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hunger-in-kenya
Kenya is a country in Eastern Africa, bordered by Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Though the country is one of Africa’s most successful in crop production, the reoccurring droughts and dry seasons often cause food crises for Kenya’s people. The economy and uneven wealth distribution leaves 50% of the population living in hunger in Kenya.

Felix Koskei, Kenya’s agriculture secretary, estimates that Kenya will face a food shortage beginning in June. Koskei’s concern comes from the lack of maize being produced this year; Kenyans are estimated to eat about 45 million bags of maize a year, but they are currently only producing 40 million bags. Some of the estimates fluctuate because different areas consume more food than others.

Koskei also recognized the food crisis could be due to maize being exported to South Sudan, where Kenyans are able to make twice as much off of a harvest than if the product was sold in Kenya.

During the months before June, Koskei urges “private stake holders to import food and farmers to plant short span crops” to tide over Kenyans. He stated that maize is currently being harvested from the “long rain harvests” to help curb hunger in Kenya. Over 653,000 bags have been purchased so far.

To help during future food crises, Koskei mentioned that the government has arranged “negotiations with two prequalified bidders to start a fertilizer manufacturing plant,” which he estimates will be erected by 2016.

With this manufacturing plant, farmers in Kenya will have the ability to provide food for their families and Kenya will be able to sustain its population.

The possible struggles Kenyans will be facing include malnutrition, starvation and possibly death. With malnutrition, Kenyans will be more susceptible to diseases such as waterborne illnesses and malaria.

– Rebecca Felcon

Sources: The World Factbook, Press TV, All Africa, Action Against Hunger
Photo: Totally Cool Pix

High_Cost_of_Hepatitis_C
The Hepatitis C virus affects an estimated 180 million men, women and children worldwide. Patients in low to moderate income nations benefit from treatment at the same rate as those in developed regions. Yet, the high cost of this treatment prevents many from recovering.

One of the largest biopharmaceutical companies, Gilead Sciences, developed an $84,000 cure in 2013 with one pill priced at a thousand dollars. The total cost for a three-month regimen far exceeds most patients’ price range.

Solvadi, the pill, offers a solution to the pressing danger of this disease in developing countries. Egypt (22%), Pakistan (4.2%) and China (3.2%) rank the highest in disease prevalence, bearing most of the burden today.

How, though, can patients in these nations afford an $84,000 bill?

Gilead answered this question with a promising discount in sixty developing countries. Negotiating with generic drugmakers in India, the company plans to offer the treatment at 2 percent of the cost in the United States.

Rohit Malpani, a policy director at Doctors Without Borders, hopes for a more reasonable price. The company could produce Solvadi at a far lower cost, he contends. Malpani and other advocates estimate Gilead could cut the cost to $68 to $136 for a twelve-week treatment regime.

The company must revaluate how much the drug costs compared to patients’ ability to pay, Malpani asserts.

“If we want to see Hepatitis C treatment scaled up globally, we are going to need much lower prices in all countries with a high burden of the disease,” he remarks in a recent Doctors Without Borders statement.

Gregg Alton of Gilead reports future partnerships with three to five different companies. Gilead, he notes, plans to allow flexibility of price from the Indian companies. Alton also contends the starting point of $2,000 is “substantially less” that current costs in India – for inferior drugs. He promoted Solvadi in The Hindu Business Line, highlighting the drug as “more effective, less toxic…and without side-effects.”

Ideally, Alton remarks, the company signs voluntary licensing deals “in the next couple months” and market availability in two years. Last November, the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge(I-MAK) filed a legal challenge against its patent application.

I-MAK claims Solvadi relies on “on science” with a “known compound.” Voluntary licensure protects Gilead from patent problems, adds Malpani. These licensing agreements prevent generic companies from overturning patents. Without these agreements, the Indian manufacturers could sell Solvadi at any cost and without paying royalties to the company.

The company also plans to limit the scale of these licensing agreements, allowing generic drugmakers to sell in 60 countries. In contrast, Gilead sells HIV drugs in more than 100.

The pricing and limited access to this drug threatens the health of more than 180 million patients. Brook Baker, an advisor to the Health Global Access Project, sees delinkage as the solution. With this system, governments fund pharmaceutical research and development as a public service.

Today, pharmaceutical companies absorb about 60 percent of the total cost. Treating these drugs as a public good offers the most in need. And though these companies need to profit, Hepatitis C patients around the world also need treatment.

Ellery Spahr 

Sources: NPR, WHO
Photo: Don’t Trade Our Lives Away

Global Health Accomplishments WHO
Global health has a huge impact with poverty. In many poverty-stricken areas, a lack of proper health equipment and the spread of diseases is a major function in the poverty trap. These countries rarely have the bare minimum to handle widespread disease and other health complications, making it hard truly to combat a global health issue. Despite these bleak conditions, there have been impressive global health accomplishments. The work and time put in by programs such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have made these ten necessary improvements for impoverished areas.

Global health has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Many different factors have caused this great revolution of health, but ten specific reasons can be credited with carrying the weight. Without improvement in these specific areas by programs like USAID and the CDC, many of the great advancements seen today in global health would have never had the funds to be reached.

 

Factors Contributing to Global Health Accomplishments

 

In many areas with great health risks; immunizations and vaccines are not made readily available. Without these treatments, many people are often infected by disease that could otherwise be avoided or contained with the assistance of vaccination and immunization. First, USAID immunization programs have provided the funds to treat up to three million impoverished people per year.

Many nations struggle with health issues because of water deprivation. Second, USAID introduced oral hydration therapy to these areas, in hopes it would counteract dehydration problems. As of today, the oral hydration therapy has been successful in areas all around the globe, with tens of millions of people being properly nourished through the low-cost program yearly.

Thirdly,  not only is the oral hydration therapy combatting worldwide dehydration, USAID has partnered with The United Nations Drinking Water Supply to help some 1.3 billion people receive proper water nourishment sources.

Sanitary water is a vital piece to figuring out the poverty puzzle, but the eradication of poverty begins with the young people. Fourth, the average number of children per family in impoverished nations has dropped from 6.1 in the mid-1960s to 4.2 today. In addition, infant and child deaths have decreased by 50 percent in these impoverished areas.

Fifth, USAID child survival programs have made a 10 percent child mortality rate reduction in just the past eight years. Not only has the number of children’s lives saved risen, but life expectancy has improved by 33 percent in these nations.

The decrease of major diseases worldwide is a major improvement made possible by USAID, CDC, and similar programs worldwide. Sixth, Smallpox has been eradicated, and now only exists in laboratories. Seventh, USAID has accounted for thirty-two HIV/AIDS prevention programs throughout the world.

Eighth, over 850,000 people have been reached by the HIV program, and (ninth) another 40,000 people have been trained to treat the virus. Lastly, programs like the CDC have been responsible for the diminishing malaria cases, from 2004 (2.1 million cases) to 2009 (1.8 million cases).

By combatting major poverty causing issues such as disease epidemics, unsanitary water, and child mortality rates, programs such as USAID and the CDC have been instrumental in causing the turnaround of world poverty. With the continued support from these programs, the world’s impoverished people can be assured of better conditions outside of these ten beneficial starts.

 

10 Key Global Health Accomplishments

 

1. USAID immunizations and vaccines have provided funds to treat up to three million impoverished people per year.

2. Introduction of oral hydration therapy in impoverished areas.

3. Supplied roughly 1.3 billion people proper nourishment sources.

4. Average number of children per impoverished family has dropped from 6.1 to 4.2.

5. 10 percent child mortality rate reduction.

6. Smallpox only exists in laboratories.

7. USAID has 32 HIV/AIDS programs throughout the world.

8. 850,000+ people have been reached by the HIV program.

9. 40,000 have been trained to treat HIV.

10. Diminishing malaria cases, from 2.1 million to 1.8 million over a five year period.

– Zachary Wright

Sources:  USAIDCDC

Photo: USAID

poor_village

Malaria is the result of an infection that is transmitted by mosquito bites. The parasite, once it enters the bloodstream, travels and infects blood cells. Symptoms range from simple chills to a life threatening coma.

The first and most prevalent symptom is a fever, accompanied by chills, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and sweating. While these are common symptoms for many different illnesses, including the flu, and any other viral or bacterial infection, it is also indicative of malaria. Since these are ordinary side effects, they are often the most ignored. A slight fever could be neglected with the thought that it’s “just a fever,” while in truth it’s an indicator of malaria.

More severe than the fever and chills is jaundice, which is the inflammation of the liver. Jaundice is accompanied by yellowing of the skin, and the eyes, which is a result of high levels of the bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice can be the result of many other illnesses, including cancer, or hepatitis. Jaundice is, however, one of the most obvious symptoms of malaria.  In the case of malaria, it is a symptom that can only be treated along with the illness. Because jaundice needs to be treated immediately, diagnostic tests are conducted to determine the exact cause of the jaundice, and in this process, malaria could possibly be identified.

Seizures are another side effect of malaria. Some seizures are unidentifiable, as they result in “staring spells,” while others are accompanied by spasms, convulsions, or shaking of the body. Seizures are hard to identify immediately with malaria, but only immediate medical attention can help determine exactly what is causing the seizures.

Anemia may also point to malaria, especially in areas where malnutrition is high, as this can be a result. Anemia is the condition in which there are not enough red blood cells in the body. This can be due to any kind of a dietary deficiency, so it’s hard to attribute this just to malaria.

Finally, comas are an extremely obvious symptom of malaria. Comas can also be a result of anything; for a coma to come about, the patient has to have exhibited other symptoms first. Similar to the other side effects, comas are not exclusively associated with malaria. They can be a result of many other illnesses, and nothing but a proper diagnostic test can help determine whether it is truly caused by malaria.

In all these cases, a diagnostic test normally consists of a blood test to determine whether there are any bacterial, viral, or fungal infections in the blood. Normally, malaria is easily identifiable in these blood tests, and treatment can begin immediately. In areas without proper healthcare, however, this diagnosis and treatment process can take long, and that is why prevention is the first step in defeating malaria.

– Aalekhya Malladi

CDCWHO

Dengue Fever Epidemic in BrazilBrazil has a dengue fever epidemic. Compared to 2012, nearly three times as many Brazilians have been infected with dengue fever in 2013’s first seven weeks, according to health officials. The mosquito-borne disease has spread to over 200,000 people, whereas last year, there were roughly 70,000 reported infections. To make matters worse, the heavy levels of rainfall create beneficial conditions for mosquito breeding, leading experts to believe that the climate will add additional challenges for medical professionals.

This particular strain of dengue first appeared in Brazil in 2011, but dengue itself has been around far longer. However, immunity to one strain does not grant immunity to the three variants, so this relatively new form of the virus has the potential to run rampant.

Fortunately, Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha explains that fewer people have died as a result of this year’s dengue fever epidemic than last year despite the dramatic rise in infections, which demonstrates that “authorities were following the right strategies…extra training…has clearly paid off.”

Dengue fever presents flu-like symptoms; eradication efforts are centered around both the development of a vaccine, as well as containment tactics for mosquitos. An extremely popular and cost-effective measure for keeping mosquitos at bay is the implementation of mosquito nets: cheap, re-usable material to protect living quarters from the buzzing disease-carriers. Mosquito nets are already popular candidates for foreign aid funds, but more is always better when it comes to saving lives.

Jake Simon

Source: BBC
Photo: EMS Solutions