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origami provides access to clean waterPaper for Water is a non-profit organization located in Dallas, Texas that transforms lives through origami practices. In 2011, two sisters, Katherine and Isabelle Adams, ages five and eight years old, discovered that millions of people in the world do not have clean water resources. Furthermore, in impoverished countries, young women often skip school to walk miles in search of clean drinking water. So, the Adams sisters decided to make a difference by handcrafting origami ornaments for donations to build a well for an Ethiopian community. After raising more than $10,000, when their original goal was to raise $500, the Adams sisters established their corporation, Paper for Water. Here is how origami provides access to clean water.

Now, Katherine and Isabelle Adams, ages 14 and 16, work alongside hundreds of volunteers across North Texas. Since 2011, Paper for Water has raised over $2 million, helping fund 200 water projects in numerous countries. Paper for Water has trained over 1,000 people the art of folding origami. It has graced over 48,000 people with access to clean water through implementing water wells in deprived communities.

Paper for Water and Education

Additionally, Paper for Water educates local communities in the global water crisis. There are approximately 2.5 billion cases of diarrhea every year in children less than five years old. Diarrhea accounts for about 760,000 deaths in children under five years old annually. Diarrhea is now the second leading cause of death in children across the world, advancing AIDs, malaria and measles combined. Caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation conditions, diarrhea is one obstacle developing communities across the globe face.

Paper for Water stresses the importance of clean water well building through their past 120 educational talks, which reached 14,000 people. Paper for Water’s informational efforts gained the attention of influential social media platforms, such as Nickelodeon’s HALO Effect, the Kleenex Corporation, Martha Stewart Living, People Magazine and CBS.

Where Paper for Water Does Business

Paper for Water currently sells its origami ornaments on their online store and in some temporary stores as specified online, such as Neiman Marcus and Galleria Dallas. The beautiful, ornate decorations are Paper for Water’s primary source of financial donations. Each profit from an ornament sold goes straight into Paper for Water’s efforts of water well building abroad. So, with each paper folded, with each origami created, Paper for Water provides access to clean water. Nevertheless, Paper for Water relies on monthly donors of $10 a month to help maintain its goal of installing one water well per month.

Paper for Water has partnered with businesses across North Texas, instituting large installations of their elegant crafts. In 2017, Paper for Water constructed 350 origami ornaments for Neiman Marcus’ Christmas Book. This partnership with Neiman Marcus enabled two schools in Kenya to receive water wells. Galleria Dallas and Mo Wax Visual partnered with Paper for Water in 2018, crafting over 4,000 origami butterflies for their “Fold to Flight” display. Galleria Dallas Mall provided Paper for Water with a temporary store during the summer installation. The Crow Museum of Asian Art’s Lotus Shop in Downtown Dallas also installed a Paper for Water exhibit. The magnificent origami piece exhibits a collaborative project with Ekaterina Lukasheva, a famous origami artist.

Current Partnerships and Success

Paper for Water also has partnerships across the United States through its essential volunteer base. Multiple groups of volunteers appear across the nation, consisting of the Well Wishers Group, the Paper Dolls Group, Paper for Water’s Youth Representatives Worldwide, NorthPark Presbyterian Church, Volunteers of All Ages Group and several families and school clubs across America. With the help of volunteers making origami ornaments, the organization can make a difference and administer clean water resources globally.

Paper for Water is transforming lives one piece of paper at a time. Through designing origami pieces, the organization combines art and philanthropy, supplying the world’s thirsty with clean water wells. Paper for Water hopes to end the world water crisis and continues to make and sell origami ornaments every day. Paper for Water’s website provides multiple options to get involved in the cause, from purchasing origami ornaments to learning how to make origami to volunteering or donating monthly. 

– Kacie Frederick 

Photo: Flickr


Hepatitis has become a global epidemic. Such viral infections can cause cirrhosis of the liver and hepatocellular carcinoma. Nine percent of the global population, or 550 million people, are infected and one million die from the disease every year. Most of these deaths are in lower-income countries. Hepatitis infections have definitive links with poverty beyond death rates; poverty is an identified risk factor for the disease. Here are four ways poverty impacts the hepatitis epidemic:

  1. Poverty Impedes Diagnosis
    Many people are unaware they have hepatitis. Indeed, 90 percent of people with hepatitis C are not diagnosed. Undiagnosed people may not take precautions in preventing transmission.Many diagnostic tests are expensive, putting them out of reach for lower-income countries. For example, the liver biopsy test is not only expensive, but it requires trained histopathologists to analyze the tissue sample. In Africa, medical professionals who are experts in liver diseases are generally not common. This includes those who would analyze the histology sample.Furthermore, lower-income countries don’t typically have high-quality laboratories that can test for hepatitis. The centers that do exist are usually found in urban areas, neglecting those in rural locations.
  2. Poverty Reduces Access to Treatment
    Lower-income countries have limited access to hepatitis treatment. Forty-one percent of the population lives in places without public hepatitis funding. One treatment, known as PEG-INF/RBV, can cost EUR 25,000 for full course therapy in Europe. This figure does not consider any of the follow-up care or further tests.There are also tests which guide the treatment of hepatitis. They identify the strain and how much virus is in a person. They’re expensive and as such not always routine.
  3. Patents Make Drugs More Expensive Than They Need to Be
    Drugs are protected as intellectual property by patents. These protection laws prevent other companies from creating comparable, generic drugs at lower prices for twenty years after invention. The intention is to encourage research and development by drug companies. In reality, when only one company makes a drug the company has free range with pricing and often sets a high price tag. These patents make some hepatitis drugs too expensive for patients in lower-income countries.
  4. Reuse of Syringes is Common in Lower-Income Countries
    Syringes can be contaminated with hepatitis. When they are reused without sterilization, they can pass along the infection. One reason that dirty syringes are reused is because of poorly trained healthcare workers. Also, lack of funding forces medical professionals to reuse syringes. If this practice continues, so will the epidemic.The good news is that there are treatments and cures for hepatitis. There is a complete cure for the hepatitis C strain and preventative vaccines for hepatitis A, B and E. The World Health Organization (WHO) is optimistic in defeating the hepatitis epidemic. They have prioritized its eradication and are creating guidelines to help countries with this process.

Previously, the WHO prioritized fighting a global epidemic during the HIV outbreak. HIV therapy once cost $10,000 per patient, per year. That is now down to $100. Today 10 million people receive treatment, in contrast to the mere 20,000 who were once treated in developing nations.

Hopefully, with focus and funding, the future of hepatitis can follow the pattern set by the HIV outbreak, and poverty’s impact can be eliminated.

Mary Katherine Crowley

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Ethiopia to Know About
Ethiopia is known as a historically prolific country that is endowed with abundant natural and agricultural resources. Yet, a list released by the U.N. detailing the least developed countries in the world declares Ethiopia as one of the poorest countries in the world.

Life expectancy in Ethiopia is estimated at 57 years for males and 60 years for females. These statistics indicate rudimentary health care infrastructure, but also lack of access to sanitation facilities, clean water and nutritious food. The list below explores the top diseases in Ethiopia that are a consequence of its geographical location, living standards and level of development.

  1. Neglected tropical diseases
    Neglected tropical diseases can be defined as a class of transmissible diseases that exist predominantly in tropical regions. These diseases are associated with delayed physical and mental development and blindness. Due to the incapacitating effects of these diseases, the true economic potential of underdeveloped countries is not realized.
    As a result of its proximity to the equator, Ethiopia bears the burden of neglected tropical diseases that include conditions such as trachoma and schistosomiasis. Trachoma is caused by a bacterial infection that primarily targets the eyes, causing irritation and in advanced stages, blindness. Schistosomiasis is a disease transmitted by parasites residing in freshwater snails. Its acute effects include itchiness of the skin or visible rashes.
    A 2012 study published in Parasites and Vectors estimated that approximately 5 million individuals out of 94 million individuals in Ethiopia are afflicted by schistosomiasis. Ethiopia’s widespread prevalence of neglected tropical diseases has important implications as these conditions often cause disability and can, therefore, reduce the potential to work.
    These diseases can be addressed by establishing local campaigns to distribute medicines, subsidies and donations by pharmaceutical companies and increasing awareness about the mechanisms of transmission.
  2. Malaria
    Although malaria is a worldwide phenomenon, its effects are particularly felt in countries that are not equipped with appropriate health care and education services. An article published in the Malaria Journal stated that countries such as Ethiopia are particularly predisposed to malaria as a consequence of poor living conditions and remote sources of clean water.
    It is estimated by the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health that each year, four to five million people in Ethiopia suffer from malaria, and even greater numbers are at risk. In order to address the vast numbers of malaria cases in Ethiopia, campaigns should be set up locally that provide clean water.
    The local population should also be educated on ways to keep their households clean, and in particular, avoid stagnant water, which is a potent breeding ground for parasites and mosquitoes. A humanitarian organization called Nothing but Nets has initiated the anti-malaria revolution by distributing millions of mosquito nets to families all across Sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. HIV/AIDS
    Statistics published by the World Health Organization postulate that 1.2 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. In addition, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that HIV infection is the third most common cause of death in Ethiopia, contributing to 7% of total deaths in the country. AIDS is an important cause of concern due to its manifold mechanisms of transmission. Children may risk contracting the viral infection if their mothers had the virus at the time of childbirth.
    AIDS prevention strategies should focus on raising awareness about the methods of transmission. Provisions should be made to subsidize preventive measures such as contraception and sterile needles.
  4. Rotaviral Diarrhea
    To provide context to the devastating effects of this variant of diarrhea, Dr. Adamasu Kesetebirhan, Minister of Health in Ethiopia states that, “Diarrhea takes the lives of more than 38,500 Ethiopian children under five each year, rotavirus being responsible for close to two-thirds of the deaths.” The virus spreads rapidly among children and is especially pernicious because of its ease of transmission.
    The rotavirus responsible for this type of diarrhea causes severe dehydration and fever. Currently, measures are being implemented throughout Ethiopia to distribute rotavirus vaccines in an attempt to reduce the prevalence of this condition.
  5. Hepatitis
    Hepatitis, another viral infection, is especially common in Ethiopia. Its methods of transmission include consuming contaminated water, living in unclean environments and eating poorly cooked meat. A recent statistic concerning viral hepatitis suggests that approximately 10 million individuals in Ethiopia are affected by the disease. Considering that transmission is greatly contingent upon hygiene and safety, clean practices such as washing hands regularly and chemical purification of water should be encouraged.

The above list outlining the top diseases in Ethiopia emphasizes the need to transform healthcare infrastructure and services in the country. Financial and food aid may be required from foreign countries to support the country during its initial stages of trying to reduce the prevalence of top diseases in Ethiopia.

Tanvi Ambulkar

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Morocco
Although modern in many respects, Morocco remains a traditional country that struggles to combat certain diseases. The country with a population of 33,680,000 has a life expectancy of 71, which is right at the world’s average. Although there are a good number of physicians and medical centers available, the rural population still experiences difficulty accessing these facilities and safe drinking water. Here are the top diseases in Morocco:

Hepatitis

Hepatitis A, B, C, and E are all prominent in Morocco, but currently, hepatitis A and B are the only forms that can be prevented through a vaccine or medication. Regardless of where you are staying or what food you are eating, there is a high possibility of obtaining hepatitis A in Morocco due to contaminated food and water. It is also transmitted through person-to-person contact.

Hepatitis B, which is transmitted via blood and bodily fluids, is another dangerous disease. Activities such as intercourse with the local population, intravenous drug use, contaminated tattoo and piercing equipment or exposure to blood may yield hepatitis B. Symptoms usually include nausea, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that inflames the liver. This form of hepatitis is similar to the others because it can be transmitted person to person and through activities that expose one to blood and other bodily fluids.

Hepatitis E is extremely endemic in Morocco and also inflames the liver. Water contaminated with fecal matter and foods that contain raw or undercooked meats, may result in exposure to hepatitis E.

Rabies

Rabies, which is found everywhere, is another prominent disease in Morocco. One can obtain rabies through mammal bites, especially from dogs, cats and bats.

Typhoid

Common in areas with poor sanitation, Typhoid Fever is a gastrointestinal infection that is transmitted from person to person. It’s found in Southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America and Western Pacific countries. Symptoms include headaches, lack of appetite, enlarged liver and constipation. Similar to hepatitis E, ensuring that one’s food is thoroughly cooked is an easy way to avoid typhoid.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis, a disorder that has become more prevalent due to irrigation, is characterized by the inflammation of the intestines, bladder, liver and other organs. It was first detected in Morocco in 1914, but reached its peak post-independence when the new government was constructing numerous irrigation systems across the country.

Almost as dangerous as malaria, it is a serious parasitic infection that affects nearly 200 million people in Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. The lack of clean water makes schistosomiasis easily attainable because worms that carry the parasite can be found where people work, bathe or swim.

Although the top diseases in Morocco are affecting not only the population but those who visit the country, there is ample aid given to reduce the prevalence of these diseases. Organizations such as USAID and the World Health Organization (WHO) funnel money to provide more portable water, vaccinations and access to medical personnel and facilities. The U.S. planned to give $33,500,000 to combat top diseases in Morocco.

The country has been open to implementing strategies that lead to impressive differences. For example, Morocco started using azithromycin on a large-scale, the first country to do so, in an attempt to control trachoma.

Overall, Morocco has also made great strides towards eliminating other diseases including eradicating malaria, which it accomplished in 2010.

Ashley Morefield

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Chad
Since its independence from the French in 1960, the northern Central African nation of Chad has faced political instability in addition to harsh desert climates in the north. Due to complex political and environmental situations, Chad is ranked 185 out of 187 countries on the 2014 UNDP Human Development Index.

Health resources in Chad are low as a result of its poverty and politics, compared to the rest of Africa. Chad has a large refugee population of over 380,000 and 80 percent are Sudanese. With a deficit of proper resources and infrastructure to combat communicable diseases, here is a list of the top diseases in Chad.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an infection in the liver and is identified through five different hepatitis viruses. Chad is at risk for hepatitis A, B, C and E. Hepatitis A and E are spread by contaminated food or water and human waste. Chad’s hepatitis A and E risk is correlated with its sanitation and water practices. About 44% of Chad’s population does not have access to clean water.

While hepatitis A and E are endemic because of contaminated food or water, hepatitis B and C are spread through blood, semen and other bodily fluids. Hepatitis is resolved after four weeks of medical treatment.

Vaccines are recommended for children, as hepatitis can develop without symptoms during childhood. Vaccines for hepatitis B are more prioritized since it’s transmitted from person to person. In 2015, WHO-UNICEF estimated only 55% of people were vaccinated for hepatitis B, compared to the government’s estimate of 925.

Some solutions to solve hepatitis include more coverage of hepatitis B vaccines to prevent people from infecting others. Improving water conditions and sanitation would eliminate hepatitis A and E.

Meningococcal Meningitis

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis and infects the meninges in the brain membrane. The potentially fatal disease can cause brain damage and deafness. Outbreaks are prevalent during the dry season in the Sub-Saharan meningitis belt.

The Sub-Saharan meningitis belt is a wide region of countries with a high risk of the disease, stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east. During the 2012 outbreak, there were 2,828 cases of meningitis in Chad and 135 deaths.

There are many campaigns supporting meningitis vaccine coverage in the belt. In 2014, meningitis epidemics reached their lowest levels. After Chad’s campaign, meningitis cases dropped by 94%.

Typhoid

Typhoid is a gastrointestinal infection transmitted from one infected person with poor hygiene to another person when handling food and water. The bacteria can multiply and enter the bloodstream and cause high fevers and fatigue. Typhoid is common in countries that have poor water and improper sanitation. Typhoid vaccines are highly recommended for travelers visiting Chad.

Malaria

Chad has a very high risk of malaria, with a greater incidence rate of over 85% of plasmodium falciparum malaria. Because of the high amount of malaria cases, Chad is receiving help for malaria prevention.

While progress for adopting preventative therapy for children is slow among WHO member states, Chad is the only country that adopted the recommended policy for infants.

There still is a lot of progress needed for top diseases in Chad to be completely combated against and its health resources to be improved. However, solutions are available to prevent most of these top diseases in Chad.

Taameen Mohammad

Photo: Flickr

Hepatitis_Day_WHO
July 28th is World Hepatitis Day, a time meant for people to learn and think about the wide-spread impact of hepatitis and how they can help combat its prevalence. Throughout the world, more people are living with hepatitis than are living with HIV or any kind of cancer, yet hepatitis lacks the large amount of public awareness that these other diseases receive. World Hepatitis Day was established to help bring a larger discussion about hepatitis and how the disease impacts global health.

Over 500 million people live chronically with either Hepatitis B or C. This translates to roughly 1 out of 12 people in the world living with a chronic form of the illness. An additional 2 billion people suffer from Hepatitis B and 150 million from Hepatitis C. Of those infected with the disease, nearly one million will die each year.

Hepatitis B and C are both transmitted through contact with infected body fluids. Hepatitis B can be spread during unsafe sex, when using unsterilized needles, or from mother to baby during birth. Hepatitis C is spread through direct contact with infected blood. In both forms of hepatitis, the infected patient will experience a swelling of the liver and will be at extreme risk of developing other liver problems. Those contracting hepatitis have a greater chance of having liver damage or developing liver cancer in the future.

One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of hepatitis and to encourage that infected patients seek treatment for the disease is through education. World Hepatitis Day works to educate the public by encouraging that people practice safe sex, are vaccinated against the disease, and avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, or equipment for injecting drugs with one another. It also encourages healthcare providers to ensure that their equipment is adequately sterilized between patients to eliminate the virus from their tools.

Symptoms of hepatitis are very similar to symptoms of the flu. Those experiencing flu-like symptoms are encouraged to seek care from a medical professional for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

World Hepatitis Day events will be taking place all over the world on July 28th. The World Health Organization is hoping that the day will help raise hepatitis awareness and lead to increased availability of resources to help prevent the spread of the disease.

– Jordan Kline

Sources: Medical News Today, World Hepatitis Alliance Azerbaijan News
Photo: GEO