medications
  • Fewer healthcare facilities
  • Instability
  • Decreased economic productivity
  • More deaths from curable or treatable diseases
  • Mitigated interest from local governments
  • Increased risk of domestic disease
  • Diminished soft power and global influence

The Brookings Institute forecasts that the domestic cut to foreign aid would drop healthcare funding from 39.2 to 28.8 billion, marking the lowest American investment in the last decade.

How Does Foreign Aid Help Global Healthcare?

Since pathogens such as zika, influenza, and Ebola are prone to spread across borders, aid cuts threaten the health of U.S. citizens. The Ebola breakout killed over 11,000 people; an additional 21,000 died due to a reduction in access to healthcare services.

Investment in surveillance programs greatly reduces the risk of a pandemic and eliminates the spending that an outbreak necessitates. The entire Ebola outbreak cost a total of $3.6 billion — $2.3 billion of which came from the U.S.

Foreign investment also inspires a response from local governments and organizations. By prioritizing health, global support helps to foster expectations that governments should do the same. Funding for HIV/AIDS research, testing and education have resulted in every African country possessing a national AIDS strategy and commission. Between 2011 and 2015, African countries increased their own funding by 150 percent.

How Does Promoting Healthcare Help the World?

Supplying vaccinations promotes prevention and may lead to a complete eradication of deadly diseases. Every dollar invested in childhood immunizations begets $44 in economic benefits, which includes saving money that families lose when a child is sick and the parent is unable to work.

Global healthcare funding and other types of humanitarian spending tend to increase a nation’s soft power — supporting basic human rights and humanitarian causes generally garner influence and respect. In aiding global healthcare funding, the U.S. is able to look out for foreign policy priorities, address national security concerns, and bolster global economic productivity and development.

A healthy individual will become a more productive member of society at large than his/her sick or dead peer; health is a direct determinant for economic stability.

Waves of Improvement

Bill and Melinda Gates sum up the importance of global healthcare funding in saying: “By preventing the spread of disease, we save lives in other countries and at home. By stimulating economic development, we open new markets for our country’s goods. By making conflict less likely, we advance our own national security. And by lifting up the poorest, we express the highest values of our nations.”

Global healthcare funding relates to each point, and thereby creates waves outside of the medical sector.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr