Information and stories about malaria.

Poverty in Chad
Located in Central Africa, the country of Chad is the fifth largest landlocked state and has a poverty rate of 42%. With a total population of approximately 15.5 million, a lack of modern medicine, dramatic weather changes and poor education have riddled the country with deadly diseases and resulted in severe poverty in Chad.

Poor Health Conditions in Chad Lead to Disease

The most common types of disease and the primary causes of death include malaria, respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS. Malaria, usually spread through mosquito bites, is a potentially fatal disease and is quite common in the country of Chad. Due to poor sanitation, Chadians are more susceptible to malaria; the most recently estimated number of cases was 500,000 per year.

Along with malaria, lower respiratory diseases contribute to Chad’s high mortality rate – the most common and deadliest of those being meningitis. Lower respiratory tract infections occur in the lungs and can sometimes affect the brain and spinal cord. A lack of available vaccinations in the country has increased susceptibility to meningitis. Meningitis is most deadly in those under the age of 20, and with a countrywide median age of 16.6 years old, Chad has seen a rise in total meningitis cases and overall deaths.

As of 2015, there were an estimated 210,000 Chadians living with HIV. According to UNAIDS, there were 12,000 AIDS-related deaths just last year, along with 14,000 new cases. Those living with HIV/AIDS are at a higher risk of death with their compromised immune systems. They are unable to fight off diseases and, with the preexisting severe risk of malaria and meningitis, they are more susceptible to death.

Harsh Weather and its Role in Food Insecurity and Disease

Due to its geography, Chad is one of the countries most severely affected by environmental challenges. Approximately 40% of Chadians live at or below the poverty line, with the majority relying heavily on agricultural production and fishing. The drastic change in rain patterns and the consequent frequency of droughts have placed a significant strain on their food supply. Fishing in particular has been sparse. Lake Chad, the country’s largest lake, has diminished by 90% in the past 50 years. The rising temperatures in Chad have caused a decrease in both crop yields and good pasture conditions, placing more strain on those who depend on Lake Chad for food and the nutrients it adds to farming.

In addition to affecting poverty in Chad, intense weather patterns have also increased the number of infectious diseases. The infrastructure of the country has not been able to keep up with the rapidly growing population in urban areas. This results in poor sanitation. The sanitation services are overwhelmed during floods, which contaminates the water supply.

Lack of Education Affects Poverty in Chad

Despite the relatively large population, less than half of school-aged children attend school. With attendance rates so low, the literacy rates in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 fall; currently, they only reach 31%. According to UNICEF, attendance rates are astonishingly low; 8% for children in upper secondary school and 13% for lower secondary school. With education rates so low, income inequality, infant and maternal deaths and stunting in children continue to rise; as a result, the overall economic growth of the country declines.

Enrollment is low in Chad due to the lack of resources in schools. With the country in severe poverty, schools remain under-resourced, both in access and infrastructure. Some schools have no classrooms and no teaching materials. Furthermore, students often outnumber teachers 100:1. As a result, the quality of learning decreases, as does the overall attendance rate.

As of now, only 27% of primary-school-age children complete their schooling. According to UNESCO, if adults in low-income countries completed their secondary education, the global poverty rate would reduce by half. Even learning basic reading skills could spare approximately 171 million people from living in extreme poverty. Educated individuals are more likely to develop important skills and abilities needed to help them overcome poverty. Education also decreases an individual’s risk of vulnerability to disease, natural disasters and conflict.

Poverty in Chad is widespread, and the rate of impoverished people will continue to grow if it is not addressed. Poor health conditions and a lack of education are just a few of the many problems people face; while the living conditions may seem dire in Chad, a gradual decrease in overall poverty rates proves that there is hope.

Jacey Reece
Photo: Flickr

innovative technologies stopping malariaMalaria has plummeted by 40% fifteen years after 2000. A report that NCBI published attributed this to mosquito preventative measures like bed netting and insecticides. These interventions and practices, like wearing light color clothing, help at-risk populations fight malaria. However, mosquitos are learning to fight back. Resistance to insecticides is evolving in mosquitos and malaria continues to afflict millions. In 2018, there were still 228 million cases of malaria and 405,000 deaths. Over 90% of these cases and deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, but there are many interventions that have the potential to stop malaria. Here are three innovative technologies stopping malaria.

3 Innovative Technologies Stopping Malaria

  1.  The SolarMal Project: The SolarMal project is part of a new arsenal of defenses against mosquitos and their diseases beyond the typical netting and spray. SolarMal is a solar-powered mosquito trapper. The solar panel mainly serves to power a vent in the SolarMal, but it also has been able to store and serve as an electricity provider for the houses it protects. The solar panel sits on the roof of a house and connects to a trapping device on the ground. Inside the trapper is an odorous chemical that mosquitos prefer to people. A ventilation unit then sucks the hungry mosquitos inside where they cannot escape. On the Island of Rusinga, the SolarMal project has decreased the mosquito population by 70% and malaria incidence by 30%. This technology works and is applicable to other mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika virus and dengue fever.
  2. DJI Phantom: There are two places experts try to stop mosquitos: in their breeding grounds and in their feeding grounds. Netting, insecticides and the SolarMal project work to prevent malaria in mosquito feeding grounds in the towns and residences where people live. DJI Phantom is the name of a low-cost drone that can survey wilderness and find mosquito breeding grounds. Of these three innovative technologies stopping malaria, the Phantom is the most indirect but also one of the most essential. There are many ways to limit mosquito breeding once people have found their habitats but discovering them has now become much more efficient. High-resolution satellites can also be helpful in finding mosquito breeding grounds. However, these methods are very expensive and require perfect weather conditions. This is difficult as most mosquitos breed in wet areas that typically have cloud coverage. Drones offer a cheaper and more consistent method to discover mosquito habitats. In 30 minutes of fly time, this drone can capture 30 hectares to analyze for still bodies of water. Field surveys of breeding grounds could only spot half the water bodies the drone was able to discover. Once people have located the mosquito breeding grounds, they may disperse chemicals or oils to disrupt mosquito larvae.
  3.  Gene-Drive: The nonprofit Target Malaria develops mosquito solutions using CRISPR gene-editing technology. There are three phases of genetic modification that Target Malaria conducts. For the first phase, scientists are developing sterile male mosquitos to release into the wild. Male mosquitos do not bite people and when the sterile males mate with female mosquitos, they do not produce offspring. This method can decrease their population but only for one reproduction cycle. Phase two looks to decrease the population over a longer period of time. This stage is the self-limiting stage and it aims to make a reproduction bias towards male mosquitos. Phase two genetic modifications will undergo natural selection after some time. In the following stage three, Target Malaria will look to make these genetic changes permanent. Creating a male bias mutation that successfully survives between generations, the number of female mosquitos will decrease 10-fold and severely limit the population. Target Malaria is still in the initial phases, but it must take great care as there could be many unknown side effects on an ecosystem.

Stopping malaria is a focus for many African communities and there are many organizations looking into possible solutions to stop the spread and hopefully eradicate this disease. Estimates determine that eradicating malaria by 2040 would save 11 million lives and surge $2 trillion of economic growth. Advancements like these three innovative technologies stopping malaria are making this future vision possible.

– Brett Muni
Photo: Flickr

Malaria in ZanzibarMalaria is both highly infectious and fatal and is often spread by the bites of infected mosquitos. The disease is treatable, but only if it is correctly identified quickly. As a result, there are an estimated 228 million cases of malaria worldwide with more than 405,000 deaths in 2018 alone. According to the World Health Organization, Africa has the highest number of malaria cases, with the most common cases occurring in pregnant women, patients with HIV/AIDS and children under 5 years of age. With such a devastating impact across the continent, African governments have taken special measures in order to combat the threat of the disease. Some countries have begun to work towards their own novel solutions, such as the usage of drones to combat malaria in Zanzibar.

Zanzibar’s Drones

Over the past decade, the island nation of Zanzibar (located off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean) has begun to develop a novel way to fight malaria. Recently, thousands of households have installed mosquito nets over their beds and sprayed insecticide over their homes in order to reduce the likelihood of getting bites. These strategies have proved beneficial as the number of cases of malaria in Zanzibar’s population dropped from 40% to 10%. The next phase of the plan involves spraying drones to directly target the mosquitoes themselves.

The Process

As it turns out, the only mosquitoes that spread malaria are the females of the genus Anopheles. The Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program (ZAMEP) has created a strategy to take the fight directly towards breeding habitats of those mosquitos: pools of stagnant water, such as those found in Zanzibar’s many rice paddies. Researchers have developed a novel liquid compound called Aquatain AMF. The compound is non-toxic and biodegradable and doesn’t damage crops like traditional spraying pesticides. Aquatain AMF works by acting like a gel over the surface of water where female mosquitoes lay their eggs. Consequently, the larvae drown before they can mature to adult mosquitos who can potentially spread malaria. In addition, the drones can survey the land to detect locations with high expected levels of mosquito breeding and can spray Aquatain AMF over eight hectares in one hour, far faster than can be done by hand.

Moving Forward

Currently, the drones are still in the testing stage and the government has to mass-produce them. Future steps include designing smartphone apps to guide ground-based spraying teams from drone footage and using automatically disseminating larvicide in the drones to speed up the process. However, there are several concerns about the drones. Drone operations need to watch out for collisions with aircraft and wildlife. Furthermore, the island natives have concerns about the drones mainly regarding an invasion of privacy and the association with warfare. Still, researchers are working with village elders in order to explain the methodology and process involved in the drones and how they can benefit from this technology. Should the testing phase continue to proceed smoothly, it may be possible that the research team can put their stamp on a machine that can eradicate malaria in Zanzibar and maybe even off the face of the planet.

– Aditya Daita

Photo: Pixabay

 

Poverty in MalawiLocated in Africa’s Southern region, Malawi is a nation-state with a size comparable to that of the state of Pennsylvania and a population estimated to reach a little more than 20 million by July 2020. The country is primarily dependent on the agricultural sector which employs close to 80% of the population and remains predominantly rural. Poverty in Malawi is very high and it manifests itself in various indicators, such as in the economy, education and health care, rendering it one of Africa’s poorest nations. Here are six facts about poverty in Malawi.

6 Facts About Poverty in Malawi

  1. Throughout the past few decades, Malawi had made tangible progress in several areas of human development. For instance, primary education completion rates have increased by 17% between 2004 and 2013. Meanwhile, mortality rates for children under 5 decreased by approximately 48% between 2004 and 2015. Similarly, the country’s maternal health has improved as mothers are receiving necessary prenatal and birth care as well as increasingly using contraceptives.
  2. Despite the abovementioned improvements, Malawi continues to have high poverty rates, posing substantial challenges to human development and growth in the African nation’s quality of life. In 2017, its GDP per capita (PPP) amounted to only $1,200, leading it to rank among the poorest countries in the world.
  3. In 2016, Malawi’s poverty rate reached 51.5%. That number remained slightly unchanged at 52% in 2018, according to a 2018 integrated household report, which emerged as a result of a joint effort between the Malawian government and UNICEF. The report also highlights child poverty as a particularly problematic issue as more than two-thirds of children in rural areas in Malawi live in poverty.
  4. Higher poverty rates in a given society tend to go hand in hand with sizable challenges underpinning the state of the economy. Malawi’s dependence on agriculture implies that climate-related problems can be a serious threat to its national economic wellbeing. This was the case during the 2015 and 2016 drought, which negatively impacted the country’s economy. Alinafe Nhlane, a mother and farmer in Muona Village, exemplified another instance of Malawi’s economic volatility when she recounted that she had lost all of her crops as a result of the 2019 Cyclone Idai.
  5. In addition to the fact that an estimated 1 million Malawians are living with HIV/AIDS and that the degree of risk of infection with diseases such as hepatitis A, typhoid fever and malaria is very high, the physician/population ratio in the country is quite low at 0.02 in 2016. In light of the recent COVID-19 global developments, the U.N. Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Maria Jose Torres, expressed her fears that the spread of the virus, even if minuscule, could be destructive to the country’s feeble health care system.
  6. On the other hand, it is notable that UNICEF and U.K. Aid have worked to distribute hygiene and sanitation materials throughout Malawian districts to lead the fight against the virus. Ms. Nhlane also benefited from the $33 she received from the World Food Program (WFP), aid which she will use to feed her family.

Looking Ahead

Malawi indeed continues to face paramount challenges that threaten the very livelihood and wellbeing of its citizens. Nonetheless, it has improved in many aspects including child health. For progress to spread and increase in scope and magnitude, however, it remains critical for the efforts addressing poverty in Malawi to carry on.

– Oumaima Jaayfer
Photo: Flickr

Malaria in ThailandThailand is home to nearly 70 million people. The Asian country is known for tropical beaches, opulent palaces and lush elephant rainforests. This extravagant subtropical climate is perfect for tourism but also serves as a breeding ground for mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria. Symptoms of malaria range from fever, seizures and even death. 

5 Facts About Malaria in Thailand

  1. Around 45 percent of the population is at risk of contracting malaria. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 32 million people are at risk of being infected with malaria in Thailand. The country is filled with more than 46 million acres of thick jungle and rainforest. Many citizens live in these dense ecosystems, along with several species of mosquito. The most dangerous areas of transmission are border regions, like the borders with Myanmar and Cambodia. These regions have an abundant population of highly infectious female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  2. The wet season poses the highest risk. The highest risk of malaria in Thailand lies during the rainy season when mosquitoes are most active. The wet season typically occurs from mid-May to mid-October. During this period the presence of the mosquitoes that carry malaria parasites is much higher than other seasons. Of note, the rural areas of Thailand tend to be more affected while larger cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pattaya do not experience a high risk of malaria even during the wet season.
  3. Malaria control mechanisms greatly reduce the risk of spreading the disease. Mass free distribution of materials such as insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN) and the practice of indoor residual spraying (IRS) reduce the risk of contracting malaria substantially. By eliminating the transmitters, these insecticides are simultaneously eliminating the parasite. The WHO attributes Thailand’s advancement in preventing the spread of the disease to these materials and methods that have proven to provide powerful results.
  4. The Global Fund and UNICEF are helping. In 2010, Thailand’s funding for malaria control exceeded 7 million dollars. Funding has gradually increased year by year, mainly financed by the Global Fund and UNICEF. Thailand, a still-developing country, relies heavily on external aid to support health initiatives. Organizations like Global Fund and UNICEF are saving lives from preventable diseases like malaria through continuous aid.
  5. Cases and deaths of malaria in Thailand are declining. New malaria cases have declined since 2000 and continue to do so rapidly. There are less than 70 annual deaths of malaria in Thailand, which is almost a 90 percent reduction from 20 years ago. The nation’s successes in reducing malaria mortality are attributed to the increased funding for malaria control mechanisms, such as ITNs, LLINs, IRS and other forms of insecticidal materials.

These five facts about malaria in Thailand indicate a positive turn for the developing nation. Although, in rural areas, the disease persists with severity. With continued support from humanitarian aid organizations, Thailand can achieve minimal malaria cases with various control mechanisms.

– Hadley West
Photo: Pixabay

The Malaria Crisis in India
The malaria crisis in India has been an ongoing issue for centuries. However, along with the rest of the world, India has been making significant progress throughout the past few years with respect to decreasing its malaria cases. While millions are still at risk, India has implemented multiple health care plans that have contributed to its malaria reduction.

 What is Malaria?

Malaria is a parasite that mosquitoes spread and can produce a wide range of symptoms including fever, chills, sweating, mental confusion and gastrointestinal symptoms. Malaria is most common in warm, humid and rainy climates because that is where the parasite is able to survive and complete its growth cycle. This is why malaria has been such a prevalent disease in India and in other countries close to the equator. However, despite the stagnant weather patterns, India has been making strides towards a malaria-free nation.

In 1995, there were approximately a total of 2.93 million cases of malaria in India, with about 1,151 deaths from the disease. In comparison, 2017 saw approximately 0.84 cases of the disease in the nation and only 194 deaths.

Eliminating Malaria

Due to a combination of factors, India is on track to complete its goal of total elimination of malaria by 2027. The nation has taken the disease very seriously and has strengthened both its Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) and the National Health Mission (NHM). A combination of these two programs has helped health professionals and citizens respond to the malaria crisis in India.

A few different strategies currently control malaria cases in India. One is vector control, which means that people control mosquitoes in high-risk areas of malaria with personal protective measures and environmental awareness. Early Case Detection and Prompt Treatment (ECDPT) is a necessary strategy for all cases of malaria, as it not only improves symptoms of the disease in those already infected, but it also helps prevent the spread of the disease by providing treatment at the time of infection.

Since malaria is a very widespread disease across Asia, India is a member of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN). This is a network that the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) runs, which has the goal of eliminating malaria and sharing action plans across the countries of that region.

Though there is not a malaria vaccine yet, multiple countries in Africa are currently testing a vaccination program that could make its way to India if successful. A vaccine would be economically friendly for those who are among the poorest in India or live in remote areas, where 90 percent of malaria cases occur. The vaccine would also solve the recent issue of drug-resistant parasites.

World Malaria Day

Every year, on April 25, people celebrate World Malaria Day to encourage everyone’s education about the disease and how to prevent its spread. Four percent of all malaria cases occur in India, a substantial amount, which is why it is important that the awareness of the disease is prevalent in the country.

With the significant progress that the country has made in eliminating malaria, India will continue to defy odds by continuing to empower communities and committing to further action plans.  This will ensure that the malaria crisis in India will no longer pose a major threat to its population.

– Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Pixabay

Mobile Technology Solutions for Developing Countries
Mobile line subscriptions in developing countries are at 98.7 percent. In fact, nations with lower economies have more access to mobile devices than to water or electricity. Here are five mobile technology solutions for developing countries.

5 Mobile Technology Solutions for Developing Countries

  1. iCow: A Kenyan farmer named Su Kahumbu Stephanou created an application called iCow. One can easily download the app to a mobile device and run it off of SMS, which can make it accessible to the vast majority of people. The app helps farmers and shepherds track the gestation periods of their cows. It can also connect farmers to each other so they can offer advice on taking care of their animals. The app provides the user with helpful locations such as insemination centers and veterinarians. Moreover, the system has a menu so the users can select what they need wherever they are. This improvement makes it much easier for users to monitor the health of their cows. The regions using iCow the most are Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania. App usage has resulted in both income and productivity. In addition, it serves to improve milk, poultry, eggs, crops, soil fertility, mortality rates and overall health.
  2. RapidSMS: RapidSMS is an open-source platform that UNICEF and Pivot Access developed in 2007. It originally emerged to collect data and create activities for children. However, it adapted to its user bases’ needs over time. Now, RapidSMS lets users make data collection and SMS services in its communities. This makes information available over the internet to all users. The app is also able to register births, monitor nutrition and remotely diagnose patients. The regions using RapidSMS the most are Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
  3. M-PESA or Mobile Pesa: This application works with money. It is a mobile system that helps users transfer, deposit and withdraw money. M-PESA is for people who cannot access these services because of their location. The application works through SMS by loading money onto a SIM card and sending it to its desired phone. The minimum amount of money is KSHS 101 and the maximum is KSHS 70,000. In addition, it converts the amount into cash at any legitimate establishment. Then, the recipient receives said funds in their country’s currency. Villages in Kenya mostly used M-PESA, but it has expanded to countries in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. If one wishes to send money to someone in South Africa, they must first enter a secret word. Additionally, the recipient must know this word in order to receive the money. App usage resulted in an increase in income and a decrease in petty crime related to money.
  4. WorldReader: WorldReader is an NGO, with the support of USAID and other institutions, that distributed upwards of 30,000 e-readers in 16 African countries. Its application translates books into 52 languages. Also, the application makes education and reading much more prevalent in developing countries. So far, it has 35,000 titles for its user base of more than 10 million.
  5. Malaria-Diagnosing App: An upcoming application has the design to detect malaria in patients. More people will be able to use the application because it will be automated and mobile. The system uses Giemsa-stained peripheral blood samples, light microscopy, AI and image processing techniques to find Plasmodium falciparum species, a parasite that carries malaria. Concepts from the integral image and haar-like features inspire the algorithm. Thus far, its accuracy is 91 percent. Once released, it plans should be easily accessible through health centers and mobile devices. In addition, its automation makes it much easier for medical professionals to diagnose malaria without expensive equipment or much knowledge of malaria itself.

These five mobile technology solutions each allow a unique benefit to challenges that developing countries face. Through technology like iCow, M-PESA and WorldReader, farmers can maximize their crops, those with limited access to financial institutions can still deposit and transfer money, while people can access multitudes of books in their chosen language.

– Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr

New Ebola and Malaria Vaccines
In December 2019, the Gavi Board, an organization that improves the accessibility of immunizations to vulnerable children, approved a new program that will allocate new Ebola vaccines. A new funding initiative will invest about $178 million by 2025 for a new program to develop the vaccines. The decision is monumental in leading global health emergency stockpiles, which will grow to 500,000 doses.

Ebola’s Effect on Poverty

A study in December 2014 in Liberia indicated that the infectious disease hits poorer neighborhoods most. People in poverty are 3.5 times more likely to contract the disease than those in wealthier areas. Due to the dense population and lack of sanitation and health care facilities, the people in these communities are more susceptible to the virus. Ebola first appeared on an epidemic level in West Africa in 2014. While it existed prior to that, those cases were more contained. Crowded urban areas resulted in higher transference, further developing the outbreak.

Malaria Vaccines

In addition to the Ebola vaccine, Gavi approved continued steps in curating an implementation program for new malaria vaccines. The routine distribution of these vaccines will reduce child death significantly. Malaria is the primary cause of death of children under 5-years-old, with a reported 228 million cases and 405,000 deaths in 2018 alone. Malaria is also one of the top four causes of poverty, according to the United Nations. Its lack of affordable measures has strained many African economies, costing an estimated $30 billion a year. Many people cannot afford efficient medication and 20 percent often die due to poorly distributed drugs.

Countries affected by poverty and low income will have access to these vaccination campaigns free of charge, which will help boost economies. Countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have continually experienced rash Ebola outbreaks, with the latest one being in August 2018. Since then, the DRC has grappled with over 2,200 lives lost and 3,421 more reported cases in January 2020. In July 2019, the World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak a public health emergency that called for international concern.

The US Fights Against Ebola

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will also participate in close efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak in the DRC. The FDA granted programs in order to advance the development of new drugs that will lead to the prevention of tropical diseases. People primarily contract Ebola through direct contact with bodily fluids, blood and infected wild animals or people. Limiting these factors is difficult, but with proper medication and programs, along with the investments in sanitation and health care facilities, outbreaks will significantly reduce. These types of decisions are paramount in shifting the United States’ focus to a more global standpoint in regards to large-scale poverty.

The development of Ebola and malaria vaccination pilots is essential to the sustainability of areas affected by extreme poverty. Preventable measures will reduce the risk of contracting infectious diseases among these low-income communities. These comprehensive overviews will scale back the rate of Ebola outbreaks in African regions, which will also cut back on excessive government spending. Vaccination programs will help prevent 24 million people from facing extreme poverty by 2030. People could prevent a quarter of deaths that the outbreaks caused through simple vaccination, which makes these programs all the more noteworthy. The Gavi Board and the FDA’s efforts in launching new malaria and Ebola vaccines will contribute to the positive impact.

Brittany Adames
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Because International is Aiding Children
There is an invention that is changing the lives of millions living in poverty around the world. A leather sandal, called The Shoe That Grows, has been making a big difference for children living without shoes that properly fit them. Kenton Lee, a pastor and founder of the nonprofit organization Because International, designed the shoe. He came up with the idea during a six-month stay in Kenya. He originated this new brand of footwear that has benefited those who have outgrown their previous pairs of shoes. Because International is aiding children in developing countries that live without proper-sized shoes and are vulnerable to serious injuries and parasites.

More than 300 children from poor families are in need of a pair of properly fitting and long-lasting shoes. Using materials around his house, Lee used the plastic part of a baseball cap to have a makeshift expanding shoe. He also used tacks and soft foam to create pegs, allowing the shoe to expand.

“The design process was interesting because I am not a designer, and I knew nothing about shoes,” Lee told Bored Panda. “I was just a normal guy with an idea.”

Helminth Infections

More than 225,000 pairs of adjustable sandals are distributed to more than 100 countries around the world. The previous lack of this resource has prevented kids from attending school daily and staying healthy. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide have suffered from soil-transmitted helminth infections, in which parasitic worms transmitted by eggs pass through the feces of those infected by the disease. The adult worms live in the intestines where they produce eggs every day. Helminth infections also weaken an individual’s nutritional status by feeding on host tissues including blood which leads to a loss of protein and iron. In addition to helminth infections, hookworms, which are also parasitic, cause intestinal blood loss that results in anemia.

As for the organization’s long-term goals, it plans on continuing distribution to poor countries. This provides an economic improvement, in which job creation appears, low shipping for merchants, decreased carbon footprinting and overall innovation of footwear that will increase economic growth while fighting poverty.

The Bednet Buddy

Because International is also aiding children through its invention to protect kids vulnerable to mosquitoes. The Bednet Buddy is also available on its official website; a pop-up net lined with long-lasting insecticides, which are synthetic substances for killing insects. The Bednet Buddy has the guarentee to protect children aged 5 and under from mosquito bites while sleeping. Lee, who also invented this protective kit, came up with the idea during the same visit to Kenya. He visited an orphanage where children were sleeping without bedding or a roof over their heads during the night, leaving them more vulnerable for mosquito bites, increasing the chance of catching malaria.

The organization has made about 1,000 nets and sent 700 to the west-central region of Africa for testing, so the organization has already manufactured the product and some have already used it. Because International is still working toward making improvements to the product that it has yet to reveal.

GroFive

Because International also has a sister company for commercial use called GroFive. Because International primarily owns GroFive and is a small-time player in the American footwear industry. Where parents typically run out to buy their children more pairs of shoes, costing them hundreds of dollars, the company decided to use the idea of The Shoe That Grows for American consumers. The key is to sell the product domestically where parents can purchase this type of shoe for a low price instead of buying multiple pairs for higher prices. GroFive sells its expanded sandals, or “expandals,” for both kids and adults at $39.95 a pair.

Pursuit Incubator

In addition, Because International has also developed a program for struggling entrepreneurs to take their new ideas to the next level. Known as the Pursuit Incubator, Because International offers training to get new businesses off the ground and to mobilize them to their target audience. It even gives guidance and funding that help support these new entrepreneurs as they embark on growing their businesses.

Overall, Because International is aiding children through its consistency in making products and services that can help serve those in need. In addition to The Shoe That Grows, it is capable of making more products. It can market these for use in underprivileged and developed nations alike. Finally, it provides services to help others with their own products.

– Tom Cintula
Photo: Flickr

Our Health Reduces Mosquito-Borne Illnesses
Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, including malaria and the Zika virus, abound in hotter, more humid countries and regions including Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and tropical areas of Southeast Asia, Oceania and Africa. Whereas malaria has many symptoms like high fever, diarrhea, nausea and sweating, the Zika virus is not as easily detectable. Its symptoms are milder, and this includes rashes, itching, high fever and muscle pain. Accordingly, the organization Our Health reduces mosquito-borne illnesses in Honduras through numerous efforts.

The Ways that Our Health Reduces Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Our Health is a project that Global Communities runs and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funds. It works with the Honduran Ministry of Health (SESAL). There are two parts to Our Health, which focuses on strengthening communities and improving education.

The goals of the first part are to increase the number of response activities in Honduran communities to prevent Zika transmission and to improve the communication of said activities. This focus is on the poor, urban areas of Honduras, including Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Choloma, La Lima and Villanueva. At the moment, Our Health has 36 health establishments and 360 communities to help prevent the spread of the Zika virus. However, being successful in promoting the power of communities means it must have a way to implement this community-based solution. Its implementation phase takes an estimated three years with the first phase taking one year. The first phase fosters community-led responses to Zika outbreaks and building up communities in general. The second phase takes the remaining two years. This phase continues to strengthen the relationships from the first phase, organizing the community, allocating responsibilities and promoting positive behavior.

The second part of Our Health focuses on three aspects:

  1. Education
  2. Working with the Honduran Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health
  3. Improve understanding of these diseases including how they spread and how people can prevent them
Our Health reduces mosquito-borne illnesses by educating children to bring awareness to their families. The children can teach their families what they have learned. This does not have a predicted time period but has already started in 76 educational centers in Honduras, benefiting 29,000 kids and 1,230 teachers. The program provides teachers with virtual training and teaching materials to prevent the transmission and spread of Zika. This also supports the first part of Our Health in promoting community participation. Moreover, fifth and sixth graders receive education on how to prevent disease through a number of activities including theater, poetry, singing and drawing, as well as creating models to show their own knowledge about the Zika virus. The teachers firmly believe that addressing Zika in the classroom and spreading the knowledge to homes and communities is vital.

General Solution to Malaria

The Honduran Ministry of Health recently received a donation of more than 12 million lempiras (around $487,899 USD) in Hudson pumps, deltamethrin and bendiocarb (insecticides) and mosquito nets treated with long-lasting insecticide. People also know this as MTILD. It is using this donation to fight Anopheles and Aedes mosquitoes which spread the Zika virus. MTILD use in vector control strategies and are effective in preventing malaria.

The Ministry of Health implemented these methods in Gracias a Dios and Islas de la Bahía. In addition, the Ministry of Health installs the insecticide-filled pumps in each home. This helps spray the homes on a bi-yearly basis and keeps mosquitoes away. In 2018, two spray cycles sprayed around 50,000 homes. As a result, this helped 303,467 people. Furthermore, in 2019, it expected to spray around 60,000 double-cycle homes. This protected an additional 218,959 people. For 2020, the biyearly spray might increase by 62,050 and with an additional 116,872 mosquito nets installed. As for cases of malaria, as of 2017, 1,287 people received treatment against malaria. In 2018, there were 651 cases. Additionally, the project hopes to lower it to zero cases in 2020.

Honduras’s Health Surveillance Unit works towards controlling malaria in the country. Over the past three years, malaria cases have been lower than 56 percent in the six biggest departments of Honduras. It works together with communities to address malaria Also, Honduras’s Health Surveillance Unit monitors the areas with surveillance, increases their coverage and secures treatment for victims.

Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr