Ending Bushmeat Consumption in Ghana
People in Ghana eat more bushmeat than anywhere else in the world. This is especially true in rural areas. Organizations worldwide are trying to stop Ghanaians from eating so much bushmeat because it spreads disease among humans and endangers several animal species. Ghanian bushmeat includes baboon, aardvark, warthog and rats. However, bushmeat represents the freshest and most affordable meat available for Ghana’s rural citizens. The African Conservation Foundation may be a key part of stopping bushmeat hunting and bushmeat consumption in Ghana in the years ahead.

The Dangers of Bushmeat

Bushmeat is a term referring to the meat of wild animals, most typically applied to those that are hunted in Africa. The most common types of bushmeat are rat, antelope, warthog, bat and monkey, all of which carry diseases. Despite Ghana outlawing bushmeat, black markets still sell it because much of the population relies on bushmeat for protein.

Bushmeat can transmit diseases such as Ebola, Monkeypox, HIV and SARS, even holding the potential to cause outbreaks of diseases yet unknown to man. Diseases can transmit whenever a hunter comes into close contact with the live animal, cleans the animal or when people consume the animal. Additionally, live animals can be very dangerous to hunt. They can be large and hostile, like the warthogs, and overpower a hunter. Also, many conservation groups worry about the animal extinction that bushmeat hunting causes. According to a report the Royal Society published, overhunting is currently threatening 301 land mammals. Because bushmeat hunting occurs yearly, and excessively, more species become extinct each year.

Rural and Urban Consumption

In 2021, over 3.57 million Ghanaians live below the poverty line, subsisting on less than $1.90 a day. Because bushmeat is much cheaper than chicken or beef, it is the only protein option for many. Bushmeat is also often the freshest meat in the country, leading people to believe that bushmeat is the best option available. During the “dry” seasons, farmers are unable to provide enough protein to their citizens. Rural citizens see bushmeat as an affordable option as opposed to the safer but more expensive farmed protein. The business is so lucrative that Ghanaian hunters earn up to 3.5 times the government minimum wage.

Bushmeat is most common in rural communities rather than urban. This is because bushmeat is much cheaper than safer meats in rural communities. According to an NCBI report, bushmeat consumption worldwide occurs most frequently in villages with poor transportation links and few alternative protein options. Because the illegality of bushmeat limits its hunting to rural areas, the markets for bushmeat in suburban areas are more expensive. There must be money to pay the middle-man to transport the meat, causing the suburban prices to be more expensive than the rural areas. Still, urban markets find buyers in wholesalers, market traders, restaurants and individual consumers.

The African Conservation Foundation

The African Conservation Foundation (AWF) is an international, non-governmental organization that prioritizes wildlife and their habitats in Africa. Its Director of Global Leadership, Edwin Tambara, recently stated that “AWF is working to engage elected officials in Washington, D.C., and in countries around the world to inform policies ensuring that wildlife conservation and stopping the illegal wildlife trade is prioritized in the wake COVID-19.”

There are a number of ways AWF seeks to accomplish this. Firstly, the organization influenced the Ghanaian government’s decision to make the bushmeat market illegal. Now, AWF is attempting to use education to stop the markets. Most importantly, AWF provides funding as an incentive to stop wildlife hunting and counteract the majority of Ghanaians who consume bushmeat because of its affordability.

Looking Ahead

Ghana leads the world in bushmeat consumption, but looks now to other alternatives because of its uncleanliness and endangering of species. The African Conservation Foundation is one organization contributing to ending bushmeat consumption in Ghana. Thanks to its incentives, policies and education, the way forward looks hopeful.

– Sydney Littlejohn
Photo: Flickr

The EndSARS Movement in NigeriaSocial media is becoming a diversified platform that has been vital to the fight against police brutality in Nigeria. Nigerian citizens have experienced years of unjust violence by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), including armed robberies, rapes, torture and unsystematic killings. For Nigerian citizens, media censorship on television has led to the circulation of the hashtag #EndSARS on social media sites. People have taken to Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok and other platforms to post news and videos of the violence incurred. Through the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria, young Nigerian activists are emerging and are critical to the new wave of international awareness.

What is SARS?

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a police force, was assembled in 1992 by the Nigerian Government to cope with the failings of the Nigerian Police Force. Emboldened by their power to arrest and monitor crimes, the group has increasingly used its authority to engage in dangerous tactics and fear-mongering.

Among protests and complaints, Amnesty International has investigated and determined numerous unlawful killings and human rights abuses. 2015 marked the first set of promises, made by Nigerian President Buhari, to disband and restructure SARS. However, after years of promising reform to appease citizens, the government has not implemented any effective actions to deter the unit.

SARS has promoted corruption and violence toward citizens, especially against an evolving population of youth. There are many reports of youth being harassed by SARS for their new technology, clothing styles, hairstyles and tattoos. In protest, Nigeria’s youth have been leaders and catalysts in organizing the #EndSARS movement. A viral video in December 2017 depicted a murder committed by SARS, and since then youth have consistently used social media to document violence done by SARS. A revival of the hashtag #EndSARS occurred in October 2020 and has created a resurgence of conversation about the issue.

Leading the International Awareness of SARS

With a limitation on media coverage of protests and SARS criticism, Nigerians have taken to social media to spread the message. Protestors have created a unified voice among supporters without endorsing an individual leader of the movement. Private citizens with their phones are the main information source and record first-hand videos of the violence. For example, an Instagram Live of protestors being shot and wounded by Nigerian military officials garnered global media coverage. The shift from traditional media to social media has been an advantage to the #EndSARS movement.

The grassroots movement has diverted from the repressive Nigerian media and toward an inclusive citizen-led campaign online. Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok are serving as major platforms for Nigerians to organize protests, volunteer and donate. Twitter users offered to pay phone bills of protestors to continue the spread of information online. Other protestors began crowdfunding donations to supply food to protestors, posting specific details relating to peaceful protests or sharing medical aid, legal aid and mental health hotlines. The variety of evidence and resources circulating on social media has bolstered the international podium of #EndSARS.

The turmoil of police brutality in Nigeria has been fiercely combatted by a new generation of youth activists. Social media has ignited an international drive to end the corruption of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Tangible change is coming about with protests and aid spread globally on social media. The Nigerian youth are using technology to their advantage and are moving to end a period of instability through the #EndSARS movement in Nigeria.

– Eva Pound
Photo: Flickr

Vietnam's COVID-19 response
COVID-19 has presented the world with new problems, set against the backdrop of a globalized economy. Some nations have opted for strict shutdowns, while others have taken a more gradual approach via staged lockdowns. Regardless of the initial steps taken, nations have seen astronomical numbers of new coronavirus infections. Some nations have been able to control outbreaks better than others. Vietnam’s COVID-19 response won praise from the World Health Organization for its swift implementation and effectiveness. Regardless of a relatively low GDP and proximity to China, Vietnam was able to keep COVID-19 cases below 300 while other nations surged in April 2020.

Early Response

After nations throughout Southeast Asia and other locations around the world began reporting cases, Vietnam’s COVID-19 response (initially) was to issue a nation-wide address to quell the spread. These regulations, though extensive, were quite effective. Vietnam fell victim to both the SARS outbreak of 2003 and the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. These experiences meant the government was on high alert, as soon as reports began to trickle out of Wuhan, China in January 2020.

Part of their methodology included banning all flights, either domestic or international. This helped to reduce travel between nations as well as between different areas of Vietnam. Additionally, the government has placed more than 44,000 people in quarantine camps. Also, Vietnam’s COVID-19 response included widespread economic shutdowns to decrease person-to-person contact. While these measures were effective in reducing the number of cases, it has taken an economic toll on the markets around Vietnam.


The nation overall is well below the world’s average GDP, coming in at $261 per capita. This indicates that the Vietnamese economy will be less flexible when placed under economic stress. While these widespread restrictions and quarantines are effective at limiting exposure to the virus — economic ramifications accompany them as well. According to the Vietnamese Labor Ministry, 7.8 million people have been left unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

Amid economic pressure, the government and people are coming together to help move past these hard times. NPR reports that some entrepreneurs within cities have established “rice ATMs” to ensure that all people can access food, regardless of income. In addition to an economic toll, a second wave of the virus is also threatening the Vietnamese people. Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in March — Vietnam was able to avoid community spread through the early measures it took. In mid-July 2020, the nation still has no evidence of community transmission. However, in late July 2020, more cases began cropping up to bring the nation’s case count up to 867 cases. This represents an increase of more than 600 cases and the nation’s first 10 COVID-19 deaths accompanying them.

These cases are a warning to the nation about how easy the virus spreads. Regardless, the nation is responding swiftly and responsibly as 80,000 visitors have already flown out of Danang as the city shut down once again to prevent more infections.

The Takeaway

The Vietnamese COVID-19 response began with strong policies to protect its citizens against COVID-19. Though these restrictions posed economic challenges, the nation was able to shelter those who posed a risk in reportedly well-maintained and staffed quarantine camps while other citizens worked to ensure those who faced lay-offs were still able to feed themselves and their families. The spike in cases is indicative that the pandemic, though controlled, is not over.

Allison Moss
Photo: Flickr

Taiwan is an East Asian country situated in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines. Given its close proximity to China and its high population density, the island nation faced a high risk of devastation from COVID-19. Despite these factors, however, Taiwan has managed to maintain control over the virus. The country recorded an incredibly low number of cases in comparison to the size of its population.

A Success Story

COVID-19 first made it to Taiwan on January 21, 2020. Despite Taiwan’s proximity to China and its population of over 23 million, the total number of cases as of August 2020 remains under 500, with only 7 confirmed deaths. Of these cases, a majority of them occurred in March 2020. The country saw few cases in April, as well as in the following months. COVID-19 in Taiwan has experienced no local transmission of the virus for over 100 days, while many other countries worldwide continue to struggle with increasing numbers. Of the 467 confirmed cases, over 400 of them were from overseas arrivals and an outbreak on a naval ship, leaving less than 100 cases the result of citizen-to-citizen transmission within the country. The success in the battle against COVID-19 in Taiwan is largely attributed to a few key factors.

Healthcare in Taiwan

The pre-existing infrastructure of Taiwan’s healthcare system proved to be a vital tool in their successful approach toward fighting COVID-19. Taiwan’s national health insurance exists as a universal, mandatory coverage system that applies to all residents and long-term visitors. A single-payer system powers this universal coverage, which receives most of its funding from payroll-based premiums. However, the government offers significant subsidies for certain groups including low-income households and civil servants, among others. Coverage encompasses preventative and primary care, along with more specialized sectors of treatment such as mental health services and hospital stays. Most care is provided through private providers.

The initial response to COVID-19 in Taiwan included an aggressive initial reaction to the virus. The country immediately developed rapid testing and widely distributed masks to healthcare workers and citizens. Though this universal system has existed in Taiwan since the late 1980s, it is a newer development that lent an unexpected hand in national COVID-19 defense.

Contact Tracing

A crucial component of Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 lies in its advanced immigration database and rapid information sharing system. This system helped tremendously in slowing the spread of the virus. Taiwan’s immigration database allows medical providers to access travel information for patients. This helped with early detection and determination of high-risk areas. Robust contact tracing allowed the Taiwanese government to rigorously track cases and put isolation protocols into place based on the data in order to contain larger community outbreaks.  “Digital fencing” identified individuals at greater risk in order to quarantine them. The Taiwanese government also put into place measures to support those facing isolation, including laundry services, meal assurance and transportation to medical appointments. These kinds of services offered further incentives for individuals to follow strict isolation protocols. Citizen’s cooperation helped to quickly suppress the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan.

Cultural Advantages

The Taiwanese response to COVID-19 was also strengthened by a few cultures anomalies, including its prior battle with SARS in 2003. Immediately upon discovery of an abnormal respiratory illness out of Wuhan, Taiwan tightened its borders. They also began thorough testing on those arriving from affected areas. Taiwan also utilizes a historically transparent approach to public health, keeping its citizens informed and answering questions about the progression of the virus. This has led to a culture that tends to follow government guidance. Taiwan also has the additional advantage of an established culture of mask-wearing. While other countries struggle to adhere to mask guidelines, Taiwan transitioned more easily; masks were already a socially acceptable accessory.

Jazmin Johnson

Photo: The Diplomat

SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, comes from a coronavirus. Symptoms center around the respiratory system can lead to severe breathing problems if the patient goes without treatment. Here are ten facts about SARS:

  1. The first widespread case occurred in late 2002 in the Guangdong Province of the Republic of China. The delayed health response led to a global spread of the disease on par with the Ebola epidemic of 2014. The final statistic from WHO showed over 8,000 reported illnesses and more than 700 deaths.
  2. The disease was hard to diagnose due to its irregularity and similarity to pneumonia. Until 2000, cases of SARS were considered rare. Therefore, medical treatment of the virus was scarce, especially in developing countries where the spread happened fastest.
  3. Of the 194 countries that are the Member States of WHO, only 64 of them have efficient alert and response plans for unusual and rare disease outbreaks.
  4. The disease might have originated in animals. A report from the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific Region showed that “the palm civet in southern China may have played a crucial role in this respect and that the close relationship between animals and humans seems to have been a likely precondition for the virus to jump the species barrier.” A solution to preventing the initial infection of humans with SARS is to halt unhygienic veterinary and animal husbandry practices that are common in these areas.
  5. In Singapore, 76% of infections occurred in a healthcare facility. Additionally, SARS infected 42 percent of those were health care workers; 49 nurses, 13 physicians and 22 other specialists. Among the healthcare workers, there were no cases among laboratory workers or pathologists.
  6. The source of the Taiwanese outbreak was a 42-year-old laundry worker in a hospital who continued to work despite showing symptoms of SARS. It took 6 days for professionals to diagnose SARS.
  7. The epidemic in Taiwan was mainly due to the health care system’s poorly-executed response.
  8. In October 2012, the National Select Agent Registry added the SARS-associated CoV to its repertoire. The Registry handles the regulation and possession of bacteria, viruses and toxins that pose a potential threat to the public. The addition of the virus to this list ensures maintenance of a national database as well as inspections of objects that may possess, use or transfer SARS-CoV.
  9. SARS is no longer a large-scale threat, due to the global response and the willingness of countries to share their medical information with other countries to quickly control and eradicate the virus.
  10. Future outbreaks are still possible since the virus lives in wild bats and civets. Fortunately, since the end of the epidemics in 2004, there have been no reports of human cases.

SARS is no longer an imminent health concern, but reflecting on this outbreak can help prevent the spread of another viral outbreak like this. Training medical facilities in how to handle highly infectious diseases like SARS and open communication between health professionals around the globe is key to preventing the spread of such diseases.

Taylor Elgarten

Photo: Google

For many of us in the developed world, places like Swaziland or South Africa seem so far off that the problems they face fall to the wayside of our own concerns. In today’s world, fraught with distractions, it is increasingly difficult to inform people that issues facing even the most remote corner of the globe bear the possibility of becoming our own concerns, especially when it comes to public health.

Every year concerns are raised about West Nile Virus, and it is not difficult to understand why. In less than a generation, the virus had made its way from the Nile all the way to California. Although only those with specific genetic predispositions are susceptible to the disease, even the slightest change in the global climate is a boon to the disease.

Similarly, in 2003, the global health community went into panic at the prospect of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) becoming a pandemic. Overnight, airports around the world transformed into what looked like surgical conventions.

While each new disease understandably has its time in the limelight, one in particular remains a constant source of illness in some areas and an ever-postured threat in others.

In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimates that each year 50,000 people are infected with HIV. Moreover, the CDC estimates that, of the one million people living with HIV/AIDS, a fifth are unaware that they have the disease. In countries such as the United States, a mark of development is the ability to adequately quell the spread of disease. Through education, treatment, and preventative measures, HIV/AIDS has not reached the heights of its potential.

In developing nations, particularly those of sub-Saharan Africa, the story is much more bleak. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan famously declared that between 1999 and 2000, more Africans died as a result of HIV/AIDS than from all of the wars on the continent combined.

Without adequate education, sufficient intervention is made nearly impossible. When Pope Benedict XVI traveled to sub-Saharan Africa in 2009 and publicly decried the use of condoms, global health officials were sent into frenzy. With 22 million infected, dissuading the use of condoms greatly inhibits efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

With clear indications of the dampening effect education has on the spread of disease, many are compelling global health organizations to shift the brunt of their resources toward education in the sub-Saharan region. A study conducted by Pennsylvania State University found that through formal education, residents in Sub-Saharan Africa are able to make cognizant decisions about the disease.

In a recent release, the researchers explained that “more educated people have the cognitive tools to make better sense out of facts presented to them. We have shown that when there is sufficient information, and no misinformation, people with education adopt healthy strategies to avoid infections.” While global health organizations are doing compelling work with the disease, the researchers at Penn State believe they are simply treating the symptoms rather than the disease itself. “The kind of information being supplied by NGOs is scandalous because it is so simplistic and minimalist, particularly for low-educated people, that they are not going to figure this disease out in time to prevent their own infection.”

The rate of HIV/AIDS in Africa will remain a source of concern for even the most developed nations in the world into the foreseeable future.

– Thomas van der List 

Sources: NCBI,, National Academy of Sciences, The Guardian, Penn State
Photo: Made4LLCom