Hospitals Empower Women Amid ConflictAmid ongoing crises around the world, hospitals help women deliver babies and maintain good reproductive and sexual health. Supporting hospitals in conflict-ridden countries empowers women and can drastically reduce maternal mortality rates. In Afghanistan, maternal mortality rates have reduced by more than 50% in the past 20 years due to advancements in public health infrastructure. Hospitals empower women amid conflict by providing lifesaving support to new mothers and women of all ages.

Conflict-Ridden Areas

Hospitals and clinics in conflict zones save lives every day, in areas ranging from maternal care to helping the sick and wounded. When conflict strikes, though, medical care facilities experience difficulties procuring medicine, equipment and supplies. The hospitals and clinics may also struggle to maintain a steady supply of fuel and heating. NGOs often help hospitals and clinics in conflict-ridden areas obtain supplies.

In 2021, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) provided two hospitals in Afghanistan with emergency kits containing medicine and equipment to support the “reproductive, maternal and newborn health needs” of more than 300,000 people. In combination with NGO efforts, governmental investments in hospitals and other public health infrastructure are necessary to ensure adequate medical care in conflict zones, especially for women. Well-funded hospitals empower women amid conflict by safeguarding their reproductive health and ensuring safe deliveries.

Health Care for Women

Conflict zones make it difficult for women, children and newborns to access health care. For example, the war in Yemen has prevented many women and children with health emergencies from accessing medical facilities. Limited access to medical care for the Yemeni people has led to an increase in deaths, leaving pregnant women, newborns and children the most vulnerable.

Developing countries are unlikely to have enough fully functioning hospitals to support everyone’s medical needs, especially in times of conflict. Many patients in conflict zones must travel through dangerous sites to receive medical attention from a hospital. Such endeavors are particularly dangerous for pregnant women and women traveling with young children. High-functioning, accessible hospitals are highly beneficial to public health and safety in times of conflict, especially for women and newborns.

Improving Health Care in Conflict Zones

Improvements to health care in conflict zones may involve public and private coordination, addressing context-specific needs and developing sustainable responses to medical emergencies. Public and private coordination efforts may include governmental bodies, humanitarian organizations and other global public health actors including the World Health Organization.

When public and private actors collaborate, the efforts can provide optimized health care to those in need. Context-specific health care initiatives tailor medical care and responses to the most common or urgent needs of a community. Such initiatives involve speaking with local actors and communities to gauge their medical needs. States can improve health care sustainability in conflict zones by improving existing health systems, securing funding and prioritizing the treatment of chronic illnesses.

Robust medical systems are necessary to promote health, safety and peace in conflict-ridden areas. Access to health care is particularly important for pregnant women and newborns as these are highly vulnerable groups in conflict zones. Hospitals empower women amid conflict by providing access to maternal and reproductive health care, which saves lives and ensures safe pregnancies.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Flickr

HIVAIDS in KenyaOn July 14, 2021, in Nairobi, Kenya, the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) held its sixth Maisha HIV/AIDS conference, bringing together stakeholders to continue the battle against HIV/AIDS in Kenya and find impactful solutions. The NACC is the main “body responsible for coordinating the HIV response in Kenya.” The organization of the Maisha HIV/AIDS conference follows the objectives of NACC to mobilize resources, engage and collaborate with other organizations focusing on HIV/AIDS control. Since its establishment in 1999, NACC’s government-funded groundwork, analysis and implementation efforts have affirmed the right to health. With an average of 100,000 new HIV/AIDS cases in Kenya yearly, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data from 2014, NACC’s research, community-led initiatives and destigmatization efforts form a core part of the frontline response to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS in Kenya

According to Avert, in 2019, Kenya reported “1.5 million people living with HIV” and 21,000 deaths stemming from AIDS. While this mortality rate is high, “the death rate has declined steadily from 64,000 in 2010.” Young people account for a significant number of infections — in 2015, young people between the ages of 15 and 24 made up more than 50% “of all new HIV infections in Kenya.”

Since the rise of HIV/AIDS in the 1990s, many sub-Saharan countries still grapple to control the spread of the virus. However, today, Kenya stands as “one of sub-Saharan Africa’s HIV prevention success stories.” In 2019, yearly new HIV infections stood at “less than a third of what they were at the peak of the country’s epidemic in 1993.”

The efforts of the NACC and several local and international organizations are responsible for these successes. In 2013, the NACC began the Prevention Revolution Roadmap to End New HIV Infections by 2030, a strategy for combating HIV/AIDs in Kenya.

The Kenyan government distributes condoms each year as an HIV prevention method. In 2013, the government distributed “180 million free condoms.” Furthermore, the government mandates the inclusion of HIV education in school curriculums to ensure citizens are well-educated on the HIV epidemic and specific guidelines for prevention and treatment. Kenya also utilizes events and the media to raise awareness of HIV/AIDs, which has proven successful. One particular community mobilizer with Lodwar Vocational Training Centre (LVTC) in Kenya distributes 5,000 condoms per day to communities while disseminating information on the current HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya and testing processes.

The Maisha Reporting Tool

Kenya’s Government Ministries, Counties, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) use the NACC’s Maisha Reporting Tool to monitor HIV/AIDS in Kenya. This allows MDAs to become effective AIDS control units. Policy-makers inform their intervention using localized data pulled from the tool. The Maisha Reporting tool ultimately aims to encourage the active engagement of MDAs “in developing and implementing policies to tackle the prevention and management of HIV and AIDS in Kenya.”

MDAs’ participation in the certification system involves documenting and tracking their efforts to reduce new cases of HIV/AIDS in Kenya. These recorded undertakings on the part of MDAs include efforts for counseling and testing, distribution of condoms and baseline surveys to help control the spread of the disease.

MDAs strive to manage HIV/AIDS in Kenya, and with the help of the NACC and government funding, MDAs are shifting the narrative of implementation. Through targeted outreach, conferencing, programming and advocacy, Kenya is able to make strides in the battle against HIV/AIDS. The NACC’s Maisha Reporting Tool aims to equip all government agencies with a platform that facilitates understanding and encourages action in order to one day establish an HIV-free Kenya.

– Joy Maina
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation Facilities Empower Girls
About 2.3 billion people around the world lack access to basic sanitation facilities, according to UNICEF. A lack of sanitation facilities in schools can discourage girls from attending school. When girls have access to clean, enclosed sanitation facilities during their menstrual periods and potential pregnancies, they are less likely to skip school or drop out entirely. Sanitation facilities empower girls to attend school by allowing them to feel safer and more comfortable with access to adequate facilities to properly manage their menstruation. In turn, dropout rates decrease and girls’ education completion rates increase.

Private Changing Rooms

Private changing rooms for girls to bathe and change in can help girls feel more comfortable attending school and participating in lessons. Changing facilities with water supplies offer girls a place to change, wash and dry menstrual supplies during the school day. Some changing rooms may also provide students with free menstrual supplies, which is essential for impoverished girls who lack access to these products outside of school.

Without private changing rooms, female students may feel embarrassed to come to school during their periods, especially in countries where people stigmatize menstruation. According to a World Bank study in India, 80% of girls from rural areas in India thought menstrual blood carried harmful substances and 60% believed menstruation is a topic that people should discuss openly.

The availability of changing rooms in schools is also important for pregnant students who require privacy and good-quality sanitation. A lack of proper sanitation facilities stands as a barrier for many pregnant students who feel discouraged and uncomfortable coming to school otherwise. Hygienic sanitation facilities empower girls by helping them feel comfortable at school, even during menstruation or pregnancy.

Private Bathrooms

Much like changing rooms, private bathrooms in schools with modern urinals or toilets can benefit girls’ education. Private bathrooms may include menstrual supplies and waste disposal, which encourages girls to come to school even during their periods. In cultures that stigmatize menstruation, some girls pretend to be ill or come up with other excuses to avoid attending school during their periods due to shame or embarrassment. Many girls do not attend classes during their periods because their schools lack toilets with water facilities as well as discreet sanitary waste disposal areas. Enclosed and gender-specific bathrooms can also improve girls’ safety by giving them privacy when using the bathroom, which protects them from sexual assault and natural dangers such as snake attacks. Private bathrooms and sanitation facilities empower girls by increasing school attendance rates during menstruation.

Organizations Making a Difference

Many organizations around the world are helping girls remain in school during their menstrual periods by providing clean sanitation facilities and free menstrual hygiene products. For example, ZanaAfrica is a social enterprise that works in Kenya to provide girls with reproductive health education and sanitary pads. The enterprise also leads policy and advocacy programs to help break the silence and shame surrounding menstruation.

In Kenya, estimates indicate that 1 million Kenyan girls miss out on education every month due to a lack of menstrual products and sanitation facilities. ZanaAfrica’s approach to supporting girls in school consists of three key steps: integrating health education into schools, collaborating with local partners to provide sanitary pads and education and leading with advocacy and policy. Since 2013, ZanaAfrica has provided more than 50,000 Kenyan girls “with health education, sanitary pads, underwear and mentors.”

Sanitation facilities empower girls to attend school, dissolving barriers to education so that girls can develop the knowledge and skills necessary to rise out of poverty. Girls’ access to sanitation facilities in schools is a necessary step in fighting gender inequality. With an education, girls in developing countries can access skilled jobs and contribute to the growth of the economy, reducing global poverty overall.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Nigeria
Nigeria ranked 142 out of 195 countries in a 2018 global health access study. However, although Nigeria has a challenging health care system, the country has improved the infrastructure that has helped it fight diseases such as polio, measles and Ebola. Nigeria now has centralized offices called Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) that serve as a base for government health workers and aid agencies to coordinate immunization programs and collect data. While there is progress, many diseases still plague Nigeria.

Cholera

Cholera is a water-borne disease that results in a quick onset of diarrhea and other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and weakness. It is one of the many diseases impacting Nigeria in 2021. If people with cholera do not receive treatment, the disease may kill them due to dehydration. A simple oral rehydration solution (ORS) can help most infected people replace electrolytes and fluids. The ORS is available as a powder to mix into hot or cold water. However, without rehydration treatment, about half of those infected with cholera will die, but if treated, the number of deaths decreases to less than 1%.

In August 2021, Nigeria began to see a rise in cholera cases, especially in the north, where the country’s health care systems are the least prepared. The state epidemiologist and deputy director of public health for Kano State, Dr. Bashir Lawan Muhammad, said the rise in cases is due to the rainy season. It is also because authorities have been dealing with Islamist militants in the north. In Nigeria, 22 of the 36 states have suspected cholera cases, which can kill in hours if untreated. According to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, 186 people from Kano have died of cholera since March 2021, making up most of the country’s 653 deaths.

Malaria

Malaria is another one of the diseases affecting Nigeria. Through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitos, parasites cause malaria and transmit it to humans. Globally, there were 229 million malaria cases in 2019, with 409,000 deaths. Children under the age of 5 years old are the most susceptible group, and in 2019, they accounted for 274,000 or 67% of worldwide malaria deaths. That same year, 94% of malaria cases and deaths occurred in the WHO African Region. Although the disease is preventable and curable, the most prevalent malaria-carrying parasite in Africa, P. Falciparum, can lead to severe illness and death within 24 hours.

The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), which USAID and the CDC lead, works with other organizations to help more than 41 million Nigerians. Despite the difficulties that COVID-19 presented in 2020, the PMI was able to assist Nigeria to distribute 14.7 million treatment doses for malaria, 8.2 million of which went to pregnant women and children. Besides that, the “PMI also distributed 7.1 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs), provided 7.2 million rapid test kits, and trained 9,300 health workers to diagnose and treat patients” of malaria. Before the PMI, only 23% of Nigerian households had bed nets, but since 2010, that number has risen to 43%. The PMI also aims to improve health systems and the skill of health workers to administer malaria-related services.

HIV

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks the immune system, leading to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). One can control the virus with proper medical care, but there is no cure. The disease is prevalent in Africa because it originated in chimpanzees in Central Africa. The virus likely spread to humans when the animals’ infected blood came into contact with hunters. Over the years, HIV spread across Africa and other parts of the world, becoming one of the diseases impacting Nigeria today.

The CDC works with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and other organizations to create and sustain HIV response programs in Nigeria. The CDC’s “data-driven approach” and prevention strategies and treatment strengthen the collaborative system in Nigeria. These include HIV treatment, HIV testing, counseling, services to help prevent mother-to-child transmissions and integrated tuberculosis (TB) and HIV services. TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV.

From October 2019 to September 2020, nearly 200,000 Nigerians tested positive for HIV and began treatment. During the same period, over 1 million HIV-positive people tested for TB. More than 5,000 of those individuals tested positive and began treatment for TB. By the end of September 2020, nearly 25,000 orphans and other vulnerable children received HIV/TB services through the CDC. Not only that, but all facilities in Nigeria that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) supports now use TB BASICS, which is a program that “prevents healthcare-associated TB infection.”

In 2021, Nigeria will face many diseases. On the other hand, great strides are occurring to educate the Nigerian population on diseases like HIV, malaria and cholera. Despite efforts, there is still much more necessary work to reduce illness in Nigeria.

– Trystin Baker
Photo: Flickr

How Vision Health Affects Global Poverty
About 9.2% of the world lives in extreme poverty today. Vision health affects poverty as well. Additionally, 87% of blind people live in developing nations. About 87% of the blind population lives in developing nations. In fact, poverty is the leading cause of poor vision health. Impoverished countries often do not have the resources and funds to ensure positive vision health.

Poor vision results in a lack of opportunities for people. In addition, it takes a heavy toll on families in poverty. About 75% of the visually impaired require some sort of assistance. As a result, many must forfeit educational opportunities in order to care for visually impaired family members. Consequently, the familial unit becomes cemented in poverty due to the lack of opportunities for higher-paying jobs. Additionally, the world loses about $168 billion as a result of poor vision health.

Significant efforts have emerged to improve vision health in developing countries. Here are three examples of organizations coming together to distribute resources in a sustainable manner.

Eyes On Africa

Eyes On Africa is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide free eyewear to Africans. The organization recognizes the importance of eyewear in improving quality of life and productivity. Over the last 15 years, the organization has partnered with DIFF Eyewear, the Peace Corps and multiple NGOs in order to bring eyewear to communities across Africa. Furthermore, Eyes on Africa places an emphasis on working directly with communities. It distributes eyewear and connects with individuals to provide sustainable solutions. To date, Eyes on Africa has been able to provide over 20,000 pairs of glasses to those in need.

VOSH

VOSH is an organization that connects with optometrists to provide people with eyewear. In the last 50 years, VOSH has worked in numerous countries and has started over 75 chapters all over the world in an effort to provide eye care to areas in need. The organization primarily provides eye exams and treatments. VOSH is passionate about sustainability. Thus, it bolsters pre-existing eye care practices instead of starting new ones. The organization has successfully reached over 10,000 people worldwide.

OneSight

OneSight is a nonprofit organization that aims to improve global vision health by providing eyewear and eye care to vulnerable communities. The organization implemented a two-step plan to build sustainable centers and charitable clinics. These clinics focus on community outreach to make certain that their methods are applicable to them. OneSight accomplishes this by providing both urgent care and permanent solutions. This organization has successfully aided 1.5 million people in Gambia and Rwanda.

With the help of these nonprofit organizations, vision health has improved drastically. Furthermore, with eyesight improvements, people are able to find jobs and improve economic conditions.

Disability in Palestine
Palestine has one of the highest poverty rates in the world. The country has endured decades of political and violent conflict with Israel. Palestinians must also battle increasing unemployment as well as a lack of resources. These factors are particularly detrimental for Palestinians with disabilities. Disability in Palestine is an ongoing issue and poverty exacerbates it further.

The Challenge of Disability

More than 15% of the world’s population suffers from some form of disability. These range from impairment in vision, hearing and mobility to trouble with memory and communication. However, developing countries are more vulnerable to disabilities due to their limited access to health care, education, water, sanitation and electricity.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1 billion people worldwide live with disability or impairment. About 130,000 of these individuals live in Palestine. Of the 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with the UNRWA within Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, 795,000 of them have a disability. In Occupied Palestine, 31.2% of elderly Palestinians have one or more kinds of disability. Additionally, more males suffer from disabilities than females and about 20% of individuals with a disability in Palestine are younger than 18 years old.

Much of the disability in Palestine is a result of limited resources and an increase in violence. Insufficient prenatal and postnatal care, malnutrition and inadequate medical services all contribute to prolonged disability and impairment. This lack of proper and adequate services is a result of the Israeli blockade and occupation, which prevents Palestinians from accessing goods and services.

The increase in violence also has a direct effect on the number of disabled individuals. In particular, Palestine noted waves of violence and aggression in 2009, 2012 and 2014. As a result, large numbers of Palestinians have faced serious injuries. Out of the 11,231 Palestinians affected by these outbursts of violence, 10% experienced injuries that resulted in life-long disabilities.

The Effects of Disability

Disability can dramatically affect the livelihoods of afflicted individuals. The education and health care systems are largely operated by UNRWA and USAID-related programs through humanitarian assistance and funds. UNRWA has developed Disability Inclusion Programs, but very few of these initiatives focus on individuals with disabilities or increasing access to necessary services. In 2011, statistics showed that 42.2% of Palestinians with disabilities in Gaza and 35.5% in the West Bank had never enrolled in school. Further, 27.1% of Palestinians with disabilities dropped out of school and 56.3% struggled with illiteracy.

Acquiring access to health care and rehabilitation is very difficult, especially in Gaza, due to restricted movement and blockades. The same is true for access to medicine, supplies and staffing. Having a disability, without the proper resources to acquire treatment, education or income, can greatly increase the risk of poverty for an individual and their family. If an individual with a disability is already below the poverty line, their chances of escaping poverty are greatly reduced.

Having a disability in Palestine also hinders employment. The poverty rate in Palestine is 25% and unemployment reached about 29% across the board. More than 90% of individuals with disabilities in Gaza do not engage in employment. This is mostly because of the lack of accessible infrastructure, transport, toilet and assistive devices and services in these workplaces. The presence of disability, especially an insufficiently treated disability, prevents individuals from completing education and finding employment, which lends itself to poverty.

Wrap Up

Disability is a challenge in every country. Palestine, in particular, is not unfamiliar with the hurdles that individuals with disabilities face. From the lack of adequate health care services to the lack of education and employment accessibility, individuals with disabilities in Palestine are continuously vulnerable. Employers, educators, governmental organizations and NGOs should work together to create a more inclusive environment. The nation needs to see improvements in infrastructure and the provision of more resources all while increasing accessibility for Palestinians with disabilities.

Nada Abuasi
Photo: Flickr

Children in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso, a small, landlocked country in Western Africa, is one of the least developed countries in the world. About 36.7% of the more than 20 million people who live in the nation survive on less than $1.90 per day as of 2019.  Nearly 2.2 million people live in dire need of aid, with children accounting for close to 50% of those in need, according to UNICEF. This crisis has only worsened due to the ongoing conflicts in the Sahel region of Western Africa, which have displaced millions of Burkinabé people and put them at a higher risk of poverty. Children in Burkina Faso, who make up 45% of the population, face significant challenges — many of them have low access to nutrition, education and health care and often face child labor and child marriage.

5 Challenges Children in Burkina Faso Face

  1. Hunger and Malnutrition. While Burkina Faso has always struggled with hunger, with 25% of children suffering from stunting due to malnutrition, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem. The number of Burkinabé people in need of emergency food assistance has risen threefold to more than 3.2 million people as of August 2020, and many of those suffering from malnutrition are children. Doctors and nurses in Burkina Faso are reporting extremely high numbers of malnourished children entering their health care facilities each day. Prior to the pandemic, Burkinabé children experienced hunger as a result of displacement from the conflicts in Africa’s Sahel region.
  2. Education. While attending primary school is compulsory for children in Burkina Faso between the ages of 7 and 14, this rule is not enforced and about 36% of children do not attend school. Additionally, 67% of girls older than the age of 15 do not know how to read or write. The high levels of poverty in the country lead to low levels of education. Furthermore, the conflicts in the area have only made it more difficult for children to access and attend schools. Armed groups have raided the schools, injuring teachers and putting Burkinabé children in danger.
  3. Health Care. Burkina Faso has the 10th-highest under-5 mortality rate in the world, with 87.5 out of every 1,000 children in 2019 dying before their fifth birthday. In addition, about 54 infants die per every 1,000 live births. The majority of children’s deaths are from communicable diseases and malaria, which the nation has struggled to prevent and control. While the number of health care workers in the area has increased in the past few decades, particularly between 2006 and 2010, it has not been quite enough to combat the needs of the ever-growing population and many children in the area still go without health care access.
  4. Child Marriage. More than half of Burkinabé children enter into marriage before their 18th birthday and the country has the fifth-highest rate of child marriage in the world. One in 10 girls younger than 19 has already given birth to at least one child. Girls with limited access to education have a higher chance of marrying as children. The same holds true for girls who live in impoverished households. Both of these trends remain common in Burkina Faso. The apparent social value ascribed to girls in the region is considered lower than their male counterparts. As a result, young girls who enter child marriages often do not have a choice in whom they marry.
  5. Child Labor. About 42% of children in Burkina Faso engage in child labor instead of attending school. Though the government adopted a “National Strategy to End the Worst Forms of Child Labor” and raised the legal minimum working age to 16, these high rates of child labor have not decreased significantly over the past few years. These children work as cotton harvesters, miners of gold and granite, domestic workers, and in some rare cases, sex workers. Child labor puts children at risk of serious injury, exploitation, and in some extreme cases, even death.

While children in Burkina Faso face all of these challenges, work is in progress to help them receive an education and reach their full potential. Save the Children, UNICEF, Action Against Hunger and Girls Not Brides are just a handful of the organizations working in Burkina Faso to ensure that these children receive the care necessary. Enduring childhood in this region is, in fact, difficult. Yet, there is hope as these groups work to improve the lives of children across Burkina Faso.

Daryn Lenahan
Photo: Flickr

“Every Last Child” Save the Children believes that children have the right to grow up healthy, educated and safe. Since its beginning in 1919, the organization has worked in more than 100 countries. In 2019 alone, the organization reached more than 144 million children globally. One of the organization’s campaigns, Every Last Child, has allowed Save the Children to increase its reach to especially vulnerable populations of children around the world.

The Start

Save the Children introduced the global campaign to the world on April 26, 2016. The campaign strives to reach children who do not have adequate access to health care, education and protection. It works to end preventable deaths among children. The specific goal is to avoid at least 600,000 preventable child deaths. Another facet of the campaign is aiding children in receiving a basic quality education. The quantified objective for this goal is to help 50 million more children gain access to education. A 15-year time frame, 2030, is the target date for these missions. So far, the campaign has helped 15 million of the world’s “excluded children” gain access to life-saving health care and quality education.

“Excluded Children”

Every Last Child focuses on “excluded children,” defined as children “not benefiting from recent global progress in social well-being, particularly in health and learning because of a toxic mix of poverty and discrimination.” The campaign did research to establish the extent of exclusion associated with certain groups of children. It found that persecution and discrimination based on beliefs impacted 400 million children with ethnic and religious backgrounds. Further, children with disabilities are four times more likely to experience physical and sexual violence and neglect when compared to their peers.

Three Guarantees

The campaign calls on leaders across the world to make three guarantees for all children. The first guarantee is the establishment of fair finance. The Every Last Child campaign describes this as “sustainable financing of and free access to essential services.” This includes escalating public investment in high-quality health and educational services to increase access for all children.

The second guarantee is to establish equal treatment by putting an end to discriminatory policies and norms. This is to help eliminate bias that negatively impacts minority groups.

The third guarantee is to increase the accountability of decision-makers by amplifying the voices of excluded groups in policymaking. This will ensure the allocation of community budgets positively impact excluded groups of children. These three promises help contribute to the mission of the Every Last Child campaign.

Tailored Strategies

The campaign customizes its efforts to fit each country’s needs. While many countries experience similar issues, not all of them are equal in the extent of assistance necessary. In order to reach these vulnerable populations of children, the issues the campaign addresses vary in each country.

For example, in Niger, the Every Last Child campaign advocates for the adoption of policies that outlaw early child marriage and support access to quality education. In Yemen, the campaign fights for the protection of children affected by conflict. In Kosovo, the campaign promotes access to quality services in the education and health industries for children, particularly those with disabilities.

The goal is to make these services and information about the services available to parents and families in the country to create greater access. Customizing its goals allows the Every Last Child campaign to focus on the most pressing issues affecting each country.

Since its beginning in 2016, Save the Children’s Every Last Child campaign has committed to put an end to the exclusion of vulnerable populations of children. Through its research and advocacy efforts, the organization has helped to address the need to increase access to life-saving health care and quality education for children worldwide to ensure that no child is left out of the advancements of the world.

Sara Holm
Photo: Flickr

Female Health Care in KenyaPoverty affects genders differently, with women often being more disadvantaged than men. Meeting the strategic needs of those living in poverty must be accompanied by fulfilling practical gender needs. This will ensure equal access to economic progress for all. One NGO is working to reduce gender discrimination by providing female health care in Kenya.

Girls in Danger

In the wake of COVID-19, mass closures of schools and businesses have further hindered the economic development of remote Kenyan districts. The strict COVID-19 guidelines implemented by local authorities have resulted in the closing of safe homes and centers for girls. The preoccupation with COVID-19 regulations led authorities to respond with minimal effort to address increased levels of violence against women and girls. On top of the pandemic, the country has fallen victim to other disasters. Extreme droughts and flooding, as well as a locust invasion, have lowered the food supply for rural areas.

These desperate circumstances leave low-income families with limited financial options. Some families have resorted to employing their young children and marrying off their daughters in exchange for money and cattle. This incites increased gender-based violence as child marriages leave girls vulnerable to sexual and physical violence.

Dr. Esho, who works on-site for Amref Health, said, “Including community systems in the prevention of and response to FGM/C (female genital mutilation and cutting) and child marriage is more important than ever. More women and girls are now at risk of harmful practices and gender-based violence.”

Centering Women in Health Care

Amref Health Africa is an NGO based in Nairobi, Kenya. It has been a crucial part of introducing health care services and technology to sub-Saharan Africa. Established in 1957, the organization has a long history of bringing modern medicine to rural African communities.

Amref Health Africa is proving how female empowerment is not just a social movement but a crucial factor in women’s livelihoods. The NGO dedicates much of its work to improving female health care in Kenya. Women often lack education on their sexual health, which impedes prudent, informed decisions regarding their futures. Advancements in female health care in Kenya can empower women to take control of their bodies and pregnancies. Additionally, it can offer better support to these women in their chosen paths.

Amref also aids women suffering from violence. Organization members, such as Dr. Esho, work jointly with local activists and health workers to construct a plan of action. The community members have firsthand knowledge and experience working with survivors of FGM/C and other cruelties, which Amref acknowledges and utilizes. Therefore, the NGO ensures victims are getting proper care and refuge from their abusive situations.

How to Help

Amref strives to bring awareness to gender-based violence and the positive effect of proper female health care in Kenya. With the hashtag #EndFGM, Amref is trying to engage international activists through social media. The organization is also accepting direct donations through its website.

One may feel powerless during times of international emergencies. However, this must not stop global citizens from doing their part to assist. Those who want to help can contact their congressmen and congresswomen as well as other representatives to protect the U.S.’s foreign aid budget. This will benefit NGOs, similar to Amref Health, that work closely with impoverished communities to identify unique problems and solutions.

Lizt Garcia
Photo: Flickr

Medical Advancements in IranIran is a developing country located in western Asia as part of the Middle East. In the past several decades, Iran has accomplished major strides in terms of its health care system and medicine. The following list details only a few of the successful medical advancements in Iran that have been developed within the last decade.

The Health Care System

Iran adopted the Primary Health System in the 1990s, which revolutionized its health care system. Since its initiation, the country’s life expectancy has increased by eight years. This has had positive effects on both their economy and poor communities. Also, Iran has done tremendous work in improving the accessibility of health care. Currently, more than 90% of rural populations have access to affordable health care. Previously, there was a major gap in providing health care to their less populated, rural areas where many vulnerable groups resided.

Local Production

Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the country has made initiating the production of locally produced medicines and drugs a priority. Prior to the revolution, Iran relied on imports from foreign countries for about 70-80% of its pharmaceutical ingredients. As of 2018, it is estimated that around 97% of their drugs were locally produced and manufactured.

Focusing on local production boosted Iran’s economy, making the country a major competitor in the world market. It also increased their GDP through the exportation of their locally produced pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, the country has strict regulations in place for importation. Iran both follows American guidelines and creates its own rules, which ensures high-quality, safe products.

Iran’s health minister stated that the country saves around 700 million euros simply by producing their own products. The country can now allocate this money to other necessities, which displays the importance of medical advancements in Iran.

Medical Biotechnology

Biotechnology is the production and development of products by manipulating living organisms. Medical biotechnology has the power to uplift health care systems for countries across the globe. Iran’s advanced health care system has allowed them to become a leader in medical biotechnology across the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran’s boost in local production stems from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology. As of 2012, the country had 12 approved products and 15 more products pending approval. These products placed Iran among the frontrunners of biotechnological production. Other countries now rely on Iran for medical trade. Biotechnology has the potential to produce a multitude of medical advancements in Iran. If the country earns the spot as the leading country of biomedical technology, the benefits for their economy and citizens would be numerous.

New Medical Treatments

Medical advancements in Iran have also led to new medical treatments. The country has developed new, upcoming medicines and treatments in hopes to cure certain diseases. Just this year, a group of scientists announced they developed an herbal treatment for epilepsy, Fenosha, that resulted in successful outcomes during their clinical trials.

Reza Mazloom Farsibaf, the founder of the medicine, stated there is no other medicine that competes with Fenosha. The treatment is non-toxic and has minimal side effects and symptoms. If approved, mass production is expected for Fenosha. The herbal medicine could potentially become a viable option for the 340 million people across the world that require treatment for epilepsy. The country is expected to continue generating products that will further mobilize its position in medicine.

Bolorzul Dorjsuren
Photo: Flickr