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Poverty in the PhilippinesThe Philippines is a country in the Pacific Ocean that is made up of over 7,000 small islands. The Philippines struggles with issues of global poverty, healthcare and education. However, progress has been made in recent years to combat these issues and ensure that every Filipino citizen is able to live a healthy and happy life.

7 Facts About Poverty in the Philippines

  1. Data indicates that 16.6% of the population of the Philippines, or about 17.6 million people, live under the poverty line. Those who reside in rural areas have a much higher chance of experiencing poverty, with nearly one-third of those under the poverty line working as farmers.

  2. The Philippines is exposed to more natural disasters than any other nation in the world. These disasters, which include typhoons, earthquakes and cyclones, cause horrific devastation and contribute heavily to the high poverty rate in this country. Other causes of poverty in the Philippines include low job creation, low economic growth and high levels of population growth.

  3. For every 1,000 babies born in the Philippines, 28 die before they turn 5 years old. Many of these children die of pneumonia. The Philippines is one of the 15 countries that make up over 75% of the pneumonia deaths globally. A lower socioeconomic status, which often leads to limited access to vaccinations and healthcare options, contributes to this high rate of pneumonia.

  4. As of 2019, an estimated 64% of Filipino households struggle with food insecurity, and two in every 10 children under the age of 5 are underweight. The high rates of natural disasters and large numbers of people living in rural areas contribute to this hunger problem and make food inaccessible for many in the Philippines.

  5. The COVID-19 crisis has affected all aspects of life in the Philippines but especially food access. A study done in May of 2020 showed that 4.2 million families reported struggling with involuntary hunger, doubling since December 2019. This is likely due to the economic devastation and financial issues that many countries around the world have struggled with since the pandemic.

  6. The Filipino Government has launched its Philippines Development Plan in an effort to combat poverty and hunger and ramp up job creation in the country. This plan was initiated in 2011 and updated in 2017 and has reported remarkable success in job creation, education and poverty reduction.

  7. Various Filipino NGOs as well as some from outside of the country, have worked to combat poverty in the Philippines. A group called Zero Extreme Poverty PH 2030 (ZEP) has led the charge, dedicating itself to eliminating poverty in the nation by 2030 by enacting positive change in eight areas: education, environment, health, housing and shelter, livelihoods, peace and human security and social justice. In 2018, ZEP created a coalition of various NGOs from both the Philippines and around the world, with the goal of helping those living under the poverty line in the country.

Poverty Progress in the Philippines

While the Philippines still struggles with extreme poverty, especially in rural areas, progress is being made to combat the issues that this country is facing. These seven facts about poverty in the Philippines illuminate both the strides that are being made and the further steps that must be taken to improve the lives of Filipino people struggling with poverty and hunger.

– Daryn Lenahan
Photo: Flickr

Shot@Life CampaignThrough the use of public education, grassroots advocacy and fundraising, [email protected] strives to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths to zero by the year 2030. The [email protected] campaign has an overall goal for every child to have a shot at life no matter where they live.

7 Facts About the [email protected] Campaign

  1. The initiative began as a grassroots advocacy campaign. [email protected] was founded in 2011 as part of the United Nations Foundation that aims to ensure that children around the world have access to lifesaving vaccines. Its programs help raise awareness and funds that contribute to child immunization programs hosted by world health organizations like UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The campaign has amassed thousands of supporters over the years, ranging from members of Congress to local and national businesses.
  2. [email protected] recognizes the importance of vaccines for saving children’s lives. Projections indicate that 17.7 million deaths may be averted in children under age five years as a result of vaccinations administered from 2011 to 2020.  With medicine continuing to evolve, diseases that have been around for hundreds of years are finally able to be addressed.
  3. The campaign focuses on four main vaccines. The four vaccine-preventable diseases it centers its attention on are polio, measles, pneumonia and rotavirus. To this day, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan are still polio-endemic countries. Additionally, the majority of people who contract measles were unvaccinated. Diarrhea, a common consequence of rotavirus, and pneumonia are two of the leading causes of child mortality. Combined, they account for approximately 1.4 million deaths around the world every year.
  4. [email protected] achieved a lot during its first five years of operation. Through the program’s support and its advocates, the campaign was able to secure over $2 billion in U.S. funding for global immunization programs between fiscal years 2012 to 2017. From its support of the United Nations’ partner programs between 2012 and 2016, the campaign was also able to provide more than 42 million children around the world with life-saving vaccines. In collaboration with its global partners, [email protected] was also able to contribute to the 84% drop in global measles deaths from 2000 to 2016, which saved more than 20 million children’s lives. Another accomplishment is the fact that 16 million people who otherwise would have been paralyzed by polio are still walking thanks to the partnership between [email protected] and the U.N. Foundation’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
  5. It has hosted multiple campaigns with the pharmacy, Walgreens. Walgreens has been one of the key partners of [email protected] since the beginning of the campaign’s advocacy efforts. [email protected] partnered with the drugstore chain on the “get a shot, give a shot” campaign, which aims to supply 100 million vaccines by 2024 to children in need around the world. This campaign, which began in 2013, is still in operation to this day. Its most recent campaign with Walgreens began on September 1, 2020, with Walgreens pledging to donate $0.23 per immunization shot a patient receives from a Walgreens pharmacy. The fundraiser runs until December 31, 2020, and is set to raise a maximum of $2.6 million
    for [email protected]
  6. The campaign runs a blog dedicated to [email protected] and vaccine-related issues. Part of its educational efforts includes hosting and contributing to the [email protected] blog. With its first post dating back to 2011, the posts cover a variety of topics about vaccines and success stories related to the campaign. One of its most recent articles broke down COVID-19’s negative impact on refugees and providing them with adequate healthcare, including vaccines.
  7. [email protected] outlines a variety of ways to advocate for the campaign. Through its “take action now” page on its website, [email protected] highlights numerous ways U.S. constituents can put their support behind the campaign and efforts to provide vaccines for children globally. It encourages reaching out to U.S. Senators and Representative’s offices by calling, emailing and writing letters to get [email protected] on their radar to support. One of its programs, “[email protected] Champions,” is a way for members of the public to increase their support of the organization. These advocates attend training webinars and events to learn how to further the efforts of the campaign as well as encourage other members in the community to join the cause.

Since its beginning in 2011, [email protected] has amassed more than 350,000 supporters and 2,000 grassroots advocates in all 50 U.S. states who call on their communities to support the campaign for global vaccines. Through education and advocacy, [email protected] acknowledges the vital role that providing vaccines for children plays in preventing their deaths, especially in developing nations.

– Sara Holm
Photo: Flickr

MamaOpe smart jacketIn 2014, Olivia Koburongo lost her grandmother to pneumonia after she was misdiagnosed with malaria by doctors in Uganda. In response to this tragic misdiagnosis, Koburongo and Brian Turyabagye decided to put their engineering skills to the test and solve the problem of pneumonia misdiagnosis and slow diagnoses, a problem which is common in many African countries. With the help of Dr. Cosmas Mwikirize, a professor at Makerere University, they designed the MamaOpe smart jacket, a “biomedical application for early diagnosis and continuous monitoring of pneumonia patients,” according to the company’s website.

Effects of Slow Diagnoses and Misdiagnoses of Pneumonia

Studies show that patients are often wrongfully diagnosed with malaria. Over-diagnosis of malaria means that other life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia, are not treated. Misdiagnoses end up contributing to the death rate associated with other ailments, including pneumonia. Children, in particular, are adversely affected as pneumonia accounts for 15% of deaths among children under the age of five. Every year, one million children under the age of five die from pneumonia. Pneumonia causes more deaths than malaria, diarrhea and HIV/AIDs combined. In 2015, more than 490,000 children died from pneumonia in sub-Saharan Africa.

Between 2001 and 2016, childhood pneumonia deaths had fallen by only 50% relative to an 85% decrease in childhood deaths due to measles and a 60% decrease in childhood deaths due to malaria, tetanus and AIDS. According to UNICEF, slow or limited progress in the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia is associated with poor funding for preventative care and treatment management. In 2011, for every dollar spent on global health, just two cents went toward pneumonia.

MamaOpe Provides a Solution

The MamaOpe smart jacket, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Africa Prize for Engineering in 2017, is designed specifically for children from the ages of zero to five who are particularly vulnerable to pneumonia. “Mama” is shorthand for “Mother,” and “Ope” means “Hope.” MamaOpe thus signifies “Hope for the Mother.” It is also a reference to the 27,000 children in Uganda who die of pneumonia annually.

In order to monitor patients’ chests and heartrates, listen to their lungs and check their breathing rates and temperatures, MamaOpe utilizes a stethoscope, which is embedded in a jacket that patients wear. The jacket covers the patients’ entire chests and sides. It is made from polymer, a material selected to reduce the risk of spreading infection when the jacket is shared among patients.

The jacket itself is connected to an android application on a mobile device via Bluetooth. The technology helps eliminate human error. According to the company, measurements made by the device assist doctors in diagnosing pneumonia three to four times faster than when doctors use a normal stethoscope. MamaOpe displays the results after three minutes of tracking a patient’s vitals.

Hope for the Future

The MamaOpe smart jacket is still in its prototype and testing phase but reports suggest that the company plans to bring the product to market in 2021. The current cost of the jacket is $60 and the price will likely decrease when full-scale manufacturing begins and the jacket tests successfully in Uganda.

As MamaOpe strives to prevent cases of pneumonia misdiagnosis and decrease the child death rate associated with pneumonia, the company is proving just how important innovation can be in combatting deadly illnesses. If governments ramp up support for pneumonia prevention, management and treatment, the lives of hundreds of thousands of children can be saved annually.

–  Zoe Engels
Photo: Flickr

Helps Ethiopean ChildrenAfrica has the highest child mortality rate of any continent. Ethiopia sits in the middle of the child mortality ranking of countries throughout Africa with 59 out of 1,000 children dying before the age of five. While it is not as high as the rate of 76 per 1,000 children found in sub-Saharan Africa, it is much worse than many developed nations, which average around 6 deaths per 1,000 children annually. New research, however, shows that childhood mortality can be significantly lowered in Africa using an antibiotic that could help Ethiopian children prevent blindness.

Azithromycin Helps Ethiopian Children

Trachoma is the leading bacterial infection that causes blindness. In an effort to lower the number of cases of trachoma, researchers preemptively gave azithromycin, an antibiotic effective at fighting trachoma, to thousands of children under the age of nine in Ethiopia. The researchers administered these doses of azithromycin to children twice a year.

After observing the children for several years, they came to a shocking discovery: azithromycin will help Ethiopian children live longer. Not only did the bi-annual antibiotic prevent against trachoma, as the researchers believed it would, but it also protected against many other common ailments as well. For those children in the case study, the childhood mortality rate was cut in half.

The discovery seemed too good to be true, so this group of researchers tried to replicate their findings in other African nations with higher child mortality rates. Close to 200,000 children were given azithromycin in Tanzania, Malawi and Niger. While the results were not quite as impressive as cutting the child mortality rate in half, as seen with Ethiopia, the results were still high. The twice-yearly drug lowered child mortality rates between 14 to 19 percent in each country.

Research Into Other Illnesses

Research must continue before Africa will see widespread use of azithromycin for children. If approved for widespread use, this antibiotic could help prevent some of the common illnesses that lead to child mortality. These common illnesses include:

  • Pneumonia: Pneumonia kills nearly 100,000 children per year in Africa. This accounts for 16 percent of childhood death under the age of five. Currently, when children contract pneumonia, only one third are able to receive lifesaving antibiotic treatment.
  • Diarrhoeal disease: Diarrhea is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. Diarrhea is a common infection in the bowels. It is completely preventable and treatable, yet it is estimated that 525,000 children in Africa die annually from this illness.
  • Malnutrition: Malnutrition contributes to childhood mortality rates. While the use of azithromycin will not be able to prevent malnutrition, it may be able to help prevent other ailments that the body is not able to fight off because of the lack of nutrients and calories.

Long term effects of azithromycin used to prevent ailments in children are not known. However, the studies have shown promising results in saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of African children. With a few more years of research and more funding, these researchers may be able to permanently lower the childhood mortality rate in Africa. Not only will this research continue to help Ethiopian children but it will also help children of other nations, ensuring they live into adulthood.

Kathryn Moffet
Photo: Pexels


Pneumonia in India accounts for 20 percent of the deaths worldwide caused by pneumonia. Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection which affects the lungs. It causes difficulty in breathing and limits oxygen intake. It can be caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses and is a contagious disease.

Pneumonia symptoms include a cough, difficulty in breathing, fast breathing or wheezing. Infants may experience an inability to feed or drink, unconsciousness or convulsions, or worse. Pneumonia is the largest infectious cause of death among children in the world.

India has the highest number of deaths by pneumonia and diarrhea among children. Pneumonia in India in children under five is caused by malnutrition, low birth weight, non-exclusive breastfeeding, lack of measles immunization, indoor air pollution and overcrowding.

Pneumonia in India can be fatal to all, but is especially dangerous to young children. According to the  World Health Organization (WHO), one in three deaths in India is caused by pneumonia. Pneumonia in India is the leading cause of infant deaths. Every year almost 200,000 children under five die of pneumonia in India. On a global level, pneumonia kills around 900,000 children in the world every year.

In 2016, India managed to achieve improvement of 7 percentage points in the GAPPD score. The GAPPD score measures the use of interventions that protect, treat and prevent phenomena and diarrhea. India’s 2016 score was 41 percent, a major improvement achieved by improving exclusive breastfeeding rates and the Hib vaccine, but well short of its target score of 86 percent.

A new vaccine to protect children was introduced in India this year as part of the Universal Immunization Program. Called the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), this new vaccine will be available to children who need it, especially the underprivileged. Millions of children will receive the vaccine for free. The vaccine protects children from pneumococcal diseases like pneumonia and meningitis.

The aim of this vaccine is to reduce the death of children from pneumococcal pneumonia. “No child should die from the vaccine-preventable disease,” said the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare in India.

To fight pneumonia, a threefold strategy needs to be incorporated:

  1. Protection: Exclusive breastfeeding for six months, vitamin A and zinc supplementation and adequate nutrition
  2. Prevention via vaccination: Pneumococcus, HIV Protection, promotion of washing and hygiene, reduction of indoor air pollution
  3. Treatment: improving care-seeking behavior, community case management and health facility case management

India has taken significant initiatives to fight against this disease. Through implementing this threefold strategy, overcoming pneumonia in India is hopeful.

Aishwarya Bansal

Photo: Flickr

child_mortality
According to the World Health Organization, 9.2 million children under the age of 5 die every year, many from preventable conditions that could be treated with simple healthcare interventions. The majority of these deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the child mortality rate is 175 per 1000 (compared to 6 per 1000 in industrialized countries).

Many of the diseases that kill children younger than 5-years-old are caused by lack of access to healthcare facilities, improper hygiene and sanitation, unclean water and not enough food, and low levels of education and information. The top three causes of child mortality are:

1. Pneumonia
About 15 percent of child mortality deaths are caused by pneumonia. In 2013, pneumonia killed an estimated 935,000 children under the age of 5. Pneumonia occurs when the air sacs in the lungs, the alveoli, are filled with pus and fluid. This makes breathing difficult, and does not allow the infected person to intake enough oxygen. Those who are malnourished have weaker immune systems and are therefore at a higher risk of dying from pneumonia. Pneumonia is also more likely to affect those who have pre-existing illnesses such as HIV, who live in an area where levels of indoor air pollution are high because of cooking with biomass fuels like wood or dung, who live in crowded homes, or those who have parents who smoke. While pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, only one third of the children infected with pneumonia get the antibiotics necessary to cure them.

2. Diarrhoeal Disease
Each year, diarrhea kills 760,000 children under the age of 5. It is caused by unclean drinking water, contaminated food or person-to-person contact and poor hygiene. Malnourished children are more susceptible to diarrhea, and children in developing countries are likely to contract at least three cases of diarrhea each year. Since diarrhea leads to malnourishment, those who are already weakened by the disease are likely to contract it again. Diarrhea then leads to severe dehydration, which leads to death. It can be treated with rehydration zinc supplements. A good method of preventing diarrhea is decreasing levels of malnutrition, therefore making children less likely to be infected with the disease.

3. Malaria
In Africa, a child dies every minute from malaria, a disease caused by parasites. These parasites are transmitted to people from mosquito bites. The symptoms are first expressed as fever, chills and vomiting, and can then progress to severe illness and death if not treated within 24 hours. Malaria is preventable through the use of mosquito nets and levels of deaths caused by malaria are decreasing. Malaria related mortality cases in Africa have fallen 54 percent since 2000.

Child mortality is also high in countries that have a high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). More than a third of child mortality deaths occur in the first month of life and are related to pre-term birth, birth asphyxia (suffocation), and infections. In order to reduce Child Mortality, Maternal Mortality rates also have to decrease. This can happen with increased access to healthcare facilities and increased prenatal visits.

Child mortality rates are decreasing, but there is still work to be done. Vaccinations, adequate nutrition and increasing education will all help to decrease the levels of child mortality.

Ashrita Rau

Sources: WHO 1, WHO 2, WHO 3, WHO 4
Photo: Flickr

infectious diseases
Out of the eight Millennium Development Goals agreed upon by the U.N., three of them are dedicated to resolving serious health issues: child and maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Despite progress made in each of these goals over the past 14 years, reducing the child mortality rate has proven to be one of the most difficult goals to achieve.

Every year, more than six million children die before they reach their fifth birthday due to preventable infectious diseases according to the U.N. In a recent report, USAID revealed that the following three diseases are the greatest contributors to that statistic:

1. Pneumonia is the cause of approximately 17 percent of deaths in children under the age of five. Especially among infants, pneumonia is a serious lung infection. Pneumonia causes more deaths in children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined according to UNICEF.

2. Diarrhea is the second most deadly condition for children under five, causing nine percent of deaths. Compared to adults, children are particularly susceptible to diarrhea because a greater proportion of their bodyweight is made up of water. Even though it is such a dangerous condition for children, only 44 percent of children in developing countries suffering with diarrhea actually receive treatment according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

3. Malaria closely follows diarrhea, causing about seven percent of all child deaths. Even though malaria is easily spread through a mosquito bite, this disease can be just as easily prevented through insecticide-treated mosquito nets and effective antibiotics. Although 1.1 million deaths caused by malaria have been averted since the start of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals in 2000, malaria is still a major health issue in developing countries.

Pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria together account for about a third of all child deaths globally. The symptoms and effects of all of these diseases can become severe if the infected person is malnourished or does not receive the proper necessary treatment. As a result, these three diseases are all the more rampant in developing countries.

Similarly to the U.N.’s goal to reduce the child mortality rate by two-thirds, staff members of both WHO and UNICEF worked together to create the Global Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD). This integrated plan seeks to end child deaths caused by these two preventable diseases by 2025. The GAPPD will also combine the practices for  treating both pneumonia and diarrhea since the causes and treatment for these two diseases are inter-related.

Global poverty is directly related to the spread of infectious diseases in developing countries. This is why The Borgen Project along with so many other organizations work to decrease the multi-layered issue of poverty across the globe.

– Meghan Orner

Sources: Daily Times, WebMDWorld Health Organization, World Health Organization
Photo: UNICEF

keith-klugman-borgen-project-gates-foundation
Worldwide, pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children under five. In 2011 alone, pneumonia caused the deaths of 1.3 million children and accounted for 18% of child deaths – mostly in developing regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

According to the Gates Foundation, “if properly diagnosed, childhood pneumonia can be effectively treated in a three-day course of antibiotics at a cost of only .21 to .42 US cents.” The Gates Foundation Pneumonia Program’s priority is “to promote full-scale delivery of currently available pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines” in order to save 2.9 million children and prevent 52 million cases of pneumonia.

On July 11, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation named Keith Klugman as Director of the Gates Foundation Pneumonia Program beginning August 5.

As an accomplished professor and researcher, Klugman’s resume is very impressive. Formerly the William H. Foege’s Chair and Professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Klugman’s research has centered around “antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance, and vaccines for bacterial pathogens – particularly the pneumococci.”

Klugman was also the Co-Director of the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit of the University of Witwatersrand, the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa, according to the American Society for Microbiology. After assuming his new leadership position at the Gates Foundation, he will remain an Honorary Professor in the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit.

During the course of his career, “Klugman has chaired or served on numerous expert committees for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, the Wellcome Trust in London, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
He is also the Chair of the International Board of the American Society for Microbiology, “the largest single life science Society with over 40,000 members worldwide”, and the Treasurer of the Executive Committee of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

Trained in South Africa and a postdoctoral graduate of the Rockefeller University in New York, Klugman stands out as one of the leading figures in the field of Microbiology.

– Lauren Yeh

Sources: The Gates Foundation, mBio, The Gates Foundation
Photo: Emory University