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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

Maternal ImmunizationMaternal immunization is a necessary solution to reduce mortality rates for newborns as well as pregnant women. These vaccines must be monitored for safety and effectiveness. Systems must also be enforced to make the change, especially in low and middle-income countries, as the neonatal (first 28 days of life) period mortality rates are significantly higher in developing countries. 99 percent of all neonatal deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. Vaccinations in a pregnant woman protect herself, the fetus, and the newborn by transferring maternal antibodies across the placenta, guarding them both from life-threatening infections.

A system that identifies, evaluates, and responds to the potential events after immunization is called Pharmacovigilance system. This system is vital for pregnancies but unfortunately, it is still uncommon in developing countries. Fortunately, however, GAPPS (Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Still Birth) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have created a report that discusses the monitoring of existing systems for safety,  identifies the gaps, and outlines a plan to implement this program in low and middle-income countries.

The analysis brings in a range of organizations including the WHO (World Health Organization), UNICEF, and MNCH (Maternal, Newborn and Child Health) to develop the strategy further. The report also discusses key necessities such as the need for regulations, response to events including the health of pregnant women and their offspring, training in the Pharmacovigilance system, model creation of dates, and linkages between the systems and collaborators.

If a pregnant woman is at a high risk of being exposed to any diseases that would be a high risk to both her and the fetus, the benefits of maternal immunization would typically outweigh the risks. The two vaccinations for pregnant women that are most encouraged are the whooping cough (Pertussis), and the flu (Influenza) vaccines. The whopping cough can be life-threatening for newborns, but with the vaccine, the body will produce protective antibodies for the mother and the baby which protects against the whooping cough. The flu vaccination is a necessity for pregnant women because they are more susceptible to the virus with the changes in their immune system, heart and lungs. If a pregnant woman catches the flu it can potentially cause serious problems for the fetus including premature birth.

With these systems and an increase in maternal immunization, pregnant women can have confidence in their pregnancy and labor as well as lower the global maternal and newborn mortality rate.

Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is known for being on the top of the world’s most wealthy list. Today, he sits at number two on Forbes 2017 Billionaires List and runs the multinational Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. While he may be most recognizable for his wealth, Buffett is a proven philanthropic powerhouse as well. He utilizes his status around the globe as a platform to promote his philanthropic movements and build support for global aid.

In 2006, Warren Buffett made the “the biggest single gift anyone ever gave anybody for anything” when he donated $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2010, Buffett coupled with Bill Gates to build The Giving Pledge, which asks wealthy individuals around the world to join them in “publicly dedicating the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.”

This year, Buffett made his largest summer donation yet of nearly $3.2 billion in one day. Buffett is one of the most philanthropic individuals in the United States and his reputation amongst the wealthy serves to boost the motivation of others to donate.

On October 3, 2017, Warren Buffett spoke about the national poverty epidemic at the Purpose Built Communities conference in Omaha. At the meeting, Buffett called on the “government and philanthropists (to) do more to ensure that poverty doesn’t remain a barrier success.”

Buffett’s call to action is not lost on the global poverty front. As part of the 1 percent of the world that owns more than the other 99 percent, Buffett’s words reverberate around the world. His recognition of the importance of government and philanthropist involvement is something that should spark action worldwide, leading to global changes in poverty reduction efforts.

Reducing poverty is a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and cross-sectional goal that requires the support of all able members of societies. Buffett’s involvement with the Gates Foundation and The Giving Pledge exemplify his understanding of the collective power. Buffett has pledged to give more than 99 percent of his fortune to charity and has garnered similar pledges from over 170 donors in 21 countries.

With the promises of other wealthy individuals, Gates and Buffett have collected funds for humanitarian efforts around the world. His partnership with Bill Gates augments the publicity for their mutual missions to combat global issues such as poverty, hunger and human rights.

By funding and creating charity-focused endeavors, Buffett has proven his status as a powerhouse in the philanthropy sector. Buffett’s notoriety and wealth bring attention to his actions and put a global spotlight on his philanthropic efforts, to garner support for poverty reduction and encourage global humanitarian movements.

Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr

Polio Eradication
Around 30 years ago, 350,000 people annually were disabled by polio. Since then, the disease has been reduced globally by 99.9 percent. Only eight new cases were reported this year. Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan are the three remaining countries where polio exists. Nonetheless, governments and non-profits continue to work toward polio eradication, with some experts believing the disease could be eradicated as soon as 2020.

In June 2017, at Rotary International’s annual convention, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International jointly announced their pledge of $450 million toward polio eradication. At the same time, world governments and other donors pledged a total of $1.2 billion to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

GPEI is a collaborative effort among Rotary International, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and UNICEF to combat polio.

The good news continued in August of this year when the United Kingdom announced that they would be pledging £100 million to the fight against polio. This funding will provide immunizations to 45 million children per year until 2020.

Though prior to this summer there was a funding gap of $1.5 billion for polio eradication, that shortfall has now been reduced to $170 million due to the contributions of Rotary International, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom as well as others.

While the focus now is on the three countries where polio still exists, the GPEI and its partner organizations still monitor polio in other at-risk countries.

Although the United Nations declared Somalia polio free, President Farmaajo stated that vaccination campaigns remain crucial. He noted that Somalia is still vulnerable and that polio eradication in Somalia “…was [a] collective effort and commitment by many young men and women who sacrificed their lives.”

The infrastructure built to combat polio in Somalia continues to be used to respond to other outbreaks including measles and cholera. Polio also tends to infect regions marred in conflict. In 2013, there were polio outbreaks in Central Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. The GPEI managed to end the outbreaks less than a year later.

Nigeria, one of the three countries on the endemic list, was taken off the list at one point after two years with no reported cases. Soon after, four children were paralyzed by polio in northern Nigeria. In response, the GPEI strengthened its polio surveillance operations.

It takes three years with no reported cases of a disease for it to be declared eradicated. Smallpox is the only eradicated disease in history. The United Kingdom International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, stated that, “The world is closer than it has ever been to eradicating polio, but as long as just one case exists in the world, children everywhere are still at risk.”

Due to the contributions of multiple governmental and non-governmental organizations, polio eradication is an achievable goal for the international community.

Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr