Inflammation and stories on healthcare

Life Expectancy in Kosovo
Kosovo is a newly and controversially independent Baltic state with its fair share of hardships. After only recently deescalating its conflict with Serbia, the war-torn country must continue to find how to establish itself in the world. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Kosovo highlight Kosovo’s unstable internal conditions as well as the efforts that the country is putting forth to improve them.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Kosovo

  1. In 2002, the average life expectancy in Kosovo was 68 years. It has steadily improved since then with the average life expectancy in Kosovo now being 72 years according to the World Bank. Improvements in many sectors, such as increased health care accessibility, education reforms and de-escalation of the conflict in the region may be a cause of this. Compared to the average life expectancy of the European Union (E.U.) nations (81 years), Kosovo has a long way to go. However, many project the yearly improvement over the past two decades to continue.
  2. According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, in 2017, 18 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. High poverty levels likely stem from a prevalence of unemployment (31 percent in 2017) as well as exceedingly low wages (500 euros monthly). This makes Kosovo the third poorest country in Europe. However, increased foreign investment and urban development have caused major improvements from figures just five years prior that show the poverty level at 23.5 percent, reflected by a higher unemployment rate of 35 percent.

  3. There is a vast disparity in health care access between minority populations and the general populous of Kosovo. Children living in rural areas are less likely to have access to good health care, and this is even worse for ethnic minorities. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), more than 60 percent of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian children live in absolute poverty and over 30 percent live in extreme poverty (compared to the average statistics of 48.6 percent and 18.9 percent, respectively). A statistic that reflects this disparity is the infant mortality rate (IMR). The average IMR for the whole of Kosovo is 12 deaths per 1,000 live births. When looking at the IMR for minorities, that number jumps to 41 deaths per 1,000 live births.

  4. Kosovo has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $7.129 billion and spends 1.1 percent of it on health and social work, as well as 0.9 percent on public administration. While the amount the country spends on public health services is very low, Kosovars have seen improvements in basic health. The government has recently subsidized health care accessibility programs such as the Law on Health Insurance (2014) and the National Health Sector Strategy (2017-2021). The former gave all Kosovo citizens the right and obligation to have a basic, mandatory health insurance package that covers emergencies, pregnancies and childbirth and other health care essentials. The latter is a strategy the Ministry of Health adopted that focuses on better management of health care funds as well as improving the accessibility of basic health care to minorities and other marginalized communities. Ultimately, however, the outcomes of the new policies have been difficult to measure due to lacking administrative records and unclear implementation policies.

  5. The leading causes of death in Kosovo are circulatory system diseases, making up 62.7 percent of all deaths in 2015. Other prevalent causes of death are tumor diseases (14.7 percent) and respiratory diseases (5.4 percent). Kosovo also has one of the highest tuberculosis rates in Europe, according to the World Health Organization. Many of these diseases are due to the overwhelming amount of tobacco products consumed in Southeastern European countries, causing 80-90 percent of all lung cancer cases and increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and tuberculosis.

  6. Starting in 1998, Serbia cast out over 800,000 people from Kosovo during the Kosovo Conflict. Thousands of people still live in refugee camps since they have no way to reclaim their homes. Other organizations or individuals have bought the properties, and Kosovo courts make it very difficult to evict the illegal tenants and allow refugees to return to their homes. However, efforts from UN Habitat, a branch of the United Nations that deals with sustainable human settlements and shelters, have recently pushed for reform in Kosovo’s court system to more adequately handle the illegal seizures of property. The Kosovo Municipal Spatial Planning Support Programme, which UN Habitat developed, has built capacities for sustainable and affordable development of urban areas and has established institutions like the Housing and Property Directorate and the Kosovo Cadastre Agency.

  7. The homicide rate in Kosovo is measured at about 2.1 intentional homicides per every 100,000 people in 2016. This is impressively low, considering the global average is 6.2 homicides per 100,000 people and the U.S. average is 4.9 per 100,000.

  8. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) looks at three categories for fifteen-year-old students: math, reading and sciences. The test thereby evaluates teaching methods and education infrastructure and shows the government whether the improvement is necessary or not. In 2015, the PISA ranked Kosovo as one of the last three countries in all of the evaluated categories. The ranking is devastating, yet the Minister of Education Arsim Bajrami embraced the results with a promise of improvement. He stated, “[The decision to participate in the PISA] was a courageous act as well as a commitment to increase the quality of education in our country.” Since then, with the help of foreign aid, the government has worked to improve the technical training of teachers and the ability of Kosovo’s youngest generation to be financially viable.

  9. Kosovo air quality has been steadily decreasing over the past decade. In December 2018, Kosovo’s capital of Prishtina had an air quality measured as hazardous. Increased investment in coal and biofuel power plants have caused a sharp increase in air pollution. The Balkan Green Foundation and the Institute for Development Policy (INDEP) launched campaigns to raise awareness on the effects of excessive air pollution caused by fossil fuel. They have been pushing for transparency with energy expenditure and power plant output, but the government has been less than receptive. However, the green movement in Kosovo has gained traction very quickly within the past six months. There are now large pushes for the Kosovo government to be more accurate with air pollution reports as well as transportation reform to ensure car emissions are not unnecessarily high.

  10. The people of Kosovo consider corruption to be the most important problem facing them, after unemployment, according to the UNODC Corruption Report on Kosovo. Systemic bribery is endangering Kosovars by obstructing their access to law enforcement as well as health care. Thirty percent of all bribes went to police officers to overlook petty crimes, 26 percent went to nurses and a massive 42 percent of bribes went to doctors to either expedite or receive better treatment. The U.K.’s ambassador to Kosovo Ruairi O’Connell has pushed very strongly for a crackdown on governmental and private corruption, “The moment has come to remove officials whose integrity is contested. Politicians should not meddle in the work of police, courts, and prosecutor’s office.”As of yet, corruption continues to be widespread, and public opinion as well as the justice ministers in the Kosovo government call for immediate reform.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Kosovo reflect that the condition is gloomy, but improving. Corruption is still endemic and ethnic disparities are prevalent, but outside influencers, like the U.N. and non-governmental organizations like INDEP are helping the government improve. If the government carries out infrastructure, education and health care developments successfully, the country would see improvements across the board and become a more competitive piece of the world with a much higher life expectancy.

– Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in South Africa
Following the national election in May 2019, Cyril Ramaphosa, a member of the African National Congress (ANC), started his first full term as President of South Africa. Born in a township outside of Johannesburg, Ramaphosa fought in the South African liberation struggle and negotiated on behalf of the ANC to bring an end to the segregationist regime. He was a member of the international Mandela Reception Committee and held the microphone in 1990 as Nelson Mandela gave his first public speech after 27 years in prison. Ramaphosa initially assumed the presidency after former president Jacob Zuma resigned in February 2018 following a large corruption scandal.

In the general election, Ramaphosa’s party, the ANC, won 58 percent of the vote, granting him the presidency for the next five years. The ANC won with less than 60 percent of the electorate in the May election, which was the first time since South Africa emerged as a free democratic state in 1994. This suggests a significant loss of influence for the party, which has been in power since the fall of apartheid because of its association with Mandela and other freedom fighters.

During his campaign earlier in 2019, Ramaphosa made many promises to the South African people; he vowed to end government corruption and state-capture, improve education and health care, achieve economic stability and drastically reduce poverty in South Africa. Many believe that the future of the ANC, which has been steadily losing support in recent years, depends on Ramaphosa’s ability to deliver on these promises. Here are his plans below.

Unemployment

“Let us declare our shared determination that we shall end poverty in South Africa within a generation.” Ramaphosa made this declaration in his inauguration speech to a country where 40 percent of the population falls beneath the poverty line and unemployment has increased to 27.6 percent.

In June 2019, Ramaphosa vowed to create two million jobs over the next five years through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), the Youth Employment Service (YES) and the National Youth Service (NYSP). He also plans to work with private sector investors on special projects that will create 115,000 jobs in the coming years.

Crime

Ramaphosa recognizes the concerns of residents over crime and has promised to cut violent crime rates in half by 2029. To spearhead this effort, he plans to create a national campaign to increase enrollment in police academies, thereby increasing law enforcement in communities around the country. He also pledged to strengthen investigative and prosecutorial processes through improved training. Reducing violence would help relieve poverty in South Africa by ensuring the safety and mental well-being of struggling communities.

Gender-based violence and sexual assault have been widespread in South Africa in the past several years. To combat this issue, Ramaphosa wants to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement to support survivors and deal with these cases more responsibly.

Health Care

Sickness, disease and injury can exacerbate poverty and deteriorate the quality of life if not treated properly. Health care is one of the universal rights that the South African Constitution outlines, which states, “Everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care…” Ramaphosa has promised to improve existing health care and cover all South Africans under a new state health insurance plan. On August 8, 2019, the South African Department of Health published a new National Health Insurance Bill which will cover all residents, including services for refugees, inmates and certain foreigners. The bill will cover all necessary health care services (including reproductive care) free of charge to all South Africans. The country will implement it in a multi-phase approach over the next several years, beginning in September 2019. Ramaphosa plans to use tax increases to pay for part or all of the program. Additionally, the government will promote the employment of health care professionals in rural areas, which are disproportionately underserved in terms of health care quality and access due to the historical legacies of apartheid.

Education

The public education system in South Africa is notoriously poor. The World Economic Forum recently ranked the country 126th out of 138 in the 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Report. Ramaphosa plans to fix the country’s schools by implementing a nationwide reading campaign and improving teacher training. He also supports efforts to diversify curriculums by including topics like coding and data analytics in primary school classes. Long before his presidency, Ramaphosa established a charity for South African students, the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET), which supports gifted but disadvantaged students in their efforts to attend university.

Corruption

Political corruption has long been a problem in South Africa; government officials routinely siphon money away from South Africa’s many social welfare and public improvement programs to enrich themselves and the corporations they connect with. The party with the most officials accused of stealing public funds for personal use is the ANC, which has remained in power despite scandals. The corruption has even led to the assassination of whistleblowers who have accused ANC officials of pocketing public funds. Former President Jacob Zuma had to resign in 2018 after intense corruption allegations that he had stolen government money and granted profitable government contracts to preferred corporations and friends.

President Ramaphosa has acknowledged that his party is currently under great scrutiny due to its previous transgressions. In June 2019, he vowed to redistribute more than $979 million recovered from successfully prosecuted corruption scandals, directing the funds toward services and infrastructure in poor communities. He also made a public commitment to strengthen the reach and influence of government watchdog agencies like the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Special Investigative Unit (SIU), the South African Revenue Service and State Security. Ramaphosa recently met with the national director of public prosecutions to create a plan to increase the capacity of the NPA to investigate public officials and seize assets of corruption proceedings.

–  Nicollet Laframboise
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Dominican Republic
Although the Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest-growing economies since the year 2000, it still struggles with income inequality and a high poverty rate of 30 percent as of 2016. Diversification in the past three decades is strengthening the economy and improving tourism and infrastructure. Despite this, the poverty rate remains fairly high. The following describes five ways to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic and bring income equality to Dominicans.

5 Ways to Reduce Poverty in the Dominican Republic

  1. Government Transparency: Transparency International ranks the Dominican Republic 129 out of 180 countries based on public sector corruption. The ranking demonstrates a failure to control corruption. A lack of transparency dissuades external and internal investors from investment. Under-the-table bribery creates an economy that thrives on bribery instead of honest, hard-working individuals. Active enforcement of laws and corruption-reducing policies could help draw investors to the developing economy and spur faster future growth. In an effort to reduce corruption, the Dominican Republic’s President, Danilo Medina, updated its Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act in 2017 to include the definition of money laundering to crimes including copyright, tax evasion and avoidance and counterfeiting.
  2. Infrastructure Development: Once an agriculture-based economy, the Dominican Republic has transitioned into a diversified economy. Mining, trade, tourism, manufacturing, telecommunications, finance and services make up more than 90 percent of the country’s GDP. The remaining 10 percent is in agriculture. Although the Dominican Republic has made progress in infrastructure, frequent hurricanes in the Caribbean Sea destroy many roads, bridges and docks. The country especially overlooks damage in rural areas, where there is a prominence of poverty. To reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic, investment in repairing areas, such as farmland that hurricanes destroyed, can help alleviate issues and provide easy access to markets. More than 98 percent of the country has access to electricity, yet the reliability is questionable. Frequent outages in rural and urban areas are common. The government owns and operates electricity, and the unreliability is a constant complaint from Dominicans. A more reliable, widespread and affordable electrical grid would open the country to faster development, and a side effect would be additional jobs in the privatized electric companies.
  3. Education Inequality: Inequality is a major issue in the Dominican Republic. Insufficient income reduces the probability of receiving an education and health care. It also happens to be one reason for high illiteracy rates amongst the poor. About 26 percent of the poorest Dominicans are literate. A lack of education is a huge barrier to rising out of poverty. Adding programs to help enable universal access to education can help the poor and, as a result, grant skills and expertise to help the Dominican economy grow.
  4. Health: Another way to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic is to improve the health care industry. The Ministry of Public Health and Public Welfare administer public services. In 2007, 36 percent had to pay the entirety for public service that is supposed to be free but is not exactly. Only 12 percent of Dominicans report that all or part of the service qualifies for coverage. Cost of public health care is especially a barrier to women, the elderly and the poor. Reducing costs could help reduce the 30 percent poverty rate.
  5. Utilizing Competitive Advantages: Top exports include gold, tobacco, knit t-shirts, low-voltage protection equipment and medical instruments. Competition in the marketplace can increase productivity, a major issue in low-income economies. Utilizing competitive advantages enables the country to produce products for less money and sell them in the current country at a reasonable cost. Poor households would pay less for the products made in the Dominican Republic and therefore would help reduce poverty.

A negative trade balance of $8 billion expresses a need to create and export more products in order to improve the business climate and reduce costs to Dominican consumers. Active humanitarian involvement and utilization of its competitive advantages could help boost growth and bring Dominicans out of poverty.

Efforts to reduce poverty in the Dominican Republic are making great strides. President Medina is combating government corruption and the economy is diversifying. Additionally, improving infrastructure and adding jobs, as well as access to education and health care will aid the Dominican Republic in poverty reduction and economic well being.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Oman
Oman is a country located in the southeastern Arabian Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. The majority of the country’s population is located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Wealthy in oil and progressive in culture, Oman is experiencing high levels of immigration and some expect its population to double by 2050. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Oman contribute heavily to this.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Oman

  1. Oman, with a population of 4.6 million (as of the last census in 2017), ranks 97th in the world in life expectancy with the average life lasting 75.9 years. The country ranks eighth in life expectancy out of the 19 Middle Eastern countries and fifth out of the seven countries on the Arabian Peninsula.
  2. Women outlive men by approximately 4.1 years on average with the female life expectancy at 78 years and the male life expectancy at 73.9 years. These averages are by no means abnormal on a global scale and are due to men being more prone to heart disease and accidents on the roadways.
  3. The life expectancy in Oman has more than doubled since 1950 when the average Omani life lasted just over 33 years. This is a 233 percent increase. The U.N. projects that the average Omani life expectancy will reach 80 years in the early 2030s. This is in large part due to the country’s advancing health care system. Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the Sultan of Oman since 1971, has stated multiple times that health care is a basic human right. He established the Ministry of Health (MoH) by a royal decree. The MoH guarantees that Omani citizens receive basic health care, free of charge.
  4. As of 2016, Oman had 69 hospitals and over 6,400 beds within them. That calculates out to slightly more than 15 beds per 1,000 people. This serves as a sign of substantial progress, given that when Qaboos bin Said Al Said came to power in 1970, only two hospitals were in operation.
  5. The World Health Organization (WHO) is working in collaboration with the MoH, and in 2014, the organization announced a long-term plan entitled Health Vision 2050. This plan calls for larger investments in the health care field. The WHO is assisting in the development and sustainment of health-related technologies. The organization also commits to teaching more proper methods of personal and professional care. The MoH currently covers more than 80 percent of the costs associated with these health care expenditures, which is roughly 11 percent of the Omani government’s entire yearly budget.
  6. Ischemic heart disease, road injuries, stroke, diabetes and lower respiratory infections are the leading causes of death in Oman. Communicable diseases have seen a sharp decline in frequency and severity in Oman due to the steadily increasing quality of life. Now, lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension are on the rise.
  7. Obesity has become substantially more prevalent within the past decade. As of 2017, approximately 27 percent of Omani adults are obese. Oman is now the 36th most obese country in the world. The MoH is attempting to address this by educating the populous on the importance of having a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
  8. Typically, as birth rates decrease, life expectancy increases. Omani women are having far fewer children than their parents before them. The average Omani woman living in 1982 had 8.35 children. As of 2016, this number has fallen to a mere 2.67 children per woman, and many expect it to continue to decrease.
  9. As the Omani family is getting smaller, individuals are receiving more attention. Literacy rates are rising quickly, and as of 2017, 97 percent of Omani citizens are functionally literate. This is drastically higher than the surrounding countries, with the average literacy rate of the Middle East and Northern Africa at 80 percent.
  10. Oman is a young country with a median age of 25.8. Roughly 30 percent of the population falls between the ages of zero and 14.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Oman highlight just some of the extraordinary strides the country has made since its renaissance in the early 1970s. Although its health care system still faces issues, the way the country has tenaciously planned to advance itself is admirable and people should view it as a model for what thorough and proper planning can accomplish.

– Austin Brown
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Panama
Situated as the southernmost country in Central America between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Panama has a population of nearly four million people across 29,000 square miles and a terrain which includes rainforests, mountains, beaches, wetlands and pasture land. The capital, Panama City, has a population of under half a million. Panama’s strongest industries include import/export, banking and tourism. It has enjoyed economic stability and growth, which can translate to good health and long life expectancy when residents can access education, health care, water and sanitation resources equitably. Here are the 10 facts about life expectancy in Panama.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Panama

  1. The first of the 10 facts about life expectancy in Panama is that currently, the average life expectancy of a man in Panama is 76.1 and 81.9 for a woman. This averages to 78.9 for the entire population. Panama ranks 58th worldwide for life expectancy.
  2. In Panama, the leading causes of death are chronic, noncommunicable conditions such as circulatory diseases (diabetes and heart disease). Diet, high blood pressure or smoking can cause these. Panama has taken action by implementing the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and passing legislation guaranteeing smoke-free environments. The United Nations suggests dietary guidelines for healthy eating and recently added recommendations for children under 2 years of age.
  3. Traffic accidents in Panama are on the rise. The World Health Organization reports a road traffic death rate of 14.3 per 100,000 in 2016, while that number was only 10 per 100,000 in 2013 with 386 actual deaths. While the law in Panama requires seatbelt use, hazardous conditions due to lack of road maintenance, poor signage and overly congested highways are causes of this increase in accidents. Investment in roads and highway infrastructure could lower the number of deaths.
  4. The WHO reports that homicides in Panama are decreasing. In 2010, there were 23.4 homicides per year per 100,000 and in 2015 that number went down to 18.7. More than six times as many men suffer homicide in Panama than women (32.3 men per 100,000 compared to 4.9 women per 100,000). Young people between ages 15 and 29 are the most frequent targets of homicide (40.5 per 100,000). Strong laws are in place to combat violence in relation to firearms and alcohol and the WHO reports effective enforcement of laws against intimate partner violence and elder abuse. Panama could make improvements in the areas of enforcement of sexual violence and child maltreatment laws.
  5. Because of Panama’s tropical climate and wet, forested areas, mosquito-transmitted illnesses such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever pose a risk for Panamanians. Death is more likely in vulnerable people, such as infants. When new outbreaks arise, such as with the Zika virus, the WHO monitors transmission and infections closely in case they become widespread or pose a risk to travelers in the region. People can transmit the Zika virus sexually and it can also pass from mother to fetus. Microcephaly, a severe birth defect linked to Zika, poses a risk to the fetus of pregnant women, though death is rare. The WHO reports one death of a premature infant. Another disease that has limited impact in Panama is the hantavirus (linked to contact with rodents). The WHO reports approximately 100 cases with only four total deaths occurring. There is no treatment or vaccine for the hantavirus. Recommendations state to control the rodent population to prevent it.
  6. Panama saw 1,968 new cases of tuberculosis in 2017 (co-occurring with HIV in 90 percent of patients). TB and HIV are amongst the leading causes of premature death in Panama. People with HIV have more compromised immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to contracting TB. Panama spends $1.9 million each year treating and combating TB and HIV. Relapse of patients and drug-resistance pose particular challenges. Tuberculosis affects twice as many males as women, and the greatest incidence is among people ages 25-34 years.
  7. Mortality in young children has steadily declined in recent years. Deaths of children under 5 in 1990 were 27.2 per 1,000 live births, and in 2017, 17.2.  Deaths of children under 1 per year in 1990 were 20.9 per 1,000 live births, and in 2017, 13.4. Between 2007 and 2017, neonatal disorders dropped from number one to number three as a cause of premature death, and congenital defects dropped from number four to number six. These statistics are a result of a dramatic improvement in maternal and infant care for non-indigenous rural Panamanian women through a program called Health Protection for Vulnerable Populations, instituted in collaboration with the World Bank and the Minister of Health.
  8. The education of girls in Panama is important to life expectancy and maternal health. UNICEF reports that girls with no education receive 30 percent less antenatal care compared with those who have received a secondary education. The antenatal care is beneficial to learn about life-threatening risks in childbirth such as eclampsia, as well as immunization against tetanus and HIV testing and medication to prevent perinatal transmission of HIV. UNICEF calls for increased equity in antenatal and postnatal care particularly for indigenous women and infants in Panama.
  9. The upcoming Burunga Wastewater Management Project will address the serious health risks posed by untreated wastewater. The World Bank cites the lack of Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) as a major risk to public health. Currently, people dump untreated water into several rivers in the areas of Arraijan and La Chorrera. Despite economic growth in Panama, impoverished people will continue to be vulnerable to reduced life expectancy because of waterborne illnesses such as giardiasis and cholera, especially without updates to infrastructure in rural areas with attention to access to clean water and sanitation.
  10. In 2018, The World Bank approved an $80 million project in Panama called the Comprehensive National Plan for the Indigenous Peoples of Panama. This project has the aim of improving health, education, water and sanitation for indigenous people who are more vulnerable to natural disasters, for example. Built into the plan is a goal to develop the cultural relevance of programs. In order for life expectancy measures to continue to improve, Panama must equitably address the needs of indigenous as well as rural groups.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Panama show that the country faces ongoing challenges in health care, but measures of life expectancy are hopeful and improving. With follow through on projects to assist the indigenous and rural people, and ongoing investment in infrastructure, Panama should continue to rise in the ranks amongst the world’s flourishing, healthy and stable nations.

– Susan Niz
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

10 facts about life expectancy in Jamaica
The island country of Jamaica, in the Caribbean Sea, is making improvements in its public health care systems to increase life expectancy. Once ran by an unstable and politically corrupt government, Jamaica handed the keys to Sir Patrick Allen in 2016. Under a new regime, the government promises to take public health care more seriously. “The government is committed to working assiduously during the first year of administration to tackle these issues,” said Allen in an interview.

The administration is shifting its focus to partnership and community mobilization to protect the health of Jamaicans. The country has implemented a new 10-year plan focusing on expanding health care access through infrastructure development. The new motto of building a partnership for prosperity has influenced positive change, but many Jamaicans still struggle or are unable to attain proper health care. The expenses have put many families in a state of poverty. Rural areas will have unequal access to incoming health care benefits. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about life expectancy in Jamaica.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Jamaica

  1. According to the CIA World Factbook, Jamaicans’ life expectancy rate from birth is currently 74.5 years, ranking the country 123rd in the world. Males live an average of 72.7 years while females live an average of 76.5 years. Overall, life expectancy has risen since the turn of the century. In 1960, the life expectancy rate from birth was only 64 years which means there was a 10-year increase as of 2019.
  2. Improvements in public health care and life expectancy have led to a decrease in infant mortality rates. In the year 2000, 14.6 infants died per 1,000 births. In 2019, 11.6 infants have died per 1,000 births. The decline is about three children in the last 19 years and is still decreasing.
  3. Enhancements in clean drinking water have also led to increased life expectancy in Jamaica. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, access to sanitary water has improved 97.5 percent for urban populations and 89.4 percent for rural populations. This leaves just 2.5 percent of the urban and 10.6 percent of the rural populations needing improvements in water.
  4. The HIV and AIDS epidemic has also seen a decrease in cases, leading to improved life expectancy. The virus has affected the entire Caribbean for many years, but health improvements lowered the number of cases each year. As of 2017, only 1.8 percent of the island of Jamaica has contracted the HIV virus with 1,500 deaths. This is a decrease from 56 percent in 2004.
  5. In 2016, Jamaica became the latest Caribbean country to have the Zika virus. Mosquito bites transmit the virus and it can pass from person to person through sex, blood transfusions or pregnancies. The government has lowered the number of cases as of 2019 but is also putting together a precautionary plan for citizens and travelers including what kind of repellents to use, places to avoid and how to protect children.
  6. Prosperity through partnership, mobilization and urbanization is the goal of the 2016 Jamaica government. Within two years, the government has brought urbanization to 55.7 percent, averaging a 0.82 percent rate of change each year. This is an encouraging number, but one that Sir Patrick Allen will look to increase in order to urbanize at a more rapid pace.
  7. Environmental issues within the country have halted some improvements. Hurricanes frequently hit the island, especially between July and December. Heavy rates of deforestation, water pollution by industrial waste, oil spills, land erosion, damage to coral reefs and air pollution are all pressing issues that influence mortality. The government has prioritized these issues through plans to expand partnerships with richer countries, hoping they will provide relief to damaged parts of Jamaica.
  8. Education has increased rapidly in Jamaica, providing children the opportunity to grow into productive members of society, which increases their life expectancy. More children are starting school between the ages of two and three. The country provides preschool, primary school and high school, and offers further educational choices. With improvements in education, the literacy rate of Jamaica has climbed to an astonishing 89 percent overall.
  9. The World Food Program has been working diligently in Jamaica to improve nourishment. Thanks to its efforts, obesity in the country dropped to under 20 percent in 2018. This is a significant improvement from the 5 percent decrease in 2016. Only 2.2 percent of children under the age of 5 are underweight.
  10. Sanitation facilities have seen a rapid improvement. In 79.9 percent of urban areas and 84.1 percent of rural areas, the country has made sanitation improvements to schools, hospitals, houses, parks and local bathrooms. A total of 18.2 percent of the area still needs improvement in those areas to aid life expectancy.

The upcoming years will continue to be of high importance for the new government, but Jamaica has much to celebrate. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Jamaica show that the country has made improvements to increase life expectancy. It still requires more work, especially as it continues to implement its 10-year program.

– Aaron Templin
Photo: Pixabay

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Togo
Although global aid has decreased, Togo has managed to increase its health expenditure as a share of GDP to 6.6 percent in 2016, a jump of about 8 percent from the previous year where this amount was actually negative. Due to the scarcity of hospitals and health centers, Togo’s 2018 population of approximately 8.2 million faces numerous obstacles from birth onwards in the battle to survive. Of every 1,000 Togolese infants, 49 will die before they are 1 year old and approximately 69.8 before they reach the age of 5. In addition to infant deaths, the maternal mortality ratio is 396 per 100,000 live births as of 2017. Overall life expectancy in Togo is 69 for females and 63 for males, the 178th worst globally. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Togo demonstrate the changes over time. 

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Togo

  1. Crime: In Togo, the homicide rate was nine cases per 100,000 people in 2015. Compared to the United States, it has 4.1 more cases per 100,000 people. Violent crimes, theft and pick-pocketing are common in marketplaces or along the beach of Lome. There is an abundance of scam artists that fake online friendships to steal or stage accidents to jack cars and there has even been a threat of kidnapping recently. The ECOWAS Regional Action Plan renewed for 2016-2020 to address crime and drug trafficking in West Africa.

  2. Sanitation: Most drinking water sources in the urban parts of Togo have improved with only 8.6 percent of urban populations not having access to reliably safe drinking water. In rural areas, however, 55.8 percent of the water sources have remained unimproved. Sanitation facility access has not improved much, either, with 75.3 percent of urban Togo and 97.1 percent of rural Togo having unimproved sanitation facilities. Public toilets are often unavailable as well, and when they are available, they generally range from sit-down and squat toilets to holes in the ground.

  3. Disease: As of 2017, Togo’s most prevalent diseases are malaria, neonatal disorders, HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infection, ischemic heart disease, diarrheal diseases and tuberculosis. HIV/AIDS afflicted approximately 110,000 Togolese or 2.3 percent as of 2017, ranking the country 22nd worst globally. An estimated 4,700 deaths were from HIV/AIDS in 2017, the 43rd worst ranking in the world. It is also common for infants to suffer from diarrhea, one of the main contributors to the infant mortality rate in Togo.

  4. Malnutrition: Malnutrition rates exceed 10 percent in three out of five regions in Togo, with 16 percent of children under 5 underweight. Many parents have been relying on feeding their children a simple paste that is filled with vitamins and minerals, called Plumpy’Nut, and has improved the situation of many Togolese children. An agricultural improvement is the development of a drought-resistant, high-yield rice, Nerica, specifically for Africa. For Western Africa, rice is a staple, but to meet nutritional demand, the region needs to import 3.5 million tons of rice per year, which costs nearly $1 billion.

  5. Overcrowding: The best example of Togo’s overcrowding problem is its 12 prisons. Though there is a set capacity for these prisons, they end up holding more than twice their capacity. As a result of these cramped conditions, hygiene, food and medical care are poor, and disease and death run rampant. Prisoners reportedly sleep like “sardines in a tin,” and even sleep in shifts, with some waiting for their turn against a wall.

  6. Immunization: Immunization coverage among Togolese children is severely incomplete. A study found that 36.2 percent of children did not receive all vaccines that the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) recommends. Togo has a multi-year plan (2016-2020), a national system to monitor adverse events following immunization, and a standing technical advisory group on immunization.

  7. Maternal/Neonatal/Child Health: Only 61.4 percent of Togolese births have skilled health personnel in attendance, and as a result, the maternal mortality rate in Togo is 396 deaths/100,000 live births as of 2017. Mothers already have to travel long distances to reach health facilities, and when said places do not have the necessary expertise or medication, they become discouraged from attending any appointments before birth. When these women do not attend regular checkups, health professionals cannot detect problems early on or provide mothers with rudimentary health care.

  8. Health Systems: Togo only has 746 health centers, which is approximately 11 health centers per 100,000 people, and only six regional hospitals, which is 0.09 per 100,000 people. There are only 0.05 physicians per 1,000 people as of 2015. This scarcity of health facilities results in overcrowding of existing ones and it stretches health professionals thin. With so few people operating each facility, Togo cannot meet average health standards and thus cannot help people efficiently. Life expectancy could improve in this respect by creating more health centers.

  9. Substance Abuse: Togo is a transit point of Nigerian heroin and cocaine traffickers. There were 2,000 drug users in 2001 (12 deaths), 3,000 in 2006 (68 deaths) and 3,575 in 2007 (100 deaths). Togolese drug use has only increased over time, stretching to 5.5 percent of students. The students consider drugs to be fortifying and have developed a dependency on drugs just for studying.

  10. Road Safety: People do not stress road safety in Togo. Many Togolese drivers do not obey traffic laws mostly due to traffic signals not functioning properly, and a lack of reinforcement. Sometimes they run red lights and stop signs or drive in the wrong direction on one-way streets. Not only do these driving standards threaten pedestrians and drivers alike, but they also set the stage for fake accidents.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Togo show that even the smallest of changes could evolve into much more for the Togolese. The ECOWAS is working diligently to improve the lives of those in West Africa by limiting crime and drug trafficking and abuse. Togolese life expectancy has even increased because of other countries’ efforts.

– Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

Life expectancy in Puerto Rico
The island of Puerto Rico is a country located in the Caribbean Islands. After the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico and various organizations are making efforts to ensure life expectancy for those victimized. Below are 10 facts about life expectancy in Puerto Rico and how people are seeking to improve it despite obstacles.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Puerto Rico

  1. The World Bank Group documents the statistics for life expectancy in Puerto Rico as approximately 79.974 years as of 2017. This is in contrast to 68.72 years in 1960.
  2. The World Bank determines the population of Puerto Rico to be approximately 3.2 million people as of 2018. WorldBank.org also documents the population of Puerto Rico as declining since its peak in the years 2000-2006 with a population in the 3.8 million range. Pew Research indicates that Puerto Rico’s current decline in population is due to the effects of Hurricanes Maria and Irma which led to the significant loss of 123,000 citizens leaving the country between 2017 and 2018.
  3. Statistics show that women are more likely to live longer than men in Puerto Rico. According to the CIA World Factbook, men generally live 78 years in Puerto Rico and women live about 85 years.
  4. The median age of Puerto Rico has increased over the past decade. The World Bank indicates that the median age for males is approximately 40 and for females 44, making it about 42 years averaged together. Pew Research also documents that 81 percent of the population is over 18. This indicates that living past childhood in Puerto Rico can increase one’s life expectancy when a person is in a more independent stage of life.
  5. The Puerto Rican Integrity in Medicare Act, H.R. 6809 (PRIMA) highlights the country’s desire for proper Medicaid coverage. This act of reform emerged in October 2018 with the intentions of helping stabilize medicare coverage for those in Puerto Rico, a needed reform because Medicaid spending for the island is just 26 percent of the mainland average. The effects of Hurricane Maria has also made the need for affordable Medicare coverage dire. The PRIMA Act would require Medicare Advantage plans to spend at least 50 percent of funds on provider payments, giving an incentive for physicians to work on the island. The PRIMA Act would overall benefit Puerto Rico’s Medicare Advantage plan and increase life expectancy for the country’s most vulnerable citizens. Puerto Rican Representative Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon also sponsors this act.
  6. Infant mortality rates have gone down in Puerto Rico according to Index Mundi and the CIA World Factbook. In the year 2000, there were approximately 10 deaths for every 1,000 live births, whereas, in 2017, the number of approximated infant deaths was lowered to six per 1,000 by 2018. This could be due to the number of births decreased from 24,000 births in 2018 to 46,000 births in 2008. As the population has been decreasing, the chances for infant mortality rates have as well.
  7. Life expectancy for senior citizens in Puerto Rico has risen, as those 65 and older make up 21 percent of the population in 2018 versus 14 percent in 2018. This could be indicative of older citizens staying in the country as younger people are moving away due to the significant migration loss in Puerto Rico from 2017 to 2018. The Puerto Rican AARP system has also seen an increase in senior citizens in the country becoming valuable consumers as they become a more significant part of the population.
  8. The Taller Salud Incorporation is an organization particularly interested in helping the female population in the Puerto Rican town of Lozia, a municipality with a fatality rate of 43 women in 2017. Through its self-advocacy programs, Taller Salud is an advocate for peace and equality for both sexes. The organization’s anti-violence campaigns have resulted in a 90 percent decrease in violence in Lozia in 2018. Life expectancy for these women also increased as Taller Salud uses its funds to provide them with initial medical screenings, along with STI screenings and workshops on reproductive health.
  9. To combat natural disasters, the Puerto Rico Rises Corporation seeks to increase the chances of protecting Puerto Rican citizens in the future by producing and distributing Solar Shelter Kits (SSKs). These kits include water filtration structures and a solar generator in cases of power outages. The SSK’s overall goal is to provide relief for Puerto Ricans during storms while also using a low carbon footprint.
  10. As a highlight of general improvement in Puerto Rico, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has done much. Beginning in December 2018, the organization made recovery projects to benefit Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. These improvements include an advanced warning system, enhanced emergency planning, new water testing facilities, stable power grids and rebuilt schools.

This varied information about the lives of Puerto Rican citizens indicates that life expectancy in Puerto Rico is fairly average. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Puerto Rico also indicate that despite the country’s recent hardships, its people are vigilant.

– Natalie Casaburi
Photo: Pixabay

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mali
In 2020, the country of Mali will celebrate its 60th anniversary of independence from French colonial rule. However, since 1960, Mali has had a tumultuous history filled with numerous civil wars, coups and failed revolutions. Despite these setbacks, Mali is making strides to improve the quality of life for its citizens. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Mali.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mali

  1. According to the CIA World Factbook, the life expectancy of a citizen of Mali is 60.8 years on average or 58.6 years for males and 63 years for females. This puts Mali at a rank of 206 out of 223 countries for life expectancy. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Mali will explain why.
  2. Mali reported 43 births per 1,000 people in 2018, the third-largest figure in the world. Many expect the country’s population to double by 2035. This has led to overcrowding in the capital city of Bamako. In response, the World Bank has begun to invest in the infrastructure of Malian cities via performance-based grants for communities.
  3. Despite this massive population growth, Mali suffers from extreme infant and child mortality, which adversely affects life expectancy in Mali. In 2015, 114 out of 1,000 Malian children died by the age of 5. Recently, organizations like WHO and UNICEF have begun to sponsor community case management initiatives that focus on improving health conditions in impoverished areas. Areas where these initiatives occurred, such as Bamako’s Yirimadio district, have been able to reduce child mortality rates to up to 28 deaths per 1,000, about a quarter of the national rate.
  4. In Mali, the maternal mortality rate is very high. The U.N. estimates that there are 630 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. This is partly because only one in four births in Mali have someone with proper birthing training, but deep-rooted societal attitudes that restrict women’s rights may also be a cause. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization fighting against maternal mortality in Mali, child marriage and female genital mutilation are both common in Mali, which both cause higher risks to the mother during birth. The organization has called upon the Malian government to “meet its national and international commitments and take the necessary steps to reduce maternal mortality.”
  5. The leading cause of death in Mali is malaria, which accounts for 24 percent of deaths in the country. To address this, the Malian government has partnered with global organizations such as the CDC to distribute anti-malarial medications during the country’s late autumn rainy season, in which most cases of malaria appear. This partnership was established in 1995 as part of the CDC’s global initiative to stop diseases in other countries before they can reach the U.S.
  6. Illnesses that often stem from a lack of access to clean water, such as meningitis and diarrheal diseases, cause a significant number of deaths in Mali. Twenty-three percent of the population of Mali overall and 35.9 percent of the rural population lacks access to clean drinking water, and 78.5 percent of rural Malians lack access to proper sanitation. This leads to the spread of the diseases mentioned above. An organization called Charity Water has invested over $9 million to give rural Malians access to clean water and sanitation by building wells and pipe systems, allowing Malians to tap into the country’s rich aquifers for clean drinking water.
  7. Malnutrition causes 5 percent of deaths in Mali. According to the World Food Program, 44.9 percent of the country live in poverty, which is a significant cause of food insecurity. To combat this, programs like the World Food Program have been working on distributing nutritious meals to Malian families, as well as setting up long-term programs to create infrastructures such as roads and dams.
  8. HIV and AIDS cause 3 percent of deaths in Mali. Although HIV infections in the country have risen by 11 percent since 2010, deaths from the disease have gone down by 11 percent in the same period. Efforts by the CDC and other organizations have focused on treating HIV to prevent victims of the disease from going on to develop AIDS, as well as improving blood safety measures.
  9. Mali suffers from a significant shortage of physicians, with 0.14 physicians and 0.1 hospital beds per 1,000 people, compared to 2.59 physicians and 2.9 beds in the U.S. Despite that, the country has recently taken significant steps forward on providing universal health coverage via a $120 million initiative from the government, which will focus on training more doctors, broadening access to contraceptives and improving care for the elderly.
  10. Eighty percent of Mali relies on agriculture for a living. Although Malian farmers have been fighting soil degradation and lack of access to modern equipment, initiatives like Feed the Future have been working to improve conditions for Malian farmers. As a result, Mali poured $47.34 million into its agriculture industry in 2017.

As these 10 facts about life expectancy in Mali show, life expectancy in Mali is significantly lower than in other parts of the world, but the country is making strides forward to combat illness and poverty. With help from the global community, Mali is moving forwards towards a brighter future.

– Kelton Holsen
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, a Eurasian country of 9.2 million people, has a total life expectancy between 69 and 75. Despite being an oil-rich nation on the rise, Azerbaijan continues to struggle with poverty within its borders. Political corruption and the lack of free speech among its media have also been concerns. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Azerbaijan.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Azerbaijan

  1. In 2018, Azerbaijan’s average life expectancy was 70 for men and 76 for women, a significant increase from 60 and 66 in 1990. The male population has a higher mortality rate than the female population. While 8 percent of women die before the age of 60, 17 percent of men will die before then from causes including cancer, parasitic disease and circulatory and digestive diseases. Azerbaijan introduced plans to develop its domestic pharmaceutical sector in 2017, which will allow the country to be less reliant on exported goods and increase local health care reforms. Easier access to medicine locally would allow for longer life expectancy and access to care for diseases.
  2. Azerbaijan introduced a program in 2014 to provide additional training to medical professionals and increase medical staff, thus increasing the quality of service and raising awareness for health. This program, the State Program to Improve Health of Mothers and Children, contributed to the rise of life expectancy and the country currently uses it. Training doctors with increased medical services quality is an important step to improve health care in Azerbaijan.
  3. Azerbaijan‘s median ages are 30 for men, 33 for women and 31 overall as of 2018, with 6 percent of its population within retirement age (65 and older). Only about 13 people for each 1,000 reach the age of 80 or beyond in Azerbaijan. Currently, many citizens over the age of 65 are working due to the government’s lack of insurance implementation for accidents and low pension rates. Azerbaijan has introduced customary health insurance in 2016 via a pilot program within select regions. The State Agency for Mandatory Health Insurance monitors it which emerged in the same year. Many expect the program to reach other regions of the country throughout the coming years. The Azerbaijani government has also recently passed an amendment that would increase pensions by 48 percent for an estimated 36,000 people and increase customary insurance policy enforcement in an attempt to alleviate concerns for both the retirees and the injured.
  4. The rate of death in Azerbaijan as of 2018 is seven out of 1,000 people and the primary causes of death are diseases within the circulatory system (such as heart failure). There are about three doctors for about every 1,000 people in Azerbaijan as of 2014, which is not quite enough to serve those in need. The Azerbaijani government has taken steps to rectify this, including requiring all hospitals to implement a mandatory health insurance system to increase productivity and help patients in a timely manner. This is part of the customary health insurance program that Azerbaijan is currently rolling out in select parts of the country. As health care programs improve, the care people will need should be available as the insurance policy continues to move across Azerbaijan.
  5. The State Housing Construction Agency began a subsidized affordable housing system in 2017 which allows citizens to select apartments with a mortgage from a government-approved bank. The investment will allow individuals to own a place in healthier environments and better maintain housing care. Affordable housing is beneficial for people to save money as well.
  6. According to the Azerbaijan National Nutrition Survey from 2013, 22 percent of children between 6 to 23 months have adequate nutrition in their diet despite the fact that 93 percent of households currently have access to safe drinking water. The government revised food standards in 2016 that requires all providers to properly label their products to help parents pick the right item for their child’s nutrition needs. Azerbaijan intends the new labeling to increase nutrition in what it expects to be a healthier generation of children.
  7. Azerbaijan has begun to build new rehab centers for drug users and increase the quality of drug combating classes in August 2019 due to a rise of drug users since 2010. The country has been a notable transit for drug trafficking for many years, making drugs a possible risk to people’s life expectancy. Access to rehabilitation centers will allow citizens to overcome drug addiction that has been a growing concern over the years.
  8. The poverty rate dropped from 40 percent in 2000 to 8 percent the following year after heavily investing in health care and education as well as increased pensions and salaries across the nation. These investments allowed citizens to remained healthy and children to be able to learn on a much grander scale. Increased salaries and pensions also allow for greater personal spending and investments to bolster the national economy.
  9. The Azerbaijan 2020 project puts a strong emphasis on increasing the investment of health care to improve technology and services for diseases, surgery and childcare. This initiative is a part of a major plan to push Azerbaijan forward and increase the life expectancy. Sustainable health care is a priority to maintain current rates.
  10. Education will also receive investment in the Azerbaijan 2020 initiative by investing in and building technology. The increased focus on education allows children to gain access to a better understanding of their surroundings. The technology will also expand the teacher’s ability to pass down knowledge to their students.

Despite the current concerns of corruption within the government, these 10 facts about life expectancy in Azerbaijan show that it has taken steps to improve the life expectancy of the population. Programs designed to invest in the medical and education fields should grow the country further. Continued improvements over the course of these programs are crucial to Azerbaijan’s development as a nation.

– Henry Elliott
Photo: Flickr