Posts

Life Expectancy in Macedonia
North Macedonia is a landlocked country in the Balkan Peninsula, home to 2.074 million people. Macedonia has struggled with poverty for many years, and while some problems still linger, citizens have been making great leaps in technology, security and medicine to increase the country’s average life expectancy.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Macedonia

  1. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, the average life expectancy in Macedonia is 75.9 years. In 2018, males lived an average of 73.8 years while females lived for around 78.2 years.
  2. In 2015, 21.5 percent of all Macedonians lived below the poverty line. Poverty has a direct link to life expectancy and one can see this all around the globe, even in the United States. In 2018, The Independent reported that U.S. citizens living below the poverty line died almost 10 years younger than the rich and found that those living in poor sectors showed a higher death rate due to illness.
  3. The main causes of death in Macedonia are stroke and heart disease, with strokes causing 23.3 percent of deaths and heart disease causing 20.5 percent of deaths in 2010. This is an almost 10 percent rise from the rate in 1990 when there was a 16.6 percent mortality rate for stroke and a 14.8 percent mortality rate for heart disease. In recent years, the Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) and other health organizations have been providing free screenings to determine a patient’s risk of stroke and established four stroke units around the country in order to combat this epidemic.
  4. Deaths due to tuberculosis have decreased to less than 20 percent of the rate in 2000, dropping from five out of 100,000 citizens to one out of 100,000 citizens. The World Health Organization also reported an 88 percent success rate in tuberculosis treatment in 2016. This change is due to more efforts to provide necessary medication to those afflicted and is likely responsible for the increase of the average lifespan of Macedonian citizens.
  5. In 2018, there was a 12 percent increase in murders, a 21 percent increase in attempted murders and a 31 percent increase in acts of violence, according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council. Poverty and crime correlate, so it is likely that Macedonia’s poverty rate and crime rate are connected. While there have been improvements in quality of life, a rising crime rate, especially in violent crimes, may cause an unnecessary drop in the average Macedonian’s lifespan.
  6. UNAIDS reports that the amount of people living with HIV in Macedonia has increased from around 250 in 2013 to more than 500 in 2019. As the number of people living with HIV has increased, UNAIDS has been making efforts to increase treatment. Starting in 2010, UNAIDS has implemented antiretroviral therapy to more and more citizens as the rate of affliction has risen. Due to these efforts, UNAIDS treated over 50 percent of the afflicted population in 2018, and the amount of AIDS-related deaths per year remains under 100 to this day.
  7. Macedonia suffers from heavily polluted air. In 2018, Macedonia’s two biggest cities, Tetovo and Skopje, reported air pollution indexes of 95.57 and 83.53 respectively. In contrast, New York’s air quality index stagnates between 40-45. Macedonia’s heavily polluted air has unquestionably affected the health of its residents, causing 1,469 deaths due to respiratory illness between 2015 and 2016. Recently, people like Gorjan Jovanovski have made great strides, who is a resident of Macedonia and developed an app to protect people from the densely polluted air. Jovanovski’s app draws information from air quality measuring stations around Macedonia and reports the air quality of the users’ general area based on readings from the nearest station.
  8. The CIA reports that people use North Macedonia as a hotspot for illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine to pass through from Asia and Europe. The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported that Macedonia suffered 14 drug-related deaths in 2011 and 18 in 2012. Reports also say that there were 47 cases of drug-related infectious diseases between 1987 and 2004. These diseases and deaths could be a strain on the average life expectancy in Macedonia.
  9. In 1990, UNICEF reported that the infant mortality rate in Macedonia was 36.7 deaths per 1,000 lives births, usually due to preventable diseases or injuries. In 2019, the rate is only 13.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. This steep drop in child mortality is due to the implementation of more in-depth medical practices. In 2017, 93 percent of children that supposedly had pneumonia went to a health care provider, 91 percent of all infants received three doses of DTP vaccine and 97 percent of children received a second dose of the measles vaccine.
  10. Unclean water has a direct link to the health and life expectancy of those who drink it. UNICEF estimated that, globally, 2,000 children die due to diseases that spread through unclean water sources. In 2013, the World Health Organization began an initiative to improve Macedonia’s drinking water and sanitation, after reporting that the country was disposing of most of its wastewater into its rivers and lakes. In 2015, North Macedonia reported that 99.4 percent of its citizens had access to clean drinking water.

Altogether, life expectancy in Macedonia is well within the world average. While there are still changes that the country could make, the quality of life has only gotten better in recent years. Macedonians have clean drinking water, few deaths due to AIDS and some citizens are even working to combat the pollution in the air to provide a better future for them and their country.

Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Niger

Life expectancy rates measure the overall mortality of a country in a given year, a statistic affected by countries’ poverty rates. There is a correlation between poor health and poverty that implies those in better socioeconomic classes will live longer, healthier lives than those in lower classes. With a poverty rate of approximately 44.1 percent in 2017, Niger, a landlocked country in Africa also has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the world. Below are 10 facts about life expectancy in Niger, which explain the challenges the government faces to improve quality of life and the efforts being taken to prevent premature deaths.

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Niger

  1. In 2016, the global life expectancy rate was 72.0 years old and on average, women were expected to live to 74.2 years old while the rate for men was slightly lower at 69.8 years old. A 2018 estimate by the CIA estimates the average life expectancy rate in Niger was 56.3 years old. The rate for women was 57.7 years while men on average lived until 55.0 years old.
  2. One of the biggest factors affecting Niger’s stagnant poverty rates is their increasingly growing population rate. With a 3.16 percent growth rate, Niger has the seventh fastest-growing population in the world. The people of Niger lack adequate resources to feed and shelter the constantly increasing population only exacerbating the mortality rate.
  3. In 2017, the UN ranked Niger as the second least developed country in the world due to their reliance on agriculture. The majority of the population, 87 percent, depends on agriculture including subsidized farming and domestic livestock as their primary means of income. Nearly half of the population of Niger falls below the poverty line a consequence of the limited job opportunities and lack of industry.
  4. In 2017, Niger ranked 189th out of 189 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), a scale that ranks countries based on three factors: health, knowledge and quality of life. The health factor is determined by the life expectancy at birth while knowledge is determined by the average rate of schooling for citizens and quality of life is measured by the gross national income. Although this index does not account for poverty levels, socioeconomic inequality or human security, Niger’s low ranking depicts a country struggling with healthcare, education and economic prosperity.
  5. The top three leading causes of death in Niger in 2017 were malaria, diarrheal diseases and lower respiratory infections. Comparatively, in the United States, the leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer and accidents. The leading causes of death in the United States are noncontagious and in the case of accidentals, unavoidable. However, both malaria and diarrheal diseases are treatable and communicable conditions that could be prevented with proper healthcare.
  6. Located between three deserts, Niger is one of the hottest countries in the world with a very dry climate. This extreme climate creates inconsistent rainfall patterns, which leads to long periods of drought and widespread famine. Groundwater, the only option for clean water, is often contaminated in wells or kilometers away. As a result, only 56 percent of the population has access to drinking water while 13 percent of the population uses proper sanitation practices.
  7. The people of Niger lack education about proper health practices with 71 percent of people practicing open defecation while 17 million people do not have a proper toilet. The lack of proper disposal for fecal matter affects access to clean drinking water by contaminating hand-dug wells meant to provide clean water to entire villages. This improper sanitation, contaminated water and insufficient hygiene contribute to diarrhea-associated deaths in Niger.
  8. In partnership with European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), UNICEF Niger successfully advocated for the expansion of the national seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaign and the inclusion of malnutrition screening in the country. In 2016, the malaria chemoprevention campaign helped 2.23 million children between three and 59 months suffering from malaria. Also, the incorporation of malnutrition screening contributed to an 11 percent decrease in the number of children with severe acute malnutrition in 2016.
  9. Doctors Without Borders has recognized the need for malaria and malnutrition care in Niger, especially during peak drought seasons. In 2018, Doctors Without Borders treated 173,200 patients for malaria, placed 42,300 people into feeding treatment centers and admitted 86,300 people to hospitals for malaria and malnutrition treatment.
  10. A UNICEF funded branch of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program is active in Niger and fighting to increase access to clean water and sanitation facilities to combat open defecation and poor hygiene. Currently, UNICEF is modeling a WASH-approach in 14 municipalities within three regions of Niger with the intent of opening new facilities, strengthening water pipe systems and managing water supply networks.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Niger depict a country attempting to improve the quality of life for its people despite social and environmental challenges. Slowly, with help from humanitarian organizations and nonprofits, the life expectancy in Niger will continue to improve.

Hayley Jellison
Photo: Flickr

 

Evan McMullin
Former GOP adviser Evan McMullin announced his bid for the presidency in August. McMullin, an Independent, has an impressive resume and has proved himself to be an advocate for refugees.

McMullin served as a CIA operative in Africa, the Middle East and Asia for over 10 years. He also worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and a policy director for the House Republican Conference, where he pushed an agenda spotlighting international affairs, homeland security and gender equality.

McMullin is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He speaks Arabic and holds both a master’s degree in business administration from the Wharton School of Business and a bachelor’s degree in international law and diplomacy from Brigham Young University.

Most remarkable, however, is the 40-year-old Utah native’s special interest in helping refugees. To begin his career, McMullin volunteered as a U.N. refugee resettlement officer in Jordan’s capital Amman, evaluating and relocating Syrian refugees displaced by civil war.

Years after completing his work for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), he still feels strongly about the plight of asylum seekers. During a January GOP Debate, McMullin reaffirmed himself as an advocate for refugees by tweeting, “People who talk tough about ISIS, but then spend all of their time attacking refugees, know little about keeping America safe.”

Evan McMullin further demonstrated his concern for those affected by war when he gave a TedX talk at the London School of Business in May. His speech focused on the crisis in Syria and the atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. During the lecture, McMullin recalled his time with the UNHCR, saying it “left him with a deep sympathy for the world’s most vulnerable people.”

In July 2014, feeling “compelled to help,” he persuaded a Syrian refugee to testify before Congress and expose the Assad administration’s brutalities. The refugee was a double-agent, a government employee turned spy for the Syrian opposition, who was forced to fake his own death to avoid being discovered by Assad. As an asylum seeker himself, he pleaded with Congress to take action against Syria’s war crimes.

Evan McMullin believes that while governments condemn political violence, they lack the willpower to end genocide. He hopes to raise awareness about refugees and the factors that drive them to flee, such as government-sponsored civilian killings.

In light of this information, what would a McMullin White House look like? As an activist, international relations expert and advocate for refugees, perhaps McMullin could instill a greater sense of humanitarianism into foreign policy and strengthen the U.S. as a global leader. According to McMullin, “the world’s humanity depends on it.”

Kristina Evans

Photo: New Republic

CIA_vaccinations
The CIA has chosen to end vaccination programs after violent outbursts were directed at federal agents in Pakistan. American-led public health efforts in the Middle East have been met with widespread suspicion after the agency commissioned fake vaccination drives to help discern the whereabouts of bin Laden.

Although this tactic ultimately failed to assist the manhunt in any fashion, Pakistanis have publicly rebuked the CIA’s continued involvement with public health initiatives in the country. The doctor who collected DNA from this ruse operation was indicted and has been sentenced to 33 years in a Pakistan prison.

The controversy surrounding CIA vaccinations in Pakistan is compounded by the persistent prevalence of polio in the country. Sixty-six cases of the debilitating virus have been identified since the beginning of 2014. This marks a disconcerting increase from last year, when only six new cases were reported around this time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has publicly welcomed the end of CIA vaccinations in Pakistan, insisting that all health initiatives are compromised when the U.S. engages in these types of missions.  WHO hopes greater transparency and legitimacy from Western NGOs will forge a lasting trust between local populations and foreign doctors.

“This reassurance is coming at the right time and we sincerely hope this will contribute toward reaching the children,” Zubair Mufti of WHO told BBC. “Public health programs should only be focused toward providing health to the people and not collateral things.”

Even the White House conceded the fake vaccination drives did more harm than good.

“While political and security agendas may by necessity induce collateral damage, we as a society set boundaries on these damages, and we believe this sham vaccination campaign exceeded those damages.”

Taliban leaders have also applauded this decision. The terrorist organization banned all associated community members, including women and children, from taking part in any vaccination program two years ago. World health leaders like Mufti are hopeful the prohibition will be lifted soon after this announcement, as he believes this would be a vital first step toward eradicating polio in the Middle East.

However, other substantial obstacles complicate the mission to achieve universal vaccination. Despite hundreds of studies disproving any correlation between vaccinations and reduced mental capacity, many citizens of developing and developed nations alike continue to believe these shots lead to mental deficiencies later in life. In addition, it may prove especially difficult to convince Middle Eastern communities of the legitimacy of current vaccination platforms after the CIA admitted to the botched program to track down bin Laden.

Yet, this decision appears to be an important first step toward eradicating the acute, debilitating virus that can result in paralysis.  Although the world is a ways away from achieving universal vaccination and eradicating polio altogether, Pakistan is certainly a great place to start.

– Sam Preston

Sources: BBC, FOX, NY Times
Photo: Humanosphere

human_rights
In a report released by the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), the United States was found to be in violation of previously established human rights law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was placed into effect in the mid-1970s as international law and the U.S. has failed to uphold it with practices including torture in Guantanamo Bay, drone strikes and massive surveillance practices.

The U.S. has already broken United Nations charters multiple times with military interventions in the Middle East.

Bulk data collection however, has become one of the major domestic human rights violations following Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing of the NSA program. The UNHRC urged the U.S. to remove their surveillance program, as it is a major violation of the right to privacy.

Moreover, the surveillance spotlight in the U.S. is not limited to the NSA. The UN Congressional Intelligence Committees have addressed surveillance by executive agencies in the past, but have failed to produce any action—until just recently.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, tasked with overseeing intelligence agencies in the executive branch such as the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, have made allegations that the CIA spied on computers that the committee had used. The allegations have thus sparked ongoing conflict between the two branches of government and human rights advocates are stepping into the ring.

A 6,300 page long Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA “enhanced interrogation” program is waiting to be voted on for release. The report covers highly controversial interrogation tactics and is expected to be sent to President Barack Obama’s desk for approval to be publicly released. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has also said there is currently enough support for the vote to pass; however, the official vote is set to occur later in the week.

Concerning the release of the controversial report, President Barack Obama stated, “I would urge them to go ahead and complete the report and send it to us, and we will declassify those findings so that the American people can understand what happened in the past.”

– Jugal Patel

Sources: Politico, The Huffington Post, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Washington Post
Photo: Popular Resistance