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The Endless War in the DonbassThe War in Donbass is still ongoing after its onset in 2014. What started as a trade disagreement between the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russia, spiraled into civil protest which shifted into a bloody civil war among the protestors and the military.

Living in a War Zone

Since then, the civil war has worsened, affecting a majority of the citizens who reside in the war zone. There will be no signs of a permanent ceasefire within the country until common ground is found between the resistance and Russia’s military presence. Nick Thompson, a reporter for CNN, stated in 2016 that, “Ukraine’s prolonged stalemate is causing grief and isolation among millions living in the conflict zone, the United Nations warns, 9,500 people have been killed in the violence and more than 22,100 injured, including Ukrainian armed forces, civilians and members of armed groups, the UN says.”

Damaged Healthcare Facilities

Along with the high casualty rate, health care for citizens is becoming harder to reach due to the destruction of many hospitals and healthcare clinics in the region. Nearly one-third of medical facilities in the Donbass region have reported damage as a result of the conflict from the civil war.

The destruction of medical facilities is only worsening the burden placed on the citizens of the Donbass by the war. The significantly reduced accessibility of healthcare is compounding the many elements of poverty that have stricken the region.

A Weakened Economy

Before the war, the urbanized area of the region accounted for nearly 15 percent of Ukraine’s population and produced 16 percent of its domestic product. The GDP in Ukraine in 2013 was approximately 183.31 Billion USD until the conflict arose, which dropped the GDP by nearly 50 percent.

This reflects the economy present within the region and asserts the idea that individuals, as well as the country, are suffering from the effects of the civil war. Many have been forced out of their homes to migrate to other parts of Ukraine leaving displaced individuals in need of aid. While the EU expanded sanctions against Russia for a brief period, they shrank back in 2015, reducing Russia’s incentives to end the conflict.

The War in Donbass has permanently affected the people who once lived there or are currently residing in the war zone. This war has created many new elements of poverty by damaging the economy and reducing healthcare access. Many reforms will have to be established in order to combat against this civil war and rebuild the region once the war has ceased.

Struggling Peace Agreements

NATO has increasingly worked on their relationship with Russia in order to hinder the war but most of these agreements have failed to appease both sides.

While the outlook for the Donbass region may appear grim, the EU can still hold its considerable sanction power over Russia. Additionally, peace agreements are still in the works, despite their failures to reach a quick conclusion. A number of organizations are undergoing efforts to support the people of the region. For instance, the People’s Project of Ukraine, a non-profit organization, is engaging in crowd-sourcing efforts to support those displaced by the war. Consider donating to projects such as these if you are interested in helping the people of Ukraine.

– Elijah Jackson
Photo: Flickr

Gates Plans to Eradicate Malaria

Bill Gates is currently the second richest person in the world, with a net worth of $95 billion. But he also has a reputation for humanitarianism. As one of the world’s leading philanthropists, Gates is widely considered to be the most prominent humanitarian public figure. Together, he and his wife established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private, charitable foundation that globally combats poverty and enhances healthcare. Now, Gates plans to eradicate malaria by 2040.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, commonly transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. While malaria occurs in roughly 100 countries, it is most common in tropical and subtropical regions. To this end, the disease is common in regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Upon contracting malaria, a person will exhibit symptoms resembling the flu. And if left untreated, malaria can be fatal. However, this is largely preventable.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 207 million cases of malaria reported in 2012. Approximately 627,000 of these cases resulted in death. Significantly, roughly 90 percent of these estimated deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and 77 percent in children under 5 years of age. Given these statistics, the mortality rate of malaria is incredibly slight, at around 0.003 percent. Therefore, malaria does not have to result in death and, moreover, may be prevented entirely. And as Gates plans to eradicate malaria, this possibility may soon become reality.

What’s the Plan?

At the Malaria Summit London 2018, the Gates Foundation pledged to invest $1 billion through 2023 to end malaria. To date, the Gates Foundation has committed $1.6 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Additionally, it has committed almost $2 billion in grants to eradicate the disease. At the summit, Gates states, “It’s a disease that is preventable, treatable and ultimately beatable, but progress against malaria is not inevitable. We hope today marks a turning point against the disease.”

Malaria is not a mystery anymore. Cures and vaccinations already exist to combat the disease. There is a solution, it simply needs funding. Between 2000 and 2012, malaria incidence rates declined 25 percent globally. By establishing protocol, proper resources can render malaria a manageable issue. While this is no small order, Gates plans to eradicate malaria and has the capability to fund it. Undoubtedly, this will leave an indelible, positive mark on the fight for better healthcare and war against global poverty.

Lacy Rab
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Mortality in Africa

Upon learning they are pregnant, most women do not immediately wonder if it’s a fatal diagnosis. However, that is the stark reality for many women in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Maternal mortality in Africa is a pervasive and devastating issue. Far hospitals, scarce doctors and poor healthcare systems all contribute to maternal mortality. Most maternal deaths are preventable and caused by complications treatable in developed nations. It is important to recognize the causes of maternal death and solutions already in place to further reduce maternal mortality in Africa.

Causes of Maternal Mortality

The most common causes of maternal mortality are severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, delivery complications and unsafe abortions. In most cases, these are treatable with access to trained medical staff and proper medication. Access to maternal health care varies around the world. “A 5-year-old girl living in sub-Saharan Africa faces a 1 in 40 risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth during her lifetime. A girl of the same age living in Europe has a lifetime risk of 1 in 3,300,” according to Dr. Greeta Rao Gupta, deputy executive director of UNICEF. Factors such as “poverty, distance, lack of information, inadequate services, [and] cultural practices” prevent women from having access to the proper medical services they need.

Additionally, warfare in developing countries causes the breakdown of healthcare systems. This further prevents women from accessing life-saving medical care. For example, when the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone ended in 2002, it left less than 300 trained doctors and three obstetricians to treat the country’s 6 million people.

Solutions to Reduce Maternal Mortality

Many NGOs work throughout the region to combat maternal mortality in Africa. In fact, the United Nations initiated the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, 2016-2030. Their goal is to “reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births” by 2030.

According to a study by the World Health Organization, there needs to be better documentation of maternal mortality in Africa to create more effective policy solutions. Currently, less than 40 percent of countries have a registration system documenting the causes of maternal mortality. Hence, this lack of information makes it difficult for the U.N. and NGOs to create effective solutions.

An unexpected yet effective way maternal mortality in Africa has been combated is through photography. Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent Lynsey Addario took her camera to the region to document maternal mortality. Addario documented the experiences of many women, including 18-year-old Mamma Sessay in Sierra Leone. Sessay traveled for hours by canoe and ambulance while in excruciating labor to reach her nearest hospital. Addario stayed with Sessay for the entire experience, from the birth of her child to her subsequent hemorrhage and death. Addario even traveled with Sessay’s family back to their village to document Sessay’s funeral and her family’s grief.

Ultimately, TIME published Addario’s photographs. And as a result, Merck launched Merck for Mothers, giving $500 million to reduce maternal mortality rates worldwide. Addario stated, “I just couldn’t believe how unnecessary her death seemed, and it inspired me to continue documenting maternal health and death to try to turn these statistics around.”

The Bottom Line

The international community must continue to address maternal mortality, a preventable tragedy. No woman should have to fear for her own life or the life of her unborn child upon discovering she is pregnant. Through documentation, reporting and care, the international community can fight to reduce maternal mortality in Africa.

Alina Patrick
Photo: Flickr

opportunity in African slums
Kenya is known as a contrasting country where there is a large gap between the economic and social classes. About half of the 44 million people who live in the African country live well below the poverty line. This makes necessities like clean water and health care seem like luxuries.

With limited opportunity in African slums, many fall ill from lack of sanitation and clean water, as well as food shortages. Others are unable to attend school and are either pushed into violence or become victims of it.

Kennedy Odede – A Ray of Hope

Kennedy Odede was born in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest slums in Africa. Here, Odede and many of his friends and neighbors were subjected to violence, severe gender inequality and a constant feeling of hopelessness stemming from a lack of opportunity. Despite his extreme impoverished conditions, Odede remained hopeful for not only a better future for himself and his birthplace of Kibera but for all the slums of Africa.

As he continued his education and eventually migrated to the U.S., Odede became inspired by visionaries of change, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Like these influential men, Odede wanted to better the world for the vulnerable population.

In Kenya in 2004, Odede bought a soccer ball for 20 cents and taught people in his area the sport. Upon bringing people together to play, the Kenyan native was able to create open discussions about the pressing issues within the community of Kibera. Those included issues such as food security and gender-based violence. They started discussing ways to create opportunity in African slums.

Shining Hope for Communities

After meeting his wife, Jessica Posner, Odede’s initiatives branched out into a grassroots organization called Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).  It was founded in 2009. This nonprofit organization devised a plan to integrate programs for girls’ education and community forums to raise awareness about gender-based violence. SHOFCO’s mission statement pays homage to the mindset of Odede’s visionary inspirations. It reads “Empower communities to transform urban poverty to urban promise.”

SHOFCO set up an aerial network of pipes that brought access to clean water. It was an effort to help decrease Kenya’s alarming child mortality rate. SHOFCO has also set up several health clinics, including 6 in Odede’s home neighborhood of Kibera, where over 165,000 patients were served in 2017. Clinical services were desperately needed in Kibera with HIV and other diseases being endemically prominent.

According to SHOFCO’s annual report, in 2017 the organization helped provide free education and health services to nearly 220,000 people across Kenyan slums. Thus, along with health reform in Africa, the organization continues its initiatives to better education and transform the lives of people.

Educational Programs to Create Better Opportunity in African Slums

The Los Angeles based couple’s organization continued to transform urban poverty and create better opportunity in African slums through their educational programs. SHOFCO’s School-2-School program partners with schools across the United States to support efforts and raise awareness for SHOFCO’s free schooling for girls in Kenya.

This partnership has helped 45 percent of Kenyan girls enrolled in the free schooling program achieve A’s in Kenya’s primary education certification exam. Schools enrolled in the program received a B+ average on the same exam. Both Odede and his wife believe that providing young girls with education is important to fighting poverty as it creates female leaders and speaks for the need to fight for women’s rights.

SHOFCO now runs two schools, one in Kibera the other in Mathare. The schools teach 519 girls from pre-kindergarten up to eighth grade. Aside from traditional academic subjects, students focus on leadership skills and learn about Kenya’s government. This was Odede’s idea to make people realize the need to create more opportunities in African slums.

SHOFCO’s annual budget of $7 million is currently made up of donations and grants from both the U.S. and Kenya. Odede and his wife hope this budget will go well beyond $10 million by 2021. That would allow the organization to create more schools and also continue its efforts in addressing Kenya’s health and water security issues. SHOFCO’s model for lifting urban slums like Kibera out of poverty serves as a guide to how industrialized countries can help create opportunity in African slums.

– Haley Newlin
Photo: Flickr

Paraguay Successfully Eliminates Malaria
Paraguay has successfully eliminated malaria, making it the first country in the Americas to accomplish such a feat in nearly 50 years.

Victories Against Malaria

The country’s success has been attributed to its ability to detect malaria cases in a timely manner and discern whether or not the cases had been spread inter or intranationally. Between 1950 and 2011, Paraguay developed and implemented programs and policies meant to both control and eliminate the disease; the country registered its last case of P. Vivax Malaria, the most frequent cause of recurring malaria, in 2011.

After 2011, a five-year program focusing on case management, community engagement and public health education was launched in order to prevent transmission and prepare for official “elimination certification.”

Since the program’s completion in 2016, the Ministry of Health has launched a three-year initiative meant to further train Paraguay’s healthcare workers in regards to malaria. This prioritization will inevitably strengthen the country’s ability to promptly detect, diagnose and treat new malaria cases, as well as address the ongoing threat of “malaria importation.” The country has also prioritized controlling and minimizing mosquito populations within its borders.

New Directions and Prioritizations

The elimination of malaria provides economic leverage for Paraguay’s impoverished population. The significant financial burden of approximately $5 a day per malaria case, according to a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, will no longer plague Paraguayan families. Such relief will help enable them to direct their money towards other essentials, such as food and education.

Poverty affects almost 40 percent of Paraguay’s rural population, as opposed to only 22 percent of its urban population. Peak malaria infection often coincides with harvesting season, severely impacting the amount of food rural families are able to produce.

Malaria cases are typically concentrated in said rural areas, where many lack the resources and public health education to adequately detect or treat the virus. The immediate situation of these rural communities is only impacted by instances of extreme flooding, which act as a breeding ground for mosquitos (potential carriers of the virus).

Points of Impact

Malaria primarily occurs in poor, tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, most of which don’t have adequate access to primary care facilities – in many of the countries it’s present, malaria is the primary cause of death.

The virus is the result of a parasite carried by mosquitos. The most common symptoms of malaria include chills, fever and other flu-like symptoms. Left untreated, the disease can be fatal.

The groups most vulnerable to high levels of malaria transmission include young children and pregnant women. Malaria caused approximately 216 million clinical cases and over 440,000 deaths in 2016 alone.

Future Goals to Successfully Eliminate Malaria

The success of these programs provides a blueprint for other countries to successfully eliminate malaria themselves. Paraguay’s situation contrasts with those of other countries within the Americas, where the increase in malaria cases is greater than in any other region of the world. In fact, nine different countries reported malaria case increases of at least 20 percent between 2015 and 2016.

As a whole, however, Latin America witnessed over a 60 percent decrease in malaria cases between 2000 and 2015. As treatment and surveillance progress, many other countries will follow Paraguay in eliminating the virus. Argentina is expected to be certified later this year, and other malaria-free Latin American countries include Ecuador, El Salvador and Belize.

Katie Anastas
Photo: Flickr

Overpopulation and Poverty
There has been a longstanding notion that overpopulation and poverty are related. The belief is that overpopulation causes poverty. While it is true that many of the poor nations around the world are overpopulated, research has shown that overpopulation is not the prime reason for poverty.

Experts believe that blaming overpopulation for the financial struggle of a nation could be an oversimplification of the problem. Here are the three main myths when it comes to overpopulation and poverty.

Three Myths About OverPopulation and Poverty

  1. Improving healthcare in poor nations contributes to overpopulation: Couples in poor nations on an average have four children, double the average of their counterparts in a developed nation. It is not a coincidence that the same nations also have the highest infant mortality rate and the worst healthcare facilities in the world. The reason for this is that parents are hoping to make sure that at least two of their children live long enough to take care of them when they are old.When medical facilities are improved, the infant mortality rate drops. As a result, children are less affected by fatal diseases and live longer healthier lives. Gradually, parents start to have smaller families due to a confidence that their existing offspring shall live and thrive and the overall population growth rate starts to drop.Therefore, poor health care conditions are actually what contribute to overpopulation and poverty. Conversely, improving healthcare facilities helps reduce the population.
  2. Foreign aid to poor countries leads to overpopulation: The U.S. contributes less than one percent of its GDP toward foreign aid. The funding reaches the poorest of nations around the world, helping them fulfill the basic needs of their populations like providing grains at subsidized rates, providing clean drinking water and building toilets, among others. This, in turn, reduces the risk of fatal diseases like typhoid and diarrhoea.Foreign aid also supports education, specifically girls’ education. Educating a female child is still considered an unnecessary financial burden or even taboo in many societies. Girls’ education is often discontinued to fund their brothers’ education.Girls’ education is a key factor to resolve overpopulation and poverty. Research and data in the past decades have shown that improving girls’ education has a direct and profound impact on population control. Therefore, foreign aid does not cause overpopulation; rather, it helps uplift nations out of poverty, giving them basic amenities and education.
  3. Overpopulation cannot be solved in this lifetime: Controlling the constantly rising population is a daunting task. Based on the current population growth rate, the world population is projected to swell to 11 billion people in the year 2100. Nevertheless, by reaping the benefits of persistent efforts toward improving global medical facilities, equality in education and birth control awareness overpopulation and poverty can be resolved. More importantly, it is possible in this lifetime.By bringing down the average number of children per couple to 1.5, total world population would decline to about six billion by 2100–less than half the projected rise! Fewer people means more resources, subsequently leading to a greater number of self-sufficient and prosperous nations.

These myths about overpopulation and poverty have persisted for years and still continue to stand in the way of poverty eradication. If the world is to move toward a brighter, healthier, more equal future for all, these myths must be eradicated as well.

– Himja Sethi
Photo: Flickr

mobile apps in developing countriesIn the last 10 years alone, the number of mobile phone users has grown to four billion, with 37 percent of that growth occurring in developing economies. With internet availability expected to reach even the least developed nations in the next couple of years, a rapidly growing market for mobile apps in developing countries will likely expand even more.

Why is This the Trend?

In areas of Asia and Africa, one can buy a smartphone for the equivalent of $30. Simply put, mobile technology is the most convenient and cheapest technology option available for developing countries.

This convenience is one reason why the biggest market growth is seen in three main regions:

  1. Latin America, where smartphone adoption has seen double-digit growth and mobile banking gives financial access to those who might not ordinarily have it.
  2. South Asia, where in places like Vietnam, the number of Internet users has grown from four million to 45 million in just the last 10 years.
  3. The Middle East and North Africa, where, in Egypt alone, downloads of tool and messaging apps rose 60 percent in a year.

What Are the Uses for Mobile Apps in Developing Countries?

Whether it is to increase food production, access health information, launch a startup or improve education, a new reliance on mobile apps in developing countries transforms the way nations grow. While access to education is not a given in developing countries, the concept and means of education are shifting.

Four of the five top countries for educational app downloads are India, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. A large reason for this is that 50 percent of South Asians and 33 percent of Africans who finish school still cannot read, and 60 percent of six- to 14-year-olds in India cannot read at a second-grade level.

Mobile Apps are Facilitating Needed Change

For farmers who seek to increase food production, change is especially welcome. For practical purposes, apps like iCow allow livestock farmers in Kenya to track gestational periods for their animals, find veterinarians and monitor best practices. An app called Esoko disseminates information to farmers about market prices, weather forecasts and advisory services. Yet another popular app, WeFarm, offers a peer-to-peer platform for farmers to share information among themselves, with or without Internet access.

Beyond the fields and the classroom, popular mobile apps in developing countries range from banking apps like M-PESA, which allows for the transfer of funds over text message, to Voto Mobile, voice-based services in local languages. These programs have been rolled out in countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda and India.

In India, as with much of the developing world, access to good healthcare is also a concern. With over 60 million people in the country with type two diabetes and 36 million living with Hepatitis B, its people look to take advantage of the over 100,000 healthcare apps that already exist.

Never has technology been so accessible, yet never has the need for technology been so dire. With the myriad issues that arise because of extreme poverty, mobile technology gives rise to a new hope for developing nations.

– Daniel Staesser

Photo: Flickr

Medical humanitarian aidAccording to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an epidemic is a significant and sudden increase in the number of cases of a particular disease in a specific area or within a certain population. Epidemics can present themselves all over the world. However, epidemics are most common in impoverished, war-torn and developing countries.

Medical humanitarian aid can help end epidemics in many impoverished countries. Most countries that receive foreign humanitarian aid are not properly equipped to deal with disease outbreaks, nor do they have the trained medical professionals needed. This is how a disease outbreak quickly turns into an epidemic.

Many international medical relief groups focus their efforts on controlling epidemics by providing adequate medical training, professionals and equipment. Listed below are some of the international medical relief groups that are working toward ending epidemics.

Medical Teams International

Medical Teams International is a Christian-based international relief group that has been using medical humanitarian aid to help end epidemics. The group works by delivering medical supplies and trained volunteers to areas in need. The mission of the group is to provide medical, dental, humanitarian and holistic relief to diverse areas without discrimination.

For over 25 years, Medical Teams International has been providing relief for refugees in impoverished and war-torn countries. For example, in 2017 the United Nations declared a famine in South Sudan as a result of the civil war that has been ongoing since 2013. Shortly after the declaration, Medical Teams International dispatched massive relief efforts to combat the Cholera and Malaria epidemics.

Currently, Medical Teams International has provided medical humanitarian aid to over 520 thousand Sudanese refugees, severely curving the disease epidemics in that area.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is one of the most well known international medical-based relief groups in the world. For over 45 years, the group has dispersed trained medical professionals and medical humanitarian aid across the globe. Medecins Sans Frontieres is also on the cusp of many medical initiatives in impoverished countries.

Medecins Sans Frontieres is known for tackling large disease outbreaks and epidemics in poor and dangerous areas. In 2017, Medecins Sans Frontieres dispatched relief efforts to Uganda after the country was declared in a state of humanitarian emergency. The group focused its efforts on the recent Cholera outbreak spreading through Uganda, setting up multiple Cholera clinics to help treat and prevent the spread of Cholera to other refugees in Uganda.

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is another nonprofit humanitarian aid organization that primarily focuses on medical relief to devastated areas. The goal of the organization is to provide proper and comprehensive medical aid for impoverished areas and emergencies. In 2017, Forbes ranked Direct Relief among the top United States charities.

Over the past five years, Direct Relief has provided medical humanitarian aid to over 80 countries, many in Africa and South Asia. They have supplied over two thousand healthcare facilities and have sent billions of U.S. dollars worth of medical equipment and supplies.

These international organizations and many more have worked hard to make medical humanitarian aid more accessible to impoverished countries. Many epidemics that have started due to unsafe food, unsafe water and a generally poor environment have been contained and even eliminated by medical humanitarian aid. These organizations believe that with the right aid and volunteers, diseases around the world can be eradicated.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

The Link Between Poverty and EpidemicsOn Jan. 18, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to continue funding for H.R. 1660, or the Global Health Innovation Act, with an overwhelming vote of 423-3. The Global Health Innovation Act will support the progress of health innovations for USAID, the top U.S. government agency that works to end global poverty.

According to the original bill H.R. 2241, nearly nine million people die per year due to diseases and health conditions, many of which are preventable. USAID’s goal is to lower this statistic as much as possible and create democratic governments within underdeveloped societies.

The Global Health Innovation Act was reintroduced by Democratic Representative Albio Sires and other U.S. Representatives on March 21, 2017. Republican U.S. Representative of Florida Mario Diaz-Balart stated in a press release, “I am proud to reintroduce this critical piece of legislation with my friend, Rep. Albio Sires. It is more important than ever that the United States invest in global health and continue to deliver state-of-the-art medical devices and technologies.”

The Global Health Innovation Act will cost an estimated $500,000 or less from 2018-2022. This estimated amount by the Congressional Budget Office is subject to the availability of funds during each fiscal year. The bill would require USAID to track and report four annual updates to Congress of the developed health innovations and programs implemented.

These annual reports would track the extent to which health innovations have advanced, how progress is being measured and how these innovations are reaching set goals. The reports will also describe drugs, devices, vaccines, medical devices and technologies which are funded by the act. This detail is included to guarantee U.S. tax dollars are being spent in a logical and effective manner.

What work does USAID do?

USAID works toward sustainable global health by prioritizing three major goals: preventing child and mother deaths, controlling the HIV and AIDs epidemic and fighting infectious diseases. The overall goal of USAID is to improve health globally by bringing attainable medical innovations to impoverished countries in order to build better health systems. Through donors and partners, USAID has been working toward these goals and the Global Health Innovation Act will help bring these goals to reality.

Who is rallying for the Global Health Innovation Act?

U.S. Democratic Representatives Gerald Connolly (VA), Eliot Engel (NY), Brad Sherman (CA), David Cicilline (RI) and William Keating (WA) cosponsored the H.R. 1660 bill on March 21, 2017. Slowly, more Democratic Representatives joined them, including Suzan DelBene (WA), Joyce Beatty (OH), Nydia Velazquez (NY), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Ted Lieu (CA) and Timothy Walz (MN). Now that the bill has passed in the House of Representatives, it is important to continue rallying for its success as it still must pass in the Senate and be signed by President Trump.

How does it benefit the U.S.?

Global health is an important humanitarian concern as well as a business investment. Investing in global health creates new jobs and economic growth. According to Congressman Sires, between 2007 and 2015 global health investments generated $33 billion and 200,000 jobs. Investing in global health research and development has already impacted the U.S. with new health technologies. H.R. 1660 will continue to open doors for not only global health but also for the U.S. economy and technology.

What can be done to mobilize Congress?

Constituents across the U.S. can rally in support of the Global Health Innovation Act by calling or emailing Congress through a very simple process. Find the contact information for the appropriate Representatives here and Senators here. The Borgen Project has also provided a helpful tool to send emails through a template to Congress, which can be found here.

Contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives is effective because Congress staffers take a tally of every issue that constituents reach out for. This small bit of activism keeps important bills on the radar for Congressional leaders and can make a significant difference in a bill’s success. Even the smallest efforts can help create global change for people facing poverty.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in SwazilandSwaziland has endeavored to increase employment and economic growth. Among these efforts, still more work needs to further these goals and priorities. One area that the country has made progress in is improving living conditions in Swaziland by reducing the number of people living below the poverty line. With continued effort, Swaziland can make positive steps in strengthening its healthcare system, increasing employment rates and economic growth and increasing the retention rate of girls in school. These top 5 facts about living conditions in Swaziland will show where they are succeeding and where they need more work.

Top 5 Facts about Living Conditions in Swaziland

  1. In Swaziland, unemployment rates, in general, have not changed much in the past few years, hovering around 26 percent. There are further discrepancies between unemployment rates for women. For example, in 2007 and 2010, the rates stayed level around 30 percent. For men, however, the rates between 2007 and 2010 were 24.0 percent and 22.7 percent. There is still more work to be done in increasing youth employment. In fact, Swaziland has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Africa. The unemployment rate has remained higher than 50 percent since 2007. Specifically, working to reduce youth unemployment is a major part in helping reducing unemployment as a whole. Solutions to decrease youth unemployment are tertiary reforms and increasing vocational and on-the-job training. In addition, adding more growth to the private sector is key to helping to create high paying and productive jobs. Companies like Orange and OpenClassrooms are working to provide digital education to Africa’s youth to help young people find jobs in the tech markets.
  2. There has been some progress made in the living conditions in Swaziland by reducing the number of people living below the poverty line. According to the Swaziland Household Income and Expenditure Survey, the percentage of people living below the poverty line was 69 percent in 2001. However, the percentage had dropped by more than half to 30 percent in 2015. These numbers represent, on average, 20 percent for those living in urban areas, but for those living in rural areas, it was as high as 37 percent. Reasons for such high poverty rates were the decrease in incomes, the stagnation of private consumption and the decrease in the GDP.
  3. As a whole, economic growth has declined in Swaziland. Real GDP growth decreased from 1.3 percent in 2016 to 1 percent in 2017. Economic growth was projected to be at 1.5 percent in 2018. Factors that have contributed to the decline in economic growth are low demand from pivotal export market destinations, especially from South Africa and Eurozone. In addition, the sector also experienced a decline in economic growth and a loss of eligibility in status to trade under the African Growth and Opportunity Act Arrangement. Swaziland’s average GDP annual growth rate had been its highest in 1990 at 21 percent, but it dropped significantly down to .7 percent in 2016. Fortunately, the GDP annual growth rate had risen up to 2.3 percent in 2017.
  4. The healthcare system consists of formal and informal sectors. Health practitioners and general service providers make up the informal sector while industry, private and public health services as well as nongovernmental organizations make up the formal sector. Swaziland puts around 3.8 percent of its GDP towards healthcare, the government providing 65 percent of the money, which is about 2 percent of its GDP. The federal budget was increased from 7 percent in 1998 to 9 percent in 2009.
  5. There still is more work to be done in closing the gender gap in education. Swaziland’s educational levels are primary education, secondary education, vocational education and tertiary education. Although there is not a great disparity between boy and girls attending primary, dropout rates do tend to rise by year 5 of secondary school. More work needs to be done in increasing the retention rates for both girls and boys in school, although more work is needed for female retention. While there are not as many obstacles for girls starting school, there are numerous obstacles that hinder girls from staying in school. Between the ages of 15 and 19, 50 percent of girls will not have completed secondary school, compared to 39 percent of boys. Some of the obstacles are poverty, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and gender insensitivity. Furthermore, more than two-thirds of families live in poverty, and many find difficulties in paying for school fees and other costs.

These 5 facts about living conditions in Swaziland show that, while there is more work to be done in areas of employment, economic, growth and education, there has been notable progress in helping to improve the living conditions of the people. One area that has seen progress is the reduction of the number of those living below the poverty line. With more effort, Swaziland can see positive developments in helping the lives of all people.

Daniel McAndrew-Greiner

Photo: Flickr