Inflammation and stories on United Kingdom

Bumblebee Retirement Home
The Bumblebee Retirement Home is a retirement home for bumblebees. Flying Flowers, a flower store in the United Kingdom, created a sanctuary to shed light on declining bee populations and provide bees with a resting area. Along with Flying Flowers’ efforts to raise awareness about the declining bee population, other organizations and bee activists are attempting to aid the bee population while simultaneously fighting poverty.

Bee Retirement for Efficient Pollinators

The Bumblebee Retirement Home looks like a dollhouse and features miniature walking canes, bloom-filled rooms and a sugar-water fountain. “Retired” bees can “watch” tiny televisions and rest on comfy beds after pollinating 5,000 plants a day.

In addition to bumblebees, Flying Flowers also creates “hotels” for solitary bees, the most efficient pollinators. Solitary bees do not live in colonies; some live in snail shells and travel to find food or nests. However, with a decline in wildflowers, it is often difficult for them to find habitats. In fact, compared to honeybees and bumblebees, these solitary bees pollinate 120 times more flora.

Bee retirement homes create a safe environment for bees to live and pollinate. Flying Flowers provides detailed information on bees, their importance and how to help save bee species. Honoring bees and their dedication to pollination is the goal of Flying Flowers and many bee advocating organizations.

The Decline in Bee Species

Although about 20,000 species of bees exist globally, detailed international data indicates that there have been no sightings of around 5,000 species — a full 25% of all species — since 1990.  This is significant because about 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. In fact, scientists believe that bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinators are responsible for one-third of the food people eat.

The Connection Between Bees and Poverty Elimination

Bees are vital to global food security, which makes their disappearance a significant issue for poverty elimination. Various circumstances including pesticides, habitat loss and disease cause the decline of pollinator species. Without pollinators, food sources will decline and bring massive consequences.

Bee deprivation is especially detrimental to developing countries because these nations “are more reliant on pollinators than [others], standing to lose [vital] income, livelihoods, nutrition and cultural traditions if pollinators decline.” Low-income areas use agriculture as their main income source. This puts people at risk of poverty when crops do not yield high-quality plants in large quantities. Not only does bee deprivation impact incomes but the lack of food crops robs millions of people of micronutrients like vitamin A and iron. For this reason, scientists say that crop loss results in “millions of years of healthy life lost.”

Bee Activists Working to Combat Poverty

Fortunately, there are organizations throughout the world promoting beekeeping, and in doing so, are fighting global poverty. For example, Bees for Development, founded in the United Kingdom, is a global charity that promotes beekeeping and biodiversity to combat poverty. It gives people in the most impoverished communities in the world a consistent income by training them into beekeepers who raise bees and sell honey. Bees for Development sends resource boxes that donors sponsor to these beekeepers. Bees for Development is only one of many organizations aiding those in poverty and bee populations.

How Individuals Can Help

Creating bumblebee retirement homes may not be realistic for many, but there are other ways to support bees, and thus, support people and the planet. People can buy or build a simple bee hotel for solitary bees using a hollow wooden tube. Helping bees can be as easy as putting a bowl of water in one’s yard, such as a bee bath. Individuals can also plant flowers with open petals because these make pollination easier for bees. Possibly the most important way to help bees is to stop the use of pesticides — the mass decline of bees partly stems from agricultural pesticide overuse. It is vital that the world acts now to protect pollinators before it is too late.

Whether it is a bumblebee retirement home or beekeeping, aiding this cause is crucial. Communities living in poverty and the environment depend on innovative ideas for improvement. Bees can be part of the solution for both poverty and a sustainable environment. To learn ways that individuals can help, visit the websites for Flying Flowers or Bees for Development.

– Anna Montgomery
Photo: With Permission from Flying Flowers

Mental Health in the United KingdomIn April 2021, psychiatrists warned that the United Kingdom may be in the depths of a mental health crisis. The number of people seeking help for issues such as anxiety and depression climbed to record numbers in 2020. In fact, these numbers were so high that the National Health Service (NHS) struggled to meet the service demand for mental health in the United Kingdom. Affirming this in October 2021, Somerset, a mental health organization, said that the U.K. is facing a “mental health pandemic.”

4 Facts About Mental Health in the United Kingdom

  1. COVID-19 significantly impacts mental health in the United Kingdom. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported in October 2021, that at the height of the pandemic, 21% of adults in Great Britain suffered depression. This is an uptick from the pre-pandemic level of 10%. Furthermore, nearly 75% of these adults reporting symptoms of depression attribute those symptoms to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Mental illness is on the rise among the youth. The U.K. Children’s Society indicates that “in the last three years, the likelihood of young people having a mental health problem” has risen by 50%. Exacerbating these issues further, about 75% of youth suffering from mental health issues do not receive the mental health assistance they require. Dr. Santiago Nieto, a general practitioner who works at Northampton’s County Surgery, told the BBC in November 2021 that “there is far more anxiety, more depression, more cases of suicide or attempted suicide and more serious self-harm.”
  3. Geography matters in the case of mental health in the U.K. Research shows that mental health issues are more common in certain areas within the U.K. For example, the Health and Social Care Board finds that mental diseases such as anxiety and depression are more prevalent “in children and young people in Northern Ireland” in comparison to other areas of the U.K. This survey is the first of its kind, and though it is unclear why this disparity exists, researchers find that an array of factors contribute to the rising levels of depression, including “family trauma, adversity, poor health and disability.” Furthermore, according to the ONS, “adults living in the most deprived areas of England” are twice as likely to experience depression as those living “in the least deprived areas of England.”
  4. Unemployment strongly affects mental health. According to the ONS, adults facing unemployment are 50% more susceptible to depression than employed adults. Noting a situation prompting further inquiry, The Health Foundation released a report in April 2021 examining the relationship between mental health and unemployment, especially amid COVID-19. The report finds that “the relationship between mental health and unemployment in the U.K. is bi-directional,” meaning that strong mental health can help an individual secure a job and losing a job can damage mental health. The report estimates that the rising unemployment rate in the U.K. will worsen the mental health of “an additional 200,000 people” by the end of 2021.

NHS to the Rescue

Despite the challenges of mental health in the United Kingdom, there is a strong apparatus in place to address the challenge. In 2008, the NHS introduced the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) program, which has since become one of the most recognized mental health programs in the world. The IAPT utilizes talk therapies to treat people with anxiety and depression in England. Due to its success, the NHS is expanding the program. New goals aim to reach nearly 2 million adults with IAPT services by 2024. Program expansion will also focus on “supporting people to find or stay in work” amid rising unemployment.

COVID-19, rising unemployment, growing depression and anxiety rates among the youth as well as unequal access to care presents a complicated problem for the United Kingdom, which will require creative solutions. However, the nation remains steadfast in its commitment to improving mental health in the United Kingdom with the support of the NHS and countless organizations.

– Richard J. Vieira
Photo: Flickr

Marcus Rashford's CampaignMany know Marcus Rashford for his role on the soccer field as a player for the famous Manchester United team. However, Rashford is also an activist in the fight against child poverty in the United Kingdom. With 22% of adults and 30% of children in Britain living in poverty, this is an important issue, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming from a background of poverty himself, Marcus Rashford’s campaign gives a voice to the impoverished youth.

Marcus Rashford’s Campaign Combats Child Hunger

One of Rashford’s most significant passions is combating child hunger. In June 2020, during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the soccer star launched a campaign asking the government to continue using food vouchers for students during summer vacations. For many impoverished children, school lunches are a necessary resource to receive proper daily nutrition. Rashford’s campaign provided vouchers to underprivileged families, allowing children and families to access school lunches and groceries during the summer. Additionally, he raised £20 million with FareShare, a U.K. organization that has provided 131.9 million meals to charities and vulnerable people.

The public has shown strong support for Rashford’s campaign. During his initial campaign, the government rejected his ideas. However, the people rallied in his support, causing the government to backtrack, providing 1.3 million students with meal vouchers for a six-week summer break period. His October 2020 petition calling for the government to extend free school meals to other vacations and expand eligibility garnered more than 500,000 signatures. Although this request was not successful, local businesses followed with their support, even businesses that the pandemic hit hard. Additionally, Rashford used his Twitter account, with more than 3.5 million followers, as a directory of food banks, providing valuable information for those the government denied food.

Educational Resources

Along with his work against child hunger, Rashford also works to provide underprivileged children with educational resources. Rashford has said he only properly started reading books for leisure at age 17 because his family never had the budget for it. After learning that more than 380,000 children in the U.K. never owned books of their own, Rashford sought to change that. In the fall of 2020, he launched a book club with Macmillian’s Children’s Books to provide books to children. Through Marcus Rashford’s campaign, thousands of children now have access to a new hobby that they previously viewed as a privilege.

In May 2021, the Sunday Times Giving List notably recognized Rashford as the youngest person to top its list of British philanthropists. This accolade was due to Rashford’s generous donations to various food, poverty and community charities. The soccer player has raised more than £20 million in donations, putting his “Giving Index” rating at 125%; his wealth is £16 million. Due to the additional waves of COVID-19, there is a high demand for donations.

Rashford has proven himself to be a valuable contributor both on and off the field. Through his hard work and dedication, millions of children across the U.K. have had access to food and books. With his substantial passion, Rashford shows no signs of slowing down in his philanthropic efforts.

– Carly Johnson
Photo: Flickr

U.K. foreign aid cuts
On July 13, 2021, the U.K. government voted in favor of a £4 billion ($5.5 billion) cut to its foreign aid budget in an effort to recover from debt that its COVID-19 response imposed. Parliament voted in favor of the measure, with 333 for and 298 against the cut. Those voting against the foreign aid cut included 25 Members of Parliament (MPs) of the ruling Conservative party. Surprisingly, this is an unusually high number for a government that stigmatizes voting against party lines. Among those who voted against the cut were former Prime Minister Theresa May and former cabinet ministers Jeremy Hunt and David Davis.

Backbench Rebellion

Before the vote, a far more sizeable group of Conservative MPs planned to rebel against the government’s line. However, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak persuaded many to vote in favor of the measure. He assured them that the cuts would only be temporary until the country’s public finances were healthier post-COVID-19. However, experts predict it will be years before the national budget reaches ‘healthy’ levels.

The Response

Many members of the opposition believe that the U.K. foreign aid cuts will adversely affect thousands of lives, predicting a possible 100,000 deaths and millions facing malnutrition.

Even former Conservative Prime Ministers opposed the move. David Cameron, whose government adopted the 0.07% pledge, called it a “grave mistake” to undermine the U.K.’s 2013 promise. Sir John Major questioned why the government could afford “a ‘national yacht’ tha[t] no one either wants or needs” while also claiming the necessity of cutting aid to “the most miserable and destitute people in the world.”

Long-time recipients of foreign aid are also aghast at the likely repercussions of this decision. After the recent resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, NGOs such as Afghanaid fear that reduced aid will only exacerbate the extensive instability in the region, with the hardships falling largely on the poorest members of the population.

NGOs Step Up

NGOs and aid organizations have responded to the cuts in a number of different ways. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged £93.5 million ($192.6 million) to help cover the costs rescinded by the U.K. government. Other organizations, such as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the ELMA Foundation and the Open Society Foundations pledged similar funds to make up for the cuts. Specifically, a number of global life-saving treatments will go unfunded without the help of these organizations.

In addition, several NGOs also made last-minute pleas to the Foreign Office to halt the cuts to foreign aid. The International Development Committee (IDC), aided by leading foreign aid experts, published an inquiry into the results of the cuts. This inquiry predicts that the U.K. government will turn away from severely war-affected areas such as Syria and Yemen. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an organization that receives 5% of its funding from the U.K. and works in places such as Syria and Yemen, is also concerned. The NRC cautions that “It is more important than ever that aid from the U.K. reaches those who are most vulnerable, in line with humanitarian principles,” rather than with “political or economic interests.”

Looking Ahead

Despite the monumental damage predicted as a result of the U.K. foreign aid cuts, the global response from philanthropists and aid organizations is very encouraging. Hopefully, their willingness to step forward will reverse some of the damage and encourage others to do the same.

– Augustus Bambridge-Sutton
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Recycling Efforts in ScotlandAs of March 2021, Scotland has provided £70 million, or $97,466,250 USD, to the new Recycling Improvement Fund. This will improve recycling efforts in Scotland and the world. Recycling can shield off climate change, help the environment and alleviate poverty, so funding will make a notable difference.

How Scotland Will Use the Funds

Across the country, local authorities are receiving encouragement to create ways to make recycling possible for their communities. Examples include advocating for waste prevention and reuse, fixing damaged reusables, establishing a routine for collecting, accessing the proper recycling means for items like electronics and using low-carbon equipment.

Roseanna Cunningham is Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform. She is fighting for each household’s right to make their own choices in the environment. Cunningham claims the fund will ensure that communities will have equal access to recycling if they choose to do so. Local authorities have recently voiced their opinions on ways to improve recycling infrastructure and ways to involve the communities. This is where the NGO Zero Waste Scotland comes in. This organization manages their applications, assesses their ideas and makes contracts. If an idea undergoes improvement, the fund will go towards supplying local authorities’ plans.

Motivation for Recycling Efforts in Scotland

Cunningham has stated that it is in Scotland’s best interests for society to focus on a circular economy founded on green-based job opportunities. In other words, the country will reuse waste as long as possible to preserve resources, but there should also be more local jobs with missions to preserve the environment. The country hopes to become a leading example to the world in time for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021. Many other leaders from Zero Waste Scotland have also voiced their excitement about the positive impact the funds will have on the economy. Even private sectors are becoming involved.

Scotland has the goal of increasing the recycling rate to 70% by 2025. In 2018, carbon emissions related to waste dropped by around 11%. In 2019, 1.1 million tonnes did not enter the landfill when 45% of households recycled. Also that year, local figures did something to improve recycling, resulting in a 17% to 68% rate increase. Scotland is ensuring the Recycling Improvement Fund will up these percentages.

How Recycling Efforts in Scotland Alleviate Poverty

Quality of life would improve for those without equal access to recycling because of green-based employment and education. Further, communities achieve social development when they learned about preserving their resources for as long as possible. One day, the earth’s resources will run out depending on the consumption rate. The prolonging of the use of the things that people use daily, like plastic, metal and paper, can keep poverty at bay.

As of March 2021, Scotland’s unemployment rate was 4.4%, slightly less than last year’s 4.7%. More recycling efforts could lead to more employment as well, through green-based jobsMore than windmills and turbines, types of green-based jobs consist of teachers, caretakers, bike couriers, solar energy installers, transportation services and overall services that benefit communities. Further, preventing contamination of rivers and land from trash recyclables solves a number of problems when it comes to drinking water, soil for crops, carbon emission and water pollution. This also addresses environmental hazards.

To involve the public in recycling, there are door-to-door recycling pickups, which offer money in exchange for recyclables. In conclusion, Scotland’s new program will prove to rely on the citizens to make the ultimate difference. As protecting the environment becomes a priority, so does poverty.

Selena Soto
Photo: Flickr

period poverty in the U.K.
Period poverty happens when people are unable to afford or access proper period products due to low income. The average period lasts around five days, costing Scottish people around $10 a month for period products. Period poverty is a global issue that is not receiving enough attention. The U.K. is the first country to take significant steps to reduce period poverty. Here is some information about period poverty in the United Kingdom.

Period Poverty in the United Kingdom

In 2020, more than 2,000 people took a survey in schools, colleges and universities around Scotland. The results showed that one in four respondents was unable to access period products.

According to a Plan International report from 2017, a British children’s charity, period poverty affects one in 10 British girls aged 14 to 21. Furthermore, 49% of girls across the U.K. admitted to having missed a day of school because of their inability to access period products.

The Effects of COVID-19 on Period Poverty

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, period poverty in the U.K. has increased. Before the pandemic, low-income British residents often accessed period products through schools or community centers. However, after the lockdown, they no longer had such access.

Bloody Good Period and Freedom4Girls, founded in 2016 and 2017, respectively, are two national charities that focus on improving the accessibility of period products and reducing the stigma around periods. Bloody Good Period distributes products to 40 drop-in services and groups in the U.K. and to more than 2,000 people each month. In 2020, both charities saw drastic increases in their products’ distributions. Before the pandemic, Bloody Good Period typically distributed around 5,000-period packs a month, but the number grew to 23,000 in the three months after March 2020. Similarly, Freedom4Girls’ production increased fivefold.

Scotland’s Efforts to Alleviate Period Poverty

In 2020, Scotland made history as the first country to make period products free for all. Monica Lennon, a member of the Scottish Parliament, introduced the Period Products Bill, which passed in November 2020. Lennon has been fighting for an end to period poverty since 2016 and was finally able to gain significant attention for the cause in 2020, when more girls began to suffer from period poverty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish government funded the period poverty campaign with 5.2 million euros. Of this money, the government set half a million euros aside to deliver free period products to residents of low-income neighborhoods.

Additionally, the U.K. government has created its own period poverty task force. The task force’s main goals are to destigmatize periods, educate people on periods and ensure that period products are widely accessible.

The Red Box Project

Similarly, in Portsmouth, England, three women decided to start a movement to end period poverty. They sympathized with low-income teenage girls who could not afford period products and recognized that period poverty impacts both current and future mental health and well-being. It started its campaign, the Red Box Project, in March 2017. The Red Box Project fills red boxes with pads and tampons and gives them to schools. The Red Box Project has placed boxes in more than 2,200 schools, colleges and youth clubs. As word of the project spread, its founders started to push for governmental action against period poverty. As a result of national efforts, in January 2020, Britain’s Department for Education made period products freely available to all state schools and colleges in England.

The actions that some are taking to reduce period poverty in the United Kingdom should provide other countries hope as they fight similar battles. With passionate, driven residents and new legislation, women around the world can begin to live in peace.

Shamolie Panjwani
Photo: Flickr

Soccer Programs Addressing Global PovertySoccer is one of the most popular sports on the international stage, with more than four billion fans. Additionally, roughly 30 billion people watch the FIFA World Cup. This proves that soccer can bring many people together despite different linguistic or cultural backgrounds. With this in mind, soccer programs across the world are harnessing people’s love for the game to help the impoverished. Three particular soccer programs are addressing global poverty and are making the world a better place.

3 Soccer Programs Addressing Global Poverty

  1. Football for Change: Founded by British national team player Trent Alexander-Arnold, Football for Change is a nonprofit organization working to alleviate youth poverty in the United Kingdom. Alexander-Arnold wanted to use his platform to raise awareness for youth poverty, so he launched Football for Change to fund educational programs in low-income neighborhoods. Other professional soccer players, including Conor Coady and Andrè Gomez, have joined the nonprofit to show young people that success is possible despite economic hardship.
  2. Girls Soccer Worldwide: This nonprofit organization was founded by a husband and wife duo to address female poverty around the world. The organization’s mission includes securing equal opportunities for women on and off the field. These opportunities include equal access to soccer leagues, education and politics. To accomplish this goal, Girls Soccer Worldwide establishes all-female recreational soccer teams across the world, and most notably in Paraguay, to uplift women’s voices. Girls Soccer Worldwide also encourages others to contribute by participating in fundraising events such as walkathons and 5k runs. Its most recent 5k run for a cause occurred on July 11, 2021.
  3. Grassroots Soccer: This organization combats global poverty by supporting athletic and academic programs around the world. To date, Grassroots Soccer has helped implement soccer, health and educational programs in 45 countries in Latin America, South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. The organization raises awareness of both global poverty and health risks associated with HIV/AIDS and malaria. Currently, it is introducing an HIV treatment delivery service program in Zambia to provide people living with HIV medicine and support. Notable supporters of the Grassroots Soccer organization include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.N. and the CDC. However, anyone can support the Grassroots Soccer Foundation by launching personal fundraising campaigns and playing soccer for a cause. Educational institutions including Brown University, Vassar College, Georgetown University and Yale University have launched campaigns to raise money for the organization in the past.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states that sports are “increasingly recognized as an important tool” to help “create a better world.” People’s shared admiration for soccer can provide the basis for a common goal of helping the world’s most impoverished people. Soccer programs addressing global poverty, like Football for Change, Girls Soccer Worldwide and Grassroots Soccer, lead the way in using sports to help combat poverty.

– Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

United Kingdom's Gender Wage Gap
The gender pay gap, or the difference in pay between men and women, has been under scrutiny across the globe for decades with the rise of feminist movements. The United Kingdom has received a lot of backlash since a report concerning unequal pay underwent publication in 2016. The Economic Policy Institute cited that women earned only 79 cents for every dollar that a man earned. However, the United Kingdom’s gender wage gap is slowly closing under the newly introduced gender pay gap transparency regulations.

Gender Pay Gap Transparency Regulations

In early 2017, the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission introduced a new practice in the United Kingdom, which required that all companies with more than 250 employees be honest and open about gender pay inequalities. Within this regulation, businesses must post the difference in payment between their male and female employees and have the data publicly available for at least three years. Companies that do not comply may undergo investigation and be subject to heavy fines.

The Society for Human Resource Management stated that these reports are “calling for more attention” to the U.K.’s gender wage gap and encourage “tracking the metric over time” to assure that progress is occurring. In turn, this makes companies aware of income inequality. The businesses also work to protect their reputation in a growing field of competitors.

Concerns arise because COVID-19 could very well increase the gender wage gap. According to Ogletree Deakins, companies did not have to submit these reports by the April 2020 deadline. Before the pandemic, corporations had to submit their wage gap numbers by April. However, in 2021, businesses must post their inequality findings by a later deadline in October. Ogletree Deakins found that “By 24 March 2020, the day the government announced the suspension” of the April 2020 deadline for reporting, just  26% “of companies compelled to report had done so.”

While this resolve for the union seems fresh, U.K. efforts to reduce wage inequality began decades ago. In November 1970, the Equal Pay Act made wage differences based on gender in the U.K. illegal.

The Result of the Regulations

According to Statista, the gender wage gap has decreased by almost 3% since the regulations’ implementation. The reported inequality has also declined substantially from the U.K.’s highest point of wage imbalance at 27.5% in 1997. Now, with the current rate at 15.5% on average, citizens hope this rate will continue to drop.

However, in the part-time sector where wage gap statistics fall below 0%, the rate of inequality is on the rise from its all-time low in 2015. The U.K. parliament finds that women are more likely to take on these part-time occupations and experience wage inequality when they pass the age of 40. This wage inequality continues even in high-paying jobs.

Some countries within the U.K. have different pay gap rates than their sister nations. Northern Ireland has the lowest gender wage gap at -3%, while London has a pay difference of 13%. Despite any discrepancies, all nations within the U.K. have seen a significant decrease in the wage gap since the implementation of the transparency regulations.

The Reaction of Businesses

Many businesses have aligned with the legislation by creating new strategies to decrease the wage gap. The Society for Human Resources Management states that more than 65% of companies have started conducting research on pay inequality and 32% have started actively working to close the United Kingdom’s gender wage gap.

A popular law firm in the United Kingdom, McKinsey and Company, discussed its strategy in a 2019 announcement. The business declared that it would recruit more women into its firm, develop the talents of those recruited women and “shape the debate through rigorous research.” Other companies seem to be following suit.

Bloomberg stated that a U.K. hygiene and health production company, Reckitt Benckiser Group, has started paying women 6.1% more than men. The corporation condemned the pay gap via a report in 2021 and assured that it would continue to “address the issue.”

The Future

While it is uncertain whether the United Kingdom’s gender wage gap will ever truly disappear, many believe that the payment inequality statistics will continue to fall over time. The U.K. currently ranks fifth on the European Institute for Gender Equality Index, but expectations have determined that the region will improve its score as it did between 2005 and 2017, possibly surpassing other nations with its actions for fairness.

– Laken G. Kincaid
Photo: Flickr

Tajikistan’s Response to COVID-19In February 2020, many countries arranged a summit to discuss how they would assist countries with weaker health care systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19 was one of the topics at the summit.

Tajikistan, a small country in Central Asia, is regarded by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the most impoverished countries. Primarily private out-of-pocket deals run the country’s health care system. According to the WHO, this process undermines the system’s ability to grow in equity, efficiency and quality.

Combating COVID-19

Tajikistan was one of the first countries to receive COVID-19 support. In April 2020,  the World Bank provided emergency relief to Tajikistan, along with aid from various other countries. The World Bank said that it is a continuous goal to strengthen Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19 by improving its health care system.

On June 7, 2020, Tajikistan received emergency medical teams (EMTs) and mobile laboratories from Poland, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. After this support, the country began to see an increase in COVID-19 contact tracing, testing and optimization of patient care. The EMTs gave Tajikistani health care workers advice on how to handle severe COVID-19 cases.

Tajikistan enacted a national COVID-19 laboratory upscale plan, and with help from international aid, the Tajikistan government established a Public Emergency Operations Center. On July 22, 2020, Russian lab experts arrived in the Central Asian country to help strengthen its data management system. Now, Tajikistan is seeing an increase in testing and staff capacity.

In addition, USAID donated $7.17 million to the Tajikistan government. Tajikistan used the funding to support migrants that traveled into the country. The country is also buying new, life-saving equipment and medical supplies. In April 2020, the USAID and other American organizations sent 58,620 kilograms of food to more than 100 health and social welfare institutions. These donations totaled approximately $171,000.

Further, the World Bank allocated $11.3 million to a grant for the Tajikistan Emergency COVID-19 Project. The project works to improve healthcare for Tajikistan’s citizens, sending funds to impoverished households and informing the public on COVID-19 safety measures.

Hope for Tajikistan

The Intensive Care Unit in Varzob, Tajikistan, was one of 10 hospitals chosen for refurbishment with funding from the World Bank. The hospital received upgraded medical equipment and supplies to strengthen Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19The Tajikistan hospital can now serve all district citizens instead of only private out-of-pocket citizens.

Several hospitals throughout Tajikistan received batches of medical equipment. Donations included 68 ICU ventilators, 68 ICU beds with patient monitors and 400,000 pieces of personal protective equipment.

According to the World Bank, 41% of Tajikistani households reported that they had to reduce food consumption, while 20% of families could not afford health care. With international funds, the Tajikistan government sent out one-time cash payments of 500 somonis to approximately 65,000 low-income families with children less than three years old.

In February 2021, Tajikistan received a grant for COVID-19 vaccines and to increase the oxygen supply in 15 of the country’s hospitals. Most of the funding went to Tajikistani patients suffering from COVID-19 to receive top-of-the-line care. Subsequently, the remaining grant money provided one-time cash assistance to an additional 70,000 poor households.

Future of Tajikistan

On June 16, 2021, the Asian Development Bank approved a grant of $25 million to strengthening Tajikistan’s response to COVID-19. This grant helped the country procure COVID-19 vaccines and improve its vaccination system. On the same date, Tajikistan created a goal to vaccinate about 62% of its population. This grant is one of many that allowed the country to strengthen its supply of medical equipment and care for the maximum number of high-risk COVID-19 patients.

As of July 9, 2021, Tajikistan has vaccinated 1.2% of the population, administering 223,648 doses. With help from international aid, the country is giving out approximately 9,273 doses each day. It will take more than 200 days to vaccinate 10% of the population, but Tajikistan is steadily recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Rachel Schilke
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Vaccination in the U.K.The World Health Organization (WHO) officially labeled the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic in March 2020. This declaration pushed scientists and pharmaceutical companies around the world to develop vaccines. By December 2020, the United Kingdom, which includes Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, became the first country to approve COVID-19 vaccines for the public. To date, the U.K. is on track to achieve herd immunity, with close to 67% of its total population vaccinated with one dose and nearly 50% vaccinated with two doses. Although definitions of herd immunity vary, it generally involves vaccinating a majority of the population to reduce the spread of disease. Considering the success of COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom, below are six facts about the current situation.

6 Facts About COVID-19 Vaccination in the United Kingdom

  1. The U.K. developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. University of Oxford scientists worked in collaboration with the English pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to develop this vaccine. In January 2021, an 82-year-old man named Brian Pincker was the first to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in England. The U.K. government currently has access to 100 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca and 50 million doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines.
  2. Vaccination programs vary across the U.K. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own health care systems and chief medical officers. As a result, vaccination programs and policies vary between nations. For example, Scotland first vaccinated residents in care home facilities, whereas England vaccinated community members above the age of 80. Despite these differences, all four nations generally agree on the priority list of people eligible to receive vaccines. They all follow the advice that the U.K.’s independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization gave them.
  3. The U.K. offers vaccines to certain age groups. The National Healthcare Services (NHS) in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently offer vaccines to people older than 18. However, NHS England currently offers vaccines to people older than 23. As the rollout of vaccines continues in the coming months, this age limit will lower. In all four nations, people under the required age limit can receive the vaccine if they have pre-existing medical conditions, including lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, etc., that make them clinically vulnerable to COVID-19.
  4. The U.K. offers vaccines to frontline workers. Across the U.K., frontline workers can receive COVID-19 vaccines regardless of whether they meet age requirements. Frontline workers include healthcare workers, social workers, hospital receptionists, mail carriers, funeral home directors and childcare providers.
  5. The U.K. will donate vaccines to other countries. In a recent G7 meeting in Cornwall, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged more than 100 million vaccines to countries in need. As a group, leaders of the G7 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, committed to donating 1 billion vaccines to countries around the world.
  6. COVID-19 vaccination in the U.K. can reduce poverty. At the beginning of the pandemic, unemployment in the U.K. reached 5% for the first time since 2016. This is a direct result of in-person venues and institutions closing for public health concerns. COVID-19 vaccination efforts can help reopen in-person institutions, reinstate jobs and lift people out of poverty.

Looking Ahead

Overall, COVID-19 vaccination in the United Kingdom shows success as more than 79.3 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. People receive these vaccines in community pharmacies, hospitals, local general practices and other vaccination sites around the country. As a result, the U.K. government is currently on track to vaccinate all adults soon.

In the words of British vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, this constitutes a “fantastic milestone and cause for celebration.” As more people get vaccinated, the U.K. government will be able to ease lockdown restrictions and reintroduce a sense of normalcy in society.

Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr