Indonesia Facing Diseases
Humans struggle with diseases all around the world, but they become much more life threatening in impoverished countries. As a tropical country, Indonesia facing diseases is paramount in the attempt to improve development.

In Java, Indonesia there is a resurgence of diphtheria in children, mainly due to parents’ resistance to vaccinating their children. Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis), polio and bird flu have all taken a great toll on Indonesia and its inhabitants. These diseases in Indonesia not only affect individuals’ lives, but also negatively impact Indonesia’s social and economic development. In order to control infectious diseases, the government must be able to implement effective interventions.

For bird flu specifically, all suspected infected poultry must be reported and then killed. The government has been very inconsistent in applying this rule but must take action if it wants to eliminate bird flu. Many farmers hide their flocks in fear of having their birds killed; the farmers care more about their loss of livelihood than the spread of disease.

In the peer-reviewed journal, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases stated that Indonesia has some of the world’s highest concentrations of tropical diseases, holding back Indonesia’s emerging market status. High rates of disease are commonly found in low-income countries due to poor economic growth. However, Indonesia has experienced economic growth at an average of 6 percent over the recent years and its middle class is projected to double in size over the next decade.

Indonesia is the only country in Southeast Asia with prevalent schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease prevalent in communities deprived of potable water or sufficient sanitation. Adding to that, almost 10 percent of the world’s leprosy cases are in Indonesia. Additionally, the World Health Organization is cautioning individuals about the emerging threat from dengue fever in Indonesia, which Indonesia is already spending a lot of money on — 323 million in 2010.

If Indonesia does not implement better controls to reduce these diseases, their future growth and economic gains could easily be thwarted, mainly due to the country’s negative impact on child development, labor and health.

In order to start controlling these infectious diseases USAID and other NGOs are working to improve health efforts in Indonesia. USAID currently has programs in both maternal and child health, infectious diseases (TB, HIV/AIDS), pandemic threats, neglected tropical diseases as well as water and sanitation issues.

To control infectious diseases USAID is partnering with Indonesia’s National TB Program to help treat and combat the disease for Indonesia’s future. One big step that was made was in 2012 when USAID introduced GeneXpert technology, which diagnoses multi-drug resistant TB in hours instead of months; this act alone has helped save countless lives. For HIV and AIDS, USAID is providing technical support to the Ministry of Health (MOH) to hasten prevention measures being used by the Indonesian individuals.

Lastly, Indonesia facing diseases has caused pandemic threats to the country. USAID has been engaging in a multitude of actions to stop these outbreaks. Along with plenty other assistance, USAID helps the Indonesian government identify and respond to risks as quickly as possible, in addition to increasing access to safe water and sanitation efforts.

Clearly, USAID and other public-health measures have made some progress. A recent study indicates that if it wants to keep the growth train running, Indonesia facing diseases will need to step up its outreach to better eliminate disease, which USAID has started. Hopefully, these positive impacts will end disease in Indonesia soon.

Bella Chaffey

Photo: Flickr

he Top Diseases in Germany and Poverty's Effects on Health

Even the most prosperous countries struggle to combat epidemics, which often disproportionately affect the poor. The top diseases in Germany, where poverty is on the rise despite a growing economy, are heart and lung diseases.

Top Diseases in Germany: Facts and Figures

Although the prevalence of ischemic heart disease dropped by 8.2% from 2005-2015, it remains the leading cause of premature death in Germany, closely followed by lung cancer, which has risen by 3.6% in as many years.

Studies by the German Health Update (GEDA) support a correlation between poverty and disease, and more specifically, heart and lung disease. Women at risk of poverty statistically experience more bronchial asthma and higher blood lipid levels, which can lead to cardiac disease, than their high-income counterparts. Likewise, low-income men proved more susceptible to heart problems, among other ailments, than high-income men of the same age group.

The obvious question is why? Low-income Germans engage in more health-risk behavior than the upper-class. GEDA finds that men and women who are at-risk-of-poverty are 1.3 times more likely to smoke than those with high-incomes, and due to a lack of exercise and a higher consumption of budget foods like potatoes, white bread and sausages, the ratio of obesity for low-income to high-income women is 3.3 to 1, and for men 1.6 to 1.

But can this health disparity really be reduced to the habitual differences between Germany’s rich and the poor? The GEDA study also attributes increased disease incidence among the poor to psychosocial stress. Experiences of exclusion, social comparison and anxieties about the future, all of which are more common to the impoverished, cause health-impairing stress, which insufficient social support exacerbates.

In an interview with the Foreign Policy Group in February 2016, a low-income woman named Heike Wagner explains, “If you don’t have any money [in Berlin], it’s really hard to be part of the group. Going to a bar, to the movies, you can’t do it…If you have friends with a good job, it’s tough to keep up those friendships.” In addition to the inaccessibility of healthy foods, the absence of physical recreation, the prominence of dangerous habits and the general stress of financial insecurity, social isolation deteriorates the health of Germany’s poor.

Because of the tight entanglement of income and health, combatting poverty ought to further the cause of disease prevention. With poverty “at its highest level in Germany since reunification 25 years ago,” political efforts to protect citizens’ health are crucial.

Programs Designed to Reduce Disease and Poverty

Among several efforts to reduce the top diseases in Germany across all economic backgrounds, the Federal Center for Health Education coordinates the Health Promotion for the Socially Disadvantaged network. Meanwhile, Federal Health Reporting continuously monitors and publishes data on the link between poverty and health to educate the public and inspire political change.

The German Heart Foundation (GHF) sponsors school programs which aim to impart preventative habits early in life. Skipping Hearts teaches children rope skipping and educates them about their hearts’ reactions to exercise and diet. GHF also brings the European Non-Smoking Project’s “Be Smart — Do Not Start” program into German schools.

Every November, GHF hosts a national campaign called Heart Weeks to inform the public about heart health. Cardiologists and heart health professionals give more than 1,200 seminars in hospitals and clinics across Germany.

Additionally, the National Action Plan, IN FORM, spreads awareness about nutrition, physical activity and well-being to encourage citizens to adopt healthy lifestyles. The program began in 2008 and is set to conclude in 2020.

Robin Lee

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in HaitiThe water quality in Haiti is in desperate need of improvement. The World Bank hopes to increase access to clean water because “[it] not only saves lives, but [it] also [helps] reduce poverty and improve the livelihood opportunities of these communities,”  reports Mary Barton-Dock of the World Bank Special Envoy.

The lack of proper sanitation and unsafe water quality in Haiti fosters the spread of disease. For example, a cholera epidemic ensued after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and 8,700 lives have been lost since. Although diagnosed cases of cholera have decreased, heavy rains in the early months of 2015 brought a surge of new cases.

Stand pipes or water points with hand pumps are the main systems used for water transportation in Haiti. Due to lack of funding, many of these water systems are no longer in service. Thankfully, the World Bank found a way to improve the situation by funding a program located in the southern region of Haiti. This global organization built professional operators whose main purpose is to maintain many of the water supply systems.

Over 60,000 people have benefited from these system improvements. The program also helped train community health workers and medical personnel, as well as strengthening the country by making it more self-sustaining.

The Board of Directors of the World Bank also authorized a $50 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA). “The Sustainable Rural and Small Towns Water and Sanitation project aims to save lives by preventing cholera and waterborne diseases in high prevalence zones, and strengthen the capacity of local agencies to deliver water and sanitation services in rural areas and small towns.” This grant will help nearly 300,000 people gain access to potable water and proper sanitation.

This project will also be linked to a ten-year, government-supported Cholera Elimination Plan. This long-term plan will save thousands of Haitian kids from waterborne, disease-related deaths. Benito Dumay, the Director General of the National Water and Sanitation Directorate, understands how essential healthy water quality is for Haiti, and is determined for the project to succeed.

Water is a catalyst for life, and now thousands of Haitians will be able to access this life-saving liquid for the first time. The World Bank reached out to the U.N., the U.N.’s development partners and the Haitian Government to collectively discuss the financing gap and what they learned about fighting cholera.

The Borgen Project has also done a great deal of work at the political level when it comes to advocating for clean water and sanitation. This nonprofit helped build support for the Water for the World Act. The organization also met with hundreds of Congressional offices, equating to 410 meetings, to discuss activism regarding water-quality programs.

Between 2009 and 2014, The Borgen Project helped mobilize thousands of Americans to email and call their congressional leaders in support of the Water for the World legislation. The bill was passed in December 2014, and millions of people gained first-time access to potable water and appropriate sanitation.

As numerous organizations fight the battle for water quality in Haiti and around the world, their tremendous progress makes the future of water quality that much clearer.

Terry J. Halloran

Photo: Flickr

Global_FundOne lesson that health care workers and medical teams learned from the Ebola crisis in Africa was “that disease prevention should not be held back by lack of money at a critical juncture when a relatively modest, strategic investment could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars further down the line.” That is why a $2 billion global fund has been proposed to create and research vaccines for priority killer diseases such as West Nile Virus, Ebola and MERS.

The point is to invest money upfront to have these vaccines ready when outbreaks occur. People could be vaccinated before the outbreak became extremely critical in the case of the recent Ebola crisis. Thousands of lives would be saved, as well millions of dollars. The Ebola case is reported to have cost $8 billion, if not more, in an attempt to control the spread. If vaccines had been readily available at the outbreak, then millions could have been saved from treating and burying victims.

The global fund would pay for the production of the vaccine as well as early and mid-stage testing of the vaccine. Thus, the money would close an existing gap between research done at universities and large-scale clinical trials that take vaccines to the market. In the case of Ebola, several successful vaccines showed positive signs in animal testings. If the funds had been in place at the beginning of the outbreak, testing could have been moved to initial human field-testing and vaccines would have been available to stop Ebola.

The $2 billion would come from governments, foundations, pharmaceutical industry and any other industries willing to donate. In return, the donors would sit on a panel with scientists to determine which proposals for vaccines to fund.

Any vaccine project is welcome to apply for financial aid, as it costs about $500 million or more to develop one vaccine. This is a chance for vaccines for diseases not targeted by governments, the World Health Organization or the U.N. to get funding for developing cures. This also provides the chance for older vaccines to be updated and become more effective.

Katherine Hewitt

Sources: Reuters, CIDRAP
Photo: Flickr

While the upcoming years will likely see more and more impoverished people in possession of clean water, a new worry that already affects those inhabiting developed countries may arise: the effects of water filtration upon massive new quantities of people. Raw water from rivers, lakes and groundwater contains microorganisms. Some microorganisms, though not all, can be harmful to human health.

One such treatment to cleanse raw water of microorganisms is to implement chlorination, a disinfecting process that allows water to be publicly consumable, through the addition of chlorine to potential drinking water. Chlorine, therefore, is a water purifier. Though used in World War I and in the Iraq War as a chemical weapon, it is a common ingredient found in bleach and disinfectants. It is also an oxidant. While chlorination can help to destroy bacteria and viruses, it cannot eliminate all microbes from raw water. It is, however, one of the most popular and cost-effective measures among various water disinfection methods.

Yet, even minimal levels of chlorine found in drinking water can have adverse effects upon consumers. Unlike the more immediate and pronounced effects of malaria, typhoid, cholera, dysentery and other water-related diseases, water filtration can produce more subtle ailments. Bacteria contributing to Legionnaires’ disease, Pontiac fever, nontuberculous mycobacteria and other organisms can survive chlorination. In fact, mycobacteria can harm the lungs of those with compromised immune systems. The oxidant can also pose health risks by interacting with natural materials in water to form potentially dangerous byproducts. Evidence suggests that an increased risk of bladder cancer may be associated with an active consumption of chlorinated tap water. Though not as immediate as many of the diseases that plague developing countries, filtration imposes concern, due to its documented long-term health effects. Unlike common water-related diseases, chlorine-related health problems are harder to detect.

According to a UN estimate, nearly 40 billion hours are wasted each year in Sub-Saharan Africa collecting water. Such is a number equivalent to a year’s work of France’s entire workforce. Today, developing countries continue to see nearly 80 percent of illnesses related to inadequate water and sanitation. The World Health Organization, one of the leaders in educating and providing aid to water-impoverished nations, states that one of its primary beliefs is that “all people, whatever their stage of development and their social and economic conditions, have the right to have access to an adequate supply of safe drinking water.” Nevertheless, as global efforts continue to eradicate the water problem in developing countries, scientists, humanitarians and the public may have to face the prospect of third-world countries encountering a first-world problem.

– Ethan Safran

Sources: AllAfrica, EPA, WHO, New York Times, Safewater, The Water Project
Photo: Red Orbit

poverty in india
According to the World Bank, India is one of the poorest countries in the world. Some of the main issues responsible for widespread poverty in India are poor health services, child malnutrition and inadequate education and training. Almost half of India’s population drops out of school by the age of 13 and only one in 10 people receive some form of  job training.


Top 10 facts about Poverty in India

1. India is estimated to have one-third of the world’s poor.
2. In 2012, 37 percent of India’s 1.21 billion people fell below the international poverty line, which is $1.25 a day, according to the Indian Planning Commission.
3. According to 2010 World Bank data, India’s labor participation rate (for those individuals over the age of 15) totaled 55.6 percent; however, the percent of wage and salaried workers of those employed only equaled about 18.1 percent.
4. According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that 98,000 people in India die from diarrhea each year. The lack of adequate sanitation, nutrition and safe water has significant negative health impacts.
5. Families can’t grow enough crops to feed themselves each year due to the lack of new farming techniques, difficult weather conditions, poor storage conditions, misuse of insecticides and lack of water.
6. A third of the world’s malnourished children live in India according to UNICEF, where “46 percent of all children below the age of three are too small for their age, 47 percent are underweight and at least 16 percent are wasted.”
7. India has the highest rate of child marriage in the world, where one in three girls become child brides. Many girls are married off at an early age, become servants or even prostitutes just to survive.
8. The poorest parts of India are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal.
9. According to the World Bank, in 2009 an estimated 2.4 million were living with HIV/AIDS, with children (less than 15-years-old) accounting for 3.5 percent and 83 percent making up the age group 15-49 years. Around 39 percent of those infected were women.
10. Men are more than twice as likely as women to hold salaried jobs in the large and medium-sized towns that are increasingly important centers of economic life in the Indian countryside. As such, in 2013 women only earned 62 percent of a men’s salary for equal work.

However, it is possible to end poverty in India. The first step would be to help the poor create their own businesses so that they may develop their own incomes. The second step is to create jobs that would allow those in poverty to increase their incomes through wages or salaries. Lastly, selling products to those living in poverty would help them earn or save money.

 – Priscilla Rodarte

Sources: Huffington Post, The Telegraph, BBC, The Wall Street Journal, UNICEF 1, Inter Press Service News Agency, The World Bank 1, The World Bank 2, UNICEF 2, Catalyst, Rural Poverty Portal

Over the past two decades, global incidences of polio decreased from 350,000 cases in 1988 to only 400 cases last year; a reduction of roughly 99 percent. This was due largely to a multibillion dollar campaign to immunize the global population at risk.

Though this is a nearly victorious feat, polio cases remain endemic in Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Earlier this year in February, Dr. Kaneshka Baktash, the spokesman for the Afghan public health ministry, announced that a 3-year-old girl was diagnosed with the virus in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. Until this diagnosis, the city had been free of the virus for 12 years.

This recent diagnosis catalyzed immediate mass oral vaccination efforts to children in Kabul itself as well as at those entering the city. UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Afghan Ministry of Public Health are working together to administer the treatments in as wide a breadth as possible to all children in the vicinity under the age of 10; it is now estimated that 700 to 800 Afghani children are currently receiving polio vaccinations each day. They are administered primarily through door-to-door visits as well as vehicle checkpoints.

The polio vaccination, which is designed to prohibit paralysis, is kept between two and eight degrees Celsius, and is administered orally or injected by needle into children’s fingertips. After two drops of the vaccination, the administrators mark the children’s fingers to indicate that they have received treatment.

The populace is reportedly more receptive to these polio vaccines than they have been in the past due to increased communication and education about the virus and its preventative necessity. Dr. Gholam Siddiqi of the WHO Polio Program described that as vaccination teams move from house to house, if parents refuse to vaccinate their children, the officials inform their respective supervisors who then return to those houses to further explain the vaccination’s benefits.

These successful vaccinations, combined with polio awareness efforts, are working to stop the virus in its tracks.

— Arielle Swett

Sources: The Guardian, UNICEF
Photo: News Hopper

The small town of Kyuzhi in Nigeria is now giving fines to those who do not use toilets and defecate in the open, all of which is part of a water protection initiative to stop the dangers of human waste in small communities. Locals, furthermore, have the opportunity to take toilet education workshops where they learn the dangers of exposed human waste.

According to UNICEF, over 45 million Nigerians defecate in the open, an action stated as being the primary cause of high infant mortality in the country. When children are undernourished, diseases such as cholera or even parasitic infections can become deadly.

It has been over a year since members of the Kyuzhi community began to understand the problem with open defecation. By coming together and following a plan to improve community hygiene, an environmental task team was formed. They now fine 2,000 Naira or $13, to those violating the agreement and since last year only 3 have been caught defecating in the open.

Workshops in the community, moreover, allow locals to see how human waste and disease are linked.

Community leaders, women and youth take participants to an open defecation site in the forest and explain how crucial it is to stop this behavior. Mothers are now teaching their children the proper way to go to the restroom and if they see other children in non-designated sites, they seek out and speak to the children’s mothers. Several agree that this is the best way to keep the community clean and though some remain emotional about this confrontation, they are now using toilets.

More toilets and defecation sites have been set up for the locals of Kyuzhi and in due time local diseases will diminish, setting up an exemplary model for other developing communities.

Maybelline Martez

Sources: UNICEF, DW.DE
Photo: Deutsche Welle

In 2003, Liberia finally came out of a thirteen-year long civil war that ravaged the country and left the inhabitants riddled with poverty. Right after the end of the war, the unemployment rate was listed at 85 percent of the population. The populations in the slums skyrocketed and the people living there were left with little choice of where to obtain water or where to use the bathroom. During the war, rebels destroyed much, if not all, of the water and sanitation infrastructure the country once had. A decade later, much of the population is still impoverished and lacking access to the basic needs of potable water and a sanitary living area. In 2010, there were almost 4 million people living in Liberia, over 1 million of which were rural poor. However, there is a stress for clean water in slums, from where a number of people from rural areas fled to Monrovia during the fighting and violence in an attempt to find refuge. For every four people, there is one living without access to clean water and sanitation in Liberia, and for every five deaths in the country, one is a result of contaminated water sources. In fact, in 2012, the World Health Organization discovered that E. coli was present in 58 percent of the city’s water due to public defecation. This spreads illness such as diarrhea and perpetuates the issue, creating a cycle of illness through dirty water. Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has pledged to double the amount of access to safe water in four years, but has clearly fallen short of this claim. Phillip Marcelo of Rhode Island’s Providence Journal is spending two weeks in Liberia this month to investigate what progress has been made since the end of the war and the installation of democracy within the country. He notes that at the entry to the slums at West Point Beach, there is a massive pile of trash marking the place. The defecation of children is all over the beach and people are being forced to buy their water from “distributors.” While adults have been banned from using the beach as a bathroom and there are pay toilets in the slum, there is often still no other option. Because of this, the spread of cholera is common along with other water-borne diseases. The government is opening up nine new toilets for the area, but the inhabitants are not sure a real difference can be made considering there are more than 50,000 people living the area. Aid groups are investing time and money into providing Liberia with better access to clean water, with the hope that this will cease to be an issue in the coming years, if not in time to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Non-profit organization Waves for Water has raised $15,100 towards the goal of $25,000 to help provide clean water filters for over 60,000 people living in poverty in Liberia. WaterAid, another NGO, also works in Liberia and happens to be an organization for which President Sirleaf is an ambassador. Last year, they were able to reach 17,000 people and provided them with clean water or sanitation facilities. Help for Liberians is out there and there are solutions to the present issues, but it will take a while to recover completely from the devastation of the war. Simply put, it is going to take plenty of hard work and a revamp of the entire infrastructure of the country in order to change the conditions of those living in the slums of Liberia. – Chelsea Evans Sources: Providence Journal, Rural Poverty Portal, Waves for Water, PBS, WaterAid Photo: Sanitations Update [hr top]

  • $30 billion per year is needed to end world hunger.

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