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cost of fixing poverty
Global poverty appears to be a daunting problem. With numerous countries facing high rates of homelessness, economic instability and high child mortality rates, feasible solutions may seem out of reach. However, the cost of fixing poverty with solutions such as building water wells is not an astronomical figure. It actually costs about as much as one of America’s favorite pastimes: the NBA Disney season.

The Cost of a Season

The outbreak of COVID-19 forced the NBA season to go on hiatus. It only recently reopened — this time, in Walt Disney World. The NBA is paying Walt Disney World $1.5 million per day to host 22 professional basketball teams, totaling more than $150 million for the entire Disney season. The season includes eight missed, regular-season games and then playoffs. The overall cost covers essentials such as housing, courts, meals, COVID-19 testing, transportation, entertainment, medical support and security for the players and staff. When asked about the cost, Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner, stated that it certainly was not economical for the league but that they felt an obligation to have a season.

The Cost of Poverty

With a total value of about $8 billion per year, the NBA’s usual revenue is about 20% of President Trump’s 2021 request for the USAID budget — which is about $41 billion. This request makes it clear that solving global poverty is not quite as big a task as it might seem. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spent $150 million in grants to provide hepatitis B vaccines to 4 million children. For 600,000 of these children, this was their first time receiving a vaccination. However, the foundation’s grant is equivalent to the $150-million 2020 NBA season in Disney World.

The cost of the 2020 NBA season could also make a dramatic difference in the lives of people in countries such as Afghanistan,  many of whom do not have access to clean water. The average cost of installing a water well is $8,000, although it can range from $1,700 to $30,000 depending on the location and difficulty of construction. Taking the price of an average well, $150 million could provide about 19,000 wells — each of which could serve roughly 2,000 people.

Who Would Benefit and How?

Access to clean water saves millions of lives and produces a series of solutions to poverty. Increasing access to safe water can prevent child and adult deaths from diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and malnutrition. With 19,000 wells serving about 2,000 people each, approximately 38 million people would benefit from the same amount of money that the NBA used for the end of their 2020 season. The poorest city in the world, Kabul, Afghanistan, has a population of 4.38 million people. An investment in wells equivalent to the 2020 NBA season would not only grant access to clean, safe water for all of Kabul’s population but to all of Afghanistan’s population of 37.17 million people.

A Comparison for Thought: The Cost of Fixing Poverty

The NBA season holds a lot of value to people in the United States, and it is clearly not the NBA’s responsibility to provide money for foreign aid. What the 2020 NBA season proved, however, is that the cost of fixing poverty is comparable to the cost of leisure and athletic entertainment. Understanding that the same NBA budget of $150 million could serve 38 million people makes the cost of fixing poverty a bit more concrete. Hopefully, this enables policy-makers and policy influencers in the United States to prioritize foreign aid.

Alyssa Hogan
Photo: Flickr

agricultural developmentThe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the world’s most recognized foundations. It has a penchant for global awareness unlike any other. Started in 1999, the Gates Foundation has developed into an international organization across five continents and 138 countries. Additionally, the Gates Foundation has amassed an endowment of $46.8 billion. In the past two years alone, the foundation has provided close to $10 billion in direct grantee support. One of the Gates Foundation’s areas of focus is agricultural development in impoverished countries.

Agricultural Development

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded billions in research and grants in support of agricultural development. The vast majority of funds have gone towards making staple crops more resilient, farmers’ education on irrigation and techniques on pest or disease control.

The foundation stands by the idea that livestock offers the chance to improve both income and nutrition for those in poverty or extreme poverty. It also increases the livelihood of women in particular who stand to be the largest group overwhelmed by extreme poverty. Africa, in particular, is the continent with the highest probability in the agricultural sector. In Eastern Africa, more than 70 percent of individuals rely on small farms for both income and sustainment.

Poultry Donation

In a partnership with Heifer International, Bill and Melinda Gates donated 100,000 chickens to sub-Saharan African families, which helped to create a sustainable poultry market in the region. The science behind the donation is evident in the $300 yearly income increase that families who received a chicken saw. This furthers the effort to provide vaccinated chickens suitable to the area and its conditions. The goal is to provide 30 percent of families in the region with vaccinated poultry.

Heifer International and the Gates Foundation have been collaborating for nearly a decade now. Together, they made their first joint investment of $42.8 million an effort to double the income of East African farmers through dairy farming within the span of a decade. The history of both organizations in the region has seen actionable agricultural development from previous successes.

A Chicken’s Impact

When someone in poverty makes just $700 a year, $300 can make a remarkable difference and continue to improve their lives through targeted investments. With the donation of 100,000 chickens, around 2,500 families will be getting groups of 40 vaccinated poultry. By keeping chickens for over a year, many will benefit from eating eggs, which provide much-needed nutrients and protein. Furthermore, farmers can sell their chickens after only six weeks of breeding.

Once again, the Gates Foundation is providing the capital necessary to give projects that may never get off the ground the chance to see their impact on individuals living on less than $2 a day. Within the next year, we will see the Gates Foundation’s impact on 2,500 farmers’ lives as well as the marker of 30 percent of the poultry market being appropriately vaccinated for the region. Projects like these show the impact agricultural development can have on poverty.

Cassiday Moriarity
Photo: Pixabay

Worldreader Empowers Communities to Create Lifelong Readers
Illiteracy is not much of a problem in developed countries, but for developing countries, rates of illiteracy are high. Around 617 million children are not meeting the minimum reading level because the regions they live in do not always stress education as much or it simply is not available. Illiteracy is a huge problem, especially in this day and age. It can cause an average decrease of 35 percent in income, and a lack of reading can lead to a lack of cognitive development. Worldreader empowers communities to create lifelong readers.

Worldreader Empowers Readers

When people have an education, they tend to give posterity a better chance. Children born to literate mothers are 50 percent more likely to live past 5 years old. Worldreader is an application with a library of 35,000 books in 52 different languages. It is available on advanced but affordable e-readers and other devices. The content of these books depends on the reader but all titles aim to be culturally relevant.

There are four categories of reading on the application. Worldreader has tailored the programs to each of its audiences to best address the main problems for each crowd. These programs include pre-reading, library reading, lifelong reading and school reading.

Pre-reading is for younger people up to age 19 but can also help illiterate adults. This program promotes positive interaction, cognitive development and school preparedness. Library reading focuses on promoting reading culture through libraries no matter the age. The goal of this program is to get more people to visit libraries and more librarians to emerge in their areas.

Lifelong reading is for people from 16 and up to read digital books on the Worldreader Open Library application. This program seeks to build a reading habit in people and promote an overall joy of reading. It also wishes to gain more regular readers by transitioning users to readers. That may sound similar, but really it is for a noncommittal user to develop a reading habit and become a lifelong reader.

Lastly, school reading is just how it sounds. School programs have e-readers with books for any age or grade level, language or even cultural context. It has a teaching program for educators to help cultivate learning and reading cultures. Worldreader also works to train families, schools and libraries so they can reap the most benefit from its programs.

Worldreader’s partners help to make this happen. Worldreader’s partners provide the resources that it needs to reach people in need. Its main partners are Binu, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Opera Mini. Binu helps to promote Worldreader on its Moya app. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation helps to launch e-readers in all national Kenyan libraries. Opera Mini promotes Worldreader to its users from 34 sub-Saharan African countries. Other prominent partners include USAID, The U.N. Refugee Agency, UNHCR, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, LinkedIn, Pearson and Amazon. Penguin Random House, Sub-Saharan Publishers, Longhorn Publishers, Modjaji Books and Rosetta Books are the partners that help to publish and translate books for Worldreader.

Worldreader’s Accomplishments

The year 2018 saw an increase of 3 million readers with over 10 million readers overall. Worldreader has gained 100 million hours of reading since 2014 and has received $12.1 million total in donations. These donations have made it much easier for Worldreader to reach more potential readers from around the world. These funds mostly went toward program services, but other notable areas are management and fundraising. Worldreader empowers communities through this funding. As of 2018, Worldreader is already in 49 countries including Mexico, Ghana, India, Kenya and Jordan.

The Future for Worldreader

Worldreader empowers communities to improve literacy rates. Worldreader’s plans for the future consist of continuing to provide cheap but good technology for under-resourced people, which should in turn help schools to save on book money. The application also plans to expand on its pre-existing book collection. While 35,000 titles is a lot, it aims to add much more. It will also collect the data from its readers to provide future insights into technology improvements. Through this data collection, Worldreader will be able to improve its technology and books. Worldreader encourages sharing costs and responsibilities for sustainable impact. Its donors and supporters help to do so. Worldreader is always searching for more supporters to bring reading to the under-resourced. The Worldreader website has options to sponsor schools, volunteer or join its Reading for Opportunity campaign.

Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Facts About Social Change
Social change is an instance in which people reform the conventions of society. The behavior and attitudes of people determine the direction and significance of change, while the environment or society influence these behaviors. Here are 10 facts about social change.

10 Facts About Social Change

  1. Modernization and Technology: Social change is a combination of many factors. Different events, technologies or people can affect the behavior or norms within society. Modernization and technology have been two of the largest driving forces of social change throughout history. The Industrial Revolution in many countries forced governments to become more liberal as their citizenry became more valuable and leveraged for more rights at work.
  2. Social Order and Coordination: Social norms are central in social order or social coordination. Social norms are informal laws that dictate a group’s or society’s behaviors. A social norm can range from wearing a suit to work or holding the door for someone behind you to voting in the presidential election. Social change does not occur without a significant number of people coming together and changing the traditional behavior within a society.
  3. Social Justice: Social change often looks to change social norms that negatively affect social justice. Social justice is the idea that every aspect of society can achieve justice and equity rather than in only certain cases or for some individuals.
  4. Causes of Social Change: There are different types of social changes. Since social changes are whenever a group changes social behavior and consciousness, many factors can cause such an outcome. War, protests, strikes and nonviolent demonstrations are all ways social change comes about.
  5. Negative Social Change: Social change is not always a positive form of change. An extreme example is the Nazi regime and its persecution of the Jewish population that occurred because of a change to Germany’s social norms. It is up to people to choose which form of change is worth pursuing.
  6. Length of Time to Instigate Social Change: Often change takes place over many generations. The breaking down of social norms requires time to turn new ideas from fringe to conventional. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi are prominent social figures. These men exemplify the multiple generation struggle, as all of them inherited a society in need of change and utilized the time to achieve social justice.
  7. Importance of Nonprofits: Nonprofits are vital in social change. Nonprofits are often the driver of awareness, bringing solutions to communities affected by a lack of progress. Groups like Oxfam International strive to uplift the poverty-stricken and decrease poverty around the world. By working in more than 90 countries, the organization has affected millions of people. The group looks to provide clean water and food to those without such necessities and diminish the effects of climate change in developing countries. In many of its efforts, it also looks to increase the economic well-being of developing countries to ensure their citizens are provided with enough resources to live and flourish.
  8. Theories About Social Change: Sociologists and anthropologists have studied social change and social norms extensively. These significant studies have led to many different theories of the causes and reasons for social change. Many see Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber as the most influential sociological thinkers, each offering differing theories on the progression of society. All three focused on the division of labor and how that affected social progress. Durkheim argued that with an increase in population, there is more competition for resources. To obtain social harmony as opposed to constant competition, people will look to specialize their skills and find new ways to make a living. Marx also analyzed the division of labor and the effect of work on people and society. Marx, however, believed that people often look to meet their human needs, and are in a constant struggle with the market or their owners of production to obtain financial security to live. Marx believed that life was a constant struggle between classes and that social change emerges from this struggle. While Marx believed that class solidarity would lead to social change, Weber believed that society required a charismatic leader to spark such change. Weber emphasized a transition to rational thought, and because rationality usually comes with collaboration, Weber believed bureaucracy would be essential to change.
  9. Difficulty to Instigate Social Change: Traditions are often difficult to change and violence is a common response to social movements. People in power often do not want to relinquish their power and the traditional system often provides the parameters and rules for those people to rise to that position. As a result, they see a change to the system as a threat to their status. What started as peaceful protests against an extradition bill has turned into months of clashes between protestors in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy activists began protesting in March 2019 against a bill that would extradite citizens of Hong Kong to Beijing. Activists saw this bill as an encroachment on their autonomy and held demonstrations to voice their opposition. After multiple peaceful demonstrations, police responded with force against protestors, and this use of force caused protestors to increase the intensity of their protests. Since the beginning of these protests, there have been constant clashes between protestors and police, including batons, rubber bullets, tear gas and even the shooting of multiple protestors with live rounds. Protestors have attacked businesses and police. Awareness and pressure are powerful deterrents to violence on both sides.
  10. Nonprofits for Peaceful Change: There are groups all around the world working for peaceful change. The Borgen Project is just one among many groups that look to uplift the impoverished and oppressed peoples of the world. Bill Gates, the former CEO of Microsoft, started the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote public health around the world. Bill and his wife Melinda look to provide millions around the world with resources and education to live healthily. The Foundation strives to reduce inequities in healthy by providing resources and education to countries with insufficient health care programs.

These 10 facts about social change show that change is constant within society and that with the level of technological advancement, the rate of societal change will only increase. With so many groups working for social justice and their ability to reach more people with their message, the time is right for societies around the world to become more inclusive. Inspired by social justice figures of the past, there has been an emphasis recently on the peaceful pursuit of social change. The number of groups striving for social justice around the world encourages people to live without conflict, without injustice or prejudice and to receive the necessary resources to live a healthy, fulfilling life. With technology as a spark for social change and the technological advances of today, there is the possibility of creating a world where uplifting those in need, even in different countries, is the norm.

– Jared Hynes
Photo: Flickr

Energy in AfricaRecently The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation expressed their passion for increasing energy in Africa in an eco-friendly manner. In partnership with other organizations, Africa is aiming to turn its waste into electricity.

Africa is a large continent containing a surplus of mineral resources, fossil fuels, metallic ores and other biological resources. Despite this abundance of natural resources, Africa’s economy still struggles to thrive. Most of the country’s economy comes from agriculture and sustenance farming which occupies 60 percent of the population.

Background

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to reduce inequality around the globe. Work includes advances in health conditions, decreasing infant mortality rates and empowering the poorest. The foundation is also working towards bringing more electricity to Africa. Currently, it is projected that there are 500 thousand people with no power. However, there is evidence of improvement as 600 million people were without electricity in 2014.

Ken Silverstein, senior Forbes contributor writes that by 2050, Africa’s population and the economy will grow. The country’s population expects to see an increase from 1.1 billion to 2 billion and the economy by 10 percent a year.

The growth in population, economy and electricity will aid Africa immensely, but it also brings new projections for how much energy the country will need. Silverstein also records that “the International Energy Agency, sub-Saharan Africa will require $400 billion by 2035 to modernize its energy foundation.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations (UN) are planning a project in response to this.

Initiated Projects for Sustainability

The UN has initiated the Sustainable Energy for All project. The program works with government figureheads, businesses and the civil sector to works towards Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7).  The project “empowers leaders to broker partnerships and unlock finance to achieve universal access to sustainable energy.”

In line with the goal of achieving SDG7, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation instituted the Breakthrough Energy Venture. The Breakthrough Energy Venture is an investment lead fund whose aim is to “make sure that everyone on the planet can enjoy a good standard of living, including basic electricity, healthy food, comfortable buildings, and convenient transportation, without contributing to climate change.”

These projections signify more energy in Africa and a higher rate of demand for energy. Both projects, by the UN and The Gates Foundation, are aware of the harm that the rising demand for energy will have. More energy creates more waste, and these projects are working towards a cleaner planet as well as providing energy to the world.

Waste-to-Energy

A type of biomass referred to as waste-to-energy uses garbage to provide electricity and heat. Alternatives include burning or recycling the garbage, but providing clean energy to Africa is the number one priority.

Electricity issues in South Africa have led to “brownouts” that was thing preventing a transmission grid loss. The country’s provider, Eskom also cannot meet demands. There are hopes that waste-to-energy will be the solution to problems like these. The Climate Neutral Group introduces the Joburg Waste to Energy offset project.

The project will clean up Johannesburg municipal sites as well as provide clean electricity. The Climate Neutral Group hopes to use the waste and methane gas from the hazardous municipal landfill site and transforming it into energy. It is anticipated that there will be a 19MW of electricity produced. This is enough to power 16,500 medium households.

The Gates Foundation, the UN and the Climate Neutral Group are placing a strong focus on improving energy in Africa. They are taking it one step further by helping provide electricity and energy through waste in partnership with other organizations such as the UN.

– Jade Thompson
Photo: Flickr

mRNA VaccinesVaccinations have been one of the most successful disease prevention tools the world has ever seen to date; the rise of vaccinations and a decrease in disease mortality go hand in hand. The World Health Organization is cited stating that vaccinations prevent about six million deaths worldwide every year. That number could increase if a new type of vaccine, an mRNA vaccine, proves effective.

Some of the more impoverished nations of the world encounter a variety of setbacks when trying to implement vaccinations on a wide scale. Some populations simply cannot afford vaccines while others living in rural areas may not have access or transportation to reach a medical facility. Further, others still may live in unsanitary environments that allow pathogens to easily thrive and spread throughout their communities. Fortunately, scientists in Germany have been testing mRNA vaccines that could have the possibility of eliminating some of these issues.

Testing mRNA Vaccines

Last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with CureVac and BioNTech (two biotechnology corporations) to experiment with new ways to make vaccines. These new vaccines utilize the body’s naturally administered mRNA, which are the molecules that turn genetic information into proteins. In 2018, the companies found positive results while testing these vaccines on both small and large animals.

Later that year, mRNA vaccines designed to combat rabies began phase I of their testing on human participants. The testing took place in Germany and involved 130 participants who had not yet received a rabies vaccine in their lifetime. Then the results of the mRNA vaccine were compared with the results of another treatment.

“The first study participant enrolled in this rabies clinical trial is a significant milestone for CureVac, and allows the company to demonstrate its ability to trigger an immune response in vaccine naïve populations, which is different from vaccines just boosting an already existing immune response such as a flu vaccination,” explained Dan Menichella, CureVac’s CEO.

Implications of mRNA Vaccines

Though the study is not expected to be fully completed until 2021, researchers are finding that mRNA vaccines may be potentially more durable than standard versions of preventative vaccines.

If that is proven to be the case, the implications of how these new vaccines could help the world’s poor are huge. The mRNA vaccines would be able to be developed quickly—quickly enough, it is speculated, to respond to grave infectious disease outbreaks like Ebola. They would also be considerably cheaper to manufacture. And while most vaccination plants cannot be renovated or repurposed to produce other vaccines, only one mRNA vaccine plant could create multiple vaccines that target different diseases.

While mRNA vaccines still have a long way to go in the way of human testing and production, they seem to be off to a good start. It may one day completely revolutionize the way developing countries—or any country, for that matter—vaccinate. And although the medical field is a complicated one, one thing is for certain: CureVac and BioNTech are companies everyone should keep their eyes on for future breakthroughs.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr

The Crippling Effects on Poverty of Child Brides and the Benefits of Abolishment
The “Economic Impacts of Child Marriage” project (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and the Global Partnership for Education are a few of many projects whose goals were to abolish child marriages. These movements were apart of a three-year research project led by the World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women.

A Global Research Project

The research project explored the impacts of child marriage in fertility and population growth, educational attainment and learning, labor force participation, decision-making and investments, health, nutrition and violence. Through this project’s research, the organization concluded that ending the practice of child marriage could save the global economy trillions of dollars between now and 2030.

Poverty-ridden families offering their daughters as child brides is a common means at eliminating certain living costs. Once a daughter is sent away for marriage, there is one less person to feed, clothe and educate; moreover, a dowry or “bride price” is often welcome income for these poor families. However, younger girls are often the chosen demographic for this practice since the older a girl gets, the more expensive the dowry becomes.

Issues with the Practice of Child Brides

One of the main problems with this practice is its invocation of an endless cycle of poverty. Younger girls married away for money often do not get the chance to continue their education; this occurrence severely limits the opportunities of economic growth for both her immediate and newly extended family.

Child brides also have to perform a great deal of unpaid work in the home, such as cleaning, cooking and caring for their husbands, in-laws and children. However, not marrying early and staying in school often leads to a girl becoming healthier and wealthier. In fact, an extra year of primary education for girls also can boost their future earnings by 15 percent.

Consequences of Premature Marriage for Child Brides

There are several severe consequences of child brides who are married off prematurely. Girls who get married early often have to break off previous relationships after marriage and cannot maintain connections with people outside of their families. Isolation can cause severe psychological consequences for both mothers and their babies.

There are also the strains the life of a wife can take on such a young girl’s body. Specifically, early child-bearing is a common incident that risks both young girls’ and their babies’ lives. According to the World Health Organization, the most frequent cause of death in young women aged 15 to 18 is complications during pregnancy and birth.

The non-governmental organization Girls Not Brides has also found “when a mother is under 20, her child is 50 percent more likely to be stillborn or die within its first weeks of life than a baby born to an older mother.”

The International Costs of Child Brides

The World Bank and the International Center for Research on Women has estimated that by 2030 child marriage will ironically cost developing countries trillions in dollars. These organizations push for an end of child brides as a means to alleviate immediate poverty and produce long-lasting economic growth.

The World Bank notes that ending child marriages would have a strong positive effect on the educational levels of girls and their children as well as increase women’s expected earnings. In addition, household welfare, substantial reductions in population growth over time and reduction in rates of under-five mortality and delayed physical development were found.

All in all, the marriage of child brides is a practice that should be abandoned for it numerous economic, personal and societal costs.

– Richard Zarrilli

Photo: Flickr

organizations fighting HIV and AIDSAs of 2016, more than 36 million people worldwide are living with HIV or AIDS. Though the incidence rate of HIV and AIDS has been decreasing since the late 1990s, UNAIDS’s goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation is still far off. These five organizations fighting HIV and AIDS are contributing to the success of HIV and AIDS prevention as well as helping to provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) and counseling for those affected.

 

Elton John AIDS Foundation

In the midst of the rapidly growing AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and ’90s, singer-songwriter Elton John founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) to provide much-needed financial support in the fight against HIV and AIDS. John believes he is lucky to have avoided the AIDS epidemic as a gay man who partook in extremely risky behavior in the 1980s, including drug abuse. “I should have contracted HIV in the 1980s and died in the 1990s, just like Freddie Mercury,” he said at the International AIDS Conference in 2012. “Every day I wonder, how did I survive?”

The EJAF aims to dismantle the stigma surrounding those with HIV and AIDS as well as provide financial support for HIV prevention and treatment around the world. The EJAF has two branches—one in the U.S. and one in the U.K.—and has been rated a four-star charity, the highest rating a nonprofit can achieve.

 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Named the richest man in America for 24 years in a row, Bill Gates has been extremely philanthropic with his wealth. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $41 billion since it was created. A large portion of those donations—approximately $4.6 billion—have gone toward global health initiatives, including HIV prevention and treatment. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funneled money into improving the diagnosis and treatment of HIV, as well as toward the continued research involved in creating a vaccine to prevent HIV. It is one of the most well-known organizations fighting HIV and AIDS.

 

The Global Fund

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a recipient of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Those funds have been put toward providing ART to more than 11 million people and preventing the transmission of HIV through the womb from mother to child. Over four million HIV-positive women have received treatment to protect their babies during and after pregnancy.

The Global Fund also fights the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS and provides diverse prevention efforts in order to include children and women. These efforts continue to encourage people to seek preventative measures and treatment rather than avoiding it due to stigma.

 

Treatment Action Campaign

Africa has the highest burden of HIV and AIDS worldwide. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), founded in 1998, focuses on South Africa and the prevention and treatment methods being employed there. UNAIDS director Dr. Peter Piot considers TAC to be “the smartest activist group of all, worldwide.”

TAC monitors hospitals, trains campaign members on the basic science of HIV and AIDS, and advocates for the right to access healthcare.

 

amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research

Created during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1985, amfAR has been a leader in AIDS research. Because of the homophobia surrounding HIV and AIDS in the ’80s, many organizations were unwilling to speak out in support of AIDS research. amfAR was established in order to raise private funds for AIDS research, educate the public and support those suffering from HIV and AIDS.

amfAR ultimately kickstarted research that led to the creation of ART. amfAR has also supported HIV prevention methods such as safe needle exchange and safe sex provisions.

Though the HIV and AIDS epidemic is far from over, these organizations fighting HIV and AIDS, as well as many others, are contributing to the health of current and future generations.

– Anna Sheps

Photo: Flickr

Cold Chain EquipmentVaccines are highly sensitive to high and low temperatures, therefore high-performing and well-maintained cold chain technologies are necessary to ensure their effectiveness. The Vaccine Alliance Gavi’s mission is to help lower-income countries gain access to the necessary vaccine cold chain equipment, and thanks to a recent deal with Google, it will have more resources to do so.

The new partnership between Gavi and Google is aimed to help tech start-up Nexleaf Analytics, which will contribute tech development and analytical knowledge as well as lessons learned from years working on the ground in countries.

The startup uses a wireless remote temperature to trace vaccine cold chain equipment and collect data on its efficiency. The critical data is intended to empower healthcare workers in making educated decisions on their purchase of equipment. This is especially important because, according to a recent World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund’s joint statement, 78 percent of vaccine cold chain equipment in low and middle-income countries is either poorly functioning or non-functional.

Google’s contribution of $2 million USD, which will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be used to improve the efficiency and safety of vaccines by increasing cold chain equipment operating time, reducing running costs and improving temperature control.

With more than 30 million children still unimmunized, in large part because vaccines are unavailable, Nextleaf’s vaccine cold chain equipment is not only revolutionary but necessary. The start-up will collect data from every point of the health system, and make them readily available to workers in low-income countries. This easy access to key analytics will allow health system personnel to make the necessary adjustments and make educated decisions about the efficiency of the equipment.

The new collaboration is a part of Gavi’s INFUSE platform, which connects private sector partners and funders with high-tech innovators. INFUSE helps to find solutions to challenges that have led millions of children to not receive a full course of the most basic vaccines. The work is aimed to drive more impact at scale and ensure safe vaccinations for all.

Mayan Derhy

Photo: Flickr

DefeatDD fights children’s diseases
Forget the classic superheroes of the past, because WASH, Nutrition, Vaccines and ORS + Zinc have come to save the day and build a brighter future. PATH’S DefeatDD fights children’s diseases with its new video that brings awareness to major health issues — including chronic diarrhea and malnutrition — and helps the children, families and communities watching learn how to conquer them. These health superheroes fight off major illnesses like rotavirus, enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), shigella and cryptosporidium.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) emphasizes the importance of efficient water and sanitation services and basic hygiene practices. Nutrition and Vaccines ensure a healthy lifestyle and keep conditions from worsening, and ORS + Zinc help to prevent diarrhea and pneumonia in children. Besides these characters, a handful of real-life superheroes are committed to saving more lives and helping children around the world to be healthy and strong.

Richard Walker of PATH and Lou Bourgeois of Johns Hopkins University are two skilled scientists working vigorously to advance vital new vaccines and add to the lineup of available resources to tackle the bacterial brutes.

Anita Zaidi and Duncan Steele lead the charitable charge at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, dedicating their time to defeating diarrhea. Together, they bridge science and strategy to rally a revolution against common childhood threats, applying medical microbiology to pediatric perspectives.

In areas where children are exposed to unsanitary living conditions and prone to infection, understanding and being aware of the problem at hand is crucial step to finding a solution. Hope Randall, digital communications officer for PATH’s DefeatDD Initiative, expressed the connection between good nutrition and strong minds in regards to children.

Without the key nutrients of a nutritious diet, the continuous loop of malnutrition and diarrhea will keep children sick, and the effects don’t just wear off when the symptoms disappear, contrary to what many may think.

Chronic diarrhea and malnutrition can stunt physical growth and impact cognitive development, keeping children and their communities from reaching their fullest potential. This is why an integrated approach to prevent and treat such diseases is necessary and the only way to effectively address the long-term damage that the vicious cycle can cause.

In an article sponsored by PATH, A. P. Dubey, head of the Department of Pediatrics at Maulana Azad Medical College in New Delhi, wrote about the importance of vaccines in support of PATH’s DefeatDD Initiative: “I advocate for immunization to save children. It is important to have greater communication around this and it is critical for the media to address this issue. In India, public awareness about immunization is still lacking. Greater awareness will help increase immunization coverage. India can succeed in eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases.”

The same conscious and determined mind-set goes for other impoverished nations as well. PATH’S DefeatDD fights children’s diseases and is just one outlet actively educating individuals on how to treat and, more importantly, prevent major health issues.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr