How to Help People in Guinea-BissauSome people live to be 100 years old. But if you’re in Guinea-Bissau? You might want to cut that in half.

Located in sub-Saharan Africa, the country finds itself with one of the greatest rates of death in Africa, ranking fourth on the latest HealthGrove estimates. The bulk of fatal threats to the country are diseases, whether communicable, maternal, neonatal or nutritional. They include, but are not limited to, lower respiratory disease, malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and neonatal disorders.

Cardiovascular diseases, which fall under non-communicable diseases, also constitutes 12 percent of fatalities in the state. These diseases are followed closely by strokes and ischemic heart disease.

There also exists several risk factors that pose the greatest threat to citizens. This includes a number of environmental and metabolic risk factors. However, the two most threatening to the people of Guinea-Bissau are behavioral: maternal/child malnutrition and unsafe sex.

So what can be done to increase life expectancy from the current low measure of 55 years?

At the moment, the U.S. assists Guinea-Bissau through the distribution of monetary aid, with the aid reaching close to $1.6 million. One of the main partners of this aid is listed as the International Partnership for Human Development and the goal is to focus on basic health initiatives.

However, if the end goal is to aid Guinea-Bissau in reducing poverty as well as creating an impact in the health issues it faces, the current aid alone is not enough. Currently, there are several pieces of legislation being considered by the government, that relates to U.S. aid and health: the Reach Every Mother and Child Act as well as the Global Health Innovation Act.

If you want to make a difference to the people of Guinea-Bissau, you can exercise your right as a citizen and get in touch with your member of Congress by calling and/or emailing to voice your support of these pieces of legislation. It is a quick and easy way to use your voice and make a difference.

Maleeha Syed

Photo: Flickr

poverty in uganda
Poverty in Uganda remains a pressing issue. About 67 percent of Ugandans are either poor or highly vulnerable to poverty according to the 2012 expenditure review for Uganda by the Directorate of Social Protection in the gender ministry.


Top Facts on Poverty in Uganda


Based on an analysis of the 1989-90 Household Budget Survey, the poverty assessment for Uganda was divided along two lines. The first category of poverty was defined by a level that represented the spending needed for a daily consumption of 2,200 calories in addition to some non-food spending. Ugandans falling below this line were categorized as “poor.” The second level of poverty was set at a line that represented the bare minimum for adequate food intake. Those who fell below even that line were labeled the “poorest.” According to these definitions, 55 percent of Ugandans are considered poor. The rest of that 67 percent of at-risk or poor Ugandans fall somewhere in the core “poorest” category.

Ninety-two percent of the poor live in rural areas even though 89 percent of the population is actually classified as rural. Not only is poverty more widespread in rural areas, it is also more severe. Thus, poverty-related indicators – including household size, dependency ratio and illiteracy – are higher for rural Uganda.

Because of poverty in Uganda, life expectancy for men and women is one of the lowest in the world at an average of 59 years. AIDS has become a key contributor to death and illness amongst young children, consistently driving the infant and child mortality rate higher. Malaria has been found to be the primary killer among adults admitted to hospitals. Additionally, diarrhea, pneumonia and anemia are almost as prevalent as AIDS as reported causes of death. With a per-capita income of under $170, Uganda is regarded as one of the most impoverished countries in the world. These grim facts are a testament of the destruction brought about by the political turmoil and economic decline characteristics of over ten years of despotic leadership.

Uganda’s small revenue has made it extremely difficult to directly target its impoverished human capital. Nevertheless, social protection mechanisms are central to uplifting the poor and allowing them to achieve full productivity potential. Recognizing this, the government has attempted to re-prioritize its expenditures in favor of the social sectors and rural infrastructure. Some newer areas of focus include government development of family planning programs and promotion of literacy and education. Yet, development of social indicators is still lagging, particularly for rural women who work longer hours than men.

Despite the seemingly enormous magnitude of poverty in Uganda, some economic progress has occurred in recent years. For example, the government has implemented a far-reaching economic reform agenda that has transformed Uganda into one of the most liberal economies of Sub-Saharan Africa. This entails the liberalization of the exchange and trade regime, the endorsement of a new investment code and the liberalization of the agricultural market. With these factors in play, the government is readying the way for future economic growth. In fact, aggregate real per capital GDP actually grew substantially between 1987 and 1991 whereas previously it had been in steady decline.

It is true that the economic situation in Uganda  still seems bleak and poverty remains rampant. Yet, as indicated by past examples, economic reform coupled with increased focus on social affairs can bring increased hope for the poor of Uganda.

– Grace Zhao

Source: The World BankNew VisionUNICEF
Photo: OB