Women Empowerment Organizations in Sub-Saharan AfricaWomen’s empowerment is a critical component in achieving development and sustainably reducing poverty. It increases the quality of life for men and women globally. Gender parity would allow for a $28 trillion increase in the global GDP. In addition, women typically invest in their families and communities more than men. This will contribute to overall economic and social growth. Sub-Saharan Africa is a rapidly developing region. However, there are serious challenges when it comes to gender equality in terms of education, economic rights, leadership opportunity and access to healthcare. Gender parity in sub-Saharan Africa will specifically allow for $721 billion in growth to the GDP. For the region to develop and grow to its full potential, the gender gap must be addressed. Many women’s empowerment organizations are working to address gender gaps. Here are four gender empowerment organizations operating in sub-Saharan Africa

4 Gender Empowerment Organizations

  1. Africare: Africans and Americans founded Africare in the 1970s. Africare is a non-governmental organization with the mission of improving the quality of life of people in Africa. Since its beginning, Africare has provided more than $1 billion in assistance to tens of millions of people across the African continent. The organization does this by addressing Africa’s development and policy issues. In addition, Africare partners with African people in an effort to build sustainable communities. Africare’s approach includes community engagement, capacity building, locally-driven behavior change and innovative public-private partnerships. Africare is a women’s empowerment organization that believes providing resources to African women is beneficial to African societies. Additionally, as women receive education and higher legal status, they are able to provide their households with better nutrition and access to healthcare. Moreover, Africare works to provide greater leadership opportunities for women by working with local partners. Africare provides leadership coaching, literacy training, business training and market access for African women.
  2. Make Every Woman Count (MEWC): Make Every Woman Count is an African, women-led organization that works in mobilization, networking, advocacy and training African women. The organization helps build women’s leadership capability and works towards changes in policy to be more supportive of women. The work is largely online, using the potential of the internet to reach out to women in Africa. In addition, MEWC plays a huge role in information proliferation. They give guidance to other organizations and grassroots movements operating to empower women in Africa. In addition, the organization also provides a platform for women to exchange ideas and create networks to “establish female leaders in Africa.” Furthermore, MEWC’s major goal is to make sure that African women “have a strong voice in governance institutions.”
  3. Asante Africa Foundation: The Asante Africa Foundation is primarily an educational organization. Its mission is to educate and empower the next generation of agents of change. In 2018 alone, the organization was able to impact 23,085 lives. Moreover, it understands the specific challenges that face women and girls in aspects of access to education in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the foundation has programs that are female-centric to aid in these issues. The foundation pioneered the Girls’ Advancement Program. This is one of the women’s empowerment organizations that centers around the idea that using girls’ education promotes development and economic growth. Moreover, the Girls’ Advancement Program takes a holistic approach by taking into account the “cultural, social and health factors.” All of these factors are relevant and correlated to the gender gap in education. The program aims to do this by creating safe spaces, educating in reproductive health, building peer support and mobilizing women as mentors in their communities.
  4. Men Engage: Non-governmental organizations along with U.N. agencies formed Men Engage in 2004. The organization works to engage men and boys in the struggle for gender equality. The coalition is made up of organizations like the Family Violence Prevention Fund, International Planned Parenthood Federation, WHO, UNDP and so forth. The understanding that men play an important role in achieving gender equality is essential to the alliance. In addition, the alliance is working at the national level in many African nations through its MenEngage Africa section to create a dialogue with key individuals, policymakers and advocates working locally to make gender equality a reality. Its sub-Saharan African Regional Symposium brought together delegates from 25 countries, resulting in the MenEngage Africa Declaration and Call to Action.

These women’s empowerment organizations are doing important work in addressing gender inequality and building capabilities. Women’s empowerment is a necessary focus on creating sustainable development and reducing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and globally.

Treya Parikh

Photo: Flickr

agricultural developmentThe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the world’s most recognized foundations. It has a penchant for global awareness unlike any other. Started in 1999, the Gates Foundation has developed into an international organization across five continents and 138 countries. Additionally, the Gates Foundation has amassed an endowment of $46.8 billion. In the past two years alone, the foundation has provided close to $10 billion in direct grantee support. One of the Gates Foundation’s areas of focus is agricultural development in impoverished countries.

Agricultural Development

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded billions in research and grants in support of agricultural development. The vast majority of funds have gone towards making staple crops more resilient, farmers’ education on irrigation and techniques on pest or disease control.

The foundation stands by the idea that livestock offers the chance to improve both income and nutrition for those in poverty or extreme poverty. It also increases the livelihood of women in particular who stand to be the largest group overwhelmed by extreme poverty. Africa, in particular, is the continent with the highest probability in the agricultural sector. In Eastern Africa, more than 70 percent of individuals rely on small farms for both income and sustainment.

Poultry Donation

In a partnership with Heifer International, Bill and Melinda Gates donated 100,000 chickens to sub-Saharan African families, which helped to create a sustainable poultry market in the region. The science behind the donation is evident in the $300 yearly income increase that families who received a chicken saw. This furthers the effort to provide vaccinated chickens suitable to the area and its conditions. The goal is to provide 30 percent of families in the region with vaccinated poultry.

Heifer International and the Gates Foundation have been collaborating for nearly a decade now. Together, they made their first joint investment of $42.8 million an effort to double the income of East African farmers through dairy farming within the span of a decade. The history of both organizations in the region has seen actionable agricultural development from previous successes.

A Chicken’s Impact

When someone in poverty makes just $700 a year, $300 can make a remarkable difference and continue to improve their lives through targeted investments. With the donation of 100,000 chickens, around 2,500 families will be getting groups of 40 vaccinated poultry. By keeping chickens for over a year, many will benefit from eating eggs, which provide much-needed nutrients and protein. Furthermore, farmers can sell their chickens after only six weeks of breeding.

Once again, the Gates Foundation is providing the capital necessary to give projects that may never get off the ground the chance to see their impact on individuals living on less than $2 a day. Within the next year, we will see the Gates Foundation’s impact on 2,500 farmers’ lives as well as the marker of 30 percent of the poultry market being appropriately vaccinated for the region. Projects like these show the impact agricultural development can have on poverty.

Cassiday Moriarity
Photo: Pixabay

The School Fund: What One Company is doing to tackle the Global Education CrisisOver 115 million school-age children are not able to attend school worldwide, largely due to compulsory school fees that are required for attendance. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 63 million adolescents are out of school and only 37 percent of children finish secondary school. One company targeting barriers to education is The School Fund (TSF). Through the collaboration of technology and willing donors looking to make a difference, the organization is able to provide low-income students with the opportunity to receive an education.

The Mission

The School Fund is a crowdfunded, nonprofit organization based in California. One hundred percent of donations go directly toward each student’s unique scholarship. Its mission is to tackle the global education crisis by connecting donors to students in developing countries who cannot afford an education. It stands firmly behind the belief that education is the most effective way to successfully eradicate poverty.

Barriers to Education

The reasons children do not receive secondary education are plenty and vary from location to location. Some of these reasons are the cost of supplies, the long distances that need to be traveled to reach school, safety and cultural norms. When it comes to education, poor and rural areas are especially disadvantaged.

How it Works

The School Fund partners with local organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. These range from private schools to local public schools, or local scholarship organizations. The Field Partners then select students for the TSF website, including biographies, stories and pictures of the children. Biographies help to keep each donation personal and invested in the growth of each child. Donors then select which student they want to sponsor.

These donors are able to view the breakdown of school costs and receipts on a web platform with complete transparency. Direct journal updates from their sponsored student are available for donors as well, helping to foster the connection between the donor and the student. The School Fund ensures that students are attending school via receipt tracking and field drop-ins.

Outcomes

The School Fund has successfully funded 1,291 students, with many more on the horizon. Since 2009, the organization has raised over $500,000. TSF also found that with just one extra year of secondary education, a student’s lifetime wages have the potential to increase by 10 percent.

TSF has shown a 50 percent growth rate each year in revenue accrued for scholarships. It also connects regularly with its Field Partners to collect updates, including grades and yearly data. This ensures that each student is seeing improvement and growth through their education.

Women in particular benefit from receiving an education. Only one in four girls attend school in many of these developing countries, but of those who do, women have fewer unwanted pregnancies, delay getting married young, have healthier kids and are three times less likely to test positive for HIV. TSF is helping women combat cultural norms and ensuring empowerment for all.

 

Children around the globe continue to face barriers to education. The School Fund is one of many organizations breaking down these obstacles, making sure money is not a deterrent for something that everyone should be entitled to.

Laurel Sonneby
Photo: Pixabay

7 Facts About Diabetes in Sub-Saharan AfricaDiabetes is a condition that has plagued sub-Saharan Africa for decades and has been on the rise in recent years. However, with technology constantly changing and Africans learning more about diabetes risk factors, the region is sure to make progress in curbing the disease. Below are seven facts about diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa.

 7 Facts About Diabetes in Sub-Saharan Africa

  1. The Diabetes Declaration for Africa is one of the first calls to action that the region has been exposed to. It calls on the governments of African nations to make efforts to prevent diabetes as well as reduce morbidity from the disease.
  2. One of the main reasons sub-Saharan Africa has seen such a large increase in diabetes cases is due to the lack of consistent data on diabetes rates among the general population as well as sensitive populations. One report shows that diabetes rates in the region increased by almost 90 percent between 1990 and 2010. However, immunological factors, environmental factors as well as genetic factors have only been researched in recent years.
  3. Physical activity plays a large factor in why diabetes is so prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. While many other regions in Africa consist of rural communities, sub-Saharan Africa consists of many urban communities. Urban communities require less physical activity due to the increased use of public transportation. Rural communities require a lot more physical activity due to the number of tasks that involve walking outside or lifting and moving objects.
  4. There is a major lack of efficient healthcare workers in sub-Saharan Africa who are able to treat patients with diabetes. More than 50 percent of those living with diabetes in the region are undiagnosed. The region holds 13 percent of the world’s population and 24 percent of all global diseases, yet only 2 percent of the world’s doctors. Fortunately, however, countries in the region are making an effort to make more healthcare workers available to patients. In 2010, Tanzania enacted the Twiga Initiative, which would double the country’s trained healthcare workers from 3,850 per year to 7,500 per year.
  5. A lack of proper education in diabetes management and early warning signs is a large reason that diabetes instances have increased in sub-Saharan Africa. But, in order to improve education on the self-management of diabetes, the International Diabetes Federation Africa Region (AFR) has been working to provide training on the condition in the region. The AFR represents 34 diabetes organizations throughout Africa and provided training sessions in Kenya in 2019.
  6. Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa have easier access to blood glucose self-monitoring than others. While out of a sample size of 384, only 3 percent of Ethiopians were able to self-monitor their blood glucose at home. However, out of a sample size of 150, 43 percent of Nigerians were able to do so.
  7. In 2007, the U.N. General Assembly enacted World Diabetes. This was a milestone in acknowledging that diabetes is a global threat not just to sub-Saharan Africa but to partners and stakeholders that work to prevent diabetes and related diseases.

While diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa has been on the rise for decades, progress is being made in various countries throughout the region. With more improvements to technology, healthcare, education and self-management,sub-Saharan Africa could reduce the extreme rates of diabetes.

Alyson Kaufman
Photo: Pixabay

Drug Resistant Malaria
A new variation of the parasite causing malaria has captured the attention of medical professionals in South East Asia. They first noticed a strain of drug-resistant malaria in 2013 and it has spread aggressively throughout the region. Medical researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, University of Oxford and Mahidol University noticed that the new strain has replaced local malaria strains in Vietnam, Laos and northeastern Thailand. They have also seen the strain developing new mutations from when they initially identified it in 2013 and this may be enhancing resistance even further.

Resistance Through Time

In 2018, studies showed that the usual first-line drug used for malaria failed to cure the disease at an overall rate of 50 percent, 13 percent in northeastern Thailand, 38 percent in western Cambodia, 73 percent in northeast Cambodia and 47 percent in southwestern Vietnam.

The advancement of the new drug-resistant malaria might stem from the heavy usage of anti-malaria drugs in the region. Medical professionals commonly distribute the drug throughout the area, forcing the parasite to evolve or die out. Patient usage is also giving the parasite a leg up, as often people are taking a weaker dosage or do not finish the treatment but terminate usage when they begin feeling better.

Cause of Malaria

Malaria is the result of the Plasmodium parasite that transmits through a mosquito bite. The drug-resistant malaria strain is called KEL1/PLA1 because of its combination of genetic mutations. A recent study has noted that KEL1/PLA1 has diversified into a subgroup of strains that contain the genetical modifications causing resistance. These parasites are also showing resistance to several classes of anti-malarial drugs. The new adaptations are limiting treatment options and making them increasingly expensive. Currently, clinical trials have begun to test the effectiveness of a triple combination treatment for the new drug-resistant malaria.

The current front-line defense is a two-drug combination of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine or DHA-PPQ. But a 2018 study showed the resistance to dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine spread undetected for five years in Cambodia, giving the drug time to mutate further and wipe out existing non-resistant strains. One solution is to change the partner drug, piperaquine, to a drug that is currently effective such as mefloquine or pyronaridine. Cambodia and Thailand have implemented this solution but it could be logistically challenging on a large scale.

Consequences of Infection

For now, health officials believe they will be able to manage the situation as malaria rates are lower in Southeast Asia. Officials, however, believe if the drug-resistant malaria parasite spreads to Africa, the consequence could be dire. Sub-Saharan Africa sees the most substantial numbers of malaria and faces the most significant logistical problems when attempting to treat it. In the 1960s, a similar situation occurred where a strain developed in Asia and spread to sub-Saharan Africa, where due to a lack of alternative medications, malaria-related deaths double.

People are currently using rapid test kits to help prevent and treat drug-restraint malaria. The kits can identify which parasite strain is causing malaria, allowing medical professionals to treat malaria accordingly. This tool will be increasingly important if the drug restraint parasite spreads to Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounted for 66 percent of the 276 million rapid diagnostic test sales worldwide in 2017. The test allows for professionals to best allocate supplies that are scarce in sub-Saharan Africa. As the fight against drug-resistant malaria continues, the rapid test kits are a cost-efficient way to increase their odds of eradicating the parasite.

– Carly Campbell
Photo: Flickr

sub-Saharan witchcraft accusationsThe sub-Saharan region in Africa includes 46 of the 54 countries that make up the continent. While numerous cultural and political differences show variance between the sub-Saharan nations, many of them share a paranoid commonality: children are often accused of witchcraft. These sub-Saharan witchcraft accusations show that the fear of mystic powers is not a superstition of the past, but that it exists and is growing even in the 21st century.

The origins of these witchcraft accusations are unclear. UNICEF records that these accusations are falsely believed to be a piece of African tradition, and this phenomenon is the symptom of social, economic and political struggles.

Who’s Accused?

There are three categories of children who are at risk for the sub-Saharan witch accusations. All of them represent a marginalized category in which noticeable difference leads to suspicion.

The urban myth of the “child witches” is the first. Accusations are most often cast towards the most vulnerable children in a community, such as orphans and those with a physical or learning disability. Children with behavioral oddities are also targets, including those who are talented, precocious or rebellious.

The second group of individuals at risk are babies who experience a peculiar birth. This can mean that they were born premature or were delivered facing an abnormal way.

Thirdly, children with albinism are often accused of witchcraft and believed to contain magic power within certain organs.

Many of these “bewitched” children believe their families, pastors and instructors when they are told they are agents of evil magic.

A Human Rights Violation

The sub-Saharan witchcraft accusations lead to negligence of international laws protecting children. In the countries where accusations are most rampant, police and judicial forces are inefficient in upholding national law.

Accusations manifest in a number of ways. Violence, abandonment, sexual exploitation and even murder are acts leveled against witch children. Some victims view these aggressions as rituals to release evil spirits. It is recorded that about 81,000,000 African children suffer from severe psychological issues due to the punishment they have endured.

As the accusations of witchcraft have escalated in recent years, the U.N. has expressed concern for the issues and has been pressing awareness and regulation. The U.N. Refugee Agency records that the abuse endured by these children is somewhat responsible for the uptick in displaced individuals around the world.

Efforts to Hinder the Problem

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one sub-Saharan country that suffers abundantly with witchcraft accusations. The nation has an inordinate number of vulnerable orphans living in impoverished conditions due to its recent civil war. As such, many NGOs focus their attention on this particular country in the sub-Saharan region.

The International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE) is one NGO that is specifically fit to deal with this humanitarian issue in the DRC. The organization is involved in a mission to incorporate a child’s rights into state law. Sub-Saharan witchcraft accusations in the DRC have been hindered by BICE’s local activities across the country. The group has established rehabilitation and learning centers. These work to eradicate the notion that child witches are responsible for societal ills, as well as to reintegrate banished children into their communities.

BICE has been active in the DRC since 1996 and continues to work with the central government to better protect Congolese children.

More Needs to be Done

While the U.N. and its partner NGOs have worked to bring attention to and provide for the children suffering from the sub-Saharan witchcraft accusations, the issue is unlikely to disappear in the near future.

The belief that child witches are plaguing society is one that results from what UNICEF calls the “multi-crisis” pressuring many African nations. Left behind in the journey to modernization, many African communities have carried the weight of failed political systems and unfulfilled economic promises. If the sub-Saharan region is to leave behind ancient superstitions of witchcraft, international actors must aid these countries on the pathway to development.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid in sub-Saharan Africa
In recent decades there has been a debate regarding the importance of foreign aid in sub-Saharan Africa. Some have argued that foreign aid is not beneficial to developing countries, as it creates a dependence upon aid, rather than fostering growth. Empirical data does not support this view, which reveals that while there is much work necessary in developing countries, foreign aid has stimulated economic growth and positive results in the battle against poverty. The amount the United States spends on foreign aid represents a minuscule fraction of the federal budget, despite compelling evidence that foreign aid is mutually beneficial, serving the interests of the United States and other modern countries, as well as those of developing nations. One cannot overstate the importance of foreign aid in sub-Saharan Africa, and if anything, countries could benefit others by stepping it up.

Benefits of Foreign Aid

Foreign aid is useful for fostering economic development in impoverished nations. In 2015, a study that the University of Western Australia conducted concluded that foreign aid had a significant and long-term positive impact on GDP growth in the 25 countries it examined. It also found that economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa directly correlated with the increase in foreign aid from 1970 to 2012. Additionally, countries that received the largest amount of foreign aid also displayed the greatest amount of economic growth.

Foreign aid is also crucial for providing humanitarian aid and ameliorating suffering. In sub-Saharan Africa, the focus of foreign aid is often to reduce poverty and provide food. A 10-year case study that the Global Development Network conducted showed that Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) in Kenya had positive results on poverty reduction in the country between 1999 and 2009. The Global Development Network also found that foreign aid most largely benefits the poorest of the poor, who are most desperately in need of humanitarian aid.

US Involvement

The United States could benefit from increasing its contribution to foreign aid for sub-Saharan Africa. An increase in the budget allocated towards foreign aid would not carry any substantial financial burden, as the portion of the federal budget that the U.S. currently spends on foreign aid totals at less than one-fifth of 1 percent. Sub-Saharan Africa itself accounts for only about one-third of that minuscule amount. While the costs of increasing foreign aid to the country are insignificant, there are potentially heavy costs that one can associate with inaction. Poverty and state failure in Africa can lead to refugee crises and terrorist havens, which may pose a threat to the United States’ national security. Additionally, the provision of foreign aid cultivates favorable views of the United States worldwide. As a result of aid from other countries, sub-Saharan Africa perceives the United States very positively, as 80 percent of respondents report a positive view of the country. The potential benefits, coupled with insignificant costs show how the importance of foreign aid in sub-Saharan Africa extends also to the United States and other developed nations.

Following World War II, foreign aid to developing countries became a commonplace practice among wealthy nations. Foreign aid has been a successful strategy for promoting economic growth and lifting millions out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Given the importance of foreign aid in sub-Saharan Africa, such aid programs should continue, and even expand.

– Karl Haider
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

child labor in Ghana

Ghana, a small African country nestled between Togo and Ivory Coast, is one of the highest achieving nations in the sub-Saharan region. It is the world’s second-largest producer of both cocoa beans and gold, and this generative economy has propelled much of the Ghanaian population out of poverty.

While ahead in some regards, Ghanaian children are still subject to human trafficking. According to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, over 152 million children around the world are forced into the workforce. Africa is among the worst offending areas, and as such, brings child labor in Ghana to international concern.

Child labor is a National Issue

Currently, one out of every six children is involved in child labor in Ghana. Offending sectors are numerous and widespread; 88 percent of children work in agriculture, typically harvesting cocoa beans, while 2.3 percent are fishermen. Others are subjected to domestic or sexual work.

Many Ghanaian children participate in child labor due to desperation and ignorance. While free public education is available in Ghana, many families cannot afford the uniforms and books required to enroll in school. Poverty is, therefore, cyclical in these circumstances – much more than cheap labor is being exchanged. A child is also selling his or her childhood, dignity and future potential to their traffickers.

Lake Volta Region

Lake Volta is the largest man-made lakes in the sub-Saharan region. It is notoriously known as an area where the worst forms of child labor prosper. Here, one-third of children between the ages of seven and 14 work full-time.

Children are valued workers on Lake Volta because their labor is affordable and efficient. Recently, the lake’s fish population has decreased considerably. Fishermen, therefore, do not have the financial means to accommodate other sources of labor. Furthermore, children provide the nimble fingers needed to untangle fish from the minuscule-sized holes in fishing nets.

Aside from posing as a serious human rights violation, work on Lake Volta is quite dangerous for Ghanaian children. Nets often get stuck on objects underneath the surface. This forces children to go diving in order to prevent tears in the nets. Drowning is a concern, as well as contracting several illnesses including bilharzia and guinea worm.

Government Effort

The central government made several, moderate efforts to control the unbridled child labor in Ghana. In 2017, the National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Human Trafficking was enacted. With it, the government identified itself as an entity against the exploitation of its young generation. Children working in mines are a specific concern for the government, as mercury poisoning is prevalent among workers in this sector. Feeding programs have also been instilled in schools and refugee camps in order to protect children from malnourishment.

These efforts, while well-intentioned, are not efficiently enforced in the country. This leaves many children in enslavement, or at risk of falling into this dark reality.

International Action

Child labor is a human rights violation to which the international community has responded with animosity and vigor. There are countless organizations working to end all forms of child labor and trafficking.

APPLE is just one NGO that specifically works to hinder the growth of child labor in Ghana. This organization has stationed itself in fishing villages around the Lake Volta region. Their efforts to eliminate child labor compromises of immediate and long-term solutions. The banning of nets with small holes is believed to decrease the value of children on the lake, and education is provided in order to warn families of the calamities that human trafficking inflicts.

While the sub-Saharan region is not the only area that violates international human rights laws, child labor in Ghana is on the rise. Efforts to protect the most innocent collection of the population need to be mobilized with the utmost zeal. These children need aid in order to liberate, educate and relocate those displaced by this practice.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

good news about sub-saharan africaFor many Americans, the face of global poverty is sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa consists of 48 countries in southern, central and eastern Africa. Four years ago, the majority of people living in poverty were in sub-Saharan Africa, but a great deal of progress has been made in the fight against global poverty in recent decades. The effects of that progress can be seen as clearly in sub-Saharan Africa. Twenty years ago, much of sub-Saharan Africa was gripped by extreme poverty and nearly non-existent economic growth. However, there has been significant poverty reduction and economic growth recently, thanks in part to poverty reduction initiatives throughout the region. These ten facts describe the good news about sub-Saharan Africa.

10 Pieces of Good News About Sub-Saharan Africa

  1. In 2013, 42.6 percent of sub-Saharan Africans were affected by severe poverty. By 2016, this percentage dropped to 35.2 percent. This represents a decrease in poverty rates of over 5 percent in three years.
  2. Since the 1990s, quality of life in sub-Saharan Africa has improved. Infant mortality is lower and chronic malnutrition is 6 percent less likely. Adult literacy rates have increased by 4 percent as well.
  3. African children are more likely to survive common diseases. In addition, more treatment options are available for HIV and life expectancy has increased by almost twenty years.
  4. Throughout the 1990s, sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP growth remained below 3 percent. The region’s economic growth was above 2.5 percent in 2017 and remained above 3 percent for most of the past decade. Even 2016, sub-Saharan Africa’s lowest year of GDP growth during the 21st century, was better than 1993, its lowest year of GDP growth during the 1990s.
  5. The sub-Saharan African economy was predicted to grow at a faster pace in 2019 than the economies of more affluent regions. For example, Kenya’s economy was predicted to grow by 5.8 percent. Overall regional growth was predicted to be higher than 3 percent.
  6. Economic growth is expected to continue rising after an economic downturn in 2015, with an expected average growth of 3.7  percent in 2020.
  7. In 1999, many sub-Saharan African countries adopted poverty reduction policies modeled on the 1999 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). PRSP programs include cash transfers, subsidies and public works programs. PRSP programs significantly increased economic growth where they were implemented.
  8. From 1990 to 2012, GDP in PRSP countries increased from 0.82 percent to 5.12 percent. GDP in sub-Saharan Africa (including both PRSP and non-PRSP countries) increased from 4.61 percent to 5.21 percent from 2000 to 2012. PRSP greatly stimulated economic growth.
  9. By 2013, 80 percent of primary school age children in Africa were enrolled in school. Secondary school enrollment rates also increased. This means that as education improves, poverty will decrease.
  10. In 1990, industry comprised about 21.9 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP. In 2012, industry comprised about 24.6 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP. In the west, the economic transition from a predominantly agricultural economy to a more industrial economy was an indicator of economic growth. A gradual shift away from an economy that relies solely on agriculture is good news for the people of sub-Saharan Africa.

Poverty is still present in sub-Saharan Africa, but the numbers show how much progress has been made. Further, they show that there is plenty of good news about sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa does not have to be the face of global poverty because of the region’s economic growth and poverty reduction.

– Emelie Fippin
Photo: Flickr

Global Snakebite StrategyThe World Health Organization (WHO) members gather annually at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. This year’s diverse topics included snakebites.

The WHO is not always known for speedy results, due to the massive, worldly scale that this organization deals with. But snakebites was a topic that was quick to strike back. Just one year after the World Health Assembly urged resolution to this issue, WHO has launched a new strategy for snakebites and the venoms that cause potentially deadly harm to its victims.

Symptoms of Snakebites

According to the WHO, snakes bite an estimated 5.4 million people around the world each year. Of those estimated, approximately 138,000 people die each year. This new strategy looks to cut 50 percent of snakebite deaths and disability by the year 2030.

Snakebites are a common occurrence in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This is a commonly neglected public health issue, especially in impoverished areas of all countries listed above. The only known validated treatment for a snakebite is passive immunotherapy with the specific and effective animal-derived antivenom. These antivenoms are not always accessible, nor readily available in developing areas of these countries.

When a venomous snake bites, the victim has less than half an hour to receive the antivenom, without serious consequences. Serious adverse effects include swelling, pain, and bruising around the bite area, numbness, elevated heart rate, constricted airway, blurred vision, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, fainting, tissue necrosis, and death. All of these listed symptoms can be from the bite of a venomous snake.

The Global Snakebite Initiative

The global snakebite strategy, or the Global Snakebite Initiative lead by the World Health Organization sets a multicomponent strategy in place in order to improve the availability of safe and effective antivenoms at a global level. The initiative is based on four key steps needed in order to improve these conditions caused by venomous snakes, according to the WHO.

  1. Preparing validated collections of specific venom pools from the most medically dangerous snakes in high-risk regions of the world.
  2. Strengthening the capacity of national antivenom manufacturing and quality control laboratories, and establishing new facilities in developing countries through technology transfer.
  3. Getting established laboratories to generate antivenoms for various regions of the world.
  4. Getting government and relevant health organizations to give snakebite envenoming recognition within national and international public health policy frameworks.

According to the WHO, there should also be actions to improve health information systems, accessibility of antivenoms, proper training of medical and nursing staff, and community-based education. This multicomponent strategy would involve stakeholders on many different levels and would improve antivenom availability globally.

This global snakebite strategy targets countries and communities that are heavily affected by snakebites. The program will work with the affected communities to ensure that through their health systems, safe and effective treatments will be offered to all community members. Complete cooperation, collaboration, and partnership between all levels of government and health organizations will accomplish this.

A Solid Foundation

A 28-member panel of global experts in relations with WHO regional offices, science and research communities, health foundations, advocacy groups and stakeholders developed this strategy. Viewing this issue at a global level improves community education and first response. This strategy also commits to engaging communities in order to achieve these goals.

WHO will work with specific countries to strengthen health systems geared towards improving health and well-being and reducing inequity for community members. The main objective for this global snakebite strategy is to ensure accessible, affordable, and effective treatments using the antivenoms.  A streamlined method of supplying and distributing of antivenoms will be prioritized. Along with all of these steps, WHO will encourage research on new treatments, diagnostics, and health device technology that can improve the treatment outcomes and make for quicker recovery times.

WHO’s global snakebite strategy has implemented multiple factors in order to achieve the goals set forth. Commitment from around the world including health, government, and scientific organizations alike, will need to work together through various aspects for the Global Snakebite Initiative to be effective immediately. Following the steps laid out by the WHO, paralyzation and deaths caused by snake envenoming can be reduced in high-risk countries, and ensure its community members safe, efficient, and effective treatments.

– Quinn McClurg
Photo: Flickr