Posts

Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women in Africa
African women have experienced inequality in many aspects of life throughout history. Today, some of the largest risks African women face are human trafficking and gender-based violence. These risks are prevalent in underdeveloped areas where women are more likely to have lesser access to education and formal job opportunities. According to a 2005 article in the U.N.’s African Renewal, the majority of impoverished people in Africa are women. Thus, violence against women and modern-day slavery are two major consequences of poverty in Africa today.

Quick Facts About Human Trafficking in Africa

The largest group of human trafficking victims across the world are between the ages of 9 and 17. Most female trafficking victims fall within the 18-20 age group. According to the African Sisters Education Collaborative, 9.24 million people in Africa are currently victims of modern-day slavery. This is 23% of the world’s population of modern-day slaves. In addition, over half of all human trafficking victims in Africa are under the age of 18. The majority of African human trafficking victims are female. Moreover, sexual exploitation makes up over half of all human trafficking exploitation in Africa. The exploitation of victims frequently lasts for less than a year. However, some victims reported experiencing exploitation for up to 16 years.

History of Violence Against Women in Africa

Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) is a traditional practice that has occurred in at least 28 African cultures throughout history. Additionally, over 120 million women and girls are victims of genital mutilation across the world. Despite violating international human rights laws, FGM/C often goes unreported within African countries. This is due to its prevalence and importance in cultural traditions. According to the Translational Andrology and Urology article, a nonmedical practitioner often performs FGM/C. The aim of this practice is to fulfill religious or cultural rites and sometimes for economic benefits.

Domestic violence is another alarming issue that is prevalent across Africa. A third of all African women had experienced physical or sexual domestic violence. In addition, every eight hours a domestic partner kills a woman in South Africa. Around 51% of African women experience beatings from their husbands. This happens when women go out without permission, neglect the children, argue back, refuse to have sex or burn the food.

Modern-day Women’s Rights in Africa

Many African countries accord equal rights to women in their current constitutions, such as Uganda, South Africa and Kenya. The African Union (AU) recognizes the “critical role of women in promoting inclusive development” in Article 3 of the Protocol on Amendments of the Constitutive Act of the AU. Additionally, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa lays a foundation for African governments to follow to promise equal rights to their female citizens. The document also protects women against gender-based violence and empowers women to fulfill their potentials within society.

Women received the right to vote in many African countries throughout the 20th century. Since then, many African governments have increased the number of women they allow in leadership roles and governmental positions. Some African countries, like Uganda, require by law that a certain number of government positions and organizations’ leadership roles be allocated specifically for women. This is similar to the United States’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Countries like Rwanda criminalize violence against women in domestic violence laws. However, there is a low circumstance in enforcing and implementing these policies due to cultural traditions. In addition, the village or family institution is informally superior to law enforcement.

Strides Towards Women Empowerment in Africa

The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1979. Since then, the CEDAW has worked to encourage African countries to “commit themselves to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms.” Ninety-nine countries around the world have ratified the CEDAW since 1980.

Eliminating the risk and existence of human trafficking is also a major part of female empowerment and keeping women safe in Africa. Educating women, showing them their potential for formal job prospects and warning them against the signs of engaging with human trafficking can prevent human trafficking.

The Devatop Centre for Africa Development is a leading global advocacy group that focuses on anti-human trafficking efforts in Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest human trafficking hubs. Devatop Executive Director Joseph Osuigwe told The Borgen Project in an interview that he created the Centre in 2014 after hearing stories from human-trafficking survivors. Since then, the Centre has implemented several training programs to raise awareness of human trafficking in Nigeria and to provide protection for victims. “Within 9 months, the trained advocates [from The Academy for Prevention of Human Trafficking and Other Related Matters] sensitized 6000 people in over 30 communities,” Osuigwe said. “They reported three cases of human trafficking, of which one of the victims was rescued.”

What Still Needs to be Done for Women in Africa?

Few sub-Saharan African countries have successfully addressed gender-based violence issues. Hence, bridging the gap between policy and practice across Africa will help end human trafficking and violence against women.

Government leaders, nonprofit organizations, international allies and citizens alike will need to unite to protect and empower all African women.

Myranda Campanella
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in BarbadosThe population of Barbados is approximately 290,000. While hunger rates have drastically fallen within the last two decades, a new problem emerges—childhood obesity. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic posed additional threats to both of these issues in the scarcity of healthy options or food altogether. In addition, the decreases in GDP indicate the economic consequences of lost tourism revenue. Here are five facts covering the state of hunger in Barbados as they recover from the impact of coronavirus.

5 Facts About Hunger in Barbados

  1. Pervasiveness: In 2004, roughly one in 16 Barbadians’ food intake fell below the necessary consumption requirements to meet efficient dietary standards. As of 2017, 3.9% of the population experiences undernourishment, which is a 0.1% increase from the previous year. However, there is a decreasing trend in the percentage of malnourished people in Barbados.
  2. Agriculture: In 2018, 22.6% of Barbados’ merchandise imports were food products, a near 3% increase from the previous year. Barbados is unique compared to other impoverished nations in that most of its land is arable. Large farm complexes tend to dominate the agricultural industry, with sugar production previously leading the economy until the 1950s. As sugar prices decreased, government efforts to diversify food production led to significant increases in local food resources. Modernization programs continue to support fishing and foliage industries.
  3. COVID-19’s Impact: Compared to other impoverished nations and the United States, Barbados handled the pandemic fairly efficiently. Following 35 days with no reported new cases, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley lifted flight restrictions and all curfews were no longer in effect beginning July 1. However, a joint report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) projected that COVID-19 could push 83.4 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean into extreme poverty. Fortunately, Barbados’ competency in pandemic response resulted in the coronavirus posing no significant additional threat to food security. In the Eastern Caribbean, over 40% of GDP and 25% of private-sector employment comes from tourism. With the pandemic under control, Barbados is likely to recover from the months-long travel standstill.
  4. Negative Impacts: While hunger in Barbados rapidly decreased in the last few decades, a new problem emerged: childhood obesity. A 2012 World Health Organization survey found that 31.5% of school children were overweight and 14.4% were obese. Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Weir is taking the lead in finding effective solutions against childhood obesity. This includes increasing access to nutritious foods and cooperating with fast-food businesses to help find solutions. The Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Program (B-CHOPP) plans to take “a broader and more systemic approach.” B-CHOPP is looking at disparities in access to healthy food. The plan promoted five strategic actions, including promoting healthy school initiatives and physical activity.
  5. Progress: Zero Hunger is the second goal in the United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP). In Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, UNDP is currently working on multiple projects. This includes transforming food and agriculture while actively combatting climate change. According to the United Nations, the last 20 years have shown considerable strides in increasing food security. This is due to economic progress and agricultural productivity. A 2019 FAO report reveals that the objective of the U.N.’s sustainability programs empowers small farmers and family farms to increase food production and productivity. This sustainability model also plays into using limited resources for effective aquaponics. In addition, a 2017 FAO report found that the test facilities were “fully operational and… actively producing fish and vegetables for sale.” While hunger is significantly lower than before, local and international organizations continue to fight hunger in Barbados.

From the ongoing success of the UNDP, FAO and other local and international associations, Barbados continues to address food insecurity and promoting nutrition to its citizens. Yet, the emphasis on local programs that simultaneously combat global and local issues, like climate change, demonstrates the workings of a multi-pronged approach to combat hunger.

Francesca Gaynor
Photo: Flickr

Anniversary of the United Nations
In the 75 years since its establishment, the United Nations has led global efforts to promote human rights and eradicate poverty, especially in developing nations. House Resolution 1024, in the U.S. House of Representatives, celebrates the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and its establishment. The resolution also acknowledges the organization’s role in leading responses to global crises and promoting international peace and security.

The United Nations Purpose

Established in 1945 in the aftermath of the Second World War, the United Nations (U.N.) is an international organization that is currently comprised of 193 member states. The primary bodies that make up the U.N. are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the U.N. Secretariat. The mission of the U.N. is to maintain international peace and unite peoples around the globe in pursuit of a better world. Additionally, the U.N. provides humanitarian assistance to those in need, upholds international law and protects human rights.

The United Nations & Global Poverty Reduction

For decades, the U.N. has been a leader in global efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development. The first of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere. In line with this goal, the U.N. has mobilized its member states to dedicate resources to the eradication of poverty. It has facilitated cooperation between countries to support developing countries in particular in implementing poverty reduction programs and policies.

Due to global efforts spearheaded by the U.N., poverty has decreased substantially in the past few decades. For instance, from 1990 to 2015, extreme global poverty decreased from 36% to 10%. However, the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening this progress. In addition, the U.N. warns that global poverty could rise for the time in 30 years. Nevertheless, the U.N. is committed to a comprehensive and coordinated, global response to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

House Resolution 1024 (H.Res. 1024)

The purpose of H.Res. 1024 is to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. Another purpose is to call upon the President of the United States to issue a proclamation. As a result, U.S. citizens can observe the anniversary with appropriate ceremonies and activities. The resolution praises the U.N.’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and its leadership in addressing global health issues. It also commends the U.N. for its responses to unprecedented humanitarian crises and its essential role in maintaining international peace and security.

Status of the Resolution

On June 25, 2020, the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations’ Charter, Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA-13] introduced H.Res. 1024 into the U.S. House of Representatives — recognizing the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the U.N. The resolution was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Additionally, it currently has 27 Democratic co-sponsors. Moreover, H.Res. 1024 is in the first stage of the legislative process.

H.Res. 1024 commemorates the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. According to Rep. Lee, it is “vital to our global community and essential to realizing a peaceful and prosperous shared future.” She notes that, since its founding in 1945, the U.N. has played a crucial role in conflict prevention, peacemaking, maintenance and the safeguarding of human rights around the world.

Sarah Frazer
Photo: Pixbay

poverty in nepal
Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia along the Himalayan Mountain Range. According to the United Nations, it is one of the least developed nations in the world. Natural disasters, geographical isolation, ongoing political conflict and poverty exacerbate the challenges of large populations in Nepal.

4 Major Groups that Poverty in Nepal Affects

  1. The Dalit people live outside of the caste system and have no social mobility, facing extreme discrimination. Lower members and untouchables experience restriction from moving up in the caste system; 46% of the Dalit people in Nepal experience poverty. Dalit women are poorer than Dalit men. Women work for their landlords while men work low social status jobs. Some women are unpaid because they work in Haliya Pratha (bonded labor) or Khala Pratha (forced labor). The Dalit population does not receive equal job opportunities and earns unfair wages. Nepal should enforce laws against discrimination to improve the lives of the Dalit.
  2. Women and girls in poverty need stronger government protections to prevent crime. There is little legal accountability for those who commit violence and rape against women. Girls who have the responsibility of walking miles to get clean water are at often at risk of human trafficking. In 2018, authorities refused to recognize the rape and murder of a 15-year-old Dalit girl. Gender discrimination is legal in Nepal and the 2015 Constitution grants men a higher legal status than women. Unfortunately, the government does not strongly enforce laws against chhaupadi (menstrual seclusion) and child marriage.
  3. Landlords control the land-poor or landless people in rural areas. Land ownership results in food access and control over one’s own resources. The feudalistic land system contributes to the fact that the top 5% of people own 37% of the land. Tenants constantly face the threat of face eviction and have no land to grow food on. Landless people do not get access to services such as running water and electricity in their homes whether on private or public property. Nearly 25% of the population owns no land and 85% of people living in rural areas are land poor. Women and Dalits make up a large portion of landless people that poverty in Nepal affects.
  4. The struggling middle class is at risk of falling back into poverty. Although people in the middle class have overcome adversity, chronic poverty still threatens a significant portion. For every two people that overcome poverty, one falls back into poverty. This means that even though Nepal has been successful at reducing poverty, 45% of people are in the vulnerable class that is struggling to stay above the poverty line. If Nepal can provide more social safety nets, it can prevent the vulnerable class known as the struggling middle class from falling back into poverty.

The Poverty Alleviation Fund

The Poverty Alleviation Fund is working in 55 districts to improve the Nepali lives. Community building and social inclusion methods uplift groups customarily discriminated against, including the Untouchables, women, rural land-poor and the vulnerable middle class. Using approaches to provide relief and resources to communities, the Poverty Alleviation Fund is working directly with those experiencing poverty in Nepal.

Hannah Nelson
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Newly Independent Nations
Poverty in newly independent nations is an extremely common phenomenon. Within the past two decades, millions of people have sought independence through referendums and massive social movements, and have succeeded in severing ties with parent nations. However, these grand pursuits of freedom can often lead to instances of large-scale poverty. When analyzing the economic statuses and poverty in newly independent nations likeMontenegro, Kosovo and South Sudan, it is evident that they are no exception.

Montenegro

After the end of World War II, Montenegro became a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. When Yugoslavia dissolved in 1992, Montenegro unified with Serbia, originally the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Later in 2003, it joined Serbia and Montenegro in the much looser association. In the spring of 2006, Montenegro held a referendum on independence from the state union, citing its right under the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro. The vote for severing ties with Serbia exceeded 55%, officially allowing Montenegro to formally declare its independence on June 3, 2006.

Since this success, the country has experienced many changes and the growing issue of poverty. The majority of the poor in Montenegro, however, is its own citizens, despite housing an impressive number of refugees. When considering economic development by region, one can observe large disparities. In fact, in the northern region of Montenegro, the poverty rate has risen to 10.3%, much higher than the national average. Much work remains to combat poverty in Montenegro that its struggle for independence may have been temporarily overshadowed.

Kosovo

After declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo established a parliamentary republic. It officially declared independence on February 17, 2008, and more than 100 United Nations members and 23 out of 28 members of the European Union currently recognize it as a fully independent nation.

Kosovo’s economy has experienced tremendous growth in the past decade. However, despite its economic inclusivity characterizing it, it has not been able to provide a sufficient amount of formal jobs for citizens, particularly for women and the youth. Additionally, Kosovo has failed to significantly reduce the high rates of unemployment across the nation. As a result, unemployment and poverty have been on the rise since 2008. There have been solid efforts on the part of the government, foreign aid and service projects–such as the Kosovo Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Project, a $31 million project to reduce energy consumption– to help alleviate poverty in the new nation, but it remains an issue requiring further attention.

South Sudan

The Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest nation, as well as Africa’s 55th country, on July 9, 2011. However, resumed conflicts in late 2013 and mid-2016, undermined the development it achieved since independence, negating much of the progress that it had made.

With over half the population currently requiring humanitarian assistance, South Sudan faces massive challenges in economic development despite receiving considerable foreign aid and owning significant oil reserves. Not long after South Sudan’s independence, the country encountered successive crises, resulting in a large-scale conflict and an economic recession. By late 2017, nearly 4.5 million people experienced displacement from their homes, accounting for more than a third of the country’s population. Prolonged financial insecurity and large-scale displacement have taken a huge toll on the lives of the South Sudanese people.

Furthermore, private consumption has consistently fallen since the beginning of the civil war that prompted the nation to seek independence in the first place. Amid continuing violence, the economy is experiencing a significant reduction due to sinking oil revenue and disruptions of economic production.

Conclusion

These nations are a testament to the complications that may arise post-independence, including rising poverty levels and the difficulty of developing a robust economic sector capable of supporting citizens. However, the progress that some have made to reduce poverty in newly independent countries demonstrates that there is hope for these countries’ future success.

Daniela Canales
Photo: Pixabay


The recent economic crisis in Lebanon has led to a massive shortage of medical supplies and hospital capacity, worsening an already strained healthcare system. The COVID-19 pandemic is further intensifying the nation’s economic crash and incidents of supply shortages. However, relief programs are stepping in to help improve health conditions in Lebanon.

Causes and Contributing Economic Factors

Lebanon has held substantial debt since the country began accepting aid to recover from its 1975 civil war. On top of this, Syria and the surrounding region experienced turmoil in 2014 that significantly reduced the value of the Lebanese pound relative to the U.S. dollar. This process has been exacerbated by government mismanagement and the decreasing amount of money being sent in payment from the Lebanese diaspora. The country has now racked up debt equal to 170% of its gross domestic product.

As COVID-19 challenges the global economy, the situation is rapidly intensifying. The value of currency in Lebanon has decreased by 78% since October 2019. The main issue facing healthcare in Lebanon results from the country’s lack of U.S. dollars. Depositors are withdrawing their money from Lebanese banks due to fears of further inflation, bank restrictions on withdrawals to curb the crisis and decreased foreign investments as a result of Lebanon’s perceived instability. Since Lebanon imports four-fifths of its consumer goods and depends on U.S. dollars to facilitate these transactions, the country is now facing shortages in all sectors of the economy, including healthcare.

The Current Hospital Crisis and COVID-19

The Lebanese government cannot pay both private and public hospitals using funds like the National Social Security Fund due to its present debt and currency inflation. This financial setback jeopardizes hospitals’ capacities to provide essential surgeries or import medical supplies. Private hospitals make up 82% of all healthcare in Lebanon. The national government only paid private hospitals 40% of what they were meant to receive in 2019, and has yet to fulfill any of its regular payments this year.

Public hospitals have also received a fraction of their regular government aid in recent years. This lack of funding limits hospitals not only from purchasing critical supplies, but also from paying employees. Hospitals are being forced to delay salary payments and even to consider cutting salaries in half. Lebanese hospitals import 100% of their medical equipment and rely on U.S. dollars for these shipments, so the absence of U.S. dollars has created a supply shortage. Since September, the country has imported less than 10% of the supplies it needs.

The recent rise of COVID-19 has not only left hospitals unprepared to meet increased patient demand, but also places immense strain on healthcare in Lebanon as a whole. Hospitals lack appropriate protective gear like masks and gloves, ventilators and spare parts. Furthermore, without the money to pay their employees full salaries or hire new workers, hospitals are finding themselves understaffed amidst the surge of demand precipitated by the pandemic.

Solutions and Relief

Many organizations like the United Nations (UN) have offered aid to help improve healthcare in Lebanon. The Central Bank has also intervened, guaranteeing half of the money withdrawn for imports will be exchanged at the official rate, rather than the inflated rate, in an effort to help hospitals purchase supplies. In March, the World Bank also gave Lebanon a 39 million dollar loan to prepare public hospitals for COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN have committed to help Lebanon obtain medical supplies during the pandemic. The Chinese government also shipped medical supplies to Lebanon and pledged to continue providing relief.

Nonprofit groups are working on the ground to address the needs of healthcare workers in Lebanon. Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization that addresses poverty worldwide, delivered a shipment of N-95 masks, face shields, gloves and other supplies in May. Direct Relief will continue to cooperate with local organizations to provide essential resources during the pandemic.

The economic crisis in Lebanon has led to a strained healthcare system. COVID-19 has served to exacerbate the already difficult situation. However, acts of global partnership and aid show promise for eventually strengthening the system of healthcare in Lebanon.

Emily Rahhal
Photo: Flickr

healthcare in Chad
Chad is in the top ten countries for oil production in Africa. However, very little of the revenue of oil sales goes into improving the living conditions and healthcare in Chad.
 In Chad, it is reported that 66% of the population is living in poverty. The World Bank reported in 2018 that 88% of the Chadian population does not have access to electricity. Additionally, it is estimated that 44% of the population does not have access to clean drinking water. These factors create obstacles for the healthcare system. Here is what you need to know about healthcare in Chad.  

Access to Health Services 

Chad has a very low number of healthcare professionals. The World Health Organization reported that there are 3.7 doctors per 100,000 people. This number is well below the global average of 141 doctors per 100,000 people. The number of healthcare professionals remains low in Chad due to the many insecurities the Chadian population faces. Due to ongoing violence, 122,312 people have been internally displaced in Chad. This factor causes an obstacle that inhibits the population from seeking education and training. 

Chad spends approximately $30 per capita on healthcare. Spending on healthcare in Chad fell by $14 per capita from 2014 to 2017. The decrease in funding has caused many healthcare facilities to be poorly equipped and unable to pay healthcare workers, leaving the Chadian population with minimal access to medical services. 

Maternal Health 

Maternal health is considered to be a major indicator of the strength of a healthcare system in a country. Currently, in Chad, 80% of births are not attended by a skilled professional, whereas in the United States, only 1% of births are not attended by a skilled professional. This lack of access to maternal health professionals causes Chad to have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. In 2017, the World Health Organization reported the mortality rate in Chad to be 1,140 deaths per 100,000 live births. This number is far higher than neighboring countries such as Sudan and Libya, who have mortality rates of 295 and 72 deaths per 100,000 live births, respectively.

The lack of access to maternal healthcare in Chad is made more severe by many young teenage girls becoming pregnant in Chad. UNICEF reported that 68% of girls below the age of 18 are married and under five percent of these girls have access to contraception. The World Health Organization cites that maternal complications are the leading cause of death in girls aged 15 to 19 years old. Mothers under 18 years old are also more likely to experience systemic infections and neonatal complications. These complications can become fatal to young mothers in Chad due to the lack of access to maternal health services.  

Malnutrition

Chad experiences some of the highest levels of malnutrition in the world. In the central Chadian town of Borko, almost half of all child deaths are due to malnutrition. Also, 40% of Chadian children experience growth stunting due to a lack of access to food. Chad goes through periods of severe drought causing food insecurity and lack of income for many families. The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) has set up a hospital in Chad. ALIMA reported that the malnutrition ward is overrun and the organization had to expand malnutrition treatment services to cope with the demand. 

The Burden of Diarrheal Disease

Diarrheal disease is among the leading causes of disease burden in developing countries. In 2017, diarrheal disease caused 1.6 million deaths globally and 528,000 of these deaths occurred in children under the age of five. In Chad, mortality due to diarrheal disease is 300 per 100,000 people. Chad’s diarrheal mortality rate is higher than the mortality rate observed in developed countries, which is reported to be 1 per 100,000 people. Diarrheal diseases are perceived to be treatable; however, they are highly fatal in Chad due to the lack of healthcare services.

Healthcare Improvements

Due to the instability in Chad, external organizations are working to improve the living conditions and access to healthcare in Chad. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the United Nations to provide immunizations and sanitary facilities to Chadian children. The initiative aims to decrease the mortality rates of diarrheal disease and other communicable diseases such as measles and pneumonia. 

Doctors Without Borders is another organization working to improve the conditions in Chad. The organization is currently running projects in six different areas around Chad. In 2018, these programs conducted 142,400 health consultations. Doctors Without Borders focuses healthcare efforts towards treating and preventing malaria, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition.  

The World Food Programme has established the School Meals Program to help decrease childhood malnutrition. The program ensures that all children at elementary school receive a hot meal throughout the school day. The program also encourages families to send their daughters to school by giving girls in grades five and six a ration of oil to take home. The School Meals Program aims to feed 265,000 elementary-aged children.

Healthcare in Chad faces many challenges regarding the high burden of disease, political instability and low availability of healthcare training. With a heavy reliance on outside organizations, the Chadian healthcare system needs to improve to be able to effectively tackle these challenges. Healthcare in Chad requires foreign aid funding to be able to increase access to healthcare and properly train medical professionals. The United States currently spends less that one-percent of its annual budget on foreign aid. With increased funding, the United States government has the power to increase healthcare for the Chadian population.

Laura Embry

Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in Australia
Australia has a blend of public and private healthcare systems. While every citizen receives guaranteed public healthcare, the government encourages middle- and upper-class Australians to acquire private insurance if they make above around $62,000 per year. They pay a specific tax if they do not take out private coverage. Private healthcare facilities in Australia are generally “nicer” than public ones, with shorter waiting times and more attentive care — but they are also more expensive.

Younger Australians, generally healthier than the rest of the population, are growing frustrated with the private healthcare system’s rising out-of-pocket costs. As these young people lean away from private insurance and pay to stay on the public plan, premiums will rise for older and sicker Australians with private healthcare plans.

Care for Indigenous Populations

Indigenous Australians face greater barriers in the healthcare system than non-indigenous Australians. The United Nations has recognized human rights concerns in Australia when it comes to indigenous populations and their healthcare. There is a gap of around 17 years in the life expectancy of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

Wealth is a factor behind this inequality. Indigenous Australians earn only 62% of the weekly earnings of other Australians. Education barriers also make the healthcare system harder for indigenous Australians to navigate. The Australian government underfunds schools in majority-indigenous areas, and indigenous students are half as likely as non-indigenous students to continue onto year 12 of education. Higher levels of education usually lead to higher income, which makes the healthcare system more accessible. In addition, increased education can help people understand vital health information.

Reforms for Greater Accessibility

Wealth seems to be a common theme throughout the story of healthcare in Australia. While many are unsure of what to do, there is a consensus that things need to change. Some experts have suggested changing resource allocation and tracking patient care outcomes. With people waiting up to four months for healthcare treatments, some experts have argued that hospitals must become more efficient.

One notable organization working for change is Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), formed in 2008. This network connects indigenous members of the Australian healthcare industry — or those pursuing a healthcare career — to other indigenous people working toward health education, resources and research for their communities. It also provides cultural responsiveness training so that Australian healthcare workers can learn to better connect with indigenous patients. Overall, IAHA aims to increase indigenous participation in the healthcare industry and make healthcare more accessible to indigenous peoples.

Australia may seem like a progressive paradise to some Americans, but it has its flaws. Age, race and wealth all factor into how someone accesses healthcare in Australia. Groups like IAHA are working to make health coverage more equitable in a troubled system. They have made positive changes and provided the necessary training to marginalized communities that their government often neglects. The land down under still has a long way to go to create a fair healthcare system for all, but Australians may look toward a brighter future under improved policies and protections.

Tara Suter
Photo: Flickr

poverty in MexicoIn 2018, it was estimated that 42% of the Mexican population lived in poverty. This figure indicates that about 52 million people in the entire nation lived in poverty. In 2015, Chiapas continued to be the poorest state and Oaxaca the second poorest, with poverty rates of 76.2% and 66.8% respectfully. An organization based in the state of Vermont called VAMOS! helps people struggling with poverty in Mexico.

Since its founding in 1987, VAMOS! has provided residents with education, food, health services and much more for free in the state of Morales. Recently, The Borgen Project was able to speak with Executive Director Sean Dougherty about the origins and successes of VAMOS! Sean got involved with the organization because his partners were part of the founding board. He says he enjoys being part of the organization because he loves hearing about the impact it has made on families.

Education

Only 62% of Mexican children reach high school and only 45% complete their high school careers. About 38% of men and 35% of women in Mexico are uneducated and unemployed. Overall, their education rates are lower than most other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

 VAMOS! helps those struggling with poverty in Mexico to alleviate this issue by providing access to quality education, especially in the areas of Early Childhood and Primary Education.

“Education is the single-most-important driver of economic empowerment for individuals and communities,” Dougherty said. “Educated parents are able to earn an income and feed their children. Children who complete primary education are more likely to achieve food security as adults and end the cycle of poverty in their generation.”

Nutrition

A recent UN study shows nearly 14% of Mexican children under five years of age experience stunted growth. This concept means that these children are slowed in their development, often as a result of malnutrition, according to Dougherty.

 VAMOS! helps people suffering from poverty in Mexico by providing food to many families every day.

“VAMOS! Nutrition Programs operate in each of our ten Community Centers and provide a necessary and important addition to the daily diet of the poor we serve,” Dougherty said.  VAMOS! serves over 140,000 meals a year, and hosts many clean water and vitamin programs that provide a measure of food security for affected families. The organization has also managed to erase malnutrition among families that regularly visit VAMOS! centers.

Community

“On a daily basis, in our 10 community centers throughout Cuernavaca, VAMOS! is trying to create a space of love, dignity and respect for anyone and everyone who walks through our doors,” Dougherty said. “We do this by greeting everyone, welcoming each child, listening to their mothers and making sure that every child knows that they are important and that they deserve a future filled with opportunities and love.”

VAMOS! aids those wrestling with poverty in Mexico by aiding, on average, 800-900 kids and over 400 mothers per week. Since its founding, the organization has served over 3 million meals. One thousand two hundred people visit its centers per day and the staff has grown to more than 250 members to accommodate for the large size.

Future Goals

According to Dougherty, VAMOS! hopes to expand its reach to further benefit people battling poverty in Mexico.

“In our most recent surveys, our students and mothers are asking for English classes, job training, small business development, certification in computer business skills and additional programming for teens,” Dougherty said. “These are the areas we will be concentrating on as we continue to expand our programs in the near future.”

Shreya Chari

Photo: Flickr

hunger in Haiti
Haiti, a Caribbean country with a population of more than 11 million, is one of the most food-insecure countries in the world. Political and economic crises, combined with natural disasters and extreme weather events, have contributed to the rise of poverty and hunger in Haiti. About 1 million Haitians are severely food insecure, and more than one-fifth of Haitian children are chronically malnourished. Here are five facts about hunger in Haiti.

5 Facts About Hunger in Haiti

  1. Haiti is one of the most impoverished countries in the Americas. According to the World Food Program U.S.A., almost 60% of the Haitian population lives below the poverty line and 25% of it experiences extreme poverty. Furthermore, more than 5 million Haitians earn less than $1 per day. This means that about half of the population cannot afford to buy food and other necessities. The hunger crisis is most prevalent in regions with the highest levels of poverty, particularly in the northwest.
  2. One-third of Haiti’s population is in urgent need of food assistance. Around 3.7 million Haitians did not have reliable access to adequate food in 2019. According to the United Nations, this number increased from 2.6 million in 2018. In 2019, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that, without immediate food assistance for Haitian people living in poverty, “1.2 million people will only be able to eat one meal every other day and about 2.8 million people might eat just one meal a day” in 2020.
  3. Frequent natural disasters and droughts contribute to widespread hunger. Haiti is one of the most weather-affected countries worldwideIn 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake had a huge negative impact on food security in the region. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew was devastating for Haiti’s agricultural production and its citizens. It caused more than 800,000 people to require immediate food assistance. Severe droughts have also decreased agricultural production and left more people hungry and malnourished in recent years.
  4. Political instability and poor economic conditions have decreased the accessibility of food aid and caused food prices to rise. In the last year, political gridlock and corruption have created obstacles to the distribution of food aid, according to Global Citizen. Protests in major cities, violence and the economic recession have caused businesses and schools to close, blocking many citizens from access to affordable meals and food assistance. Also, in 2019, the cost of staple foods like rice, wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil and beans rose by about 34%.
  5. Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to exacerbate the hunger crisis in Haiti. As a small island state, Haiti is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Rising sea levels can bring about devastating floods. More frequent extreme weather events can devastate significant parts of the country’s agriculture and infrastructure. Therefore, climate change poses a significant threat to food security and agricultural production in Haiti. Unfortunately, this threat will only increase in future years. The COVID-19 pandemic also threatens to raise inflation further, increasing the prices of staple foods. Haiti imports about 80% of its rice, so the pandemic’s impact on global supply chains could further restrict access to staple foods.

Solutions

As the hunger crisis in Haiti continues to grow, multiple organizations have implemented programs to provide food and financial assistance. For example, the World Food Program U.S.A. delivers meals to 1,400 Haitian schools every day. This program benefits students in 1,400 schools, and the Haitian government plans to take over the initiative by 2030. Feed the Children also provides school meals, including three hot meals each week, in an effort to reduce hunger and motivate students to prioritize their education. While these student-focused food assistance programs help reduce malnourishment and hunger, they also motivate children to continue pursuing an education.

Furthermore, the United States has provided more than $5.1 billion to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. In the last 10 years, U.S. assistance has helped fund food security programs, increase crop yields and improve child nutrition in Haiti. OCHA hopes to receive $253 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti in 2020. With the financial assistance they urgently need, impoverished Haitians can better prepare for natural disasters. They can also gain reliable access to sufficient food. Both of these necessities will be more necessary than ever in 2020 and beyond.

Overall, these facts about hunger in Haiti show that it is a growing issue that affects millions of people. Now, the current COVID-19 pandemic is amplifying this problem. However, with humanitarian aid and food assistance from NGOs and members of the international community, including the United States, food insecurity in Haiti can reduce.

– Rachel Powell
Photo: Flickr