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cholera in nigeriaBetween January and August 2021, Nigeria experienced a surge in cholera cases with more than 31,000 “suspected cases,” 311 confirmed reports and more than 800 deaths. With close to 200,000 COVID-19 cases, a surge of cholera during the pandemic has heightened public health concerns in Nigeria. As such, addressing cholera in Nigeria is currently a top priority for the country.

What is Cholera?

According to the World Health Organization, “cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.” Despite being both preventable and treatable, cholera is very dangerous as it can kill an individual within hours without intervention. While mild cases are easily treatable with “oral rehydration solution,” more severe cases necessitate “rapid treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.” These are resources that many impoverished developing countries simply cannot afford.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number “of people who die from reported cholera remains higher in Africa than elsewhere.” The WHO emphasizes that the “provision of safe water and sanitation is critical to prevent and control the transmission of cholera.” The WHO also recommends oral cholera vaccines in areas where cholera is endemic.

The Nigerian Government’s Efforts

The Nigerian government continues to implement policies to control the spread of cholera. Promoting basic sanitation, improving hygiene practices and providing clean water are ways the government does this. In an attempt to mitigate the spread of cholera in Nigeria, the government has also supplied solar-powered boreholes with the help of the International Organization of Migration (IOM). As of 2019, the IOM has maintained 58 of these boreholes in Borno state and created 11 new boreholes. The IOM also “rehabilitated 10 and connected them to solar power.”

An important way to stop the spread of cholera is through improving the vaccination system in Nigeria. After an outbreak occurred in 2017, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency instated cholera vaccination programs. The next step will be to increase the supply of vaccines.

The MSF’s Role in Eradicating Cholera

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), otherwise known as Doctors Without Borders, is an independent global organization working to prevent cholera in Nigeria, among other missions. Its main focus is to provide medical aid in areas where it is most needed. Beginning in the 1980s, the MSF has responded to cholera epidemics across the world. Since then, the organization has worked to come up with new and more effective ways to eradicate cholera.

The MSF’s efforts to address cholera include supplying cholera kits, investigating outbreaks, establishing cholera treatment facilities, community education, improving access to water and sanitation and vaccinations, among other efforts. Cholera kits include “rehydration salts, antibiotics and IVs, along with buckets, boots, chlorine and plastic sheeting.” Sanitation improvements allow MSF to ensure the availability of clean water to citizens of Nigeria. Additionally, soap and clean water are provided for at-home use.

Promoting health is another major goal of the organization. At the time of an outbreak, those who work in the health field visit churches, schools and homes to help educate people on measures they can take to prevent the spread of cholera. Vaccinations are also employed to address Nigeria’s cholera outbreak. Providing vaccines is difficult, despite their ease of administration. Nonetheless, the MSF is working on vaccine campaigns. With patients receiving the proper care they need at the time they need it, the MSF states that deaths can potentially decrease from as high as 50% to as low as 2%.

The MSF’s Achievements

In 2019, the MSF supplied more than 231,000 cholera vaccine doses to endemic nations across the world. With the work of the MSF and increased government initiatives, it is possible to significantly reduce cholera in Nigeria.

– Nia Hinson
Photo: Flickr

Will and Jada Smith Together BandTogether Band is an organization that raises money for various causes in an innovative and trendy way aimed at persuading younger generations to support issues they care about most. It works toward the United Nations’ 17 global goals to create a more sustainable world by 2030. Recently, Together Band also partnered with Will and Jada Smith.

Together Band

The U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals include no poverty, zero hunger, gender equality, clean energy, equal education, good health, clean water, economic growth, industry innovation, sustainable communities, responsible consumption and production, marine conservation, land conservation, justice, reduced inequalities and partnership.

Each U.N. SDG has an associated color and Together Band produces bracelets of each color. The bracelet color a customer purchases determines which goal their money targets. Together Band directs proceeds to The Freedom Fund, Renewable World, Women Working Worldwide and Power for the People, among others.

Not only do the proceeds go to humanitarian funds but the materials and production of the bracelets are impactful as well. The clasp on each bracelet is repurposed metal derived from seized illegal firearms in Central America. The aim of this sourcing is to end armed violence in conflict-torn countries. The band is made from 100% upcycled plastic found on shores in coastal communities and on remote islands. Finally, formerly trafficked Nepalese artisans use the materials to craft the final product. The jobs created help communities build stable economies.

Together Fund

Together Band created the Together Fund to combat COVID-19. Now, when a customer purchases a bracelet, 50% of the proceeds go to support COVID-19 relief while the other 50% continue to go to the original organizations that the bracelet supported before the pandemic. The organization splits COVID-19 relief funds between the U.N. COVID-19 Solidarity Fund for WHO and Médecins sans Frontières.

Together Band added COVID-19 relief to their initiatives because communities around the globe urgently need accessible healthcare. “It’s important that we act quickly in response to COVID-19 to ensure patients can access the care they need as well as supporting disease prevention and frontline health workers across the globe.”

Partnering With the Will and Jada Smith Foundation

Celebrities Will and Jada Smith created the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation in 1996 in order to make the world “better because we touched it.” The foundation has donated millions of dollars for innovative solutions to the world’s problems. Recently, the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation partnered with Together Band to tackle both COVID-19 and racial injustice. Working with WJSFF, Together Fund has expanded to support U.N. Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Money can be donated to the fund directly from the WJSFF homepage. Half of the proceeds go to additional COVID-19 relief funds such as the World Health Organization, Alight and Doctors Without Borders. The remaining half supports nonprofits that fight racial injustice. They include My Brother’s Keeper, the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative and the Leadership Conference Education Fund.

In addition, Will and Jada Smith’s son, Jaden Smith, founded an eco-friendly version of bottled water called Just Water. Just Water customers now have the option to round up their purchases in support of the Together Fund.

Overall, the Smiths are an inspiring example of a celebrity family using their fame to support humanitarian causes and reduce global poverty.

Sarah Eichstadt
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Relief in India and BrazilThe video game industry is doing its part in the global fight against COVID-19. The online video game storefront, Humble Bundle, is playing a major role in charitable efforts. As of May 28, 2021, Humble Bundle has raised almost $1.2 million for COVID-19 relief in India and Brazil.

What is Humble Bundle?

Humble Bundle is an online video game store founded in 2010. Since then, the video game bundles that give the company its name have raised money for a wide variety of charitable efforts, from the World Wildlife Foundation to Make-A-Wish. The funds primarily come through the sale of popular video games along with other entertainment items like comic books.

Humble Bundle has garnered almost $200 million through bundles. These often include selections from popular gaming franchises like Civilization, Saints Row and BioShock. Typically a portion of each bundle is donated either to the company’s featured charity of the month or the purchaser’s chosen charity. However, Humble Bundle took a bit more of a drastic approach in May 2021 to help several organizations in India and Brazil during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Humble Bundle created the live “Humble Heal: COVID-19 Bundle” from May 12, 2021, until May 19, 2021, in order to support four different charities working in Brazil and India during the ongoing pandemic. More than 54,000 bundles were sold. India recently experienced a record one-day COVID-19 death toll of more than 6,000 deaths on June 10, 2021. Around the same time, Brazil neared 500,000 overall deaths due to COVID-19. The relief efforts of Humble Bundle and other charities are vitally important for COVID-19 relief.

Humble Bundle COVID-19 Relief Support

The charities supported by the bundle primarily focus on providing medical equipment and care to those in need. For example, in February 2021, Direct Relief granted more than $500,000 in aid to Amazonas in Brazil for roughly 350 oxygen concentrators. The Brazilian state desperately needed oxygen concentrators for local medical facilities and people isolated in rainforests. Similarly, in April 2021, Direct Relief donated $5 million toward the purchase of oxygen concentrators in India as well.

According to a recent report by Doctors Without Borders, countries like Brazil were forced to ration treatments or prioritize some patients over others due to a lack of resources. Humble Bumble supported Doctors Without Borders with donations to ensure that essential health services continue with the necessary medical resources.

GiveIndia also incorporates oxygen supply efforts into its pandemic relief. The charity raised more than $6 million to help boost the oxygen supply in India. GiveIndia also provided financial support for low-income families who lost employed family members during the pandemic. Furthermore, the organization supplied food for those struggling with hunger.

The International Medical Corps, another organization supported by Humble Bundle, is also working to strengthen the healthcare system in India, provide crucial medical supplies and deliver personal protective equipment. Additionally, the nonprofit is working to combat vaccine hesitancy in the country to ensure a successful vaccine rollout throughout the country.

The Impact of Humble Bundle’s Efforts

Humble Bundle supports nonprofits like International Medical Corps and Direct Relief in a unique and creative way. It not only provides significant humanitarian funds to the organizations but also spotlights the organizations and increases awareness and engagement through its platform.

“The generosity received as a result of Humble Bundle’s effort is deeply inspiring and will serve as a force-multiplier to get more aid into these areas to improve the health and lives of those who are most vulnerable,” says Heather Bennett, vice president of Partnerships and Philanthropy at Direct Relief.

The nearly $1.2 million raised by Humble Bundle will certainly help these nonprofits continue their impactful work. This will provide COVID-19 relief in India and Brazil to help hard-hit communities recover and rebuild.

– Brett Grega
Photo: Flickr

Response to COVID-19
Doctors Without Borders has aided more than 70 countries including Yemen, Syria and countries in Latin America throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by providing extra medical professionals to help ease overwhelmed medical facilities. The organization’s main goal is to ensure that medical services can continue to run while protecting vulnerable populations. Medical services could shut down in many developing countries without the help of Doctors Without Borders. The volume of COVID-19 infection rates across the world resulted in Doctors Without Borders’ intervention in countries that traditionally have not required assistance in the past, such as Italy, France and the United States. Doctors Without Borders’ response to COVID-19 has been crucial in fighting this global pandemic. 

About Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders began in 1971 after the war in Biafra, Nigeria and the floods in eastern Bangladesh. A group of French doctors and journalists created the organization because they aspired to make a change in the medical world. Since 1971, Doctors Without Borders has expanded globally and saved millions of lives.

Today, Doctors Without Borders continues to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters and wars. In 2010, the organization rushed to Haiti after an earthquake put millions of lives in danger. Its team began treating victims within minutes. It provided emergency kits to solve any condition that could potentially occur during a natural disaster.

The organization has expanded to contribute to more long-term medical aid projects. This includes providing renovations for existing clinics, creating treatment programs and setting up ambulance services.

Doctors Without Borders’ Response to COVID-19

The Guardian reported that Doctors Without Borders began implementing outbreak preparedness measures including creating training programs in prevention and spreading, helping health facilities adapt to COVID-19 patients and sending additional doctors wherever necessary to help ease surges in January 2020. In the U.S., the organization ensured that vulnerable populations had equal access to healthcare. Doctors Without Borders’ response to COVID-19 involved the creation of education programs about COVID-19. It also designed mobile testing for migrant farmworkers in Florida.

A complication that emerged around the world since the beginning of the pandemic was that other diseases and viruses took a back seat while COVID-19 soaked up all medical resources. As a result, Doctors Without Borders reinstated HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide antiretroviral therapy treatments. 

COVID-19 has created several different obstacles for Doctors Without Borders to operate efficiently. Some of the obstacles include travel restrictions, risk of viral transmission, loss of access to services and more. The obstacles have been difficult to overcome but the lack of vaccine supply has been the most challenging.

Doctors Without Borders has pleaded for the European Union, the U.S. and other wealthy nations to reconsider the stance on South Africa and India’s patent waiver proposal. South Africa and India’s patent waiver proposal would lend a hand to developing countries by allowing the manufacturing of generic COVID-19 vaccines. As the fight for immunity continues, Doctors Without Borders believes that without sharing, the world has no chance of creating global immunity. However, the E.U. and the U.S. remain set to allow vaccine production to remain in the hands of pharmaceutical companies opting for profit. 

Looking Ahead

Until every country has equal access to immunity, the whole world is still at risk. Doctors Without Borders has vowed to continue helping the world cope with the damages that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.

– Jessica Barile
Photo: Flickr

Health in Papua New GuineaFor the island nation of Papua New Guinea, the COVID-19 outbreak has led to some positive developments despite the harm the pandemic has caused. Health officials state that the COVID-19 pandemic has tested medical infrastructure in Papua New Guinea, providing opportunities for the country to strengthen its healthcare system and be better able to deal with future health crises. Several organizations are committed to improving health in Papua New Guinea.

Healthcare Accessibility

Lack of accessibility to healthcare is a significant barrier for the citizens of Papua New Guinea. One of the defining characteristics of Papua New Guinea is how vast and well-dispersed the country is with roughly 600 islands. Its many secluded and remote areas may seem ideal for a vacation destination, but these qualities prove to be challenging from a healthcare perspective. Due to the abundant natural resources, around 80% of residents live off the land in rural areas that are not in close proximity to medical facilities. Despite logistical trials, the country is slowly but surely making progress.

Vaccine Distribution

As of April 12, 2021, Papua New Guinea had reported almost 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. On April 16, 2021, the Oceania nation received 132,000 vaccines from the COVAX Facility. The national vaccine rollout was launched on May 4, 2021, first focusing on the 3% of the population making up frontline workers. Considering the decentralized population and the late start in acquiring vaccines, Papua New Guinea has made progress in fighting COVID-19. By educating the population about vaccines and medical vernacular, health officials agree that efforts to combat the virus have better prepared the country for future medical crises.

Identifying Shortcomings

In addition to vaccination efforts, COVID-19 response funds are being used to create water facilities in vulnerable areas such as the North Fly District. This improvement will benefit the country on a long-term basis. The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the local medical system by pointing out flaws. This has prompted Papua New Guinea to find solutions to make future outbreaks more manageable.

Weakened demand due to the pandemic has left Papua New Guinea’s economy crippling. Vaccinations are serving to remedy the economic strain as much will go back to normality once a greater part of the population is vaccinated and the economy will be stimulated. As normalcy returns, the unemployment rate and poverty rate are projected to gradually decrease. However, Papua New Guinea’s healthcare system still needs support from outside organizations in order to strengthen.

3 Organizations Supporting Healthcare in Papua New Guinea

  1. Doctors Without Borders is a humanitarian aid organization. It provides medical assistance needed around the world. In  order to improve health in Papua New Guinea, its current focus is fighting tuberculosis. With mobile clinics and less invasive treatments, the organization is able to care for patients situated in remote areas and save them the cost of travel to and from a medical facility.
  2. The PNG Foundation specifically supports approximately 70,000 Kamea people of Papua New Guinea. Rugged highland terrain creates difficulty accessing health, educational and infrastructure support. The goals of the PNG Foundation include providing basic medical care and maintaining the hospital and schools.
  3. The well-being of Papua New Guinea’s women and children lies at the heart of the Highlands Foundation’s mission. The organization combats maternal and infant mortality. Its projects include sending medical supplies, clothes, toiletries and sanitary items to hospitals in the remote areas of Papua New Guinea. The Highlands Foundation also leads training programs for local medical staff and sends volunteers to ease the pressure of the national medical personnel shortages.

Global organizations, foreign aid and private donors have aided Papua New Guinea by providing vaccines, equipment and other essential resources. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the struggles of Papua New Guinea’s healthcare system. Now that the shortcomings are apparent, Papua New Guinea will require further support and assistance in order to address these issues and strengthen healthcare in the country.

– Lucy Gentry
Photo: Unsplash

displacement in MozambiqueThe ongoing insurgency in northern Mozambique started in 2017. Four years later, the revolt has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people becoming displaced.  The UNHCR has stated that as of March, the number of displaced people in Mozambique nears 700,000 and the total may exceed one million people by June 2021. As a result of this dire situation, Mozambique’s population is more susceptible to food insecurity and malnutrition. Additionally, those suffering from displacement in Mozambique are at an increased vulnerability to this continuing violence.

Violence in Cabo Delgado

The province of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique has the highest population of people suffering from food insecurity in the country. According to The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), 770,000 people in Cabo Delgado are suffering from crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity. The community is desperate for aid, but it has been a struggle to obtain.

The violence in Cabo Delgado has interfered with the ability of humanitarian aid to provide people with food, water and health services. However, community members have stepped up. Displaced people have been able to find support from host communities in neighboring provinces. This decreases displacement issues but exacerbates the food crisis. Taking in extra families may jeopardize the food security of the host communities. It places an increased demand on already limited supply of resources.

Humanitarian Response

The nonprofit organization Doctors Without Borders has been helping Pemba, Cabo Delgado’s capital, since 1984. The nonprofit has seen a growing mental health crisis among the displaced people that come to Pemba. In response, Doctors Without Borders has also utilized games and activities to give people a place to grieve their losses and share their stores. The nonprofit has used conversation circles as a tool to allow people to safely express their emotions, as the experiences of many internally displaced people is traumatic. Doctors Without Borders also has a focus on physical health. The organization has built latrines in Mozambique and provided internally displaced people with clean water. Additionally, the nonprofit has teamed up with Mozambique’s Department of Health to respond to COVID-19, HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis C.

Save the Children is another humanitarian aid organization working in Cabo Delgado. So far, the organization has reached over 70,000 people, 50,000 being children. In Cabo Delgado, more than 27% of children have been displaced by violence and are unable to attend school. Save the Children offers adolescence programs that provide children with nutrition and the support they need to complete their education. There are also programs for younger children to ensure they don’t suffer from malnutrition and can attend pre-school. In terms of mental health, Save the Children provides therapy to help children deal with the trauma of being displaced. The organization also works toward prevention in addition to treatment, specifically through politics. Save the Children collaborates with the local government to mitigate the effects of displacement in Mozambique. The joint effort strives to prevent illness, strengthen agriculture and prepare children to be self-sufficient through formal skill training.

Looking Forward

Mozambique is in a difficult position to combat the persisting violence within the country. It cannot fight this crisis alone. The country needs aid from outside organizations. As the violence continues, displacement in Mozambique becomes a growing issue requiring a stronger humanitarian response. However, there is hope thanks to organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Save The Children. With continued and increased humanitarian aid in conjunction with the local government’s efforts, displacement in Mozambique can be diminished and the country can strive toward an end to its persisting violence.

Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

World of Warcraft's Fight Against the PandemicThe COVID-19 pandemic has caused Activision Blizzard to host their annual gaming convention, Blizzcon, online this year in what was known as Blizzconline. At Blizzconline, Blizzard announced many updates and future releases for the company, as well as this year’s charity event in World of Warcraft. This year’s charity event will aid in World of Warcraft’s fight against the pandemic. In 2021, the popular role-playing game is partnering with Doctors Without Borders to donate to the nonprofit’s COVID-19 Crisis Fund.

Blizzard Charity Events

Since 2010, Blizzard has partnered with charities and nonprofit organizations to donate millions of dollars through player donations. In years past, Blizzard would donate 100% of proceeds made off of player purchases of in-game cosmetic items like World of Warcraft pets or Overwatch skins.

This year, Blizzard is changing the way donations are being made. Players will be allowed to donate however much they want directly to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors without Borders, and these donations will be tracked by Blizzard. After reaching preset goals, players will be rewarded with in-game pets as a reward for contributing to World of Warcraft’s fight against the pandemic.

Blizzard’s previous charity events have generally gone toward alleviating domestic issues in the U.S. This will be the first time the company partnered with an international humanitarian organization, except for its partnership with WE Charity in 2019. The WE Charity works internationally to end poverty by establishing education access and resources, providing more than one million people with access to clean food and water and empowering women to be self-sufficient.

Doctors Without Borders

Blizzard’s charity event with Doctors Without Borders will have player donations going directly to the nonprofit’s COVID-19 Crisis Fund. Doctors Without Borders is a humanitarian nonprofit organization working in more than 70 countries, providing people with medical aid and assistance. The organization has been combating malnutrition in children, treating preventable diseases and providing people with access to medical services and care since being founded in 1971.

The COVID-19 Crisis Fund has a current target of €150 million, or more than $181 million. All the funds will go directly toward Doctors Without Borders’s global response to the pandemic. For instance, the funding will be used for supplies for patients and staff and research ways to combat the virus. The goals of the COVID-19 Crisis Fund are to help stop the spread of the virus, reinforce food and water systems for at-risk populations and provide medical aid to those suffering from illness in more than 70 countries where the nonprofit works.

To reach its goal of €150 million, Doctors Without Borders will need more donations to its COVID-19 Crisis Fund. By partnering with Blizzard and the World of Warcraft, Doctors Without Borders is one step closer to reaching its goal and contributing to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, this charity partnership will help improve the current global COVID-19 response and save lives.

– Gerardo Valladares
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Italy
Many know Italy to have one of the best healthcare systems in the world, with the sixth-highest life expectancy, and a low rate of preventable and treatable deaths. Everyone benefits from high-quality care and the Italian government takes measures to ensure the most vulnerable populations receive care. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Italy hard which overwhelmed the hospitals and will have lasting damage on the low-income population. Here is some information about how healthcare in Italy works for vulnerable populations.

Everyone Has Access

Healthcare in Italy is universal, meaning that while private insurance options are available, everyone qualifies for public healthcare coverage regardless of income. This covers hospital visits, preventative treatment, medications, pediatrics and all necessary medical procedures for free or a small copay. One drawback is long waiting times to receive services. Italy has greater disparities in healthcare quality between regions and income classes than the rest of the European Union, but even so, less than 6% of low-income residents have any trouble accessing services.

Mental Healthcare sets an Example for the World

  In 1978, Italy passed legislation expanding mental health services. The city of Trieste replaced its 1,200-bed mental health hospital with a network of person-centered care facilities, including:

  • Four Community Mental Health Centers housing four to eight residents each.
  • One General Hospital Psychiatric Unit with six beds for short-term emergency stays.
  • The Habilitation and Residential Service, a network of voluntary communal housing with 45 beds that works with NGOs and provides various levels of supervision and services to residents based on their needs.

Instead of just treating a mental illness, the mental healthcare system in Trieste works to integrate patients into the community so they can lead fulfilling lifestyles. Instead of police, trained psychiatrists respond to mental health emergencies. In 2017, a group of Los Angeles County officials traveled to Trieste to find that it had eliminated the need for involuntary psychiatric care, there was no mentally ill homeless population and jails were not overcrowded with those needing mental health treatment. By investing in person-centered care, Trieste was able to reduce social injustices and bring vulnerable groups back into the community.

Refugees Qualify for Healthcare

Immediately upon arrival, asylum seekers receive access to public healthcare in Italy. Some difficulties can occur in receiving care, such as language barriers or legal processes delaying healthcare qualification by several months.

Many asylum seekers are torture survivors or deal with other trauma and can be eligible for specific mental health treatments. Redattore Sociale is a Doctors Without Borders project in Rome that has dedicated itself to ensuring torture survivors from all around the world receive the comprehensive psychiatric care they need.

Pandemic Crisis

Italy had an early spike in COVID-19 cases which overwhelmed the healthcare system. Italy has the fifth-highest coronavirus deaths per capita worldwide.

The situation is especially bleak in nursing homes, where the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that half of all Italy’s COVID-19 deaths have taken place. The country’s failure to properly test, distribute personal protective equipment, isolate residents and staff experiencing symptoms and openly report infection statistics have caused high death tallies and led to lawsuits against many nursing homes by relatives and other concerned parties.

The pandemic has also hit the economy hard, with low-income families suffering the most. Lack of support from the government has forced those who lost their source of income to turn to organizations such as the European Food Bank Federation, founded in 1967, which distributes 4.2 million meals every single day through a network of charities.

Although the economy may not fully recover, COVID-19 cases have been dropping steadily since late November 2020, and with doctors starting to administer vaccinations, there is hope for the future.

Though people usually consider healthcare in Italy to be high-quality in how it provides care for vulnerable groups, it was unprepared to deal with the pandemic, devastating the aging population and low-income families. Accountability for nursing homes and aid to impoverished citizens must be part of the plan going forward, as well as more efficient central planning to deal with future emergencies.

Elise Brehob
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare for Greek ChildrenIn Lesbos, Greece, children suffering from life-threatening illnesses are being deprived of healthcare. Concerns regarding the Greek government’s stance on providing adequate healthcare to children suffering from chronic, complex and life-threatening diseases at the Moria camp are on the rise. Many camps are overcrowded and have limited resources available for the growing vulnerable population. Children make up 30% of asylum seekers and those diagnosed with diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, heart disease and other severe illnesses, are being neglected. Forced to live in tents under concerning conditions, children have no access to specialized healthcare to meet their medical needs.

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is advocating on behalf of Greek children, urging the government to evacuate children with serious illnesses to the Greek mainland or other European Union states that are equipped to provide adequate care. Since 1996, MSF has been providing healthcare and fighting for the welfare of asylum seekers and migrants in Greece. MSF recognized the growing need in Greece and expanded its efforts, providing treatment of chronic diseases, sexual and reproductive healthcare, physiotherapy, clinical psychology and psychiatric care.

MSF is ensuring the government is aware of the urgency of proper healthcare for Greek children. Dr. Hilde Vochten, an MSF medical coordinator, urges a prompt call of action from the government that will address the immediate healthcare needs of these children while also addressing a systemic problem within healthcare for Greek children. Without proper care, many children face lifelong consequences, or in critical cases, death.

Greek Government Healthcare Restrictions

In 2019, the Greek government restricted healthcare access to asylum seekers and those arriving in Greece that are undocumented. Since this time, MSF doctors have seen over 270 children suffering from chronic and complex diseases. The MSF pediatric clinic located outside the Moria camp has helped many children, however, the clinic has been unable to provide specialized care for children diagnosed with more critical illnesses. MSF argues that restricting access to adequate care is a result of government policy that is creating unsafe and inhumane conditions for children and their families. MSF demands the need to remove limitations for access to public healthcare and implement a system that will provide immediate care for children suffering from chronic and complex medical conditions.

The Smile of the Child

Another organization fighting for the healthcare rights of this vulnerable population is The Smile of the Child. The organization was founded in 1995, in memory of Andreas Yannopoulos, a young boy diagnosed with cancer. Before Yannopoulos died, he expressed his vision of creating an organization that would bring smiles to the faces of Greek children. The Smile of the Child has taken a stand to improve the health and wellbeing of children in Greece. The organization has raised awareness through its Mobile Laboratory of Information, Education and Technology by conducting seminars and instruction on first aid. The Smile of the Child delivers support to children with health problems by providing access to ambulances throughout Greece. The organization partners with law enforcement, social groups and other public entities to advocate for the safety and wellbeing of children.

While Greek authorities have been criticized for obstructing access to healthcare, organizations are taking a stand to ensure the healthcare needs of Greek children are met. As the need for adequate healthcare rises, the Greece government will be challenged in addressing the growing demand.

– Brandi Hale
Photo: Flickr

Estee Lauder Aiding COVID-19 Relief EffortsWhen Estée Lauder founded her makeup company in 1953, she sought to revolutionize the cosmetic world. From essential bath oils to perfumes, Lauder transformed her dreams into a multimillion-dollar company. Recently, this retail empire stepped beyond the makeup counter and did its part to aid global COVID-19 relief programs. Lauder grounded her company in “the spirit of giving,” and the Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation (ELCCF) sought to honor their founder’s values. ELCCF recognized “the strain” COVID-19 placed on impoverished communities, so its members developed a response plan. Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response kept these communities in mind by assisting developing countries, frontline workers and global healthcare employees.

Starting in March 2020, Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response includes supporting Doctors Without Borders, non-governmental organizations, BeautyUnited and manufacturing hand sanitizer to contribute to COVID-19 relief efforts.

Supporting Doctors Without Borders

To launch their global COVID-19 relief campaign, Estée Lauder donated $2 million to Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders—also referred to as Medecins Sans Frontieres—developed a specialized response to the virus by supporting “under-resourced and highly impacted countries.”

Estée Lauder’s donation will go a long way as Doctors Without Borders currently works in 70 countries worldwide. Doctors Without Borders provides quality care to vulnerable and at-risk community members: “elderly people in nursing homes, homeless people and migrants living in precarious circumstances.”

Doctors Without Borders also seeks to improve infection and prevention procedures in healthcare centers by funneling personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers in developing countries. By funding Doctors Without Borders’ programs, Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response assisted workers and patients in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Niger and Syria.

Funding NGOs Worldwide

Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response focused on assisting non-governmental organizations in China, specifically the Red Cross Society of China, Give2Asia and the Shanghai Charity Foundation. Estée Lauder sought to help the former epicenter of the virus recover and even provided additional donations to the China Women’s Development Foundation, supporting female front-line workers.

In the Middle East and Africa, Estée Lauder assisted Oxfam International’s work in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. ELCCF even extended its relief efforts to Latin America by awarding grants to Mision Huascaran in Peru, Panama Solidario, Unibes in Brazil, Cruz Rojo in Mexico and the Waldorf Foundation in Colombia. Estée Lauder donated $3.2 million to these NGOs, providing “flexible funding in this time of need.”

Endorsing BeautyUnited

As part of its COVID-19 response campaign, Estée Lauder partnered with 40 other beauty brands and celebrities, like Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore as part of BeautyUnited.

BeautyUnited’s “industry-wide effort” also supports frontline health workers. This “special coalition” of beauty moguls and cosmetics corporations specializes in providing PPE to doctors, nurses and essential workers in the developing world. As part of BeautyUnited, Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 response moved beyond monetary donations to provide “life-saving” medical equipment.

Manufacturing Hand Sanitizer

After donating $15 million to relief efforts and joining BeautyUnited, Estée Lauder wanted to do more. Given the scarcity of hand sanitizer at home and abroad, Estée Lauder worked with Jo Malone London, another cosmetics brand, to manufacture hand sanitizer in their U.K. factories. As the pandemic escalated, hand sanitizer became a hot commodity; one Estée Lauder wanted to share with the rest of the world.

Estée Lauder’s COVID-19 Response went above and beyond the expectations of a traditional cosmetics company. The future remains uncertain, but ELCCF will continue to assist impoverished countries throughout this health crisis. Echoing their founder’s giving spirit, Estée Lauder is prepared to meet new and “emerging needs” and will continue to “prioritize medical and emergency” response efforts.

– Kyler Juarez
Photo: Wikimedia Commons