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Poverty-Related DiseasesEvery day, billions of individuals around the world suffer from diseases. To make matters worse, many of these individuals are mired in poverty with limited access to health care services. Reducing the negative impact that these diseases have on individuals in poverty starts with identifying which diseases are affecting the most people. Listed below are three diseases that are closely linked with individuals in poverty.

Top 3 Poverty-Related Diseases

  1. Tuberculosis
    Tuberculosis, or TB, is a disease that stems from the presence of bacteria in someone’s lungs. It is common in many poorer, more urban areas because it can spread quickly when individuals are in close contact with each other. TB killed over 1.5 million people in 2018 and infected 10 million individuals in total. The disease takes advantage of individuals who have weakened immune systems, which can happen to individuals who are malnourished or who are suffering from other diseases simultaneously. When an individual in poverty is diagnosed with TB, their options are limited. Treating TB is costly and many people cannot afford treatment. However, not all hope is lost. Organizations like the TB Alliance aim to produce more affordable TB treatment for individuals in poverty. The TB Alliance has already helped many individuals and is working to expand its operations in the coming years.
  2. Malaria
    Malaria is a parasitic disease that is spread by the Anopheles mosquito. It accounts for roughly 435,000 deaths per year (affecting roughly 219 million people) and disproportionally affects individuals under the age of 5 (children under 5 accounted for over 60 percent of malaria deaths in 2017). One NGO that is leading the fight against Malaria is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They have partnered with the U.S. Government, the WHO and NGOs like the Global Fund to help protect individuals around the world from malaria-transmitting mosquitos. So far, their work has been beneficial, as the number of malaria cases has been reduced by half since 2000. However, there is still much work to be done, as malaria remains a deadly disease that negatively affects millions.
  3. HIV/AIDS
    HIV is a virus that is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids. It affects nearly 37 million people worldwide every year, 62 percent of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS (HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS) is common in countries where the population either does not have the knowledge or resources to practice safe sex. HIV can also spread in areas with poor sanitation, as individuals who use previously used needles can become infected with the virus. Many governments and NGOs around the world are doing good work to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDs. For example, in 2003, the U.S. Government launched The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Initiative. The goal of this initiative was to address the global HIV/AIDS issue by helping those who already have the condition as well as by spearheading prevention efforts. Since the program was implemented, the results have been positive- the program is widely credited with having saved millions of lives over the last 16 years.

Each of these diseases negatively affects millions of individuals around the globe on a daily basis. Yet there is reason for optimism — continued work done by NGO’s such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, TB Alliance and The Global Fund, as well as efforts from governments to improve the current situation, will lead to a better future, hopefully, one where individuals no longer suffer from there poverty-related diseases.

– Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Flickr

Treatments for TuberculosisTuberculosis is the leading infectious cause of death worldwide. However, the full extent of childhood tuberculosis is poorly understood. According to 2015 World Health Organization estimates, TB infected more than one million children and killed more than 200,000. Given the difficulty of diagnosis in children, the true burden of this disease is likely even greater than reported.

Tuberculosis most commonly affects the lungs and is spread by infected airborne particles, released by patients with the active disease. Because transmission is augmented in overcrowded, poorly ventilated areas, people living in poverty are disproportionately affected. More than 95 percent of TB-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

Active tuberculosis is often asymptomatic or causes vague symptoms such as general malaise, anorexia, and weight loss. A cough is the most common symptom and often becomes progressively productive. Diagnosis is based on the results of sputum samples.

Treatment regimens consist of multiple medications taken for extended periods of time. To ensure adequate therapy, patients must take a certain number of doses. If too many doses are missed, treatment must be restarted. Problems with patient non-adherence have led to the rise of directly-observed therapy (DOT) in which a public health worker witnesses the patient’s medication consumption.

In addition to the extensiveness of the drug regimen, the bitter taste of the medications can be a significant barrier to adherence, especially for children. TB Alliance has already helped to develop liquid formulations for first-line antituberculosis drugs, but with the rise of drug-resistance, alternative therapies must also be made more kid-friendly. PepsiCo has stepped up to partner with TB Alliance in developing tastier treatments for tuberculosis.

As a highly successful beverage company, heavily invested in research and development, PepsiCo is a logical collaborator in this endeavor to develop tastier treatments for tuberculosis. Since 2011, PepsiCo has increased investment in research and development by 35 percent. The emphasis on innovation has undoubtedly contributed to the company’s success. In addition, as a global brand, PepsiCo garners insights from countries most heavily affected by tuberculosis. The company has R&D facilities in India and China, two of the six countries that account for more than 60 percent of tuberculosis cases.

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr