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Hunger in Eswatini
The Kingdom of Eswatini (referred to as Swaziland until 2019) is a small country in the southern tip of Africa, bordering South Africa and Mozambique. The country has a dense population of around 1.14 million, and it is estimated that 63% live below the poverty line. Eswatini is currently ranked 74 out of 117 countries on the Global Hunger Index and received a GHI score of 20.9, putting them at a “serious” hunger level. The 2019 Eswatini Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (VAA) estimated that as much as 25% of the rural population — around 232,000 people — experience severe hunger and food insecurity during the lean season.

Little to no rain across Eswatini poses a huge threat for the harvest season. Many farmers choose not to plant their usual amount of crops in anticipation of severe drought, and crop production is projected to decrease by 30% in the coming years. Labor opportunities on farms also decrease, as a result depriving some people of their source of income for the season. Decreased crop yield leads to a huge spike in prices, which limits food access for those already living in poverty.

Hunger Leads to Increased Sickness and Disease

Sickness and disease are typically more prevalent in tight-knit communities that face hunger and poverty daily. Often, sickness in impoverished countries is a direct result of prolonged deficiencies of essential nutrients and inadequate caloric intake. Eswatini has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 25% of the population being infected. HIV is a disease that harms the immune system, meaning many Swazi citizens experiencing HIV are at a heightened risk for other infections.

The under-five mortality rate for children in Eswatini is 54 out of 1,000 live births, the lowest value on record as of 2018. In terms of maternal health in Swazi women, there is not enough data on their specific nutrition and diet habits. However, it is important to note that approximately one-third of women of childbearing age experience HIV, compared to only 19% of men. The high prevalence of HIV in pregnant and nursing mothers increases the likelihood that their children will experience nutrient deficiencies as a result. Fortunately, HIV can be prevented with proper sexual practices and an increase in condom usage.

Factors Increasing Hunger in Eswatini

Citizens have attempted to import maize from the neighboring country of South Africa, but much of it is confiscated by border control due to strict limitations on the amount of foreign products allowed into the country. Government officials claim that these regulations help protect domestic vendors and farmers, but many citizens are unable to afford the local prices. With limited access to imported goods and steep domestic rates, many Eswatini people are left helpless and hungry.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all the residents of the Kwaluseni township have lost their jobs, forcing people to stay home and avoid going to their place of work. Already impoverished citizens, now with no source of income, have resorted to scavenging for food. Some have even been sighted consuming weeds for sustenance. Local soup kitchens and schools were also forced to shut their doors due to coronavirus concerns, leaving more than 11,000 children without daily access to meals. Before, children received two meals a day provided by the government and various international donors. Now, the Swazi government has offered little to no aid to combat the exacerbated hunger crisis, especially in its larger cities.

Foreign Assistance Has Begun, But It’s Not Enough

Many foreign aid organizations have helped fund the World Food Programme (WFP) in Eswatini, reaching over 55,000 people in vulnerable areas this past year. WFP also provides support to many orphans and vulnerable children by establishing Neighbourhood Care Points for food and social services across the country. While much is being done to help the people of Eswatini, more resources are needed to cover a growing funding gap.

The hunger crisis in the Kingdom of Eswatini is an immense threat to the livelihoods and wellbeing of Swazi people. As a result, organizations such as the WFP are stepping in to help those in need. Along with the help of outside organizations, understanding hunger in Eswatini is an important step toward finding a long-lasting, successful solution.

Mya Longacre
Photo: Flickr

tuberculosis in Côte d'IvoireTuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial illness spread through breathing contaminated air droplets from an infected individual. TB is also transferable by drinking unpasteurized milk containing Mycobacterium bovis, or Bovine Tuberculosis. The bacterium primarily affects the lungs, which is known as pulmonary TB. More than 90% of individuals with TB have a latent form and do not experience overwhelming symptoms. With tuberculosis being one of the leading causes of death in Côte d’Ivoire, the government is making numerous efforts to help those with the illness. The health agencies in Côte d’Ivoire, using assistance from the government and other countries, are mitigating the spread of TB through medicine, proper healthcare and bringing awareness to the communities. Here are five facts about the rising issue of tuberculosis in Côte d’Ivoire.

5 Facts About Tuberculosis in Côte d’Ivoire

  1. More than 8,000 people died from tuberculosis in Côte d’Ivoire in 2018. In addition, there were 36,000 reported cases of TB. While active efforts are being made to try and control the spread of TB, the citizens of Côte d’Ivoire struggle to afford treatment, healthcare and testing. With over 46% of the population living in poverty, it is difficult for most of them to find access to hospitals and testing centers. TB is highly endemic in Côte d’Ivoire, meaning it is extremely prevalent within many of the impoverished Ivorian communities. For every 100,000 citizens, 23 of them will die from tuberculosis. Among those 100,000 citizens, more than 148 of them will be diagnosed with a form of TB. It is increasingly important that a global effort is made to bring awareness to this illness and help the citizens of Côte d’Ivoire receive proper medical treatment. Thankfully, the transmission of TB has been on the decline within the past few years. In 2000, 367 people per 100,000 citizens of Côte d’Ivoire were diagnosed with TB. This contrasts 2018 in which less than half the number of citizens were diagnosed (only 142 per 100,000 individuals).
  2. There are multiple factors that lead to the spread of tuberculosis. TB can be spread through Côte d’Ivoire by living in poverty, existing in a post-war environment and having HIV/AIDS. Ivorian citizens living in impoverished circumstances suffer from malnutrition and weakened immune systems. This makes contracting TB far easier for those with an inferior healthcare system and little access to basic resources. Living in poverty also means less access to tests for TB, which makes it hard to know who is infected. The war-torn climate of the country weakens the healthcare system. This causes a wider outbreak of TB with fewer people being treated. Political unrest and violence also force citizens to escape to other parts of the country. The emigration of families moving from northern cities to rural settlements in the south of Côte d’Ivoire increases the spread of TB while limiting immediate access to healthcare. Abidjan is one major city that faces overwhelming cases of tuberculosis. HIV/AIDS renders immune systems weak and increases individuals’ susceptibility to TB. The comorbidity between HIV and TB in Côte d’Ivoire is extremely high. In 2018, more than 7,000 of the 36,000 citizens with TB were also treated for HIV/AIDS. The Ivorian Ministry of Health (MOH) works with organizations like Measure Evaluation to track the spread of diseases like HIV and TB and increase testing in high-risk areas. The efforts have so far been successful.
  3. There are currently four treatments for tuberculosis. As of 2020, there are four recognized medicinal treatments for TB: Isoniazid (INH), Rifampin (RMP), Pyrazinamide (PZA) and Ethambutol (EMB). These medicines must be taken for three to nine months as directed by a medical professional. This ensures that the bacterium is killed. Skipping a dose, because of inaccessibility to a prescription or otherwise, causes a tuberculosis infection to come back stronger. While most forms of TB are curable with medicine, Côte d’Ivoire is plagued with strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis. In 2018, there were more than 2,000 individuals with a drug-resistant type of tuberculosis (DR-TB). These individuals are harder to treat since any known medicine is ineffective against the strain of TB. Luckily, 82% of people who are treated for tuberculosis in Côte d’Ivoire recover successfully. With the help of well-trained medical professionals and funding from other countries, the government of Côte d’Ivoire can better treat and identify those with TB.
  4. Tuberculosis is primarily observed in young men. Men ages 20-40 years old experience TB more frequently than any other demographic. Most of these men are working-class and have little education. Because men are also frequently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Côte d’Ivoire, they are at a greater risk for contracting TB. As the rates of HIV/AIDS increase in the male population (a 3:1 sex ratio), the tuberculosis infection rates have also increased.
  5. World organizations and other countries have greatly aided in treating and ending the spread of tuberculosis in Côte d’Ivoire. With help from NGOs and world health outreach programs, TB in Côte d’Ivoire has decreased. In 2007, TB was the 7th leading cause of death, however, a decade later in 2017, TB has dropped to the 8th leading cause of death in Côte d’Ivoire.

One important organization is The Stop TB Partnership. By pairing government agencies with other foundations, research agencies and private sector resources, this organization aims to create a TB-free world. In 2014, various partners met with specialists from the Programme National de Lutte contre la Tuberculose to design a national committee tasked with controlling and treating tuberculosis in Côte d’Ivoire. The members of these groups were responsible for designing a plan for infection control, allocating monetary and human resources and outlining the structure of the new committee. Through this workshop, the anti-TB program in Côte d’Ivoire established clear strategies for tackling the problem of tuberculosis. Stop TB developed oversight committees, regulations for how resources are spent and a plan for reducing the spread of TB.

According to the United Nations, Côte d’Ivoire is on the way to reaching various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The U.N. is actively helping Côte d’Ivoire eradicate illnesses like HIV, malaria and TB by the year 2030 through free doctor visits and accessible medicine.

It is crucial that the citizens of Côte d’Ivoire receive the proper treatment and financial assistance to help them overcome the tuberculosis endemic. It is imperative that those diagnosed with this illness are immediately identified and properly treated. With strategic planning, proper funding and extensive training for medical professionals, the infection rate of tuberculosis in Côte d’Ivoire is expected to decrease in the coming years.

– Danielle Kuzel
Photo: Flickr

healthcare in Swaziland
Swaziland, a country bordering South Africa and Mozambique, has seen increased conflicts in regard to its healthcare system. With a population of 1.13 million, a majority of its citizens have faced trouble accessing quality healthcare. However, the government of Swaziland is focused on improving healthcare and the well-being of its citizens.

Deficiencies in the Healthcare System

The importance of healthcare to Swaziland’s citizens stems from the presence of numerous diseases. With an estimated 220,000 citizens living with HIV, as well as lower respiratory infections being the second most common cause of death, diseases have been an ongoing issue for decades. Furthermore, road traffic accidents have heavily hurt Swaziland citizens, as it difficult to recover from serious injury without sufficient medical care. There is also a high infant mortality rate, with 54.4 deaths per 1000 births.

With a majority of citizens burdened from disease, the need for improvements to Swaziland’s healthcare system is great. With outdated structuring and a lack of medical supplies, hospitals are becoming increasingly inaccessible to the public. Since the average salary for a citizen in Swaziland is only 6,000 SZL (341 USD), people cannot afford the cost of healthcare. These conditions leads many families to treat themselves. As diseases such as HIV continue to affect Swaziland’s citizens, the healthcare system must become accessible to all.

The Road to Change

In an attempt to combat the spread of disease and improve the accessibility to quality healthcare, Swaziland’s government has launched its Universal Health Coverage program. The government is now increasing spending on health services while improving access to resources.

To increase accessibility, Swaziland has decreased the costs related to healthcare tremendously. Families of any financial background can now have an equal opportunity to acquire affordable and quality healthcare.

In addition, honorable Minister of Health Senator Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane called for a national screening, so that all citizens will know their health numbers. These numbers include blood pressure and sugar and cholesterol levels. This program helps individuals detect health problems early, leading them to utilize Swaziland’s healthcare. Swaziland has also increased the quality of their technology by adopting x-ray machines.

Program Results

With the establishment of the campaign, over 2,000 people of all ages have received screening for diseases. In addition, health numbers were recorded for thousands for future reference.

For the rising problem with HIV, it is important to note that 87% of all individuals who tested positive received sustainable therapy. Additionally, deaths related to AIDS decreased by 50% and the infant mortality rate stooped to 43 deaths per 1,000 births.

Moving Forward

This accelerated growth has heavily boosted morale in Swaziland. With increased government spending in the healthcare sector and a boost in accessibility for healthcare, Swaziland likely has a bright future.

To continue this growth for the long term, Swaziland’s government must pay attention to the infant mortality rate. Despite improvements, Swaziland’s life expectancy rate for infants is among the lowest in the world. Moving forward, Swaziland must make this issue a priority as they continue to work toward providing access to high quality health care to all citizens.

– Aditya Padmaraj 
Photo: Flickr

poverty relief reduces disease
The universal rise in global living standards has helped combat diseases, spurred on by international poverty relief efforts. In fact, one study found that reducing poverty was just as effective as medicine in reducing tuberculosis. Poor health drains an individual’s ability to provide for themselves and others, trapping and perpetuating a cycle of poverty. Better public health increases workforce productivity, educational attainment and societal stability. Here are 5 ways poverty relief reduces disease.

5 Ways Poverty Relief Reduces Disease

  1. Better Sanitation: According to the WHO, approximately 827,000 people die each year due to “inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene.” Poor sanitation is linked to the spread of crippling and lethal diseases such as cholera and polio, which hamper a nation’s development. By investing in the sanitation of developing nations, the rate of disease decreases and the food supply improves. Furthermore, an all around healthier society emerges that can contribute more to the global economy. In fact, a 2012 WHO study found that “for every U.S. $1.00 invested in sanitation, there was a return of U.S. $5.50 in lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths.”
  2. Improved Health Care Industries: A hallmark of any developed nation is the quality of its health care industry. A key part of reducing poverty and improving health, is investing in health care initiatives in developing countries. When the health care industry is lacking (or even non-existent), the population experiences high levels of disease, poverty and death. Many American companies have already invested millions into the medical sectors of developing nations, however. In September 2015, General Electric Healthcare created the Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, a business unit that donates millions in money and medical equipment to developing nations.
  3. More Informative Education: Knowledge is power when it comes to fighting disease. Educational institutions provide a nation with one of the best tools to fight diseases of all kinds. According to a WHO report, “education emphasizing health prevention and informed self-help is among the most effective ways of empowering the poor to take charge of their own lives.” Schools must teach about proper sanitation, how to spot warning signs and form healthy behaviors. School health programs are also an invaluable resource in times of pandemics and disease outbreaks, as they coordinate with governments. This cooperation has helped tackle diseases, including HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. Eritrea, for example, has one of the lowest rates of infection in the region (less than 1%), partially due to an increase in HIV/AIDS education measures.
  4. Enhanced Nutrition: Malnutrition and food insecurity weaken the immune systems of the impoverished and significantly lower one’s quality of life. Millions of children each year die from famine or end up crippled due to dietary deficiencies. By investing in and supporting agricultural sectors of developing nations, aid programs help in not only decreasing poverty, but also in cutting down on illness of all kinds. Likewise, international aid during conflicts and natural disasters is crucial to ensuring the continued health and productivity of a country. One nation combating such an issue is Tanzania. With the help of aid organizations like UNICEF, Tanzania has decreased malnutrition for children under five.
  5. More Effective Government Services: Arguably encompassing all the previous categories, governments with more money and resources can effectively help stop diseases. A healthy general population leads to more productivity, which increases tax revenue. Central governments can then invest that money back into health care and sanitation, creating a positive feedback loop. Governments also provide a centralized authority that can cooperate with organizations like the WHO. In the 21st century, communication and cooperation between world governments is key to halting pandemics and working on cures.

Impact on COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of how improved government resources provide poverty relief, which helps combat the virus in the developing world. Kenya is a good example of how developing nations can help contain and combat the virus with effective government actions. The systems and governmental services built up over past decades sprang into action and coordinated with organizations like the WHO. The government has also implemented various economic measures to help mitigate the negative economic side-effects. Moving forward, it is essential that governments and humanitarian organizations continue to take into account the importance of poverty relief for disease reduction.

– Malcolm Schulz 
Photo: Flickr

Health conditions in Brazil
Over the years, the Brazilian government has improved the provision of health care for citizens. However, challenges have persisted in terms of the quality of care provided. In response, the government and other NGOs have taken various steps to improve health conditions in Brazil. These steps include reaching more impoverished areas, offering affordable HIV/AIDS treatment and providing vaccinations.

Reaching the Favelas

Reaching urban slums, or “favelas,” is crucial to improving health conditions. These areas are stricken with poverty and the people experience harsh living conditions. Poor health often accompanies these conditions, heavily impacting the people in favelas.

The struggles those individuals face are not new to the Brazilian government or NGOs. One NGO working to improve health conditions in Brazil, specifically among the people living in the favelas, is the Brazilian Institute for Innovations in Social Healthcare, also known as Ibiss. Initiated in 1989, Ibiss now operates 62 projects with 600 employees. One project is leprosy-awareness because many leprosy cases are concentrated within the favelas.

Ibiss has increased awareness and care by helping favela residents to organize self-treatment programs. This is significant because the course of treatment is lengthy so many of the people with leprosy stop treatment, especially in favelas.

Affordability of HIV/AIDS treatment

Brazil provides one of the best programs to combat HIV/AIDS in the developing world, which has helped to improve health conditions in the nation. One way that HIV/AIDS treatment affordability has improved is through the implementation of legislation increasing access to universal antiretroviral treatments for citizens. Additional legislation has allowed Brazilian companies to produce a generic version of antiretroviral drugs to reduce high associated costs.

Statistics from 2018 show these legislative measures are improving health conditions in Brazil, specifically in HIV/AIDS patients. 66 percent of people in Brazil who had HIV and were receiving treatment.

Vaccines

In contrast, vaccine coverage in Brazil has been declining. Coverage for the first dose of measles/mumps/rubella has declined in two regions in Brazil since 2016. In Northeastern Brazil, coverage dropped from 55.8 percent to 41.9 percent. Further, in Northern Brazil, coverage dropped from 58.9 percent to 44.9 percent.

Vaccination must occur to improve health conditions in Brazil. Thankfully, the Brazilian government recently responded to an outbreak of measles in 2019 by doubling the purchase of MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccinations from the previous year. The government purchased 60.2 million MMR vaccines.

Brazil also recently launched a massive campaign to deliver yellow fever vaccinations. The government implemented these vaccines in 77 municipalities within the states of São Paulo, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. These particular municipalities were targeted because of the increased risk of an outbreak. As a result of this campaign, 53.6 percent of people were covered in São Paulo, 55.6 percent Rio de Janeiro and 55.0 percent in Bahia.

 

Despite the poor health conditions, efforts to improve health conditions in Brazil are being implemented. From new government legislation to NGO programs, improvements have been made in reaching more impoverished areas, offering affordable HIV/AIDS treatment and providing vaccinations. Moving forward, the development of a robust health system will continue to have a positive impact on the nation.

Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

diseases in UgandaAs a developing country, Uganda struggles with multiple intractable diseases that kill millions of Ugandans every year. HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are among the top five causes of death in Uganda. But, medical research is providing innovations that give hope to relieve suffering and prevent death in Uganda. Here are three diseases in Uganda that can be tackled with treatments that seem like science fiction.

Tuberculosis and Bedaquiline

Science fiction often explores the possibilities of DNA manipulation. Now, this sci-fi premise is becoming a reality through a new tuberculosis drug called bedaquiline. Bedaquiline is a new drug that blocks energy transfer enzymes that a tuberculosis bacteria cell needs to survive. Without this essential energy, the cell dies. A June 2019 study discovered that bedaquiline has long-term treatment potential. The drug forms small reservoirs in the body, allowing it to naturally release throughout the body and continually kill tuberculosis cells over time. This is a major breakthrough for Ugandan citizens since this is the first tuberculosis treatment to come out in 50 years. 

Malaria and Genetic Mutation

Popular science fiction games outline the use of biological weapons, such as Mass Effect’s fictional “genophage” which causes a female host to produce sterile offspring. Experimental genetic engineering technology is now taking on a highly deadly disease in Uganda. Scientists have developed an engineered genetic mutation that deforms mosquito reproductive organs and passes from female mosquitos to daughter eggs, meaning that the hatched females are unable to breed. In other words, the mutation makes the next generation of mosquitos sterile, reducing the population and thus reducing the risk of malaria.

Further, the mutation changes females mosquitos’ mouths to resemble male counterparts’. Male mosquitos cannot bite humans, thus the mutation “de-fangs” female mosquitoes, making it impossible for them to transmit malaria. Releasing genetically modified mosquitoes has been controversial and research continues. According to Uganda’s Ministry of Health, malaria is endemic in 95 percent of Uganda. If it is found that modifying mosquitoes is safe and successful, this development could be a critical contribution to treating malaria and other mosquito transmitted diseases in Uganda.

HIV/AIDS and the Immune System

Science fiction extensively narrates the use of genetic properties to repair and fix humans. Dual studies from 2007 and 2019 used similar methods to combat the insidious syndrome of HIV/AIDS that plagues Uganda. A bone marrow transplant replaces the patient’s immune system with mutated systems via lymphatic pathways. It essentially replaces the patient’s immune system with a new, mutated version that combats the disease.

Using this technique, a 2007 patient has been off anti-retroviral medicines for 12 years. The most recent patient, cured in 2019, has been HIV-free for more than 18 months. With difficulties in bringing patients back for consistent treatments, a possible long-term solution for HIV/AIDS is an extremely important advance for the 1.3 million Ugandans infected with HIV.

Conclusion

Famous Star Trek character Captain Jean-Luc Picard stated, “Things are only impossible until they’re not.” Relieving Uganda’s suffering seemed impossible – the stuff of science fiction – as if they would never be free of disease. But, the above treatments provide hope for the people of Uganda. Through rigorous research and innovation, doctors are developing treatments for diseases in Uganda and other countries.

– Melanie Rasmussen
Photo: Flickr

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