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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

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s 4.8 million citizens enjoy a front-row view of the country’s picturesque coastal views and scenic landscapes. However, more recently, the country has been attracting more than just people looking to relocate for retirement and eco-tourists, as Costa Rica has been expanding a number of government programs in order to boost economy. In the text below, top 10 facts about living conditions in Costa Rica are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Costa Rica

  1. The most thought-provoking fact about living conditions in Costa Rica is that it has one of the longest life expectancy rates in modern Southern America, prevalent among the poorest of Costa Rica’s citizens. On average, Costa Ricans live to be 77 years old, similar to people in the U.S. that live 77.4 years on average. Although there is a large development gap between these two countries, the long expectancy rate in Costa Rica has been attributed to the country’s health care system.
  2. Costa Rica’s universal health care system, known to many as the “Caja”, provides health care to 86 percent of Costa Ricans for a small monthly payment, which is based on monthly income. Under “Caja”, those covered enjoy a wide array of medical services offered in one of the network’s 30 hospitals and 250 clinics around the country. Even those who are not covered by “Caja”, services remain relatively low in cost.
  3. Compared to other civilized Central and Latin American nations, Costa Rica has one of the most developed economies and has one of the highest standards of living. It also has one of the lowest percentages of people in poverty compared to neighboring countries, being at 16 percent. Poverty is more common among those living in rural areas, those indignant to the nation and one-parent households.
  4. Around 24 percent of the country’s population is comprised of children under the age of 14. With an estimated one out of four children living below the poverty line, many of these children are put at risk for poverty conditions due to family and income instability. As a result, 36,000 children are left orphaned in Costa Rica.
  5. By defunding its military in 1948, Costa Rica was able to develop a high-quality public education system. Many benefit from the public institutions and it has even generated a higher rate of literacy among children. However, 30 percent of school-aged children do not attend school because of financial situations or low access in rural areas.
  6. Child labor serves a societal and cultural need in Costa Rica. In older rural societies, it is customary to find children working to support the overall need of the family, especially in the agricultural sector. In larger households, income must be earned more than one earner in order to survive. This is done by the males in the family where 9 percent of boys sacrifice education for the greater good of the family. Overall, 8 percent of school-aged children have no education.
  7. The coffee bean agriculture in Costa Rica is a large source of income for many, so much so that many abandon educational pursuits every year to participate in its profitable harvest. In order to pay for school supplies, teachers and students alike wake in the early morning hours to work the fields, exposing themselves to serious health conditions that pose a risk to still-developing bodies.
  8. Although there is no known cause or reason, there has been an outbreak of HIV and AIDS-related illness among children and teens. Costa Rica has the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases in Latin America. Experts suspect that the spread of the illness could be prevented with proper education and prevention methods.
  9. Costa Rican government has taken a proactive role in decreasing the number of people living in poverty. By implementing health care, job and environmental policies along with reducing inflation costs and seeking opportunities to grow the economy, the government was able to significantly decrease the number of people living in poverty. In the 1990s, 11 percent of the population was living on $1.90 a day. That number has now been reduced to 2 percent of the total population.
  10. The average American wage earner makes $12,900 a year while the poorest 20 percent of Costa Ricans earn $100 a month. In order to meet the nutritional value someone needs for a healthy life, a person must spend an average of $90 on food per month. Costa Ricans spend 30 percent of their yearly earnings on food and drink, which is roughly around $300 a year, or $780 less than they should be spending on adequate nutrition.

While poverty is still an issue that many Costa Ricans are facing, the policy makers of Costa Rica are taking an active role in trying to alleviate this issue and improving the living conditions of citizens. With life-changing initiatives, the number of people living in poverty has gone down drastically while setting an example for others to do the same.

– Catherine Wilson

Photo: Flickr

Ryan Lewis's Mom Fights Global AIDS
Ryan Lewis is a successful DJ, musician, and producer and ultimately, a very famous man. However, there was a 25 percent chance when he was born that he would contract HIV. Thankfully, he did not, but other infants with similar risks are not always so fortunate. Such occurrences are part of the reason why, while Ryan Lewis makes music, Ryan Lewis’s mom fights global AIDS.

Ryan Lewis’s Mom Fights Global AIDS

Ryan Lewis’s mother, Julie Lewis, is a 59-year-old, HIV-positive woman. She contracted HIV in 1984 when she received contaminated blood during a blood transfusion after her complicated first pregnancy with her daughter, Teresa. She was not diagnosed until 1990, during which time she gave birth to Laura and Ryan, who were both fortunate enough not to contract her HIV. Julie was only given 3 to 5 years to live.

However, Julie Lewis is still alive and relatively well today thanks to modern medicine. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to do something special to celebrate her life, and her contribution to society became founding the 30/30 Project and, with a little help from Ryan, raising $160,000 to help the project build its first clinic in Malawi. The project would only get bigger from there.

The 30/30 Project

The 30/30 Project is so named because it aims to build 30 clinics and keep them running for 30 years. Of the 18 clinics that have been, or are still, being constructed, 15 of them are in Africa, 1 is in India, and 2 are in Washington.

Such growth was accomplished by partnering with healthcare partners who live in towns, and villages of interest who lack the supplies and/or abilities to build the clinics themselves. Once the partnership had been established, it’s all a matter of designing the building, sending volunteer construction workers to oversee the project and helping the staff the clinic.

For example, one of the targeted areas was Limpopo, South Africa. This rural town has a high unemployment rate, a low education rate and a 19 to 27 percent prenatal HIV rate. The 30/30 Project partnered with the Ndlovu Care Group to construct a clinic there — the two-story, solar-powered building opened in fall of 2017 and features a waiting area, care clinic and laboratory.

30/30 Project Results

Of the 18 clinics that are mentioned on the 30/30 Project website, 13 of them have been completed. Each of these clinics has substantially improved the quality of care that HIV-positive individuals in the community can receive.

For example, the clinic in Limpopo, South Africa serves 7,600 people with HIV as well as provides the Ndlovu Care Group with a place to work on vaccines for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The clinic in the Bududa District in Uganda serves over 16,000 people. The one in Madhya Pradesh, India cares for 5,000 people. Ultimately, Julie plans to provide 600,000 people with the same high-quality healthcare that allowed her to survive.

The Fight for Progress

As Ryan Lewis’s mom fights global AIDS, clinics are being constructed in developing nations so that HIV-positive people can receive the care they need. At 13 clinics and counting, it is clear that the 30/30 Project has already made a sizable impact in terms of how many people can survive their AIDS diagnosis.

Thanks to the efforts of Julie Lewis and all those who support her, HIV-positive people in these communities can now live long, healthy lives — just like Julie has.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in MalawiAs of today, the literacy rate of children in Malawi is considerably higher than its neighboring countries in Africa, with 72 percent of the youth aged 15 to 24 able to read and write. But, closer inspection of data reveals that the state of girls’ education in Malawi is still in critical condition.

With more than 85 percent of its population living in rural areas, Malawi faces a critical problem of girls under-enrolled and outnumbered in the majority of its primary schools.

Furthermore, primary education attendance does not mean that students will automatically go on to pursue higher level education. Only 6 percent of girls graduate from high school each year, with only 2.9 percent going on to seek post-secondary education studies.

Barriers to Girls’ Education in Malawi

Multiple barriers still exist for girls to seek out proper primary and secondary education.

  • Child marriage in Malawi is still a prominent cultural practice, with more than 40 percent of girls married by the time they are 18.
  • The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is another barrier that prevents girls from finishing school. An estimated 12 percent of the current sexually active population in Malawi live with the HIV/AIDS virus.
  • Due to widespread poverty in Malawi, educating children is a heavy burden for many families. When faced with a choice, parents will often choose to invest in education for their sons instead of daughters. Therefore, there is a dire need to promote the education of women and children in Malawi in order to improve their quality of life.

Improvements to Girls’ Education in Malawi

The Girls Attainment in Basic Literacy and Education Program (GABLE) was launched in 1991 with support from USAID. Its main objectives were to increase the government’s financial resources used for education and to improve on the quality, availability, and efficiency of education, especially for young women.

The program was a success in reforming education policies from no longer requiring students to purchase and wear uniforms in 1992 to completely abolishing all school fees in 1994. There was also the significant advancement of girls’ education in Malawi, as leftover funds were used as scholarships to support young women in secondary school.

From 1994 to 2005, the number of girls enrolled in primary school has more than doubled.

Girls’ Education and Health

Organizations like Advancing Girls’ Education (AGE) in Africa are also currently working on the advancing girls’ education in Malawi. Through providing teenage girls with resources and information needed to complete their secondary education, the organization hopes to encourage young women to make healthy and educated life choices that will better their living conditions in adulthood.

Among their tactics is the education of young women in school about the HIV/AIDS virus. Studies show a link between education and a woman’s likelihood to abstain from sex and overall have fewer sexual partners. Since HIV/AIDS is so prominent in Malawi, it is extremely important that sexually active women, many of whom are under 18, are educated on the matter.

Opening up doors for girls to have access to primary and secondary education is a stride towards stopping the spread of the pandemic in Malawi.

Education is not only a fundamental right for the youth of today, but it is now seen as one of the many solutions to ending global poverty. Through the empowerment of young women in Malawi, organizations like AGE Africa are able to break through cultural walls that keep the girls from receiving the education they need and deserve.

– Winda Wanikpun
Photo: Flickr

HIV TreatmentIn September of 2017, it was announced at the seventy-second U.N. General Assembly that the HIV treatment regimen TLD (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, lamivudine and dolutegravir) has been made more accessible to low and middle income countries. This has been accomplished with a price agreement established through the partnership of various countries and global aid programs.

Some of the groups that collaborated on the new price agreement include UNAIDS, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), PEPFAR, USAID, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the governments of South Africa and Kenya. Teams in many countries have begun developing plans to transition TLD into use by the end of 2019. Over 50 low or middle income countries have already introduced or are planning to introduce TLD as the favored first-line treatment for HIV.

Improvements to TLD

TLD medication is already considered a preferred method of HIV treatment in the United States. However, with the use of a generic treatment and a pricing agreement, TLD is now expected to cost health programs in low to middle income countries covered by the agreement only $75 per person per year once the treatment has been fully transitioned into use.

The newly released TLD is a generic treatment consisting of a single pill taken once a day containing a dolutegravir base. Studies have shown that the TLD regimen has fewer side effects on the patient and also has less vulnerability to the development of drug resistance that would render it ineffective. This helps because it means that fewer people would have to start new levels of treatment. TLD has also been shown to provide a more rapid repression of viral load.

Effects of New HIV Treatment

Three countries that began using the TLD treatment by the end of 2017 include Brazil, Botswana and Kenya. Within three months of treatment, studies show that 81 percent of patients using TLD in Brazil had an undetectable viral load, as compared to another HIV treatment regimen with an EFV (efavirenz) base, which had 61 percent presenting with an undetectable viral load after three months of treatment. Botswana and Kenya have shown similar success, with 90 percent of those using the treatment reaching full viral suppression in 2018.

In 2016, only 53 percent of people infected with the HIV virus were receiving treatment. Under the licensing agreement that sets a maximum price on the dolutegravir-based medication, 92 low to middle income countries will be able to provide the treatment to their citizens. These countries represent 90 percent of the people living with HIV in low to middle income countries. The TLD pricing agreement will not only be able to reduce the cost of treatment for the people in these countries but will increase availability so that more people can be treated.

A Brighter, Healthier Future

The launch of this new TLD treatment is another step forward in the treatment of people suffering globally from HIV and AIDS. People who did not originally have access to the dolutegravir treatment due to cost and availability will now be able to use this treatment. TLD provides a more reliable treatment regimen that will improve many people’s lives and ultimately bring the world a little further in the fight against HIV.

– Lindabeth Doby
Photo: Flickr

Biggest World Issues
World issues range from a variety of different factors; it could be anything from an environmental problem to a global health risk or an international conflict.

10 Biggest World Issues

  1. Malnutrition and Hunger: Malnutrition and hunger continue to be issues in developing countries, such as the Central African Republic, Chad and Yemen. According to the Food Aid Foundation, 795 million people in the world are not receiving the proper amount of nutrients. Additionally, hunger is the leading health problem among children and adults, causing approximately 45 percent of children’s deaths.
  2. AIDS: HIV/AIDS is an epidemic, in which more than 36.7 million people are living with the disease. About 2.1 million children currently have the disease, and in 2016 alone, one million people have died. The prevalence of AIDS is still alive; however, many international organizations have contributed to its decrease in recent years.
  3. Malaria: Malaria is a major health risk in tropical, developing countries, such as Kenya and the Congo. Approximately 3.2 billion individuals are vulnerable to Malaria — this is half of the world’s population. Young children are the most susceptible, and about 445,000 people died from Malaria in 2016.
  4. Air Pollution: Air Pollution is a global environmental problem that causes health issues and food shortages. Pollutants harm food supplies and crops, which further create problems for malnutrition and hunger. Pollutants also directly harm human life. According to Conserve Energy Future, 65 percent of deaths in Asia and 25 percent of deaths in India are due to air pollution.
  5. Lack of Human Rights: Political systems hinder human rights and liberties that are inherent to every individual regardless of his or her demographic, religion, culture, gender, race, etc. In 2014, Amnesty International recorded that more than a third of governments imprisoned its citizens who were exercising their rights. Abuse and conflict occur on every continent — from state-sponsored killings in Syria to repression of speech in Russia.
  6. Lack of Education: The right to education is not guaranteed within developing countries because of issues such as inequality among different ethnicities or classes, interstate or intrastate conflict, and poverty. 72 million children are unschooled, and about 759 million adults are illiterate. Additionally, girls are the least likely to receive an education.
  7. Gender Inequality:  Due to gender inequality, education and economic opportunity are inaccessible to many women of all backgrounds. About 150 countries have laws that discriminate against women’s rights. Underrepresented in governmental bodies, women only hold an average of 23 percent in parliamentary seats.
  8. Conflict and War: There are still many active conflicts in today’s world that have devastating effects for citizens living within war-stricken areas. The total number of casualties from the Syrian Civil War is about 465,000 individuals, and one in four children are the victims of war. In addition, international tension with North Korea has become the leading determinant of the United States’ international agenda and foreign policy. There is a multitude of other conflicts that have detrimental effects on civilian livelihoods and international peace/security.
  9. Displacement: The number of individuals who were forced to flee their homes has skyrocketed drastically in recent years. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (iDMC) reported that 31.1 million individuals were displaced in 2016. Displacement could occur after natural disasters or throughout war. Unfortunately displaced individuals have increased to approximately 59.5 million due to continuing conflict in the Middle East. In Syria alone, there are about 11 million refugees, which include young children.
  10. Global Poverty: Poverty is an overarching world issue that affects infrastructure, health, education, human rights, etc. Roughly one billion children live in poverty, and 80 percent of people live on less than $10 a day. Additionally, every 10 seconds, citizens across the globe die due to poverty-related issues. Dismally, the gap between economic and income disparity among countries is widening.

Fortunately, world issues have solutions, and a multitude of organizations are fighting to alleviate pain that has been afflicted by these problems. The International Affairs Budget is one of many solutions that funds development and helps fight diseases, prevent hunger, and create new jobs, while solving many other issues around the world.

If you would like to get involved in helping prevent these world issues, join The Borgen Project in supporting the protection of The International Affairs Budget from proposed budget cuts by sending a letter of support.

– Diana Hallisey

Photo: Flickr

 

effects of poverty

Poverty stretches across the globe affecting almost half of the world’s population. Its effects reach deeper. Uniquely connected to different causes, the effects of poverty are revolving—one result leads to another source leads to another consequence. To fully understand the effects of poverty, the causes have to be rooted out to develop strategies to end hunger and starvation for good. Let’s discuss some of the top effects of poverty.

Poor Health

Globally, millions suffer from poverty-related health conditions as infectious diseases ravage the lives of an estimated 14 million people a year and are of the top effects of poverty. These diseases are contracted through sources like contaminated water, the absence of water and sanitation, and lack of access to proper healthcare. The list is broad and long. Here are the top diseases commonly linked to poverty.

  • Malaria: Malaria is urbanely referred to as the poor man’s disease, as more than a million people living in poverty die from it each year. Caused by a parasite, malaria is contracted through mosquito bites. Most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, malaria affects the lives of many in 97 countries worldwide.
  • Tuberculosis: Often referred to as TB, tuberculosis is a bacteria-borne disease. The bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, targets the lungs. It also affects the kidneys, brain, and spine. When discussing the effects of TB worldwide, it must be broken down by burden—high burden TB and low burden TB—all of which has to do with the number of cases that impact a country. High burden TB affects more than 22 countries, as low burden TB accounts for 10 cases per 100,000 people in a geographical location.
  • HIV/AIDS: HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This infection attacks the immune system and is contracted by contact with certain fluids in the body. If HIV is left untreated, certain infections and diseases can take over the body and cause a person to develop AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency syndrome). Thirty-six million people in the world have HIV/AIDS. In countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe, one in five adults live with HIV or AIDS.

Continuing the fight against poverty through economic expansion will help eliminate poverty-related illnesses and raise the value of health in poor communities.

Crime

There’s an old adage that says, “If a man don’t work, he don’t eat.” That’s not the case for a large number people living in poverty. Lack of economic opportunity leads to impoverishment which then leads to crime.

Global unemployment is at a high point. One hundred ninety-two million people around the world are jobless. In some parts of the world, mainly poor parts, unemployment standings will drive this number higher. In a study done on youth in the Caribbean, it was determined that joblessness fueled criminal activity in those aged 15 through 24.

Because of the struggles in the Caribbean job market, the murder rates are higher there than in any other region in the world. The crime rate affects 6.8 percent of the Caribbean population against the world average of 4.5 percent, calculating the global rate per 100,000 people.

People who live below the poverty line and don’t have access to sufficient economic opportunity, live by any dangerous means necessary.

Lack of Education

There is a direct correlation between low academic performance and poverty. Children who are exposed to extreme levels of poverty have difficulty with cognitive development, speech, and managing stress, which leads to adverse behavior.

In the country of Niger—the most illiterate nation in the world—only 15 percent of adults have the ability to read and write. Eritrea follows on the heels of Niger: with a population of 6 million, the average person only achieves four years of school.

In these poor locations, young adults and children have to leave school to work to help provide additional income for their families. Other children don’t have access to education due to decent schools being too far for them to travel to. On the other hand, schools nearby don’t have enough materials and resources to properly educate children. The conditions of the schools are just as poor as the children’s living conditions.

Where there’s poverty, there’s lack of education, joblessness, and poor health. The key to destroying the top effects of poverty is to attack the causes. More funding is needed for programs such as Child Fund International—a program that brings resources to children in poor communities. The International Economic Development Council supports economic developers by helping them create, retain, and expand jobs in their communities. And then there are the international efforts of the World Health Organization that fights to bring vaccinations and health-related resources to impoverished communities suffering from the infectious diseases of poverty. With these efforts along with other strategies, we can continue making strides to end the effects of poverty. 

– Naomi C. Kellogg 

Photo: Flickr

lowest life expectancy in the world

Out of the established 224 countries on the earth, these are the bottom five with the lowest life expectancy in the world. The countries listed below range from an average lifespan of 52.1 years to 50.6 years old.

Five Countries with the Lowest Life Expectancy in the World

  1. Swaziland
    Swaziland has the fifth-lowest life expectancy in the world at an average of 52.1 years. Swaziland is the only country on this list with men living, on average, longer than women. As of 2016, the top two reasons for deaths were HIV/AIDS and lower respiratory infections.However, Swaziland is one of the countries receiving help from USAID. One of the top priorities of USAID is fighting against HIV/AIDS by preventing sexual transmission, increasing the prevalence of male circumcision, improving institutions and training, lessening the impact of HIV/AIDS and decentralizing care and treatment. With USAID’s continued assistance and its partnerships within the African nation, there is a chance that the average lifespan in Swaziland can increase above 52.1 years.
  1. Gabon
    With an average lifespan of 52.1 years, Gabon is ranked number four for the lowest life expectancy in the world. Despite being rated so low, Gabon has a robust oil-dependent economy, making it a middle-income country.Due to this income status, it is ineligible for relief programs such as Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. This ineligibility may be why HIV/AIDS and heart disease are the top two reasons for death in the country, contributing to the low life expectancy.
  1. Afghanistan
    The only country not in Africa, Afghanistan is ranked at number three with an average lifespan of 51.7 years. This ranking may increase over time through help from USAID.In Afghanistan, USAID is working to promote health and education, both critical factors in raising life expectancies. USAID and its partners are making substantial strides to improve the healthcare for Afghans. For example, in 2016, the organization began a project to help reduce malnutrition and increase access to safe water and sanitation.USAID is also working toward making essential health services available and improving the quality and quantity of medicines. These resources, once available to Afghans, grant the nation a high potential to no longer be one of the countries with the lowest life expectancy in the world.
  1. Guinea-Bissau
    The second-to-last country with the lowest life expectancy in the world is Guinea-Bissau, averaging about 51 years of life. Aid for Africa is working in Guinea-Bissau with programs that help improve health and education, create businesses and protect wildlife.Another program through Aid for Africa, called Tostan, works by using local languages and traditions to promote democracy, problem-solving, human rights, hygiene and health. Through this program, successful countries have become more prosperous as well as healthier. With the continued implementation of programs such as these, Guinea-Bissau could improve its quantity of life.
  1. Chad
    Chad has the lowest life expectancy in the world at an average lifespan of 50.6 years. The life expectancy in this nation is so low because it has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality and high infant mortality as well.USAID has several programs to help those living in Chad. USAID and the U.N. World Food Programme are working together to distribute food and make sure access to food is readily available all over the country.Starting in 2018, programs such as In-Kind Food Aid, Local and Regional Food Procurement, Cash Transfers for Food and Food Vouchers all will be funded to help citizens. With these various programs helping improve health and nutrition, sources are working with Chad to increase the average lifespan.

World life expectancy continues to increase on the whole, but these five countries are still lagging behind. In order to increase the longevity and potential of their citizens’ lives, they will require targeted aid and a focus on infrastructure and healthcare.

– Amber Duffus

Photo: Flickr