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Facts about overpopulation and poverty Overpopulation is defined as “the presence of excessive numbers of a species, which are then unable to be sustained by the space and resources available.” While many definitions of poverty exist, the simplest is that it all but guarantees struggle, deprivation and lost opportunity.

Contemporary understandings of poverty are more holistic, rather than just quantitative measures of income. Considering factors such as health care and education helps broaden the view of poverty and its causes. Here are 7 facts about overpopulation and poverty.

7 Facts About Overpopulation and Poverty

  1. Population growth and poverty present the classic “chicken or egg” dilemma. According to Dr. Donella Meadows, “poverty causes population growth causes poverty.” Her eponymous 1986 essay explains why the classic “chicken or the egg” dilemma regarding overpopulation and poverty leads to different conclusions on how best to intervene. Dr. Meadows ultimately concludes that the question itself is less of an “either/or” and more of a “both/and” question.
  2. There is a cycle of poverty and overpopulation. One factor causes the other and vice-versa. For example, when child mortality is high (usually due to living in impoverished conditions), the overall birth rate is also high. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest to lower the child mortality rate by reducing poverty.
  3. There is a correlation between declining birth rates and rising living standards. Declining birth rates and rising living standards have occurred simultaneously in the developing world for decades. This relationship between fertility and economic development results in a virtuous circle, meaning “improvements in one reinforce and accelerate improvements in the other.” As a result, this pattern between fertility and economic development helps reduce poverty.
  4. By the end of this century, the population is expected to grow by 3 billion people. Over the next 80 years, the majority of the increasing population will live in Africa.
  5. Although Africa has experienced record economic growth, the much faster rate of fertility still leaves much of the population impoverished. While Africa’s economy continues to grow, the Brookings Institute notes that “Africa’s high fertility and resulting high population growth mean that even high growth translates into less income per person.” The most effective strategy to combat this is to reduce fertility rates.
  6. The number of megacities has more than tripled since 1990. Megacities are cities with more than 10 million people. Although there are currently 33 megacities in the world, that number is expected to increase to 41 by the year 2030. Of those 41 megacities, five will appear in developing countries. Megacities are susceptible to overpopulation and concerns about disease control. Furthermore, some megacities relieve poverty while others exacerbate it.
  7. A sense of taboo surrounds discussions about overpopulation. Is talking about overpopulation still taboo? Some experts believe so, citing the 17 goals and 169 targets of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda that have been silent on the issue. Luckily, philanthropists and voters are leading the way in normalizing frank discussions regarding facts about overpopulation and poverty.

Despite gradually increasing developments, global overpopulation and poverty continue to remain prevalent. Steps such as viewing poverty holistically and working to end the stigmatization and taboo surrounding discussions about overpopulation help further the much-needed improvements for overpopulation and poverty.

– Sarah Wright 
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Nepal
Nepal remains one of the world’s poorest countries as well as one of the most prone to natural disasters. The country suffers from the effects of climate change and population increase, which further increases the damage caused by natural disasters. Landslides and floods are particularly common, especially during the monsoon season. These catastrophes kill more than 500 people a year. The healthcare in the country is often unequally distributed, with healthcare resources centralized around the country’s major urban centers. This unequal distribution hinders the quality and accessibility of healthcare provided in Nepal. Here are 10 facts about healthcare in Nepal.

10 Facts About Healthcare in Nepal

  1. The 1978 Alma Ata Declaration: In an effort to improve healthcare, Nepal was influenced by the 1978 Alma Ata Declaration. The declaration emphasized community-oriented preventive, promotive and curative healthcare services. Nepal also took steps to improve the lives of its citizens by establishing a network of primary healthcare facilities. In addition, the nation deployed community healthcare workers to provide healthcare at the community level.
  2. Life expectancy: As a result of improving healthcare in Nepal, life expectancy has seen a dramatic increase. According to the Nepali Times, life expectancy went up 12.3 years between 1991 and 2011. Currently, the country has the second-highest life expectancy in South Asia, largely due to the fact that the country has seen a sharp decrease is birth rate mortality. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported that 295,459 Nepalis were more than 75 years old in 2001 and in 2011 that number increased to 437,981.
  3. Accessibility: Most of Nepal’s healthcare resources are located in or around Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. This centralization leads to other areas of Nepal being neglected. In 2015, however, Nepal’s government formed a Social Health Security Development Committee as a legal framework in an effort to start implementing a social health security scheme. The program’s goal was to increase the accessibility of healthcare services to Nepal’s poor and marginalized communities. It was also aimed to increase access to people who live in hard to reach areas of the country. Problems, however, remain with financing the effort.
  4. Healthcare as a human right: In 2007, the Nepalese Government endorsed healthcare as a basic human right in its Interim Constitution. Despite this, only 61.8 percent of Nepalese have access to healthcare facilities within a 30-minute radius. Nepal also suffers from an inadequate supply of essential drugs and poorly regulated private healthcare providers. Statistically, Nepal also only has 0.67 doctors and nurses per 1,000 people. This is less than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 2.3 doctors, nurses and midwives per 1,000 people.
  5. Lack of basic health facilities: Around 22 percent of Nepalis do not have access to basic health facilities. The groups who lack healthcare in Nepal tend to be the Dalits from Terai and Muslims. However, there has been a 19 percent increase in the usage of outpatient care by Dalits.
  6. Common diseases in Nepal: The top diseases in Nepal are ischemic heart disease, COPD, lower respiratory infection, diarrheal disease, stroke and diabetes.
  7.  Oral health: More than half of adults in Nepal suffer from bacterial tooth decay. Bacterial tooth decay can lead to chronic pain, heart disease and diabetes. Many in rural villages do not have access to tooth filling, toothpaste or water. There is a belief among some Nepalese that tooth extraction causes blindness.
  8. Maternal and child mortality rates: There has been a reduction in maternal and child mortality rates.  The rates have decreased from 539 per 100,000 to 281 per 100,000 live births in 2006, according to the DHS survey. The 5 and under mortality rate decreased in rural areas from 143 per 1000 to 50 per 1000 live births in 2009.
  9. Earthquakes: The earthquakes that hit Nepal in April of 2015 are one of the greatest natural disasters in Nepal’s modern history, destroying over 1,100 healthcare facilities. Possible Health.org, a global team of people committed to the belief that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare without financial burden, signed a 10-year agreement with their government partners to attempt to rebuild the healthcare system in the Dolokah district, which suffered the destruction of 85 percent of their healthcare facilities.
  10. Government corruption: While there are efforts to improve the lives of Nepalis, corruption exists, according to the Himalayan Times. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Nepal 124 out of 175 countries worldwide. This corruption leads to a lack of resources dedicated to healthcare. The Nepali government only allocations 5 percent of its national budget toward healthcare, not enough to create significant improvements.

These 10 facts about healthcare in Nepal illustrate the challenges the nation has faced, as well as the progress that has been made. To help improve healthcare, the European Union provides continual support. In 2019, they gave 2 million pounds of assistance to the country. Moving forward, continued work by humanitarian organizations and the Nepali government is needed to continue improving healthcare in Nepal.

Robert Forsyth
Photo: U.N. Multimedia

Helps Ethiopean ChildrenAfrica has the highest child mortality rate of any continent. Ethiopia sits in the middle of the child mortality ranking of countries throughout Africa with 59 out of 1,000 children dying before the age of five. While it is not as high as the rate of 76 per 1,000 children found in sub-Saharan Africa, it is much worse than many developed nations, which average around 6 deaths per 1,000 children annually. New research, however, shows that childhood mortality can be significantly lowered in Africa using an antibiotic that could help Ethiopian children prevent blindness.

Azithromycin Helps Ethiopian Children

Trachoma is the leading bacterial infection that causes blindness. In an effort to lower the number of cases of trachoma, researchers preemptively gave azithromycin, an antibiotic effective at fighting trachoma, to thousands of children under the age of nine in Ethiopia. The researchers administered these doses of azithromycin to children twice a year.

After observing the children for several years, they came to a shocking discovery: azithromycin will help Ethiopian children live longer. Not only did the bi-annual antibiotic prevent against trachoma, as the researchers believed it would, but it also protected against many other common ailments as well. For those children in the case study, the childhood mortality rate was cut in half.

The discovery seemed too good to be true, so this group of researchers tried to replicate their findings in other African nations with higher child mortality rates. Close to 200,000 children were given azithromycin in Tanzania, Malawi and Niger. While the results were not quite as impressive as cutting the child mortality rate in half, as seen with Ethiopia, the results were still high. The twice-yearly drug lowered child mortality rates between 14 to 19 percent in each country.

Research Into Other Illnesses

Research must continue before Africa will see widespread use of azithromycin for children. If approved for widespread use, this antibiotic could help prevent some of the common illnesses that lead to child mortality. These common illnesses include:

  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia kills nearly 100,000 children per year in Africa. This accounts for 16 percent of childhood death under the age of five. Currently, when children contract pneumonia, only one third are able to receive lifesaving antibiotic treatment.
  • Diarrhoeal disease: Diarrhea is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. Diarrhea is a common infection in the bowels. It is completely preventable and treatable, yet it is estimated that 525,000 children in Africa die annually from this illness.
  • Malnutrition: Malnutrition contributes to childhood mortality rates. While the use of azithromycin will not be able to prevent malnutrition, it may be able to help prevent other ailments that the body is not able to fight off because of the lack of nutrients and calories.

Long term effects of azithromycin used to prevent ailments in children are not known. However, the studies have shown promising results in saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of African children. With a few more years of research and more funding, these researchers may be able to permanently lower the childhood mortality rate in Africa. Not only will this research continue to help Ethiopian children but it will also help children of other nations, ensuring they live into adulthood.

Kathryn Moffet
Photo: Pexels

USAID's support for children
Among the groups that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) aims to support, children across the world are a top priority. From health-related aid to education opportunities and protection from violence, USAID’s support for children employs a variety of means to help kids survive and grow despite poverty and other adversities.

USAID Addresses Preventable Child Mortality

An important aspect of USAID’s support for children is access to medical assistance. An overwhelming 75 percent of child deaths under the age of five results from newborn deaths and treatable diseases: pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. These illnesses could be effectively countered by timely low-technology treatments, which USAID attempts to provide on the local level by bolstering public-private engagement and promoting Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM).

USAID strengthens iCCM programs that train and assist with local community members treating children. Such programs provide vital medical care on the ground in communities that are often hard to reach. USAID helps construct sustainable networks of monitoring and evaluation, clinical referral, supportive supervision and more, which in turn ensure the functioning of iCCM programs.

A USAID-supported iCCM program in Zambia led to a 68 percent early treatment rate of childhood pneumonia. USAID’s efforts to treat malaria have reached millions of children in Tanzania alone, where 70,000 people die from the disease annually. Within a decade, simple preventative action and treatment by community health workers have contributed to a 28 percent decrease of child mortality rate.

USAID’s Support for Children: A Comprehensive Action Plan

USAID’s efforts to help children around the world are not limited to medical care. USAID, together with other U.S. government departments and agencies, launched the ambitious and comprehensive five-year U.S. Government Action Plan on Children in Adversity in 2012. Backing the plan is Public Law (PL) 109-95, signed in 2005 to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which asks the U.S. government to effectively respond to vulnerable youths in low and middle-income nations.

USAID’s support for children is wide-ranged and well-coordinated under the Action Plan, focusing on the value of investing in boys and girls in order to achieve long-term economic and social progress. Among those receiving aid are children affected by HIV/AIDS, those living outside of family care, those who have been trafficked, those under sexual violence or exploitation and more.

Interventions employed by the Action Plan are evidence-based, meaning they are both effective and instructive for further action in the future. Such actions include improving the families’ socioeconomic status, rescuing youths suffering from the worst forms of child labor, promoting protective family care and protecting the education of both children and their surrounding communities.

According to the most recent annual report for Congress, the plan has reached millions of young lives since 2012. Understanding the significance of nutrition, especially in the first thousand days of life, USAID and Food for Peace sent food assistance to approximately 20 million children in 61 countries with funds from Fiscal Year 2015. Children separated from their families in 11 countries received help from USAID to return to family care.

Effective Utilization of the Private Sector

Many of USAID’s support for children take place in the private sector, via public-private engagement as well as recent “development impact bonds.” Public-private engagement is manifest in USAID’s Strengthening Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS), which increases the ready supply of diagnostic and treatment-related products. The program works with local manufacturers and importers and also informs health workers regarding the appropriate use of medical knowledge and tools.

In December of 2017, USAID launched a new development impact bond for India, the Utkrisht Bond, that mobilizes private capital to make improved healthcare accessible to 600,000 women, aiming to save up to 10,000 mothers and their newborns. With private capital enabling an initial investment, USAID and Merck for Mothers will only follow up with its $4.5 million commitment after the development goals are realized, ensuring the effectiveness of aid.

Innovative, sustainable and replicable efforts such as these are consistent with USAID’s mission to help developing countries so that they eventually grow out of the need for aid. Continued assistance from the U.S. agency will ensure that millions of children around the world are given the help they need for a better future.

– Feng Ye
Photo: Flickr

The widespread poverty, hunger and disease in Central Africa has consistently resulted in the lowest life expectancy in the world. While the global average of life expectancy has risen by roughly five years in the past two decades, central African countries continue to dwell at the statistical bottom. At a typical life expectancy of 50 years, the global community must increase funding and accountability to ensure that poverty and disease cease their decimation of central African populations.

The central African country of Chad was estimated to have the lowest life expectancy in the world for 2017. Chad is a country of 12 million people, 40 percent of which live below the poverty line. While the country began oil production in the early 2000s, Chad’s poverty rate is expected to continue its rise. In part, this is due to the country’s high mortality rate and low life expectancy. To gauge the ability of the U.S. and other developed nations to help increase Chadians’ average lifespan of only 50.60 years, it is first necessary to examine the causes of death.

Early Deaths

Children in Chad die from all sorts of illnesses, from malaria and respiratory infections to prematurity and diarrhea. Because so few Chadians have access to birth control, as only approximately five percent use contraception, the birth rate in Chad is growing. 43 percent of the population is aged 14 or younger, and that figure is rising. The risk of dying by this young age is 44 percent for boys and 39 for girls, as of 2012.

Furthermore, Chad has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Extreme poverty, poor to no maternal health care and adolescent pregnancy has contributed greatly to the high maternal death rates. In a country with the lowest life expectancy in the world, the extreme poverty rates must decrease and better access to maternal healthcare is essential if the country is to improve.

Diseases

Chad, like many African nations, is no stranger to disease. Lower respiratory diseases, malaria, HIV/AIDS and diarrhoeal infections are dangerously common. Lower respiratory infections alone killed 24,700 people in 2012. The risk factors for falling prey to these diseases are lack of adequate healthcare, a rarity of potable water and the hot and arid climate. As the largest of Africa’s landlocked countries, Chadians are forced to walk long distances for water.

As only 28 percent of the population lives in urban areas, the vast majority of Chadians do not have quick access to necessities such as water and healthcare. As the country with the world’s lowest life expectancy, it is vital that Chad provide better access to these basic human needs to the entirety of its landscape.

The U.S. is in a unique position to provide monetary and medicinal assistance. Maintaining accountability with the Chadian government regarding these resources would be the most effective way to ensure that taxpayer dollars are going to good use and can be reflected by a rising life expectancy for the people of Chad, and all over Central Africa.

– Eric Paulsen

Photo: Flickr

Optimism Improves PerspectiveEvery news report seems to be about a new political scandal, a terrorist attack or some natural disaster. The world feels like it is getting worse, and the uplifting stories on the news appear insignificant compared to the weight of the other issues.

These positive, hopeful stories may seem trivial, even inconsequential compared to the tragedies, death tolls and what seems to be an ever increasing attitude of fear and hatred. However, the good news about bad news is that statistically, there is less of it than ever before, and the good news continues to silently grow. Remembering the good news and maintaining optimism improves perspective when faced with bad situations.

While 2016 has been deemed a “dumpster fire of a year,” the state of the world as a whole is positive. Even with all the political drama and depressing headlines, recent years are also marked by a significant decrease in death from diseases, wars and poverty. In 1999, about 1.7 billion people lived in poverty, which was 28 percent of the population. In 2013, the number was reduced to 767 million, and that number has continued to fall so that less than 10 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty today. In just more than 15 years, the number of people in poverty has declined by almost two-thirds.

There is a great deal of other good news as well. Child mortality is falling rapidly. The number of humans who have died in wars has decreased dramatically since 1945. The so-called Islamic State is weakening and struggling with recruitment. There are significantly fewer bankruptcies. The global economy is growing, leading to the decrease in poverty mentioned above. Literacy rates are going up, and the gender gap is shrinking. The list of good news goes on and on.

There are still many things to be done to improve the world and people’s lives, but the statistics are encouraging. With this good news in mind, why do people tend to focus on the negative headlines? One possible reason is that bad news happens all at once, making it easier to focus on. It is sudden, dramatic and gripping, whereas good news usually happens slowly, working quietly while disasters occupy the public consciousness.

There is also a tendency for people to weigh bad news more heavily than good news. In other words, negative emotions and events feel as though they have more of an effect than positive or neutral emotions and events. Good news seems feeble and meaningless compared to the negative feelings that come with bad news of all sorts. Psychologists call this a negativity bias. Just as optimism improves perspective, this negative, pessimistic attitude can cause a great deal of stress, anxiety and other health issues.

This focus on the negative may have been an evolutionary advantage in the past. As human ancestors fought for survival, bad news in the form of dangers and threats were the focus. Good news was welcome, but it was hardly a priority compared to threatening animals or diseases. These remnants of humanity’s past remain today, and negative events take priority.

Bad news could act as a sort of warning against worse news in the future. It could be an indication that people or societies need to change to avoid further negative events. It is important to draw attention to what is broken in the world so that people can begin to fix it.

Though bad news can be good in the long run, the obsession with bad news is still something to address. Optimism improves perspective, and it has many positive effects. For example, a more optimistic attitude is linked to a longer, more fulfilled life. A positive outlook also decreases stress and helps people cope with difficult situations and bad news.

Optimism has physical, psychological and social benefits, yet an optimistic attitude is easier said than done. Often times a pessimistic attitude can result from existing stress and anxiety, so it is not as simple a matter as suddenly deciding to become an optimist. Studies do support that, while it may not be easy, it is possible for pessimists to become more optimistic. It is likely that children and adults can both become more optimistic and benefit from a more positive attitude.

Bad news seems to be all around us, but it is important to remember the good news as well. Celebrating the victories is just as important as realizing the difficulties that still lay ahead. Everything will not always work out for the better, but optimism improves perspective, especially in depressing and dark situations. Even in difficult times, it is important to remember the good news so that people can continue pushing forward and fight the bad news.

– Rachael Lind

Photo: Flickr

Child Mortality and Maternal Education
The link between child mortality and maternal education is clear: educating mothers directly impacts the health of their babies. Even small improvements in maternal education help to fight child mortality that causes 16,000 deaths each day, primarily in developing countries. This stresses the global need for equality in education- particularly in accounting for the needs of women and mothers who are disproportionately denied educational opportunities around the world.

In 2011, 6.1 million children under the age of five died of preventable causes in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 49% of those deaths were preventable had the mothers of the children received a secondary school education. Even when mothers only acquire a primary school education, they reduce the chances of their children dying from diarrhea by eight percent and malaria by 22%. UNESCO explains that when a baby is born to a literate mother, he or she is 50% more likely to live past five years old.

Many similar figures are available, all with the same key findings: as maternal education increases, child mortality decreases. Malnutrition, lack of immunization, preventable illnesses and birth complications–responsible for millions of premature child deaths around the world every year–are significantly reduced by redirecting the relationship between child mortality and maternal education.

Literacy and education provide mothers with knowledge of sanitation, nutrition, health and safety to better care for their children. For example, literate mothers are more likely to purify water and seek out healthcare if they notice their child getting sick. Mothers who can read and write are 23% more likely than illiterate mothers to acquire the help of a birth attendant, avoiding birthing complications that perpetuate heightened rates of child mortality.

The relationship between child mortality and maternal education represents a global health inequity. Women make up an estimated two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adult population, and 60% of countries do not provide equal access to education for males and females. Child mortality is most common in low income and developing nations.

The World Health Organization explains that there are eleven times more child deaths under the age of five in low-income countries than in high-income countries as of 2015.

This means that equality for all people in access to education is viable as a way to fight poverty and combat child mortality. UNESCO emphasizes that “there are few more dramatic illustrations of the power of education” than its ability to save lives when gender equality is enhanced. The United Nations summarizes that gender equality in education “raises economic productivity, reduces poverty, lowers infant and maternal mortality and helps improve nutritional status and health” emphasizing equality as a necessity for sustainable development.

Improving maternal education remains both a key obstacle and a prospect for fighting these global inequities. The 53% global drop in deaths under the age of five from 1990 to 2015 reiterates that recent advancements successfully decreased child mortality and related issues.

This reaffirms that redirecting the link between child mortality and maternal education to a poverty reduction force is possible. Education is key to such a necessary development for mothers and their children.

Cleo Krejci

Photo: Flickr


Between 1990 and 2015, there was a significant global decrease in child mortality. The number was reduced from nearly 14.2 million deaths in 1990 to just over 7.2 million in 2015. It was only recently, in 2015, that the number of deaths for children under age five dropped below six million.

Around one-third of the world’s nations have reduced their child mortality rates by two-thirds. In another 74 countries, the number has been reduced by one-half.

In a study conducted by the Global Burden of Disease Child and Adolescent Health Collaboration, health in children under the age of 19 in 195 countries was studied and examined. The report defines the most common causes of death for children and compares countries based on the socio-demographic index. The socio-demographic index is a measurement of development and is based on average income, educational attainment and total fertility rate.

Global Efforts at Reducing Child Mortality Rates

So, what has the international community been doing to contribute to the global decrease in child mortality? The world has been focused on implementing and popularizing several health initiatives and strategies. The World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined several of these strategies. These initiatives include ensuring immediate and exclusive breastfeeding as well as medical professional advice during birth and postnatal care. In addition, access to nutritional supplements and educational resources about warning signs in health have become more prevalent. Appropriate provisions for sanitary water and immunizations employed by WHO have also contributed to decreasing child mortality rates.

Many international organizations are partnering up to support the fight against child deaths. A Global Vaccine Action Plan is working toward universal access to immunization by the year 2020. Over 170 countries have signed onto A Promise Renewed, a call for action led by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the governments of Ethiopia, the U.S. and India. The campaign is working to ensure that children are not dying from easily preventable causes.

There is Still Work to be Done

Although the number of child deaths has been reduced significantly, child mortality is still an issue, especially in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the world has not yet reached the levels outlined in the Millennium Development Goals. Countries with lower socio-demographic indexes still suffer disproportionately from child mortality. Experts suggest that this may be due to a historical lack of health development resources and accessibility.

The study from the Global Burden of Disease Child and Adolescent Health Collaboration concluded with a statement that, “timely, robust and comprehensive assessment of disease burden among children and adolescents provides information that is essential to health policy decision making in countries at all points along the spectrum of economic development.” The Collaboration hopes that the data from the study will help the international community to continue fighting child mortality. The global decrease in child mortality has made a positive impact on poverty and health care development, but there is still a ways to go before the Millenium Development Goals are met.

Taylor Elgarten

Photo: Flickr

What is the Global Health Innovation Act?
On Dec. 18, 2015, the Global Health Innovation Act (H.R. 2241) was passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is projected to advance U.S. leadership in global health innovation.

Introduced by Representative Albio Sires, D-NJ, the Global Health Innovation Act aims to strengthen global health research and development programming at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by requiring the agency to submit an annual report to Congress on the development and use of new health technologies in the agency’s programs, projects and activities.

“I am proud to support this legislation, which will help effectively address health needs around the world. As USAID continues to expand its research and development of these technologies, it is important that Congress continue to play its important role of oversight in ensuring the Agency’s investments make clear progress towards its stated goals,” said Sires.

Global health has experienced great progress over the last 50 years. Child mortality rates around the world have declined by 70 percent. In the last two decades alone, 50 million children were saved and people are living 21 years longer on average.

Yet nearly 9 million people are still dying every year from infectious diseases and other health challenges. Current technology alone is inadequate in combating systemic and emerging global health threats. New vaccines, drugs, diagnostics and other health technologies are critical in advancing global health.

The Global Health Innovation Act shines a light on and supports health innovations that are affordable, culturally appropriate, accessible and functional in settings that may have unreliable electricity, lack access to clean water and refrigeration and under-resourced health infrastructures.

The bill is currently in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The Borgen Project is working to build support for this bill and encourages everyone to e-mail their Senators and voice their support for global health innovations.

Rodalyn Guinto

Photo: Flickr

Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative
Only 38% of infants are exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life. Improper and insufficient breastfeeding contributes to nearly 800,000 preventable child fatalities every year. A breastfeeding advocacy initiative would not only challenge the social pariah of the practice but also contribute to the improvement of mothers’ and children’s health worldwide.

Breast milk contains all of the nutrients that babies need in their first six months and has the ability to strengthen a child’s immune system to protect against illness. Breast milk has also increased children’s physical and cognitive development.

The benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond a baby’s health. Mothers who breastfeed reduce their risk of suffering from postpartum hemorrhage, which is a leading cause of death among new mothers. Mothers also find themselves at reduced risk for diabetes and breast cancer.

Why Breastfeeding is No Longer the Norm

So why then are such a small percentage of babies exclusively breastfed? One reason for low breastfeeding rates is the issue’s generally low prioritization by political leaders and policymakers.

Women also feel that breastfeeding is looked down upon in the workplace and the public sphere. For instance, if women cannot find a comfortable place to breastfeed at work, then their child is less likely to receive his or her’s natural source of nutrients. Additionally, there are many companies that sell formula and aggressively market the concoction as being a better alternative to breastfeeding.

To improve breastfeeding statistics, there is a global breastfeeding advocacy initiative underway with support from organizations such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Initiatives focus on educating mothers and communities about the benefits of breastfeeding and supporting policies and programs that spread this message.

In the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau, one in 10 children will die before they reach five years of age. Organizations such as UNICEF and the non-governmental organization CARITAS work tirelessly to improve this statistic, and a fruit of their labor has been the nutrition bungalows that now exist in Guinea-Bissau.

Nutrition Bungalows

At these bungalows, mothers of children under five years old are invited to gather monthly for information sessions. The sessions are often interactive and they focus on promoting health for mothers and children. Mothers can also have their children measured and weighed to ensure that they are meeting developmental milestones.

These nutrition bungalows and all other projects incorporating a global breastfeeding advocacy initiative aim to spread awareness and increase support for exclusive breastfeeding in both the political and social spheres. In doing so, the lives of mothers and children can be saved and their quality of life improved.

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Pixabay