Information and stories about malaria.

chad_poverty
Topping the charts as one of the world’s most food-deficient countries, Chad ranks 184 out of 187 countries on the 2012 United Nations Development Program Human Development Index. With a population of around 11.5 million, nearly 87 percent of the rural residents live below the poverty line.

This economic instability is in part the result of several different conflicts over the last 50 years between different ethnic groups within the country. However, Chad is also hindered by a landlocked location and tough desert climate that makes it especially vulnerable to chronic food deficiencies. From erratic rains to locust infestations and cyclical droughts, Chad’s cereal and crop production has seen a severe decrease as of 30 percent in 2011, followed by an even more severe food and nutrition crisis in 2012.

It is a crisis that has continued to worsen, as refugees fleeing conflict in Sudan and the Central African Republic have flooded Chad. As of now, there are approximately 330,000 refugees in the country, all in need of food and shelter.

Currently the World Food Program (WFP), with the assistance of UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), has launched a number of different projects in an effort to combat hunger and fight malaria in the nation.

One such project is the Relief and Recovery Operation, started in January 2012 and set to last two years. The program’s five main objectives are to:

  1. To curb acute malnutrition among children 5 years of age and younger, as well as among lactating women.
  1. To prevent acute malnutrition to children under 2 years old.
  1. To meet adequate food needs for Sudanese and Central African refugees.
  1. To strengthen and build resilience among communities in regards to weather threats.
  1. To reestablish food security for communities and households most affected by external conflict.

The Relief and Recovery Operation also includes the distribution of blankets, general food and other supplementary supplies to over 2 million beneficiaries, at a cost of $412.8 million. Meanwhile, between January and December 2012, the WFP Food Assistance Program reached around 2 million people, 760,000 which were children. Approximately 62,000 metric tons of food valued around $91 million were delivered.

Steps are also being taken to end Chad’s malaria epidemic. Currently, 780,000 people are suffering from malaria, a number almost double that of previous years. Some experts have speculated that ongoing droughts and erratic rainfall, which could encourage mosquitoes to breed, might be responsible.  So far malaria has taken the lives of almost 2,057 people in the past year alone.

In the districts where malaria runs most rampant, supplies such as bed nets, medicines, vaccinations and other preventative treatments have been distributed by the Chad government, with the assistance of UNICEF and WHO. In a place where 33 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 23 months are not vaccinated and run the risk of disease and malnutrition, preventative measures and outside assistance offers Chad’s future its best chance.

– Jeffrey Scott Haley
Feature Writer

Sources: WFP: Countries Chad, WFP: Countries, Irin News, WFP: News
Photo: ABC

fight_hunger_fist

Abolishing hunger for 842 million people worldwide may seem like a daunting goal. After all, according to the World Food Program, hunger accounts for more deaths annually than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. However, both research and reality have shown that measurable progress can be made, often with simple initiatives and small donations.

For those individuals, organizations and governmental bodies that need encouragement in their efforts to end world hunger, here is some good news:

1. The number of hungry people in the world (842 million currently) has dropped by 156 million in the last 20 years.

There is still much work to be done, but these figures are important, in part because they show that hunger is not an insurmountable problem. A concerted effort by the international community against hunger will have impact.

2. Compared to other global initiatives undertaken by the United States, ending hunger worldwide is relatively inexpensive.

According to the UN, feeding the 66 million children throughout the world who go to school hungry each day would cost the United States $3.2 billion. In comparison, $751 billion was spent on the Iraq War and $700 billion on the Wall Street rescue plan.

3. There are also easy, inexpensive ways for people to contribute to the cause individually.

Many relief organizations have programs that are capable of providing substantial aid to the world’s hungry for minimal financial donations. For example, the World Food Program, with a donation of just one dollar, is able to provide four children with nutritious meals. Donations – made with a mouse click – are easy, cheap and have an almost immediate impact.

4. Often, eliminating hunger within a community can be as simple as educating people about sustainable agricultural methods and equipping them to practice those methods.

Once people are trained to cultivate their own food, the problem of hunger is solved in both the long-term and the short-term. Promoting sustainable agricultural practices in developing nations is a primary initiative of U.S. Agency for International Development’s campaign against hunger.

Though hunger is a huge problem in our modern world, solutions do exist. And these solutions can be practiced by anyone – from individuals donating a dollar online to the developed world committing additional funds and efforts to the fight against hunger.

– Matt Berg

Sources: World Food Program-stats, World Food Program-donate, United Nations, USAID
Photo: Spectator

Global Health Accomplishments WHO
Global health has a huge impact with poverty. In many poverty-stricken areas, a lack of proper health equipment and the spread of diseases is a major function in the poverty trap. These countries rarely have the bare minimum to handle widespread disease and other health complications, making it hard truly to combat a global health issue. Despite these bleak conditions, there have been impressive global health accomplishments. The work and time put in by programs such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made these ten necessary improvements for impoverished areas.

Global health has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Many different factors have caused this great revolution of health, but ten specific reasons can be credited with carrying the weight. Without improvement in these specific areas by programs like USAID and the CDC, many of the great advancements seen today in global health would have never had the funds to be reached.

 

Factors Contributing to Global Health Accomplishments

 

In many areas with great health risks; immunizations and vaccines are not made readily available. Without these treatments, many people are often infected by disease that could otherwise be avoided or contained with the assistance of vaccination and immunization. First, USAID immunization programs have provided the funds to treat up to three million impoverished people per year.

Many nations struggle with health issues because of water deprivation. Second, USAID introduced oral hydration therapy to these areas, in hopes it would counteract dehydration problems. As of today, the oral hydration therapy has been successful in areas all around the globe, with tens of millions of people being properly nourished through the low-cost program yearly.

Thirdly,  not only is the oral hydration therapy combatting worldwide dehydration, USAID has partnered with The United Nations Drinking Water Supply to help some 1.3 billion people receive proper water nourishment sources.

Sanitary water is a vital piece to figuring out the poverty puzzle, but the eradication of poverty begins with the young people. Fourth, the average number of children per family in impoverished nations has dropped from 6.1 in the mid-1960s to 4.2 today. In addition, infant and child deaths have decreased by 50 percent in these impoverished areas.

Fifth, USAID child survival programs have made a 10 percent child mortality rate reduction in just the past eight years. Not only has the number of children’s lives saved risen, but life expectancy has improved by 33 percent in these nations.

The decrease of major diseases worldwide is a major improvement made possible by USAID, CDC, and similar programs worldwide. Sixth, Smallpox has been eradicated, and now only exists in laboratories. Seventh, USAID has accounted for thirty-two HIV/AIDS prevention programs throughout the world.

Eighth, over 850,000 people have been reached by the HIV program, and (ninth) another 40,000 people have been trained to treat the virus. Lastly, programs like the CDC have been responsible for the diminishing malaria cases, from 2004 (2.1 million cases) to 2009 (1.8 million cases).

By combatting major poverty causing issues such as disease epidemics, unsanitary water, and child mortality rates, programs such as USAID and the CDC have been instrumental in causing the turnaround of world poverty. With the continued support from these programs, the world’s impoverished people can be assured of better conditions outside of these ten beneficial starts.

 

10 Key Global Health Accomplishments

 

1. USAID immunizations and vaccines have provided funds to treat up to three million impoverished people per year.

2. Introduction of oral hydration therapy in impoverished areas.

3. Supplied roughly 1.3 billion people proper nourishment sources.

4. Average number of children per impoverished family has dropped from 6.1 to 4.2.

5. 10 percent child mortality rate reduction.

6. Smallpox only exists in laboratories.

7. USAID has 32 HIV/AIDS programs throughout the world.

8. 850,000+ people have been reached by the HIV program.

9. 40,000 have been trained to treat HIV.

10. Diminishing malaria cases, from 2.1 million to 1.8 million over a five year period.

– Zachary Wright

Sources:  USAIDCDC

Photo: USAID

tuberculosis_vaccine
Today, scientists have new hope of controlling and ending tuberculosis. McAster University Researchers have recently come across a vaccine against tuberculosis. According to Dr. Fiona Smalil, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McAster University, the research team is “the first to develop such a vaccine for tuberculosis.”

The McAster University researchers have also explained that the new tuberculosis vaccine would “stop the spread of this highly contagious illness.”

Moreover, the vaccine would provide a more positive response in developing nations. The vaccine could save millions of lives. According to pubmed.gov, tuberculosis is out of control in developing countries. It is killing millions of people every year.

Researchers have emphasized that “In these areas, the present vaccine–Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG)–is failing.” As a result, the McAster University team hopes to create a better quality vaccine in order to reduce the number of deaths caused by tuberculosis each year.

The new vaccine was developed to act as a booster to BCG. BCG is the only TB vaccine available. Developed in the 1920s BCG has been used worldwide. Currently, the BCG vaccine is part of the World Health Organization’s immunization program in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, and Nunavut. In order to create a better vaccine, McAster researchers decided to hold a 10 year test program.

According to Dr. Smalil, McMaster researchers began the first human clinical trial in 2009, which included 24 healthy human volunteers and 12 who were previously BCG-immunized. Researchers have found that the trials have been widely successful.

By 2012 they established that the vaccine was safe, and observed a strong immune response in most trial participants. As a result, Tuberculosis could be controlled and eliminated by 2020.

– Stephanie Olaya

Sources: Science Daily, Inquisitr
Photo: The Guardian

Malaria Decline Africa Mosquito Bed Nets
Africa faces the world’s most dramatic public health crisis. Although polio is close to eradication, and more than half of African children have received the measles immunization, key public health issues continue throughout Africa.

Malaria is preventable and curable, yet it kills about 655,000 people worldwide every year. Malaria is transmitted through mosquitos infected with parasites, and it can also be passed to a growing fetus from an infected mother. Malaria causes fever, chills, muscle pain, and if not treated can result in death.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 91 percent of malaria-caused deaths occur in Africa. Moreover, 86 percent of malaria deaths globally are children. Malaria is a disease of poverty. The most vulnerable are children under five and pregnant women living in rural areas.

Malaria deaths decreased by 25 percent globally from 2000 to 2010. How was this achieved?

 

1. World Health Organization (WHO)

According to the WHO, 33 African countries have adopted artemisinin-based combination therapy as malaria treatment, which is the most effective antimalarial medicine. Other treatments include insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying, and intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy. In the WHO African region, malaria cases decreased by 50 percent between 2000 and 2008 due to these measures.

 

2. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

From 2000 to 2012, UNICEF provided over 120 million Insecticide-Treated Nets (ITNs). During this time, children sleeping under ITNs increased from 2 percent to 39 percent. As malaria-infected mosquitos bite at night, the regular use of ITNs can reduce child mortality by 20 percent.

 

3. The Global Fund

Through funding from the Global Fund, 310 million mosquito nets and 181 million cutting-edge antimalarial treatments have been distributed.

 

4.  The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)

PMI is led by USAID under a U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator and jointly implemented with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). PMI is one of the largest donors for malaria. Its goal is to half malaria for 70 percent of the at risk sub-Saharan population. PMI has chosen 19 focus countries. In Tanzania, PMI efforts, through the malaria control scale-up, have reduced all-cause child mortality (ACCM) by 10 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Through all these efforts over a million lives have been saved. Still a child dies every minute from malaria.

Widespread malaria is an obstacle to the development and growth of affected African countries and communities. For every $1 invested in malaria commodities, a $40 return can be expected in the form of productivity from healthier, better educated more productive working communities.

 – Caressa Kruth

Sources: WHO, CDC About, WebMD, UNICEF, Forbes John Lechleiter, Forbes, CDC Resources
Photo: 

mosquito_malaria
Throughout the course of history, there has never been a deadlier disease than malaria. Every year, an average of 300 million people are diagnosed with the disease, and on average, around 500,000 of those patients die. Infected mosquitos carry the disease, transmitting it to humans through a bite. This phenomenon—the origin of this disease—seems to stretch back to the earliest humans.

In light of the continuing deaths due to malaria, there is a cure. In fact, Jesuit missionaries in Peru discovered the cure to malaria over 400 years ago, in the early 1600s. Within the cinchona tree existed a substance called quinine, a treatment that is still used effectively in malaria cases today.

Since 1897, we have known how to prevent the disease. At that time, the British army surgeon Ronald Ross posited that mosquitos were the agents of the disease, a view divergent from previous notions of “bad air.” Simply, to protect against the disease, individuals need to protect themselves from mosquitos, particularly in tropical populations where the disease is rampant.

Yet, despite the quantity and quality of information regarding malaria, the disease continues to persist with vehemence today. In her TED Talk, Sonia Shah conjectured that there are three reasons for the failure to eradicate malaria: the complex science of the parasite that causes the disease, poverty and the challenges of providing adequate medical care in the developing world, and lastly, the lack of a cultural awareness in regards to the disease, much of which exists in the countries most affected by the disease.

Malaria poses a scientific challenge because of the complex parasite that causes the disease, one that lives half its life within a cold-blood mosquito and the other half within a warm-blooded human. Its resilience to attack—to the defenses of the human body—is multifaceted and unknowable. The parasite evades attacks and is constantly undergoing change. Thus, it is quite difficult to create a drug that works in all of the seemingly infinite stages of the parasite’s life cycle.

Malaria also creates an economic challenge for affected communities. The disease occurs most in countries with little resources. In order to protect from mosquitos, individuals need access to proper clothing and housing, resources that struggling communities often lack. Furthermore, beyond an inability to protect from the disease, poor communities often do not have adequate medical care (i.e. access to quinine) after contracting the disease.

Lastly, in these same countries where the disease takes many lives, there is often a failure to appropriately recognize malaria and the grave dangers it poses. Malaria has become a fairly routine part of existence, as its victims are numerous. Therefore, many have become desensitized to its seriousness and take minimal measures to prevent against mosquitos.

There is not an easy solution to eradicate malaria. However, the unnecessary loss of life incited from the disease beckons an international attempt. Governments need to improve basic conditions of life, and in doing so, educate their populations about the deleterious effects of the disease.

By eliminating malaria, our generation would forever change the course of human history, providing a certain medical security to those who need it most.

– Anna Purcell

Sources: National Geographic,, TED
Photo: NANDA

poor_village

Malaria is the result of an infection that is transmitted by mosquito bites. The parasite, once it enters the bloodstream, travels and infects blood cells. Symptoms range from simple chills to a life threatening coma.

The first and most prevalent symptom is a fever, accompanied by chills, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and sweating. While these are common symptoms for many different illnesses, including the flu, and any other viral or bacterial infection, it is also indicative of malaria. Since these are ordinary side effects, they are often the most ignored. A slight fever could be neglected with the thought that it’s “just a fever,” while in truth it’s an indicator of malaria.

More severe than the fever and chills is jaundice, which is the inflammation of the liver. Jaundice is accompanied by yellowing of the skin, and the eyes, which is a result of high levels of the bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice can be the result of many other illnesses, including cancer, or hepatitis. Jaundice is, however, one of the most obvious symptoms of malaria.  In the case of malaria, it is a symptom that can only be treated along with the illness. Because jaundice needs to be treated immediately, diagnostic tests are conducted to determine the exact cause of the jaundice, and in this process, malaria could possibly be identified.

Seizures are another side effect of malaria. Some seizures are unidentifiable, as they result in “staring spells,” while others are accompanied by spasms, convulsions, or shaking of the body. Seizures are hard to identify immediately with malaria, but only immediate medical attention can help determine exactly what is causing the seizures.

Anemia may also point to malaria, especially in areas where malnutrition is high, as this can be a result. Anemia is the condition in which there are not enough red blood cells in the body. This can be due to any kind of a dietary deficiency, so it’s hard to attribute this just to malaria.

Finally, comas are an extremely obvious symptom of malaria. Comas can also be a result of anything; for a coma to come about, the patient has to have exhibited other symptoms first. Similar to the other side effects, comas are not exclusively associated with malaria. They can be a result of many other illnesses, and nothing but a proper diagnostic test can help determine whether it is truly caused by malaria.

In all these cases, a diagnostic test normally consists of a blood test to determine whether there are any bacterial, viral, or fungal infections in the blood. Normally, malaria is easily identifiable in these blood tests, and treatment can begin immediately. In areas without proper healthcare, however, this diagnosis and treatment process can take long, and that is why prevention is the first step in defeating malaria.

– Aalekhya Malladi

CDCWHO

World_Best_Charities_Deserve_Donation
With new charities being created every day, it can be difficult to know which ones are credible, transparent and, most importantly, capable of making a difference. What makes a charity worth donating to?

Listed below are some of the world’s best global poverty focused charities:

  • Oxfam: Works with communities to empower impoverished people as well as fighting extreme poverty.
  • International Rescue Committee: Responds to humanitarian violations and provides assistance to refugees.
  • Save the Children: Improves the lives of children in the United States and around the world.
  • American Refugee Committee: Helps refugees with relocation, health, dignity, security, and self-sufficiency.
  • Partners in Health: Programs include cancer and chronic diseases, cholera, HIV/AIDS, surgery, women’s health, child health, community health workers, mental health, and tuberculosis
  • CARE International: Relief aid and international development projects.
  • Africare: Improves the lives by Africans by promoting sustainability and health.
  • UNICEF: Gives long-term care and health services to children and mothers in developing countries.
  • Episcopal Relief & Development: Alleviates hunger, improves economic opportunities, fights disease, and brings disaster relief.
  • Rotary Foundation of Rotary International: Fights poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, and disease while promoting peace.
  • Healthright International (formerly Doctors of the World): Works to bring maternal and newborn healthcare, HIV/AIDS, TB ,and malaria relief, as well as caring for people suffering from human rights violations and supporting orphans and at-risk children.

Each of these charities is highly reputable and makes a huge impact on global poverty. Without their aid, thousands of people would go without food, shelter and other basic human needs.

Mary Penn

Sources: CharityWatch, Want 2 Donate
Photo: Photopin

Irrigation_infrastructure
Irrigation, known for improving crops and overall increasing capabilities of life for centuries, may have one major drawback. With an increase in water abundance through irrigation, infrastructure such as irrigation canals are proving to be havens for mosquito growth.

Recent research shows that newly constructed irrigation infrastructure in malaria prone areas can increase the risk of malaria in the local community.

Research was conducted in the northwest region of India known as Gujarat. The research project found that when irrigation infrastructure was already established in sub-districts, such as Banaskantha and Patan, the monsoon rain influx had less of a malarial increase than sub-districts with early and transitional irrigation systems.

These transitional irrigation systems, known as “low irrigated,” were found to be the most susceptible to malaria that comes after the rainy monsoon season. In comparison, “mature irrigated” areas that had established wells and canals for over thirty years, were less affected by the mosquitoes and the disease they carry.

Led by University of Michigan graduate student, Andres Baeza, the team of researchers monitored the methods and results of a large irrigation project that was set to irrigate 47 million acres of farmland.

“In these dry, fragile ecosystems, where increase in water availability from rainfall is the limiting factor for malaria transmission, irrigation infrastructure can drastically alter mosquito population abundance to levels above the threshold needed to maintain malaria transmission” according to Baeza.

Although it has been known that malaria increases and new irrigation improvements are correlated, this new research shows that the improvements to land that eventually reduce malaria may take longer than expected for farmers in malaria prevalent regions.

This is not to persuade readers that irrigation is not worth it. On the contrary, with irrigation improvements come improved farm yields, food security, better incomes and increased access to finance and healthcare. With improved farmland, malaria is deterred and over the course of a few decades will be much lower as long as farming improvements are made accordingly.

– Michael Carney

Sources: Humanosphere, Proceedings of the National Academy of the Scienes (PNAS)
Photo: The Gef

Global_Health_Innovations
Sometimes all it takes motivate someone to make a difference is a magazine article. For Brad Gautney, founder of the nonprofit Global Health Innovations, a National Geographic article on poverty in Haiti he read during his senior year of college changed his life aspirations and lead him to dedicate many years following to providing health services to Haiti as well as Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, and Liberia.

It all started when Gautney interned at a pediatric HIV ward in Haiti. He found the work so rewarding, and the need so great, that he spent the next 10 years returning to Haiti to donate his services. He even brought his family to live there for four years to run a clinic, school and nutrition program. Eventually Gautney’s work expanded to other African countries in need, making Global Health Innovations what it is today.

Now, the organization has 6 board of directors and is making more of an impact than ever. Global Health Innovations’ biggest feat so far is what it dubs the “HITSystem” which gives aid to pregnant HIV positive mothers to ensure that they can do everything in their power to prevent passing on the disease to their child, and providing treatment if a child is infected. The system is designed to combat poor treatment systems like in Kenya, where women are all too often discouraged from bringing their children back to the hospital for testing and treatment due to poor communication.

The organization also works to distribute mosquito nets to prevent malaria, one of the leading causes of death in all of the countries the organization works in. They have handed out more than 7,000 nets in Malawi as part of their “Under the Net” campaign. According to a video posted on the organizations website, providing nets to the entire population would reduce the spread of malaria by 90%.

In addition, they have provided disaster relief in Port-au-Prince Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake. Gautney went back to the clinic where he originally began working, and set his team up to provide medical services within 36 hours of the disaster.

Gautney’s faith plays a big part in his work. He says on the organization’s website that he has seen “lives transformed by the healing power of God’s love, and in the process, [his] life was transformed by God’s love as well.”

– Emma McKay

Sources: Abilene Christian University
Photo: CNN