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Facts about Life Expectancy in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and the second most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere. With a population of 6.4 million, nearly 50 percent live on just $2 a day. Though Nicaragua’s odds seem to be against it, the last two decades have shown an increase in life expectancy, averaging 74.5 years, which is an increase of six years since the late 90s. There are many contributing factors to this increase. Below are 10 facts about life expectancy in Nicaragua.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Nicaragua

  1. Nicaragua’s life expectancy is one year higher than the world average. As of 2019, the world average life expectancy was estimated at 72 years. One can follow life expectancy back to the Age of Enlightenment when only certain countries had the resources to industrialize. Consequently, this affected the distribution of health across the globe. Wealthy countries were healthy, whereas poor countries were not.
  2. Malnutrition and undernutrition is the primary cause of child mortality. Although Nicaragua is an agrarian economy, finding food and clean water is difficult. According to Project Concern International (PCI), nearly one of every five children have chronic malnutrition. PCI implemented the Food for Education project and feeds over 77,000 children every day. The integration between food and education encourages students to continue schooling without worrying about an empty stomach.
  3. Education is free and compulsory. However, travel expenses are costly and serve as an obstacle for low-income rural families. Only 29 percent of children attending school finish their primary education and roughly 500,000 children under the age of 12 are completely out of the education system. Those with more wealth and better health typically have an education of more than 12 years.
  4. Access to onsite health services is widely available. Nicaragua has a total of 32 public hospitals, 21 of which are departmental reference facilities. This means that medical professionals perform a variety of health services like inpatient care for internal medicine or surgery, and even diagnostic lab testing, in one central location. The majority of the hospitals, however, are on the Pacific side of the country, limiting access for those unable to travel.
  5. Nicaragua has the lowest HIV infection rates in Central America. Although case detection is slow (anywhere between two weeks and six months), preventive measures are stopping further spread of the disease. The Ministry of Health implemented case-based-surveillance (CBS) information systems. It continuously collects data on demographics, health events, diagnosis and routine treatment. The system also tracks outbreaks, viral mobility and mortality. CBS information systems support faster public health action.
  6. The Sustainable Sciences Institute (SSI) developed and implemented technologies for low-income health settings. Diagnostic kits are readily available to test for communicable diseases like dengue and leptospirosis. Testing and sampling happen at local or regional labs and lab techniques such as cell culturing receive modifications on-site in low-resource settings.
  7. Nicaraguan health care systems have the support of nonprofits. To name a couple, Project HOPE created the International Diabetes Educator and E-Learning Program to combat the rising threat of diabetes. The program’s aim is to train health care professionals and volunteers. Similarly, the Manna Project created adolescent health education programs in response to teen pregnancy. It also implemented Community Health Promotion, a program to teach communities about healthy lifestyle changes.
  8. Life expectancy for males and females follows the same pattern worldwide. As of 2019, females outlive their male counterparts by four years, averaging 76 years. This is one more year than the world average.
  9. The primary cause of death is noncommunicable disease. Diseases of the circulatory system account for 27 percent of premature deaths. Roughly 13 percent are due to external causes such as suicide and accidents, and nutritional/metabolic-related diseases like chronic malnutrition cause 9 percent of deaths. The Family and Community Health Model that the Pan American Health Organization implemented has improved health service accessibility by renovating the technology and health infrastructure.
  10. Health expenditures are the lowest per capita in Central America. Nicaragua spends about 8.7 percent of its total GDP on health care services and resources. Nicaragua spends roughly $59 on one person with an average of $27 out-of-pocket payment. Out-of-pocket payments directly influence the increase in privatized health care facilities.

The years of dedicated collaboration and innovation created health modifications that directly impact the life expectancy of Nicaraguans. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Nicaragua illustrate how far it has come in the last 20 years and how far it has to go before it has health, wealth and happiness.

– Marissa Taylor
Photo: Flickr

Conflict in Venezuela
In January 2019, Nicolás Maduro won the Venezuelan presidential election, bringing him into his second term as president. Citizens and the international community met the election results with protests and backlash, which has only added to the conflict in Venezuela. The National Assembly of Venezuela went so far as to refuse to acknowledge President Maduro as such. Juan Guaidó, an opposition leader and president of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president almost immediately after the announcement of the election results, a declaration that U.S. President Donald Trump and leaders from more than 50 nations support. Russia and China, however, have remained in support of President Maduro.

During his first term as president and beginning in 2013, Maduro has allowed the downfall of the Venezuelan economy. His government, as well as his predecessor, Hugo Chávez’s government, face much of the anger regarding the current state of Venezuela. Continue reading to learn how the conflict in Venezuela is affecting the poor in particular.

How Conflict in Venezuela is Affecting the Poor

Maduro’s aim was to continue implementing Chávez’s policies with the goal of aiding the poor. However, with the price and foreign currency controls established, local businesses could not profit and many Venezuelans had to resort to the black market.

Hyperinflation has left prices doubling every two to three weeks on average as of late 2018. Venezuelan citizens from all socio-economic backgroundsbut particularly those from lower-income householdsare now finding it difficult to buy simple necessities like food and toiletries. In 2018, more than three million citizens fled Venezuela as a result of its economic status to go to fellow South American countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina. However, nearly half a million Venezuelans combined also fled to the United States and Spain.

Venezuela is currently facing a humanitarian crisis that Maduro refuses to recognize. The opposition that is attempting to force Maduro out of power is simultaneously advocating for international aid. As a result, local charities attempting to provide for the poor are coming under fire from Maduro’s administration, as his government believes anything the opposition forces support is inherently anti-government.

In the northwestern city of Maracaibo, the Catholic Church runs a soup kitchen for impoverished citizens in need of food. It feeds up to 300 people per day, and while it used to provide full meals for the people, it must ration more strictly due to the economic turmoil. Today, the meals look more like a few scoops of rice with eggs and vegetables, and a bottle of milk. While the Church’s service is still incredibly beneficial, it is a stark contrast from the fuller meals it was able to provide just a few years prior.

The political and economic conflict in Venezuela is affecting the poor citizens of the country in the sense Maduro’s administration is ostracizing local soup kitchens and charities. A broader problem facing the poor is that because Maduro refuses to address the humanitarian crisis, international organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) are unable to intervene and provide aid.

Project HOPE

There are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are making an effort to help Venezuelans suffering as a result of this crisis. One of the easiest ways they can be of service is by providing aid and relief to citizens who have fled to other countries. Project HOPE is an organization that currently has workers on the ground in Colombia and Ecuador to offer food, medical care and other aid to those escaping the conflict in Venezuela. Project HOPE is also supporting the health care system in Colombia in order to accommodate the displaced Venezuelans there.

The current conflict in Venezuela is affecting the poor, but it is also affecting the entire structure of the nation. It is difficult to know what the outcome of this conflict will look like for Venezuelans and for the country as a whole. What is important now is to continue educating people about the ongoing crisis so that they can stay informed. Additionally, donating to Project HOPE and other NGOs working to provide aid to Venezuelans in neighboring countries would be of great help. With that, many Venezuelan citizens will know that people support them and are fighting to see progress.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Flickr

Mass Migration Out of Venezuela
Mass migration out of Venezuela has several determinants including high inflation, crime rates, food and health care scarcity and the violation of human rights by government forces. These crises are deteriorating living conditions within this Latin American nation, creating a strong push factor for its citizens. The mass migration out of Venezuela is a phenomenon of desperation and necessity, resulting in millions of Venezuelans fleeing from the struggling nation.

Where are Venezuelans Fleeing to?

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, as of May 2019, over 3.7 million Venezuelans have fled the country. This is around a 10th of the nation’s population. Of these migrants, around 464,000 are asylum-seekers, with the rest acquiring other forms of residency. The majority of these migrants stay in Latin America, while some flee as far as Southern Europe.

In Latin America alone, the highest concentrations of Venezuelan refugees are located as follows:

  1. Columbia: 1.1 million
  2. Peru: 506,000
  3. Chile: 288,000
  4. Ecuador: 221,000
  5. Argentina: 130,000
  6. Brazil: 96,000

Life of Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants

The main goal of these migrants is to secure human rights in other countries. This is due to Venezuela no longer securing these rights within its borders. The United Nations recognized this motivation behind the mass exodus back in an August 2018 report and has since then been pressing Venezuela to address these concerns. As for other countries recognizing this humanitarian crisis, neighboring nations such as Columbia have built temporary refugee camps to house migrant Venezuelans.

Unfortunately, not all migrants receive legal residency in their countries of refuge. While some migrants obtain asylum or temporary legal residencies, some seeking refuge resort to illegal means, leaving them at risk of deportation. Whether illegal or legal, Venezuela migrants all may face potential hardships.

Across the board, people uproot from their homes in Venezuela, leaving behind everything they once had. Venezuelan refugees face unemployment and homelessness, as well as little to no access to basic necessities for survival. Venezuelan refugees are also particularly vulnerable to robbery and human trafficking. This risk amplifies especially as an illegal migrant, as those migrants may resort to contacting gangs in order to enter a region.

Intervention

To combat the potential hardships Venezuelan refugees may face, many organizations are stepping forward to alleviate struggles for migrants. Taking on health services, organizations like Project Hope are continuously reaching out to hospitals packed with refugees, such as those in Cúcuta, Colombia.

Project Hope trains medical teams, provides on-site doctors, supplies essential medicines and treatment care and provides numerous other forms of aid to assist refugee-filled health facilities across Latin America. The International Refugee Committee and UNICEF are other notable organizations providing medical assistance.

Organizations like Global Affairs Canada and the Pan American Development Foundation are helping with housing Venezuelan refugees and building shelters. For instance, shelters exist in Boa Vista, Brazil, and in other areas of great need. Given the sheer magnitude of Venezuelan migrants, proper housing proves to be one of the biggest challenges countries with refugee influx face.

While there are many organizations providing aid to Venezuelan migrants and refugees, one thing is clear: the best way to help these Venezuelan migrants is to help Venezuela as a country. So long as Venezuela is in an economic, political and humanitarian crisis, citizens will continue to flee it. The mass migration out of Venezuela is not an isolated event; it is a symptom of a much bigger problem plaguing Venezuela.

– Suzette Shultz
Photo: Flickr

Maternal and Neonatal Health in ZimbabweProject HOPE stands for Health Opportunities for People Everywhere. It is an international health and humanitarian relief organization. The organization works to strengthen and improve health systems around the globe. Founded in 1958, Project HOPE responds to health crises and disasters but often stays in areas long after a disaster has hit to address other neglected health issues. Project HOPE entered Sierra Leone in 2014 in response to the Ebola outbreak. After sending an emergency response team and shipments of medical supplies to help contain the outbreak, permanent Project HOPE health workers remained in Sierra Leone. Now, their biggest health concern is to improve maternal and neonatal health in Sierra Leone.

Maternal and Neonatal Mortality Rates in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world with 1,360 mothers dying per every 100,000 live births. The main causes of maternal death include bleeding, pregnancy-induced hypertension, infection, unsafe abortions and anemia. An alarming 40 percent of Sierra Leone’s maternal deaths in 2016 were teenagers aged 15-19.

Sierra Leone also has one of the highest neonatal mortality rates with 33 deaths per 1,000 live births. Only 36 percent of newborns in rural areas and 47 percent of newborns in urban areas receive postnatal care within two days.

Sierra Leone’s lack of trained professionals and medical equipment are perpetuating high maternal and neonatal mortality rates. The country of 7 million only has around 165 doctors and very few neonatal specialists. Organizations like Project HOPE are working to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes by providing renovation support for neonatal centers. Additionally, they are strengthening the skills and training of health care professionals and establishing neonatal programs. For example, programs such as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), which is for premature and low birth-weight newborns.

The Impact of Project HOPE on Maternal and Neonatal Health

Training local health workers is an integral part of Project HOPE’s efforts to improve maternal and neonatal health in Sierra Leone. Their programs include evidence-based training on maternal and neonatal intervention. For instance, training on emergency obstetric and neonatal care, resuscitation with a bag and mask and hygienic cord care.

Project HOPE collaborates with training institutions to provide neonatal nursing program development. They collaborate to teach advanced skills and provide training towards certificates, bachelor’s degrees and specialty nursing degrees. Overall, with more skilled health care professionals come improved healthcare for mothers and newborns in Sierra Leone.

Advanced Neonatal Care

Furthermore, to improve the care of preterm and underweight babies, Project HOPE has provided national and district training programs. These programs include universal modules such as Essential Care of Every Newborn, Essential Care of Small Babies and Helping Babies to Breathe.

Moreover, Project HOPE has established the first two Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) units for premature and low birth weight newborns. The KMC approach is to securely wrap the fragile, underweight newborns skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest. This provides warmth and promotes regular breathing and breastfeeding for babies who are struggling with both actions. These community-based units are very effective in areas with low resources. In regions without incubators, this method is life-saving for vulnerable children who are unable to keep in their body heat. Certainly, Project HOPE continues to promote the creation of more KMC units in Sierra Leone.

Life-Saving Progress

International support from organizations such as Project HOPE is helping provide life-saving training, services and equipment for mothers and children in Sierra Leone. Though much remains to be accomplished, progress is certainly being made on maternal and neonatal health in Sierra Leone.

– Camryn Lemke
Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to Kyrgyz Republic Promotes Development
The Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan, also known as Kyrgyz Republic, is a landlocked and a largely mountainous country with a population of about six million. Humanitarian aid to Kyrgyz Republic has helped the country’s economy recover from the 2009 financial crisis and the 2010 inter-ethnic clashes.

U.S. and Kyrgyz Republic

In 2010, the United States announced a $32 million assistance plan for humanitarian relief, reconstruction and community stabilization efforts in the violence-plagued regions of both Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyz Republic is one of the five republics of Central Asia and is very prone to natural disasters such as landslides, floods, earthquakes, droughts and melting glaciers. These natural disasters disrupt the normal flow of life and cause substantial damage to developmental projects.

European Commission

The European Commission (EC) has assisted people in the aftermath of these natural disasters via various projects. These efforts include improving food security in the wake of the harsh winter climate and providing small-scale support after floods, avalanches and earthquakes.

The EC also manages a disaster risk reduction program called DIPECHO which has funded more than 110 projects at the cost of €47 million (about $58 million dollars). DIPECHO’s tenth action plan for Central Asia (2017-2018) has encouraged EC’s partners to replicate previous successful community-based disaster risk reduction models to foster more local and national self-sufficiency and development.

Project HOPE

In 2017, aid organization Project HOPE donated $243,000 to medical facilities and non-government organizations. This humanitarian aid to Kyrgyz Republic was used to provide free health services and medical supplies to over 35,000 people. Project HOPE has been active in the Kyrgyz Republic since 2006.

The U.S. State Department noted in 2010 that the U.S. humanitarian aid to the Kyrgyz Republic has improved the country’s economic growth, promoted democratic reform by strengthening the civil society and helped the government combat international threats. Basic reforms in education, agriculture, energy and other ongoing priorities have also been instituted.

USAID

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has helped the Kyrgyz Republic maintain a parliamentary democratic system even as the country oscillated between two bouts of authoritarianism. Democratic reforms are especially important as Kyrgyz Republic is the only freely elected parliamentary democracy in post-Soviet Central Asia.

USAID works with the regional USAID Mission to Central Asia to propel the New Silk Road initiative which is aimed to strengthen the economic and cultural connections of South and Central Asian people which, in turn, helps propel the stability and prosperity of the region.

Diversification and Humanitarian Aid to Kyrgyz Republic

The World Bank has said that the Kyrgyz Republic needs to diversify its economic activities by increased private sector development and occupational training, especially to the young. Humanitarian aid to Kyrgyz Republic can thus help the government improve its governance at both local and national levels and promote the country’s economic and social development.

– Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Google

The Success of Humanitarian Aid to Namibia
The Republic of Namibia, a small Southwest African country, suffers heavily from natural disasters. These are disasters such as flash floods, droughts, epidemics and tropical cyclones. Furthermore, Namibia is crippled with a high percentage of HIV and TB. However, in recent years, the humanitarian aid to Namibia is finally making a noticeable impact. Programs such as Project HOPE, the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster and UNICEF have all provided a helping hand.

Project HOPE Humanitarian Aid in Namibia

Project HOPE’s humanitarian aid to Namibia started in 2002. Initially, its primary focus was on inputting healthcare services and providing health education. Since then, the organization has grown to spread awareness of HIV and tuberculosis (TB).

In 2013, HOPE launched a 5-year program called the Namibia Adherence and Retention project (NARP). The program’s goal was to establish stronger cohesion and retention to HIV care treatment, which includes preventing transmission between mother and child. Another goal is to improve the impact of HIV of those living with the condition.

By 2016, HIV was the leading cause of premature death in adults and the sixth leading cause for children. To combat the disease, Project HOPE created a Collaboration Program which strived to introduce TB/HIV collaborative activities into current community-based programs. Simultaneously, the program aimed to advance TB diagnostics.

The USAID Office of Foreign Disaster

The USAID Office of Foreign Disaster assists Namibia mostly with natural disasters. Namibia’s environmental stressors negatively affect food security in vulnerable homes, livestock and crop growth.

In 2017, the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster provided a substantial donation to northern regions of Africa. It offered $8.6 million to multi-sectors as well as $1 million to improve sanitary conditions, water needs and hygiene. Another $1.9 million was provided to protect food security.

USAID also provided about $27,000 to UNICEF to improve nutritional needs.

Other relief actors have focused on bettering agricultural and harvesting needs. As of a result of these various donations, regions like Namibia have seen an improvement in food security in vulnerable households.

UNICEF’s Contribution to Humanitarian Aid in Namibia

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) made a considerable difference with the children of Namibia. As a result of droughts, poor sanitation and flooding, many children have severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

As a result, UNICEF supporters were able to help more than 4,000 children suffering from SAC and provide proper treatment. UNICEF was also able to train close to 150 health workers to adequately treat infants and young children with SAM.

Furthermore, malaria continues to spread in the northern reigns of Namibia; in 2017, the UNICEF discovered 53,000 new cases of Malaria.

The humanitarian aid to Namibia is substantial and providing necessary help in the aftermath of natural disasters such as food and shelter. Furthermore, humanitarian workers are helping the country manage and control its outbreaks of HIV and tuberculosis. As a result, the Republic of Namibia is seeing significant improvements throughout the country.

– Cassidy Dyce

Photo: Flickr

global_health
Global health is an indispensable field of study for advancing the health of populations all over the world. Today, there is an array of international health organizations that provide global health aid and care. International organizations are usually divided into three subcategories, including multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Here is a look at three agencies aimed at improving healthcare in developing countries:

1) World Health Organization (WHO)

As the premier international health organization, WHO works with the United Nations to provide guidance in global health matters, shape the health research agenda, set healthcare standards and issue technical support to developing countries. Their database illustrates a number of projects and programs in over 100 health topics. The index includes diseases ranging from avian influenza to taeniasis.

Although landing a job with WHO is competitive, the organization offers two different internship programs for high school students and undergraduates that can potentially turn into permanent positions. These internships can last anywhere from six to 12 weeks and will give interested students insight into the inner workings of the intergovernmental agency.

2) The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Located in Washington D.C., USAID’s Bureau for Global Health is committed to prevent suffering and create a better future for families in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. The bilateral agency’s development projects aim to confront global health challenges through the improvement of healthcare quality and use of essential services. USAID is comprised of eight offices that largely focus on child, maternal and reproductive health, malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and infectious diseases.

Currently, USAID is in urgent need of contracting officers. Visit their website for more information on positions within the Bureau of Global Health and internships for undergraduate and graduate students.

3) Project HOPE

As the largest NGO devoted to international health in the United States, Project HOPE has delivered essential medical equipment and services to “prevent disease, promote wellness and save lives” all around the globe. By providing health expertise and training, the organization hopes to build capacity and skills at all levels of the healthcare system, starting from volunteers to doctors.

– Leeda Jewayni

Sources: International Medical Volunteers, WHO, USAID, Project Hope
Photo: Natcom

project_hope
In the world of global development, Project Hope honors the legacy of the U.S. Navy and its service during World War II. Impassioned and committed to serving others, Dr. William Walsh returned to the U.S. from the South Pacific. Across the region, countless children died too young from preventable diseases. He then envisioned a “floating medical center” to provide health education and advanced care. In 1958, it became a reality.

Dr. Walsh directly lobbied U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, persuading him to donate a U.S. Navy ship. As a hospital ship, the USS Consolation developed to serve the most at-risk countries. For two years, these partnerships “refitted and equipped” the ship it became the SS Hope. With $150, Dr. Walsh and the Navy converted this war-time ship into a peace-time ship. Individuals and corporations partnered to improve the care offered to those in need.

The Navy recruited doctors, nurses, and technologists throughout the country. For every U.S. citizen on-board, he or she had a counterpart in the country served. This counterpart received the necessary training, sustaining U.S. efforts to reduce the burden of disease.

On September 22, 1960 the SS Hope began its initial journey from San Francisco to Indonesia. The ship provided training and direct treatment to the following countries: Vietnam, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Columbia, Brazil, Jamaica, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Guinea, and Tunisia. Fourteen years and eleven voyages, and the its spirit endures today through the work of Project Hope.

The ship retired in 1974, but Project Hope continues to honor its partnership with the U.S. Navy. Medical volunteers from the Navy provide land-based support, learning from the testimonies of HOPE alumni.

Project Hope advances the health care in developing regions by offering “training, technical assistance, and expert mentoring.” To build the capacity of local healthcare systems, this program must partner with local governments and private corporations. This ensures sustainable improvement, as opposed to immediate relief. Currently, the program aligns with traditional “train the trainer model.”

In times of crisis, its mission to enact lasting change persists. Those serving the region care for those in immediate need but instruct locals throughout the process and restores health facilities.

In addition to promoting health training, this program rehabilitate health facilities. Donations allow Project Hope to improve the distribution of medication and vaccines. Every year, it ships commodities worth 200 million dollars. The U.S. State Department serves as one of the largest donors, and Project Hope ensures this funding arrives safely to the necessary site.

Charity Navigator rates it 67 out of 70 in transparency and accountability. 95.1 percent of its total expenses directly fund services in developing regions, with an estimated three percent contributing to fundraising and two percent to administrative costs. This low overhead cost indicates a commitment to the service.

The SS Hope voyaged the world and today, its destination remains in the hands of those it served. Rather than passively providing resources, it empowers local men and women to steer the program.

– Ellery Spahr

Sources: Project Hope, Charity Navigator
Photo: Wikimedia