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Dominica, a small country in the Caribbean, has a population of about 72,000. Currently, general taxes are what finance healthcare services in Dominica. There are seven healthcare centers and 44 clinics around the country that provide primary healthcare at no cost.

 9 Facts About Healthcare in Dominica

  1. Dominica spends equivalent to $418 per capita on healthcare. As of 2011, healthcare costs were 4.2% of the GDP. Those healthcare services are provided by the Ministry of Health. Also, as of 2017, there were 1.1 doctors per 1000 people in Dominica.
  2. There are five hospitals in Dominica. Four of these hospitals are government-owned, while the other one is privately owned. The Princess Margaret Hospital has one small intensive care unit, meaning it is most equipped to deal with emergency situations. However, the other three, the Marigot hospital, Grand Bay hospital and Portsmouth hospital, are not as prepared.
  3. Dominicans generally have somewhat long lifespans. For men, life expectancy is 74.4 years, and for women, it’s 80.5 years. Therefore, the total average life expectancy is 77.4 years, exceeding the global average of 72 years. However, as of 2019, 30.9 infants died out of 1000 live births, which is a rate of about 3.29%.
  4. There are both primary and secondary healthcare services in Dominica. There are seven health districts in which primary healthcare services are provided by clinics. These clinics serve about 600 people each within a 5-mile radius of the district in which they are located. Princess Margaret Hospital provides secondary healthcare to the people of Dominica.
  5. Some individuals are exempt from charge for medical treatment. Those who are considered poor or needy, pregnant women, children younger than 17 years old  are exempt from the medical care charges. People who may also have an infectious and contagious disease that can spread through multiple ways (such as bodily contact, contact with bodily fluids, or breathing in the virus) are also exempt from the charges that arise from medical care.
  6. The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 0.75%. About 506 people out of a population of 72,293 people in the Dominica have HIV/AIDS. Countries that have a prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS that exceed 1% are considered to have Generalized HIV Epidemics, so Dominica is currently below that even though its rate is higher than places like the U.K. 70% of those infected by HIV/AIDS are male. In 2019, only 95 adults and children were receiving antiretroviral therapy in Dominica.
  7. The Citizenship By Investment program in Dominica helps rebuild medical buildings and infrastructure, as well as provide treatment abroad. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, the CBI program helped fund the rebuilding of six hospitals and three healthcare centers in Dominica. Similarly, the program also sponsored 16 children to receive treatment abroad in 2017-2018. The treatment was critical for the of health of the children in Dominica.
  8. The Order of St. John is an NGO project working to improve healthcare in over 40 countries, including Dominica. This international charity has over 300,000 volunteers and staff and provides multiple services such as healthcare, first aid and other methods of support. This organization, registered as an NGO in 1964, had an income of 1.44 million pounds in 2018. Its mission is to help improve the health of people around the world and alleviate worldwide sickness. Additionally, St. John works to provide volunteers with disaster preparedness training in Dominica in the case of tropical storms or other natural disasters. The organization accepts donations, 100% of which go to their programs.
  9. Another NGO, EACH, also works in Dominica to provide healthcare communication. EACH works to promote healthcare communication that is concentrated around patients. EACH also works to provide healthcare communication research, skills and tools. They strive to ensure that patients worldwide receive specialized care with regard to autonomy and safer, efficient healthcare, as well as ensuring that patients are more likely to recover from diseases. EACH became a nonprofit and charity organization in 2014.

Many organizations and hospitals are working to provide effective healthcare in Dominica. The general public can help assist these organizations through donations or volunteering. Learning more about healthcare in Dominica, as well as in different countries around the world, can help one understand both the domestic and global situation of healthcare today.

– Ayesha Asad
Photo: Unsplash

Tuberculosis in BangladeshTuberculosis (TB) is an airborne disease; common symptoms include cough with sputum and blood in some cases, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. TB can lead to the death of an infected person when left untreated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB has caused about 2 million deaths worldwide, and 95% of deaths were recorded in developing countries. Bangladesh ranked sixth among high TB burden countries. The National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTP) has attained more than 90% treatment success and more than a 70% case detection rate. Despite these successes, tuberculosis in Bangladesh remains a serious public health problem.

Reasons for Higher Infection of Tuberculosis in Bangladesh

  1.  Delays in the Initiation of Treatment: Patients in Bangladesh often receive late treatment. Delays in treatment increase chances of negative treatment results, death and community transmission of TB. A study on 1,000 patients reported that, on average, there were 61 days of delay in the treatment of women and 53 days of delay in the treatment of men.
  2.  Role of Informal Health Practitioners: Most of the impoverished people in Bangladesh prefer to go to their local practitioners due to the ease of accessibility and low cost. A recent survey showed that approximately 60% of the Bangladesh population prefers to go to these uncertified doctors. However, such doctors typically lack formal training. This may lead difficulties in accurately diagnosing and treating TB.
  3. Lack of Awareness: Directly observed treatment short-course (DOTS) has been recognized as one of the most efficient and cost-effective approaches for treating TB. In 1998, the DOTS program became an integrated part of the Health and Population Sector Programme. The inclusion of the DOTS strategy in the Programme helped TB services transition from TB clinics to primary level health facilities. These health facilities typically incorporate GO-NGO (government-organized non-governmental organization) partnerships, and the NGOs have advocated for work on literacy, social awareness along and health care development. As part of the Health and Population Sector Programme, DOTS is freely available to the public. Unfortunately, many remain unaware of the treatment option.  As a result, detection of new TB cases has stagnated at around 150,000 cases per year since 2006.
  4. Poverty: A large portion of the country is still suffering from poverty. Poverty can often lead to overcrowding and poorly ventilated living and working conditions. People with less income also cannot afford food, leading to higher incidences of malnutrition. The culmination of these factors typically make the impoverished population more vulnerable to contracting TB.

The Effort to Combat TB

Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in Bangladesh. However, continuous efforts by the NTP and various NGO organizations have played an important role in decreasing the spread of the disease. DOTS, for instance, demonstrated a 78% cure rate in 1993. Due to its success, a phase-based treatment plan was implemented in 67 million rural populations in 1996.  Since implementation, the NTP has attained a 90% treatment success rate. Further efforts to combat the disease include development of the FAST program (Find cases Actively, Separate safely and Treat effectively). The program intends to detect active TB cases and decrease spread of the disease in healthcare facilities. However, despite efforts by the NTP and a number of NGOs, significant delays in care-seeking and treatment initiation still exist as major hindrances to the program’s goals. 

Challenges to TB Programs

Tuberculosis in Bangladesh kills more than 75,000 people every year. Despite free services like DOTS and other NTP programs, limited access to quality service, lackluster funding and insufficient screening prevent adequate detection and treatment of the disease. The lowest quartile of the population is still five times more likely to contract TB, potentially due to a lack of awareness of TB-treatment programs among the general public. Adding to the problems for TB programs, private health professionals are typically inactive in national programs. While NTP programs have made progress in addressing the disease, these challenges persist, and tuberculosis remains a major health problem in Bangladesh.

Solutions

To stop the growth of tuberculosis in Bangladesh, community organizations such as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) have shown impressive results in lowering the percentage of those afflicted by TB. Effective treatment of TB includes investment in medicine, local health services and diagnostics. To ensure full recovery, social protection of patients is also required. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), for instance, requires two months of drug treatment and a four month continuation period. If treatment programs can satisfy requirements investment and social protection requirements, the chance of curing TB patients reaches 92%. The application of a more successful method will help in curing the most complex TB cases, such as drug-sensitive TB, with improved results. With the implementation of proper and effective treatment strategies, we can eliminate tuberculosis in Bangladesh and the benefit even the poorest members of society.

– Anuja Kumari

Photo: Pixabay

poverty in afghanistanForeign aid in any form can be considered positive at face value, but Afghanistan could benefit from greater investment in private organizations due to its specific needs. Aid from countries such as the U.S. is accompanied by political strings that, according to a U.S. agency report on Afghanistan, results in the Afghani government’s focusing on the goals of its foreign investors rather than the needs of its citizens. Poverty in Afghanistan requires attention unhindered by political expectations.

US Foreign Aid Policy

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in March of 2020 that the U.S. would be cutting $1 billion in foreign aid to Afghanistan, which became a foreign policy initiative following major U.S. military presence in the country. The U.S. foreign aid is allocated to a variety of purposes, some of which attempt to address the widespread poverty that still impacts 54.5% of Afghans. Despite these efforts, poverty remains a large concern. For example, the number of Afghans without basic food and housing increased from 6.5 to 9.4 million between 2019 and 2020.

Dr. Jessica Trisko Darden, an assistant professor at American University with expertise in foreign aid and Central and Southeast Asia, asserts that different types of foreign aid are better suited to target specific goals. Darden noted that U.S. foreign aid in Afghanistan is largely concerned with developing infrastructure tied to the needs of the foreign parties in this country, such as Kabul International Airport. Additionally, while the U.S. aid package may set aside some portion of the money with the intention of addressing poverty in Afghanistan, the larger goals are often political in nature.

Non-Governmental Organizations’ Contribution

Private organizations could focus their resources on areas ignored by foreign government aid. “I think that, in terms of overall strategies for Afghanistan, getting more resources to outlying regions, and having more NGO and local NGO presence in outlying regions is something that should be a goal of a sustainable development strategy for Afghanistan, rather than continuing to over-concentrate resources and efforts in the Kabul area,” said Darden. The U.S. aid focusing on the Kabul area for accessibility and the ability to address political goals arguably takes away attention from less centralized regions. A larger NGO presence in the country could mean an established, long-term effort to target the humanitarian needs of Afghans and reduce poverty in Afghanistan.

Afghan Women’s Network

One of the most prominent independent groups acting in Afghanistan is the Afghan Women’s Network. It was created following inspiration from the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. This organization serves as an umbrella for a variety of humanitarian efforts in the country. It has direct points of contact in several major regions throughout the country and provides support to other organizations in the remaining regions. With 3,500 members and 125 women’s groups under its leadership, the Afghan Women’s Network has the ability and resources to provide immediate and specialized support to Afghans.

The political struggles of Afghanistan exist in tandem with the struggles of Afghani citizens. Multiple NGOs with unique goals ranging from gender equality to infant mortality to education could target the diverse needs of the Afghani population more directly. By supplying aid without political expectations and restrictions, NGOs could work to downsize poverty in Afghanistan.

Riya Kohli
Photo: Pixabay

Morocco is a water-scarce country. It is greatly impacted by the effects of rapid desertification, poor water management and high susceptibility to droughts. Water resources in the country have fallen by about 71% since 1980. In rural communities it is common for families to rely on one water source, meaning water scarcity can have profoundly negative impacts on Morrocan families and their livelihoods. Drought, in particular, occurs on average once every three years and can have devastating effects on the livelihoods of Moroccans. About 51.5% of the Moroccan population is negatively impacted by droughts. With drought on the rise, sustainable water management is integral to the development of the economy. As a result, an organization called Dar Si Hmad is stepping in to use CloudFishing to combat poverty and water scarcity in Morocco.

Water Scarcity and Poverty

The citizen’s organization ‘Social Watch’ identifies the poor management of scarce water resources as a serious aggravator of rural poverty in Morocco. Farmers and women in Morocco are particularly burdened by the effects of water scarcity. Forty percent of working Moroccans are employed in the agricultural sector and 70% of farmers struggle due to the impact of frequent droughts. Women in rural communities in Morocco spend on average 3.5 hours a day seeking and carrying water, restricting their time in pursuit of other activities.

CloudFishing to Solve the Water Crisis

Dar Si Hmad, a female-led non-governmental organization (NGO), is taking an innovative approach to solving the crisis of water scarcity and alleviating poverty in Morocco. The NGO’s vision is to “enable sustainable livelihoods and create opportunities for low-resource communities to learn and prosper.” It is pursuing this vision, in part, by using ‘CloudFishing’ to combat poverty in Morocco. CloudFishing is an approach to solve the water crisis by utilizing the abundant resource of fog. In Morocco, fog gathers from the ocean and is captured in the mountainous landscape for about 140 days out of the year. Dar Si Hmad uses fine mesh to ‘fish’ for droplets of water within the fog which, once it accumulates, drops into a basin and is then filtered through a process of solar-powered UV, sand and cartridge filters.

The water collected by Dar Si Hmad is piped to 140 households providing approximately 500 people in southwest Morocco with access to sustainable clean water. Dar Si Hmad has developed into the largest functioning fog collection project in the world and is directly contributing to poverty alleviation in the country. The project is partly funded by USAID in Rabat, Morocco. Sustained foreign aid from the U.S. is integral to the organization’s continued success. CloudFishing has a positive impact on women in the community who now have more time to devote to pursuing economic activities to help them rise out of poverty. Sustainable access to water also allows poor farmers to have more stable livelihoods and escape the cycle of poverty in Morocco.

Looking Forward

While clean water is a human right recognized by a number of international organizations and countries, in water-scarce Morocco it has become a luxury. Dar Si Hmad is continuing its work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is preparing to build two new CloudFishers to provide water to 12 additional rural villages in Morocco. Dar Si Hmad plays an integral role in providing solutions like CloudFishing to combat poverty and water scarcity in Morocco.

– Leah Bordlee
Photo: Flickr

Obstetric Violence
Of all topics concerning women, obstetric violence is one of the most taboo. Obstetric violence involves patients experiencing abuse, neglect or disrespect at the hands of their OB-GYN, particularly during childbirth. A study by the WHO which followed and interviewed over 2000 women pre- and post-childbirth in Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea concluded that 42% of respondents experienced discrimination or verbal or physical abuse. This abuse includes slapping, mocking, forced episiotomies and unnecessary medication or cesarean sections. Here are six things to know about obstetric violence.

6 Things to Know About Obstetric Violence

  1. Power disparities between doctors and patients discourage women from objecting to or speaking out against abusive practices. According to the Latin American Journal of Nursing, the unequal power relationships with patients leads to “the loss of the woman’s autonomy and her right to decide on matters related to her body.” As a result, women are prone to experiencing different forms of violence during labor and delivery care.
  2. Obstetric violence is not limited to pregnant women. It can occur during any OB-GYN visits and includes invasive practices, denial of pain, refusal of treatment, verbal humiliation and non-consensual touching. According to another study by the WHO, 49.9% of women in Ghana reported undergoing vaginal examinations performed without their permission.
  3. Specific groups of women are more likely to be mistreated than others. Ethnic minority, low income, unmarried, adolescent and migrant women are more likely to be mistreated by an OB-GYN. According to the WHO, “Younger, unmarried women were more likely to have non-consented vaginal examinations.” The midwives and doctors often justified abusive treatment as punishment for women they found “uncooperative.”
  4. Obstetric violence discourages women from consulting maternal health services or OB-GYNs. This could cause medical complications to go unnoticed and untreated, potentially leading to maternal or child mortality. Women who experience abusive treatment from medical professionals may also suffer serious complications, however. The abuse often leads to permanent emotional, mental and physical damage. It also presents a health hazard at the community level, as the prevalence of obstetric violence encourages the idea that such treatment is normal.
  5. Countries have recently started defining obstetric violence. In 2006, Venezuela defined it as the “appropriation of the female body and reproductive processes by health professionals.” Similarly, Argentina’s definition is “cruel, dishonorable, inhuman, humiliating threatening treatment by health professionals, causing physical, psychological and emotional harm to assisted women.” Defining mistreatment by health professionals in legislation is the first step to combatting it on a legal level.
  6. NGOs such as Make Mothers Matter (MMM) are fighting obstetric violence. MMM “works in synergy with grassroots organizations around the globe” to empower women. It recognizes the potential women have as leaders for change. The NGO places emphasis on the importance of proper treatment of women and mothers at the hands of their OB-GYN being crucial for child wellbeing and development. In addition, MMM exposes the dangers of obstetric violence and spreads awareness to bodies of governments capable of creating real change.

Obstetric violence violates fundamental women’s rights. Fighting it will involve recognizing the role gender inequality has in creating hierarchical dynamics between doctor and patient. Efforts by governments and NGOs to end mistreatment by OB-GYNs will improve the physical and mental welfare of women and children around the world.

Mathilde Venet
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in the virgin islandsIn many vacation hotspots, it’s easy to overlook the undeniable poverty, and this includes locations such as the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2018, approximately 500 individuals were homeless. This may seem like a small number, but the population of the Virgin Islands is minimal, only 100,000 people. It’s time to shed some light on the struggles of the people who are easily overlooked by the beautiful beaches of the Virgin Islands. Here are five facts about homelessness in the Virgin Islands.

5 Facts About Homelessness in the Virgin Islands

  1. Homelessness in Families: Homelessness in the Virgin Islands is seen in families, which directly affects children and their growth. To help low-income families, the Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, was created. However, it has faced a $3 million reduction causing 26 families to lose housing and government help. Moreover, “for every $1 million dollars cut from the program … 111 families could lose housing.”
  2. Homelessness in Children: Those who are 0-17 years old are in the age range leading homelessness in the Virgin Islands. These children are considered “youths without parents or unaccompanied youths” and these numbers are growing.
  3. Demographics: There are certain groups that are being directly affected by this homelessness, as shown above by the large number of homeless children. Other groups include Black citizens and men. Black citizens made up 90% of the homeless population in 2017. The majority of the homeless population, 96%, is comprised of men. Another group being directly targeted is those who struggle with mental illness or drug dependence.
  4. Economics: The Virgin Islands heavily rely on tourism to boost the economy and to help the average person’s income. Therefore, during off-seasons for travel, most have to pick up other jobs to stay afloat to prevent money from becoming tight. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, travel has been limited, creating more financially unstable families and individuals. The off-season for travel and COVID-19 greatly affects homelessness and the financial standing of persons in the Virgin Islands.
  5. Lack of Action: Most records of homelessness in the Virgin Islands were taken in 2017 or 2018. The most recent record of homelessness was taken in early 2020, showing that the issue has not gone away. In 2020, Governor Albert Bryan Jr. proposed major reforms to the mental health treatment systems in the Virgin Islands. However, the bill has yet to be passed due to a lack of attention in Congress.

Governor Bryan has submitted legislation in order to put an end to the chronic homelessness faced by the citizens of these islands, however, is has been greatly overlooked by Congress. To help the issue of homelessness in the Virgin Islands, constituents should email or call their representatives and senators.

A non-governmental organization that has worked to help the issue of homelessness among youth is the Jermain Defoe Foundation created by English football player Jermain Defoe. It strives to help youth who are poor or are suffering from illness or abuse. This organization was founded because of the lack of attention that was brought to the issues of homelessness and poverty faced by children. It has provided funding and support for the Holy Family Children’s Home, raised funds to build the Rainbow Children’s Home and opened a football academy — all in the Virgin Islands.

– Samira Akbary
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in bangladeshBangladesh, a small country located in South Asia, is the eighth-most populous in the world, home to over 160 million people. It is no surprise that the majority of inhabitants reside in crowded cities; 21 million people live in the capital of Dhaka alone. With a vast population concentrated in such a narrow region, space and resources are in short supply. Almost one in four people live in poverty, and homelessness in Bangladesh is prominent; five million people live without housing and 124 million live in mud houses and slums.

Poverty and Homelessness

Poverty and homelessness have an intertwined relationship; circumstances of poverty — such as debt, lack of education, poor mental and physical health and disability — are underlying causes of homelessness.

The homeless population in Bangladesh, especially women abandoned by their spouses and too poor to provide for themselves, are exposed to many instances of violence, drug abuse and sexual assault. A study conducted in 2009 found that 83% of homeless female respondents were assaulted by their husbands, male police officers and other men in their vicinity. 69% of the male respondents used locally-available drugs, such as heroin, and two-thirds of injecting drug-users shared needles.

Progress

Despite these harsh realities, regional homelessness in Bangladesh has actually improved and poverty rates have dropped over the years. According to the Bangladesh Poverty Assessment conducted by the World Bank Group, the country halved poverty rates since 2000. More than 25 million people were lifted from these conditions.

Under the Bangladesh Awami League’s Ashrayan Project-2, a plan to help the homeless become economically independent, a total of 297,886 families have been rehabilitated. The first two phases of the scheme were successfully completed in 2010 and the final phase is expected to be completed by June 2022.

Rural regions in the country, namely Chittagong, Barisal and Sylhet, have seen most of this decline. They account for 90% of all poverty reduction that occurred from 2010 to 2016. Even despite the cyclones in Bangladesh that account for 70% of all storm surges in the world, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim says that “Bangladesh has adapted to climate threats, putting in place early warning systems, cyclone shelters, evacuation plans, coastal embankments and reforestation schemes.” The remoteness of these rural areas is the ideal grounds to invest in infrastructure and educate the populations there who live each day hand to mouth, wondering what may come tomorrow.

Homelessness Relief: Habitat for Humanity

When it comes to the fight against homelessness, non-governmental organizations such as Habitat for Humanity have provided Bangladeshi people with affordable housing, clean water and safe sanitation, training in construction technology and even disaster mitigation. In Dhaka, Habitat Bangladesh started its first urban project with the revamping of three slums. With help from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the organization helped 9,000 people through housing construction and renovations; this included the construction of water pumps, drainage systems and walkways, as well as bathhouses and community toilets.

Looking Toward the Future

As urbanization takes place, projections point towards more than half of Bangladesh’s poor households living in urban areas by 2030. But this requires adequate housing and transforming more slums into decently habitable homes and communities. The Bangladesh government’s draft of a National Urban Policy aims for sustainable urbanization. The policy visualizes a decentralized urban development; a place where the central and local governments, private sector, civil society and people all have important roles to play. The seventh Five Year Plan proposes allocating resources to address urbanization through the Annual Development Programme, though a feasible urbanization policy is still in the works.

Even further, educating and empowering the populations migrating to and residing in the cities, expanding the female labor workforce, fighting poverty and consistently innovating will help this nation achieve its goal of becoming an upper-middle-income nation by 2021. It is important to continue investing in projects and policies that are helping fight homelessness in Bangladesh; much progress has been made and much is yet to be done.

– Sarah Uddin
Photo: Pixabay

Argentia's slums, Buenos Aires slums
Argentina is the fifth-highest country with the most COVID-19 cases in South America, with 111,000 recorded cases by mid-July. Moreover, Argentina’s COVID-19 related death toll has nearly doubled since June, surpassing 5,000 cases. Confirmed illnesses continue to be on the rise, with more than half concentrated in the urban hotspot of Buenos Aires City. Approximately 88% of all cases in Argentina are reported from within Buenos Aires, its impoverished slums or its surrounding regions.

COVID-19 in Argentina

While the federal government acted early to contain the virus, including imposing a strict nightly curfew since March, Argentina’s most impoverished remain extremely susceptible to COVID-19 and its dire economic consequences. For example, within Buenos Aires’ slums, families often have to sell their homes to afford meals for their families.

Nearly half of all Buenos Aires cases were estimated to be in its slums in late May. In some instances, outbreaks became so alarming that the government would enforce security and fences around these neighborhoods to ensure residents do not spread the virus—at the expense of residents’ increased impoverishment.

Regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within Argentina recognized these hardships faced by low-income Argentinians and are currently working to mitigate the health and economic consequences. Here are five NGOs battling COVID-19 in Argentina’s slums.

5 NGOs Fighting COVID-19 in Argentina’s Slums

  1. Chequeado, Spanish for “Checked,” is an online journalism platform that fact-checks public information on Argentinian politics and society. The organization’s website has recently launched a new COVID-19 section to keep citizens informed about the fact-based science behind the virus. The section also covers COVID-19 cases and newly implanted preventative measures. Headlines range from the effectiveness of spraying items with alcohol to the evidence surrounding the transmission of COVID-19 by air. Given the growing number of slum residents having access to the internet due to Argentina’s globalization efforts, this news outlet is accessible to slum residents who would not have access to the information otherwise.
  2. International Organization for Migration, or IOM, works with state and non-state actors to assist migrants through various means, ranging from counter-trafficking to resettlement support. During the COVID-19 pandemic, IOM is working with the Argentine Red Cross to provide food and cleaning supplies to vulnerable migrants. The organization is also ensuring all migrants understand COVID-19 precautions, translating public information to French for migrants from Haiti and Senegal, as well as English for migrants from Jamaica.
  3. Pequeños Pasos, translating to “small steps,” aims to bring sustainable development to the lives of Argentina’s impoverished. While the NGO focuses on missions ranging from education to employment, health and nutrition have been at the forefront of its efforts. Given the looming issue of extreme food insecurity due to COVID-19, Pequeños Pasos has launched an emergency food project to feed more than 12,500 people at risk of hunger in Buenos Aires slums. For a year, the NGO will provide monthly emergency food bags to vulnerable families.
  4. Asociación Civil Ingeniería sin Fronteras Argentina is a civil engineering organization that has taken on the project to quadruple the capacity of ventilators in Argentine hospitals. This solution aims to alleviate the possibility of ICU units reaching over-capacity and providing a sufficient number of ventilators for COVID-19 patients. The project aims to raise $7,015 to expand Argentina’s existing ventilator capacity, potentially saving thousands of Argentine lives. As a disproportionate number of slum-dwellers are contracting the virus, this aid will help them overcome the effects of COVID-19.
  5. Las Tunas is an education-based NGO that offers children and adolescents various educational resources, including scholarships and arts empowerment classes. In light of the socio-economic effects of COVID-19, the organization has expanded its efforts to help families remain economically stable. New website resources include a “Monitoring, Accompaniment and Early Detections” program that helps set up productive quarantine routines for families. The NGO also has a unique “Economic Development” program, which provides families with business strategies and training materials to increase household incomes. Original educational programs for youth are now also delivered online.

Looking Ahead

While COVID-19 cases in Argentina have overwhelmingly affected the country’s impoverished populations, diverse civil society organizations are working to combat the effects of COVID-19 in Argentina’s slums. Whether through economic empowerment or preventing misinformation on COVID-19, these five NGOs aim to stabilize Argentina’s most marginalized’s living conditions during the pandemic.

—Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr

Poverty In SpainThe COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families and communities globally. Not only have people suffered from the virus itself but also from indirect consequences. For example, millions of people have lost their jobs. Now, men and women are facing numerous difficulties while trying to provide their loved ones with basic needs. Citizens in wealthy countries, such as the United States, the U.K. or Japan, have been able to navigate through this pandemic somewhat smoothly. However, the same cannot be said for impoverished people around the world. Poverty in Spain was among some of Europe’s highest rates even before the COVID-19 outbreak. Currently, the citizens of Spain, who had already suffered from poverty, are now met with another obstacle. However, those experiencing poverty in Spain are not alone during this crisis; various NGOs and charities are working together to provide food, facemasks or other necessities to those in need. 

Growing Poverty Rates

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Spain, 26.1% of people were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion” and 5.4% of people experienced “severe material deprivation” in 2018. The National Institute of Statistics also reported that 55.2% of people faced varying degrees of difficulty making ends meet that same year. Although these figures only include adults, children are not excluded from poverty’s reach.

Children in Spain seem to be more vulnerable to poverty than adults. A 2017 report from the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) found that the child population in Spain has unacceptably high rates in the indicators of poverty. One of the report’s most jarring statistics concerning the child population in Spain is that 31.3% of children were “at risk of poverty or social exclusion.” However, these children all experience poverty differently.

Among the children facing poverty in Spain, the 2016 EAPN report identified that 10.8% experienced severe poverty and 6.5% endure severe material deprivation. In 2018, poverty rates for children in Spain hardly budged. The National Institute of Statistics reported that 29.5% of children were still at risk in 2018, and 6.5% were still experiencing severe material deprivation. 

Unemployment Factors In

Although numerous factors are involved with these statistics, the country’s unemployment rate definitely contributes to poverty’s overwhelming presence in Spain. The Center for Sociological Research (CIS) conducted a study in Jan. of 2020 that showed most Spanish citizens consider unemployment and economic problems as the most critical issues in their country. 

The people’s concern about Spain’s economy is legitimate, considering what the statistical analysis shows. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the unemployment rate in Spain was 13.78%. This was two times the rate of the EU. In particular, young people in Spain showed notable unemployment rates. The National Institute of Statistics of Spain recorded unemployment among those below the age of 25 at 30.51% in that same quarter.

Charities and Social Organizations Step in Amid COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected virtually every person in the world in its wake. However, those in poverty have been suffering prior to the virus; in fact, the outbreak of COVID-19 has only made survival in poverty more challenging. As such, charities and social organizations in Spain have been rallying behind those in need to soften the pandemic’s effects. Here are three prominent organizations in Spain whose motives are to reduce poverty and assist those in need during this global crisis:

  1. Cáritas: The Spanish Episcopal Conference instituted Cáritas in 1947. Cáritas Española’s objective is to carry out the charitable and social action of the Church in Spain. Its mission is to promote the development of people, especially the poorest and most excluded. Cáritas has been one of the most impactful NGOs in Spain during the pandemic. The organization’s website has a dedicated section for COVID-19. It includes its relief efforts, COVID-19 statistics and advocacy for government programs aimed toward poverty in Spain. Some of the services Cáritas has provided during the pandemic include facemask-making workshops, granting hotel rooms for the homeless and providing disinfection services for assisted living homes. 
  2. FESBAL: The Spanish Federation of Food Banks (FESBAL) was founded in 1996 to combat hunger and poverty by reducing food waste in society. On the FESBAL website, one can choose from three different donation amounts that will go toward groceries for impoverished families in Spain who cannot easily access grocery stores due to mandated shutdowns.
  3. Alberto and Elena Cortina Foundation: The Alberto y Elena Cortina Foundation is a Spanish non-profit charity. It pursues the creation and support of welfare, education and charity in Spain. In April 2020, the foundation worked alongside the Food Bank to distribute a large portion of fruit to those in need through the country’s municipal markets after Spain announced a state of emergency.

Looking Ahead

Travel Restrictions have stymied most volunteering and social work interventions, but there are many ways to fight against poverty from home. People who have access to the Internet and a few dollars to spare can significantly contribute to organizations in Spain. Quarantine orders and social distancing have separated people physically, but empathy and human solidarity are boundless. Although thousands of miles might separate countries, people can still reach out to those in need by being informed, spreading awareness and supporting organizations that are working on the front lines toward a better future.

Maxwell Karibian
Photo: Flickr

Marie Stopes International Nigeria recently donated almost 1,500 units of the medication misoprostol to the Nigerian state Nasarawa. This donation will hopefully reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria, which, in Nasarawa, is higher than average. The donated misoprostol cost one million Nigerian Naira altogether, approximately $2,580.

What is Marie Stopes International?

Dr. Tim Black founded the current Marie Stopes International in 1976 when he purchased and revitalized the Marie Stopes Clinic in London, named after the late Dr. Marie Stopes. A year later, Dr. Black and his wife opened a clinic in Dublin, followed by another in New Delhi.

MSIN first came to Nigeria in 2009. These clinics provide ultrasounds, testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, counseling, and other related forms of reproductive healthcare. As of 2018, the Non-Governmental Organization has helped more than three million women in Nigeria alone, and Marie Stopes has opened clinics in 37 countries around the world. The NGO’s Nasarawa State Clinical and Training Officer Nathaniel Oyona praised Marie Stopes’s decision to “support the government by assisting pregnant women especially those that cannot afford to pay their bills.”

Why is Maternal Mortality in Nigeria So High?

A study from 1985 to 2001 at the University of Jos found that hemorrhage after delivery caused most maternal deaths, followed by sepsis and eclampsia. Furthermore, in 2015, Nigeria registered around 58,000 maternal deaths resulting in a maternal mortality ratio of more than 800 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. By comparison, the WHO cited that the 46 most developed countries in the world had a maternal mortality ratio of 12 deaths per 100,000 live births in the same year.

As of 2017, childbirth causes the deaths of 7% of women in Nasarawa each year. Nasarawa’s shortage of medical staff, equipment and medicine means that many women do not trust the birth centers. Instead, many women choose to give birth at home without a doctor present. However, home births can pose problems if complications arise, such as a postpartum hemorrhage. Unfortunately, this situation leaves many pregnant women without proper access to much needed medical care.

How Does Misoprostol Help Maternal Mortality in Nigeria?

Misoprostol is an oral medication with multiple uses that can lower the chance of hemorrhage after childbirth. Various studies have found that misoprostol can reduce postpartum bleeding by 24% to 47%. Because misoprostol is taken orally, it is easy to distribute and administer. Heat exposure will also not negatively impact misoprostol’s effectiveness. Misoprostol’s versatility makes it useful for women who choose to have a home birth or lack access to birth centers.

MSIN specified that the 1,497 packs donated are earmarked for women without the means to afford postnatal care. The Commissioner for Health in Nasarawa confirmed the misoprostol will be distributed accordingly.

What Are the Next Steps to Fight Maternal Mortality in Nigeria?

Though the donation of misoprostol is a welcome short-term solution, long-term reform is needed to reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria. Since 2011, the government of Nasarawa has shifted to the Nigerian State Health Investment Project, in hopes of rebuilding trust with clinics and hospitals and giving better care to patients. The government has since granted multiple facilities in Nasarawa updated medical equipment and a better supply of necessary drugs. These reforms have caused a positive change in clientele and productivity.

As for Marie Stopes International, the NGO will continue to open clinics worldwide and train local people to provide reproductive healthcare. Through their social franchise networks, MSIN staff train Nigerian doctors and nurses to provide better reproductive healthcare and counseling in their facilities. Once local healthcare providers complete their program, MSIN gives them the medicine and other materials they may need for their practice. In Nigeria, 200 franchisees have completed the MSIN training program.

Though more work is necessary to combat maternal mortality in Nigeria, misoprostol has proven to be an accessible and effective tool to help prevent postpartum hemorrhage in women. This is one step in a larger plan to rebuild trust in the healthcare system and reduce maternal deaths in Nigeria.

– Jackie McMahon
Photo: Flickr