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Global HealthWith the many advances in science and medicine over the last century, it is no surprise that overall global health has been positively impacted. From the discovery of penicillin to the creation of the X-Ray machine, dedication to healthcare and these advancements have proved beneficial for both scientists and patients. The following is a discussion of the top five improvements in global health trends and their impacts on the global health conversation.

Top Five Improvements in Global Health Trends

  1. HIV/AIDS is no longer the leading cause of death in Africa. There has been a long-standing notion that the transmission of HIV was among the worst diagnoses imaginable and, furthermore, that the disease was becoming more and more rampant in many areas, especially poorer ones. However, many advancements have been made for prevention and treatment, which include newer and more effective medications, sexual education and safer sexual practices. These advancements have been used in poorer communities in African countries, where the epidemic is the greatest in severity. Thankfully, the prevention and treatment methods have been so effective that HIV/AIDS is no longer the leading cause of death in Africa. This advancement not only impacts health but restores communities’ economic success with more resources available for infrastructure and households.
  2. Vaccines are more varied and accessible. Over the last century, vaccines have not only become more varied, as well as more accessible, but their usage has risen. While vaccines have prevented diseases such as measles, polio and smallpox, a vaccine recently came out in 2011 that protects against the shingles virus. The shingles virus is a painful, blistery skin rash that originates from certain strains of the chickenpox virus, which is most common among children. However, unlike the chickenpox virus, the shingles virus is a higher risk for contraction in elders. The shingles vaccine greatly improves quality of life and has already made a huge impact. While vaccines are less standard in more disadvantaged areas, improvements are being made to include more vaccinations for more people, oftentimes cost-covered by charity organizations such as UNICEF.
  3. Mortality associated with childbirth has decreased significantly. Both infant mortality and maternal mortality rates were historically high compared to modern day rates. These statistics are an outstanding improvement from 25 years ago when infant mortality rates were as high as six and a half percent of all births and maternal mortality rates were around four-tenths of a percent. In 2017, a mere one-third of a percent of all children born did not survive past one year and an even lower percentage of mothers died during childbirth (two-hundredths of a percent). However, due to an increased overall implementation of sanitary health practices globally, these percentages continue to drop. In developed countries, where per capita income is higher, sanitary practices are at their most prevalent. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for countries with lower per capita income where there is lessened sanitary practice adherence. This, in turn, allows for a higher survival rate of both infants and mothers, leading to more families to have fewer children as they know infants have a greater chance of survival.
  4. Diabetes is no longer a “life sentence.” As recent as one hundred years ago, by the time diabetes was detectable, a person had mere months or years to live. Among the amazing improvements in global health, specifically thanks to the discovery of insulin in 1920 and all the advancements made in treatment as a result, diabetes will now have little to no impact on a person’s life expectancy. While people living in impoverished nations may have a harder time accessing treatment, great strides have still been made and are being made to provide treatment to people in disadvantaged regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, including the provision of diabetes education.
  5. Water-related illnesses are reduced by better access to clean water. Clean water, once a scarcity, has been augmented by greater attention, funding and resources for water sanitation. There is a connection between poverty, health and reduced access to clean water, where poverty exacerbates the situation and makes clean water harder to access, adding an extra layer to both poverty and decreased health. Over the last 18 years, world access to clean water jumped from 76 percent to 91 percent. This improvement has prevented illnesses such as malaria, diarrhea and dehydration.

The above list merely scratches the surface of recent improvements in global health. There is much more left in the healthcare conversation and many more advancements that are being enhanced, discovered and yet to be discovered. Improvements in global health afford people the opportunity to dissolve their poverty, allowing them to live a longer and better life.

– Alexandra C Ferrigno
Photo: Flickr

preventable diseases
Approximately 6 million five-year-old and younger children die each year, mostly from preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. The majority of these deaths are based in the world’s low- and middle-income countries where healthcare is limitedly available.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helped launch the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) Network in an attempt to clearly understand the causes of illness and deaths due to preventable diseases for children in these areas.

Even though reducing mortality rates for children under the age of five is a key objective for global development initiatives, major gaps in health surveillance, research and cause-of-death determination still exist throughout the world.

Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa account for over 82 percent of these deaths, with children in Sub-Saharan Africa being 15 times more likely to die before reaching age five than children in high-income countries.

CHAMPS – made up of the Emory Global Health Institute, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the International Association for National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI), the Public Health Informatics Institute at the Task Force for Global Health and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) – will focus on these two regions in order to gather better data about how, where and why children are becoming sick and dying.

After an intensive selection process and with the high percentage of under-five deaths in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa in mind, CHAMPS announced its first three sites on June 14:

  • Soweto, South Africa
  • Manhiça, Mozambique
  • Bamako, Mali

CHAMPS will help each of these sites build surveillance infrastructure and train local site staff. The data collected from each location will then be shared with scientists, health officials and others around the world in an attempt to stimulate advocacy and research.

Results from the data-driven surveillance networks will also, in turn, inform treatment and research decisions for numerous childhood diseases, attract more funding for vaccine- and drug-related research and inform healthcare policy decisions for local and national governments.

“The data from CHAMPS will provide new tools to better protect children from preventable diseases. Six million preventable deaths each year is a reality none of us can accept. CDC is proud to work with Emory and the governments of South Africa, Mozambique and Mali on this important effort that will change that reality and provide healthier futures for millions of children and their families,” said Dr. Rebecca Martin, the director of CDC’s Center for Global Health.

With an initial commitment of up to $75 million by the Gates Foundation, CHAMPS is envisioned as a long-term, 20-year initiative that will eventually reach up to 20 sites. As it expands, the network will provide capacity and training for situations such as the event of an epidemic (for instance, Ebola) in various sites, thus helping make the world a much safer place.

Alice Gottesman

Photo: Flickr

Child_Poverty
Every day, the effects of poverty take the lives of thousands, with children suffering the most. Chronic poverty makes children more susceptible to disease, hunger, and developmental problems. Here are the most concerning facts about child poverty:

  1. According to the World Bank, more than 400 million children are living in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 a day).
  2. Roughly 16,000 children die each day—mostly due to preventable or treatable conditions.
  3. UNICEF estimates that over 2 million children ages 10-19 have HIV.
  4. Roughly half of all deaths of children under the age of five are caused by malnutrition.
  5. The International Labor Organization reports that 168 million children are child laborers; many of them in dangerous lines of work, such as factory jobs.

The question then arises, what can be done about child poverty? The good news is that, despite the previous data, progress is being made every day combating this issue. Here are four facts on the fight against child poverty:

  1. According to UNICEF, the mortality rate for children under age 5 has decreased by 53 percent since 1990.
  2. The World Health Organization says the most important element in reducing the mortality rate for children is increasing access to healthcare worldwide, particularly in preventative measures such as vaccines.
  3. Global programs, such as the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), are working to achieve WHO’s goal of increasing access to preventative care. Started in 2010, more than 235 million Africans have been vaccinated against meningitis through MVP.
  4. Ending child poverty can start with an individual. You can donate to an organization working to combat child poverty, and you can do things like contact congress to voice support for increasing foreign aid to causes like this.

The global community has made strides in combatting child poverty, but there is still work to be done to ensure sustainable futures for the world’s youth.

Emily Milakovic

Photo: U.N. Multimedia

The Quick War on Poverty ResultsIn the last 20 years, governments, firms, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and leaders of industry’s efforts have helped to dramatically reduce the number of people living beneath $2 per day. Between 2001 and 2011 alone, the war on poverty resulted in reducing the percentage of the population affected from 29 percent to 15 percent.

As a result, the war on poverty has led to an expanding middle class, with people living off of less than $10 a day falling from 79 percent to 71 percent. Although the shift was not enormous, it still factors into an increase in prosperity for millions.

But the war of poverty results in more than monetary gains. Since 1990, extreme poverty has also been cleaved by more than half, elevating the lives of more than a billion people, according to the United Nations. Here are five other life-changing impacts that the war on poverty has produced.

Between 2000 and 2012:
Approximately 3.3 million deaths from malaria were avoided because of the substantial expansion of malaria interventions funded by international aid. Increased rates of measles immunization have also prevented an estimated 14 million deaths. In addition, since 1995, an estimated 22 million lives have been saved from tuberculosis.

More than 2.3 billion people have gained access to an improved source of drinking water. This improvement allows communities to spend less time acquiring water and give more time to poverty reducing activities, such as working or attending school.

The number of children dying under the age of five has almost been halved, dropping from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births to 48 per 1,000 live births. The child survival rates have also improved. Between 2005 and 2012, the yearly rate of reduction in child mortality was more than three times faster than between 1990 and 1995.

Almost 2 billion people gained access to an improved sanitation facility, preventing communicable diseases and contamination of water sources.

An estimated 90 percent of primary school-aged children are enrolled in school, increasing their chances at breaking the poverty cycle in impoverished communities. The gender disparity gap of boys to girls enrolled in school has also shrunk significantly.

According to the U.N., for the first time in human history, the ability to strike down extreme poverty is within reach.

Claire Colby

Sources: Bloomberg View, UN 1, UN 2
Photo: Flickr

Global Health Investments Work: 34 Million Children Saved Since 2000
New data has been able to reveal that global health investments have been able to save 34 million children since 2000. Several of these international collaborations have decreased child mortality rates in half for those under the age of 5 in several countries.

The United Nations’ Millennium Declaration was created on September 2000 as a list of goals that would help reduce global poverty in half by 2015. One of the goals in the Millennium Declaration included providing better health access and lowering children mortality rates throughout the world.

Countries within the United Nations pledged to provide aid in order to reduce mortality rates in children under the age of 5. The goal was to have a two-thirds reduction by 2015.

In June 2015, the United Nations declared that its goal had been reached in several countries but much could still be done to improve child mortality rates in other regions.

A major concern from governments with the Millennium Development Goals was how to account for accountability. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington and the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals and for malaria were able to create a solution.

The IHME at the University of Washington and the U.N. reached out to medicinal agencies and non-governmental organizations that were given the child mortality reduction task. International collaborations with scientists allowed both organizations to create a scorecard that kept track of foreign aid and the progress made in different regions of the world.

This scorecard will continue to be used to further promote investments in children’s global health and as a way for people around the world to hold the regions receiving the aid accountable.

For now, the scorecard is being used to reveal how much direct impact foreign aid can have on global health for children. The statistics showed that only US$4,205 is needed to keep a child healthy from birth until 5 years of age.

Low and middle income countries helped turn low child mortality rates into a reality by providing US$133 billion in children’s global health investments. The international aid that was invested helped saved 20 million children.

Meanwhile, private and public donors contributed US$73.6 billion and saved 14 million young lives. The majority of the donors were from low- and middle-income countries according to the data.

In comparison, the United States was able to save 3.3 million children by using only one-third of its less than 1 percent foreign aid budget plan.

Much of the aid went to providing vaccines, HIV/AIDs testing, sanitation and nutrition. Although much has been accomplished, the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) has stated that the United States has the ability to do much more for young children.

According to the USAID’s 5th Birthday Campaign, 6.6 million children will die this year before their fifth birthday. The campaign states that that is nearly 18,000 children dying per day – most of them dying from preventable causes.

Through the 5th Birthday Campaign the U.S. will continue investing in family parenting, vaccines, sanitation and nutrition to help more children live beyond their fifth birthday.

Internationally, the United States has agreed to work with other countries in funding the Global Financing Facility. A post-2015 organization that will work toward further reaching the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health and the Sustainable Development Goals.

International governments and public and private donates have agreed on a US$12 billion budget for the Global Financing Facility. While the U.N. Millennium Development Goals sought to lower child mortality rates by two-thirds, the Global Financing Facility aims to completely lower maternity and child mortality rates by 2030.

With 2030 only a few years away the Global Financing Facility has a ticking clock. However, seeing how the U.N. Millennium Development Goals were able to succeed, the Global Financing Facility is having a positive start with much international support.

– Erendira Jimenez

Sources: USAID, WHO, Un Millenium Project, Scaling Up Nutrition, Washington

Photo: Universityofwashington

Sanitation and Poverty
Two and a half billion people – over a third of the entire world’s population – have no access to adequate sanitation facilities, which leads to the rapid spread of disease and heightened child mortality rates. Most commonly, poor sanitation practices lead to diarrhea: little more than an annoying byproduct of bad hygiene practices for first-world residents, it is often fatal in developing countries. In fact, it is estimated that 5,000 children die daily from complications related to the ailment. Consequently, one person dies every minute due to the lack of basic sanitation.

Why is the lack of well-formulated means of sanitation such a large problem in modern times, when technology has reached such an advanced stage? One reason is the negative stigma associated with it: the discussion of toilets simply feels dirty or inappropriate and is not as popular nor does it appear at first glance as urgent as, for example, the issue of access to drinking water. However, the two are related and equally pressing; disease control is an impossible goal without proper sanitation adjustments. In many places around the third world, toilet stalls are completely nonexistent. Essentially, this means that people are forced to defecate in public, populated areas, leaving waste behind which will remain on the ground spreading disease. Just a gram of human feces may contain as much as ten million viruses and a hundred parasite eggs.

Besides the obvious health benefits, according to the World Health Organization (WHO,) improved sanitation in developing countries would provide $9 economic benefit per $1 spent. The year of 2008 was dubbed by WHO as the International Year of Sanitation. Through various conferences and seminars, five key principles of sanitation were determined: 1. Sanitation is vital for human health. 2. It generates economic benefits. 3. It contributes to dignity and social development. 4. It helps the environment, and most importantly. 5. It IS achievable. South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are two regions most affected by poor sanitation practices. Coincidentally, they are also the two areas with the highest death rates from various diseases. It is especially prevalent in rural areas, where open defecation is six times more likely and use of unimproved sanitation is four times higher than in urban areas. Being one of the 2015 Millennium Goals, improved sanitation should not be taken for granted. To heighten the quality of sanitation is to improve the quality of life as well as economic efficiency for millions of individuals worldwide. In this day and age, no one should have to defecate publicly; not only for reasons of dignity and civility, but also due to personal awareness and dedication towards reducing of the spread of deadly disease.

– Natalia Isaeva

 

Sources: The Global Poverty Project, World Health Organization: International Year of Sanitation, UNICEF: Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation

Ethiopia MDG UN Child Mortality Reduction (2)
It seems that time and time again, all we hear regarding the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is how so many countries may not meet them by 2015. Poverty rates in Country A are actually rising. The illiteracy rate in Country B is unfortunately stagnant. The international community isn’t doing enough to make certain goals achievable.

But for some developing nations, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For these nations, reaching the MDGs may not be too far away. In some cases, it has already been achieved. The East African nation of Ethiopia is one country that has succeeded.

As a country that used to make headlines for heart-wrenching stories of hunger and famine, Ethiopia is quickly making itself a leader in the development of African nations, and it is only beginning with its commitment to the reduction of the child mortality rate.

According to a recent report funded by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank, Ethiopia has recently become one of the handful of developing countries to succeed in cutting its mortality rate for children under the age of five years prior to the 2015 cutoff date. The data shows that Ethiopia has reduced child deaths by more than two thirds over the past two decades, taking the rate from 204 children in every 1,000 births that died before reaching the age of five to 68 per 1000 births.

Ethiopia’s progress in this area can be attributed to the government’s commitment to achieving the MDGs as well as its fervent allocation of resources towards healthcare programs. Poverty and fertility rates are down, and the number of children enrolled in school has doubled. The progress is not solely limited to urban areas, but rural and remote parts of the country are seeing a decrease in child mortality rates as well.

Ethiopia’s Minister off Health, Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, credits the country’s progress to a mixture of government policies as well as the UNICEF-trained and supported 38,000 community health workers the Government brought in and placed throughout 15,000 health posts all across Ethiopia. Dr. Kesete believes the community health workers have led the way to achieving major reductions in child and maternal mortality. He also alluded to how much of an impact an involved government and community can make on a poor country.

“With commitments of governments and the community, it is really possible to make a difference and to save the lives of millions of children and mothers across Africa,” Kesete said.

Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF country representative for Ethiopia, agreed, praising the ongoing commitment that the Ethiopian government has had towards the development of the country. Salama added that the government-implemented programs will lead to a more sustainable Ethiopia, seeing as they are government-funded rather than donor-supported.

“The government has set some very bold and extremely ambitious targets. It has then backed them up with real resources and real commitment sustained over the last 10 years,” Salama said.

Ethiopia’s progress is a model for other African nations showing that success in reducing poverty and increasing development is possible. With Ethiopia as a leader, other African governments have come forward and pledged their commitments to increasing child survival in their respective nations, as well as taking control of their countries’ development rather than leaving it to donors.

To this end, Ethiopian leaders have been working on developing country-led roadmaps that incorporate potential policies to end preventable deaths among children under five by 2035, as well as decrease the mortality rate for children under five to under 20 for every 1000 births in all African countries.

– Elisha-Kim Desmangles
Feature Writer

Sources: The Guardian, UNICEF
Photo: USAID

african_woman_mother_baby_birth_Rate_poverty_children_education_women_microfinance_opt
Many people argue that deaths resulting from poverty are an unfortunate solution to overpopulation. They assume that raising families out of poverty will only give them more resources to support ever more children. However, the evidence actually shows that birth rates decrease as people rise out of poverty. This is because parents are often forced by high child mortality rates to have several children to ensure that they will have someone to care for them as they age. When these families are no longer living in extreme poverty, they can be more confident that their children will survive, allowing them to have fewer children. According to the World Health Organization, both the actual death and the fear of death of a child results in higher fertility rates, regardless of a family’s size or income level.

Over the last two decades, reduced levels of extreme poverty in numerous countries, including Guatemala, Cambodia, and Namibia, has coincided with a decrease in average family size to about half. Since the 1960s, Latin American women’s fertility rates have decreased from about 6 to between 2 and 3. This has resulted from decreased child mortality rates, as well as improved maternal health and family planning education in many areas. USAID has been instrumental in helping many Latin American countries, such as the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, start family planning programs. Most of these programs have become self-sustaining and are preparing for USAID’s gradual departure.

While poverty is an extremely reliable indicator and contributing cause of high birth rates, a society’s treatment of women must also be considered. In societies where women are disenfranchised, birth rates tend to be high and inflexible. This shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise, given that in these societies girls are taken out of school at a young age, females are often victims of multiple forms of violence, and most women have minimal knowledge of or power to enact family planning strategies. Many women are essentially forced into prolonged motherhood, which can be incredibly damaging to their health, as well as their children’s. With improved family planning education around the world, the lives of 1.6 million children under five could be saved each year.

A woman’s education level is an excellent indicator of her fertility. Well-educated women are much more likely to have smaller families. It is important to note that education of women does not necessarily cause lower fertility rates. Instead, education is just one aspect of improved social standing for women, and it is likely that this improved status leads to smaller families, not to mention improved women’s health in general.

It is essential to recognize that decreasing levels of extreme poverty will also help minimize the problem of overpopulation. When families no longer live in fear of unacceptable child mortality rates, they decrease their fertility levels. Part of this effort to decrease birth rates also includes family planning education for both men and women, and improved societal standing for women.

– Katie Fullerton

Sources: USAID, USAID Blog, Population Institute, Global Issues
Photo: Hatter