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2019 Coronavirus
The 2019 coronavirus outbreak in China has infected thousands and killed hundreds of people in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Germany, France, the United States and other countries. As a result, there are strict preventative measures, as currently, only supportive care exists – meaning there is no definitive cure. Understanding all relevant information about the virus itself and the reaction of the global health community is highly relevant, important and necessary.

The 2019 Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or COVID-19)

Originating in Wuhan, China, the 2019 coronavirus is a viral infection that causes breathing problems. The 2019 coronavirus is within the same family of viruses – but a different strand – that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. It transmits from human to human through coughing, sneezing and other moist bodily particles. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, fever and cough, similar to typical viral infections.

Treatment

People can use supportive care for symptom relief, such as fever relief with Tylenol. No one has developed an antiviral for the 2019 coronavirus yet, which would consist of suppression of further viral infection of host cells, rather than viral eradication.

Prevention

The CDC recommends avoiding crowds to reduce the chance of interacting with infected persons. People should also practice hand-washing and good hand-hygiene practices. These measures include avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, and covering the mouth and nose when sneezing. Moreover, people should disinfect surfaces frequently.

Monitoring

Those individual(s) who might have traveled on a plane or are concerned about becoming infected should monitor for symptoms. Symptoms are likely to occur between two to 14 days after traveling to China or interacting with individuals(s) who have traveled to China. Contact with the 2019 coronavirus can occur within six feet of a person and/or can occur directly when touching moist bodily particles. If symptoms occur, one should notify and visit a doctor’s office immediately.

Global Health Response

The WHO International Health Regulations Committee first met to advise the Director-General on disease control and prevention strategies. WHO then visited Wuhan, China in January 2020 to establish a plan with China’s President, Xi Jinping, in treating existing patients and containing the virus. Globally, WHO is currently conducting research to find a viable treatment for COVID-19; the U.S. is simultaneously conducting a vaccine trial to prevent further spread. WHO and various international health ministries are gathering up funding, projected to be about $675 million, to support the Strategies Preparedness and Response Plan. The plan outlines preparedness protocol for countries, in particular, those with limited health systems, to stop virus transmission, treat patients and collaborate between countries to carry out all necessary operations.

Global Response

Many countries and organizations, such as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, Belarus, Brunei, Cambodia, Egypt, Iran, Japan and Pakistan among many others, are sending medical supplies and equipment to help China in addressing COVID-19 treatment needs. Doctors in China are administering care to patients in temporary treatment centers while other health officials are managing supplies and equipment to ensure appropriate use. Furthermore, various Chinese companies are investing in research; other organizations are fundraising to support disease control efforts. Chinese city locals and groups are also coming together to lend a hand in stopping the outbreak.

Globally, support is even coming in from philanthropists, international businesses and foreign aids. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $100 million. These efforts are all contributing to research, treatment and prevention funds. Foreign aid from the U.S. comes in the form of a medical advisory board going to China to work with its health officials while the European Union is providing $11 million USD for research on the virus.

Information regarding the 2019 coronavirus is emerging daily. Health organizations, governments, non-government organizations and businesses are pulling resources to contain the illness and its outbreak.

– Hung Le
Photo: Flickr

Five Billionaires' Projects
Nearly every person within the first 10 of the world’s highest net-worth individuals has a foundation in their name. These examples of philanthropy are often staples to a financier’s portfolio as reinvestment of wealth back into the nation or communities that helped fund his or her growth. In that sense, philanthropy is also a way to promote one’s image and associate one’s brand with a cause. Many investors have chosen to reinvest their wealth into the countries which groomed them such as Carlos Slim Helú and Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, but there are many people who have started foundations that reach beyond borders to better those who are worse off. Several billionaires’ projects are actively changing downtrodden communities by eliminating hunger, eradicating malaria and bringing access to education and sanitation in otherwise distraught regions. Here are five billionaires’ projects that have changed the world.

5 Billionaires’ Projects that Have Changed the World

  1. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Former CEO of Microsoft and his wife, Bill and Melinda Gates, started The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 1997. The goal of the organization is to make the world a better place by investing in research and actions that negate issues plaguing impoverished countries. Best known for its efforts to annihilate polio in India and malaria globally, other fiscal investments include refugee care, female education and economic invigoration (mobile money accounts). The foundation has a focus on sustainable change which in turn builds on itself to make a brighter future for the globe with a total investment of $3.9 million in global programs in 2018.
  2. Students Rebuild (Bezos Family Foundation): Jeff Bezos­—the well-known Amazon CEO—had the greatest global net worth for 2018 and 2019, surpassing Bill Gates. Although the Bezos Family Foundation primarily caters to local U.S. concerns relating to education, its Students Rebuild program takes a more global focus, involving students from all over the world to help solve planet-wide problems. Each year, the Bezos Family Foundation pledges a gift to a particular charity in response to a form of art shared by participants, usually K-12 students. In 2019, it raised money and awareness for world hunger by asking kids to submit creatively presented recipes. Students Rebuild is an organization that brings kids into today’s problems while helping fund the action-makers who are bringing about change.
  3. Bloomberg Philanthropies: Michael Bloomberg is the current Mayor of New York City and a democratic presidential nominee, but he did not earn his billions through public service. As a founder and primary funder of Bloomberg LP in 1981, he earned billions of dollars through his financial data-services firm. The Bloomberg family started Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has a diverse profile of charitable investments, ranging from environmental overhauls to global health. Bloomberg’s global impact focuses on data collection and management. Its investments primarily go into the education and growth of a field, working in over 480 cities in 120 countries. Previously, Bloomberg partnered with the King Baudouin Foundation to create Equal Footing, an online portal that tracks philanthropy efforts in Africa. Currently, it is reinvesting $120 million over the next four years to expand and intensify its data for health initiative.
  4. Larry Ellison Foundation: Larry Ellison is a technology entrepreneur who co-founded the software firm Oracle in 1977. The Larry Ellison Foundation manages financials regarding education, agriculture and global conservation efforts. Previous investments were targeted towards polio eradication and currently center around wildlife conservation and agricultural sustainability. For example, the Larry Ellison Foundation financed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which reaches over 100 million children in 72 countries per year after beginning in 2013. Larry Ellison is currently supporting the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in Africa and has been since 2012. This institute works with governing bodies and leading reformers in several African countries to create sustainable change across Africa.
  5. Howard G. Buffet Foundation: Howard G. Buffet is the son of Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Beginning in 1999, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation hopes to help jump-start change locally and globally in three focus areas: food security, conflict mitigation and public safety. Although these issues all overlap depending on the region of focus, by investing in research and implementation, this billionaire project incentivizes a strong basis for growth to develop from. Unlike the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Howard G. Buffet foundation’s foreign focus lie in the western hemisphere, primarily in Columbia and Mexico. Focusing on these areas in part aims to reduce mass migration from these southern countries to the U.S. The Buffet foundation relies on the values of individual rights, community ties and equality which leads to government-aided investment in small-holder farms and sustainable practices developed on American soil. In 2018, the Howard F Buffet Foundation invested a total of $11 million in all program sectors.

There are several billionaires’ projects that have changed the world up to this point as they have aided in the near eradication of polio, rigorously kicked malaria into surrender and implemented millions of research projects to bring the world closer to eliminating global strife. As these groups continue to grow and invest, one can expect that great positive change can occur.

 – Kayla Brown
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Sanitation in China
China has experienced record levels of growth since its 1979 free-market reforms. The Chinese people have seen impressive growth in standards of living and modernization over that time. As a part of these developments, China’s overall sanitation levels have also increased, however, there is still work that the country can do. Here are 10 facts about sanitation levels in China.

10 Facts About Sanitation in China

  1. In 2017, China launched 8,000 water cleanup projects. China launched these projects as a part of a massive effort to clean polluted rivers, lakes and groundwater sites. Examples of these projects include making land off-limits to livestock and poultry farms and the creation of 809 new water sanitation plants. Additional projects involve the appointment of river chiefs as a way to hold political officials accountable to the clean water plans.
  2. In 2008, Chinese students helped create a new system to filter water. During the modernization of China, the Huai river became extremely polluted and the water undrinkable. To solve the problem, China developed a new three-step process to decontaminate the water. Since China’s implementation of the new biological water purification system in 2008, health along the river improved greatly. The system has won multiple awards including one from the World Bank for sustainable development.
  3. China has experienced a toilet revolution in recent years. These new toilets aim to achieve many purposes in China including meeting the concerns of tourists, but ultimately it will sanitation in Chinese cities. The toilets also reduce the amount of waste going into the public sewage system. Additionally, these toilets create a more sanitary environment in households.
  4. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a toilet expo in China. In 2018, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted a reinvented toilet expo in Beijing. The Foundation presented many different sanitation solutions to minimize pathogens and convert waste to fertilizers. One of the goals of the event was to reduce the deaths of children under the age of 5, due to unsafe sanitation conditions.
  5. UNICEF provides rural communities education on proper sanitation. UNICEF teaches the Community Approach to Total Sanitation. This promotes proper hygiene practices, such as hand-washing and how to design affordable latrines. The organization also continues to research ways to help improve rural sanitation in China.
  6. A French company, Veolia, has multiple contracts to help improve sanitation. Veolia has contracts in China to treat hazardous waste, operate water treatment plants and is looking to develop plastic recycling plants. The company sees this as both an opportunity for it to make a profit due to Chinese incentives, and also to improve sanitation conditions.
  7. Pepsi donated to help improve water conditions in China. In 2018, Pepsi donated $2 million to China’s Women Development Foundation as a part of the Water Cellars for Women program. It hopes the money will improve water conditions in the Danjiangkou reservoir. This donation also has the potential to provide water to over 10 million people.
  8. Since 1990, 37 percent of China gained access to improved drinking water. The massive gains are the results of efforts by private organizations, as well as the Chinese government. The additional 37 percent means that over 76 percent of the Chinese population has access to clean water.
  9. A city in China will open the world’s largest waste to energy plant in 2020. The facility in Shenzhen, China has been in development since 2017. This facility is finally close to becoming operational. The plant will turn more than 5,000 tons of garbage into energy a day. Additionally, the plant will also serve as a way to educate the citizens on trash disposal.
  10. China has massive plans for trash sorting. In China, 46 cities must now sort their trash. By sorting their trash, they are helping to reduce food waste, as well as create more sanitary conditions for trash disposal.

China is a country of over 1.6 billion people. A population this large creates a lot of waste and potentially unsanitary conditions. However, through a combination of water treatment plans, waste management programs and an increase in public awareness, China is fighting to create sanitary conditions throughout the entire country. These 10 facts about sanitation in China demonstrate the progress that China has made.

Josh Fritzjunker
Photo: Flickr

People who Fight Poverty
Poverty is a global issue that affects at least 80 percent of the world’s population. The number seems frightening and can intimidate any person who might want to help. Some come together to fight as a united front and tackle the worldwide issue due to the sheer magnitude of the dilemma. Either way, every solution starts with a single person and a single idea. Below describes the top five people who fight poverty today, who they are and what they do (or did) to combat poverty.

Top Five People Who Fight Poverty

  1. Suzanna Mayo Frindt Empowers Rural Communities
    She is the current President and Chief of Staff of The Hunger Project, a nonprofit organization which aids countries in South Asia, Latin America and Africa. The organization provides aid through the establishment of self-reliance within the community. The Hunger Project begins by encouraging women to take active roles within the locale by training them to obtain leadership positions. Then, it enforces self-reliance. It does this by having individuals mobilize their peers through local government to take action and improve the conditions of the area. Finally, The Hunger Project works closely with these governments to ensure it is aiding the people. This system helps bring entire communities out of poverty. As President, Frindt is in a powerful position to fight poverty. She earned her position through 25 years of experience in the field as she worked in impoverished areas, like Peru. Additionally, she co-founded the firm, 2130 Partners. The firm is another organization that dedicates itself to guidance and education. Though these are just a few of her accomplishments, these key points showcase why Frindt is one of the top five people who fight poverty.
  2. Ellen Gustafson Feeds the Hungry
    This woman is an entrepreneur, activist, author and speaker whose primary cause is to work to eliminate world hunger. She focuses on hunger of particularly impoverished areas where the problem is most prominent. Gustafson co-founded FEED Projects, a charity which provides food for people around the world. As of 2019, it has provided 60 million meals to schools around the world. She has also tackled the issue of obesity through educational activism. Overall, Ellen Gustafason’s goals may center around food, but her work has improved the lives of impoverished people in places where they often need help the most.
  3. Bono Advocates Against Poverty
    He is an American musician and frontman of the popular music group, U2. Bono’s infamy stems not only from his musical persona but also from his philanthropic efforts. The singer is the founder of ONE, an advocacy organization that works to raise awareness of poverty and fight against the issue. Similar to The Borgen Project, ONE addresses its cause through legislation and lobbying of governments. ONE focuses on reducing poverty in Africa’s poorest areas. It is just one of the few organizations Bono supports with a target against poverty. This fact showcases the musician’s dedication to both his art and beliefs.
  4. Anthony Lake Leads UNICEF in the Fight Against Poverty
    He has been the director of UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) since 2010. He earned his role through a longstanding career as a foreign policy advisor to various presidential candidates and officers of the United States. During the office of President Bill Clinton, Lake served as National Security Advisor. His political career prepared him well to undertake the leadership position of UNICEF, the organization responsible for a significant amount of the world’s humanitarian aid. Specifically, it focuses on the needs of children in over 190 countries. As Lake has taken directorship, his prominence in the fight against poverty has risen immensely.
  5. Bill Gates Shares His Financial Success with Developing Countries
    People primarily know Bill Gates as a technological innovator and a record-breaking billionaire. Through the creation of Microsoft, he has amassed substantial financial benefits. People also know Gates as an impressive philanthropist who gears his saving towards aid programs. Specifically, he has established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a joint project between him and his wife. The program receives a significant amount of his donations. Since its establishment in 2000, the foundation has “spent more than $36 billion to fund work in global health, emergency relief, education, [and] poverty,” as reported by Business Insider. The organization is using some of that money to fight malaria and ebola outbreaks in developing countries.

From political professionals to celebrities, these five people who fight poverty show that stepping up for the world’s poor does not require a designated hero. Anyone, with the right drive and ambition, can make a change for the better. The list features only a few prominent people who fight poverty, though it does not have to end there.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Flickr

Poverty-Related DiseasesEvery day, billions of individuals around the world suffer from diseases. To make matters worse, many of these individuals are mired in poverty with limited access to health care services. Reducing the negative impact that these diseases have on individuals in poverty starts with identifying which diseases are affecting the most people. Listed below are three diseases that are closely linked with individuals in poverty.

Top 3 Poverty-Related Diseases

  1. Tuberculosis
    Tuberculosis, or TB, is a disease that stems from the presence of bacteria in someone’s lungs. It is common in many poorer, more urban areas because it can spread quickly when individuals are in close contact with each other. TB killed over 1.5 million people in 2018 and infected 10 million individuals in total. The disease takes advantage of individuals who have weakened immune systems, which can happen to individuals who are malnourished or who are suffering from other diseases simultaneously. When an individual in poverty is diagnosed with TB, their options are limited. Treating TB is costly and many people cannot afford treatment. However, not all hope is lost. Organizations like the TB Alliance aim to produce more affordable TB treatment for individuals in poverty. The TB Alliance has already helped many individuals and is working to expand its operations in the coming years.
  2. Malaria
    Malaria is a parasitic disease that is spread by the Anopheles mosquito. It accounts for roughly 435,000 deaths per year (affecting roughly 219 million people) and disproportionally affects individuals under the age of 5 (children under 5 accounted for over 60 percent of malaria deaths in 2017). One NGO that is leading the fight against Malaria is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They have partnered with the U.S. Government, the WHO and NGOs like the Global Fund to help protect individuals around the world from malaria-transmitting mosquitos. So far, their work has been beneficial, as the number of malaria cases has been reduced by half since 2000. However, there is still much work to be done, as malaria remains a deadly disease that negatively affects millions.
  3. HIV/AIDS
    HIV is a virus that is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids. It affects nearly 37 million people worldwide every year, 62 percent of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS (HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS) is common in countries where the population either does not have the knowledge or resources to practice safe sex. HIV can also spread in areas with poor sanitation, as individuals who use previously used needles can become infected with the virus. Many governments and NGOs around the world are doing good work to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDs. For example, in 2003, the U.S. Government launched The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Initiative. The goal of this initiative was to address the global HIV/AIDS issue by helping those who already have the condition as well as by spearheading prevention efforts. Since the program was implemented, the results have been positive- the program is widely credited with having saved millions of lives over the last 16 years.

Each of these diseases negatively affects millions of individuals around the globe on a daily basis. Yet there is reason for optimism — continued work done by NGO’s such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, TB Alliance and The Global Fund, as well as efforts from governments to improve the current situation, will lead to a better future, hopefully, one where individuals no longer suffer from there poverty-related diseases.

– Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Flickr

Global Seed Industry
Lack of access to high-quality seeds is one of the greatest obstacles to reducing hunger around the world. Smallholder farms produce as much as 80 percent of all global food production (that is, farmer who operate between one and 10 hectares of land), but only about 10 percent of these farmers have access to seeds distributed by the world’s largest companies, which have been bred to withstand drought, increase yields and improve nutrition. This is the statistic which inspired the creation of the Access to Seeds Foundation, a Netherlands-based organization funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It examines the global seed industry to improve seed access for smallscale farmers.

The most prominent product of the Access to Seeds Foundation is the Access to Seeds Index. The index collects data from 60 different prominent seed companies in four major regions: Latin America, Western and Central Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Eastern and Southern Africa. The companies are compared to each other according to seven criteria, ranging from Research and Development (or the development of new seed technologies) to Capacity Building (or the training of local farmers in the use of new technologies and methods).

According to Ido Verhagen, executive director of the Access to Seeds Index, “Our main goal is just to show how this industry is performing and which companies are good candidates for partnerships with NGOs and research institutes.” While Verhagen stops short of suggesting that the Access to Seeds Index has singlehandedly levied great change to the global seed industry, he does acknowledge that the index has allowed experts to make observations about the seed industry which may be very useful in the future. Here are just three of the insights which the Access to Seeds Index of 2019 has allowed researchers to make about the global seed industry.

The Global Seed Industry is Local

Although the list includes big names in the agricultural technology sector like DuPont and Monsanto, the companies which rank highest tend to be smaller and more local. For instance, the top two spots in the 2019 Access to Seeds Index for Eastern and Southern Africa are occupied by East African Seed, a state-owned Kenyan company and Seed Co., a company based in Zimbabwe.

Agricultural technology companies are all over the world, in part because local companies have a better understanding of the particular needs of local farmers. In the case of Eastern and Southern Africa, the 2019 Access to Seeds Index found 13 companies in Zambia, five in Lesotho, and three in Somalia, among other countries.

Even when it comes to multinational corporations, the biggest corporations are not necessarily the ones that top the index. The highest ranking multinational corporation in both Asia and Africa is East-West Seed, a Thailand-based multinational company which is much smaller than its peers in the United States and China.

The Global Seed Industry is Starting to Respond to Climate Change

In the past, the global seed industry has focused mainly on yields, since high yields mean more money for farmers. Farmers have also preferred to purchase seeds which they could replant year after year. As a result, local companies limited the amount they invested in new technologies. It also meant that farmers were not preparing for climate change. For instance, farmers in areas that have not always been prone to droughts need to start acquiring seeds that are especially drought-resistant.

This trend appears to be changing. Out of the 13 companies in Western and Central Africa that the 2019 Access to Seeds Index listed, 12 of those companies reported that they are beginning to count climate change resistance higher among the traits they target.

This change has come about in part because of strong public-private partnerships. In Zimbabwe, for example, eight out of 10 farmers now get their seeds from private seed companies, ensuring that they are growing crops with the latest technology, capable of responding to climate change and also with the greatest nutritional value.

Seeds are Important, but so are Methods

Although the seed industry is most interested in the distribution of seeds, these seeds are less useful if they are not accompanied by the most recent farming methods. According to Verhagen, the executive director of Access to Seeds, Ethiopian farmers who used advanced methods doubled their yields, even without buying their seeds from companies. Documentation showed that new seed varieties made an even greater difference in yields, but advanced methods proved to be an important component to the increasing yields as well. This is why the Access to Seeds Index measures the seed industry’s success at educating local farmers in new farming methods in addition to their research, distribution and marketing of seeds.

The Access to Seeds Index is still a relatively new project and it is hard to know for sure how much of an impact it is having on the industry. Certainly, the Access to Seeds Index cannot take credit for all recent changes in the global seed industry. Still, the careful monitoring of the Access to Seeds Foundation has allowed insights like the ones listed above and this information may be very useful to farmers and companies in the future.

– Eric Rosenbaum
Photo: Flickr

Using Technology for Decreasing Poverty in the Dominican Republic Via Technology
A promising program that is aiming to help to bring people in the Dominican Republic out of poverty is the Community Technology Center Program (CTC). This initiative is one key sign of the progress the country is making in improving health, promoting gender equality and decreasing poverty in the Dominican Republic. With more innovative programs like the CTCs, the country could continue to see significant progress in many areas of poverty reduction through education and access to technological resources.

What Do CTCs Offer?

Since its inception in 1998, the primary purpose of the CTCs is to offer technology resources for people to help in areas such as employment and education, thereby increasing financial stability. The CTCs are also working to achieve its mission connected to health by helping to prevent the spread of disease by offering people access to information about health. Currently, there are 87 centers, but there are plans to build more.

The CTC initiative works towards helping families living on a dollar per day to possess the tools to help themselves increase their financial stability. One of the reasons for the success of the CTC program is that it utilizes technology to help people at no cost, thereby bestowing to people the tools to have a say in their lives. In fact, the centers offer technology training for those who don’t know how to use the resources.

Empowering Women and Minorities

Assistance for women, the disabled, immigrants and others who have not had access to online information and technology is a top priority. One of the issues the CTC programs has been trying to address is women’s access and use of the Internet. At least “three-fourths of the female population don’t use the internet.” The CTC initiative is also working to expand women’s participation in technology and Internet access.

The part of the program, women on the net, also demonstrates the progress that the CTCs are making. Some of the areas of education the centers provide are programming, multimedia and telecommunications. By providing education in these areas, the goal is for participants to find jobs in technology. By 2013, 700 female participants had finished programs at various centers, learning computer literacy and technology.

By providing assistance to people with disabilities, immigrants and non-legal residents, CTCs are helping to reduce poverty in often marginalized communities. One of the people the program has aided in employment, Julien Joseph-Josue, said the CTC program made him feel like “part of a family.” Joseph-Josue is a Haitian immigrant who received training to help his career as an interpreter.

The Success of the Program

The centers provide opportunities for learning and sharing in a community space as well as providing training in obtaining a job. Currently, the centers have achieved substantial progress in alleviating poverty in the Dominican Republic and have made significant strides in working to promote gender equality. The number of people CTCs has helped demonstrates this development. CTCs have helped develop the skills of around 40,000 people, 60 percent of these people being women, creating a more positive outlook.

Demonstrating a continual sign of progress the CTC program has made is the Bill and Melinda Gates recognition for the initiative for its innovation. The organization awarded the initiative The 2012 Access to Learning Award (ATLA), an award for organizations across the globe that offer access to technology. The CTC program obtained $1 million from this award. Furthermore, Microsoft will give $18 million worth of software to the initiative in accordance with its global citizenship effort to offer help in the positive developments from technology.

The technology that the program provides allows for access to information aiding in financial stability, health and decreasing poverty in the Dominican Republic. In addition, the CTCs have been shown to move the Dominican Republic further along on the path to achieving gender equality. With the continual effort of the initiative, hopefully, there will be more positive results in the effort to alleviate poverty in the Dominican Republic.

– Daniel McAndrew-Greiner
Photo: Flickr

HIV Treatment
In September of 2017, it was announced at the seventy-second U.N. General Assembly that the HIV treatment regimen TLD (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, lamivudine and dolutegravir) has been made more accessible to low and middle income countries. This has been accomplished with a price agreement established through the partnership of various countries and global aid programs.

Some of the groups that collaborated on the new price agreement include UNAIDS, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), PEPFAR, USAID, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the governments of South Africa and Kenya. Teams in many countries have begun developing plans to transition TLD into use by the end of 2019. Over 50 low or middle income countries have already introduced or are planning to introduce TLD as the favored first-line treatment for HIV.

Improvements to TLD

TLD medication is already considered a preferred method of HIV treatment in the United States. However, with the use of a generic treatment and a pricing agreement, TLD is now expected to cost health programs in low to middle income countries covered by the agreement only $75 per person per year once the treatment has been fully transitioned into use.

The newly released TLD is a generic treatment consisting of a single pill taken once a day containing a dolutegravir base. Studies have shown that the TLD regimen has fewer side effects on the patient and also has less vulnerability to the development of drug resistance that would render it ineffective. This helps because it means that fewer people would have to start new levels of treatment. TLD has also been shown to provide a more rapid repression of viral load.

Effects of New HIV Treatment

Three countries that began using the TLD treatment by the end of 2017 include Brazil, Botswana and Kenya. Within three months of treatment, studies show that 81 percent of patients using TLD in Brazil had an undetectable viral load, as compared to another HIV treatment regimen with an EFV (efavirenz) base, which had 61 percent presenting with an undetectable viral load after three months of treatment. Botswana and Kenya have shown similar success, with 90 percent of those using the treatment reaching full viral suppression in 2018.

In 2016, only 53 percent of people infected with the HIV virus were receiving treatment. Under the licensing agreement that sets a maximum price on the dolutegravir-based medication, 92 low to middle income countries will be able to provide the treatment to their citizens. These countries represent 90 percent of the people living with HIV in low to middle income countries. The TLD pricing agreement will not only be able to reduce the cost of treatment for the people in these countries but will increase availability so that more people can be treated.

A Brighter, Healthier Future

The launch of this new TLD treatment is another step forward in the treatment of people suffering globally from HIV and AIDS. People who did not originally have access to the dolutegravir treatment due to cost and availability will now be able to use this treatment. TLD provides a more reliable treatment regimen that will improve many people’s lives and ultimately bring the world a little further in the fight against HIV.

– Lindabeth Doby
Photo: Flickr

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
At the turn of the nineteenth century, German mathematician David Hilbert attended the International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris, and asked his colleagues a simple question: “Who of us would not be glad to lift the veil behind which the future lies hidden?”

In a call to action, Hilbert presented a set of ten unresolved problems, which if solved, would signal major breakthroughs in the fields of mathematics and science. Over a century later, Tthe Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched Grand Challenges in Global Health, an open innovation program inspired by Hilbert’s bold question.

Grand Challenges

Originally focused on 14 scientific challenges that could lead to breakthroughs in combating disease in the developing world, the initiative was relaunched in 2014 as Grand Challenges to reflect its broadened scope. Grand Challenges co-opts Hilbert’s approach and applies it to the world of philanthropy, inspiring innovators to come up with solutions to essential development problems and funding the best ideas.

Just as Hilbert expanded his original ten problems to a later published 23 this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is adding to the list. Sponsored by its Explorations program, Grand Challenges has outlined three new problems designed for early-stage ideas.

After submitting a two-page application, recipients receive $100,000 over 18 months to implement their visions. Here are three new calls to action from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

1. Reducing Malnutrition

One in three people worldwide suffer from malnutrition, which can have devastating ripple effects on health, cognitive development and productivity. This new challenge seeks to address three essential problems in the fight against malnutrition — making food accessible, affordable and appealing.

People suffering from malnutrition often live in places where nutritious food is hard to find, or is so expensive that they are priced out of a healthy diet. In other cases, people simply don’t know the vital benefits of eating nutritious food.

This challenge seeks solutions that work with existing food systems in low-income countries to improve people’s diets through food product development, processing, packaging, distribution, consumer education and marketing.

2. Combating Crop Disease

Pests and crop disease threaten the livelihoods of not only farmers, but the millions of people who rely on their harvests. Grand Challenges has identified the dearth of information on diseases and pests as an essential problem in responding to protect farmers’ fields.

This call to action seeks to harness the emerging research in data science, engineering, biology, chemistry, computer science and telecommunications to improve pest and disease surveillance in low-income countries so that smallholder farmers can mitigate their risks.

3. Improving Immunization

Each year, about 21.8 million children do not receive vaccines necessary to protect against serious infectious diseases. This year, at least 1.5 million of these children will die from diseases vaccines could have prevented. In a two-pronged approach, this challenge encourages innovators to find new ways to collect and use data, and develop efficiencies that improve existing immunization systems to work better for both health workers and patients.

Much like Hilbert’s problems, two of which remain unresolved to this day, identifying and implementing solutions to the problems facing developing countries remains immensely complex. These new calls to action from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation represent an important continuation of Hilbert’s legacy.

By offering competitive, accessible grant opportunities aimed at pre-targeted problems, the Grand Challenges program is spurring innovation to lift the veil over a better future.

– Whiting Tennis

Photo: Flickr

Adequate sanitation and toilets are basic necessities that ensure and promote the health of people in developing countries. The importance of sanitation and toilets lies in helping reduce the spread of diseases. Sanitation systems aim to protect health by providing and promoting a clean environment.

Developing countries face challenges in accessing sanitation and hygiene care. The CDC states that hundreds of millions of people do not have access to adequate clean drinking water and that over one million deaths are a result of diseases transmitted via unclean water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene. Access to soap is an importance of hygiene, and often a challenge in availability for developing countries. The CDC offers an effective hand washing station within communities in need of proper hygiene. Known as Tippy Taps, these stations use less water and soap than other means of hand washing.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is approaching the importance of sanitation and toilets by partnering with several organizations to reduce water-borne diseases. The Water, Sanitation & Hygiene initiative aims to reduce disease and improve lives by looking closely at communities and governments to understand their environment and what is suitable for providing hygiene and water. The Gates Foundation also supports establishing an end to open defecation and upgrading latrines in order to encourage people to practice good hygiene as well as increasing the demand for sanitation.

The World Bank is addressing the importance of sanitation and toilets through the Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) initiative, which assesses the relationship between poverty and hygiene to properly develop methods in bringing hygiene and water. The World Bank found that the effects of unsafe drinking water and lack of proper hygiene result in various other health issues, such as child stunting. WASH, in coordination with other organizations, works to provide appropriate services. The WASH program aims to reduce childhood mortality via investing clean water access to rural communities.

Shedding light on the importance of sanitation and toilets can lead to proposing and establishing sustainable sanitation for communities with no access to sanitation. The disparities of hygiene access need to be addressed to ensure the health of communities and generations to come.

– Jennifer Serrato

Photo: Flickr