Smoking in Developing Countries
Smoking rates among adults and children in developing countries have been increasing for years. In developed nations, such as the United States, people have implemented certain policies in order to increase taxes and therefore reduce tobacco consumption, successfully. Such policies have not yet enacted in areas of extreme poverty around the world. In fact, tobacco companies have responded by flooding low-income areas with reduced-priced cigarettes, tons of advertisements and an excessive number of liquor stores and smoke shops. It is time to have a conversation about smoking rates in developing countries and whether or not tobacco control policies are the best approach long-term, worldwide. Here are the top 6 facts about smoking in developing countries.

Top 6 Facts About Smoking in Developing Countries

  1. Smoking affects populations living in extreme poverty differently than it does those in wealthy areas. Stress is a harmful symptom of poverty and contributes to smoking rates in low-income areas. Oftentimes living in poverty also means living in an overcrowded, polluted area with high crime and violence rates and a serious lack of government or social support. Stress and smoking are rampant in these areas for a reason. It is also important to note that smoking wards off hunger signals to the brain which makes it useful for individuals to maintain their mental health of sorts if food is not an option.
  2. Smoking rates are much higher among men than women across the globe. While the relative statistics vary from country to country, smoking rates among women are very low in most parts of Africa and Asia but there is hardly any disparity in smoking rates between men and women in wealthy countries such as Denmark and Sweden. The pattern of high smoking rates among men remains prevalent worldwide. One can equally attribute this to two factors that go hand-in-hand: the oppression of women and the stress that men receive to provide with their families.
  3. The increase in smoking rates in developing countries also means an outstanding number of diseases and death. The good news is that countries have succeeded in reducing consumption by raising taxes on the product. Price, specifically in the form of higher taxes, seems to be one of the only successful options in terms of cessation. Legislation banning smoking in certain public spaces is one example of an effort that places a bandaid on the problem instead of addressing the root cause. There is no data that shows a direct correlation between non-smoking areas and quitting rates among tobacco users.
  4. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports an estimated 6 million deaths per year which one can attribute to smoking tobacco products. It also estimates that there will be about another 1 billion deaths by the end of this century. Eighty percent of these deaths land in low-income countries. The problem at hand is determining how this part of the cycle of poverty can change when it has been operating in favor of the upper class for so long.
  5. Within developing countries, tobacco ranks ninth as a risk factor for mortality in those with high mortality and only ranks third in those with low mortality. This means that there are still countries where other risk factors for disease and death are still more prominent than tobacco use, but that does not mean that tobacco is not a serious health concern all over the world. Of these developing countries, tobacco accounts for up to 16 percent of the burden of disease (measured in years).
  6. China has a higher smoking rate than the other four countries ranked highest for tobacco use combined. The government sells tobacco and accounts for nearly 10 percent of central government revenue. In China, over 50 percent of the men smoke, whereas this is only true for 2 percent of women. China’s latest Five-Year Plan (2011 – 2015) called for more smoke-free public spaces in an attempt to increase life expectancy. A pack of Marlboro cigarettes in Beijing goes for 22元, which is equivalent to $3. This is far cheaper than what developed countries charge with taxes. This continual enablement is a prime example of why smoking rates in developing countries are such a problem. While many people mistake China for a developed nation because it has the world’s second-largest economy and third-largest military, it is still a developing country.

In countries like China where smoking rates are booming and death tolls sailing, tobacco control policies may not be the best solution. While raising taxes to reduce consumption may seem like a simple concept, when applied to real communities, a huge percentage of people living in poverty with this addiction will either be spending more money on tobacco products or suffering from withdrawals. While it might be easy for many people to ignore the suffering of the other, in this case, a lower-class cigarette smoker, one cannot forget how the cycle of poverty and addiction and oppression has influenced their path in life.

Helen Schwie
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Sweden
As one of the more progressive countries in the world, Sweden boasts multiple government agencies and nonprofit organizations actively working toward improving citizens’ health and longevity.  Sweden also possesses an efficient and well-equipped health care system. Thanks to these efforts, the country’s average life expectancy is improving. Below are 10 facts about life expectancy in Sweden, including current initiatives to continue improving the country’s average life expectancy.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Sweden

  1. The average life expectancy in Sweden is 82.2 years with men living an average of 80.3 years and women living an average of 84.3 years. Sweden has the 16th-highest life expectancy from birth in the world. The average life expectancy in Sweden is about four years more than the United States’ average life expectancy (78.6 years). The average, including every country in the world, is a little over 79 years.
  2. In the past century, the life expectancy of Sweden improved from about 55-58 years to 82-84 years, a significant jump of about 25 years.
  3. Citizens’ longevity is due in part to Sweden’s commitment to environmental cleanliness. The water quality is satisfactory; 96 percent of those included in a poll approved of their country’s drinking water. A lack of pollutants may also contribute to Sweden’s higher-than-average life expectancy.
  4. A sense of community helps many achieve a high quality of life in Sweden. Ninety-one percent of citizens report that they know “someone they could rely on in time of need.” Along with high voter turnout, the country’s civic engagement keeps citizens socially involved, enhancing their health and well-being.
  5. Sweden’s health care system has one of the highest rankings in the world. The country’s universal health care system enables those in poverty to access important services for themselves and their families. Affordability of services is crucial for many citizens and Sweden is only improving in this regard.
  6. Life expectancy is improving thanks to efforts to curb self-harming behaviors and remedy preventable lower respiratory infections. As the country’s health care system improves, the rates of premature death from preventable causes are declining for those in poverty. Premature death from lower respiratory infections has decreased by 49 percent from 1990 to 2010.
  7. The Public Health Agency of Sweden commits to improving the lives of Swedish citizens. A recent study showed the effectiveness of vaccines for children. Since Sweden offers universal health care, children from varying socioeconomic backgrounds receive the medical treatment they need. New studies are being conducted to measure the effectiveness of treating boys for human papilloma virus (HPV), even though the virus normally afflicts girls. These studies help Sweden continue to improve life expectancy for all its citizens.
  8. Seven percent of Swedes live below the EU’s poverty threshold. This is lower than the average of people living below the poverty threshold in other EU countries (10 percent). While the poverty rate has remained relatively unchanged in recent years, efforts to reduce the poverty rate and enhance life expectancy are growing. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, or Sida, is a Swedish government agency that functions to eliminate global poverty. In the fight to end poverty domestically and abroad, Sida makes enhancing life expectancy a priority in its humanitarian work. The agency is public under the jurisdiction of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  9. In Sweden, government grants and municipal taxes fund the majority of elderly care. The country’s health care system subsidizes its elderly citizens for medical care. In different municipalities throughout the country, elderly patients can request in-home caregivers or relocation to live-in facilities that provide medical services.
  10. Easy access to sanitation has also helped Swedes live longer than the world average. Just over 99 percent of the urban population has access to sanitation, while 99.6 percent of the rural population have such access. No matter where one lives in the country, Sweden offers sanitation to all citizens, improving the overall life expectancy of Sweden.

The Swedish government involves a large body of agencies dedicated to providing the best health care to its citizens. As a result, life expectancy in Sweden is one of the best in the world. Even those living below the poverty line can still access the services they need, and the life expectancy of all Swedish citizens is improving.

– Aric Hluch
Photo: Flickr

 

foreign aid leaderSweden is a Scandinavian country known for providing an impressive amount of humanitarian aid. Sweden’s foreign aid strategies are both similar and unique to the objectives of other countries. The Organisation for Economic Cooperative and Development (OECD) praises Sweden as a leader in foreign aid because of the nation’s “consistent generous levels of official development assistance” and for “its global development leadership on peace and conflict prevention.”

Sweden’s Foreign Aid Record

The Swedish government has long shown concern for humanitarian issues. In 1975, the country achieved the United Nations’ goal of providing 0.7 percent of the nation’s gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA). In 2008, Sweden contributed 1 percent of its GNI. This number has continued to escalate and is now at 1.4 percent.

In comparison to other countries, Sweden is the largest donor in proportion to the productivity of its economy. Countries that follow are the United Arab Emirates, which contributes 1.09 percent of its GNI, and Norway, which contributes 1.05 percent. These countries are the only three countries whose foreign aid agenda reserves more than one percent of their GNI.

Equality is a core tenant of the Swedish foreign aid mission. In 2014, Sweden was the first country to implement a Feminist Foreign Policy, a strategy that promotes gender equality and women’s rights. Socially, women in countries receiving aid have been provided with programs on how to prevent and resolve instances of discrimination and abuse. Legally, female representation in the government and in the private sector has improved in these countries as well.

Other long-term foreign aid objectives in Sweden focus on installing democracy, peace and security, health equity and efficient education systems in the countries that lack these necessities.

Sweden’s Foreign Aid Agency

Sweden’s most effective agency that works to downsize poverty and foster development is called Sida, or the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The agency methodically establishes democracy throughout countries in order to achieve these two goals.

Sida provides impoverished countries with humanitarian aid for emergency relief and long-term aid for development. Long-term development is the more intricate of the programs. The Swedish government implements this long-term aid with two principles in mind. First, that varying policy areas need to work together to produce positive development; second, that humanitarian aid should be implemented with the perspective that people are capable and eager to accept change.

As of 2007, Sida has 33 partner countries to which they are currently providing aid. While this number has reduced from approximately 125 since the 80s, the extensive efforts put into individual projects illustrate why Sweden is a leader in foreign aid.

Sida’s Work in Syria

Most recently, Sweden has proven itself as a leader in foreign aid through its dedication to those suffering through the Syrian crisis. Due to the disastrous conflict, there are currently 11.7 million individuals in need of assistance. Many hospitals, schools and markets have been destroyed as well.

Sida has allocated more than SEK 367 million (approximately 37.2 million USD) to humanitarian relief in Syria in 2019. This aid goes directly toward life-saving interventions. Basic needs are given to the country’s most vulnerable individuals who live in refugee camps and other communities. Much of Sida’s aid has also gone to Syria’s neighboring countries who receive the most refugees such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

Lastly, Sida donates to United Nations organizations present in Syria. The Swedish foreign aid machine has worked closely with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as UNICEF, to improve the infrastructure required to fulfill the needs of Syrian refugees. These organizations have access to local partnerships scattered around the region that continue to provide health care, education and safe housing to displaced individuals.

What Does the Future Hold?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that the number of refugees around the world will increase in the years to come. As this reality materializes, global leaders will only benefit from emulating the Swedish government’s extensive efforts to fund, provide and implement efficient humanitarian aid policies.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Education in SwedenThe Swedish education system is ranked among the best in the world. With its emphasis on individual learning and the personal liberty to enroll children in a diverse selection of schools, many perceive Sweden as a country with a phenomenal educational infrastructure. However, Sweden still trails behind other Nordic countries, such as Finland and Norway, in global education rankings. These eight facts about education in Sweden provide an insight into the successes and shortcomings of a unique approach to maximizing the potential of Swedish youth.

8 Facts About Education in Sweden

  1. The Swedish educational system is decentralized. The federal government grants localities autonomy in designing the course curriculum. However, the federal government sets standardized goals and objectives for Swedish localities to follow.
  2. Education in Sweden is divided into four levels of schooling. Children may attend an optional preschool program (förskola) from 1-5 years of age. Children are then offered a place in kindergarten (förskoleklass) when they turn six years old. Following kindergarten is compulsory schooling, which is divided into three levels. Elementary school (lågstadiet) comprises the first three years of compulsory school, then middle school (mellanstadiet) for years 4-6 and finally junior high school (högstadiet) for years 7-9. After compulsory school, Swedish students may attend an optional senior high school (gymnasium) for three years.
  3. Following an amendment to the law in the 1990s, the Swedish government permitted the development of publicly-funded charter schools (friskola) which act independently of the municipality. These schools are defined by an individualized approach to learning, an open-classroom layout, no uniform policy and unconventional teaching methods. Independent schooling is popular in Sweden; in 2010, approximately 12 percent of compulsory school students and 24 percent of senior high school students attended either tuition-based private schools or charter schools.
  4. Sweden has a Sami population of 20,000-35,000 people. The Sami people are indigenous to Northern Sweden and other Nordic countries and specialize in the production of reindeer meat. Along with preserving their right to the development of the Sami language, traditions and crafts, the Swedish government allows Sami children to attend specialized Sami schools (Sameskolan) during the years of Swedish compulsory school.
  5. Play and recess compose an integral part of the early years of education in Sweden. In accordance with the goals of the government, pre-school teachers incorporate the domains of STEM into the classroom curriculum by having the children participate in communal exercises rather than teaching the subjects at the chalkboard.
  6. The Swedish government has been working hard to compete with the educational systems of other European countries. In 2014, Sweden invested a larger share of its GDP on education (6.8 percent) compared to other member countries of the OECD (5.6 percent).
  7. As part of a new curriculum made for all Swedish schools, including Sami language schools, special schools and upper secondary schools, the grading system changed to the A-F scale that is commonly used in the United States. Prior to 2011, the Swedish grading system had four grades ranging from Pass with Special Distinction (MVG) down to Did Not Pass (IG).
  8. According to the World Population Review, Sweden ranks tenth in the world in education, trailing behind its Nordic neighbors, Finland and Norway.  Sweden’s top university, the Karolinska Institute, is ranked 40th in the world.

– Grayson Cox
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions In Sweden
Located in northern Europe, Sweden has long been heralded by the international community as the embodiment of the Nordic Model– a projection of pragmatic socialism, a bastion of human rights and prosperity for all. But is the country really worthy of the laudatory praise? In the text below, this question will be answered by presenting the top 10 facts about living conditions in Sweden.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions In Sweden

  1. Sweden boasts a high Human Development Index (HDI) score of 0.93, placing the country in the seventh place in world rankings. The HDI aims to measure the overall quality of life in a country and is an aggregate figure comprised of life expectancy at birth, Gross National Income (GNI) and expected years of schooling. Sweden’s HDI is perhaps the best indicator of the overall quality of life and living conditions in the country.
  2. Sweden is geographically varied, which makes the seasons different depending on where you live in the country. Most people think of winter when they hear of Sweden, but because of the warm Gulf Stream, the climate in the country can be much milder than one might expect. The average temperature in Stockholm, country’s capital located in the southeast of the country, ranges from an average of 18 degrees Celsius in July to -3 degrees Celsius in January, low enough to have a dire effect on disenfranchised populations starved for satisfactory housing, heat, or suitable clothing.
  3. Though money cannot buy happiness, it does play a critical role in highlighting a countries’ living conditions. With a GDP per capita of $51,500 in 2017, Sweden ranks 26th in global rankings, behind the likes of the Netherlands, United States and Qatar. As a country, Sweden prides itself on its commitment to reducing economic inequality, reflected in its recent sixth-place ranking in Oxfam’s Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRI). The Swedish government has transferred this good intention into tangible impacts, with Sweden ranking ninth out of the 34 OECD countries in respect to the prevalence of income inequality within the country, as measured by the GINI Coefficient, a leading measure of domestic wealth disparities.
  4. In terms of employment, 76 percent of people aged 15 to 64 in Sweden are currently employed in a paid position, above OECD average of 67 percent. Currently, 78 percent of men are employed and 75 percent of women, which is well above the international female labor force participation rate of 48 percent. Furthermore, only 1 percent of employees work very long hours, compared to the OECD average of 13 percent.
  5. Sweden’s education system is also ranked in the top 10 globally. Education budget amounted to 13.2 percent of total public expenditures, beating the OECD rate of 12.9 percent. Sweden’s school life expectancy, meaning how long the average student stays in school, is 16.1 years.
  6. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, meaning the monarch is the head of state but exerts no political power. The country’s constitution dates back to 1809 and was later revised in 1975. It is based on four fundamental laws: the Riksdag Act, the Instrument of Government, the Act of Succession, and the Freedom of the Press Act. The country’s’ current Prime Minister is Stefan Lofven. His Excellency King Carl XVI Gustaf is the reigning monarch.
  7. Sweden received a perfect 100 aggregate score by Freedom House in its annual 2018 Freedom in the World rankings, being labeled, unsurprisingly, as “free.” For comparison, the U.S. earned a score of 86, placing it 53rd globally, just three ahead of Ghana and Panama.
  8. Sweden’s life expectancy in 2017 was pegged at 82.4 years, good enough for ninth overall in the world. Sweden’s health care system was recently ranked third in the world. Sweden’s universal health care system is importantly decentralized and largely tax-funded, a system that ensures everyone has equal access to health care services.
  9. Today, 1.33 million people, or roughly 14.3 percent of Sweden’s population, are foreign-born. However, Sweden hasn’t always been as diverse as it is today. In the 1900s, for example, only 0.7 percent of the countries roughly 5 million inhabitants were foreign-born. This relatively sudden and palpable demographic change, from a largely white, Christian and homogenous society to a more religiously, culturally and ethnically diverse one has become a topic of heated debate within the country.
  10. In recent years, Sweden’s reputation as a safe, peaceful country has fallen increasingly under threat. Gang-related crime in Sweden is rising, and for many on the right, it is being used as a case study about how migration policy can go horribly wrong. As aforementioned, in 2016, Sweden took in more refugees per capita than any other nation. Around the same time, violent gang crime has gone up.

As becomes quickly apparent from the article above, Sweden ranks near the top globally in a variety of crucial aspects that help to piece together a thorough picture of living conditions in the country, from its heavily-funded education and health care system to its commitment to upholding democracy, human rights and thwarting income inequality. Nonetheless, significant social strains continue to threaten the country. Sweden’s large refugee intake and changing demography, for example, has been met with a harsh reprimand by some and a rise in crime. If the country fails to address these major issues, its pristine standing in the international communities may be threatened.

– William Lloyd
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in SwedenScandinavian countries such as Sweden can often be seen as the golden standard of the struggle against poverty. With such low levels of poverty, Sweden has implemented many successful strategies to eradicate poverty. However, a deeper look into the reality of poverty in Sweden reveals that the country is not the utopia it is often made out to be.

Six Facts About Poverty in Sweden

  1. While Sweden prides itself on transparency, the country’s poverty statistics have been called into question. Although recent government reports have indicated zero absolute poverty, a recent Sweden City Missions report suggests that many basic poverty interventions still involve delivery of essential food and clothing needs. According to Sveriges Stadsmissioner, 62 percent of Sweden’s 200,000 basic interventions still focus on providing basic sustenance.
  2. According to the Swedish government, programs addressing poverty in Sweden take a multifaceted approach. They include long-term benefits such as pension, healthcare and expansive family benefits. These programs do an excellent job of addressing poverty, not with a one-size-fits-all solution, but with various approaches adapting to different beneficiaries.
  3. Despite these programs, a recent University College study suggests that many of those who receive short-term, “get back on your feet” benefits, which are designed for short-term empowerment, use these benefits for anywhere from 5 to fifteen years. The National Board of Health and Welfare indicates that a third of short-term benefit recipients end up receiving these benefits for longer than intended.
  4. Statistics portraying poverty in Sweden can also ignore citizens that qualify for benefits but do not receive them. This is one of the downfalls of the nation’s robust welfare state. With such a massive bureaucracy to navigate, many citizens are simply unable to complete the necessary forms to receive the benefits they qualify for.
  5. Poverty in Sweden is not just limited to its citizens. With nearly 1,500 refugees entering Sweden every week, the government’s welfare system is being stretched. If the current rate of immigration continues, nearly 2 percent of the Swedish population will soon be refugees. In desperate need of help, these refugees have completed arduous journeys often stretching for thousands of miles and many months. Since they have little to begin with, refugees who settle in Sweden need welfare to assist with nearly every facet of life.
  6. Sweden measures its poverty in terms of absolute poverty (income of $2 per day), rather than relative poverty (less than 60 percent of median income). This means that those who are making barely enough to eat two meals a day are not considered to be in absolute poverty. While a zero absolute poverty level is commendable, statistics portraying poverty in Sweden do not necessarily discuss those who live in relative poverty – many of these people cannot afford much more than a single bottle of water.

Sweden can be looked to and praised for its expansive welfare state and statistical lack of poverty. However, poverty in Sweden still exists, and the country’s official statistics often fail to reflect the reality.

– Sam Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Sweden: An Effective ModelWith a national growth in population and a changing environment, access to sanitary water has dwindled and become sporadic across the world. The amount of water in the world is finite, yet there remains a high demand. The suitable supply and water quality in Sweden stand as a role model for the rest of the world.

Quality
An OECD survey of average satisfaction with local water quality reports the world average is about 81 percent, yet Sweden’s satisfaction levels top that at 95 percent. Because half of Sweden’s water supply comes from lakes and running water, with the other half being groundwater, their water requires minimal purification.

In addition to their natural extraction methods, Sweden has also enacted programs to ensure adequate water quality. The 2007 to 2013 rural development program granted SEK 510 million to aid agriculture by minimizing nutrient leaching. A study of 65 streams shows a decrease in the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in bodies of water that surround agricultural fields, due to restrictions on the use of these harmful fertilizers.

Water quality in Sweden relates not only to sanitary drinking water, but also to the health of crops and lifeforms in aquatic environments. Thus, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management allotted SEK 310 million for water management, fish conservation and the protection of threatened species. Sweden identifies that human-made substances are detrimental to the quality of water and has adopted the Non-Toxic Environment objective to ensure an environment free of all chemicals created by man that threaten the environment.

Supply
Sweden remains one of few countries with a vast number of large reservoirs, providing Swedes with a guaranteed resource for freshwater. Other countries are not as lucky to have such a reliable source of quality water, so a part of Sweden’s success lies with the country’s natural foundation.

However, reservoirs can be manmade, giving other less fortunate countries a valid option to gain more reliable access to water. All of Europe’s reservoirs combined grant its people with 20 percent of their overall water usage.

Even further, various parts of Sweden have suffered from droughts or flooding. The irregular weather causes farmers to relocate or to increase irrigation practices. Increases in precipitation have caused negative health effects. The excessive amount of water causes sewage overflow, leading to waterborne diseases. A study in the U.S. demonstrated that 51 percent of waterborne disease outbreaks occurred right after heavy rainfall.

Sweden has implemented programs to ensure the supply of water remains sustainable. The government focuses on protecting bodies of water, since these lakes and reservoirs make up a great percentage of the country’s water. In 2010, they enacted laws to restrict water usage and minimize the overall demand for water. The EU Water Framework Directive incorporated water efficiency plans and water resource management. Although Sweden’s percentage of water gained is on the rise, they are still working to conserve it and lower their demand for quality water.

Perhaps other countries, developing and developed alike, can take Sweden’s lifestyle regarding water into account as the nation works to conserve its suitable water.

Brianna White

Photo: Flickr

Sweden's Global Sustainable Development

Since 2003, Sweden has worked to integrate policy for global development, in part of reaching the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. The development of this policy aims to address world poverty and hunger in the world, with the cooperation of other countries. In 2010, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) recognized Sweden for its efficient work and support in ending world hunger. Year-to-date, Sweden’s contribution to WFP funding has exceeded $100 million. Sweden’s global sustainable development plan is called the 2030 Agenda and focuses on “an equitable and sustainable global development” and working with states in order to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development’s goal of ending global poverty.

The stated purpose of Sweden’s global sustainable development proposal is “a common and long-term sustainable environmental, social and economic development, linked to fighting poverty and hunger and inequality within and between countries”. It aims to ensure a better future and education, especially for the world’s children. Sweden’s efforts will continue to “build broad and innovative partnerships” all across the globe.

The U.N. Millennium Development’s policy wants to “develop an open trading and financial system that is rule-based and non-discriminatory,” and addresses the world’s most poor. This policy urges collaboration with other countries, in order to reach agreement “on a common agenda for global development,” to aid the world. The U.N. Millennium Development’s and Sweden’s global sustainable development policy states “it is vital that the policy for global development be coordinated clearly, in exactly the same way as when a coherent policy for environmental issues and equality between men and women” is developed.

Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is not the sole purpose of Sweden’s global sustainable development policy. Other goals include ensuring environmental sustainability, such as clean water, and combating the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Sweden’s collaboration with the U.N. Millennium Development Goals creates a “concerted effort to improve the conditions affecting the lives of the poor” not just in their own country, but in countries around the world.

Since receiving recognition for their “outstanding support as a donor” of the WFP, Sweden’s global sustainable development has helped “where hunger is most acute.” Sweden has become one “of the first countries in the world to have a fully integrated policy” regarding global policy and development. Sweden’s global sustainable development policy has enabled direct efforts towards alleviating poverty, creating a better future for impoverished people around the world.

Jennifer Lightle

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in SwedenSweden is a nation in northern Europe that is home to about 10 million people. One of Sweden’s defining characteristics is its neutrality. Formerly a military power, it has been more than 200 years since Sweden has gone to war. This is not the nation’s only impressive accomplishment. Sweden’s other notable claim to fame is its robust economy. Overall, the economy is very strong, and measures have been enacted to reduce and alleviate the causes of poverty in Sweden.

Some statistics about Sweden’s economy:
• In 2016, the nation’s GDP was $511 billion
• The nation’s unemployment rate is about 6 percent

One strength that enables Sweden’s economy to achieve as much as it does is how easy the nation makes doing business. In fact, Forbes rated Sweden as the best country in the world for business in 2017. By comparison, the U.S., an undeniable economic power, is ranked 23rd. Some of the factors that Forbes took into consideration were innovation, taxes, technology, levels of bureaucracy and stock market performance.

Another factor that allows for Sweden’s economic success is its interest in defending and promoting gender equality. In 2016, the World Economic Forum created its Global Gender Gap Index and showed the progress that Sweden has made in this area. According to the index, Sweden trails just three nations, Iceland, Finland and Norway, in terms of gender equality. While economic gain may not be the first thing you think of when you improved gender equality, it really is the case. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) believes in a very simple cause and effect relationship: “If the EU stepped up its efforts to improve gender equality, more jobs would be created, GDP per capita would increase and society would be able to adjust better to the challenges related to the ageing population.”

These and other actions have limited the causes of poverty in Sweden and ensure a good quality of life for its citizens.

Adam Braunstein

Photo: Pixabay

Common Diseases in SwedenSweden is a Scandinavian country located in Northern Europe between Finland and Norway. The country has a population of 9.903 million people. Like any country, there are common diseases in Sweden that affect the population.

1. Cardiovascular Diseases

Ischemic heart disease is the most common form of heart disease in Sweden. The annual mortality rate from the diseases is 241.1 deaths per 100,000 people. A major contributor to ischemic heart diseases and other cardiovascular diseases is diabetes. About 6.9 percent of the population has diabetes. If current rates continue, 10.3 percent of Swedes will have diabetes by 2050. Major risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases include high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, stress, lack of exercise, poor eating habits and unhealthy weight. An estimated 31.1 percent of Swedes are physically inactive. Additionally, 59.2 percent are overweight and 22 percent are obese.

2. Respiratory Diseases

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the most common form of respiratory disease and frequently undiagnosed. About 500,000 people in Sweden have the disease. Every year, about 3,000 people die from COPD. Age is a contributor to the disease as well as smoking. Despite a COPD diagnosis, many people continue to smoke until death. Studies have found that of those who die from COPD, 40 percent of women and 33 percent of men are still smokers.

3. Neoplasms

In 2011, the most common cancer sites in men were prostate (32.2 percent), skin excluding melanoma (10.8 percent), colon (6.9 percent), lung (6.5 percent) and urinary organs (6.5 percent). In women, the most frequent sites are breast (30.3 percent), skin excluding melanoma (9.1 percent), colon (7.6 percent), lung (6.5 percent) and melanoma (5.9 percent). Despite these rates, recent developments have shown that cancer patients living in Sweden are less likely to die of cancer compared to those living in other European countries. Cancer survival rates in Sweden are 64.7 percent. In northern Europe, the rate is 59.6 percent.

4. Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

In 2012, an estimated 173,135 people in Sweden had dementia, accounting for 1.82 percent of the population. This is higher than the 1.55 percent average in the European Union. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia contribute to 69.1 deaths per 100,000 people every year. Dementia is more common with increasing age. Rarely are people below 65 diagnosed with dementia.

5. Sexually Transmitted Infections

People in Sweden are more likely to be treated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea than in other European countries. A major contributor to this problem is the lack of contraception use. Studies show that 50 percent of young adults in Sweden do not use condoms with new partners and 30 percent do not use any contraception.

Acknowledging and understanding these common diseases in Sweden is important for public health policy efforts in the country.

Francesca Montalto

Photo: Flickr