Life Expectancy in Sri LankaSri Lanka is a country that used to be torn by civil war. Now, thanks to peace and foreign investment, the country is making major strides towards improving the lives of its citizens. Below are seven facts about how life expectancy in Sri Lanka is improving.

7 Facts about Life Expectancy in Sri Lanka

  1. Life expectancy in Sri Lanka is currently 77.1 years. The life expectancy for males is 73.7 and is 80.8 for females. This is an increase of more than seven years from 20 years ago.
  2. The country’s three-decade civil war resulted in thousands of deaths including more than 7,000 in the final months. However, since the war ended in 2009, the country has been able to stabilize and improve economic conditions.
  3. Since 2006 the percent of people living in poverty has decreased from 15.3 percent to 4 percent. This decrease in poverty has been in large part due to the improving economy in Sri Lanka which registered an average economic growth rate of 5.8 percent from 2010 to 2017. The correlation between poverty and life expectancy is clear. When one is out of poverty and has more resources, they are able to live longer lives.
  4. Children are being immunized against disease at a 99 percent rate. Children have access to immunizations leading to a lower rate of children dying of preventable diseases. They can live longer and happier lives without worrying about diseases such as measles, hepatitis and DPT.
  5. Sri Lanka is focused on educating its youth, by seeking foreign investment. For instance, in 2017, the country secured a $100 million loan from the World Bank in order to enhance the quality of degree programs and boost STEM enrollment and research opportunities at the university level. The country’s investments are paying off as Sri Lanka has the highest reported youth literacy rate in South Asia at 98.77 percent versus India (89.66) and Bangladesh (83.2 percent).
  6. The under-5 mortality rate is less than 10 percent. The under-5 mortality rate broke below 10 percent in 2014 and has been declining since 2005. In fact, the under-5 mortality rate stood at more than 20 percent less than two decades ago. CARE and the Red Cross are two organizations that have been especially focused on improved health care services since the 1950s.
  7. The U.N. projects that the life expectancy rate will exceed 80 years within the next 20 years. However, as the Minister of External Affairs noted at a U.N. conference in 2014, “with…increased life expectancy, we are facing new challenges, namely the incidence of NCDs, a growing aging population by 2030, addressing issues facing young people and containing the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

Sri Lanka is a great example of a country that shows what can happen with peace and investment. Their economy is growing and with it, the people’s lives are improving not only in quality but also in length.

– Josh Fritzjunker and Kim Thelwell
Photo: Flickr

Task Force for Global Health

Beginning in 1984 as the Task Force for Child Survival, the Task Force for Global Health started as a leading secretariat for various international health organizations such as UNICEF, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the World Bank. The Task Force worked alongside these global health organizations to design and improve effective child and family wellness, healthcare and survival strategies.

Thirty years later, the Task Force for Global Health has grown into a global nonprofit organization for public health. According to Forbes Magazine, the Task Force is the fourth largest nonprofit in the U.S. Headquartered in Decatur, Georgia, and under the leadership of public health expert Dr. Mark Rosenberg since 1999, the organization stands as the biggest nonprofit in Georgia since its expansion in 2013.

The Task Force focuses on three major areas: improving the efficiency of public health systems and field epidemiology, providing accessible treatment of immunizations and vaccines and eradicating neglected tropical diseases.

However, despite the Task Force’s incredible reputation and longstanding credentials, it remains largely unknown to a majority of the world. In an interview conducted by Georgia Center for Nonprofits’ (GCN) quarterly magazine, Georgia Nonprofit NOW, Rosenberg explains that keeping the Task Force under wraps was not only an intentional but effective strategy.

Rosenberg told GCN, “From the beginning, we have always tried to build coalitions, but it’s not always easy to get organizations to work together. If you want a partnership to work, our founder Bill Foege taught us, you’ve got to shine the light on your partners, and not on yourselves. We focus attention on our partners, and as a result, we are not well known in Georgia.”

The Task Force’s decision to maintain a low-key profile has resulted in high effectivity, not only as a major collaborator to some of the world’s most well-known nonprofit organizations but also as a large scale mobilizer towards peace and health care reform.

The Task Force for Global Health has managed to cover an incredible amount of ground in improving healthcare and offering accessible vaccinations and treatments to approximately 495 million people in 149 countries. The organization provides support and professional level healthcare training programs in 43 countries around the world, which results in widespread, efficient and accessible health care globally. Having formed strong partnerships with private and public healthcare providers and programs worldwide, the Task Force for Global Health has and continues to succeed in bringing about incredible reform and is changing the lives of millions of people every day.

Jenna Salisbury

The first stage is underway in Gavi’s plans to rebuild immunization services wrecked by the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. These revived programs will ensure that hundreds of thousands of children who missed out, or are at risk of missing out, will now receive their vaccinations.

Because the Ebola outbreak destroyed the immunization services, Gavi will have a coordinated approach to ensure that these countries are stronger and more resilient to infectious diseases. Gavi is doubling their long-term support for their health systems until 2020.

Rumors in African countries have negatively impacted immunization services. These rumors have falsely claimed that childhood vaccines, such as those protecting against measles and pneumonia, are linked to Ebola. This has caused parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated. These rumors have caused a major setback for immunization services, leaving hundreds of thousands of children at risk.

Ebola has taken the lives of many healthcare workers in these three countries, and even forced some workers to abandon their posts as the crisis took hold. As the countries try to return to normal life, there is a lack of healthcare workers to provide vaccinations.

With this plan in place, Gavi will provide funds for civil society organizations to work with communities to hold meetings and brief village chiefs and religious leaders about the importance of immunizing children. Gavi is also focused on ensuring that there are enough trained healthcare providers to administer the vaccines to the children.

Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, states, “As the initial Ebola epidemic recedes, we now face a race against time to prevent outbreaks of other dangerous diseases, by ensuring that children receive the vaccines the need to protect them. Rebuilding trust amongst parents and carers is critical, as is ensuring that they are provided with the services they need to protect their children.”

The package from Gavi will total $12.5 million and work to trace children who missed out on immunization and ensure they are enrolled in catch-up programs. There will be a nationwide drive to recruit new vaccinators and provide them with training.

A measles immunization campaign will also be held. It is estimated that because of the Ebola outbreak, as many as one million children were not vaccinated against measles.

But Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, is not alone in rebuilding immunization programs. Since the beginning of 2015, UNICEF and WHO has supported the countries to undertake immunization campaigns to tackle outbreaks of childhood diseases, such as measles and meningitis.

With the support from Gavi, the training of healthcare workers will ensure that childhood immunization will continue after the Ebola crisis. By reestablishing trust in the parents, children will once again be protected against preventable diseases.

Kerri Szulak

Sources: Gavi Alliance 1, Gavi Alliance 2
Photo: Gavi Alliance

Despite widespread poverty and low governmental spending on health, Bangladesh – particularly, its healthcare system – has made significant improvements in life expectancy, vaccination rates and decreased infant mortality rates. In a special report by The Lancet, it has been shown that the remarkable strides made by the country are due to programs that focus on gender equality, family planning and immunizations.

Professor Mushtaque Chowdhury from BRAC, a Bangladeshi NGO, has said, “Over the past 40 years, Bangladesh has outperformed its Asian neighbors, convincingly defying the expert view that reducing poverty and increasing health resources are the key drivers of better population health. Since 1980 maternal mortality has dropped by 75%, infant mortality has more than halved since 1990, and life expectancy has increased to 68.3 years—surpassing neighboring India and Pakistan.”

Women have played a large role in these advancements. Door-to-door female health workers delivered family planning services over the last 40 years, resulting in a drop from 7 births per woman in 1971 to 2.3 in 2010. During that time, contraceptive use has increased from 10% to 62%. Education for girls was also noted as a key factor in these improvements.

The success achieved has been attributed to the involvement of NGOs, such as BRAC, in poor rural areas. “NGOs as a group have innovated to address issues of poverty, unemployment, health, education and the environment, and in many cases the government and NGOs have worked together to achieve a common goal,” The Lacent report continues to reveal.

While Bangladesh is succeeding in many areas, there are still many more that are not so positive such as child malnutrition. In the poorest families, 50% of children are still underweight. Even in the wealthiest quintile, 21% of children do not receive enough food.

“The Bangladesh health system has been shaped to address the first generation of poverty-linked infections, and nutritional and maternity-related diseases,” the Lancet goes on to say. “But given the epidemiological transition, the health system will have to be adjusted to grapple with chronic non-communicable diseases. For the fragile and evolving Bangladesh health system, the global attention on universal health coverage has not been translated into substantive action.”

David Smith

Sources: TheLancet, TheGuardian, The Conversation

In a given year, USAID immunization programs have been able to save over 3 million lives. The potency of a single injection in preventing life threatening diseases like measles, malaria, hepatitis, and others has been proven time and time again. Yet, with such benefits come some seemingly unavoidable costs, particularly the spread of infection caused by reusing syringes.

That is where Uniject comes to the fore. The product of a 20-year-long effort, Uniject has already been widely embraced as a mechanism of safeguarding the lives of this and coming generations. With funding from the United Agency for International Aid and Development (USAID), PATH, a Seattle based non-profit organization working to better global health through innovation, has developed the innovative “Uniject autodisable injection system.” From contraceptives to vaccines, Uniject has made medicine safer and more accessible to millions. It takes the medicines that save lives and then apportions them into individual sized packages, each carrying the medicine that could save one life.

The genius of this model lies in its one-time use. Indeed, reusing syringes has posed a serious threat in the global fight against preventable disease. In 2009, 20 million immunizations were given using syringes contaminated with the blood of HIV-infected patients. In the developing world, the average person receives an unsafe injection such as this about once a year—with grave consequences. Research has shown that reusing a syringe, even indirectly, can spread HIV from one patient to four others.

Autodisable systems, like Uniject, have done a great deal in alleviating this dilemma. In 2010, the use of autodisable syringes brought down the average hospital stay in Tanzania from seven days to three days. Similar results have been achieved across the developing world where Uniject has been distributed. Learn more at

– Lina Saud

Sources: PATH, Safe Point Trust, The Borgen Project

Increased Immunizations in Zambia
The World Health Organization has reported that increased immunizations in Zambia from GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations) funding are having an incredibly beneficial impact. GAVI funding has exposed Zambia to new technologies and vaccines for a gamut of preventable diseases. These diseases range from Hepatitis B+, influenza, and measles among others. Increased funding for vaccinations allows Zambia to protect a greater percentage of their population, and it allows them to make important strides towards improved health conditions, something they have struggled with in the past.

The country is also looking forward to increasing their Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) vaccinations in the near future. The main goal of the increased funding for vaccinations is that they will have the ability to help more children. Children are substantially more exposed to hunger, malnutrition and diseases, and this is a step in the eradication of such problems.

Zambia has been the beneficiary of funding totaling the U.S. $3,208,160 for vaccines and immunizations. Representatives from The World Health Organization note that Zambia is striving to greatly improve their child’s health conditions, as well as to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Immunizations have been a great part of this success. Zambia’s government has shown a strong commitment to improvement. The WHO admits that while Zambia has various shortfalls and economic limitations, there are improvements being made. The government is working hard to help and care for its citizens.

This is good news. Increased vaccinations help lower child mortality rates, and increase the overall quality of life in developing regions. They also work to limit overpopulation. Immunizations and health improvements are vital to poverty reduction. International commitment to countries and governments such as Zambia is exactly what we need.

– Caitlin Zusy
Source: Times of Zambia
Photo: The International