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AMAR_Foundation
The AMAR Foundation works to improve the conditions of approximately 3.4 million internally displaced Iraqis by utilizing local expertise to build long-term solutions.

The organization, founded in 1991 by Baroness Emma Nicholson, is a London-based charity with the goal of improving education, health care and emergency aid to some of the world’s most disenfranchised and impoverished people.

Their model is simple: AMAR works closely with on-the-ground experts, as well as local leaders, to implement entirely local programs that are tailored to the needs of the community.

In lieu of sending in volunteers from other countries, AMAR cooperates with existing services to locally source the materials and expertise needed to improve living conditions. Outside intervention is kept to a minimum and communities are encouraged to build themselves from the inside out.

Communication is the key to the success of this aid model. In a 2015 Jordan Times article reporting on AMAR’s efforts to stem an outbreak of cholera in Iraq, it is proffered that raising awareness about public health and common diseases is one of the most crucial pieces of improving the health of a community.

Communication is key not only in improving public health but also in ensuring the success of locally-based aid efforts like those the AMAR Foundation organizes.

Local collaboration is by no means a new idea, but the AMAR Foundation’s astonishing success utilizing this model within Iraq provides great hope for the future of foreign aid worldwide.

Without the help of major international funding, AMAR has managed to establish a clinic in northern Iraq that serves more than 600 patients a day, as well as multiple mobile health clinics that can be operated by locals. Since 2005, their clinics have helped over 4 million Iraqis.

Although today only a few organizations embrace a model that favors entirely local implementation, the AMAR foundation continues to provide an example of the great success that can come from on-the-ground solutions.

Sage Smiley

Photo: Defense Video Imagery Distribution System

Ghana Vitamin A Deficiency
As a leader in fighting extreme global poverty, government agency USAID is currently revolutionizing health and nutrition for northern Ghanaians. In order to counter the vitamin A deficiency from which many people in Ghana suffer, USAID introduced the sweet potato to the country. Since its introduction, the sweet potato has become one of the region’s most popular vegetables, USAID reports.

The implementation of the sweet potato is part of USAID’s 2014-2025 Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy. The project is aligned with the 2025 World Health Assembly Nutrition Targets and focuses on decreasing chronic malnutrition and improving other nutrition investments. According to USAID, over one-third of children under the age of five, in five northern districts, suffer from stunted growth resulting from poor nutrition, so the strategy is crucial for bettering the future generations.

USAID team members visited Ghana last year and taught 439 women in 17 districts how to grow the sweet potato. The crop instantly became admired, with villagers calling it “Alafie Wuljo,” or “healthy potato” in the Dagbani language. Ghanaians have also been taught different ways to cook the potato, such as schoolchildren enjoying sweet potato fries.

“Now everyone wants to grow orange-fleshed sweet potatoes,” said the head of the project, Phillipe LeMay, in a USAID article.

The Nutrition Strategy goes beyond just the sweet potato. The project also focuses on educating farmers about other nutritious crops, linking farmers to markets, helping community members create savings and loans, promoting better hygiene and improving water and sanitation infrastructure.

USAID and the government of Ghana aim to change the lives of roughly 300,000 people with this project. Northern Ghana is an area of particular focus because it is relatively remote with a harsh climate and limited resources. This work will also be assisting with the goals of the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. Feed the Future aims to decrease child stunting by 20 percent and double incomes of vulnerable households. With USAID tactics, this is becoming a reality.

The project has received positive responses thus far. The Ghanaian government has taken the initiative to promote a solution to vitamin A deficiency and nutrition in general, according to USAID, which has beneficial long-term effects. The organized training provided by USAID has also educated many people on how to practice proper sanitation and good nutrition.

“I now understand the links between poor sanitation, diarrheal diseases and nutrition,” said West Gonja District member Ama Nuzaara, in a USAID article. “I also make sure that my children wash their hands with soap and water after they use the toilet. I do this for my family’s health and well-being.”

Kerri Whelan

Sources: USAID 1, JSI, USAID 2, Feed the Future
Photo: Feed the Future

DronesPending Aviation Authority approval, drones could soon be used to deliver healthcare to patients in developing countries.

Drones, or unmanned aircraft, can be controlled by remote or autonomously. They can be used for a variety of things including surveillance, leisure and weaponry. Now, the potential has been unlocked for drones to help the field of healthcare.

Timothy Amukele, a pathologist at Johns Hopkins, is one of the people exploring this possibility. Recognizing that access in many third world countries is inadequate and expensive, he thought, why not drones?

“If we now have a cheaper way to move samples, it’s a good thing, especially for patients who are hard to reach, whether they live in rural areas or places without good roads,” Amukele said.

In order to stabilize health throughout Africa, access to medicine is necessary. One of the main reasons medicine becomes undeliverable is poor road conditions.

According to the Africa Development Bank, in 2010 only 34 percent of rural Africa had adequate road access. That small percentage is further crippled by the fact that those roads are poor quality and the government was unwilling to grant money for their repair.

Right now, helicopters or motorcycles are the best means of transportation throughout rural Africa. While motorcycles are cheaper to operate, they also have their disadvantages.

Motorcycles are smaller, eliminating the possibility for large amounts of cargo to be transported. Helicopters, on the other hand, make more sense because they are larger and avoid roads altogether. However, the operational costs are excessive.

Drones, potentially, are a solution to that logistical issue. The unmanned aircraft do not need to deal with traveling across haphazard roads. They are also significantly less expensive to operate, as they do not require fuel.

Drones can also help alleviate the number of patients a physician has to help for non-threatening medical issues. According to the World Bank, Bhutan only has one physician for every 3,333 people.

Having the ability to send drones to deliver medicine would cut down on the number of patients a physician would have to see. This would free up time for doctors to be able to attend to patients in desperate need of care.

Even though the idea of drones providing healthcare services is new, there are many positive attributes. Still, more must be achieved and learned to allow for this conception to become a reality.

Alyson Atondo

Sources: MIT, The Conversation, Washington Post, Benzinga
Photo: Flickr

hologram_house_calls

The Virtual Care Clinic, recently announced by the University of Southern California, is a pioneer in the field of virtual health care that promises easily accessible and personalized health care across the globe.

The two main components of this virtual clinic are hologram house calls, which stream video to individuals and an app that assesses someone’s needs based off of archived data as well as the information the patient provides.

The ninth annual University of Southern California’s Body Computing Conference was heralded by the announcement of hologram house calls, a prime feature to the previously announced Virtual Care Clinic which is currently under development.

The house call consists of a hologram or video beamed across the globe to wherever a patient in need resides, giving an incredible advantage for doctors to assess a patient with a little more contextualization.

This feature is important because it allows for a quick diagnosis and also allows doctors to further understand the situation of health care recipients, most of whom live in poverty.

The hologram house call is an essential extremity of the Virtual Care Clinic because this alone provides easily accessible care not just domestically but abroad, which is really an amazing feat.

Just by using the hologram house call anybody may speak to a trained medical physician in seconds and be given a diagnosis in minutes; the potential for giving health care guidance shrinks from providing establishments to providing a device that will stream the video.

Also, the house call operates with wearable or injectable technology that logs data in order to provide an almost complete examination; with these technologies working together, it is as if one were visiting a real doctor who would give him or her a precise consultation.

Along with the hologram house call, a second part of the virtual care clinic is less data intensive and focuses more on providing consistent, non-personnel type of aid.

With the app, all one must do is insert his or her age, medical condition and history of diseases that run in the family to be given accurate and helpful information on what kind of treatment to seek and when to seek it.

The potential for this technology is overwhelming considering that the mobile tech industry is ever-growing in places where development is occurring faster every day. Conceivably, the Virtual Care Clinic would provide consistent and affordable health care with the ultimate utility of being completely mobile.

Emilio Rivera

Sources: University of Southern California, Co.Design, Popular Science
Photo: Wikipedia

support package for PeruCommissioner Mimica of EU Aid began a voyage to Peru earlier this month on Oct. 9 to announce a support package for the development and health of young adults and children.

The support package for Peru is intended to accelerate the plans of the National Development and Social Inclusion Strategy, which aims to help five regions most affected by poverty in the Peruvian Amazon.

The finalized package suggests 40 million euros ($45.5 million), with a total 66 million euros ($75.1 million) being allocated to Peru between 2014 and 2017. This money will advance the already growing economy of Peru and assist the permanent reduction of poverty that has been reflected since this growth.

However, the solidarity of development has not been established, as about 54 percent still live in poverty and 19 percent live in absolute poverty (less than a dollar a day).

Social Inclusion Strategy will address this unequal growth, favoring those who have not benefited, despite the country’s economic boom. The stratagem prioritizes people into groups based off five core topics:

  1. Childhood Nutrition – focusing on fighting those who lack access to food and water
  2. Early Childhood Development – focusing on the development of infants and young children who do not live in stable conditions
  3. Development of Children and Teenagers – focusing on older children and teens who do not live with a stable family
  4. Economic Inclusion – focusing on incorporating those who have not benefitted from the economy into a better society
  5. Protection of Elders – focusing on poverty-stricken elders who are no longer able to provide for themselves

Furthermore, the developmental gap in the region is ensured to decrease by a three-part approach that focuses on three-time horizons – short, medium and long term.

Temporary relief will bring short term relief to those in extreme poverty while medium term relief promises capacity building such as providing services, and the long-term approach will aid with the creation of opportunities.

In this way, Peru will see a reduction of extreme poverty that substantiates and perpetuates the developmental growth of all priority groups.

MIDIS, the organization overseeing the National Development and Social Inclusion Strategy, defines people who are already in the process of social inclusion as PEPI; PEPI households must meet three of four focal points in order to be given PEPI status:

  1. Rural household
  2. Female-headed Household with less than primary education
  3. Head of house speaks indigenous language
  4. Located in the first quintile of national per capita income distribution

Of these dwellings, 60 percent live between walls of adobe, 84 percent have dirt floors in their homes, 60 percent use wood to cook and 57 percent go without access to sanitation services.

The total number of people living in PEPI households (4.8 million) calculates to about 16 percent of the population. It is estimated by 2030 for the developmental gap to be significantly reduced by the support package for Peru with financial investment to be concluded for Peru in 2017.

Emilio Rivera

Sources: European Commission, GOB, Nations Encyclopedia
Photo: Flickr

Indonesia_Family

In 2013, 28 million Indonesians lived below the poverty line. Impoverished families throughout the nation were often too poor to afford healthcare and education for their children, leading to illness and injury that trapped them in generational poverty.

In an effort to break this generational cycle, the World Bank, in combination with the Ministry of Social Affairs, has created the Family Hope Program.

Financial and Developmental Aid

The Indonesian Family Hope Program works through a series of cash transfers. The money is given to parents who agree to participate in health and nutrition training, take their children to clinics when they’re ill and keep their children in school.

The program also provides startup money and skills training to parents. These micro-investments give families the means to become entrepreneurs and run their own family businesses, ensuring economic growth and generational development.

Health

Mothers participating in the program are encouraged to give their children the best possible start to life — beginning in the womb. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that women have four antenatal check-ups throughout the course of their pregnancy, thus lowering the risk of complications, infections and other life-threatening incidents through screenings. Yet, few women receive all four visits.

The Family Hope Program has increased the number of antenatal checkups by more than 7 percent. This establishes a precedent of continued family health. As mothers are healthier during and after pregnancy, children are healthier and receive better healthcare as a result. The 7 percent increase in antenatal care resulted in a mirrored raise in child immunizations by 7 percent.

The nutritional aspect of the program has also positively impacted childhood development, decreasing the number of children suffering from stunting by 5 percent. As a result of children being healthier, they are able to focus better and attend school.

Education

Along with the cash grants, more than 11,000 facilitators trained in education and nutrition hold seminars teaching mothers how to manage finances, improve the health of their families and aid their children in their studies.

The program has resulted in increased enrollment and school participation.

Many children from poor families stop attending school after completing their primary education, though not due to a lack of desire to attend. The program has removed financial barriers keeping children from continuing their education for the more than 3 million families that the program has reached.

Children now are 8 percent more likely to go on to secondary education and 10 percent more likely to enroll in junior secondary school. According to the United Nations, more education equals higher earning potential and better health, which are essential to end the generational poverty cycle.

Claire Colby

Sources: NCBI, United Nations, World Bank, World Health Organization
Photo: PBase

Clinton Global InitiativeA lack of access to adequate health care is often a risk factor or symptom of poverty, as the inability to prevent or treat illnesses in a timely, affordable manner can devastate communities.

Following the aftermath of the Ebola crisis, USAID, the Clinton Global Initiative and other organizations have teamed up to create the Aspen Management Partnership for Health.

The Aspen Management Partnership for Health (AMP Health) is the first multi-sectoral partnership in the community health sector to focus on the leadership driving community health systems in developing nations.

Specifically, AMP Health hopes to strengthen the leadership and management of community health organizations. AMP Health combines the power of several different organizations in order to facilitate effective change.

This multi-sectoral partnership utilizes the power of USAID, the Aspen Institute, MDG Health Alliance, Born Free Africa, Margaret A. Cardill Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline, Partners in Health, the Harvard School of Public Health and McCann Health.

The partnership was announced at the Clinton Foundation’s 2015 Annual Meeting as one of their Commitments to Action for the Clinton Global Initiative.

“In addition to establishing mentor networks and cross-country convenings, the partners will recruit, train, and deploy in-country management professionals to work side-by-side with Ministries of Health on high-priority community health projects, ultimately strengthening health systems,” Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton said at the meeting.

The networks of trained, values-oriented health care professionals will be critical in advancing community health systems in developing nations.
Initially, the partnership will be utilized in sub-Saharan Africa, where community health interventions could save up to three million lives per year.

It will prove particularly relevant to reducing child and maternal mortality rates.

AMP Health incorporates businesses, governments, educational institutions, think tanks, multilateral organizations, and philanthropic foundations in order to affect change for community health systems.

While this may be just one of the Clinton Foundation’s 3,200 Commitments to Action, it carries much power and support from myriad organizations.

As a result of the multi-sectoral partnership, AMP Health can support sub-Saharan Africa as it works to prevent future epidemics, lower child and maternal mortality rates, and manage the treatment of chronic, non-communicable diseases.

– Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: Aspen Institute, Market Watch
Photo: Flickr

Military-Order-of-MaltaThe Sovereign Military Order of Malta has a rich history of generosity. Also called the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the organization dates back to 1048. At the time, it was a military order in charge of hospital defense. Members in the Order of Malta were chivalrous and noble of nature.

Since its beginning, the Order of Malta has been committed with aiding the poor and suffering. Today, it operates in more than 120 countries, providing medical and social care, disaster relief, emergency services and assistance for elderly, children and refugees. For more than 900 years, it has cared for people of all religions and beliefs.

“There are 13,500 members world-wide, plus 80,000 trained volunteers and 25,000 medical and para-medical personnel, working in a large number of hospitals, hospices, homes for the elderly and a variety of other aid activities,” says Marchesino Daniel de Petrie Testaferrata, elected president of the Maltese Association of the Order of Malta.

The Order of Malta has diplomatic relations with numerous countries, which allows it to better assist others, such as helping the sick in areas that some organizations may have trouble accessing.

The Order of Malta has provided disaster relief assistance in The Philippines and Haiti. In Africa, it focuses on care for HIV patients; treatment for tuberculosis, malaria and leprosy; and clean water supplies for others. It also cares for refugees and orphaned children in Asia and the Middle East.

In addition, the Order of Malta has aided in Europe and North America. After Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S., the Order of Malta provided shelter while working on reconstruction projects.

Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s relief agency, reports that, in 2014, its aim was to spread medical supplies to regions affected by Ebola. This year, it is educating others in hopes of minimizing the disease.

For more information on the Order of Malta, visit its website.

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Independent, The Order of Malta, Saint Peter’s List,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Photo: Flickr

Child Family Health International (CFHI) at a Glance
There is a plethora of organizations working toward the betterment of our world and the people living in it, however, they often do not get the attention or credit they deserve. So let’s shine a little spotlight on one and take a minute to appreciate others’ hard work and the power of teamwork.

Child Family Health International (CFHI) is a nonprofit organization that is focused on global health education. They offer education programs for individuals interested in global health and related careers. Here are three ways CFHI is working towards improving global health.

Educate Future Global Health Crusaders

CFHI offers education programs for students or volunteers to gain experience with the clinical practices, public health and social services in developing nations. They work within Latin America, Africa and India.

Participants of community-based Global Health CFHI programs can gain the valuable experience needed to build their resumes or earn college credit. CFHI offers more than twenty different programs in seven countries that work within and with the local community on projects like providing healthcare for underserved communities in the Himalayas to training midwives in Oaxaca.

Integrates into the Local Health Care Community

CFHI recognizes that there are already health care professionals and experts residing in the community they are working in and have partnered with existing health care providers. By utilizing local community leaders and health workers, CFHI helps support the development of opportunities for their international partners.

They invest in the continuing of their educations by offering scholarships for higher degrees and including locals in conferences and workshops. CFHI holds that students can learn not only from CFHI staff but also from those living in the communities they are working with.

Invests in Host Community

Students who participate in a CFHI education program pay a fee, which is common amongst study abroad experiences. However, unlike many other programs, CFHI invests half of a student’s fee back into the community they will be working and learning in. The invested funds work to bolster the economy of the countries CFHI works with and compensate the communities for their time, expertise and hospitality.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: Child Family Health International 1, Child Family Health International 2, GoAbroad.com
Photo: Flickr

Syrian Town Affected by Decline in Health Care due to Islamic State Rule
Syrian towns are lacking healthcare services. The Islamic State’s rules make the situation worse with the segregation of the genders and having to treat fighters before civilians.

The Islamic State (IS) has convinced thousands of foreign fighters and their families to flee to Syria where they will build a great place for them to live. Syrians in IS-controlled cities like Raqqa, believe they’re providing basic governance despite the civil war. IS has done a pretty good job with their recruiting efforts and getting funds through oil sales, taxes and extortions to continue their fight and gain more control.

Syrians, however, are in serious need of better healthcare services, especially women, to avoid a potential HIV/AIDS outbreak. Syrians feel that their health care was better under President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which covered most medical costs. Now, hospitals are charging and medications are hard to come by in pharmacies.

The IS hospitals are pretty limited given that they can’t do complex surgeries and procedures or treat cancer patients. As a result, Syrians are going to regime-controlled areas for medications and for complex procedures. The trip is worth it given the price disparity, for example, with a blood test that costs $10 at a public hospital and $20 at a private clinic.

The biggest problem is IS’s gender rules that hurt more women than men, especially in the case of emergencies. A woman cannot be seen by a man unless the husband and son are present. This problem is magnified during airstrikes by the Assad regime or U.S. led coalition forces. Fortunately, on one night, the IS let go of its gender rules.

The hospitals are already understaffed and supplemented by volunteer foreign doctors, Arab and Western, who lack experience with war-zone injuries. Fortunately, for the people of Raqqa, the IS hospitals are better equipped than rebel-controlled territories.

There is, however, a potential HIV/AID outbreak in the region. According to the activist group, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, various factors are contributing to this. Among them are blood transfusions without adequate screening, foreign and local fighters injecting drugs, short-term marriages, and high turnover of partners. Under the Assad regime, everyone would check for HIV/AIDS before marriage. Due to the threat, IS is bringing equipment from Mosul, Iraq, where they have a strong base.

Fortunately, for the people of Raqqa, the IS is responding to the need of abandoning gender rules during airstrikes and getting necessary equipment, but more needs to be done so these people can live peaceful, stable lives.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post
Photo: Flickr