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Infant mortality rateEvery year newborn babies take their first breaths after their mothers give birth to them. Around the world, these same mothers hope that their children will grow into adulthood without any major health complications hindering their development. Unfortunately, millions of babies have died within their first few months of life due to health issues. Those born in areas with populations vulnerable to poverty experience more frequent cases of infections compared to others living in better environments. Therefore, organizations around the world have implemented ways to lower the infant mortality rate. It is important to understand what causes high infant mortality rate (IMR) and what groups across the globe have been doing to help lower the rate over the years.

Infectious Diseases

Babies born in areas of extreme poverty are at higher risk of contracting an infectious disease compared to those delivered in more sanitary locations. Every year, an estimate of about 2.6 million lose their lives within their first month. Moreover, roughly 15% of the total amount of deaths are attributed to severe infections contracted. Many of those cases involving infections could have easily been lowered if the necessary medicine was available to help the babies recover. However, the issue is that these treatments are too expensive for most families to purchase even if it would save their children.

Additionally, there are many different infections and diseases that newborns can contract due to unsanitary environments during delivery. Data taken from the 1990s to 2017 recorded which infections and disease were the leading causes of deaths among children. The top cause of death for children under 5 was lower respiratory infections. After lower respiratory infections, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxiation and trauma were the next biggest reasons. In addition, there are many more problems that contribute to the high IMR early in its collection of data. However, one good piece of information is that since the 1990s, the IMR has lowered significantly.

USAID to the Rescue

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked with several partners to produce cost-effective measures to help lower the IMR, especially for those in poverty. Expensive treatments have been one of the main reasons why children die at an early age —  a terrible outcome just because their parents could not afford the necessary treatments. In order to solve this problem, USAID has helped manufacture chlorhexidine to save more lives at a significantly cheaper rate. Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic product that comes in a liquid or gel form. It helps to treat infections for newborns, thereby lowering the infant mortality rate by lowering the cost of the product. This single intervention has helped lower the IMR in multiple countries.

Lower IMR Guidelines

The Guttmacher Institute released data explaining that practicing family planning can greatly reduce the IMR in countries with areas of poverty. They recommend that more contraceptives be made available to those who wish to use it. That will increase the likelihood of women giving birth to healthier children if they choose to have any. The institute argues that people living in areas of poverty lack access to such resources. It is that very lack of resources that increase the odds of children contracting infectious diseases when born.

While there are still many factors contributing to the infant mortality rate, there are also many out there who are working to lower that rate. Organizations like USAID and the Guttmacher Institute are trying to make sure that as many children reach adulthood as possible. It is through simple measures like lowering treatment costs and increasing access to medicines and family planning options that infant mortality can be reduced globally.

Donovan Baxter
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in RwandaJust over 20 years ago, the country of Rwanda suffered a devastating civil war and genocide, with more than 800,000 dead in 100 days. The children that suffered and survived the horrors are now adults, but what implications does this dark history have on Rwandan children today? Rwanda’s economic, political and social climates have entirely shifted since these tragic events. Of note, from 2001-2015, the country’s overall extreme poverty rate decreased by almost 24%. But more work is needed to help address the prevalence of poverty among the country’s youngest inhabitants. To that end, the national government has implemented the National Strategy for Transformation, aiming to halve the child poverty rate by 2030 from 39% to 19.5% or less. Here are five facts about child poverty in Rwanda.

5 Facts About Child Poverty in Rwanda

  1. Urban/Rural Divide. The provinces located in the West and South of Rwanda’s geographic landscape are significantly more rural, making child poverty disparities extremely visible compared to their urban counterparts. There are many different forms of poverty, but significant aspects affecting Rwanda’s rural youth include lack of sanitation and lack of health services. Currently, 20% more children under the age of 2 in rural areas experience greater than one form of poverty relative to those living in urban areas.
  2. Health. There have been significant health improvements for children in Rwanda, including the 70% reduction in child deaths over the last decade. However, health and healthcare are still lacking for Rwandan youth, as nearly 40% of children who die before the age of 5 are infants less than one month old. Though the rate of child deaths is alarming, Rwanda has significantly decreased its HIV/AIDS transmission rate between mother and child to 2% during the last three years.
  3. Education. Around 27% of secondary school-aged children did not attend in 2014 and more than half of Rwandan youth did not complete primary education in the same year.
  4. Child Rights. The median age in Rwanda is very young, standing at about 18.8 years old, due to the country’s genocide decades earlier. The young demographic has caused an increased awareness of child rights in the country, which has led to the passage of a bill that created a National Commission of Children. Children’s rights are now openly advocated for in the country as a result of the commission’s efforts, which address children’s rights to education, health and non-discriminatory practices.
  5. COVID-19. Rwanda experienced a period of economic growth and improvement prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the World Bank Group provided funding of $14.25 million to help the country improve its COVID-19 response. Children in Rwanda have suffered by losing financial security and job access. Still, young farmers in the region have successfully adapted to the pandemic by adjusting the market for crops to save their lands and maintain a profit.

– Josie Collier
Photo: Wikimedia


Globalization and industrialization have improved living conditions and increased economic prosperity in Morocco. The introduction of economic reforms in the early 1980s also stimulated growth in a variety of sectors. Yet, despite these efforts, poverty, illiteracy and unemployment rates in Morocco remain high. In 2018, Morocco ranked 121st out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index—a statistic composite index of life expectancy, education and per capita income indicators. A significant factor in Morocco’s low ranking is the country’s inaccessible and inadequate healthcare. Here are four things to know about healthcare in Morocco today.

4 Facts About Healthcare in Morocco

  1. Ongoing institutional reforms. Morocco is undergoing a variety of health system reforms, including those affecting hospitals and institutions. Currently, the North African country’s health system has public and private sectors. The private sector is further divided into not-for-profit and for-profit divisions, which is often quite costly. The public sector, though more affordable, is unable to provide the same standard of care as the private sector. Due to the ongoing reforms, the World Health Organization has outlined the management of public hospitals and a “lack of a policy to manage and develop human resources” to be some of the Moroccan health system’s main challenges.
  2. A lack of healthcare workers. Morocco is suffering from a lack of skilled healthcare professionals in both sectors of its healthcare system. In 2017, there was an average of 7.9 health workers per 10,000 people in 12 regions, according to the Moroccan Ministry of Health. This ratio falls far below the WHO’s standard of one physician per 650 people.
  3. Limited accessibility to healthcare. Coinciding with cost barriers and limited healthcare personnel, many Moroccans lack access to healthcare outside of urban centers. Rural and remote areas of Morocco are often underserved, and citizens have to travel long distances to receive primary care. To attract and retain healthcare workers in these underserved areas, the Moroccan Ministry of Health proposed legislation in 2015 for new graduates to work in underserved areas for two years.
  4. Gender inequality affecting women’s access to healthcare. Women’s health in Morocco is lower than men due to socioeconomic factors limiting women’s standard of living and income. According to the Mohammed Bin Rachid Al Maktoum Foundation, Morocco’s estimated 2008 illiteracy rate was 43%. In the same report, women’s illiteracy rate sat higher at 54.7%. Moreover, according to a 2009 report by the High Commission for Planning for Morocco, women with higher education diplomas were more vulnerable to unemployment. The report found that, in general, 27.5% of women are unemployed, while 50.1% of women with credentials are unemployed. Furthermore, Morocco has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, with an estimated 21.90 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017.

Improving the Moroccan health system is a slow process; however, with support from international public health organizations like WHO and healthcare professionals, healthcare in Morocco could advance significantly. Equal healthcare to women and Moroccans living in rural and remote areas will ensure a brighter, healthier future for Morocco and the world.

Alana Castle
Photo: Flickr

The Lake Clinic
The Lake Clinic Cambodia, a free healthcare service that started in 2007, has helped nine different villages and more than 13,000 people in the isolated Tonlé Sap region of Cambodia. The Tonlé Sap area, in Southeast Asia, stretches 160 miles and holds more than 1 million people- all living in floating villages. These villages contain some of the poorest people in Cambodia. These communities face disease, poverty, and drastic change in weather temperaments. A majority of the people rely on fishing with a daily income of $2.50 a day. The Lake Clinic works hard to combat the poverty and health struggles amongst these communities.

Why is this Clinic Valuable?

According to The Lake Clinic, “a lack of education combined with limited access to hygiene and sanitation contribute to a huge burden of preventable diseases.” More often than not, there are no teachers or health care facilities. Due to drastic weather changes that make it expensive and dangerous to travel to receive health care, many go without. Thus, the Lake Clinic stepped in. However, traveling throughout the villages is difficult and expensive due to high fuel costs and a lack of adequate resources. The Lake Clinic uses old boats and technology, including inefficient solar panels, to do their work.

Funding Found and Established

The Honnold Foundation, run by Alex Honnold (rock climber, environmentalist and advocate), offered to help The Lake Clinic in Cambodia. The generous support of The Honnold Foundation helps to fund new solar panels of The Lake Clinic’s boat fleets they use to travel within the communities. Now “with an upgraded solar and battery system,” they also have the availability of better technology, such as ultrasound and electron diagrams. The Lake Clinic can efficiently provide better healthcare services to even more communities around the Tonlé Sap Lake area.

How The Lake Clinic is Using its Resources

Thanks to the solar panels and battery, the Lake Clinic has been able to expand the work it does, offering support and educational lectures about dental care, pregnancy, water sanitation, floating gardens, mental health, pediatrics and teenage care. Annually, they offer over 1,800 vaccines, almost 500 eye checks, over 600 dental treatments and almost 517 antenatal treatments. The Clinic has also been able to expand their operation, offering five clinics and six boats to the Tonlé Sap Lake.

Healthcare and poverty are inextricably related. Poverty increases the likelihood of disease, as resources for hygiene and sanitation are not accessible. Poor health can be a fatal result of poverty. Those living in poverty and impoverished communities are far more likely to struggle with hygiene, disease and malnutrition. They are actively fighting to work with solar panels to bring healthcare to the Tonlé Sap communities. These clinics on boats are offering solutions and help to those living within the Tonlé Sap region. Solar panels are not just an energy source, but a tool saving lives.

Hannah Kaufman
Photo: CND Pixabay

India is the second-largest country in the world and covers an area of over 1.269 million square miles of land. With agriculture being the main occupation in India, 66% of the country’s population inhabit the rural landscape, and only 34% of the population lives in the urban regions. There are very few doctors and healthcare providers who volunteer to relocate to villages to provide healthcare. While 67% of the doctors live in cities, only 33% of the doctors serve the rural population. Therefore, healthcare is not equally accessible to the entire country. People from various remote places still have to travel several miles before reaching a healthcare provider. The WHO recommends the doctor to patient ratio to be 1 doctor for every 1000 people, while a government doctor in India, on an average, attends to 11,082 patients. To make healthcare available evenly to the entire population and to prevent overburdening of the doctors, technologies have become indispensable. Major cornerstone technologies of Indian healthcare have been used to improve equity in healthcare access.

4 Cornerstone Technologies of Indian Healthcare

  1. Mobile AI radiology inferences: One-fourth of the world’s tuberculosis patients live in India and are more concentrated in the villages. NCR, a renowned hospital in Delhi, along with the government of Haryana, developed a mobile van that conducts digital chest x-rays as it travels through several villages. These x-rays are later processed using Artificial Intelligence (AI). This initiative was successful in identifying 244 tuberculosis patients in the first three months. This technology played a vital role in providing a timely diagnosis to people with inaccessible and unaffordable healthcare beyond geographical barriers.
  2. Smart clinics: Biocon, an Indian pharmaceutical company, has developed smart clinics named ‘eLAJ’ in rural areas of Karnataka and Rajasthan. When a timely diagnosis of diseases occurs at the primary healthcare centers, the burden on the secondary and tertiary healthcare centers will reduce significantly, and ailments in several patients can be proactively diagnosed before they become severe. Hence, these smart clinics specialize in primary healthcare by digitizing medical records (Electronic Medical Records) of the patients and making them available on distinctive, real-time dashboards. These EMRs help monitor the outbreak of diseases over various regions so that a clinic or relief camp can be set up where it is most needed. The records are also connected to the Aadhar cards (government-issued unique identification number) of the patients so that their health history over long durations are centrally available to any physician at any given place or time.
  3. iBreastExam: iBreastExam is an FDA-cleared tool that has been in operation since 2015. It consists of a small wireless sensor, marginally bigger than a barcode scanner, with 16 sensors to detect tissue stiffness in women’s breasts. The results are relayed in real-time to a mobile app. The test costs only four dollars and isn’t painful or time-consuming. The effectiveness of this tool was established in a study involving 900 women in Bangalore.
  4. e-Aushadi: e-Aushadi is a drug procurement, storage and distribution company. The company keeps real-time, electronic data about the quality and quantity of drugs stored in several warehouses of various districts. These records ensure that no medicine is in deficit and that they are continually restocked, so quality medicines reach the customers on time.

The Indian government has realized the potential and indispensability of technology in healthcare. It has proposed to increase the healthcare expenditure from 1.3% of the GDP to 2.5% of the GDP by 2025. The Rajiv Arogyasri program in Andhra Pradesh requires all hospitals to have computers with an internet connection to maintain electronic medical records. This program provides interest-free loans to make sure that all the hospitals are equipped with the necessary technology. Nearly 5000 startups are involved in developing healthcare technologies in India and raised a total of $504 million from 2014 to 2018. Despite being a developing country, India is advancing in healthcare technologies and has room for more innovative ideas to evolve. These four cornerstone technologies of Indian healthcare are just a start.

– Nirkkuna Nagaraj
Photo: Unsplash

Malta is a small island republic in the central Mediterranean Sea. Like most other EU member states, the Maltese government operates a socialized health care scheme. However, life expectancy in Malta is a full year higher than the European Union average, for both males and females. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about life expectancy in Malta.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Malta

  1. Trends: Life expectancy in Malta ranks 15th globally and continues to rise; the current average life expectancy is 82.6, an improvement of 4.6 percent this millennium. Median life expectancy on the archipelago is expected to improve at that same rate through 2050, reaching an average death age of 86.4.
  2. Leading Causes of Death: The WHO pinpointed coronary heart disease as the republic’s number one killer, accounting for 32.46 percent of all deaths in 2018. Additional top killers include stroke (10.01 percent) and breast cancer (3.07 percent).
  3. Health Care System: Malta’s sophisticated and comprehensive state-managed health care system embodies universal coverage for the population. Although population growth and an aging workforce present long-term challenges, the Maltese have access to universal public health care as well as private hospitals. Malta’s health care spending and doctors per capita are above the EU average. Despite this, specialists remain fairly low. Currently, the government is working to address this lack of specialized care.
  4. Infant and Maternal Health: The high life expectancy in Malta is positively impacted by low infant and maternal mortality rates. Malta’s infant and maternal mortality rates are among the lowest in the world, ranking at 181 and 161, respectively. The Maltese universal health care system provides free delivery and postpartum care for all expectant mothers. These measures provided as the standard of care have minimized the expectant death rates of new mothers to 3.3 out of 100,000.
  5. Women’s Health: Like most other developed nations, Maltese women experience longer lives than men. Comparatively, WHO data predicts that women will live nearly four years longer, an average of 83.3 years to 79.6. Interestingly, the estimated gender ratio for 2020 indicates that the Malta population will skew to be slightly more male, specifically in the 65-and-over age bracket. 
  6. Sexual and Reproductive Health: Sexual health services, including family planning and STD treatment, are free of cost in Malta. Additionally, HIV prevalence is very low, at only 0.1 percent in 2016. These measures have certainly played a role in life expectancy in Malta.
  7. Violent Crime: Although crime rates typically spike during the summer, Malta’s tourist season, violence is generally not a concern. Despite fluctuations throughout the year, the national homicide rate remains low. Currently, homicide is resting at 0.9 incidents per 100,000 citizens.
  8. Obesity: Recently, 29.8 percent of the population was found to be obese, one of the highest figures in the EU. Even higher rates of obesity have been found in Maltese adolescents: 38 percent of 11-year-old boys and 32 percent of 11-year-old girls qualify as obese.
  9. Birth Rates: Sluggish population growth is typical throughout the developed world and Malta is no exception. Current data places the population growth rate at an estimated 0.87 percent. Out of 229 sovereign nations, Malta’s birth rate was ranked 192nd with 9.9 births per 1,000 citizens.
  10. Access to Medical Facilities: The competitive health care system supports high life expectancy in Malta by providing an abundant availability of hospitals and physicians per capita. Due to the archipelago’s small population, 4.7 hospital beds and 3.8 doctors exist for every 1,000 citizens.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Malta highlight the strength of the health care system in the country. While rising rates of obesity are concerning, Malta has a strong track record of investing in the well-being of its citizens.

Dan Zamarelli
Photo: Flickr

five global healthcare organizationsIn 2017, the World Health Organization and the World Bank have reported at least half of the world’s population does not have access to essential health services, such as medical care and health care. WHO and the World Bank have also reported this causes millions to live in extreme poverty, as they must pay out-of-pocket health care expenses. Although this is a global and life-threatening problem, there are many nongovernmental organizations dedicated to providing care to those who in need. Here are five global health care organizations you should know, all of which accept donations.

5 Global Health Care Organizations Everyone Should Know

  1. Doctors of the World
    Doctors of the World is an international human rights nonprofit committed to providing long-term medical care to those who cannot afford it. With over 400 programs in more than 80 countries, this organization is located in war zones, refugee camps and even rural communities. Doctors of the World successfully provides emergency and long-term medical care to those who greatly need it. In doing so, this organization treats those afflicted by poverty, disease, armed conflict, natural disasters or chronic, structural disparities. Doctors of the World helps treat 1.6 million people each year.
  2. Medic Mobile
    Medic Mobile is a nonprofit organization that strives to improve health care for those living in hard to reach communities. To do so, Medic Mobile builds software to ensure health care workers being able to deliver equitable care to communities everywhere around the world. Moreover, the organization is the core contributor to the Community Health Toolkit. CHT is a software that helps health workers deliver medical items safely, track outbreaks of disease faster, treat illnesses door to door, keep stock of essential medicines and communicate emergencies. Medic Mobile now impacts 14 countries in Africa and Asia, having trained and equipped 24,463 health workers.
  3. International Medical Corps
    International Medic Corps is a nonprofit organization with a mission based on improving the quality of life by saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. Based in the United States and the United Kingdom, International Medic Corps offers training and health care to local populations. The organization also provides medical assistance to those at the most risk. In 2017, International Medic Corps estimated it performed 4.8 million medical consultations, benefitting 8 million people directly and 50 million people indirectly.
  4. Mothers 2 Mothers
    Mothers 2 Mothers is a unique nonprofit organization dedicated to employ, train and help to empower HIV-positive women as community health workers in Africa. The “Mentor Mothers” work in local African communities and understaffed health facilities. They provide advice, essential health education and support to other HIV-positive mothers on how to protect their babies from HIV infection. Mothers 2 Mothers also works to ensure women and families are getting proper health advice and medication, are linked to the right clinical services and are supported on their treatment journey. Since 2001, Mothers 2 Mothers has reached over 10.5 million women and children. In 2017, the organization reported it had served 1 in 6 of the world’s HIV-positive women.
  5. Mercy Ships
    Mercy Ships is an organization committed to helping those struggling without medical services in Africa. To do so, the organization uses the Africa Mercy, a floating hospital ship with volunteer medical teams and sterile operating rooms. As a result, Mercy Ships directly aids those who would otherwise receive no care. Aboard the Africa Mercy, medical treatments are free of charge, such as removing tumors, correcting clefts and straightening legs. Since being founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has reported it has performed more than 100,000 surgeries.

Access to medical care and healthcare are necessary, affecting global health, economy and living conditions. To learn more about any of these five global healthcare organizations, visit their sites. All five global healthcare organizations accept donations to continue providing much needed medical and healthcare. While a country’s infrastructure may not currently be equipped to meet the needs of its population, NGOs, such as these, can make a significant difference.

Natalie Chen
Photo: Flickr

Access to HealthcareThe West Bank is a region of Palestine but has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967. Due to this occupation, as well as the West Bank’s landlocked location, citizens often struggle to gain access to healthcare. Without sufficient medical resources, individuals living in the West Bank are subject to higher infant mortality rates, untreated psychological ailments and the risk for chronic disease to become acute. Despite these barriers, both physical and political, there are Israeli and Palestinian organizations working to aid people most at risk in the West Bank including women, children, elderly, disabled and the rural poor.

Five Obstacles in Access to Healthcare

  1. Mental Health Stigma: Mental health in occupied areas is an immediate and crucial concern, but it is often stigmatized by locals and, therefore, is unaddressed and unrecognized. Of the patients who manage to get access to a medical practitioner, adults will frequently complain of PTSD related symptoms like headaches, generalized weakness and palpitations. Children are also overlooked when it comes to mental health. According to the Palestine Medical Relief Society (PMRS), an NGO working to increase access to healthcare, 54.7 percent of children in a sample of 1,000 have experienced at least one instance of trauma. Despite the high rates of trauma in children, however, parents are often unaware and unable to recognize the signs of PTSD present in their children like nightmares, insomnia and bedwetting. Instead, they assume the symptoms are normal child behaviors.
  2. Infant Mortality Rates: Children are at a high risk of death when there is impaired access to medical services. World Bank data shows the infant mortality rate in the West Bank and Gaza is 18 per 1,000 live births and 21 per 1,000 live births for children under 5. Compared to Israel’s three and four live births per 1000 respectively, these are extremely high numbers and show the direct consequences of poor healthcare access.
  3. Limited Access to Essential Drugs: In an article about Palestine, the World Health Organization notes that for people low on the socio-economic scale, healthcare expenditures are one of the most financially burdensome household expenses. The unavailability or unaffordability of medicine enormously impacts patients dealing with a chronic disease like hypertension, asthma and diabetes.
  4. Long Ambulance Rides: Numerous military checkpoints and barriers physically obstruct the ability of ambulances to bring patients from the West Bank to hospitals in Israel. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, wait times at checkpoints can last up to 15 minutes. For a patient in critical condition, delays like these can hinder their ability to get the right medical treatment in time.
  5. Revoked Treatment in Israeli Hospitals: A recent declaration by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to cease funding in Israeli hospitals means that many patients, especially those in poor rural areas, are unable to gain access to healthcare. There are few other options available for these individuals to seek treatment, especially those living in poor areas that cannot incur travel costs.

NGOs Improving Access to Healthcare

Healthcare access on the West Bank is limited due to a number of interrelated reasons. In order to make it more accessible to those who are most affected, NGOs have been developed in both Palestine and Israel. In particular, the Palestine Medical Relief Society was founded in 1979 to aid the most vulnerable members of society. They have a mobile clinic program that includes a first-aid training program to help people gain access to healthcare in remote areas.

Another prominent NGO is Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Founded in 1988 by Israeli physicians, this organization focuses on humanitarian aid and policy change. Furthermore, there are volunteer medics who provide free services to people with limited or no access. PHR serves more than 20,000 individuals each year.

Both of these organizations recognize the importance of addressing the fundamental issue through and data collection, policy and education, and they are working to improve access to healthcare on the West Bank.

– Tera Hofmann
Photo: Wiki

Foreign Aid Helps Ethiopia

Though Ethiopia is still one of the world’s poorest countries, its poverty rate has been cut in half. Initially, more than 50 percent of the population living below the poverty line. This has since been reduced to about 25 percent. In the last 20 years, Ethiopia’s gross domestic product has risen from $8 billion to $80 billion. How did the once third-poorest country in the world do this?

Highly dependent on foreign aid, Ethiopia has received $3.5 billion in assistance in recent years from countries like Germany and the United Kingdom. The United States recently launched a 5-year, $40 million program, the Health Financing Improvement Program. This U.S. launched this program to invest in increasing Ethiopia’s ability to provide quality and affordable health care to its citizens. And it’s a prime example of how foreign aid helps Ethiopia. This investment will improve efforts to support maternal health, AIDS prevention and care, malaria treatment, nutrition and WASH. Programs like this have helped Ethiopia’s poverty rate fall from 44 percent to 30 percent in just over 10 years.

Below are some ways investment and foreign aid helps Ethiopia reduce extreme poverty.

Fast-Growing Economy

Many people think of Ethiopia as a country riddled with poverty. However, Ethiopia possesses one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa as of 2018. In the last decade alone, Ethiopia witnessed an average economic growth of 10 percent. This growth is due to public investments in infrastructure, agriculture and education, combined with foreign aid.

Agriculture

Forty-three percent of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product comes from agriculture. Foreign aid helps Ethiopia and its agriculture sector through different programs. Feed the Future is one such program, focusing on food security and connecting vulnerable peoples to markets. Other ways foreign aid helps Ethiopia is through strengthening sustainable natural resources and watershed management, adapting to climate change and improving food and nutrition security.

Health

Foreign aid also improves health Ethiopia, which struggles with nutrition and disease. Improvements in the health sector include slashing the mortality rate of children under five by two-thirds. Similarly, between 2004 and 2017, AIDS-related deaths have dropped from 83,000 to 15,000. This focus on health reduced the fertility rate from 7.0 to 4.6 children per woman between the years 1995 and 2011. This is crucial because high fertility rates contribute to stillbirth and mortality rates. While nutrition and food security are still problems in Ethiopia, malnourishment fell from 75 percent to 35 percent from the 1990s to 2012.

Education

According to the World Bank, Ethiopia was one of the most educationally disadvantaged countries in the 20th century. This was mostly due to low access to schooling. But with the help of foreign aid, Ethiopia’s primary school enrollment rates have doubled over 10 years. Foreign aid has improved curriculum, teaching, school inspections and teaching methods. Additionally, Ethiopia has seen an improvement in the number of textbooks and other materials available.

During the creation of the United States Agency for International Development, former President John F. Kennedy said, “There is no escaping our obligations: our moral obligations as a wise leader and good neighbor in the interdependent community of free nations – our economic obligations as the wealthiest people in a world of largely poor people, as a nation no longer dependent upon the loans from abroad that once helped us develop our own economy – and our political obligations as the single largest counter to the adversaries of freedom.”

And this statement still holds true today. Powerful countries like the U.S. and China prosper, but countries like Ethiopia are still disadvantaged. Foreign aid helps Ethiopia, improving many lives, but there is always room for improvement.

Andrea Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr


The success of a new rotavirus vaccination program in Malawi has received global attention, as world leaders and advocates now call for the widespread distribution of the vaccination. In the last five years, this southeast African country has seen a significant decline in infant death by about one third.

Rotavirus Vaccination Program in Malawi

In many impoverished countries, rotavirus is a leading cause of death in children and infants; in fact, 121,000 deaths from the virus were reported in Africa in 2013. The infection is shed in the infected individual’s stool, which can then spread into the environment and infect other individuals. Rotavirus is most often transmitted within poor sanitation conditions. Handwashing is important to combatting such infection, and setting up handwashing stations in impoverished countries could help improve conditions and limit infections.

Unfortunately, such measures are not enough to completely prevent spreading, and thus why vaccination is an essential prevention tool. The rotavirus most often infects infants and young children and symptoms can take up to two days to appear. The most common symptoms are severe diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain that leads to extreme dehydration, which is often fatal in impoverished countries. Children who are not vaccinated often suffer from more severe symptoms.

Promising Studies Bring National Hope

Thankfully, the new rotavirus vaccination program in Malawi has demonstrated immense success. Studies from Liverpool University found that of the children who received the vaccination, 34 percent had a lower risk of dying from diarrhea. Such a promising statistic manifested the first major decline in Malawi’s infant mortality rate in decades.

Scientists from the University of Liverpool, University College London and Johns Hopkins University — alongside the help of Malawi health services — tracked the health and development of 48,672 infants following the implementation of the new vaccination program in over 1,800 villages. The data collected strongly advocated the incorporation of the rotavirus vaccination program in Malawi, as well as in other countries with high rates of diarrhea-caused deaths.

Despite the major health intervention brought by the rotavirus vaccination program in Malawi, some populous countries with high infant mortality rates have yet to adopt the program. Dr. Charles Mwasnsambo, Malawi’s chief of health services, asserts the value of vaccination programs by citing the study’s encouraging findings that show a large decrease in hospital admissions and a decline in infant mortality rates. Dr. Mwasnsambo told Global Citizen that he strongly believes the study to be a worthwhile investment.

Setting a Global Example

According to the Rota council of the 10 countries leading in rotavirus-related deaths, only six have rotavirus vaccination programs like Malawi’s. These countries include Kenya, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Rota council members, Malawi healthcare providers and medical researchers are calling for widespread distribution of the vaccination, especially in countries with high infant mortality rates.

Given the success of the rotavirus vaccination in Malawi, medical researchers and several world leaders agree that combatting this illness goes beyond handwashing. Leaders must advocate for vaccinations and implement such a measure in foreign aid packages if they plan to share Malawi’s success and continue to combat alarming rates of rotavirus-related deaths globally.

– Haley Newlin
Photo: Pixabay