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In the United States, the summer months often mean one thing: mosquito season. With their annoying buzzing and itchy bites, mosquitos are definitely a nuisance, but they are not a life-threatening issue.

Mosquitos and Malaria

For almost half of the world’s population, however, mosquito season means something entirely different: malaria. Malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitos in many parts of the world is a dangerous and often life-threatening problem. Becoming familiar with the top 14 facts about malaria is crucial to the understanding of the disease and its implications.

Although entirely preventable and treatable, malaria is a fear that continues to persist in the 21st Century for billions of people. Often rampant among the poorest countries of the world, here are the top 14 facts about malaria and what is being done to fight the disease.

Top 14 Facts About Malaria

  1. Malaria is caused by five different parasites species and is transmitted through bites from infected mosquitos. One of the types of mosquitos in question is Anopheles, which are mosquitos bred in areas of clean, unpolluted water such as swamps, the edges of rivers or temporary rain puddles.
  2. Children under five and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to malaria. Of the deaths that occur from malaria, 70 percent of them are among children under the age of five. This is because children, in particular, are prone to infection and illness.
  3. Although it was eliminated from the United States in the early 1950s, mosquitos carrying malaria are found on every continent except Antarctica. In places where the disease has been eliminated, re-introduction of the disease is still a possibility.
  4. Malaria mortality rates are falling. Since 2010, global malaria mortality rates have fallen by approximately 29 percent and 35 percent among the age group of children under five.
  5. Insecticide-treated bed nets have been shown to reduce malaria illness. Bed nets are barriers put around people to prevent mosquitos during sleep. Bill Gates is an avid supporter of eliminating malaria and works with his charity to provide netting to countries where the risk of malaria is high.
  6. Two billion people remain at risk of malaria, roughly half of the world’s population.
  7. Sub-Saharan Africa has an extremely high malaria presence. It is estimated that 90 percent of all malaria deaths occur in this region.
  8. Cooperation among organizations working to fight malaria has proven to be successful. Addressing malaria is at the forefront of the international community’s thoughts with support from the United Nations, the World Bank, and a variety of other non-governmental organizations. Reducing the world’s burden of malaria was one of the first eight Millennium Development Goals introduced by the United Nations.
  9. Malaria is treatable if caught quickly and appropriately. Early diagnosis of the disease is key to treating it, and catching the disease quickly also helps reduce the transmission of malaria.
  10. Indoor residual spraying is another way countries are fighting malaria. This method works by spraying insecticide indoors and is currently effective for 3 to 6 months.
  11. Malaria impedes economic development in countries where it is extremely prevalent. In some African countries, GDP falls by 1.3 percent per year due to malaria’s economic consequences. Malaria also discourages investment from outside countries and impairs many children’s ability to go to school.
  12. The World Bank is very dedicated to controlling malaria. In previous years, the organization has contributed nearly $1 billion to the cause.
  13. Malaria-related deaths have decreased by 50 percent since the disease’s peak in the early 2000s.
  14. In 2018, the World Health Organization plans to pilot a project of a first-generation malaria vaccine. The project will be targeted in sub-Saharan Africa.

Road to Improvement

The universal elimination of malaria is possible in the 21st Century. The cooperation, funding and persistence to find solutions to the disease exist in ways never before thought possible.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: Flickr

Why is Angola Poor?A nation that has been in political turmoil since its independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola has had major concerns formulating a stable, unified country free of conflict. Despite it being Africa’s second-largest oil exporter and producer behind Nigeria, poverty has plagued the nation that has suffered internally due to political corruption, instability and other factors. So, why is Angola poor?

According to CountryWatch, income inequality remains high and poverty has been declining only slowly. Angola has attempted to mitigate poverty by placing strenuous efforts in the oil reserve industry in order to boost economic growth. Unfortunately, the income inequality gap is still wide, and infrastructure is in a volatile state due to the country’s insufficient skills that are needed to improve human development. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization that provides support for both developing and developed countries during periods of financial crisis, has warned Angola that they are vulnerable to stay trapped in such a cycle unless they allocate their resources appropriately.

According to a report by AllAfrica, Angola has successfully managed to reduce, by over half, the number of people underfed, thus achieving the first target of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. Although it missed the original target by about two years, the current situation in the country is “satisfactory,” according to an official who was speaking on World Food Day, on October 16th, 2017.

An annual report, the Global Hunger Index, could encourage a more optimistic outlook on the country’s future, and could help citizens in answering questions like, “why is Angola Poor?” In the report, it states that hunger has fallen significantly in countries where civil wars have ended in the 1990s and 2000s, such as in Angola in 2002. Additionally, global hunger itself has fallen by 27 percent since 2000.

One of the more obvious explanations that could aim to clarify the poverty rate in Angola may be the lack of education that Angolans receive. According to the C.I.A. World Factbook, over 40 percent of Angolans live below the poverty line, with only 70 percent of them being literate.

People in Need (PiN), a Czech nonprofit focused on development projects, has stepped up in the campaign toward alleviating poverty by improving education for half a million children. With school expectancy hovering at around 10 years of age, and only 60 percent of females who are literate, such initiatives represent hope and prosperity for a country that ranks 146th on the Human Development Index.

PiN has contributed by building schools, engaging in specialized training for teachers and providing necessary teaching materials for students to receive a quality education while reducing illiteracy among adults. Its work has seen tremendous results, with over 450,000 Angolan children and 1,200 adults learning to read, write and do simple math.

Nevertheless, the advancements in the oil production sector should receive some credit, as it has drastically stimulated Angola’s economic growth and improved the standard of living for many. However, other social issues continue to persist in a country that only nine years ago held its first parliamentary election.

Accountability, transparency, focusing on human rights and deterring domestic violence are all setbacks that present peril to a nation striving to become a developed country. To answer the question, “why is Angola poor,” Angola must first make the necessary changes through strong governance programs in order to see positive results. Improved education can lead to reduced income inequality, but without stringent measures to allow for human capital to prosper efficiently, the people will continue to suffer from this vicious poverty cycle.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Why Samoa Has Poverty

In comparison to some of its neighbors in the Pacific region, the Samoa is largely successful and has a relatively strong economy. However, that is not to say that poverty does not exist in Samoa. There are a number of reasons why Samoa has poverty.

It is true that Samoa does not have extreme poverty. However, it does have large concentrations of working poor. 20 percent of Samoans live below the poverty line.

One of the biggest reasons as to why Samoa has poverty is its geography. Samoa is a small country with limited resources. Its soil is fertile but vulnerable to erosion. Natural disasters, such as volcanic activity and cyclones, have always been a threat to the nation. Samoa is also particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change, including the resulting loss of biodiversity and rising sea levels. The areas most threatened by these phenomena are generally rural and poorer. Furthermore, recovery from cyclones and other disasters can take a long time.

At the same time, fishable marine life is decreasing and the human population is increasing, creating a strain on the economy.

Another explanation for why Samoa has poverty is the high cost of living. Samoan citizens have complained about the fact that one can easily spend $100 in one day for basic necessities, when $100 is often what rural Samoans make in a week. It is not unheard of for Samoans to operate side businesses or do additional work to make ends meet, such as selling coconut oil or selling plates of food.

Despite the apparent inaction of the Samoan government, as well as the multiple possible explanations for why Samoa has poverty, there are some glimmers of hope. Some Samoans have turned to livestock farming, particularly lambs, which until recently was uncommon. Many Samoans turn to their churches not just for spiritual guidance, but for community support.

Additionally, Samoa has made strong progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals set forth by the World Health Organization, having made social progress on a number of fronts and virtually eliminating extreme poverty. Samoa certainly has its ongoing struggles, but if its people and past are any indication, it has the potential to improve.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Brunei

Brunei, a high development country that benefits from a wealth of natural resources, has one of the highest gross domestic products in the world. While there is no reported poverty line, all signs point to a very successful population and a government structure that could act as a model to the world. In other words, poverty in Brunei is not nonexistent, but it is minimized. Unfortunately, even though Brunei is highly developed and their infrastructure is smoothly run and effective, the nation is a special case, and thus their model cannot be applied to the rest of the world that does struggle with high levels of poverty and strife.

The government of Brunei has not only set up an excellent infrastructure, but the population is also highly educated and benefits from not having to pay income taxes or for medical care. Yet, the government can only afford this social system because of the breadth of natural resources they have at their disposal. Brunei refines crude oil, which is then exported to economic powerhouses around the world such as Japan, which is the primary export market. Since the natural resources are so abundant for the time being, Brunei does not have to worry about them running out, leading to a recession or worse.

Yet, despite the strength of industry, the nation does struggle to make modern adjustments, raising the possibility of a future where poverty in Brunei could become an issue. The recent decline in oil prices has made this concern more plausible, and officials have made it a priority to diversify industry and bring in more foreign investment. The wealth of the country allows them to fix problems before they begin, and the threat of a “resource curse” is one such issue.

Another concern lies in the very small level of poverty in Brunei. While the country has no official measurement of a poverty line, the UN Millennium Development Goals report in 2011 indicated that 5.04 percent of the population is impoverished. The government is already taking steps to deal with the issue, creating a Poverty Issue Special Committee and drafting an action plan for eradicating poverty. While this committee has not led to an official poverty line, it does show that the government of Brunei is proactive and willing to fight for their citizens’ interests.

While Brunei does not struggle with a high percentage of poverty, they still remain an example on how to combat poverty through government action. Creating a committee to deal with this issue before it becomes too problematic and planning to diversify industry and modernize makes the government of Brunei an idealistic, forward-thinking country to observe and emulate.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Flickr

Why Is Kazakhstan Poor?Kazakhstan is a Eurasian country, bordering China and Russia, whose size is comparable to that of western Europe. Kazakhstan has a population of 16.4 million. According to the Asian Development Bank, only 2.7 percent of the population in Kazakhstan lives below the poverty line. Kazakhstan has the lowest percentage of people living below the national poverty line in central and west Asia. These statistics suggest that Kazakhstan is not a poor country at all, which raises the question, is Kazakhstan poor?

Historical Context
Kazakhstan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and became an upper-middle-income country in less than two decades. Kazakhstan’s GDP has risen dramatically since the country became independent. In 1990, the year before Kazakhstan declared independence from the Soviet Union, the GDP was $27 billion. By 2013, the GDP was $237 billion. In 2016, however, the GDP had decreased to $134 billion. The rapid economic growth can be attributed to large investments in the oil sector.

Economy
Kazakhstan’s economy has declined due to the decrease of global commodity prices and the economic downturn of Russia. Additionally, Kazakhstan’s exports to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) countries decreased by 23.5 percent in 2016. Imports to Kazakhstan from EAEU countries declined by 13.7 percent.

The majority of Kazakhstan’s economy is based on industry and services. Agriculture in Kazakhstan accounts for less than 5 percent of the country’s GDP. Kazakhstan’s economy, however, is not at all diverse and is largely dependent on oil. This dependency foreshadows an even steeper economic decline, especially considering imminent environmental concerns.

Infrastructure
Kazakhstan also confronts poor transportation infrastructure, especially for a country whose volume of road and railroad shipping is particularly high. Two-thirds of the 23,000 kilometers of highway are in poor condition.
Kazakhstan’s telecommunication infrastructure is also very poor. Though Kazakhstan has the best telephone system in central Asia, it ranks low in terms of world standards. For example, in 2004, the Kazakhstan telephone system provided only 15 telephone lines per 100 inhabitants.

Poverty Disparity
Kazakhstan has made huge strides in reducing poverty. From 2000 to 2006, the poverty rate declined from 34.5 percent to 19 percent. Rural poverty, however, is still high. For example, from 2005 to 2010, poverty in urban areas declined from 13.6 percent to less than 4 percent, while poverty in rural areas declined from 24.4 percent to 10 percent.

Is Kazakhstan Poor?
In truth, Kazakhstan is not a traditionally “poor” country. In 2011, Kazakhstan was ranked as a high human development country in the Human Development Report. Additionally, Kazakhstan has already achieved many of its Millennium Development Goals.

Kazakhstan is, however, an example of a country that quickly lifted itself out of poverty and can quickly fall back into poverty. Kazakhstan is an anomaly among the former Soviet Union countries, as Kazakhstan’s GDP increased and its poverty rate decreased almost immediately after declaring independence. Kazakhstan has relied heavily on oil to improve its economy. Poverty is largely related to employment opportunities, which have been plentiful in the oil business. Considering environmental concerns regarding oil, it would be in Kazakhstan’s best interest to diversify its economy in order to continue improving the quality of life of its citizens.

Christiana Lano
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in South AmericaThe regions of Central and South America, in addition to the Caribbean Islands, collectively comprise what is currently recognized as Latin America, which is home to a growing population of roughly 637.6 million inhabitants. Of the three, the twelve nations of South America comprise the majority, or about 66 percent of that population. Despite all of these countries having experienced economic turmoil, political instability and social injustices, as a whole, the issue of hunger in South America does appear to be improving.

Since 1991, hunger in South America has seen significant declines. The largest of these has been Bolivia, which had 38 percent of its population without sufficient access to food in 1991. As of 2015, it had managed to reduce this number to 15.9 percent. Other countries have also made significant strides, such as Peru, which reduced its percentage of hunger from 31.6 in 1991 to 7.5 percent in 2015.

The basis for these accomplishments was established after Latin America adopted a U.N. Millennium Development Goal in 2000. The goal was to cut hunger in half in South America and its other regions by 2015, according to a State of Food Insecurity in the World report released by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. The region fortunately accomplished this goal, and while South America still has the largest proportion of undernourished people to its population, it was able to do this at a quicker and more effective rate than Central America or the Caribbean Islands.

One reason it was likely able to do this is that a handful of countries in South America are major agricultural producers and exporters. Brazil, for example, uses 31 percent of its land for crops; the country mainly grows sugarcane, but they also are dominant producers of coffee, bananas, mangoes, coconuts, papayas and oranges. Additionally, they rank second behind the U.S. in terms of total beef production. Similarly, Argentina is also a large beef producer, and Ecuador is a dominant producer of bananas.

In fact, due to its current production levels and untapped resources, economists and agricultural experts have speculated that Latin American countries will have a decisive role to play in the coming decades when it comes to global food production, something that could certainly play to their advantage. As of 2015, Latin American food imports accounted for a mere four percent of food imports worldwide. In contrast, their food exports accounted for 16 percent of food exports worldwide.

However, there are still tens of millions of people experiencing hunger in South America today. The existence of such a problem reflects that South America’s issue is not that it lacks sufficient food resources, but that it lacks adequate methods of distributing and allowing access to these resources. This is typically reflective of a larger, systemic problem of inequality. However, if resolved, it could improve the continent’s ability to produce and distribute these resources at a rate that would allow its countries to not only be dominant economic players in the international community, but also to take care of their own citizens simultaneously.

In a world whose population is estimated to reach nine billion by 2050, and whose food demands are expected to be 60 percent higher than they are today, it is critical that Latin America, and more importantly South American governments, establish economic reform that would allow for more equal food distribution. By doing so, they could then benefit from and play a major role in assisting future food shortages across the globe.

– Hunter Mcferrin

Photo: Flickr

A New Model for Education in Developing CountriesIn most developing countries, the majority of children do not finish primary school. For example, only 50 percent complete fifth grade in Ghana, and less than half of them can understand a simple paragraph.

Programs working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals have had great success in increasing school enrollment in developing countries, but many still do not finish school. Obstacles to children completing their education include the difficulty of getting to school and paying for uniforms, books and examination fees.

Another significant factor is the opportunity cost. That is, when a child goes to school instead of working, their family is missing out on an opportunity to bring in extra income. Most of these children will work in agriculture or trade, not in the formal sector. Continuing past primary school does not provide any economic benefit for them or their families.

Education in developing countries tends to adopt traditional western ideals, focusing on literacy, math, social studies and science. For most children, however, these topics are irrelevant to their lives and do not help them improve their real-life circumstances. A new educational model called “school for life” focuses on building the students’ ability to improve their lives. The curriculum focuses on entrepreneurship, health education and empowerment.

Within the realm of entrepreneurship, the curriculum teaches financial management, market analysis and interpersonal skills. Students are also taught how to identify business opportunities and effectively turn them into a revenue stream.

Since many of these children live without access to proper healthcare, teaching them how they can protect their own health is crucial. Many common health issues, such as malaria, dysentery, respiratory infections and nutrition-related illnesses are preventable by simply making small lifestyle changes.

Rote learning dominates education in developing countries, which encourages memorization instead of creativity. The most powerful resource is empowered people, and education systems can unlock this asset for their country with this innovative approach to education. The “school for life” system promotes interactive exercises instead of lectures, so that students have an opportunity to practise desired skills and learn to think critically. For example, students may work on a project to improve the cleanliness of their school. This activity allows students to develop practical skills like planning, collaboration, delegation of tasks and leadership.

A pilot version of the “school for life” curriculum has been adopted in Escuela Nueva in Colombia. If schools switch the focus from improving standardized test scores to empowering students to improve their lives, education can become a powerful tool for lifting people out of poverty.

Kristen Nixon
Photo: Flickr

Children with Disabilities in Developing Countries
Worldwide, between 93 million and 150 million children have a disability. While research is lacking, children with disabilities in developing countries are common because of disability’s links to poverty. Poverty reduces access to treatment and illness may disallow working abilities. Coupled with a childhood disability, a person may be faced with a life of poverty.

One current study screened for developmental disabilities in low- to middle-income countries. It cited past studies stating the prevalence of developmental disability varied from 0.4 percent to 12.7 percent. The variance is from different definitions of disability and the use of different screening tools. This particular study found that, across 16 developing countries, 20.4 percent of children screened had a developmental impairment.

Children with any disability tend to be the most stigmatized population in many countries. Some cultures shun those with them, believing the ailment is a result of sin or bad luck, or that a disability can be contagious. This leads to the discrimination of disabled children. Additionally, these children are often excluded from programs, education, healthcare, society and family because of the lack of resources and the inability of poor societies to accommodate them.

Access to healthcare is a known issue in low- to middle-income countries. Children with disabilities in developing countries have a higher mortality rate due to lack of basic healthcare. While many medical advances have been made, they are mostly seen in wealthier nations. These nations have seen reductions in disability mortality; however, in developing nations, wealthy families can afford treatment and much of the poor cannot afford assistive devices or treatment needed. There is also little literature on care specific to the disabled population.

Children with disabilities are less likely to attend or finish primary school. Only 10 percent attend and five percent complete primary school. Families may not enroll their disabled child because of low expectations. Schools may be unable to accommodate a disability whether the child is unable to see the blackboard or access the bathroom. Reasons like these prevent children from finishing or attending school.

Poor children are faced with malnutrition, dangerous work conditions, conflict and lack of clean water, making them vulnerable to disabilities. Disability leaves these children excluded from education and job-training opportunities, setting up a cycle of poverty for life.

Despite the injustice children with disabilities in developing countries are experiencing, the social norms are changing positively. Disability is now being seen as a human rights issue. International organizations, such as UNICEF, state that children should not be discriminated against based on disability and that these children have the right to freedom and happiness as others do. Governments are beginning to advocate for the disabled, too. The U.S. and U.K. both have legislation making it illegal to discriminate based on disability.

The World Health Organization (WHO) created specific guidelines to include people with disabilities in the Millennium Development Goals. It recognized that those with disabilities are impacted differently and therefore need different resources. For instance, women with disabilities face more severe discrimination, as do mothers of the disabled. The WHO noted that extra supportive programs are needed for these populations. This trend is continuing in the Sustainable Development Goals.

It is important to see a child with a disability as a child first, to focus on raising the child as a part of society. Childhood is a critical time for development and sets the foundations for adulthood. Building these children up creates stronger adults and better futures for the world.

Mary Katherine Crowley

Photo: Flickr

The Swaziland Poverty RateDespite its classification as a lower-middle-income nation, 63 percent of the Kingdom of Swaziland’s population still lives below the poverty line. The Swaziland poverty rate is attributed to multiple factors. These factors include stalled economic growth, severe drought, unequal distribution of wealth, high unemployment and a high rate of HIV/AIDS.

According to the African Economic Outlook, economic growth in Swaziland dropped to -0.6 percent in 2016 due to a severe drought during the 2015-16 agricultural season that caused significant declines in the country’s agricultural sector. As nearly 77 percent of Swazis rely on subsistence farming for their livelihoods, Swaziland was one of the southern African nations hit hardest by the drought.

The economic growth rate is projected to rise to 1.4 percent in 2017 as improving weather conditions also improve agricultural production. It will most likely take until 2018, though, to regain and potentially surpass 2015’s growth rate of 1.7 percent.

In 2015, Swaziland was ranked 150 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI which ranks countries based on life expectancy, education and per capita income indicators. Between 2011 and 2015, the country’s HDI value did not change. Researchers attribute this lack of progress to unmet Millennium Development Goals in areas such as poverty and health care.

In an effort to combat the high Swaziland poverty rate, the Swazi government has undertaken various initiatives aimed at promoting indigenous Swazi entrepreneurship and decreasing youth unemployment rates. According to the 2013-14 Integrated Labour Force Survey, people between the ages of 22 and 35 owned only 33 percent of the country’s small businesses.

The Swazi government is currently working on including more young people in the country’s growing small business sector by including entrepreneurship training in schools and supporting programs that give young people hands-on experience in a small business work environment. Additionally, the nation is planning to revitalize the Youth Enterprise Revolving Fund Initiative.

There are also several organizations working on the ground in Swaziland to help those living in poverty. In 2017, the World Food Programme (WFP) has collaborated with the Swazi government to improve the food consumption of households affected by the drought by providing approximately 250,000 people with food distributions and cash transfers through the use of mobile money.

The organization is also working to combat the malnutrition caused by the drought and the high poverty rate. It provides 15,000 people per month with take-home food rations meant specifically to improve their nutritional status. This initiative mainly targets those undergoing treatment for HIV or tuberculosis. Both of these diseases have high incidence rates in Swaziland.

The Thirst Project is another organization that is working to alleviate the burdens that poverty places on 63 percent of Swazis. Its goal is to end the global water crisis by providing sustainable sources of clean water to communities in developing countries.

It is the belief of Alicia Villafana, though, a recipient of the Thirst Project’s Power of Youth Award for her fundraising efforts, that providing communities with clean water will ultimately help downsize the Swaziland poverty rate.

“Now they can grow gardens and vegetables that provide nutrients. Now HIV patients can take their medication without worrying about catching a disease from the water that might kill them,” states Villafana. “Kids don’t have to spend time going to fetch water. Now they can go to school and get an education.”

With the efforts of the Swazi government, supplemented by aid from humanitarian organizations, the WFP believes that those affected by the Swaziland poverty rate may soon lead healthier, more secure lives.

Amanda Lauren Quinn

Photo: Flickr

Fertility Rates in Developing CountriesReducing fertility rates in developing countries is critical for ending global poverty. Common methods of doing so include education, contraception and women’s empowerment. However, another important factor affecting fertility rates is child survival.

There are many biological and behavioral factors that affect women and families when children die early. Physiologically, the early death of an infant triggers the resumption in ovulation, leaving the mother at early risk of conceiving again. Additionally, parents who lose children early are more likely to attempt to replace lost children or have extra children as insurance or compensation.

To fight high fertility rates in developing countries and around the world, it is important to understand the rates, causes and prevention efforts of stillbirths and under-five mortality.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a stillbirth as “a baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks’ gestation.” There are an estimated 2.6 million stillbirths per year across the globe, which equates to more than 7,178 occurring daily.

The majority of stillbirths happen in developing countries with little or no access to skilled health professionals during pregnancy and labor. The WHO estimates that of the 2.6 million yearly stillbirths, 90 percent occur in low and middle-income countries, 75 percent occur in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and 60 percent occur in rural areas of those Asian and African regions.

Stillbirths are caused by child birth complications, post-term pregnancy, maternal infections during pregnancy (such as malaria, syphilis and HIV), maternal disorders (such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes), fetal growth restrictions and congenital abnormalities.

Most stillbirths can be prevented with improved access to maternal healthcare. The Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) aims to prevent these avoidable deaths and has a target of 12 stillbirths per 1,000 live births by 2030. To compare, today, the stillbirth rate in sub-Saharan Africa is 29 per 1,000 live births and, in developed countries, is three stillbirths per 1,000 live births on average.

An estimated 5.9 million children under five die every year around the world. However, instances in developing countries are higher. In low-income countries, the under-five mortality rate is about 76 deaths per 1,000 live births. To compare, in high-income countries, the under-five mortality rate is about seven deaths per 1,000 live births. Seventy percent of these deaths in developing countries are preventable and caused by acute lower respiratory infections (such as pneumonia), diarrhea, malaria, measles, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and neonatal conditions.

About 2.7 million children die annually during the first month of life. Seventy-five percent of these newborn deaths happen during the first week and up to 50 percent during the first 24 hours. Causes of neonatal and infant mortality include prematurity, low birth weight, infections, birth asphyxia, HIV-infected mothers and birth trauma.

The majority of these infant deaths are preventable with health measures and care during and after birth, particularly during the first week of life. Additionally, most deaths under the age of five can be prevented with access to basic goods and services such as nutrition, water, sanitation, shelter, education, healthcare and information. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to decrease instances of under-five mortality as well as stillbirths. Part of SDG goal three is to end preventable infant and child mortality by 2030.

Improving fertility rates has positive effects on economics, health, environment and education. And, contrary to a popular foreign aid myth, improving child survival rates can actually decrease population growth rates around the world. Ironically, fertility rates in developing countries and around the world can, in turn, affect stillbirth and under-five mortality rates. Addressing this perceivably unending cycle is critical to ending global poverty.

Francesca Montalto

Photo: Flickr