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Proposed Budgets for Global Health and Foreign Aid
After months of threatening to make serious cuts in the proposed budgets for global health and foreign aid, the Trump administration and Congress signed a budget deal on March 21, 2018 indicating increases to nearly all government-allocated scientific research agencies, many of which contribute to global health research. For instance, the National Institues of Health received a $3 billion increase in federal budget allocations, a reversal of the 22 percent reduction in the budget proposed by the White House earlier this year.

These developments fall in line with press releases published on the White House website. The White House explains that the Trump administration champions the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which helps to prevent the spread of diseases through increases in disease prevention provisions in countries prone to an outbreak.

President Trump himself has expressed that “the world cannot have prosperity unless it is healthy”. His administration’s reports detail the GHSA and clearly show the impact that this specific global health advancement has had on outbreaks of dengue fever in Burkina Faso, as well as the Marburg virus in Uganda.

This viewpoint on global health security and the recently approved 2018 budget contrast with the Trump administration’s 2019 proposed budgets for global health and foreign aid. The 2019 budget proposes 30 percent cuts to the Senate Foreign Affairs Budget as well as the Department of Health and Human Services.

While the recently approved 2018 budget increased the funding to agencies vital to public health, it is still important to understand the impact these proposed budgets for global health and foreign aid could have on agencies internally. Budget cuts to United States government institutions materialize in a slowdown of impactful research and operations that occur within the agency. Decreases in budgets inevitably reduce the number of grants that are approved and also limit the number of researchers institutions are allowed to hire.

The less money an agency receives, the fewer projects it is able to complete. As of right now, the deepest cut in the proposed budget for global health and foreign aid are to the State Department, with a primary focus on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Cuts to USAID will reduce the number of programs and limit the amount of personnel and projects carrying out USAID work.

As of right now, USAID is in a hiring freeze and only seeking out critical personal on an as-needed basis through specialized waivers. Despite this challenge, current USAID administrator Mark Green claims that the tightening of the USAID budget causes the agency to operate as efficiently as possible. Green explained that even with budget restrictions, he is working with the president to show how development is a necessary soft approach to national security and global health.

While some global health programs are proposed to receive equal or additional funding through presidential and Congressional support of the CDC’s GHSA program, USAID looks to remain under tight restrictions. Overall, advocates of global health and USAID will continue to emphasize the institution’s importance to foreign policy, but it is ultimately up to President Trump and Congress to approve the organization’s desired funding.

– Daniel Levy

Photo: Flickr

What Are the World’s Deadliest Diseases?
In 2015, the top five of the world’s deadliest diseases accounted for more than 23 million deaths. The top two deadliest, heart disease and stroke, have been the two leading causes of death in the world since 2000 and account for 65 percent of the 23 million deaths.

The world’s deadliest diseases can be either communicable or non-communicable. Communicable disease are contagious and threaten the population with the spread of the disease. Common communicable diseases include respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases. Non-communicable disease are not contagious.

In 2015, as compared to 2000, there are fewer communicable disease in the top global causes of death. This means that medical treatments are working and more people have the ability to access treatments and preventive measures for those diseases.

The World’s Deadliest Diseases as of 2015

  1. Heart disease
    The risk of heart disease comes from both genetic and lifestyle factors. While genetic factors cannot be controlled, changing unhealthy habits to lower the risk of heart disease can be life-saving.
  2. Stroke
    Stroke is caused by a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain, depriving it of oxygen. That oxygen deprivation can lead to long-term brain damage or death. Education about the warning signs of stroke can lead to life-saving early identification.
  3. Lower respiratory infections
    These infections, such as pneumonia, are contagious but treatable. Greater access to medical care will lead to early diagnosis to prevent their spread among the population and antibiotic treatments that can help lower their prevalence.
  4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    COPD is an inflammatory lung disease that killed more than three million people in 2015. It is caused by exposure to irritating gases, most often from cigarette smoke or burning fuel. Ensuring healthy environments and education on the harms of tobacco can decrease COPD.
  5. Lung cancers
    This includes trachea and bronchus cancers as well, most often caused by smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Avoiding smoking and being in the presence of others smoking is the most effective way to prevent lung cancer from developing.

Even though these are the world’s deadliest diseases, diseases do not affect the entire population equally. In countries of lower economic status, the diseases most likely to harm the population differ due to varying access to life-saving resources, such as healthcare and knowledge of best health practices.

In low-income economies, the prevalence of communicable diseases is higher and affects the population more severely. In these countries, the top two killers are lower respiratory diseases and diarrheal diseases. Also in the top 10 deadliest diseases in low-income economies are HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, all of which are communicable.

Even though these communicable diseases currently threaten the populations of low-income countries, they are all treatable diseases. With appropriate access to healthcare, healthy environments and knowledge of health practices, the spread of these diseases can be slowed. Preventing these diseases would greatly increase the average lifespan for citizens of low-income countries.

Globally, access to healthcare is important in preventing and treating any of the world’s deadliest diseases. Even though they are the diseases most likely to kill, they can often be avoided with healthy lifestyles and increased access to medicine.

– Hayley Herzog

Photo: Flickr

Tobacco
Studies have shown that poor households in low-income countries can spend an upward of 10 percent of household budgets on tobacco products. Poverty and tobacco use are a highly linked global phenomenon. This disproportionate relation has several outlining side effects.

Households with less disposable income that use tobacco have fewer means of survival when it comes to health and basic living costs. The choice to buy tobacco-based products deprives families of the income needed for proper diet and nutrition. In this respect, outside of the health risks typically associated with tobacco usage, poor diet and malnutrition are within the realm of side effects.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also reported that tobacco leads to higher illiteracy rates when money is used on tobacco products over education. One 1997 study in Chennai, India, found this to be true. “Among illiterate men, the smoking prevalence was 64 percent, whereas it was only 21 percent among those with more than 12 years of schooling,” reports the WHO.

The vicious cycle of poverty and tobacco use is prevalent throughout the world. Due to the prevalence of poverty in certain countries, farmers will accept a line of credit from tobacco companies. This credit is set in the form of seeds, fertilizer and other essentials for growing tobacco. The problem with this business transaction is that farmers must then sell all of their product. However, the profit for selling the tobacco leaves often ends up being less than that of the line of credit, leaving the farmers indebted to the tobacco companies and continuing the cycle even further.

Luckily, in 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a new plan in order to combat the socioeconomic side effects of poverty and tobacco use. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) formally recognize, on a global scale, the negative impact of tobacco consumption on health, wealth and development. Under the SDGs, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was set to “protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.”

One key difference included in the Sustainable Development Goals is that, unlike previous implementations, the SDGs apply to all U.N. members. High-income countries, especially the United States, are no exception. Though the United States has one of the highest standards of living, poverty and tobacco use still afflict lower socioeconomic groups. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found in 2014 that, in the population of people having only a GED certificate, smoking prevalence is more than 40 percent.

Fighting poverty is essential to the fight against tobacco use. Tobacco use is a habit that is so detrimental to human life that it should be of high focus for eradication, especially when global health is at risk.

– Richard Zarrilli, Jr

Photo: Flickr

most effective drug for preventing maternal death
Each year, more than 300,000 women die in childbirth. The top three causes of global maternal deaths are severe bleeding, infections and high blood pressure at the time of birth. Often, pregnant women in developing countries are faced with an impossible decision: seek affordable care from untrained/unlicensed midwives or enter hospitals without being able to pay for modern treatment. It is extremely unlikely that women in this situation will receive the most effective drug for preventing maternal death.

Deaths from infections can easily be prevented through good hygiene practices by the patient and the medical staff attending to her. As for high blood pressure, the most fundamental precautionary measure is to educate the public on adolescent pregnancies, as this is often associated with maternal mortality from high blood pressure. Severe bleeding in childbirth can kill a healthy woman within several hours if proper attention and care are not given to her by her caretakers.

Often there are complications, such as bleeding, that require costly surgical operations or blood transfusions. If the mother is unable to afford the operation, she may not survive the excessive bleeding. In Sierra Leone, many people know at least one woman who has either died in childbirth or lost a fetus due to complications. Maternal care is the comprehensive indicator of the overall development of a country; the healthcare system for maternal health reflects the level of education, infrastructure and transparency of a nation.

Well educated nations with high literacy rates can still experience a shortage of qualified medical workers. Why? They are not properly paid or paid at all. The few qualified or highly educated emigrate for better opportunities and salaries. This resulting brain drain further exacerbates the crisis of maternal mortality. Prior to childbirth, there is also a delay in pregnant women seeking proper treatment. This delay can be attributed to a lack of confidence in the competence of the local healthcare facilities.

Thanks to U.N. funding, clinics in every nation are sponsored to employ local medical staff, which not only provides them with a salary, but with training as well. In addition to improved services, many patients benefit the from donation and careful administration of drugs. Among the most notable is tranexamic acid. Also known as TXA, this drug helps to control bleeding for trauma patients. It helps to stabilize a clot at the site of bleeding by preventing it from dissolving during formation. It has proven to be the most effective drug for preventing maternal death.

TXA works by preventing the conversion of plasminogen to plasmin; this promotes the accumulation of fibrin to form a complex known as the fibrin degradation products. It should be noted that TXA is not an alternative for blood transfusion; it is merely an important addition to this treatment. In addition to trauma patients, TXA has also proven effective in treating combat casualties. It has also been proven to be safe for patients.

In April 2017, the WHO launched a clinical trial dubbed the World Maternal Antifibrinolytic Trial. It consisted of 20,000 women from 21 countries who were diagnosed with postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). It was a randomized, double-blind trial with placebos for some of the participants. The organization wanted to see if bleeding persisted 30 minutes after the first dosage, and if it restarted within 24 hours. If bleeding did persist, it determined if a second dose was necessary.

What they found was that TXA reduced deaths in the trial, and it was evident that early treatment maximized the benefit. It was the most effective drug for preventing maternal death. In their words, “safe, effective and affordable PPH treatments are critical to saving the lives of pregnant women globally, and the findings of this trial have important implications for the delivery of high-quality maternity care.”

– Awad Bin-Jawed

Photo: Flickr

 Ghana
In recent years, researchers, doctors and health organizations have begun to target the high rate of pneumonia deaths. As one of the largest causes of death in children, pneumonia and researchers’ search for its solutions have not been taken lightly. The Ghana Health Service and partner GAVI, supported by UNICEF, launched vaccines to combat the infection in 2012.

What is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia is a bacterial, fungal or viral infection of the air-sacs in one’s lung or lungs, usually caused by the inhalation of specific or diseased germs. The infection causes fluid build up in the lungs, difficulty breathing, high fever, sweating, chills, chest pain and discoloration of fingertips. The best way to treat this infection is through immunizations and antibiotics.

Historically, pneumonia has been the leading cause of death in those under-five years old. Steps have occurred to decrease death rates from year-to-year, but yet unfortuantely, the number of deaths and the percentage of children lost to pneumonia is still staggering.

What Are the Impacts of Pneumonia?

In the year 2010 alone, pneumonia caused the deaths of 16,200 children, and the total number of deaths brought about because of pneumonia was a reported 13 percent. Subsequently, this percentage remained consistent between the years 2000 and 2010, and the percentage of deaths at the hands of this infection remained between twelve and thirteen percent, without substantial improvement.

Despite the decade-long absence of progress in pneumonia prevention and treatment, advancements have started taking place in more recent years. In April 2012, UNICEF supported the Ghana Health Service and partner GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, in launching pneumonia and diarrhea vaccines and the first ever World Immunization Week. The introduction of these vaccines to Ghana was a monumental step towards decreasing fatalities.

Ghana Health Service and its Aid

Although the establishment of vaccinations was a large logistical undertaking — including increasing hospital refrigeration storage in all ten regions of Ghana — the children of the country have benefited greatly from such measures. Pneumonia, for the first time ever in 2013, was not the leading cause of death for those under-five, though it was still the second-largest cause. Consequently, the total percentage of pneumonia causing fatalities decreased by 44 percent by 2015.

The installation of the pneumonia vaccine to Ghana has helped combat the vast amount of children who are annually impacted by the infection; however, there is still much progress to be made. As of 2017, UNICEF worked diligently to decrease pneumonia cases through fighting poor sanitation and open defecation.

How to Create Sustainable Solutions

To combat such massive undertakings, the organization implemented latrines and water pumps to as many communities as possible. Many have poured great effort into this ‘war against pneumonia’ and the Ghana Health Service, but measures must increase for significant and permanent changes to be sustained.

– Lydia Lamm

Photo: Flickr

Antibiotic
As stated by Marc-Alain Widdowson and colleagues from The Journal of Infectious Diseases, the rotavirus was first recognized by Ruth Bishop and associates in 1973. Within a 10-15-year span of the virus’s recognition, the rotavirus came to exist as the most widely accepted reason for extreme loose bowels in youths worldwide and diarrheal death in developing nations. However, according to Mathuram Santosham of the Impatient Optimist, 93 countries now have rotavirus antibiotic access in their governmental immunization programs.

Rotavirus Vaccine Program

Widdowson and colleagues state that studies have demonstrated that essential characteristic rotavirus contamination provides security against resulting contamination and severe infection, animating endeavors to grow live constricted oral rotavirus antibodies that would reenact this defensive impact. At the point when antibodies at long last showed up not too far off, PATH, an international health organization, propelled the Rotavirus Vaccine Program to guarantee that each kid approached assurance alongside other contributors to the cause. Here is how the universal rift in rotavirus antibiotic access is declining:

South Asia

In 2016, India was the leading South Asian nation to bring rotavirus immunizations into its open program, utilizing a staged approach to end the universal rift in rotavirus antibiotic access.

The Middle East

After a year, Pakistan took action accordingly. Once these projects scale up, the antibody should grasp more than 30 million youngsters annually. Progressively, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal also intend to utilize Gavi support to present the antibody in 2018.

Conforming to Widdowson’s statement in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, rotavirus immunization advancement endeavors have concentrated on live oral antibodies, and at an exhibit, two items are industrially accessible all around: Rotarix (GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals) and RotaTeq (Merck).

Africa

Concerning the genesis of the rotavirus vaccinations, Santosham states that African nations have been in the front line of rotavirus immunization presentation since it started in South Africa in 2009.

Nonetheless, the new monovalent immunizations functioned admirably in princely settings; these models were later found to manage the cost of practically zero assurance in kids from disparate countries, where mortality was most elevated.

However, Santosham informs that the WHO Regional Office for Africa has discovered that rotavirus-affirmed loose bowels hospitalizations in kids under five has declined by 33 percent. Advancement continues predominantly due to 33 African nations that place rotavirus in their domestic antibody plan, with numerous efforts bolstered from Gavi and the Vaccine Alliance; these organizations’ goal is to end the universal rift in rotavirus access.

Price Cuts and Improved Affordability

Santosham states that improvements and alternatives are growing, and with that improvement comes conceivably diminished costs to end the universal rift in rotavirus antibiotic access.

Price cuts are a major ordeal because in 2006 (when Rotarix and RotaTeq were authorized), Rotarix was roughly 132 times costly per portion than the least expensive customary EPI immunization; RotaTeq was 90 times more costly, according to Lizell B. Madsen and colleagues of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

As countries apply the rotavirus immunization, observation will be essential to gauge the effect of the program, either through expository examinations, case-control considers, antibody viability or by taking a gander at patterns in hospitalization. Once these factors are calculated, documented and improved, then fewer kids worldwide will suffer from rotavirus.

– Christopher Shipman

Photo: Flickr

Working to End the AIDS EpidemicAcquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the result of an advanced human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection which destroys the body’s immune system. AIDS affects millions of people around the globe. Inadequate medical knowledge leads to a delay in the early treatment of HIV patients.

Since the early 1980s, when AIDS was first clinically recognized, it has claimed nearly 39 million lives worldwide. This has necessitated a global effort to find a cure for this mass epidemic. PEPFAR, The Global Fund and UNAIDS are some of the largest organizations who are working to end the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030.

Poor education is one of the leading contributors to the spread of the AIDS epidemic, since many people suffering from AIDS do not have the necessary knowledge to recognize early signs of the disease and be treated appropriately.

So that AIDS may hopefully be eradicated by the year 2030, UNAIDS has created a program called “90-90-90: treatment for all”. This program ensures that 90 percent of people affected by AIDS will know their medical status and will therefore be able to receive antiretroviral therapy.

Currently, there is no effective AIDS vaccination. However, a combination of antiretroviral therapies administered early in the disease blocks the HIV virus from multiplying in the bloodstream, preventing the development of clinical AIDS.

Before PEPFAR, another organization working to end the AIDS epidemic, only 50,000 people in Africa were being treated with antiretroviral therapy. Now with the help of PEPFAR, over 13.3 million people are being treated globally. Due to these preventative measures, HIV prevalence rates and new HIV infections are on the decline.

To end the AIDS epidemic, countries suffering from high incidences of HIV require more healthcare workers to provide safe communities and treatment for all. Accordingly, The Global Fund invests nearly $4 billion every year in the mobilization of healthcare workers.

UNAIDS has gathered the world’s largest data collection on HIV epidemiology, the best treatment methods, program coverage and finance that is vitally important in order to end the AIDS epidemic.

UNAIDS data enables this organization, as well as others, to accomplish the goals set at the General Assembly of the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS. By following this track, these organizations will hopefully eradicate AIDS by the year 2030.

Ending the AIDS epidemic, while saving millions of lives, can serve as a model for revolutionizing worldwide health in other ways. It can motivate other organizations to promote more global health and development efforts, demonstrating that much can be achieved through global unity and evidence-based action.

Too many people worldwide are still affected by HIV and AIDS. Thanks to the work done by organizations such as PEPFAR, The Global Fund and UNAIDS, the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030 is becoming more of a reality each and every day.

– Adrienne Tauscheck

Photo: Flickr

The Fight Against Measles and Polio in Yemen
After two-and-a-half years of war, Yemen is left in ruins and struggling to overcome health, social and economic problems within the country. Demolished hospitals, crippled bridges, bombed industries, and poor sanitation and nutrition contribute to the devastating situation imparted by the war on the country and its citizens.

A Failing Healthcare System in Yemen

The health status of the population in Yemen is currently described as “catastrophic.” Damage from the war has transformed the nation into a fertile environment for cholera due to the highly contaminated water, which amplified the proliferation of fecal bacterial infections.

Since sewage systems have failed and garbage has piled up to cover entire neighborhoods and regions of the country, more Yemenis rely on polluted water sources for drinking and cooking. Alongside cholera, a quarter of all health facilities in Yemen are no longer operating or have already closed down; this situation escalated rates of morbidity and mortality among citizens, particularly those needing surgery or emergency care such as patients with chronic kidney failure who are dependent on life-saving support.

The shortage of qualified health professionals and physicians created a gap in primary healthcare — especially among children — as lower immunization rates led to a significant rise in the number of polio and measles cases reported.

To create a temporary and effective solution, the World Health Organization (WHO) trained more than 50 mobile medical teams and 20 fixed emergency care teams to provide people with increased access to primary health care services, and to support the operation of 72 health facilities as a way to prevent their closure.

The Fight Against Measles and Polio in Yemen

On August 15, 2017, WHO launched the fight against measles and polio in Yemen through its nationwide vaccination campaign. More than 3.9 million children under 5 years go age were vaccinated against polio and around 860,000 children aged 6 months to 15 years were immunized against measles in high-risk areas.

UNICEF also joined efforts toward the fight against measles and polio in Yemen by collaborating with WHO to ensure effective vaccination interventions for vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant women. Julien Harneis, UNICEF Representative in Yemen, asserted that UNICEF’s mobile teams and staffs sacrifice their lives and endanger their health during their daily outreach activities within the community due to the hazardous conditions present in the country.

The medical and public health professionals work to overcome all obstacles in preventing additional deaths and morbidities associated with preventable diseases such as polio and measles.

Dr. Gamila Hibatulla, Nutrition and Health Officer for UNICEF in Aden-Yemen, explained that mobile teams rely on public sites, such as mosques, to deliver necessary health services. Vaccination is a central goal to both international agencies of WHO & UNICEF so as to prevent and manage any infectious diseases that could create an additional burden for the government and a crumbling healthcare system. Ms. Hibatulla praised the parents of young children for collaborating with the agency’s work by ensuring that their kids get immunized against serious diseases.

Challenges & Setbacks

Despite the national campaign’s accomplishments in the fight against measles and polio in Yemen, Dr. Ahmed Shadoul, the WHO Representative from Yemen, stated that the positive results generated from the campaign were only “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of the international organization’s response. According to Dr. Shadoul, only a portion of the population was reached by these efforts, as a result of limited funding and failure to reach people residing in war zone areas.

Future plans are being developed to render vaccination and primary prevention efforts more effective, and through continuous coordination, cooperation and collaboration between international agencies and the Yemeni community at large, such a goal can be obtained.

– Lea Sacca

Photo: Flickr

mental health in sub-Saharan AfricaIn sub-Saharan Africa, where communicable diseases are common, mental disorders make up about 10 percent of the total burden of disease, according to the World Health Organization. There has been little research related to mental health in poorer countries in comparison to the investment in non-mental health.

There are multiple factors that affect the lack of treatment and preventive strategies for mental disorders: financial scarcity, unqualified staff and a lack of effective public health policy. However, there are effective measures that can help with the prevalence of mental health in sub-Saharan Africa.

There is a connection between the mental and physical health of an individual. Poor mental health can negatively impact physical health because it can increase the risk of chronic diseases or simply leave an individual feeling incapable of taking care of their wellbeing. By improving mental health in sub-Saharan Africa, there could be a noticeable increase in overall health as well.

For example, one effort is through the collaboration of “research institutions and ministries of health in Uganda, Ethiopia, India, Nepal and South Africa, with partners in Britain and the WHO that was formed in 2011 to expand mental health services in low and middle-income countries”, according to the Rand Corporation.

The main goal of this project is to measure how impactful mental health programs would be in primary healthcare settings such as hospitals and clinics. An area like sub-Saharan Africa would be included in the range of countries that require the expansion of mental health services.

Generating more research and elaborating on the issue of mental health is vitally important because it means that the right resources will be assigned towards addressing the needs of those with a mental illness. It will also be important in the future to increase funding for mental health programs and for the international community and national government to contribute to the above factors that affect the lack of treatment and preventive strategies for mental disorders.

Collaboration is necessary in order to obtain all of the tools for combating mental health in sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the entire world.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

Elimination of Measles in Bhutan and Maldives
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads through air and direct contact. It is characterized by symptoms lasting from four to seven days, including a red rash, fever, cough, conjunctivitis and white spots inside the mouth.

Despite being a vaccine-preventable disease, measles continues to be the leading cause of deaths among young children worldwide. Since 15 percent of vaccinated children do not develop immunity from the first dose, one of the main reasons behind the high death rates associated with the disease is incomplete vaccination doses received by children.

The WHO collaborated with the ministries of health of low-income countries, U.N. agencies and local NGOs to stop the occurrence of measles outbreaks and unite multidisciplinary efforts to eliminate measles at a global scale. For instance, Bhutan and Maldives launched their Expanded Immunization Programs during the late 1970s, and have since exerted tremendous attempts to increase immunization services to the population.

Last year, the WHO confirmed the elimination of measles in Bhutan and Maldives, an achievement that labeled the two countries as the first two nations in the WHO South-East Asia Region capable of interrupting the endemic measles virus transmission ahead of the 2020 regional target.

 

WHO Praises the Successful Elimination of Measles in Bhutan & Maldives

Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia, acknowledged the dedication and hard work of these two developing nations by describing it as a “momentous public health achievement.” She stated that the elimination of measles in Bhutan and Maldives should provide hope and guidance for other low-income countries suffering from high mortality and morbidity rates caused by the infection.

Additionally, Singh praised both countries for the establishment of strong surveillance systems in collaboration with laboratories in order to conduct detailed case investigations and tracking for every identified measles case.

 

Effective Actions Toward the Elimination of Measles in Bhutan and Maldives

The Ministry of Health in Bhutan accredits this noteworthy achievement to the various initiatives implemented to get rid of the disease. One of the essential strategies that has contributed to the elimination of the disease in both countries was the introduction of childhood immunization plans and the Measles Immunization Coverage in 1985.

The ministry’s health secretary, Ugen Dophu, announced that Bhutan was able to immunize 98 percent of children, a high rate that exceeds the WHO’s childhood immunization recommendation of at least 80 percent. He also highlighted the important role played by parents in the process of eliminating measles in Bhutan and Maldives — parental cooperation and understanding led to the attainment of higher immunization rates among children.

 

Future Plans to Sustain the Fight Against Measles

The health ministry has designed various plans and strategies to prevent future measles outbreaks and ensure the sustainability of efforts toward the elimination of measles in Bhutan and Maldives.

Dr. Dophu asserted that the health ministry will also collaborate intensively with the WHO to carry out a mass measles immunization campaign, This effort should increase accessibility and affordability of the vaccine among children and adults up to 40 years of age.

Moreover, new health screening systems will be installed at each of the country’s entry points to urge people to complete the screening procedures, and subsequently, protect the public health at large.

– Lea Sacca

Photo: Flickr