Domestic Violence in TongaDomestic violence in Tonga, specifically against women, has become the leading type of law infringement. The most prevalent instance occurs in the home, which is especially alarming during a pandemic forcing everyone inside. However, Tonga is taking measures to fight this issue. One way is through the Women and Children Crisis Center (WCCC).

Domestic Violence in Tonga

The amount of reported cases of domestic violence in Tonga has risen over the past five years. Between January and June of 2020, there were about 537 domestic violence reports and 117 issued police safety orders. Out of those, only 99 assaulters faced prosecution.

Tongan women report experiencing physical coercion and control, sexual assault, emotional abuse and physical assault. Police officials state that the chief problem is related to a cultural belief. Tongan men believe they are in a position of power at home and can act however they please because of this entitlement. As a result, women are often scared to report their abuse cases. This is particularly true when husbands, brothers or sons are the perpetrators, as is typical.

Pacific Women reports that three out of four women in Tonga have experienced physical and sexual violence. Relationships can involve abuse as early as day one and continue on for decades, which women often endure. Furthermore, about 85% of women who have suffered from domestic violence are likely to return to the same environments as their attacks. To combat this, the WCCC in Tonga offers an escape for the abused to ensure women are given the protection they need from abusers.

The Women and Children Crisis Center in Tonga

The WCCC was established in 2009 by Director Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki with a group of women and male supporters. The aim was to help those who have suffered from violence. In turn, they gave free counseling and support to victims of domestic violence in Tonga. Further, the WCCC provides 24 hours of free housing to both women and children in the Mo’ui Fiefia Safe House.

When a woman reports her case to WCCC, the volunteers at the organization help guide the victim through the legal process. They explain the amount of time it will take for the victim’s case to reach court and provide information about how and when the police will contact the victim for testimonies. They also educate the victim on the importance of having a medical record when reporting cases like rape. If the woman is willing, the WCCC offers her a platform to voice her experience. The organization focuses on sharing the stories of victims who have used WCCC’s services and how they have benefitted from those services.

Male Advocacy Training

Violence prevention was another main reason for WCCC’s founding. In 2017, the WCCC launched male advocacy training to end violence against women and children and encourage gender equality. The purpose of the training is to educate men on three key ideas: men have control over how they behave in a sexual manner, all sexual activity can only be performed after there is consent on both sides and men are equally responsible for the transmission of sexually active diseases.

The men receive many lessons from knowledgeable speakers to help end the domestic violence in Tonga. Director Guttenbeil-Likiliki said, “In a situation where a woman does not want to have sex but you continue to persist and persuade her to have sex, this is a high-risk situation, as it is considered to be sexual assault or rape.” Melkie Anton, a lead trainer, explains proper relationship roles to male participants. Anton states, “Women are often used as sexual objects,” and when a woman is in a relationship, she must follow all of her partner’s orders. As a result, the man ends up controlling the relationship and may treat the woman’s feelings with disregard. Another learning directive is toxic masculinity. WCCC members detail how issues, such as proving masculinity and competing with other men encourage domestic violence.

Looking to the Future

WCCC members are working toward expanding their organization’s influence throughout Tonga,  particularly through collaboration. The WCCC has partnered with other organizations, such as the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and the Vanuatu Women’s Crisis Centre. The organization even reaches out to Tongan government agencies, including the Ministry of Education. The work of the WCCC, from aiding victims to education to advocacy, is a step in the right direction. With continued efforts, there can be an end to domestic violence in Tonga.

Sudiksha Kochi
Photo: Flickr

sexuality EducationThe age group of 15 to 24 accounts for 16% of the global population but represents 34% of people in the age group of 15 to 49 that acquire HIV each year. Young people remain disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic and comprehensive sexuality education is a strategy for addressing this issue.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)

In the 2016-2021 Strategy of UNAIDS, one of the eight sub-strategies includes “quality comprehensive sexuality education accessed by all adolescents and young people.” Many other organizations believe comprehensive sexual education is essential for young people to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is a curriculum-based program taught in school or out of school and over several years. The purpose of CSE is to “provide age-appropriate information about human rights, human sexuality, gender equality, puberty, relationships and sexuality and reproductive health.”

Digital Sexual Education

In places where there are ineffective or insufficient schools, digital sexuality education may be a substitute. Over 70% of 15 to 24-year-olds are online so sexuality education and information are increasingly being delivered through a digital format. Although millions have access to online sexuality education, research is limited regarding its impact. Although digital education is effective in reaching large groups of young people, some fear that cyberbullying and unsafe online research could hinder the success of online tools.

CSE Initiatives

The HIV epidemic impacts many regions, but sub-Saharan Africa remains the most affected. With support from the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) joined together to provide sexual education in the region. In 20 Eastern and Southern African countries, adolescents can access comprehensive sexuality education.

In support of comprehensive sex education, UNESCO alongside five other organizations published the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. The document outlines key topics for curriculums specific to different regions.

In 2002, The UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on Education and School Health was created to improve HIV education. The IATT aims to increase leadership support and resource allocation for HIV and health education. IATT members believe that education is essential for successful HIV programs.

The Impact of CSE

CSE provides more than information. It aims to help young people establish positive values regarding their sexual health through discussions about relationships, gender roles and sexual abuse.

In a study focused on measuring the impact of curriculum-based sex and HIV education programs on adolescents or young adults between 9 and 24 years old, 65% of the programs had a significantly positive impact on behavior.

With more focus on education as a tool for prevention, it is hopeful that the global HIV epidemic will be positively impacted.

– Rachel Durling
Photo: Flickr

Life expectancy in Grenada
Grenada is a country in the Caribbean composed of seven islands. This former British colony attained its independence in 1974, making Grenada one of the smallest independent nations in the western hemisphere. Nicknamed historically as the “spice isle,” Grenada’s traditional exports included sugar, chocolate and nutmeg. From 1979 to 1983, Grenada went through a period of political upheaval, which ended when a U.S.-led coalition invaded the island. Today, Grenada is a democratic nation that is working to ensure the health and well-being of its citizens. Here are nine facts about life expectancy in Grenada.

9 Facts About Life Expectancy in Grenada

  1. The World Bank’s data showed that, as of 2017, life expectancy in Grenada was 72.39 years. While there was a rapid increase in life expectancy from 1960 to 2006, life expectancy decreased from 2007 to 2017.  However, the CIA estimates that this metric will increase to 75.2 years in 2020.
  2. Non-communicable diseases constitute the leading cause of death in Grenada. According to 2016 WHO data, non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes constituted the majority of premature death in Grenada. Cardiovascular diseases, which constituted 32 percent of all premature deaths, were the leading cause of death in 2016.
  3. Grenada’s infant mortality rate stands at 8.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. This is a significant improvement from 21.2 infant deaths out of 1,000 in 1985 and 13.7 deaths out of 1,000 in 2018.
  4. Grenada has universal health care. Health care in Grenada is run by the Ministry of Health (MoH). Through the MoH, the Grenadan government helps finance medical care in public institutions. Furthermore, if an individual wishes to purchase private health insurance, there are several options to choose from.
  5. Around 98 percent of people in Grenada have access to improved drinking water. However, water scarcity still plagues many people in Grenada due to erratic rainfall, climate change and limited water storage. To remedy this, Grenada launched a $42 million project in 2019 with the goal of expanding its water infrastructure. This includes plans to retrofit existing systems.
  6. Hurricanes and cyclones pose a threat to life expectancy in Grenada. While in recent years Grenada has not been significantly affected by a hurricane, Grenadians still remember the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan (2004) and Hurricane Emily (2005). Hurricane Ivan caused an estimated $800 million worth of damage. In the following year, Hurricane Emily caused an additional $110 million damage. On top of 30 deaths caused by these natural disasters, the damage they inflicted on Grenada’s infrastructure and agriculture can have further harmful ramifications for the people of Grenada.
  7. The Grenadian government is taking measures to improve the country’s disaster risk
    management (DRM). With the help of organizations such as the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), Grenada is recovering from the devastation of 2004 and 2005. In 2010, for example, GFDRR conducted a risk management analysis which helped the preparation of a $26.2 million public infrastructure investment project by the World Bank in Grenada.
  8. The Grenadian government’s 2016-2025 health plan aims to strengthen life expectancy in Grenada. One of the top priorities of this framework is to ensure that health services are available, accessible and affordable to all citizens. Another goal surrounds addressing challenges for the most vulnerable groups in society such as the elderly, children and women.
  9. Grenada received a vaccination award from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). In November of 2014, PAHO awarded Grenada the Henry C. Smith Award for Immunization, which is presented to the country that has made the most improvement in their immunization programs. PAHO attributed this success to Community Nursing Health teams and four private Pediatricians in Grenada.

The Grenadian government is committed to providing the best quality of life for its citizens. However, there is still room for improvement. The prevalence of premature death caused by cardiovascular diseases suggests that Grenada needs to promote healthier life choices for its citizens. With the continued support and observation by the Grenadian government, many hope that life expectancy in Grenada will increase in the future.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Gates Plans to Eradicate Malaria

Bill Gates is currently the second richest person in the world, with a net worth of $95 billion. But he also has a reputation for humanitarianism. As one of the world’s leading philanthropists, Gates is widely considered to be the most prominent humanitarian public figure. Together, he and his wife established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private, charitable foundation that globally combats poverty and enhances healthcare. Now, Gates plans to eradicate malaria by 2040.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, commonly transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. While malaria occurs in roughly 100 countries, it is most common in tropical and subtropical regions. To this end, the disease is common in regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Upon contracting malaria, a person will exhibit symptoms resembling the flu. And if left untreated, malaria can be fatal. However, this is largely preventable.

According to the World Health Organization, there were 207 million cases of malaria reported in 2012. Approximately 627,000 of these cases resulted in death. Significantly, roughly 90 percent of these estimated deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and 77 percent in children under 5 years of age. Given these statistics, the mortality rate of malaria is incredibly slight, at around 0.003 percent. Therefore, malaria does not have to result in death and, moreover, may be prevented entirely. And as Gates plans to eradicate malaria, this possibility may soon become reality.

What’s the Plan?

At the Malaria Summit London 2018, the Gates Foundation pledged to invest $1 billion through 2023 to end malaria. To date, the Gates Foundation has committed $1.6 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Additionally, it has committed almost $2 billion in grants to eradicate the disease. At the summit, Gates states, “It’s a disease that is preventable, treatable and ultimately beatable, but progress against malaria is not inevitable. We hope today marks a turning point against the disease.”

Malaria is not a mystery anymore. Cures and vaccinations already exist to combat the disease. There is a solution, it simply needs funding. Between 2000 and 2012, malaria incidence rates declined 25 percent globally. By establishing protocol, proper resources can render malaria a manageable issue. While this is no small order, Gates plans to eradicate malaria and has the capability to fund it. Undoubtedly, this will leave an indelible, positive mark on the fight for better healthcare and war against global poverty.

Lacy Rab
Photo: Flickr

Prevention Provides Healthcare to the World’s Poor
Health is an essential prerequisite to nearly all other aspects of a person’s life. But in poor countries with limited resources, it often feels impossible to address the population’s healthcare needs. Luckily, big hospital complexes with cutting-edge technologies are not always necessary for keeping people healthy. In rural and cash-strapped countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, prevention provides healthcare to the world’s poor.

Preventive medicine is the cheapest and most effective healthcare strategy for poor nations. For countries that cannot afford the U.S.’s model of large hospitals and expensive treatments, it is much cheaper to prevent health problems than to cure them.

Examples of preventive medicine include measures such as immunizations, educational campaigns and mosquito nets. These are low-cost options that aim to avert diseases and other health risks before they develop. These preventive steps require limited infrastructure. Most of them can be carried out in small clinics in even the remotest regions. They also require less advanced medical training. This low barrier to entry equips more healthcare providers to offer more accessible healthcare.

Preventive medicine is an important and cost-effective way to keep people in developing regions from suffering from health risks such as AIDS, malaria and malnutrition.

A prime example of the effectiveness of a preventive model of healthcare is the case of Cuba. The small agricultural nation has long suffered from a shortage of revenue and resources. But since the early 1960s, Cuba has employed a vigorous preventive healthcare method. Small clinics with primary care doctors are active in every neighborhood, even the most rural. Immunization programs have achieved some of the lowest rates of vaccine-preventable diseases in the world. Thanks to educational campaigns in favor of healthy lifestyle choices, Cubans have a slightly higher life expectancy than Americans. Cuba has reached these healthcare achievements in spite of spending a tenth of what the US spends per person on healthcare.

Preventive healthcare is the most cost-effective option for countries in Cuba’s economic position, but it is not free. The cost of the WHO’s recommended vaccine package is $38 per person. A long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed net that can protect three children from mosquitos costs $2.50 on average. And there are additional costs in actually providing these preventive resources to the poor communities that need them. But these costs hardly compare to the millions of dollars spent by developed countries on hospitals, technologies and treatments.

Prevention provides healthcare to the world’s poor in the cheapest and most comprehensive way possible.

Bret Anne Serbin

Photo: Flickr

Infectious Diseases

Contagious and infectious diseases are not only a global health threat but an economic one as well.

Lack of prevention for diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis (TB), as well as emerging infectious diseases such as Dengue fever and West Nile virus (WNV), can have detrimental effects especially for those living in developing nations.

One major solution to battling infectious diseases is to stop the issue before it starts. According to renowned physicians and global health consultants, David Heymann and Osman Dar, prevention is the key to fighting infectious diseases, both economically and efficiently.

According to the CDC, 21.8 million children do not receive typical vaccines, leaving them susceptible to deadly, infectious diseases. Additionally, about 70 percent of these children reside in only ten countries, including India, Nigeria and Mexico.

Preventative measures, such as vaccinations, protect not just the current generation but also future generations from contracting the same diseases. Diseases such as smallpox have been completely eradicated thanks to vaccinations and other diseases such as polio are fading from existence due to immunizations as well.

In many developing nations simple, preventative measures such as daily hygiene, safe sex, clean water and immunizations are sometimes ignored or inaccessible, even within the healthcare system. In addition, millions of patients across the globe are affected by healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs), much of which stems from a lack of handwashing and basic hygienic practices.

Global health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are establishing preventative care programs around the world, which includes WHO’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Unit.

IPC is a global WHO Service Delivery and Safety (SDS) Department meant to stress hand hygiene and other simple preventative measures between health care providers and their patients.

Ultimately, prevention is a strategy that saves millions of lives as well as millions of dollars and unlike simple multi-drug antidotes, which are expensive and often inaccessible, prevention saves future resources and generations.

Jenna Salisbury

Photo: Flickr


In the last century, droughts have killed 11 million people and affected 2 billion more through crop failure and reduced drinking water. The U.S. has lost a total of $195 billion to related economic recovery.

The most well-known drought occurred in the 1930s. Due to overpopulation and poor soil conservation, much of the Southwest in the U.S. became nothing but plowed fields.

When the drought dried out the dirt, the wind picked it up and whipped it into a colossal dust devil that darkened the sun. The severe conditions forced 400,000 people to relocate out of harm’s way. This period became known as the Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties.

Decades of study have lent scientists some insight into what causes droughts, such as disrupted weather patterns and our own human impact.

First, droughts commonly occur when disrupted weather patterns significantly alter water cycles. This year’s El Niño will disrupt storm patterns by increasing ocean temperatures, causing droughts in Australia, Indonesia and northeastern parts of South America.

Wind patterns sometimes block much-needed precipitation from certain areas for a time. Some experts speculate that global warming is the cause of many recent droughts.

The effects of a drought can impact areas that are a good distance away from the drought itself. If the mouth of a river doesn’t receive sufficient moisture from rain or melting snow, communities that reside downstream will suffer from the lack of water.

This is especially crucial in developing countries that still rely on rivers and streams for their water supply.

Secondly, humans can play a large part in drought development. Deforestation inhibits the soil’s ability to retain moisture. Trees pull water into the ground and anchor the soil, preventing soil erosion.

Dam construction, while a good method for retaining water, restricts the flow of water to downstream areas, which can severely impact vegetation, wildlife and people if not closely monitored.

As was the case with the Dust Bowl, mistreatment of crop soil can lead to desertification, in which soil becomes too compacted to absorb water and takes on an arid quality.

Though scientists are still conducting research on what causes droughts, they have developed several techniques that will reduce drought risk. Improved meteorology technology predicts approaching droughts, giving communities time to prepare.

Economically developed countries prevent and fight droughts by cutting back on water usage, replacing lawns with drought-friendly turf and installing water-saving toilets.

Farmers in any country can combat drought by rotating crops, allowing the soil to rest and reabsorb water. Emergency water kits, which are staples of almost any emergency aid organization, provide relief to drought-ridden areas as they wait for the next rainfall.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: UNL, National Geographic, BBC, LOC, Water
Photo: Pixabay

A new HIV treatment has recently been introduced to the public. The treatment, known as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and sold under the brand name Truvada, “involves taking a pill once a day to prevent HIV infections in populations that are at high risk.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently recommended that people who have a high risk of getting HIV should be taking the pill. In an interview with Michael Martin of NPR, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who attended the 20th annual International Aids Conference (IAC) that took place in Melbourne, Australia, seeks to explain the recommendation by the WHO and the sudden interest in the Truvada treatment. He told Martin that it is taken both as a treatment and as a precautionary and prevention drug.

Fauci explained that the WHO is now extremely interested in PrEp because “the clinical trials have incontrovertibly shown that if used properly and if people take the pill—and this is a pill that has two drugs in it, that are highly effective against HIV.”

He also commented that for people who do take the pill consistently, “the efficacy is greater than 90 percent,” and that because of this level of success, “the (WHO) and our own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here in the United States are recommending that people in a few subcategories who are at particularly high risk should seriously consider taking this pre-exposure prophylaxis.”

Dr. Robert Grant, who also attended the 20th annual IAC, commented on the success of the drug’s implementation. He said that a daily dose was necessary because it keeps people in the habit of taking the medicine. He explained to Medscape that “daily dosing creates the highest drug levels, which provides somewhat of a cushion in case people miss a few doses,” and helps to ensure and maximize the effective nature of the treatment.

While the drug is now being used more regularly and shows promise for future HIV research, it is important to remember that Truvada serves only as a treatment and as prevention method and not as an actual cure for HIV.

– Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: NPR, Truvada
Photo: SheKnows

aids prevention
Since its discovery in the early 1980s, HIV/AIDS has been the subject of intense study and extensive prevention efforts, and for good reason. AIDS, the advanced condition that causes the human immune system to shut down, makes people vulnerable to infections that would otherwise not be life-threatening. As a result, the disease has claimed millions of lives in the last several decades and continues to wreak havoc today, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where 70 percent of AIDS cases now occur.

Significant progress in AIDS prevention has been made since the discovery of the condition in 1981, but Canada has especially contributed to prevention efforts. Though it is often overlooked, Canada is actually a research and technology powerhouse in the fight against AIDS and was among the first countries to understand the urgency of prevention, especially as it relates to development.

What has made Canada so successful? Largely, it’s the country’s varied and unrelenting approach to designing and implementing prevention programs. AIDS first appeared in Canada in 1982, but even before it was detected there, Canadian researchers were hard at work devising prevention strategies.

Canadian research teams were instrumental in the realization that extended periods of breastfeeding dramatically increase an infant’s chances of contracting HIV from its mother. Together with Kenyan researchers, Canadians were responsible for bringing about education and counseling programs for African mothers with HIV in order to prevent both the mothers and their babies from eventually having AIDS.

Other innovations in the AIDS prevention field that were largely funded by or produced by Canada include affordable diagnostic technology, diagnostic education for health care workers in developing countries and the use of anti-retroviral therapy in preventing HIV transmission.

Canada was also one of the first nations to recognize and publicize the link between AIDS and food insecurity. AIDS as a cause of food insecurity is widely understood, but the transmission of HIV/AIDS as a result of food insecurity was an idea that was cutting-edge at the time Canada’s research teams pitched it.

For decades Canada has been committed to using youth education as a tool to prevent AIDS. Its educational programs have been responsible for saving millions from AIDS, as it equips at-risk youth with the knowledge necessary to protect themselves in situations where HIV/AIDS transmission is possible.

Canada’s dedication to fighting AIDS has been particularly commendable. Continued contribution from Canada and other countries alike will only bring closer the day that HIV/AIDS transmission is merely a memory.

– Elise L. Riley

Sources: IDRC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Health
Photo: Wikimedia

what causes malaria
, a disease largely eliminated in the developed world, remains a health issue for developing nations. According to World Health Organization estimates, 207 million cases of the deadly disease emerged in 2012 alone, with about 80 percent coming from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To help communities in these nations fight malaria, NGOs and foreign aid providers must not only provide malaria treatment methods but also find ways to address and protect people from its causes.

So, what are the causes of malaria?

The Mayo Clinic identifies the main path to infection as the transmission of parasites through mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can carry small parasites that cause malaria, and when they bite humans the parasites can enter the bloodstream. Once in the body, the malarial parasites travel to the liver, where they grow and develop. The maturation process lasts from a week to nearly a year, but once the parasites reach adulthood, they enter the bloodstream and infect red blood cells.

At this stage, the common symptoms of malaria, including fever, chills and sweating, develop. At the same time, mosquitoes that suck infected blood will get the malarial parasites, allowing them to spread through bites to other people.

Though malaria primarily spreads through mosquito bites, people can contract it from other sources. Malaria is a blood-borne disease, and receiving blood transfusions from infected individuals can lead to transmission. Sharing dirty hypodermic needles will also cause malaria to spread, and mothers can pass the disease on to their unborn children.

If left untreated within 24 hours of the first symptoms, malaria can cause brain damage, fluid buildup in the lungs and liver failure, all of which can be fatal. The World Health Organization believes that in 2012 malaria killed 627,000 people, the majority of whom were African children under five.

Fortunately, the mortality rates of malaria have fallen 42 percent globally since 2000. Still, the disease is lethal enough that a child in Africa dies every minute from malaria-related symptoms.

With no existing vaccine for the disease, programs to reduce deaths must focus on preventing malaria and safely treating existing cases.

Knowing that mosquitoes are the primary transmitters of malarial parasites, what do governments and other organizations do to prevent bites?

According to the World Health Organization, the two primary methods to keep mosquitoes away from people and their homes are to use insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying of insecticides.

Projects from NGOs and foreign aid agencies to provide these services to communities free of charge will help prevent mosquitoes from spreading malaria.

While using either insecticide-treated nets or indoor residual spraying to stop mosquito bites is effective, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that, in areas of medium transmission, using both methods reduced the risk of infection an extra 36 percent compared to one method alone.

Public education programs to teach people and doctors not to reuse medical equipment, not to give transfusions of infected blood and how to recognize symptoms quickly can also supplement insecticide-treated nets and indoor residual spraying to stop malaria at its source.

Malaria is a dangerous disease that takes the lives of many young children daily, but since people know what causes malaria, it can be prevented. Thanks to technology to kill parasite-carrying mosquitoes, deaths from malaria are dropping and the world is becoming a safer place to live.

– Ted Rappleye

Sources: The Mayo Clinic, World Health Organization, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Photo: TreeHugger