Health Systems in Guyana

Access to adequate health care is slowly improving throughout South America’s 14 countries, thanks to increased funding and awareness of current medical issues. However, the field is continuously evolving in attempts to adapt to current and future health-related endeavors. Often considered as part of the Caribbean region due to its coastal northern location, the country of Guyana has made significant strides in improving its health care system to meet modern standards. In December 2013, Guyana unveiled a new health initiative entitled “Health Vision 2020”, which was set to be a cornerstone of Guyanese health policy moving forward. Though significant strides have been made, many of the milestone goals laid out by the initiative were not met. Some still have yet to be achieved. Though there is much progress left to be made, health systems in Guyana are improving.

Health Vision 2020 and the Millennium Development Goals

At its initial reveal in late 2013, Health Vision 2020 set out to systematically improve the health systems in Guyana. In doing this, the initiative aimed to also create more jobs in the field and improve health literacy. The initiative aimed to meet these goals while also attempting to meet the standards set forth by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In line with the MDGs, Health Vision 2020 sought to improve many aspects of health in Guyana. For example, to increase life expectancy to over 70 years of age and to decrease maternal and infant mortality rates. Health Vision 2020 aimed to do this while also reducing incidence, prevalence and factors that contribute to both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Furthermore, the initiative hoped to achieve this all by 2015 (or make significant strides toward these targets by the set year).

Guyana aspired to achieve these goals through one central crux: communication and awareness. This would lead to the establishment of adequate health centers and the improvement of general health literacy. Despite this, education and information regarding these matters were only the first steps in improving health systems in Guyana.

The 2015 targets of Health Vision 2020 were not met, despite trends in a positive direction. For example, as of 2018, general life expectancy has improved to 68.5 years among both sexes. This was an improvement from 67 years in 2010. Another example is that maternal mortality remains high at 229 deaths per 100,000, while infant mortality has dropped to 20 deaths per 1,000.

Diagnosing the Problem

A possible explanation for why Guyana was not able to meet these 2015 targets may be centered around the geography of the nation. The population of the coastal nation is extremely spread out. This makes it difficult for the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other aid-related parties to reach every person. However, efforts have been made in improving the quality of life for all the people of Guyana. For example, approximately 98 percent of the population now has access to clean water. Additionally, 84 percent of the population has access to quality sanitation.

Furthermore, these goals may not have been met due to the allocation and availability of funds. As of 2018, only 5 percent of Guyana’s gross domestic product (GDP) was spent toward its health systems. In 2014, donor expenditure of donor funds dropped to just above 7 percent from 40.1 percent. A 2018 update on health systems in Guyana emphasized that this might be because the nation does not have proper strategies for channeling aid in from donors. This fluctuation in funding leads to instability and insecurity in the health care field.

Furthermore, the report “Country Cooperation Strategy 2016-2020” highlights international cooperation as an integral component to improving health care resources and systems in Guyana. The report emphasized that the nation lacks sufficient health workers and other human resources.

Moving Forward

Guyana is on the right track in improving the health and wellness of its people. Unfortunately, it currently lacks several of the resources to achieve its goals. These are vital resources ranging from consistent funding to a well-rounded workforce. Despite these deficiencies, Guyana has made significant strides toward the goals. The country has also been labeled a figurehead nation in addressing health systems of low- and middle-income countries. It has worked successfully with outside governments and organizations in the past to help curb the burden of disease. This partnership has also helped to spread awareness of health-related issues. Hopefully, these issues can be addressed in order to meet Health Vision 2020’s goals of providing adequate, long-lasting health systems in Guyana.

– Colin Petersdorf
Photo: Flickr

five global healthcare organizationsIn 2017, the World Health Organization and the World Bank have reported at least half of the world’s population does not have access to essential health services, such as medical care and health care. WHO and the World Bank have also reported this causes millions to live in extreme poverty, as they must pay out-of-pocket health care expenses. Although this is a global and life-threatening problem, there are many nongovernmental organizations dedicated to providing care to those who in need. Here are five global health care organizations you should know, all of which accept donations.

5 Global Health Care Organizations Everyone Should Know

  1. Doctors of the World
    Doctors of the World is an international human rights nonprofit committed to providing long-term medical care to those who cannot afford it. With over 400 programs in more than 80 countries, this organization is located in war zones, refugee camps and even rural communities. Doctors of the World successfully provides emergency and long-term medical care to those who greatly need it. In doing so, this organization treats those afflicted by poverty, disease, armed conflict, natural disasters or chronic, structural disparities. Doctors of the World helps treat 1.6 million people each year.
  2. Medic Mobile
    Medic Mobile is a nonprofit organization that strives to improve health care for those living in hard to reach communities. To do so, Medic Mobile builds software to ensure health care workers being able to deliver equitable care to communities everywhere around the world. Moreover, the organization is the core contributor to the Community Health Toolkit. CHT is a software that helps health workers deliver medical items safely, track outbreaks of disease faster, treat illnesses door to door, keep stock of essential medicines and communicate emergencies. Medic Mobile now impacts 14 countries in Africa and Asia, having trained and equipped 24,463 health workers.
  3. International Medical Corps
    International Medic Corps is a nonprofit organization with a mission based on improving the quality of life by saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. Based in the United States and the United Kingdom, International Medic Corps offers training and health care to local populations. The organization also provides medical assistance to those at the most risk. In 2017, International Medic Corps estimated it performed 4.8 million medical consultations, benefitting 8 million people directly and 50 million people indirectly.
  4. Mothers 2 Mothers
    Mothers 2 Mothers is a unique nonprofit organization dedicated to employ, train and help to empower HIV-positive women as community health workers in Africa. The “Mentor Mothers” work in local African communities and understaffed health facilities. They provide advice, essential health education and support to other HIV-positive mothers on how to protect their babies from HIV infection. Mothers 2 Mothers also works to ensure women and families are getting proper health advice and medication, are linked to the right clinical services and are supported on their treatment journey. Since 2001, Mothers 2 Mothers has reached over 10.5 million women and children. In 2017, the organization reported it had served 1 in 6 of the world’s HIV-positive women.
  5. Mercy Ships
    Mercy Ships is an organization committed to helping those struggling without medical services in Africa. To do so, the organization uses the Africa Mercy, a floating hospital ship with volunteer medical teams and sterile operating rooms. As a result, Mercy Ships directly aids those who would otherwise receive no care. Aboard the Africa Mercy, medical treatments are free of charge, such as removing tumors, correcting clefts and straightening legs. Since being founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has reported it has performed more than 100,000 surgeries.

Access to medical care and healthcare are necessary, affecting global health, economy and living conditions. To learn more about any of these five global healthcare organizations, visit their sites. All five global healthcare organizations accept donations to continue providing much needed medical and healthcare. While a country’s infrastructure may not currently be equipped to meet the needs of its population, NGOs, such as these, can make a significant difference.

Natalie Chen
Photo: Flickr

Poor Countries Fail to Administer VaccinesOver the years, immunizations have prevented large numbers of infectious diseases from spreading worldwide. Between 2 and 3 million deaths are prevented each year in all age groups due to these vaccines. Expanding access to immunization has become a new United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal. Currently, 85 percent of the globe has vaccination coverage. In total, these efforts have drastically impacted the world over the last few years. However, there is still a major struggle to reach full coverage in certain regions. Here are three reasons why poor countries fail to administer vaccines.

Three Reasons Why Poor Countries Fail to Administer Vaccines

  1. Vaccines are expensive and difficult to spread across certain regions.
    In 2017, roughly 19.9 million infants globally did not receive a DTP vaccination. This vaccination helps prevent children from getting diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis if a child receives roughly five doses over the course of their life. However, poorer nations have difficulty providing clinics and the means of offering repeated vaccinations.

    People living in rural areas must travel for hours to urban cities to receive treatments. In addition, transporting these goods to rural regions is tough because the hot temperatures can kill the immunity components of the vaccines. Shortages in supplies and lack of trained professionals also hinder the process. This heavily contributes to why poor nations fail to administer vaccines to large amounts of people.

    On top of these issues, the costs of vaccinating a single child increased from $10 to roughly $42 since 2000. However, these heavy costs do not heavily burden extremely poor countries because the vaccine alliance, Gavi, funds them. Gavi encompasses many organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, The World Bank and others. This alliance has allowed the economic burden to lift for roughly 70 countries, and it is actively seeking ways to overcome the geographical obstacles in these regions.

  2. Many are hesitant to vaccinate due to a lack of trust in immunization.
    According to the WHO, vaccine hesitancy is the refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines. Lack of trust in immunization is a major reason why people in poorer nations face this issue. Many people fear the side effects and potential dangers of immunization, so they choose not to vaccinate their children. Another reason for this hesitancy revolves around cultural differences. Primarily Western nations have introduced these vaccinations and citizens have difficulties accepting them into their society.

    An example of this is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s recent Ebola outbreak. For the past few months, a large percentage of Congolese citizens refused to take the life-saving vaccination. These people do not trust the medical system and the government that allowed for a different country to intervene in its lifestyle. Their exposure to the disease has meant that other communities isolate and neglect them, which means they are having a hard time letting outsiders into their homes, even if intentions are good. Some citizens even attacked treatment centers in Katwa and Butembo in February 2019 to make a statement.

    Health officials in the DRC, as well as other countries, are making efforts to interact more with the communities during the vaccination process. A major step is finding ways to educate people on these medicines while respecting the cultures that they are entering. Recent campaigns such as the WHO World Immunization Week 2019 have made efforts to demonstrate the value of vaccines and immunization to start this process.

  3. Conflict and natural disasters prevent access to health care.
    War-torn countries are some of the most difficult places to administer vaccinations. Hospitals and clinics can become damaged and make it harder for people to receive the treatment they need. The Syrian War is an example of this. Before the war began, child vaccination coverage against DTP was 89 percent. However, in 2016, the number dropped to 61 percent as children received less than the three recommended doses of the vaccine. Syria and other countries at the bottom of the WHO’s vaccination coverage list were experiencing a civil war or conflict in their country.

    In addition to wars, natural disasters also hinder the vaccination process with widespread destruction. In Mozambique, a deadly hurricane swept through the country in March 2019. Not only did the storm destroy hospitals and clinics, but it also made reaching citizens living in rural areas with life-saving medication difficult. Natural disasters generally exacerbate issues that many countries already face, making it more difficult for health care officials to work until recovery ends.

    In recent years, Gavi has funded initiatives to help administer vaccines in countries facing these issues. Gavi offered to purchase vaccinations and other equipment to assist vaccinating millions of children exposed to preventable diseases in Syria. Also, the organization funded an influx of oral cholera vaccinations in 2017 to Sierra Leone after flooding and landslides.

Overall, there are many reasons why poor countries fail to administer vaccines to their citizens, but there are even more efforts going on today to overcome these obstacles. With the efforts of many health care organizations, the path to total global immunization might not be far out of reach.

– Sydney Blakeney
Photo: Flickr

Maternal and Neonatal Health in ZimbabweProject HOPE stands for Health Opportunities for People Everywhere. It is an international health and humanitarian relief organization. The organization works to strengthen and improve health systems around the globe. Founded in 1958, Project HOPE responds to health crises and disasters but often stays in areas long after a disaster has hit to address other neglected health issues. Project HOPE entered Sierra Leone in 2014 in response to the Ebola outbreak. After sending an emergency response team and shipments of medical supplies to help contain the outbreak, permanent Project HOPE health workers remained in Sierra Leone. Now, their biggest health concern is to improve maternal and neonatal health in Sierra Leone.

Maternal and Neonatal Mortality Rates in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world with 1,360 mothers dying per every 100,000 live births. The main causes of maternal death include bleeding, pregnancy-induced hypertension, infection, unsafe abortions and anemia. An alarming 40 percent of Sierra Leone’s maternal deaths in 2016 were teenagers aged 15-19.

Sierra Leone also has one of the highest neonatal mortality rates with 33 deaths per 1,000 live births. Only 36 percent of newborns in rural areas and 47 percent of newborns in urban areas receive postnatal care within two days.

Sierra Leone’s lack of trained professionals and medical equipment are perpetuating high maternal and neonatal mortality rates. The country of 7 million only has around 165 doctors and very few neonatal specialists. Organizations like Project HOPE are working to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes by providing renovation support for neonatal centers. Additionally, they are strengthening the skills and training of health care professionals and establishing neonatal programs. For example, programs such as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), which is for premature and low birth-weight newborns.

The Impact of Project HOPE on Maternal and Neonatal Health

Training local health workers is an integral part of Project HOPE’s efforts to improve maternal and neonatal health in Sierra Leone. Their programs include evidence-based training on maternal and neonatal intervention. For instance, training on emergency obstetric and neonatal care, resuscitation with a bag and mask and hygienic cord care.

Project HOPE collaborates with training institutions to provide neonatal nursing program development. They collaborate to teach advanced skills and provide training towards certificates, bachelor’s degrees and specialty nursing degrees. Overall, with more skilled health care professionals come improved healthcare for mothers and newborns in Sierra Leone.

Advanced Neonatal Care

Furthermore, to improve the care of preterm and underweight babies, Project HOPE has provided national and district training programs. These programs include universal modules such as Essential Care of Every Newborn, Essential Care of Small Babies and Helping Babies to Breathe.

Moreover, Project HOPE has established the first two Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) units for premature and low birth weight newborns. The KMC approach is to securely wrap the fragile, underweight newborns skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest. This provides warmth and promotes regular breathing and breastfeeding for babies who are struggling with both actions. These community-based units are very effective in areas with low resources. In regions without incubators, this method is life-saving for vulnerable children who are unable to keep in their body heat. Certainly, Project HOPE continues to promote the creation of more KMC units in Sierra Leone.

Life-Saving Progress

International support from organizations such as Project HOPE is helping provide life-saving training, services and equipment for mothers and children in Sierra Leone. Though much remains to be accomplished, progress is certainly being made on maternal and neonatal health in Sierra Leone.

– Camryn Lemke
Photo: Flickr

Impacts of Cell Phones
Since its invention in 1973, the presence of the cell phone has become practically unavoidable worldwide. As of 2019, there were approximately 4.68 billion mobile phone users globally. Although many worry about the adverse effects of the overuse of the device, one cannot overstate the positive impacts of cell phones, especially in the developing world. From mobile banking to health care, the cell phone has left an incredible footprint on the world despite its relatively short existence. Here are the top five impacts of cell phones in the developing world.

Top 5 Impacts of Cell Phones in the Developing World

  1. Mobile Banking: For many people living in the remote regions of third world countries, traditional brick and mortar banks are often out of reach. Mobile banking, however, is helping initiate financial inclusion. By connecting major banks to online banking networks, individuals can now easily transfer money with even just a flip phone. For instance, M-Pesa, a Kenyan mobile phone-based financial service, operates through the usage of banking SIM cards that allow the user to transfer monetary assets via SMS. This way, a flip phone would be all one would need to start with this service. As of 2016, an average of 19 million Kenyans sent the equivalent of $15 million on a daily basis. Through such services the number of people with financial accounts in Kenya has jumped from 21 percent in 2011 to 63 percent in 2014.
  2. Education: One can increasingly find the cell phone utilized for education in the schools of many developing countries. The utilization of mobile apps has transformed teaching in such places. For example, in parts of Africa, the EDC (Education Development Center) is currently experimenting with sending podcasts of interactive instructional materials to students. Furthermore, cell phones have increased literacy rates. The landmark 2014 UNESCO study, “Reading in the mobile era,” surveyed over 4,000 individuals in regions with low literacy rates and where people are unlikely to text. The study showed that many people have resorted to reading stories and books on their mobile devices. Additionally, a third of the study participants read stories to their children via their devices.
  3. Disaster Relief: Today mobile devices are a unique communication tool for disaster relief in developing countries. For example, in August 2017, Ncell, a Nepalese-based mobile operator, was able to provide warnings to vulnerable populations prior to the deadly floods and landslides. On the other hand, after the disastrous 2017 Hurricane Maria incidence in Puerto Rico, AT&T deployed Flying COWs (Cell on Wings). These Flying COWs were cell sites connected to wings that provided cell service to disaster-stricken areas temporarily and allowed residents to gain contact with loved ones and relief organizations.
  4. Governance: In countries and regions with low population densities, it has traditionally been exceedingly difficult for governments to reach out to the individuals residing there. However, mobile technology has simplified seemingly impossible tasks such as long-distance polling and voter registration. In 2018, the local government of Quezon City, Philippines even initiated a mobile app that serves as an online database of the city’s ordinances.
  5. Health Care: The impact of cell phones in the developing world has also stretched to the area of health care. Currently, mPedigree, a Ghanian nonprofit, is using cell phones to authenticate drugs to safeguard consumers against counterfeit and substandard products. The World Health Organization estimates that over 10 percent of global medications are fake so this new technology should be able to save countless lives on a daily basis.

Mobile devices are popular in remote areas to cheaply or freely offer daily texts and voicemails about common medical conditions. For example, in Mozambique, Absolute Return for Kids, a British nonprofit, is fighting HIV/AIDS by using mobile messaging to remind enrolled patients to take their medications as well as about appointment dates.

Conclusively, the range of the various impacts of cell phones globally in developing countries has been both deep and wide. The device has proven itself to be both an efficient yet inexpensive solution to many day-to-day problems. It is not too optimistic to say that in the near future even more creative uses for cell phones will surface.

– Linda Yan
Photo: Flickr

Ways to Improve Health in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s healthcare system is in need of reformation. Since 2000, approximately three million health workers have fled the nation, and the health of the society has suffered since then. Non-governmental organizations around the world are currently working together to improve healthcare in Zimbabwe.

NGOs are working hard to fix the issue of lack of adequate healthcare; here are ways to improve health in Zimbabwe.

Ways to Improve Health in Zimbabwe

  • Investing in disease treatment and prevention: Zimbabwe suffers from a lack of health workers; there are only about 1.23 health workers per 1,000 citizens. Because of this, it is difficult to treat epidemics of communicable diseases like cholera and HIV. A cholera outbreak in 2008 killed 4,000 people due to the small number of available doctors. USAID recognizes this as a problem, and every year, the organization donates nearly $100 million to disease treatment programs in Zimbabwe.  The prevalence of HIV has lowered from 14 percent to 13.3 percent in one year, but more can be done to treat other infectious diseases.
  • Improving clinics: Another way to improve healthcare in Zimbabwe is to invest in the advancement of medical clinics. Most clinics in Zimbabwe are overcrowded and undeveloped, but the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) plans to renovate 52 clinics in the region. The renovations include storage for crucial medications and space for sanitation and hygienic facilities. Additionally, UNDP’s Global Fund implemented a new health information system to hasten responses to outbreaks and epidemics. These positive changes have contributed to steady rates of health workers’ job retention.
  • Aiding expectant mothers: Pregnant women are one group that is most reliant on Zimbabwe’s healthcare system. Since 2014, World Bank’s Global Funding Facility has helped rebuild the deteriorated system. One revamping program, the Urban Voucher Program, provides free maternity care to women living in the bottom 40 percent of average annual income. Before the UVP, women would have to pay a $25 fee to visit a health clinic, and most of them were not able to afford it. After the implementation of the vouchers, family planning and neonatal services have strengthened in low-income communities, significantly reducing the amount of money that families spend on healthcare. While maternal mortality rate was 614 deaths per 100,000 births in 2014, it decreased to 443 deaths per 100,000 births during the first year of the UVP.

More can be done to improve healthcare in Zimbabwe. The success of these NGOs can mobilize others to join in on the efforts against disease and poverty.

– Katherine Desrosiers
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Croatia
Croatia is located between central and southeastern Europe and includes a multitude of small islands that are scattered alongside its maritime coast with the Adriatic Sea. Despite being a member of the wealthy European Union, Croatia is economically unstable and wide-reaching poverty affects much of the population. Here is a list of 10 facts about poverty in Croatia that will illustrate living conditions today.

10 Facts About Poverty in Croatia

1. High poverty rates: In 2008, Croatia experienced a sharp rise in poverty that exceeded the rates recorded by other EU members. About one-third of all citizens live in conditions of extreme material deprivation and just over 15 percent are unable to afford the basic necessities needed to lead a comfortable life. Furthermore, there is a correlation between poverty and inequality in Croatia. A higher income is necessary as the world around develops. This makes it difficult for uneducated workers to afford the goods needed to increase their standard of living.

2. The country faces a significant debt burden: In 2018, the national debt in Croatia accumulated to $45.3 billion, which is equal to 74.1 percent of the country’s GDP. This amounts to $11,048 of debt for each individual living in Croatia. While the ratio has been improving since 2014, central government spending outweighs government revenues by a considerable margin. This will ensure that foreign debt will continue to burden Croatian citizens in the foreseeable future.

3. Croatia has the fourth highest youth unemployment rate in the EU: Statistics showed the Croatian youth unemployment rate at 23 percent in January 2019. According to Marijana Petir, a member of the European Parliament, the Croatian government has thus far created “improper employment conditions.” This has driven educated Croatian youth to seek jobs in wealthier European countries that have entrenched stable job opportunities into their economies.

4. Children are disproportionately affected by poverty: When the national debt peaked in 2014, about 2.6 million Croatian children were living in destitution. These vulnerable groups of individuals suffer the most due to a lack of necessary nutrients needed to grow and an adequate government infrastructure needed to secure future prospects of upward mobility. UNICEF is a leading organization working to improve the lives of impoverished children. In 2017, UNICEF entered into a partnership with the Croatian government in which both parties agreed to focus on improving children’s rights across the country.

5. Croatia is experiencing a massive emigration wave: Records show that far more individuals have left Croatia since the recession than previously estimated. While Croatia had recorded the number at 102,000, foreign statistics indicate that the number accumulates to 230,000 individuals. Many of these emigrants are in fact refugees and asylum seekers hoping to find better living conditions in other EU states.

6. Croatia struggles with underdeveloped regions: Small towns and settlements on the eastern and southeastern borders experience the highest rates of poverty. Economic struggles are attributed to the effects of the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s. This war to separate from Yugoslavia led to massive destruction in these regions, as it cause $36 billion worth of damage and destroyed thousands of houses.

7. Education decreases the risk of poverty: Among those who attend primary school in Croatia, the risk of poverty is 37.1 percent. This number drops by 16 percent for those who attend secondary school. The chance of attending even basic levels of education is unlikely for impoverished children in Croatia, as families struggle to afford the necessary supplies needed to excel.

8. Health care is in need of reform: The European Commission released an assessment of the Croatian health care system at the end of 2017 indicating their concerns. Some issues include low spending on health care, an insufficient number of nurses and doctors and an unhealthy general population. Croatians struggle with drinking, smoking and obesity, which all harm the immune system and increase the risk of attracting disease.

9. Croatia’s Human Development Index (HDI) rate is increasing: Croatia’s HDI is steadily increasing, showing that the country is bettering its economic standing. Indicators in 2017 show that life expectancy at birth, years of schooling and GNI per capita are all on the rise. While Croatia’s HDI value of 0.831 puts it in the very high human development category, it is still well under the average HDI value for the European Union.

10. The Programme for Fighting Poverty and Social Exclusion: The EU created this initiative in order to combat the coupled problems of poverty and exclusion. The Croatian government adopted this program in 2015 as a strategy to halt the expansion and mitigate the effects of these two issues. The Croatian government has taken a regional approach when implementing the program, as it has allocated resources based upon which areas are in most need of aid.

These 10 facts about poverty in Croatia detail the hardships endured by the Croatian population; however, they also present a few avenues the central government is taking in order to alleviate these issues. Croatia has experienced slow yet impactful progress since 2014. Croatia needs to do more work if it is to become among the most affluent European states.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Organizations Fighting for Children's Health
There is a clear link between poverty and health. Often, unreasonable health care costs can send people spiraling into poverty. On the other hand, those already living in impoverished conditions are less likely to have access to sufficient medical treatment, increasing the probability of disease. Children, being particularly vulnerable to disease, illness and malnutrition, require sufficient medical and nutritional resources. Annually, nearly six million children die before their fifth birthday due to malnutrition and an additional two million children die from preventable diseases because of an inability to afford treatment. These organizations fighting for children’s health are working to combat those eight million preventable child deaths.

Organizations Fighting for Children’s Health

Children International

Children International has fought for children’s health since 1936 and is working towards meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number three for 2030. Children International focuses on impoverished children with the belief that breaking the cycle of poverty at an early age will “impact generations to come” and end global poverty. By working with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) to measure the results of its programs, Children’s International is finding that its work is making health services both more affordable and available as well as improving children’s health knowledge and confidence in their health habits. Children’s Health has made progress by:

  • Sharing important health information to children and families.
  • Creating supportive learning environments to practice new health habits.
  • Managing health clinics in areas lacking sufficient medical facilities.
  • Working to reduce costs with established medical facilities in impoverished areas.

Save the Children

Focusing on well-researched, evidence-based solutions for children’s health, Save the Children aims to make big, lasting changes to global poverty by working for better funding at the national, regional and global levels for children’s health and well-being. Its Every Last Child campaign seeks to provide all 15 million of the excluded impoverished children with health care and quality education by 2030. By recognizing the link between mothers’ and children’s health, Save the Children has identified that maternal actions such as breastfeeding for the first six months, appropriate birth care and sufficient newborn care avert anywhere from 13 percent to 40 percent of preventable deaths. Save the Children has accomplished these in regard to children’s health:

  • Treated 2.4 million malaria cases.
  • Administered care for 1.6 million pneumonia cases.
  • Cared for 1.9 million diarrhea cases.
  • Provided sufficient nutrition for 547,000 acute malnutrition cases.
  • Directly provided medical attention to 282,000 kids suffering in emergency situations.

These organizations fighting for children’s health are focusing efforts on the ground to give direct support to the impoverished. Better distribution of wealth and resources to ultimately create power structures focused on a system of true equality will have the most lasting results. About 2.4 billion people (a third of the population) still lack access to a medical facility. Without this crucial access to quality health treatments, it becomes increasingly difficult to eliminate global poverty. Proper health care is foundational to lifting children and their families out of poverty.

– Amy Dickens
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Latvia

Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It has a population of about 1.9 million people. Statistics demonstrate that living conditions in Latvia are improving at a slow rate, but that Latvia also still has its fair share of problems. Listed below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Latvia.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Latvia

  1. Poverty rates are going up. In 2017, 23.3 percent of Latvia’s population was at risk of poverty. This increased from a rate of 22.1 percent in 2016. Growth in Latvia’s poverty rate is part of an upward trend of poverty since 2010, in which the rate was 19 percent. The growth may be a result of high emigration rates, causing a shrinking workforce.
  2. Employment is increasing. Latvia’s rate of employment has improved over recent decades. For instance, the employment rate was 49 percent in 1991 and increased to 55.1 percent in 2017. This is relatively slow, but significant progress. The employment status of a Latvian citizen factors heavily into their aforementioned risk of poverty. Only 8.1 percent of employed people were at risk of poverty, whereas the risk is approximately 59.5 percent for unemployed people.
  3. GDP is low but growing. Latvia has the fourth-lowest GDP in all of the EU, falling below the average GDP per capita of 28,900 PPS for the EU in 2015, with an average GDP per capita of 18,600 PPS. Though low, this is part of an overall increase in GDP over the past decade, with a peak growth rate of 6 percent in just one year’s time.
  4. Income inequality. Though there is an improvement to Latvia’s GDP, the country still has significant income inequality as well. For example, the highest 10 percent of the country holds 26.1 percent of the income, whereas the lowest 10 percent has only 2.5 percent of the income.
  5. Low rates of violent crime. Latvia has a relatively moderate to low crime rate. For instance, the country has a very low homicide rate of 3.4 per 100,000 people. Most crimes committed are non-violent crimes of opportunity, such as burglaries, pick-pocketing and credit card fraud. The prison population per 100,000 people is 239.
  6. Education. Another aspect of living conditions in Latvia is its compulsory education system. As a result, the country has a high rate of enrollment. The gross enrollment ratio for primary school is 98 percent. Furthermore, 112 percent for secondary school (a rating of more than 100 percent indicates repeating students outside of the appropriate age group). The literacy rate of citizens ages 15 or older is 99.9 percent, which is on par with the EU’s average, Furthermore, all schools have access to the internet, ensuring a high-quality education.
  7. Health. Life expectancy in Latvia is 74.7 years, making it one of the shortest average life expectancies found in the EU. However, this has improved by about five years, from an average life expectancy of 69.1 in 1990. Latvia also has a relatively low infant mortality rate of 3.9 per 1,000 live births, down from 13.1 in 1990. Latvia has a universal health care system.
  8. Human development is high. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a quantitative measurement of factors such as life expectancy, standards of living and employment, measured by the U.N. The HDI for Latvia is 0.847, which ranks it at #41 out of 189 countries. This categorizes it as having very high human development, thus reflecting one aspect of good living conditions in Latvia. The HDI score is also a massive improvement over its record low of 0.667 in 1993.
  9. Latvians are optimistic. Eurofound surveys have demonstrated that life satisfaction in Latvia has increased from a metric of 5.6 in 2003 to 6.3 in 2016 (on a scale of 1-10). Happiness has increased to an average of 7 from 6.5. Additionally, 69 percent reported optimism about their future. Not only that, 77 percent reported optimism for the futures of their children or grandchildren. Comparatively, in 2003, 76 percent said that they found difficulty in making ends meet. However, that metric has decreased to 53 percent in 2016.
  10. Gender equality. Latvia ranks in 41 out of with a Gender Inequality Index (GII) of 0.196 as ranked by the UNDP. Women have close to the same secondary education statistics as men. For example, 55.2 percent of women are in the workforce, compared to 63.7 percent of men. In regard to parliament, women hold 16 percent of parliamentary seats. Though there is still room for improvement, this is significant progress from Latvia’s 1995 GII of 0.411.

Overall, these top 10 facts about living conditions in Latvia demonstrate that the country has improved significantly in various areas since the 1990s. Though Latvia still has areas that need additional attention and work, the country is on a consistently upward trend of progress and human development.

– Jade Follette
Photo: Flickr

 

Benefits of Needle-Free VaccinesThere are many different methods of non-traditional vaccines or needle-free vaccines that are being produced and becoming more available every day. For example, these include dry powder vaccines or patches. Most notable are jet injectors. Jet injectors use a large amount of pressure and fluid to breach the skin in a very fast motion. These vaccines are effective for usage in countries with extreme poverty because traditional vaccines need to be refrigerated. They also require a way to keep needles sterile. These five benefits of needle-free vaccines detail on how to solve these problems and more.

Five Benefits of Needle-Free Vaccines

  1. Jet Injectors Have Been Around for a Long Time: Jet injector technology might sound new, but it’s not as new as one would think. These kinds of shots were administered back in World War II. In fact, they were actually used through the 1980s until it was discovered that they were spreading diseases. This was due to the fact that the technology hadn’t been developed enough. Until it could be, the jet injectors had to stop being used. Now they have made jet injectors to be single-use, so there is no risk of spreading diseases between patients.
  2. They Require Fewer Resources: Jet injectors have been the most popular method of needle-free vaccines as they tend to use far less of the actual vaccine. This is arguably one of the most important benefits of needle-free vaccines. Jet injectors use up to 60 percent less vaccine than traditional needle vaccines. This is particularly helpful when there are shortages. Because jet injectors use a significantly less amount of the vaccine, it is also a cheaper option. For instance, the cost is $3-4 per vaccine or even $900 for 500 vaccines.
  3. They Are Less Painful: Another problem with the traditional vaccine is that it can cause pain in patients. This can become especially difficult when patients need multiple shots. Furthermore, those who fear needles are less likely to get a vaccination. On the pain scale, a pain score of three is when a person indicates that they are in some pain. This is important to know because when 100,000 subjects were given the jet injection, they had a pain score of zero. This painless injection allows for an alternative to the needle as it can easily administer multiple shots without pain. Lower pain scores are one of the key benefits of needle-free vaccines, as they allow the device to reach the broadest swath of patients possible.
  4. Less Risk of Injury After Disposal or Use: Needlestick injuries are another key problem with traditional vaccines. Needlestick injuries are injuries that happen when a needle accidentally penetrates the skin. The people that are exposed to these injuries are people who work with and around needles. Additionally, this can also happen to people like garbage-men when needles are not disposed of properly. When this kind of injury happens, they can transmit: HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and AIDS. With the invention of jet injections, the risk of these injuries is reduced to nearly impossible as these injections need intense pressure to be administered.
  5. They Are More Efficient: The reason these jet injectors were being used in wars was that they are a faster and more efficient way of administering vaccines. Now that the technology has advanced over the last 70 years, these injections are less painful, more sanitary and now even faster. The injection lasts 1/10th of a second. It’s actually so fast that patients can barely feel it. This is helpful for those people in countries with extreme poverty as they are able to administer a lot of vaccines in a short amount of time.

With these benefits of needle-free vaccines, it’s clear this is the direction that the world should be headed in. They are cost-effective, sanitary, fast and nearly painless. As a result, access to vaccines could be provided to third-world countries at a more effective and reliable rate as they don’t need refrigeration and clean water.

– Ian Scott
Photo: Flickr