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origami provides access to clean waterPaper for Water is a non-profit organization located in Dallas, Texas that transforms lives through origami practices. In 2011, two sisters, Katherine and Isabelle Adams, ages five and eight years old, discovered that millions of people in the world do not have clean water resources. Furthermore, in impoverished countries, young women often skip school to walk miles in search of clean drinking water. So, the Adams sisters decided to make a difference by handcrafting origami ornaments for donations to build a well for an Ethiopian community. After raising more than $10,000, when their original goal was to raise $500, the Adams sisters established their corporation, Paper for Water. Here is how origami provides access to clean water.

Now, Katherine and Isabelle Adams, ages 14 and 16, work alongside hundreds of volunteers across North Texas. Since 2011, Paper for Water has raised over $2 million, helping fund 200 water projects in numerous countries. Paper for Water has trained over 1,000 people the art of folding origami. It has graced over 48,000 people with access to clean water through implementing water wells in deprived communities.

Paper for Water and Education

Additionally, Paper for Water educates local communities in the global water crisis. There are approximately 2.5 billion cases of diarrhea every year in children less than five years old. Diarrhea accounts for about 760,000 deaths in children under five years old annually. Diarrhea is now the second leading cause of death in children across the world, advancing AIDs, malaria and measles combined. Caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation conditions, diarrhea is one obstacle developing communities across the globe face.

Paper for Water stresses the importance of clean water well building through their past 120 educational talks, which reached 14,000 people. Paper for Water’s informational efforts gained the attention of influential social media platforms, such as Nickelodeon’s HALO Effect, the Kleenex Corporation, Martha Stewart Living, People Magazine and CBS.

Where Paper for Water Does Business

Paper for Water currently sells its origami ornaments on their online store and in some temporary stores as specified online, such as Neiman Marcus and Galleria Dallas. The beautiful, ornate decorations are Paper for Water’s primary source of financial donations. Each profit from an ornament sold goes straight into Paper for Water’s efforts of water well building abroad. So, with each paper folded, with each origami created, Paper for Water provides access to clean water. Nevertheless, Paper for Water relies on monthly donors of $10 a month to help maintain its goal of installing one water well per month.

Paper for Water has partnered with businesses across North Texas, instituting large installations of their elegant crafts. In 2017, Paper for Water constructed 350 origami ornaments for Neiman Marcus’ Christmas Book. This partnership with Neiman Marcus enabled two schools in Kenya to receive water wells. Galleria Dallas and Mo Wax Visual partnered with Paper for Water in 2018, crafting over 4,000 origami butterflies for their “Fold to Flight” display. Galleria Dallas Mall provided Paper for Water with a temporary store during the summer installation. The Crow Museum of Asian Art’s Lotus Shop in Downtown Dallas also installed a Paper for Water exhibit. The magnificent origami piece exhibits a collaborative project with Ekaterina Lukasheva, a famous origami artist.

Current Partnerships and Success

Paper for Water also has partnerships across the United States through its essential volunteer base. Multiple groups of volunteers appear across the nation, consisting of the Well Wishers Group, the Paper Dolls Group, Paper for Water’s Youth Representatives Worldwide, NorthPark Presbyterian Church, Volunteers of All Ages Group and several families and school clubs across America. With the help of volunteers making origami ornaments, the organization can make a difference and administer clean water resources globally.

Paper for Water is transforming lives one piece of paper at a time. Through designing origami pieces, the organization combines art and philanthropy, supplying the world’s thirsty with clean water wells. Paper for Water hopes to end the world water crisis and continues to make and sell origami ornaments every day. Paper for Water’s website provides multiple options to get involved in the cause, from purchasing origami ornaments to learning how to make origami to volunteering or donating monthly. 

– Kacie Frederick 

Photo: Flickr

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

Five Diseases That Thrive in Poor Sanitation
Around 4 billion people in the world lack access to basic sanitation facilities like toilets or latrines and nearly 900 million people still defecate in the open. In addition, USAID estimates that 2.1 billion people currently do not have access to safe drinking water. These dismal conditions pose serious health hazards to the men, women and children living in these communities. Without toilets and latrines to separate human waste from living conditions and water sources, bacteria and virus are easily spread through food, water and direct human contact with waste.

World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4 percent of all deaths worldwide are the result of waterborne diseases like diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio that thrive in unimproved sanitation conditions. This might not sound like a high number, but when considering that these diseases can be relatively easily prevented with inexpensive sanitation and potable water solutions, this percentage sounds absurd. The following list of five waterborne diseases that thrive in poor sanitation provides a glimpse of what is at stake when communities are devoid of proper water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure.

Five Waterborne Diseases that Thrive in Poor Sanitation

  1. Diarrhea causes approximately 480,000 childhood deaths each year. This condition is linked to several viruses, bacteria and protozoans and ultimately depletes a person of water and electrolytes which, for many without oral rehydration solution, leads to death. One of the most important factors in eliminating diarrheal deaths, next to proper sanitation facilities, is handwashing. Something so simple can save lives and stop the cycle of diarrhea.
  2. Cholera is not just a disease from the pages of a history book, it is currently endemic in 51 countries in the world. It is unknown precisely how many deaths are directly the result of this waterborne disease, but WHO estimates that cholera kills from 21,000 to 143, 000 on a yearly basis. Contact with waste from an infected individual either directly or through food and water perpetuates the cycle of infection at an alarming rate. Proper sanitation is currently the first line of defense needed to curb this disease.
  3. Dysentery can be caused by either bacteria or an amoeba and presents an infection of the intestines. Fortunately, dysentery is usually cleared up on its own without treatment. However, this disease can be easily spread throughout communities without a system to separate waste from food and water.
  4. From 11 to 20 million people are infected with typhoid fever every year, causing up to 161,000 deaths on yearly basis. Typhoid fever is a life-threatening infection caused by bacteria Salmonella Typhi through contaminated food or water and sometimes from direct contact with someone who is infected. Unlike many waterborne diseases, antibiotics and new vaccines can provide treatment and limited immunity. Yet, without proper water, sanitation and hygiene typhoid infection will persist and antibiotic-immune typhoid will spread which will make treatment of the disease more complicated.
  5. Polio transmission has significantly decreased over the past 30 years thanks to aggressive, worldwide immunization. Still, the threat of infection continues to spread as a direct result of poor sanitation. Poliovirus is spread when humans come into contact with the virus from human excreta or poliovirus that survives in the wild. Polio is close to being eradicated and providing sanitation to the areas where the disease persists is imperative if the world hopes to one-day be polio-free.

Strategies to Eradicate Waterborne Diseases

Efforts to control these five waterborne diseases that thrive in poor sanitation come from both government and international aid organizations. There is also a concerted effort to implement strategy and resources to address the need for clean water and sanitation.

On the strategy front, a 2013 call to action from the U.N. Deputy Secretary-General on sanitation that included the elimination of open defecation by 2025, the sixth Sustainable Development Goal that aims ensure clean water and sanitation for all as well as numerous global guidelines and action plans for water and waste management set forth by WHO, UNICEF and partners are paving the way for large-scale change.

Meanwhile, in terms of providing resources, some examples include USAID’s country-based programs between 2012 and 2017 that supplied potable water to 12.2 million people worldwide. Numerous companies are partnering with large development organizations to develop their own campaigns or are developing products like LifeStraw, Life Sack and PeePoople that provide immediate potable water and sanitation solutions to millions around the world. These examples, in addition to new vaccines, antibiotics and other disease-specific campaigns are working together to eliminate the threats posed by unimproved sanitation and to eradicate waterborne diseased that are taking the lives of millions of people across the globe.

– Sarah Fodero

Photo: Flickr

Diseases Gates Foundation
According to a journal published in the Gastroenterology Section of the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, enteric and diarrheal diseases are the leading causes of death in young children under five years old. Of this age group, diarrhea occurs approximately 2.5 billion times each year resulting in the fatality of nearly 15 percent. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aspires to eliminate enteric and diarrheal diseases by 2030, including typhoid in children under five by 2035. The World Health Organization (WHO) also reports that diarrheal related illnesses are the leading cause of malnutrition for children under five.

The Gates Foundation is committed to serving and advocating the lives of the world’s poor by improving health care, education and other areas that could dramatically impact the quality of life for billions. The foundation’s goal for this initiative is “We believe that all children — no matter where they live — should not suffer or die from enteric (gastrointestinal) and diarrheal infections.”

Understanding the development of children across the world can help prevent and reverse the issues of growth stunting caused by environmental enteric dysfunctionalities in young children under five. Improving socioeconomic conditions is a crucial component for the Gates Foundation to reduce these illnesses. Children will have better access to health care and treatment, and the improvement in the accessibility of clean and sanitized water and hygiene will help to significantly reduce the likelihood of occurrence.

The Gates Foundation is primarily focused on providing safe, effective and affordable vaccines to children in vulnerable countries where these illnesses are more prevalent. The Gates Foundation also invests in quality research aimed at improving case management and delivering treatment for children in medically vulnerable countries.

Currently, there are safe and effective vaccines available for rotavirus and cholera. WHO recommended that these vaccinations be included in national immunizations. Affordable treatments such as oral rehydration solutions, zinc supplements and antibiotics to treat dysentery could also prevent enteric and diarrheal diseases in young children. Breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life, personal and household hygiene improvements, access to safe and reliable drinking water and improved sanitation help reduce the development of gastrointestinal infections.

Gastrointestinal research is a growing field of study and is beneficial in understanding neurocognitive development and how to support physical growth. Promising opportunities have been made possible through research on gut microbiome, immune system and gut barrier to test and further the development of inventions that seek to prevent and reverse growth stunting.

Although advancements in research are occurring, not nearly enough political attention, adequate funding and thorough research go toward the alleviation of enteric and diarrheal diseases. This is partially due to the fact that the impact of these fatal illnesses has largely gone unnoticed in the international community.

Additionally, the lack of critical information on the pathogens and the environmental factors that cause theses pathogens limit proactive progress toward eliminating these devastating gastrointestinal illnesses.

The good news is that action and awareness can yield a more positive result in fighting against these diseases and essentially lower the number of lives they take.

Haylee M. Gardner

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Malawi
Malawi’s Ministry of Health states that their current overall policies are meant to focus on: “the development of a sound delivery system capable of promoting health, preventing, reducing and curing diseases, protecting life and fostering general well-being and increased productivity.” In recent years, the country has made substantial advancements in the field of medicine in terms of addressing their most pressing health issues, namely the top diseases in Malawi.

Infant and child mortality have been declining, and HIV rates among citizens have begun to level out. Despite having made progress, Malawi continues to be characterized by the burden of high infectious disease rates. The average life expectancy of a person living in Malawi is 57 years for males, and 58 years for females, making it the country with the twentieth lowest life expectancy in the world. However, the five top diseases in Malawi are all either preventable or treatable with basic medical care.

HIV/AIDS: 27% of deaths

Malawi is making impressive strides in combating their HIV epidemic, specifically in the prevention of mother to child transmission of the disease. However, Malawi’s HIV presence is still one of the highest in the world. It is home to roughly four percent of all people with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa.

As of 2015, 10.3% of the population was living with HIV or AIDS; 9.3% of these people were between the ages of 15 and 49 years. That averages to around 980,000 people. The disease disproportionately affects females in Malawi, with an average of 4.5% of young females, and 2.7% of young men from 15 to 24 years living with HIV.

It is estimated that only 61% of all infected adults are on antiretroviral treatment. This epidemic, which killed 48,000 people in 2013 alone, is largely responsible for Malawi’s low life expectancy of 57.5 years.

Lower Respiratory Infections: nine percent of deaths

Lower respiratory problems have topped the charts as a reason for hospital admission in Malawi prior to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Lower respiratory infections cover everything from pneumonia to bronchitis, and Malawi has seen an increase in these infections particularly in its citizens with the HIV virus.

Pneumonia is the single biggest killer of children in Malawi, prematurely ending the lives of an estimated 1,000 infants in 2010 alone.

Malaria: six percent of deaths

Despite progress, malaria continues to be one of the top diseases in Malawi. Malaria is responsible for nearly 40% of hospitalizations in children under the age of 5, 30% of all outpatient visits and is one of the highest causes of mortality in all age groups.

Transmission of the disease occurs mostly from November to April, during Malawi’s rainy season. However, with global support, the Ministry of Health’s National Malaria Control Program in Malawi has been able to distribute treatment more easily throughout the population.

Since efforts were put in place in 2004, the mortality rate for children 5 years and younger has fallen by more than 36%. This is largely due to Malawi introducing the pneumococcal vaccine as part of routine childhood vaccination in November 2011, and the additional rotavirus vaccine in October 2012. Malawi is one of the four countries in the African Region that offers these vaccinations.

Diarrheal Disease: five percent of deaths

Diarrheal disease poses a serious threat, particularly to 5% of the children of Malawi, as it claims nearly 600 lives of Malawian children per year. Support from such initiatives as the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the GAVI Alliance has given us an opportunity to offer those in Malawi protection from diarrheal diseases.

More lives could be saved through basic interventions, such as improving drinking water, increasing sanitation efforts and distributing a simple solution of oral rehydration salts and zinc supplements during bouts of diarrhea.

Perinatal Conditions: three percent of deaths

Perinatal conditions are any conditions existing in a baby before or immediately after birth. These conditions often stem from preexisting conditions in the mother, and are more easily prevented than treated. Solutions posed for this problem include better sex education for women, easier access to contraceptives — only 41% of Malawian women showed an understanding of preventative measures for sexually transmitted diseases in 2015 — and more accessible treatments for diseases such as HIV and malaria.

Currently, Malawi faces problems in addressing many of their health issues with regard to domestic funding and external stigma against the country. However, Malawi is committed to addressing the challenges of the top diseases in Malawi at the national level with cooperation and innovation in order to have a lasting impact.

Kayla Provencher

Photo: Flickr

clean_the_world
On average, 1.8 million people per year die from diarrhea-related diseases. Diarrhea ranks third as the leading cause of death among infection-related diseases just after respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS. Fifteen countries make up 70% of this number: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Uganda and Kenya. Approximately 2.5 million children around the world become sick because of diarrhea-related infections, with many of these children being younger than 5-years-old.

Many of these victims reside in Sub-Saharan Africa, where diarrhea-related deaths rank higher than deaths due to malaria, HIV/AIDS and measles combined. Along with death, diarrheal diseases contribute to stunted growth, malnutrition, increased healthcare costs and the inability to work or attend school.

Clean the World was created to help decrease the number of deaths caused by diarrheal diseases by collecting toiletries and other supplies for communities whose residents fall victim to poor hygiene. Clean the World was founded by Shawn Seipler, who seeks to revolutionize hygiene all over the world. The organization collects unused hotel soaps, discarded plastic bottles and other toiletries for communities living in poverty globally.

The collection process operates in three steps: hotels and other hospitality units register their hotel, Clean the World sends them collection bins so the hotels can begin collecting unused soap and plastic bottles and lastly, the hotels ship their collections when the bins are halfway full.

Staff and volunteers sort through discarded toiletries received through donations to decide which are viable to send to communities. They also request donations from manufacturers who send the donation to their facilities in Orlando, Las Vegas or Hong Kong. At these facilities, the outer layers of bars of soap are scraped off and what is remaining is grounded down to small bits and power-washed. The bits are then mixed with glycerin and other substances to form a new bar of soap.

The donations are then distributed to regions all over the world including Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and at-risk communities in North America.

In an article by The Huffington Post, “Buy One, Give One” companies are on the rise, including Clean the World. Like Clean the World, these organizations work with other organizations and corporations to provide donations to a cause. Clean the World has recently merged with the Global Soap Project to increase the number of communities to which they distribute donations.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Huffington Post, Recycle Nation,  Clean the World
Photo: Vegas Magazine

infectious diseases
Out of the eight Millennium Development Goals agreed upon by the U.N., three of them are dedicated to resolving serious health issues: child and maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Despite progress made in each of these goals over the past 14 years, reducing the child mortality rate has proven to be one of the most difficult goals to achieve.

Every year, more than six million children die before they reach their fifth birthday due to preventable infectious diseases according to the U.N. In a recent report, USAID revealed that the following three diseases are the greatest contributors to that statistic:

1. Pneumonia is the cause of approximately 17 percent of deaths in children under the age of five. Especially among infants, pneumonia is a serious lung infection. Pneumonia causes more deaths in children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined according to UNICEF.

2. Diarrhea is the second most deadly condition for children under five, causing nine percent of deaths. Compared to adults, children are particularly susceptible to diarrhea because a greater proportion of their bodyweight is made up of water. Even though it is such a dangerous condition for children, only 44 percent of children in developing countries suffering with diarrhea actually receive treatment according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

3. Malaria closely follows diarrhea, causing about seven percent of all child deaths. Even though malaria is easily spread through a mosquito bite, this disease can be just as easily prevented through insecticide-treated mosquito nets and effective antibiotics. Although 1.1 million deaths caused by malaria have been averted since the start of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals in 2000, malaria is still a major health issue in developing countries.

Pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria together account for about a third of all child deaths globally. The symptoms and effects of all of these diseases can become severe if the infected person is malnourished or does not receive the proper necessary treatment. As a result, these three diseases are all the more rampant in developing countries.

Similarly to the U.N.’s goal to reduce the child mortality rate by two-thirds, staff members of both WHO and UNICEF worked together to create the Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD). This integrated plan seeks to end child deaths caused by these two preventable diseases by 2025. The GAPPD will also combine the practices for  treating both pneumonia and diarrhea since the causes and treatment for these two diseases are inter-related.

Global poverty is directly related to the spread of infectious diseases in developing countries. This is why The Borgen Project along with so many other organizations work to decrease the multi-layered issue of poverty across the globe.

– Meghan Orner

Sources: Daily Times, WebMDWorld Health Organization, World Health Organization
Photo: UNICEF

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