60. Thailand Is Fighting to Become a Rabies-Free NationOn August 28, 2017, Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol of Thailand visited the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva. The purpose of her visit was largely related to her efforts regarding a widespread health concern, as Thailand is fighting to become a rabies-free nation. Princess Mahidol hopes to accomplish this goal in Thailand by 2020, which is line with a broader initiative to eradicate human rabies deaths by 2030.

Rabies is a fatal but preventable disease that predominantly affects southeast Asia and parts of Africa, but exists worldwide. The disease is transmitted through contact with an infected, warm-blooded animal. While most people are familiar with the transmission occurring by bite, the disease can also spread by saliva on broken skin or through a mucous membrane in the eyes, nose or mouth.

For Thailand, dogs present the greatest rabies threat to humans. There are an estimated 10 million dogs in the country. The National Health Institute suggests that about 10 percent of stray dogs in Bangkok carry the disease. These dogs pose risks to travelers, people who work around animals and playful children alike.

Thailand’s government has taken up this issue in part due to the specific risk rabies poses to the majority of the country’s population living in low-income rural areas. However, treatment with prophylaxis (PEP) is very accessible and affordable. Through mass dog vaccination and treatment of infected humans, Thailand has already succeeded in reducing human rabies cases by 90 percent since the 1980s. According to Chulalongkorn University’s Dr. H. Wilde, the most important next step is to get PEP out to the village level, because that is where Thailand “could save many thousands of lives.”

The villages of Thailand are far away from the hospitals of Bangkok and typically are host to the greatest levels of poverty. On a country-wide level, poverty has significantly decreased in the last 30 years. However, Princess Mahidol has recognized there is still a need for better healthcare among the impoverished. Princess Mahidol is seeking to send mobile units to provide care for people that do not have the means of acquiring treatment in bigger cities. This provision is possible as a direct reflection of the government’s fight against poverty. By focusing on reducing poverty and expanding welfare services, nearly everyone in Thailand is covered by health insurance, which makes the treatment even more accessible and affordable.

Thailand is working to become a rabies-free nation by 2020 and owes much of its success to its continued fight against poverty. By reducing the number of people affected by poverty and expanding welfare services to include broad health insurance, those in Thailand are likely to see the end of rabies soon.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr

Micro Insurance Agency IndiaMicro Insurance Academy, a nonprofit that operates in countries such as Nepal, India and Bangladesh, has spent many years working to improve health conditions by implementing health insurance programs in underdeveloped communities.

Established in 2007 as a charitable trust in New Delhi, India to aid the development of micro-insurance, their programs assist families when disaster strikes, such as when a crop fails or a family member passes away. In 2011, to accommodate their growing business, they opened an office in Bonn, Germany and expanded their reach to multiple parts of the world, including communities in India and Africa.

Their main goal is to reduce the impact of unexpected illnesses, accidents, crop failure, livestock loss, natural disasters and death. Health insurance helps to provide certainty by offering a backup plan in case the worst happens.

Since their creation, Micro Insurance Academy has helped up to 45,000 people per year. In 2014, their most recent report, they assisted nearly 15,000 households, had approximately 12,000 people receive their claims and in total, since the beginning, had 20,927,590 people repay their claims.

Micro Insurance Academy is comprised of 40 employees who are research, training and development experts, making them the largest micro-insurance resource center in the world.

To implement their projects, Micro Insurance Academy partners with local organizations to lay down a steady foundation in the community they are working in. While working with these partners, they train them in safe and efficient micro-insurance practices.

A large part of their program consists of research. Their research finds answers to questions such as what techniques will benefit a specific community more and what challenges are being faced by people in subsistent marketplaces.

In addition to these programs, Micro Insurance Academy also offers educational services. These services provide information on insurance, social protection, financial inclusion and risk management to help their clients get the best out of their micro-insurance programs.

Throughout the communities they assist, the organization has implemented resource centers that help their clients develop strong relationships with one another, utilize tools and resources needed to develop strong business skills and provide assistance with business techniques such as operations and marketing management.

In total, Micro Insurance Academy has assisted people in more than 12 countries to rise out of poverty through smart micro-insurance and business techniques. In the future, they plan to expand their practices and assist a greater number of people throughout the world.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: Micro Insurance Academy, Poverty-Action, Idealist
Photo: Telegraph