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10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Gabon

Gabon, located on the west coast of Africa, is surrounded by Atlantic Ocean, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Forest covers 85 percent of the country, and the population is sparse and estimated to be 2.17 million. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about the life expectancy in Gabon.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Gabon

  1. The average life expectancy in Gabon is 66.4 years. Males have a life expectancy of 65 years compared to 68 years for females as per the 2016 data from WHO. This is the highest life expectancy value for Gabon compared to 61 years in 1990.
  2. Gabon’s total expenditure on health care is 3.44 percent of its gross domestic product. From the total expenditure on health, 31.62 percent comes from private resources. The government spends 7.38 percent of its total budget on health. This is higher than the average of 4.2 percent expenditure on health in Central Africa and an average of 3.9 percent for low-and-middle-income countries.
  3. Gabon has a low density of physicians. The country has 26 physicians and 290 nurses for every 100,000 people. The WHO notes that a physician density of less than 2.3 per 1,000 population is inadequate for an efficient primary health care system.
  4. Maternal mortality and infant mortality rates have seen a downward trend since the 1990s. The maternal mortality rate is 291 per 100,000 live births compared to 422 per 100,000 live births in 1990. The infant mortality rate is 21.5 per 1,000 live births. Eighty-nine percent of births are attended by skilled personal. The rate of under-5 deaths is 48.5 per 1,000 live births. On average, women have 3.8 children during their reproductive years.
  5. HIV/AIDS is no longer the number one cause of death in Gabon. Deaths from HIV/AIDS have declined by 77 percent since 2007. Similarly, deaths from tuberculosis and diarrhea have reduced by almost 23 percent and 22 percent respectively over the 10-year period ending in 2017. The current number one killer in Gabon is ischemic heart diseases followed by lower respiratory infection and malaria.
  6. Malnutrition is considered the most important driver of death and disability in Gabon. Dietary iron deficiency is the most important cause of disability and has retained the top spot for more than 10 years. Sixty percent of pregnant mothers and 62.50 percent of under-5 children are anemic, severely affecting the health and life expectancy of these groups.
  7. Rolled out in 2008, Gabon’s Universal health insurance extends coverage to the poorest, students, elderly, public and private sector workers. Gabon uses the Redevance Obligatoire à l’assurance Maladie (ROAM) to fund health care insurance. This is a 10 percent levy on mobile phone companies’ turnover, excluding tax and a 1.5 percent levy on money transfers outside the country. Still, the out of pocket cost for health care accounts for up to 21 percent of the total cost.
  8. As of 2015, 41.9 percent of the population has access to improved quality of drinking water. Gabon is ranked as 150 out of 189 countries in sanitation. People practicing open defecation increased from 1.7 percent in 2000 to 3.03 percent in 2015. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is advocating and investing to promote clean water in Gabon.
  9. Immunization coverage is between 70-79 percent for children in Gabon per UNICEF data. Available statistics for BCG and DTP vaccine shows that 87 percent of children have been vaccinated.
  10. The literacy rate in Gabon is 82.28 percent for the population aged 15 years and above. This is below the global average of 86 percent. The literacy rate for men (84 percent) is slightly higher than women (79 percent).

– Navjot Buttar
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast, is a West African country with one of the fastest-growing economies in the continent. However, its life expectancy at birth is one of the lowest in the world. Here are seven facts about life expectancy in Côte d’Ivoire.

7 Facts About life Expectancy in Côte d’Ivoire.

  1. According to the CIA World Factbook, Côte d’Ivoire’s life expectancy at birth is 60.1 years. Out of the 223 countries measured, Côte d’Ivoire ranks 209. This is 30 spots lower than its GDP per capita ranking.
  2. One of the main causes of Côte d’Ivoire’s low life expectancy is its alarmingly high infant-mortality rate. An estimated one out of every 16 babies born in Côte d’Ivoire dies, making it the number one cause of death in Côte d’Ivoire. This is the 14th highest rate in the world, but over the last 20 years, there has been a considerable improvement. According to Niale Kaba, Côte d’Ivoire’s planning and development minister, the country’s infant mortality rate has fallen from “112 for every 1,000 births in 1998 to 60 per 1,000 in 2016.”
  3. Côte d’Ivoire’s life expectancy is also being suppressed by its high birth rate and lack of quality health care for both newborns and mothers. The average age of a mother’s first birth in the Ivory Coast is roughly 19 years old and each woman will bear almost four children, on average. However, only 59 percent of births are overseen by a skilled birth attendant. The young age of mothers and the lack of health professionals guiding them through their pregnancies contribute to the Ivory Coast’s ranking of 12th highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
  4. A considerable lack of accessible sanitation facilities and clean water makes much of the Ivory Coast’s population susceptible to disease. Around half of the schools in Côte d’Ivoire do not have toilets or water, forcing students to walk up to a kilometer just for clean water. Additionally, 60 percent of families do not have the means to regularly wash their hands with soap and water. These dangerous conditions increase the likelihood of death from preventable diarrheal diseases, which are the sixth deadliest condition in Côte d’Ivoire.
  5. Alarmingly, 24,000 people die from HIV/AIDS in Côte d’Ivoire each year, the 10th highest rate in the world. While it no longer causes the most deaths in the Ivory Coast, every day five teenagers are infected with HIV/AIDS. Modern scientific treatments like antiretroviral therapy have been remarkably successful at combating this crisis, but less than 30 percent of HIV-positive children in Côte d’Ivoire are receiving the medication they need to survive. The lack of health care for these children is one of the main drags on the country’s life expectancy, with more than 50 percent of HIV-positive children not on medication dying before the age of 2.
  6. Education is one of the main drivers of increased life expectancy. Unfortunately, only 65 percent of Ivorian children are completing primary school. Additionally, less than half of the country is literate mostly due to prohibitive fees associated with schooling which excludes poor families. This lack of education severely limits the economic opportunities for the entire country. Experts agree that improving education in Côte d’Ivoire would increase the number of skilled laborers and lead to higher wages, a better quality of life and improved life expectancy. The International Cocoa Initiative has worked with over 600 communities to help get more children out of the fields and into school. They have seen a remarkable 20 percent increase in school participation rates, showing that there is hope for the future generations of Ivorians.
  7. UNICEF has been crucial in helping the people of Côte d’Ivoire, funding numerous programs that have produced a substantial quality of life improvements. Whether it be offering HIV/AIDS testing, providing community wells or helping children escape dangerous working conditions, UNICEF is making a difference throughout the Ivory Coast. Groups like Action Against Hunger have followed in UNICEF’s footsteps, partnering with Côte d’Ivoire’s government to help run 12 community health establishments and providing 29,900 families with access to clean water.

While these seven facts about life expectancy in Côte d’Ivoire can be hard to grapple with, there is evidence that conditions are getting better. Improving access to education, medicine, healthcare and many other necessities will undoubtedly help pull millions of Ivorians out of poverty. With help from the international community, 20 years from now an article titled 10 facts about life expectancy in Côte d’Ivoire might not look so glum.

– Myles McBride Roach
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS Prevention in Zambia

Antiretroviral therapy in Zambia has been one of the most effective HIV/AIDS prevention strategies in recent years. Thanks to the efforts of the CDC and the Zambian government, the spread of HIV/AIDS has decreased steadily by 13 percent since 2010.

HIV/AIDS Prevention in Zambia – Strategies

  • Education and Awareness: The effective response and resource allocation from the Zambian government through early HIV testing had a profound effect on the stigma surrounding the virus, encouraging more people to get tested. To that end, the government implemented the GIPA policy, emphasizing equality in medicine free from discrimination. In addition, the National Health Services Act is a government policy aimed at strengthening the structural power of Zambia’s medical field to increase its influence on rural communities. Aside from spearheading research, the act more clearly defines Zambia’s medical infrastructure with a power structure to allocate resources as effectively as possible. Integrating these government programs into the heart of Zambia’s most impoverished communities decreases the chances of an outbreak.
  • Antiretroviral Therapy: As mentioned above, the CDC is also active in Zambia, focusing on early antiretroviral therapy in highly affected areas like the Copperbelt and the western provinces. Within these parameters, 89 percent of those who began treatment immediately are less likely to spread the virus. Outreach programs to reach the more impoverished and marginalized groups have also been successful, with antiretroviral therapy increasing among children from 23 percent in 2009 to 79 percent as of 2019. The government has also promoted the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily course of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) taken by HIV-negative people which reduces the risk of contracting the virus.
  • Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission: Through the PMTCT (Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission) plan, Zambia has made great strides aimed at preventing the spread of the virus from mother to offspring by providing lifelong antiretroviral therapy in Zambia. According to the CDC, through early education and effective policy implementation, the health protection agency has prevented 98 percent of HIV-exposed babies from contracting the virus.

Final Thoughts

The lack of access to basic health care and a comprehensive understanding of how HIV spreads, especially in rural communities, produces a hostile environment where exposure risk increases. Furthermore, high poverty and unemployment levels create a shaky foundation where socio-economic growth is key to eliminating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia. However, increased government spending has sprouted new testing facilities in rural areas, providing quality service where “…the Government is scaling up social protection by increasing allocations to the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) and Food Security Pack (FSP) program[s] and other poverty mitigation measures.”

The key to a structural change in Zambia’s HIV epidemic lies partially in assisting Zambia’s fairly large impoverished community. In addition, antiretroviral therapy in Zambia continues to be a focal point of the government’s long-term plan to eliminate the virus with increased spending on antiretroviral therapy and sex education in a bid to secure more prosperous futures for its citizens.

Adam Townsend
Photo: Pixabay

Celebrities HelpingCelebrities are regularly known for their top hits, exquisite gala ensembles and daily routines. However, there are many celebrities supporting charities and organizations through advocacy, fundraising and donations. Below are five celebrities helping the current HIV/AIDS crisis.

Elton John

British singer, songwriter, pianist and composer Elton John established the nonprofit organization Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) in 1992. The Foundation was created to support various HIV/AIDS prevention programs, increase public awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and ultimately end the disease. EJAF prioritizes grant-making and donations and has raised more than $350 million across the world over the past 25 years.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation held their first-ever Midsummer Party on July 24, 2019 to support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services and raised six million dollars with the help of celebrity donors from all over the world.

Bill Gates

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was launched in 2000 and is reported to be the largest private foundation in the world. Along with many other causes, the foundation has promised to donate $100 million towards HIV/AIDS awareness and support in India.

At the announcement in New Delhi, Gates said the foundation is dedicated to supporting India’s efforts to contain its HIV/AIDS population at a low level. India currently has only a small population living with HIV/AIDS, and therefore the foundation wants to help terminate the epidemic at the earliest stage possible. Gates has faith that India could be a global leader in developing new and improved HIV prevention technologies.

Victoria Beckham

The fashion designer and former Spice Girl was appointed UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador in 2014 and continues to support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment through spreading awareness about the virus. The designer has designed t-shirts for World AIDS Day over the past years and 100 percent of t-shirt sales are donated to the charity Born Free Africa, which works on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT).

Beckham has also joined the mothers2mothers (m2m) organization in hopes to eliminate pediatric AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. She has sold more than 600 pieces of her wardrobe and all proceeds have been donated to m2m and its efforts to help HIV-positive mothers and their babies. Beckham has visited m2m sites in Cape Town, Africa and is determined that a cure to HIV can be found with continuous support.

Rihanna

Singer/songwriter Rihanna was named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017 and has helped MAC Cosmetics’ MAC AIDS fundraise over $500 million to help fight the current HIV/AIDS epidemic. Rihanna is a brand ambassador for Mac Cosmetics’ Viva Glam lipstick, in which 100 percent of proceeds are donated towards HIV/AIDS awareness.

Rihanna also took a series of HIV tests with Prince Harry of Wales on World Aids Day in efforts to raise awareness about the virus and to encourage more people to get tested.

John Legend

The singer has taken part in Belvedere Vodka’s #MAKEADIFFERENCE campaign to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. The campaign has created a unique Belvedere Vodka bottle that donates 50 percent of each purchase towards the HIV/AIDS fight.

John Legend has joined 80-year-old South African artist Esther Malanghu in the campaign to help Africa fight HIV/AIDS. Legend has written the song “Love Me Now” that will be used for the campaign and hopes that HIV/AIDS will be completely terminated during his daughter Luna’s lifetime, who was born in 2016.

Celebrities helping, like those mentioned above, know the power of their influence, and they’re using it to positively impact the world by fighting HIV and AIDS.

– Paige Regan
Photo: Flickr

Affordable Medicine in Developing Countries
In 1997, thousands of people in low-income, developing countries died every day from treatable diseases because they could not pay the high price pharmaceuticals charged for medicine. Today in these same regions, millions are receiving treatment and mortality rates have dropped dramatically as drugmakers around the world are providing affordable medicine in developing countries.

Pharmaceuticals in the Past

In 1997, AIDS was killing thousands of Africans each day. In the same year, people with AIDS in the U.S. were enjoying greater life expectancy and quality of life, with AIDS-related deaths dropping by 42 percent thanks to the use of anti-HIV drugs.  With a $12,000 per patient per year price tag and strict patent laws forbidding the purchase of generic types, these life-saving drugs were inaccessible to millions of AIDS victims in developing countries. Unwilling to lower their prices, the pharmaceutical industry looked on while thousands of people died with treatment just beyond their reach.

Refusing to sit by as its people died every day while a treatment existed, South Africa legalized the suspension of drug patents in 1998, making it possible for South Africans to purchase generic anti-HIV drugs at affordable prices. Thirty-nine top pharmaceutical companies promptly engaged South Africa in a lawsuit, attempting to keep them from accessing HIV drugs at a reduced cost for fear that other countries would follow and the industry would miss out on profits.

The pharmaceuticals soon dropped the lawsuit when the international community received word that drug companies were keeping poor and dying people required medicines. However, drug prices remained inaccessibly high.

Finally, a turning point came in 2001 when Indian drug-maker Cipla shocked the international pharmaceutical industry by announcing its plan to sell anti-HIV drugs directly to poor nations and to Doctors Without Borders for only $350 per patient per year (less than $1 a day). Cipla’s offer exposed the huge markups pharmaceutical companies were profiting from, prompting several major drug-makers to lower their prices and make drugs more accessible to developing countries.

Pharmaceuticals Today

Today, the pharmaceutical industry’s attitude and approach toward providing affordable medicine in developing countries have greatly shifted. The Access to Medicine Foundation shares that nearly all major drug companies have goals for addressing access to medicine now, while many have pioneered innovative ways to reduce costs and create medicines and vaccines for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In the past 10 years, drug makers have doubled the number of medicines they are developing for LMICs.

Nine companies that own patents for HIV/AIDS treatment now use their IP rights flexibly to allow LMICs to import and purchase generic supplies. As a result, over 14 million Africans are now on HIV drugs, and AIDS-related deaths dropped drastically by nearly 40 percent over the past 10 years.

Seven drug companies have made efforts to include the poorest populations in their customer base, focusing on products for diabetes, heart disease and other NCDs which are a rising problem in the developing world. In 2017, the leading drug maker, Pfizer, partnered with Cipla to sell chemotherapy drugs to African countries at prices just above their own manufacturing cost, selling some pills for as little as 50 cents.

Several leading pharmaceuticals now partner with generics to produce affordable drugs for Africa, Asia and Latin America, and a fair price strategy now covers 49 percent of products. Thanks to the improvements in the pharmaceutical industry, hundreds of thousands of people now have access to affordable medicine in developing countries.

– Sarah Musick
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

nonprofits that provide clean waterClean drinking water is a necessity that many in developed countries rarely ponder about. Yet, for more than 780 million people around the world, clean drinking water is a luxury that is difficult to access. Because of this widespread lack of clean water, more than 3.4 million people die every year from causes related to poor water and sanitation. Nevertheless, there are many nonprofit organizations that have made it their mission to address this global clean water crisis. Here are five nonprofits that provide clean water to the world.

5 Nonprofits that Provide Clean Water

  1. Charity: Water – One of the most widely known nonprofits that provide clean water to the world is Charity: Water. Scott Harrison founded the organization in New York City in 2006 after he witnessed the life-threatening effects of contaminated water in Liberia. Charity: Water is a nonprofit that brings clean and safe drinking water to developing countries. It has funded 38,113 water programs in 27 developing countries for more than 9.6 million people in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Throughout the past nine years, the organization has dug more than 16,000 water projects, set new standards for donor engagement and public communication and raised more than $200 million from donors. Every penny of Charity: Water’s donations go directly to clean water technologies.
  2. Blood:WaterBlood:Water is a nonprofit that has partnered with grassroots organizations in sub-Saharan Africa to bring clean water and HIV/AIDS support to African communities since 2004. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the organization was founded by the multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning band Jars of Clay and activist Jena Lee Nardellaone. Blood:Water provides an array of solutions for different African community’s needs. In addition, to providing HIV/AIDS community care and support and capacity building for its African partners, Blood:Water provides water, sanitation and hygiene solutions, such as wells, toilets and handwashing stations. This organization has worked with more than a dozen African grassroots organizations and has brought clean water to one million people in 11 different countries.
  3. Water.org – When actor Matt Damon and Gary White merged their organizations, H2O Africa and WaterPartners, they formed Water.org in 2009. Its headquarters is currently in Kansas City, Missouri. Water.org provides access to safe water and sanitation in developing countries. It works with local partner organizations to build wells and provide thorough training seminars on the importance of good hygiene practices and its link to better health. Water.org created the WaterCredit system as a long-term solution, which provides household sanitation and safe water by giving expert resources and small loans. This organization works in 13 countries and has provided safe water and sanitation to more than 21 million people. Its commitment to providing safe water and sanitation to everyone is why it has great ratings and is ranked in the top 10 percent of global charities in regard to its financial accountability and transparency.
  4. Lifewater International – As the oldest organization on this list of nonprofits that provide clean water to the world, Lifewater International was established in 1977 by William A. Ashe. Headquartered in San Luis Obispo, California, Lifewater’s mission is to “end the global water and sanitation crisis one village at a time.” It focuses on managing training sessions for field staffers in fields such as water treatment, sanitation, community health through hygiene, well drilling, hand pump repair, effective community development and WASH in schools. This organization takes great pride in its transparency and accountability and performs systematic checks on projects even after they are completed. Since its inception, Lifewater has helped 2.5 million people across 45 countries.
  5. Generosity.org – The final organization on this list of nonprofits that provide clean water to the world is Generosity.org. Philip Wagner founded the organization in 2008 with a commitment to “providing clean water for drinking and sanitation needs, one community at a time.” It is headquartered in Valley Village, California. Generosity.org collaborates with its local partners to utilize their knowledge and expertise to select the proper water solution for each region. These solutions include rain-harvesting systems, wells and spring protection systems. To date, Generosity.org has helped 470,000 people, funded 813 water projects and served 20 countries.

Unclean water is an issue that still needs to be solved in many developing countries. The above list describes some of the most widely known nonprofits that provide clean water to the world. Like many of the other crises the developing world faces, the work of these and other organizations may make the global water crisis an issue of the past.

– Jacob Stubbs
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Companies Alleviate PovertyMany countries in Africa are still experiencing problems with disease, poverty and starvation. However, many people and organizations with the tools to help, have reached out to lend a hand. Even large American corporations such as Coca-Cola and Chevron are doing what they can to help. These companies see an opportunity to help struggling nations, that opportunity being that if these companies’ efforts succeed then Africans will no longer need to worry about these particular issues again, and could potentially become customers. Listed below are some examples of how U.S. companies are helping alleviate poverty in Africa.

Coca-Cola

In 2009, the Coca-Cola Company launched RAIN: The Replenish Africa Initiative, a program with the express purpose of bringing fresh drinking water to Africa’s poor. Since the initiative’s start, they have done work in 35 of the 55 total African countries. The program is making positive change through things like building sustainable communities, catalyzing investment in access to clean water, improving both water and sanitation access for school children and replenishing more than 2 billion liters of water back to communities and the surrounding nature. Coca-Cola’s $30 million investment paired with an additional $40+ million from their over 140 partners, looks to continue their work of bringing clean drinking water to Africa.

Chevron

Chevron has been a corporation that has shown exactly how U.S. companies can help alleviate poverty in Africa over the years through multiple donations and poverty-reducing initiatives. One of these examples includes a $50 million to the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative (NDPI), an organization that focuses on improving socio-economic conditions to the more than 30 million people living in Niger’s delta region. With Chevron’s help, the organization has been able to help nearly 4,000 people raise their annual income by 92 percent in various agricultural industries. Chevron has also made huge progress combating Africa’s HIV/AIDS epidemic by donating over $60 million since 2008. With help from Chevron’s partnerships with organizations such as Pact, Born Africa Free and The Global Fund, they have made positive changes in reducing mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

General Mills

In 2008, the famous cereal giant, General Mills, launched the Partners in Food Solutions. A nonprofit with the goal of bringing improved food production as well as food processing expertise to small and medium-sized food processors in African nations. Since its establishment, the organization has helped with food production in the African countries of Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The organization has also gained the support of other major U.S. companies such as Hershey’s and Cargill to further increase their influence and accomplish feats such as strengthening food security across the continent, improving the nutrition of African grown and produced foods and increasing economic development by expanding the competitiveness of Africa’s food processing sector.

These examples of how U.S. companies are helping to alleviate poverty in Africa show a growing trend by big businesses to invest in struggling communities. Not only because of the positive philanthropic impact behind their multi-million-dollar donations, but also because of the huge potential a healthy and prosperous Africa could bring to them as consumers. No matter the reason behind the initiative, however, the progress made by these seemingly unconventional donors has brought undeniable change to millions struggling to maintain basic necessities that others often take for granted.

– Alexander Capuano
Photo: Flickr

Captain Planet
Age is never a barrier in the fight for social justice. At least, Captain Planet teaches this lesson. During the animated series’ six-year span, “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” sought to educate and empower young people to take an interest in environmental issues.

Origin

Media mongrel, Ted Turner, conceived of the idea for Captain Planet. To bring this superhero to life, Turner sought the help of longtime environmentalist and film producer, Barbara Pyle. Inspired by people she met during past projects, Pyle created the Planeteers: Kwame, Gi, Linka, Wheeler and Ma-Ti. Together, the Planeteers and Captain Planet work to combat ecological and global problems.

“Captain Planet and the Planeteers” premiered worldwide in 1990 and the children’s animated series gained popular success as well as critical acclaim. Captain Planet was one of the first television shows to openly advocate for the environment. Apart from addressing environmental issues, the television show also encouraged young people to have an interest in the issues plaguing their own communities. Here are two examples of how Captain Planet challenged its audience to be advocates for nonenvironmental social justice issues.

Issue #1: HIV/AIDS Epidemic

In the early 1990s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic devastated the United States. The number of reported cases was over 100,000 and it affected everyone in sight. Ryan White was one of the first children diagnosed with the deadly virus. Doctors diagnosed White with AIDS when he was 13 years old after he received a blood transfusion. After this diagnosis, White’s school banned him and his community ostracized him, similar to other individuals. People were afraid of White due to the misperception that AIDS could transmit by air or touch.

During the middle of the epidemic, Captain Planet addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS in its episode, “A Formula for Hate.” The episode challenged the audience to put aside ignorance and fear to reduce discrimination against people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The plot of the episode parallels White’s situation after his diagnosis with AIDS. In the episode, the townspeople learn about a student’s (Todd Andrews) HIV-positive diagnosis. The townspeople turn against Andrews and his family, going as far as burning his mother’s vegetable stand. Captain Planet and the Planeteers intervene by educating the townspeople on the virus, dispelling the misperception that HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact. As a result, Andrews and his family were once again accepted by the townspeople and no longer discriminated against.

Issue #2: Gang Violence

Gangs and firearm violence were on the rise in the United States during the 1990s, especially among young people. In 1990, the number of fatal and nonfatal violent crimes with a firearm was at an all-time high at 18,253. In 1993, 45 cities reported that over 100,000 young people were involved in a gang. The rise in violent crimes created toxic environments among youth and places considered safe zones for young people, like parks and schools, became battlegrounds.

In 1994, Captain Planet addressed the issue of gang and gun violence in the episode, “Teers in the ‘Hood.” The episode’s plot revolved around a shootout between two rival gangs and The Planeteers became caught in the middle of the conflict. Captain Planet and the Planeteers defused the situation by talking about the peace messages of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Mahatma Gandhi. The episode also debunked the myth that gangs offer positive communities for its members. After two of the Planeteers infiltrated one of the rival gangs, the gang quickly pressured them to use violence in order to gain acceptance. In short, the episode’s message was on the power of positive community and peace.

Today, Captain Planet continues providing fun, innovative opportunities to support environmental issues worldwide. To get involved or learn more, visit www.captain planet foundation.org.

– Paola Nunez
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Burundi
Burundi is a small, landlocked country situated in the heart of Sub-Saharan Africa and bordered by Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is currently listed at number 185 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI), which coincides with its status as one of the poorest countries in the world. HDI is determined by a variety of factors, including the average lifespan of a country’s inhabitants. Life expectancy can be a telling indicator of the social, economic and institutional challenges a country might be facing.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Burundi

  1. It’s relatively low—The CIA estimates the overall life expectancy in Burundi at about 61.4 years of age, while the U.N. Development Programme’s estimate is slightly lower at 57.6 years. Either way, the average life expectancy in Burundi is younger than the average age of retirement in the United States.
  2. Food insecurity is an issue—Between July and September 2018, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) determined that at least 1.4 million Burundians were living in the Crisis and Emergency phases of food insecurity. For many, these classifications translate into a lack of proper nutrition that can seriously impact health. Some measures are being taken to address this issue—for example, last year USAID’s Food for Peace initiative contributed $30 million in food resources to Burundians and Congolese refugees—but putting a greater emphasis on the introduction of innovative irrigation practices could have a more lasting impact.
  3. Childhood malnutrition has long-term effects—Perhaps the most visible effect of food insecurity in Burundi is malnutrition among young children. According to USAID, 56 percent of Burundian children under 5 experience stunted development and 29 percent are underweight. Underdevelopment from malnutrition can have lasting effects on both overall health and longevity, potentially resulting in shorter life expectancy.
  4. The population is outgrowing its resources—About 20 percent of Burundi’s population of 11 million people consists of children below the age of 5. This indicates a massive dependent population and a high potential for growth—in fact, the population is expected to double by 2050. In a country already struggling to support its inhabitants, rapid growth will mean spreading its resources even thinner and exacerbating issues like food insecurity. This trend, therefore, can indirectly impact life expectancy in Burundi on a variety of levels.
  5. There is a lack of reproductive health services—As evidenced by the above point, Burundi has one of the highest birth rates in the world at an average of 5.93 children per woman. According to the U.N.’s Human Development Report, 30 percent of Burundian women had an unmet need for family planning, and the prevalence of contraceptives (any method) among women of reproductive age was only 28.5 percent. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is taking some action to address the lack of reproductive health services. In 2018, UNFPA supported the development of 10 new health facilities providing emergency obstetric care. However, Burundi still lacks a comprehensive family planning program.
  6. Most of the population lives in poverty—With a GNI per capita of $702 per year, the majority of Burundi’s population lives in some degree of poverty. 90 percent of the employed population lives on less than $3.10/day, making it extremely difficult for working men and women to support their families and meet all of their needs. While the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been instrumental in implementing poverty reduction strategies in rural areas, much of the population continues to suffer from poverty on some level.
  7. HIV/AIDS reduction is still in progress—In 2016, there were 2,200 new HIV infections in Burundi, making the total number of citizens living with the disease about 84,000. The most high-risk groups continue to be sex workers and men who have sex with other men, with an HIV prevalence of 21.3 percent and 4.8 percent respectively. Between 2008 and 2011, the World Bank implemented the Second Multisectoral HIV/AIDS Project to capitalize on previous HIV reduction efforts; the project resulted in increased condom use and more readily available antiretroviral therapy. Because of such initiatives, HIV infections have decreased by 54 percent and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 49 percent since 2010.
  8. Other major infectious diseases exist—Due to a tropical climate and a lack of immunizations, illnesses like malaria, typhoid fever, measles and hepatitis A continue to pose a problem for Burundians. These conditions, coupled with a physician density of only 0.05 physicians/1000 people, put the population at risk for premature death and can seriously impact life expectancy in Burundi.
  9. Environmental hazards hinder development—Burundi’s extreme climate puts it at risk for natural disasters like floods, droughts and landslides. Such hazards damage infrastructure, displace people from their homes and contribute to the issues of food insecurity and water scarcity during certain months of the year.
  10. It’s ultimately increasing—As a result of some of the initiatives discussed above, life expectancy in Burundi has increased from 48.1 years in 1990 to about 58 years in 2017. While this number is still significantly lower than that of countries like the United States, there has been a definite upward trend.

In conclusion, there are a variety of factors that contribute to a relatively low life expectancy in Burundi. By continuing to provide assistance to relief programs, it is likely that the average life expectancy will continue to rise.

– Morgan Johnson
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Benin
Benin is a small country located in the tropical regions of Western Africa. Having established its independence from its former colonial power France in 1960, Benin remains one of the most impoverished counties in the world. Poverty coupled with several other factors has greatly affected the people of Benin in many harmful ways — here are ten facts about life expectancy in Benin.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Benin

  1. The average woman in Benin has a life expectancy of 62.4, and the average man has a life expectancy of 59.7, giving Benin an overall average life expectancy of 61.1. With this average life expectancy, Benin ranks number 163 in the world in terms of life expectancy. The country’s life expectancy has seen a consistently steady increase over the last several decades. Since the end of colonialism in the early 1960s, the country’s average lifespan has gone from 40 years in the 1950s to 61 years in 2019.
  2. Benin’s population is disproportionately affected by several diseases commonly known as “a disease of poverty.” Some of these diseases include malaria (9 percent of all deaths), lower respiratory infections (13 percent of all deaths) and diarrheal diseases (5 percent of all deaths). While many diseases still take a toll on the Benin population, certain tropical diseases that have in the past caused a high number of deaths, such as yellow fever and meningitis, have been either completely erased or greatly reduced, largely as a result of immunization programs in urban areas.
  3. The population of Benin has a very young average age. Persons under the age of 25 accounts for 63 percent of the population. This is common in developing countries since people who possess less wealth tend to have more children on average. Younger generations are expected to live significantly longer than previous generations as the results of steady progress in healthcare and social support systems within the country.
  4. Just like many African countries, there are a limited number of physicians in Benin. Benin only has a 0.15 physicians per 1000 people. While this is relatively high compared to other African countries Niger or Liberia, this ratio still lags well behind most of the Western world.
  5. It is estimated that one percent of adults in Benin, or 67,000 people, have HIV/AIDS. About 2,161 of people with HIV in Benin die every year of the disease (2 percent of all deaths each year), making it the thirteenth most common cause of death in Benin. While HIV is certainly a problem in Benin, its prevalence has been on the decline in recent decades. One study conducted in the 2000s saw a steady decline of the disease both in and around Cotonou; this decline is largely the result of integrated HIV intervention programs designed for sex workers (a population disproportionately affected by the disease). The effectiveness of these programs has led to implementation in other cities in Benin.
  6. Benin has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Currently, the infant mortality rate in Benin is 52.8 deaths per 1000 births. This places Benin at number 23 in the world ranking of infant mortality rates.
  7. About 4.6 percent of Benin’s GDP is allocated to healthcare. This percentage is significantly lower than most other countries, as Benin ranked 154th in the global ranking of total GDP spent on health expenditure.
  8. Benin has predominantly relied on agriculture as its primary food security, both currently and historically. Several factors including poor soil and lack of modern agricultural technology have hindered agricultural progress in the country and significantly lowered the country’s food security. In fact, one-third of the country’s population lacks food security. The toll of malnutrition has always most impacted Benin’s youth, with 45 percent of children under five affected by chronic malnutrition.
  9. There are large discrepancies related to healthcare access and culture between urban and rural areas within Benin. Rural areas lack the social service infrastructures (such as hospitals and pharmacies) present in urban areas. People in urban areas also benefit from immunization campaigns that provide free vaccinations, and maternity clinics that provide free immunizations for newborn infants. This lack of access to basic healthcare services in rural areas has lead to a higher rate of premature death amongst the rural population in comparison to the urban population.
  10. In recent years, the government of Benin has made several attempts to address the health problems that are leading to a shortened lifespan in its population. The government of Benin has worked with foreign aid organizations to improve the social support systems and overall health of Benin’s population. One recent effort was done with the World Bank which provided Benin with $50 million to support programs related to early childhood development and nutrition.

Continued Progress and Increased Longevity

Over the past several decades Benin has made significant progress in extending the longevity of its population. The expansion of healthcare systems and programs in Benin’s urban areas have extended the average lifespan of the average person in Benin a full 37 years since the colonial era.

These 10 facts about life expectancy display a fair amount of progress in Benin’s longevity efforts, but there is still work to be done. The nation must complement such improvement with development in the overall health and living conditions, as well as work on the disparities between the rural and urban regions of the country.

– Randall Costa
Photo: World Bank