Inflammation and stories on healthcare

maternal mortality rates tajThe Republic of Tajikistan is a country located in Central Asia. In 1991, when Tajikistan became independent it was the most poverty-stricken country of the Central Asia republics. A civil war hurt Tajikistan’s economic and social growth, which led to a decline in overall health in the region. One of these health issues is that Tajikistan has had a very high maternal mortality rate. However, in the last decade progress has been made and maternal mortality rates for women in Tajikistan are dropping.

Tajikistan currently has a rate of 32 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. This number has significantly decreased since 1990 when the rate was 107. There are multiple factors that are responsible for the decline in maternal mortality rates. One of the dangers had been the fact that many women have their babies at home. In fact, at least 15 percent of women still give birth without a doctor or midwife present.

Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

A project by the name of Feed the Future Tajikistan Health and Nutrition Activity (THNA) is spreading information about the dangers of giving birth at home. They also teach women in the country about the benefits of delivering in a hospital or other health care setting. Funded by USAID, THNA is working alongside hospitals and healthcare centers in different locations throughout the country to talk about the three main factors that lead to increased chances of maternal mortality, also known as the three delays:

  1. Seeking maternity care
  2. Reaching a healthcare facility
  3. Receiving high-quality care once at a healthcare facility

In 2016, THNA partnered with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population to further understand the problem. The duo conducted 14 in-depth assessments of hospitals in the region. They found out that many healthcare facilities did not have proper medical supplies, lacked adequate equipment and were understaffed. The duo worked together and provided the healthcare centers with new equipment and supplies.

The partnership also taught more than 1,400 people in the community to be health educators. The health educators, in turn, taught women about prenatal care and when they should go to a hospital. These changes are a major reason why maternal mortality rates in Tajikistan are declining.

Midwifery Services

Families in Tajikistan who cannot afford healthcare facilities often turn to alternatives such as midwifery. It is challenging to find a good midwifery service in the country. However, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is working with the Ministry of Health to increase the quality of midwives in the region. They supply midwives with education, capacity building and medical equipment. Furthermore, the UNFPA trains midwives on effective perinatal care.

UNFPA also provides technical help in improving training curriculums at schools throughout the country. Nargis Rakhimova, the UNFPA National Program Analyst on Reproductive Health in Tajikistan said, “This initiative is considered a breakthrough as it raises educational programmes to the level of internationally agreed standards.” Improved midwifery services are another factor why maternal mortality rates for women in Tajikistan are dropping.

Even though it is easy to recruit young women into midwife training programmes, it is not easy to keep them in the profession. Midwives do not make a lot of money and there is no official certification for midwifery, which may lower the standards of services in the region. Rakhimova said, “Though the midwifery situation in Tajikistan is improving, midwifery needs to be developed as a separate profession complementary to medicine.” Improving compensation for midwives will help continue to lower maternal mortality rates in Tajikistan.

Continuing to Improve

The poverty Tajikistan faced when it gained its independence led to a number of health crises in the region. Maternal mortality rates are one of these issues. Even though the country still faces problems with maternal mortality, the conditions are improving. The combination of advancements in healthcare facilities and midwifery services are a big reason for the improvements. These are the two main contributors as to why maternal mortality rates for women in Tajikistan are dropping.

Nicolas Bartlett
Photo: Flickr

Trauma Care in Developing CountriesThe field of injury and trauma care in developing countries is severely neglected, as injuries are predicted to account for 20 percent of all ill-health in the world by 2020. In fact, injuries cause 5 million deaths a year — more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Of these deaths, more than 90 percent of them occur in developing low – and middle- income countries. Thus, injuries contribute to the ongoing cycle of poverty in countries that lack equipt health care systems and preventative measures. However, despite the urgency, injury prevention research in developing nations is currently underfunded.

Causes of Trauma and Injury in Developing Nations

A significant portion of injuries in developing nations is caused by road traffic crashes. In fact, road traffic crashes are predicted to be the fifth leading cause of death by the year 2030. Road-related injuries leave children particularly vulnerable — as the WHO estimates that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in 10–19-year-olds, globally and that low-income and middle-income countries account for 93 percent of child road traffic deaths.

The high rate of road traffic crashes only strengthens the cycle of poverty within households. In fact, a survey showed that 28 percent of rural Ghanian households had to decrease food consumption when a member was injured in a road crash.

The prevalence of road injuries also hinders national economic development. As a result of road injuries, low- and middle-income nations are estimated to be drained of $65 billion dollars a year — all of which could go towards the economic development of these nations.

Road traffic, though the most prevalent, is just one cause of injury-related death. Others include homicide, suicide, drowning and death by way of natural disaster.

Emergency Care Systems in Developing Nations

An effective emergency care system consists of three components — care in the community, care during transportation and care upon arrival to a health facility. Care in the community has much to do with prevention and the early recognition of an injury. Many individuals lack the skill or training to recognize early signs of medical emergencies. In fact, in Zimbabwe, a significant number of maternal deaths is caused by avoidable factors that went unrecognized by health workers.

A further barrier to emergency care treatment is lack of transportation, which may arise due to a variety of factors such as lack of vehicles or faulty roads.

Such problems can delay emergency care and impact the health of patients severely. In fact, according to the WHO, studies of fatal childhood illness in Guinea-Bissau and the United Republic of Tanzania showed a high attendance rate at health facilities before child death. One of the reasons for these fatal outcomes is the late arrival of sick children to the hospital.

Additionally, health care facilities across the globe differ with respect to equipment, resources and staff. In 2006, the WHO estimated that a combined 57 countries had a shortage of 2.3 million medical professionals — including physicians, nurses and midwives. The organization also reported that 41 out of 135 countries do not have at least one computer tomography device per million habitants.

Such lack of resources contributes to the high death of injury patients in developing nations.

Examples of Progress: Improving Trauma Care in Developing Countries

  • Increased Awareness: 85 percent of disasters and 95 percent of disaster-related deaths occur in the developing world yet only 1 percent of disaster-related publications cover these regions. However, two groups of researchers, from Tanzania and Nigeria are blazing the field of trauma research in the developing world and are now published in the Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine.
  • Preventive Measures: More precautions are being taken in the developing world in order to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. For example, more safety interventions, such as speed bumps and roundabouts, have been successfully implemented in selected low-income countries.
  • Funding: While the field of trauma and injury care in the developing world has historically been underfunded, progress is being made. Governments around the world continue to recognize the critical importance of funding health intervention in times of emergency. In fact, Japan has recently provided a contribution of $22 million to the WHO’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies.

The current state of trauma and injury care in developing nations can be improved through proper planning and targeted efforts to establish community health care, emergency transportation and the improvement of health care facilities. With the help of nations and organizations, the death toll of trauma and injury patients in developing nations can be drastically reduced.

– Shreya Gaddipati
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in LaosThe both ethnically and linguistically diverse country of Laos is a landlocked, independent republic in Southeast Asia. It is home to about 7 million people, representing just 0.9 percent of the world’s total population. The average life expectancy in Laos is currently 65.8, but the number has gone up in recent years. The information below will provide 10 facts about life expectancy in Laos and what action is being taken to improve it.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Laos

  1. Currently, the life expectancy of the total population in Laos is 65 years. Men in Laos have a lower life expectancy than the average rate at 62.9 years, and women’s life expectancy is approximately 67 years.
  2. The maternal death rate in Laos is one of the highest in the Western Pacific Region. According to the Laos Maternal Death Review, 54 percent of maternal deaths were caused by complications from postpartum hemorrhage. In 1990, 905 women per 100,000 live births had died. Given this statistic, the primary focus of the ministry and WHO has been developing a voucher program that ensures free delivery of pre and postnatal care for women.
  3. In conjunction with WHO, the ministry is providing free health services to women and children in 83 districts in 13 provinces. As of 2015, the mortality rate has dropped to 197 deaths for every 100,000 live births. This drop can also be largely attributed to the work being done by the UNFPA, which is providing counseling on family planning and training midwives to match international standards.
  4. Assisted childbirth was almost unheard of in 2007, and death during childbirth was considered common if not likely. Since 1995, the Ministry of Health has begun to recognize the importance of having trained and skilled professionals present during birth and is working to decrease the number of home births in the country. As of 2015, the maternal mortality rate had decreased 75 percent. Only eight other countries had been able to accomplish that goal.
  5. As of 2017, heart disease and stroke accounted for 22 percent of deaths in Laos. Since 2007, the number of deaths from stroke has risen 5.6 percent, and deaths from heart disease have risen 3.3 percent. Most cardiovascular and respiratory problems stem from smoking and high rates of air pollution.
  6. In March of 2019, the Pollution Control Department reported that there had been a large number of wildfires in Laos and neighboring countries. Forest fires in Thailand had caused air pollution levels to become hazardous. Currently, air pollution levels are more than 20 times the safety limit. Residents have been advised to wear safety masks to prevent smoke inhalation, and officials are working to bring down toxicity levels by spraying water into the polluted air.
  7. Malnutrition has also been a persistent problem in Laos and can lead to cognitive difficulties, delayed development and high mortality rate. In 2015, 17 percent of the population was considered malnourished. Additionally, 45 percent of deaths of children under five are linked to undernutrition. Food security, diet diversity and water and sanitation all contribute extensively to the malnutrition issues. Fortunately, UNICEF has been able to advocate for nutritional programs and interventions with the hope of lowering the mortality rate.
  8. In September of 2018, Ministries of Planning and Investment, Agriculture, Public Works, Transport and Health teamed up with the World Bank to tackle the malnutrition problem in Laos. These organizations have developed a program that is focused on the critical development that occurs in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. The ministries and World Bank intend to establish welfare programs, diversify food production and improve hygiene and sanitation by ensuring clean water is accessible in rural sectors of Laos.
  9. Drinking water in Laos is often contaminated with dangerous chemicals and waste, particularly in rural areas and schools. Only 66 percent of the nearly 9,000 primary schools in Laos have functional water supply systems and latrine facilities, causing widespread health complications. UNICEF has been working with the Ministry of Education and Sports to implement a program called WASH, which improves water, sanitation and hygiene in conjunction with one another. Through the program, UNICEF is implementing effective hygiene practices, providing access to safe water and ending the practice of open defecation in rural communities.
  10. Government health expenditures have gone up more than 2 percent in the last four years in an effort to provide universal health coverage by 2025. The nation continues to work towards protection from infectious disease, and while the progress has been slow, with continued government funding health coverage is likely to expand.

Many of Laos’ SDG’s are still far from being accomplished, but the 2018 country profile from the WHO suggests that improvements have been made that will eventually lead to an overall increase in life expectancy. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Laos provide insight into what steps toward improvements have already been made and what still needs to be accomplished. The hope is that Laos will continue to increase its overall life expectancy, reaching an average age of 70 by the year 2030.

Anna Lagattuta

Photo: Everystock

El SalvadorComing in at 114 out of all countries, El Salvador has a relatively high life expectancy rate for countries within the region. El Salvador is a smaller country situated in Central America known for both its beaches and mountainous regions. With a population of 6,187, 271 people, 32 percent of Salvadorians live below the poverty line. Below are the top 10 facts about life expectancy in El Salvador.

The Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in El Salvador

  1. As of 2018, the life expectancy for people living in El Salvador is 75 years. On average, women in El Salvador live longer than men with a life expectancy of 78.6 years. Men have an average life expectancy of 71.8 years. This is on par with the life expectancies of the different countries in Central America
  2. Gang violence has been a prevalent issue in El Salvador and is contributing to a lower life expectancy. In 2015, there were 103 homicides per 100,000 El Salvadorians. That same year, high rates of deadly attacks on women reached 1,062. Homicides, drug trafficking and the use of firearms are all directly related to conflict amongst El Salvador’s gangs.
  3. Since 1960, there has been an increased focus on the healthcare system in El Salvador, which has increased life expectancy by 23 years. As of 2014, El Salvador has spent about 6.9 percent of its gross domestic product and 17 percent of its overall public expenditure on healthcare. The Ministry of Health is the main regulator and care provider of the health system in El Salvador. The Salvadorian Social Security Institute (ISSS) provides the second highest number of care facilities in El Salvador, organizing its services into four regions.
  4. El Salvador has recognized the importance of having trained physicians in order to increase the life expectancy for its citizens. There are 11 institutions of higher education in El Salvador that are working to train health personnel in order to provide a higher quality of care to El Salvadorians and to increase the doctor-patient ratio. From 2010 to 2015, the number of physicians per 1,000 people went from 1.6 to 1.95.
  5. The World Food Programme (WFP) is working in El Salvador to increase food security, which would improve life expectancy. Its strategic outcomes include ensuring nutrition-sensitive social protection for vulnerable households, increasing sustainable production for smallholder farm, determining and increasing resilience to climate change for vulnerable communities, increasing food access for people affected by disasters to food security and strengthening the national and subnational control over nutritional resources. This plan will be enacted by 2021.
  6. As of 2017, 25,000 people in El Salvador were living with HIV/AIDS, which is 0.6 percent of the overall population in the country. Organizations like UNAIDS are working to increase education on HIV/AIDS and to provide more materials for prevention. El Salvador was one of three countries to receive a grant for $26.9 million from the Global Fund to improve access to HIV-related services and to deliver treatments. Currently, 3,000 people are receiving services from prevention clinics set up in El Salvador.
  7. There is a high risk of having a major infectious disease in El Salvador, including a high risk for food or waterborne diseases. Healthcare reform brought attention to a need for vaccinations. In 1990, immunization rates were at 76 percent, but as of 2016, that number had increased to 93 percent. The improvement in immunization rates has had a positive impact on increasing life expectancy in El Salvador.
  8. Sanitation facilities are a contributor to widespread diseases in El Salvador. Rural areas tend to have less access to improved sanitation. Sanitation services in El Salvador have been made accessible to 71 percent of the population, leaving 13 percent of urban populations and 16 percent of rural populations underserved. The National Organisation of Water and Sewer Works (ANDA) is working to ensure coordination between all ministries and government agencies to provide focus on sanitation efforts in El Salvador.
  9. El Salvador is vulnerable to many natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes and flooding. From 2005 to 2013, natural disasters have displaced around 20,913 people and taken the lives of 56 people. Factors that increase life expectancy and quality of life such as access to water, sanitation and education are negatively impacted by displacement. Habitat for Humanity is working in El Salvador to rebuild and increase the resilience of homes in El Salvador. Since 1992, Habitat for Humanity has been able to help around 167,000 Salvadorians by providing housing security.
  10. Currently, the World Bank has committed $290 million in El Salvador. These funds contribute to the improvement of five different projects that protect and enhance vulnerable groups. The World Bank has allocated $50 million towards the Disaster Risk Management Program specifically for natural disasters. This funding has been able to reduce natural disaster displacement, decrease homicide rates, improve the health care system and the overall quality of life in El Salvador.

High vulnerability to natural disasters, a lack of clean water and sanitation sources, gang violence and disparities within the healthcare system have contributed to lower life expectancy rates in El Salvador. However, these 10 facts about life expectancy rates in El Salvador show that attention is now being given to places where intervention can improve living conditions for El Salvadorians. Due to these efforts, the life expectancy rate in El Salvador has been growing at an average annual rate of 0.33 percent.

Claire Bryan
Photo: Flickr

life expectancy in MongoliaMongolia is a landlocked nation in Central Asia bordered by China to the south and Russia to the north. It is the third-least sparsely populated country in the world with an average population of 1.9 people per square kilometer. Mongolia has been a representative democracy since the U.S.S.R. collapsed in 1990 when a protest movement forced out the pro-Soviet government. The country’s economy crashed after the withdrawal of Soviet support in the 1990s and then again after the global financial crisis of 2009. It exhibited a strong recovery a few years after each event. These top 10 facts about life expectancy in Mongolia should shed some light on the state of health in this country today.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mongolia

  1. The average life expectancy in Mongolia is 69.9 years, ranking 160 in the world out of 224 countries listed. For comparison, the U.S. ranked 43 in life expectancy. According to figures from the World Bank, life expectancy in Mongolia had increased by 43 percent between 1960 and 2016.

  2. The top causes of premature death in Mongolia are heart disease, stroke and neonatal disorders (diseases affecting newborn children). However, neonatal disorders have decreased significantly in recent years. According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the prevalence of neonatal disorders decreased by 13.3 percent in just 10 years from 2007 to 2017. Infant mortality overall has steadily declined since 1978 from 117.9 to 14.8 per 1,000 live births. However, heart disease and stroke have both increased during that same period by 9.3 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively.

  3. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government foreign aid agency, cooperated with the Mongolian government on a variety of programs as part of a $284.9 million compact between 2007 and 2013. One of those programs was the Health Project, which aimed to combat various diseases, including heart disease and stroke. The project trained more than 17,000 medical professionals and provided equipment to more than 550 health facilities, which enabled those facilities to screen almost every Mongolian person over the age of 40 for various diseases.

  4. In Mongolia, there is a steep divide in health care access between urban and rural areas. Part of the reason for Mongolia’s low population density is that many people in rural areas practice a nomadic lifestyle. However, the healthcare system, which has been largely dependent upon foreign aid since dramatic cuts in government spending in the 1990s, has struggled to adapt to servicing such a mobile population. This lack of equal access to healthcare might explain why health indicators, including maternal and infant mortality rates, HIV/AIDS and others are generally worse in rural areas of Mongolia than in cities.

  5. In recent years, the Mongolian government, with the help of the Asian Development Bank, has significantly expanded access to healthcare for rural people. This involved building new health centers, and providing new equipment and training to existing centers and hospitals. Shilchin Degmid, a nomadic livestock herder, told the ADB that, in particular, “[e]mergency services have greatly improved.” In the end, it is estimated that 700,000 people will receive improved healthcare as a result of the initiative.

  6. Even in urban areas with more facilities, access to healthcare can be very difficult for people living in poverty. Whether they live in the city or the country, people in Mongolia living in poverty struggle to access affordable healthcare. According to Lindskog, in Mongolia, “population health and access to affordable health care are significantly linked to socioeconomic disparities.”
  7. Poverty affects more than 1 in 4 people. According to the Asian Development Bank, 29.6 percent of people in Mongolia live in poverty. However, extreme poverty has decreased dramatically since its peak of 26.9 percent twenty years ago. Today, 1 in 200 people in Mongolia lives in extreme poverty.

  8. One successful project in fighting poverty is the Alternative Livelihood Project (ALP). ALP has been conducted in a rural area of South Mongolia by the U.N. Development Programme and in collaboration with the local government and organized groups of local residents. The primary purpose of the project was to improve disaster preparedness and economic sustainability in the local economy. Support from the U.N.D.P. and the local government has helped local residents access training and start new businesses. Local residents were also better able to access wider markets for their existing businesses thanks to the U.N.D.P.’s connections elsewhere in the country.

  9. Pollution is a serious problem for the health of urban residents. Air pollution has been shown to significantly impact life expectancy throughout the world. Last year, UNICEF declared air pollution in the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, to be a child health crisis. The agency noted that Ulaanbaatar has some of the highest levels of air pollution in the world during wintertime, with pollution rates reaching as high as 133 times the safe levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

  10. One initiative working to fight air pollution is the Ulaanbaatar Clean Air Project. The project is the result of the collaboration between Ulaanbaatar’s city government, the Mongolian national government, the World Bank and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Between 2010 and 2015, the project distributed 175,000 low-emission stoves to impoverished residents of Ulaanbaatar. Most of the residents living in ger or small detached homes in Ulaanbaatar experience disproportionate levels of poverty. As a result, they heat their homes in wintertime using their stove. The new stoves that the project distributed had 98 percent lower emissions than older models of stoves, reducing pollution during winter months. Furthermore, in 2016, the project helped 200 households to insulate their homes.

 

While the effort to improve life expectancy in Mongolia faces significant challenges, progress is being made. The Mongolian government is collaborating with the United Nations Development Programme on several programs to reduce poverty, including improving economic policy planning and enhancing opportunities for entrepreneurship in rural areas. Furthermore, many organizations have worked with local organizations and governments in Mongolia to improve healthcare in a variety of ways. And while some indicators, such as economic growth, have tended to fluctuate, others, such as infant mortality, have uniformly improved in recent years. Even though challenges remain, these top 10 facts about life expectancy in Mongolia show that the future is bright.

Sean Ericson
Photo: Flickr

Gates Plans to Eradicate Malaria

Bill Gates is currently the second richest person in the world, with a net worth of $95 billion. But he also has a reputation for humanitarianism. As one of the world’s leading philanthropists, Gates is widely considered to be the most prominent humanitarian public figure. Together, he and his wife established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private, charitable foundation that globally combats poverty and enhances healthcare. Now, Gates plans to eradicate malaria by 2040.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, commonly transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. While malaria occurs in roughly 100 countries, it is most common in tropical and subtropical regions. To this end, the disease is common in regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Upon contracting malaria, a person will exhibit symptoms resembling the flu. And if left untreated, malaria can be fatal. However, this is largely preventable.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 207 million cases of malaria reported in 2012. Approximately 627,000 of these cases resulted in death. Significantly, roughly 90 percent of these estimated deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and 77 percent in children under 5 years of age. Given these statistics, the mortality rate of malaria is incredibly slight, at around 0.003 percent. Therefore, malaria does not have to result in death and, moreover, may be prevented entirely. And as Gates plans to eradicate malaria, this possibility may soon become reality.

What’s the Plan?

At the Malaria Summit London 2018, the Gates Foundation pledged to invest $1 billion through 2023 to end malaria. To date, the Gates Foundation has committed $1.6 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Additionally, it has committed almost $2 billion in grants to eradicate the disease. At the summit, Gates states, “It’s a disease that is preventable, treatable and ultimately beatable, but progress against malaria is not inevitable. We hope today marks a turning point against the disease.”

Malaria is not a mystery anymore. Cures and vaccinations already exist to combat the disease. There is a solution, it simply needs funding. Between 2000 and 2012, malaria incidence rates declined 25 percent globally. By establishing protocol, proper resources can render malaria a manageable issue. While this is no small order, Gates plans to eradicate malaria and has the capability to fund it. Undoubtedly, this will leave an indelible, positive mark on the fight for better healthcare and war against global poverty.

Lacy Rab
Photo: Flickr

Seoul, South Korea

Since the Korean War, South Korea has emerged as one of the more politically and economically free nations in the world. Home to companies like Samsung and Hyundai, South Korea’s economy has been growing for years. While South Korea has become a model for other countries in southeastern Asia, the country is also facing new challenges that a strong economy alone cannot fix. Here is a list of the top 10 facts about living conditions in South Korea.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in South Korea

  1. Life Expectancy: The life expectancy rate is one of the highest in the world. South Koreans, on average, have a life expectancy range that goes into the mid-80s for men and into the 90s for women. This means the country has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, a benefit to having free, universal healthcare coverage. Koreans’ diets consist of steam-cooked rice, vegetables and meat, constituting a healthy meal and contributing to a long and healthy life.
  2. Credit Access: South Korea is among the world’s top countries with high credit card usage. South Koreans averaged almost 130 credit card transactions per person in 2011, according to the Bank of Korea. Additionally, it is illegal for businesses to refuse credit cards, even for smaller purchases. This has created a bustling tourism and shopping industry in South Korea.
  3. High Suicide Rate: The suicide rate in South Korea is among the highest in the world. It is believed that the high suicide rate is due to the long work hours and stress in the workplace. Another factor contributing to these high rates is the level of poverty and loneliness among the elderly. The country has taken preventative measures to combat such a tragic statistic. Korean legislature continues to update and improve the Mental Health Act. The Act for the Prevention of Suicide and the Creation of Culture of Respect for Life went into effect in 2011, which sets forth policies to help prevent suicides.
  4. Youth Unemployment: The country’s economy is strong, but it is slowly declining. With such large companies like Samsung, LG and Hyundai in South Korea, many smaller businesses are having trouble cementing themselves into Korean society. These larger companies then offer less than ideal contracts to smaller companies who must accept them or risk going out of business. This is disabling young people’s ability to find jobs with a smaller market of opportunities. More than 11 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are unable to find jobs. President Moon Jae-in promises to combat the unemployment of young people during his presidency.
  5. Universal Healthcare: South Korea has adopted an affordable, universal healthcare system. It was first introduced in 1989. As mentioned above, this may be a key factor in the increase in life expectancy in South Korea. The country also created plans to help its citizens treat certain forms of dementia. It is projected that the percentage of South Koreans age 65 or older will increase to 40 percent by the year 2060.
  6. Plans to Boost the Economy: South Korea has decreased its infrastructure spending, but is increasing its minimum wage. President Moon has planned to drastically increase South Korea’s spending budget by around $420 billion in 2019. The goal is to increase the number of jobs available and to raise the minimum wage; however, these programs will also create budget cuts for infrastructure spending.
  7. Climate Change: The country is taking action on climate change. In an effort to learn more about climate change, the Korean National Institute of Environmental Research began working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other organizations in 2016. These organizations have been focusing on monitoring air quality throughout East Asia. Citizens of South Korea are affected by smog and concentrations of particulate matter that lead to respiratory illnesses. South Korean air is twice as polluted as some other countries.
  8. Low Violence Rates: South Korea has low rates of terrorism and violence. South Koreans have great respect for the rule of law, according to data from the World Bank. Citizens also have a great deal of respect for the courts and rules of society. It is possible that the impeachment of former President Park Geun-Hye in 2017 also increased confidence in the South Korean legal system.
  9. Expensive Housing: The already expensive housing prices in South Korea are increasing even more. The nation’s capital, Seoul, is the most expensive city to live in South Korea. It’s twice as expensive to live there than anywhere else in the country. During the past year, housing prices have risen 23 percent in Seoul and 12.5 percent outside of the city. To encourage young people to live in the city, the government offered 70,000 homes to newlyweds in December 2018.
  10. Long Work Weeks: South Koreans work more than the majority of other countries. In 2018, South Korea changed the maximum limit that employees may work from 68 hours to 52 per week. This change was put into effect to improve health conditions and keep laborers from becoming overworked. This bill limited the work week of South Koreans to 40 hours per week with 12 hours of optional overtime at 50 to 100 percent normal pay rate. As the last fact on this list of top 10 facts about living conditions in South Korea, it shows South Korea is prioritizing mental health and the well-being of its citizens.

South Korean has made great advancements in the quality of living conditions, but there is still room for improvement. Many younger Koreans believe that President Moon’s policies will lead to more benefits and a fairer society. These top 10 facts about living conditions in South Korea outline a promising future, but making mental health and financial stability a priority is necessary for the country’s citizens.

Jodie Ann Filenius

Photo: Flickr

Healthcare system in Angola

The Republic of Angola is a large country in Central Africa with a continuously growing population of 31 million people. Angola is on the west coast of Sub-Saharan Africa and is one of the continent’s largest countries with 1.2 million square kilometers. As a comparison, it is a little less than twice the size of the state of Texas. With the current growth, Angola’s population will triple in less than 50 years. This could pose a problem for the healthcare system in Angola as overpopulation is already becoming an issue.

Overpopulation

Angola has one of the world’s highest fertility rates as the average woman will have more than five children in her lifetime. However, the country also has the highest child mortality rate in the world with 187 per 1,000 live births. For those who do survive infancy, one in five children will die before reaching their fifth birthday. Angola ranks 23rd in the world due to its high maternal mortality rates with 477 deaths per 100,000 births.

But how exactly does the mortality rate result in overpopulation? It is all about the odds. Since one in five children on average die before they reach the age of five, families are more inclined to have more children so they have a higher chance to have at least one child reaching adulthood. A number of causes are responsible for the deaths in Angola. Among them are malaria, acute respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases, tetanus, malnutrition and more. More than just because of these initial causes, the mortality rate is so high due to the inadequate health system still being rebuilt.

A weak healthcare system

The healthcare system in Angola is split into two parts: private and public. A majority of the hospitals and clinics are close to the capital, Luanda, and very few are located in other parts of the country. Although treatment at the public level is free, the majority of the population is still limited when it comes to medical care. Due to the understaffed, underfunded and underprepared personnel, often times locals and visitors alike choose to receive treatment at the private level instead. While private clinics are considered to be better than public clinics, there is still much to improve. Pharmacies are mostly in the capital and are often extremely understocked. Hospitals will sometimes lack the necessary equipment or funds for important procedures. Angola also faces a significant shortage of physicians, with only 2,000 in the entire country.

By improving the healthcare system in Angola, the mortality rate would decrease enough to stabilize the fertility rates. Vaccines can heavily improve the current health of Angola’s population and prevent diseases from spreading. Currently, 929 health facilities out of 2409 perform routine vaccination activities. With access to sustainable clinics that provide vaccines throughout the country, the healthcare system in Angola would start to improve the lives of the citizens and lower the mortality rates.

Through strategic planning and patience, the healthcare system in Angola will be able to stabilize the current health status of its residents and help slow the overpopulation process in the country.

– Madeline Oden
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

top 10 facts of living conditions in New Zealand
Nestled in the Pacific, just off the coast of Australia, New Zealand is a two-island country made up of the North and South Island. The two islands combined have a population of 3.7 million people. New Zealand is a country with booming tourism and many sites to see. In many ways, the country is doing well in providing for its citizens, but there are some areas that still need improvement. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in New Zealand.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in New Zealand

  1. One hundred percent of the New Zealand population is registered on “community drinking water supplies.” New Zealand’s water access is tested for protozoal and bacteriological compliance, which means that the water meets E. coli standards and is treated for protozoa. However, there are differences to access between the North and South Island. Both islands have 96 percent of water access meeting the bacteriological standards. However, when testing for protozoal compliance, the North Island drops down to 86 percent, and the South Island is as low as 66 percent of water access.
  2. About 41,000 people are homeless in New Zealand, which is almost one percent of the population. Research has broken homelessness into three categories in New Zealand: chronically, episodically and transitionally. The homeless problem in New Zealand is mostly transitional at 80 percent, meaning that people generally are displaced during a transition period in their lives. People who are chronically homeless make up the lowest numbers at 5 percent of homeless individuals.
  3. Housing First focuses on placing homeless people in the greater Auckland region into houses and providing support when needed. The organization prioritizes providing housing first, then the next steps are providing support services for mental health and substance use when needed. Its aim is for individuals to keep their tenancy and pursue their goals in a community. From May 2017 until December 2018, Housing First provided housing for 376 children and 461 households overall, with 57 percent of these households being Māori, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand.
  4. The poverty rate for children living in New Zealand is 27 percent. Child poverty can be defined as a child lacking emotional and material support in order for them to develop and survive. It is estimated that 14 percent of children do not have access to basic necessities like clean clothing, housing and healthy foods. The New Zealand government has now committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and will be working to cut child poverty in half by 2030.
  5. About 11 percent of children are food insecure in New Zealand. Fortunately, companies and food businesses are concerned about hunger. SkyCity has donated more than 600 kilograms of food to rescue groups and food banks over the last two years. That is equivalent to 1,900 meals. Another large corporation, Countdown, donated $3.7 million worth of food supplies to local food banks in New Zealand. A small restaurant owner, Asher Boote, donates all of his excess food from his three restaurants back into the community through Kaibosh, a food rescue group. Both large and small businesses can help make a difference regarding hunger in New Zealand.
  6. Opening in 1994, the Child Poverty Action Group is a registered charity in New Zealand. The charity strives to end child poverty with research, education and advocacy. The organization researches the causes and effects of poverty in New Zealand and publishes its findings in order to educate the public and alert politicians and policymakers to enact change.
  7. In November 2018, New Zealand’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent, the lowest it has been in 10 years. There was no change in the annual wage growth of 1.9 percent. If economist’s predictions are correct, New Zealand may see another .5 percent in employment growth within the next fiscal quarter.
  8. New Zealand’s access to health care is free or relatively low cost compared to other countries. There is great access with more than 3,500 general practitioners in both large and small cities throughout New Zealand as well as 40 public hospitals. However, there is a lack of access to transportation problem for some. In 2016/17, it was calculated that about 7.5 percent of Māori adults and 4.8 percent of Māori children were unable to get to the general practitioner or a hospital because of the lack of transportation or lack of access to transportation.
  9. Talk Teeth is one of many programs that focuses on the health of children. This program allows any child under the age of 18 to have free basic dental care annually. Standard treatments provided are a routine check for tooth decay and gum health, fluoride treatments to protect your teeth against decay, plaque cleaning, X-rays for tooth decay and teeth extractions. Children can be enrolled as early as one year of age for the Talk Teeth program by calling or filling out forms through public schools.
  10. New Zealand’s school system is compulsory for ages six through 16. There are currently 13 years of school in the system, including both primary and secondary schooling. Most children attend state schools or public schools; only five percent of children attend private school in New Zealand. Schools focus on balancing practical and theoretical learning as well as encouraging students to get involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, or clubs. Ninety-nine percent of children were enrolled in primary school in 2016 with almost no gender disparity.
These top 10 facts about living conditions in New Zealand show that the country is trying to better the lives of all its citizens. Through large corporations, nonprofit organizations and government initiatives, New Zealand will continue to flourish in areas where it is already strong and create solutions to issues affecting its people.
– Logan Derbes
Photo: Flickr

living conditions in morocco
Morocco is a country rich in history and tradition with a unique culture that comes from Arab, Berber, French and African influences. While the country faces several economic, political and social challenges, it has also been experiencing continued growth in GDP, indicating the progress in its development. Evidence of the country’s domestic progress can be seen through its efforts in increasing school enrollment and literacy rates and reducing poverty. It has also displayed its progress internationally by taking the lead on environmental progress in the region. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Morocco.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Morocco

  1. Morocco’s government has implemented programs focused on job creation and the reduction of economic disparities that have been effective enough to improve the overall economy. Morocco represents the sixth largest economy in Africa. Its GDP growth rate increased from 2.40 percent in July 2018 to 3 percent by October 2018. Although in previous years, the GDP had been higher, this increase represents a new upswing in growth.
  2. There was slight progress in reducing unemployment in 2018, with a small drop from 10.6 percent to 10 percent by September that year. The High Commission for Planning estimates that 122,00 jobs were created within the last year. In addition, youth unemployment rates dropped from 27.5 percent to 26 percent.
  3. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded in an index evaluation that Morocco is the worst country in North Africa in terms of income inequality. The income share held by the highest 20 percent amounted to 47 percent in 2013 while the lowest 20 percent held a total of 6.70 percent. Distribution of income in Morocco is a challenge that still needs to be addressed.
  4. Although income inequality persists, the poverty rate in Morocco had decreased from 8.9% in 2007 to 4.2% in 2014. The World Bank reported an increase of 3.3 percent in consumption per capita between 2001 to 2014. However, progress is more apparent in urban areas rather than rural.
  5. In order to improve and diversify its economy, the government has been focusing on becoming more innovative. In 2010, research efforts accounted for 0.73 percent of its GDP, making Morroco one of the highest in the Arab world in that focus. In 2009, the country adopted the Moroccan Innovation Strategy by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Investment and the Digital Economy with the aim of developing domestic demand for innovation and improving innovative funding.
  6. Due to severe understaffing, the World Health Organization (WHO) had listed Morocco as one of the 57 countries that could not provide essential healthcare to its citizens in 2010. The government has since taken measures to improve this. It announced the allotment $10 billion to go towards healthcare and education as part of its $46.5 billion 2019 Finance Bill.
  7. In 2001, Morocco had implemented a program to do away with all the slums. The “City Without Slums Initiative” was set to be accomplished by 2011, but was set back considerably after terrorist attacks in 2003. Its purpose was to improve housing, sanitation and quality of life. It is currently only 68 percent complete. Of the original 85 cities that were scheduled to be updated, 58 have been completed.
  8. In partnership with USAID, Morocco has adopted measures to improve its educational system in 2017. Fewer than 15 percent of students who start in first grade are predicted to graduate from high school. The newly implemented program focuses on teacher training, after-school reading programs as well as distributing important learning materials. The program has already trained more than 340 teachers and improved literacy for 12,000 students.
  9. Literacy rates had improved substantially from 41.6 percent in 1994 to 71.7 percent in 2015. However, the adult literacy gender gap in Morocco is still a challenge that the government is facing. In 2015, the male literacy rate reached 78.6 percent; whereas, the female literacy rate was only 58.8 percent. However, these rates improve significantly when looking at the youth between the ages of 15-24. The gender gap is still present in youth, but much narrower, with roughly 88 percent for women and 95 percent for men.
  10. Similarly to the social challenges the whole region faces, Morocco is a patriarchal society. Gender inequality is embedded in the social, political, legal and economic structures of the country. However, the government has taken constitutional measures to increase gender equality. In 2004, it amended the Mudawanna legal code, guaranteeing legal rights for women in areas like property ownership, divorce and child support. Women currently make up one-third of the formal workforce and almost half of the students graduating from university.

Looking to the Future

These 10 facts about living conditions in Morocco illustrate the government’s efforts to not only achieve economic growth but develop overall. The U.N. Development Program indicated that the Human Development Index for Morocco had increased from 0.458 in 1990 to 0.667 2017. The Moroccan government’s 2019 agenda for development is focused on education and a huge investment in its citizens for the purpose of economic transformation.

Njoud Mashouka

Photo: Flickr