Posts

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Brunei Darussalam
Brunei Darussalam is a small, Southeast Asian country nestled in the Indonesian Archipelago. Currently, the average life expectancy is about 76 years, which is roughly four years higher than the U.N.’s estimated global average of about 72.6 years. While certain factors like an individual’s personal habits and existing health conditions can factor into life expectancy, socioeconomic status drives this number on a larger level. With this in mind, here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Brunei Darussalam

  1. The life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam has been steadily increasing. Since the 1950s, life expectancy was a mere 50 years old, whereas it is now 75.93 years. Women on average tend to live to 77 years old, while men live to be about 74.
  2. The infant mortality rate is worsening. As of 2018, there were about 9.8 deaths in infants for every 1,000 live births before they reached 1 year old. This number has been creeping up, since it was 7.7 per 1,000 in 2005, due to the high amount of babies being born underweight and the persistence of deficient red blood cells in women and young children.
  3. According to the U.N.’s Human Development Report, Brunei Darussalam is ‘very high in human development.’ It ranked Brunei Darussalam 39th among the world’s powers – tied with Saudi Arabia. Its Human Development Index ranking went up one from 2016, when it ranked 40, still falling within the ‘very high’ ranking in human development. Life expectancy is a component that the U.N. uses to measure a nation’s development index.
  4. The population has been increasing since 1955. While the rate of this increase is lessening, the percentage of the population that has urbanized has been increasing, with the urbanization percentage rising to 79.5 percent from its 34.6 percent in 1955. Urbanization largely occurs with an increased life expectancy, more employment opportunities and physical development within a nation.
  5. Most of the population over the age of 15 has employment. More men have employment than women at 70.6 percent, with the percentage of employed women sitting at 51.5 percent. This is an increase from 1991 when only 44.5 percent of women had work. Studies show that those in the labor force tend to live longer than those who are not.
  6. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death. As of 2007 and holding true to 2017, coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Brunei, with it also being the leading cause of premature deaths.  In a study that determined the leading cause of death and disability combined, coronary heart disease ranked second.
  7. The rate of adult literacy in Brunei is 95.3 percent. In 2009, Brunei launched a new education program, which would give the populace a free six years of primary school and four or five years of secondary school, with the option for the pursuit of higher education or vocational school available. Literacy and life expectancy link together through socioeconomic factors, with those who are literate likely living in more favorable socioeconomic circumstances, which ultimately leads to a higher life expectancy.
  8. Brunei has an immunization coverage of 97.8 percent. This exceeds The World Health Organization’s target, which is 95 percent. Immunization is a major contributor to the increased global average life expectancy, as it protects people from diseases that were often fatal prior to vaccines.
  9. Brunei boasts good air quality. According to a real-time map index, the various checkpoints throughout Brunei (Kuala Belait, Pekan Tutong, Brunei Muara and Temburong) have consistently been reporting satisfactory air quality that poses little to no threat, the healthiest setting on the scale. This is comparable to the surrounding checkpoints in Malaysia, which indicate that people who are particularly sensitive to air pollution might be at risk.
  10. Brunei has a reliable infrastructure. Brunei’s population pays no income or sales taxes. Those in Brunei also enjoy low crime rates, free public schooling up through secondary education, free health care and subsidized housing, all of which contribute to a higher life expectancy.

The overall life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam, as well as components that contribute to a higher life expectancy, are doing well within the standards of the developed world. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Brunei Darussalam provide more information on several issues in the country.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Understanding the Venezuela Crisis
Venezuela’s socioeconomic debacle has been grabbing headlines over the past few years, especially as the crippling inflation rate—recently eclipsing 10,000 percent—hit the country’s economy and began to unravel its health sector. But these are just two of the key components to understanding the Venezuela crisis and its various impacts as the humanitarian crisis continues to debilitate the region following many years of unrest.

Many Years of Strife

Since the death of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2013 and the appointment of the current leader, Nicolás Maduro, the country has experienced a dire financial crisis as a result of low oil prices and financial mismanagement. Various power struggles and changes within the country’s National Assembly marked the political and humanitarian crisis that ensued.

The country’s military largely continues to back Maduro despite domestic, international and widespread condemnation of his authoritarian government. The political crisis has now spread to all levels of the economy and society, with nearly 4.5 million individuals having fled Venezuela due to the escalating unrest.

Following anti-government protests in 2014 after the victory of Maduro’s party the previous year, the economy and health care sector began their plunge and had all but collapsed by 2016. Malnutrition, child mortality and unemployment rates began to rise as a result. The United Nations estimates that the undernourishment rate in the country has quadrupled since the year 2012, putting more than 300,000 lives at risk due to limited access to medical treatment and medicines. Aid and relief efforts continue to face major hindrances due to mounting strife.

As the economic and humanitarian crisis grew over recent years, there was significant backlash and condemnation from foreign nations including the U.S. followed by significant international sanctions, especially over the increasingly authoritarian measures that Maduro took to pass laws autonomously and virtually unchecked.

Venezuela’s Refugee Crisis

Another dimension to understanding the Venezuela crisis is its refugee crisis as the economic and political problems have resulted in a dire humanitarian emergency. Since the beginning of the crisis back in 2014, over 4.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country. Mass displacement and humanitarian challenges continue mostly unabated due to integration obstacles, immigration and border pressures.

In 2019, the UNHCR-led joint effort, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Rescue Response Plan, along with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) called for the provision of $738 million in assistance to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America that were dealing with the impacts of the migrant exodus. Unfortunately, the Venezuelan refugee crisis remains one of the most underfunded in the world.

Aid and Other Positive Developments

Throughout 2019, the Venezuelan government under Maduro refused aid relief headed by Brazil, Colombia and the U.S., relying on Russia’s 300 tons of humanitarian assistance instead which included food as well as medical supplies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been overseeing foreign aid, especially medical and food supplies from Russia and other countries. However, at the same time, aid relief and efforts such as the distribution of crucial medicines have stalled owing to the escalating political crisis and mounting corruption.

The U.S. and President Donald Trump have not only pledged humanitarian financial assistance but have declared their support for the democratic opposition group led by Juan Guaidó. In October 2019, USAID signed a major development agreement with Guaidó’s shadow government, thereby raising aid and assistance to $116 million and allocating a further $568 million to helping Venezuelans displaced by the conflict. Though the U.S. and its allies remain committed to toppling Maduro’s regime and reinstating rule of law, they are in serious conflict with Maduro’s international allies, namely Russia, Turkey and China.

Hope for the Future

The Center for Prevention Action from the Council on Foreign Relations believes it is imperative to consider important policy options to help promote democracy as well as channel crucial humanitarian aid and assistance, perhaps even by means of forced humanitarian intervention and post-transition stabilization.

Even though the Venezuelan crisis at times may seem to be reaching an impasse, it remains possible that the humanitarian and pro-democracy efforts of foreign powers could ultimately lead to a post-Maduro scenario. The year 2020 will be an important year in determining the ultimate fate of the country and the internal power struggles. The international community will hold an indispensable role in helping to create a better understanding of the Venezuela crisis and to help create a promising future for the country.

Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Improve Global Health
In June 2018, German Chancellor Angela Merkel introduced a new plan for Germany to become a front-runner in global health. This plan was to fully come into action by the end of 2019. In addition, the BMJ Journal reported that the plan involved bringing in non-governmental representatives to provide their knowledge to develop a strategy for Germany to improve global health.

What is the Plan?

Germany worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All program. One of the main goals of this initiative is to accelerate progress in seven key areas:

  1. Primary health care
  2. Sustainable financing
  3. Community and civil society
  4. Determinants of health
  5. Innovative programming in fragile and vulnerable settings and for disease outbreak responses
  6. Research and Development, Innovation and Access
  7. Data and digital health

These seven points focus on the main areas of mobilizing and enabling communities. They also focus on providing governments with the necessary funding and knowledge to help their people and ensuring the research and money is going to the areas that most need it.

Funding

Germany began working towards many of these goals as early as 2018. The Global Fund reports that Germany pledged 1 billion euros (roughly $1.094 billion) towards The Global Fund’s fight against diseases such as HIV, malaria and AIDS. Also, the website states that this was a 17.6 percent increase from its previous pledge. Germany is pledging this amount for a three-year period.

The website Donar Tracker notes that Germany donated 47 percent of its development assistance fund to multilateral, or multi-country, organizations. The website states that the main recipients of this funding were the previously mentioned Global Fund, the E.U. and Gavi. Gavi is an organization focused on giving impoverished countries access to vaccines.

Cooperation

The Global Health Hub Germany is a website that Germany hosts to improve global health. This website calls itself the platform for Global Health. The World Health Summit, which Berlin, Germany holds annually, helped to organize the launch of The Global Health Hub, claiming that its mission statement is one of cooperation.

The Global Health Hub Germany aims to inform people, get them working together and develop new ways for the world to improve global health. Additionally, it hosts frequent events and conferences aimed to give people the information they need to help improve global health. The website launched on October 29, 2019. Since then, it gained 555 members as of November 2019. Its members consist of activist groups and experts in the health field. The Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All states Germany’s mission statement going forward to improve global health. Funding, cooperation and mobilization are just some of the ways that Germany aims to improve global health.

Jacob Creswell
Photo: Flickr

Health Care Progress
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has faced various issues surrounding health care in the past several decades and some have amounted to significant setbacks for the nation. However, the country has seen health care progress in the DRC in recent years and international organizations are looking forward to the future.

Improving Vaccines for Citizens

International partners have been able to pair with the government in the DRC to initiate this health care progress, and the country has been polio-free for four years as a result. The lack of infrastructure and geographical size of the DRC makes it particularly difficult to reach milestones in health care progress. The United States Agency for International Development has been a vital component of health care progress in the DRC serving over 12 million people spanning a multitude of different provinces. The organization has additionally remained committed to providing HIV/AIDS support in 21 concentrated zones. These focused zones are crucial for health care progress in this region.

In addition to the international organizations doing their part to help health care progress in the DRC, the country’s Ministry of Health has been working diligently in recent years to improve vaccines and their means of storage. Keeping vaccines in the appropriate cooling storage containers and fridges has proved especially difficult due to the DRC’s tropical climate. In a 2018 plan, the Ministry of Health aimed to provide immunizations to almost 220,000 children and improve vaccine storage conditions. Partnerships with outside organizations have helped to deliver 5,000 solar-powered fridges specifically intended for vaccine storage and they will distribute more later on.

Progress in Hospital Conditions

One of the first dependable and reliably functional hospitals opened in Kavumu through an initiative called First Light. This hospital garnered a brand new electronic medical records system to make keeping track of patient history astronomically easier than before. The hospital staff received tablets to mobilize the system and expedite the process of patient diagnosis and care. With this technology, the hospital is able to treat nearly three times more patients than it was able to without these resources – originally, doctors were only able to see approximately six or seven patients per week.

The hospital also implemented a motorcycle ambulance program so patients no longer have to walk or have others carry them to emergency care in order to tackle the issue of having no ambulance access in the city. This program utilizes motorcycle sidecars specifically to transport patients, which was a successful method that people originally used in South Africa.

The Future of Health Care in the DRC

The World Health Organization (WHO) has continuously been an important player in the health care progress of the DRC. It has partnered with non-governmental organizations to deliver medicines and various other resources to hospitals and clinics in areas where people have limited health care access. In the interest of continuing the progression of the country and establishing a functional health care system, WHO also remains dedicated to analyzing and quantifying statistics within the country that gives organizations clues on what they need to do next. These statistics are able to pinpoint issues in specific areas, therefore making it easier for government and international organizations to act, provide aid and implement programs for improvement. The continuation of this data collection will hopefully allow for more health care progress in the future.

There is still a lot to do in the DRC when it comes to health care. There are organizations and efforts dedicated to treating all of the diseases and epidemics that threaten the country’s current health care progress like malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and more. Some organizations involved in the nation even specifically focus on the care of mothers and children or improving sanitation conditions.

It will be small, incremental changes over time that will lead to continued health care progress within the region. The country cannot fix everything at once, but the collective efforts and partnerships of international organizations and governmental entities have already dragged the country out of its most difficult struggles with health care and access to health resources. The continuation of these practices will ensure the building and sustainment of a functional and reliable health care system, therefore alleviating the worries of so many citizens within the DRC.

For now, health care progress in the DRC is on track and only time will tell how these small initiatives eventually reform and reshape the country’s health care system entirely.

Hannah Easley
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Serbia
The Republic of Serbia gained independence following the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1992. Although birthed from the aftermath of a bloody civil war and a subsequent period of violence and civil unrest, Serbia is a progressive nation with a high quality of life standards. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Serbia.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Serbia

  1. Trends: Life expectancy in Serbia continues to trend upwards. The current average life expectancy is 76.05, a 0.18 percent increase from 2019. U.N. statistical projections anticipate that life expectancy rates will grow to 80.21 by 2050.
  2. Leading Causes of Death: A 2018 report from the WHO identified the leading causes of death in Serbia as coronary heart disease, which accounted for 21.39 percent of deaths. In addition, around 14.92 percent of death are from strokes.
  3. Infant Mortality: Serbia’s infant mortality rate is steadily improving. In 2000, there were approximately 13.5 deaths per 1,000 live births. Today, the metric stands at only 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. Additionally, U.N. data predicts that infant mortality rates will drop even further by 2050 to just over two deaths per 1,000 births.
  4. Health Care: Serbia underserves health care to around 20 percent of Serbian citizens. However, Serbia, in general, has an inclusive and effective health care system. Pregnant women, infants, college students and children 15 or younger all receive free health care. Furthermore, mental health services and treatment of infectious diseases are free for all.
  5. Access to Medical Facilities: The post-World War II Serbian government invested heavily in the territory’s medical schools. Eventually, it hopes to correct its problematic lack of trained medical professionals. As of 2016, there were 3.13 doctors per 1,000 citizens. That same year, Serbia recorded health funding equivalent to 9.1 percent of the national GDP.
  6. Birth Rate: Serbia’s population is shrinking. The estimated fertility rate in 2020 is 1.46 children born per woman. This place Serbia at 211 out of 228 nations. As a result, the population should decline by an estimated 0.47 percent.
  7. Violent Crime: Serbia’s murder rate has significantly declined over the past decade. In 2007, there were 1.9 homicides per 100,000 citizens. By 2017, the number dropped to 1.1. However, Serbia is a strategic corridor in the international drug trafficking trade. This means that multiple organized crime syndicates operate there.
  8. Women’s Health: In general, Serbian women live longer and healthier lives than their male counterparts. Women live on average around five years longer than men. Estimates determine that Serbia’s maternal mortality rate is 12 deaths per 100,000 live births. It places Serbia in the upper half of global maternal mortality figures.
  9. Sexual/Reproductive Health: Serbia is a highly religious nation. In addition, citizens typically hold conservative attitudes towards sex and relationships. Contraceptive prevalence is a comparatively low 58.4 percent. Only 18.4 percent of married or committed women use modern contraceptive methods. The United Nations Population Fund is in the midst of a campaign to ensure universal access to contraception and family planning services.
  10. Ethnic Minorities: Hungarians, Romani, Bosnians and other ethnic minorities comprise 16.7 percent of the Serbian population. Historically, Serbia’s relationship with the rest of the Balkans has been volatile both within and outside national borders. Additionally, this contributed to unequal access to health care, particularly for the Roma population. In concert with UNICEF, the Pediatric Association of Serbia is engaged in improving pediatric care for minorities and children with disabilities.
These 10 facts about life expectancy in Serbia attest to the nation’s rapid recovery from the tragedies of the 1990s and early 2000s. Serbia’s health care system and quality of life standards should improve even further in the coming years.

Dan Zamarelli
Photo: Flickr
Mental Health for Syrian Refugees
Since the Syrian crisis in 2011, the displaced population has migrated to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Currently, 50 percent of the population are children without parents. Mental health issues have risen in the Syrian refugee community since then and the world has stepped up in treating the debilitating aspects of suffering traumatic events. This article highlights the improvements in the mental health of Syrian refugees.

Challenge and Impacts

Refugees that have to leave their homes and migrate elsewhere face many obstacles and challenges. Post-migration challenges often include cultural integration issues, loss of family and community support. Refugees also experience discrimination, loneliness, boredom and fear, and children can also experience disruption. Circumstances uproot them from friends and family and cut their education short. Refugees experience barriers in gaining meaningful employment and they face adverse political climates.

Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) are all effects of exposure to traumatic events. Traumatic events for Syrian refugees include war terrorist attacks, kidnapping, torture and rape. Meta-analysis all show a positive association between war trauma and the effects of certain mental health disorders. For example, a study examining the mental health of post-war survivors from Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo showed PTSD as the most common psychological complication.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a debilitating disorder that intrudes on the patient’s mind. It also intrudes on relationships and the patient’s ability to live a quality life. Thoughts of suicide and/or avoidance are also symptoms of PTSD.

A study of Syrian trauma and PTSD participants found that those between the age of 18 and 65 have experienced zero to nine traumatic events. Of those, 33.5 percent experienced PTSD and 43.9 percent depression. Another study in Lebanon showed that 35.4 percent of Syrian refugees will experience a lifetime prevalence of PTSD.

According to the United Nations High Commissions, 65.6 million people worldwide are “persons of concern.” That total includes 22.5 million termed “refugees” and several other millions termed “asylum seekers” or “internally displaced persons.” Survivors of torture account for 35 percent.

Health Care and Integrated Care

The National Institute of Mental Health identifies integrated care as primary care and mental health care; cohesive and practical. Primary care practitioners recommend conducting a thorough history check of any exposure to or experience of traumatic events. Health care professionals must be able to effectively address mental health issues. Barriers have long been the cause of mental health issues left untreated. Such barriers include communication, lack of health practitioners to patients in need, the physical distance patients must travel and the stigma of having the classification of “crazy.”

Treatments and Evidence-Based Interventions for Refugees

There have been several test instruments that provided significant results in the treatment of mental health as well as scalable interventions. Currently, the only FDA-approved drug both abroad and in the U.S. are paroxetine and sertraline; both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Other instruments include the Narrative Exposure Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Many found EMDR to be successful in reducing episodes of PTSD and depression in a study with Kilis refugees.

In 2008, the World Health Organization launched the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP). This endeavor focused on assisting low and middle-income countries in providing effective mental health treatments. Inventions such as Task-shifting, E-Mental Health and PM+ fall under the mhGAP umbrella. First, the task-shifting initiative aims at alleviating the pressure on a limited number of specialized practitioners. Task-shifting shifts duties and tasks to other medical practitioners which otherwise highly-trained specialists would perform. This initiative is cost-effective and proves to be a promising alternative. Refugees can receive treatment in primary and community care locations instead of specialized facilities. Meanwhile, E-Mental Health and PM+ aim to address multiple mental health symptoms at once, while allowing treatment to remain private and within reach to Syrian refugees. Finally, the EU STRENGTHS, also created under the mhGAP umbrella, strives to improve responsiveness in times of refugees affected by disaster and conflict.

Many Syrian refugees continue to face obstacles and barriers, however, there is hope. Initiatives such as those mentioned in this article provide a promising outlook for the continued mental health improvements of Syrian refugees.

Michelle White
Photo: Flickr

The Battle Against Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease, meaning that animals transfer it to humans. Infected animals, usually small rodents, transmit the disease through bodily fluids. Sometimes, however, the disease can transmit through human-to-human contact via bodily fluids, but this is less common. Symptoms include body aches and pains, and fever as well as a bumpy, localized rash. Monkeypox is similar to smallpox, a related infection that people have eradicated worldwide. Yet the battle against monkeypox continues. According to the World Health Organization, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) saw over 5,000 monkeypox cases in 2019, including 103 fatalities. In addition, most deaths occurred among younger age groups.

History

People first discovered the virus in 1958 when two outbreaks occurred in colonies of monkeys that they used for research, hence the name. The first human cases were in the DRC in 1970. The disease mainly impacts the country’s rural areas and rainforests, where many consider it endemic. In 2017, Nigeria also experienced one of the worst monkeypox epidemics following 40 years of no confirmed cases in the country.

While the virus has largely concentrated in Africa, there have been documentations of cases of monkeypox outside of Africa in recent years. Usually, these cases involved people who visited Africa and returned home harboring the infection. In 2003, the first monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa occurred in the United States. In the past two years, there have been cases in Singapore, the United Kingdom and Israel.

Treatment

Monkeypox and smallpox share many similarities and both have classifications under the genus orthopoxvirus. Currently, a recommended treatment for monkeypox entails the use of antibiotics and there has been an 85 percent success rate using the smallpox vaccine. A new third-generation vaccine received approval in 2019 for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox while scientists continue to develop additional antiviral agents.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), an NGO established in 1971, has been on the frontlines battling monkeypox. MSF, which translates to Doctors Without Borders, provides medical assistance to people affected by outbreaks, epidemics and disasters. In October 2018, an emergency team dispatched to a village in the Central African Republic after a monkeypox outbreak there infected about a dozen children. The group set up a quarantine, treating the children while administering vaccinations to others.

World Response

A number of world health organizations have come together in the battle against monkeypox. After the 2017 Nigeria outbreak, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control sought to unite West Africa’s response to the disease. The NCDC also teamed up with organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to better observe and document the disease.

Monkeypox prevention includes raising awareness, avoiding potentially infected animals and practicing good hygiene. Several countries have also put forth restrictions on animal trade to stop the spread of the disease across Africa and to other parts of the world. These steps, as well as additional preventative measures and research, will be key to the battle against monkeypox and the prevention of future outbreaks.

Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in the Dominican Republic
In the Dominican Republic, legislative efforts to curb outbreaks of cholera and waterborne diseases in rural and urban populations have steadily improved sanitation, water and hygiene levels. National commitment has pushed both government and non-government organizations to develop and improve much of the Dominican Republic’s infrastructure. Below are 10 facts about sanitation in the Dominican Republic.

10 Facts About Sanitation in the Dominican Republic

  1. Cholera Outbreaks: Only 74 percent of residents have access to clean water, which primarily led to the cholera outbreaks in November 2010. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 8,000 people have died as a result of cholera.
  2. Natural Disasters: The Dominican Republic encountered 40 natural disasters from 1980 to 2008 that have severely damaged water systems and contaminated tanks. Approximately 2.65 million residents faced water shortages and illnesses due to poor weather conditions.
  3. Waterborne and Diarrheal Diseases: Waterborne and diarrheal diseases in the Dominican Republic spread mainly due to a lack of sanitary restrooms. Almost 24 percent of residents do not have access to bathrooms. Additionally, many, particularly children, do not have access to routine vaccinations for these diseases.
  4. Government Projects: Government partnerships and projects with the World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation have controlled epidemic outbreaks. These organizations have also improved accessibility to drinking water sources to 86 percent of the population. Further, sanitation facilities increased accessibility to 83 percent of residents between 1990 and 2010.
  5. The Inter-American Bank’s Loan: In 2012, the Dominican Republic partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank to obtain a $25 million loan. This loan would improve energy efficiency and provide access to water services for at least 12 hours to more than 200,000 residents. Despite ongoing measurements of the impact, about 84 percent of the population experienced an improvement in sanitation facilities and drinking water.
  6. The Dominican Red Cross: In response to the cholera outbreak, the Dominican Red Cross imported 28 water treatment plants to magnify emergency responses. The Haitian and Dominican governments developed a 10-year plan with the Red Cross to ensure cholera-free islands. The countries curated a two-year campaign that pushed their key objectives in eradicating the disease.
  7. USAID Batey Community Development Project: The USAID Batey Community Development Project is pushing to improve water access and sanitary conditions in the Dominican Republic’s bateyes. Bateyes, which are towns surrounding sugar mills, traditionally have no running water, electricity or cooking facilities. The project aims to improve water distribution systems, build restroom facilities and train the population on environmental hygiene.
  8. The Regional Coalition on Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera in Hispaniola: The Regional Coalition on Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera in Hispaniola emerged in June 2012 as a blueprint for cholera-affected countries, primarily Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to help mobilize resources and reduce cholera-related deaths by 90 percent by 2030. The coalition consists of the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  9. Surge for Water: In partnership with Project Hearts in 2016, Surge for Water installed 45 water tanks, 16 water filters and education and training opportunities to the people in Baitoa, Dominican Republic. This increased the population’s access to safe drinking water to 97 percent.
  10. The ACCIONA Agua’s Water Plant: A potable water plant that the ACCIONA Agua instituted in the south of the Dominican Republic improved the region’s network by providing access to more than 138,000 residents. This number will likely rise up to 300,000 in the coming years. For residents, this makes cooking a simple meal such as rice and beans more feasible.

These initiatives and developments are important in the progress of the Dominican Republic’s water, sanitation and hygiene levels. It is important to recognize many of the constituents that have compromised the country’s water supplies and sanitary conditions. Illnesses that are preventable through sustainable action often affect residents. These 10 facts about sanitation in the Dominican Republic, involving training, education and accessibility efforts, are vital to the country’s quality of life.

Brittany Adames
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Facts About Sanitation in Morocco
Morocco has made significant progress in sanitation during the past decade. Although there are still many issues, improvements in water sanitation in Morocco are in the near future. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Morocco.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Morocco

  1. H2O Maghreb: USAID and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) implemented an activity called H2O Maghreb in order to help establish advanced and sustainable water management practices in Morocco. H2O Maghreb includes a two-year degree accredited by the government of Morocco. Furthermore, the H20 Maghreb activity provides training and job opportunities in waste management. About 80 percent of the students participating are women.
  2. The Douira Sea Water Desalination Plant: Morocco plans to build the world’s largest seawater desalination plant in the city of Agadir in 2021. The Douira Sea Water Desalination Plant will provide drinking water to the people of the Chtouka Ait Baha region in Morocco. Further, the Douira Sea Water Desalination Plant should be able to irrigate 15,000 hectares of land and produce up to 450,000 cubic meters of desalinated water every day.
  3. Dakhla’s Wasterwater Treatment Plant: Morocco is also building a wastewater treatment plant in Dakhla. The plant will help prevent wastewater from polluting groundwater resources. Additionally, the wastewater sludge can also act as a fertilizer.
  4. Improvements to the Wastewater Sector: During the past decade, Morocco has made many improvements in its wastewater sector. Of the 34 million people in Morocco, 25 percent of the people are not connected to the sewer network and 38 percent of the people are not connected to wastewater treatment plants.
  5. Leprosy: Leprosy is on the decline in Morocco. From 2000 to 2012, the number of leprosy cases decreased by 4.68 percent each year. In 2012, Morocco began a program to distribute rifampicin to help prevent the spread of leprosy. From 2012 to 2017, the number of cases of leprosy in Morocco decreased by 16.38 percent each year. The rifampicin program helped prevent leprosy and improved sanitation in Morocco
  6. Trachoma: Morocco eliminated trachoma in 2016. Trachoma is an infectious disease that causes blindness. Morocco implemented the World Health Organization-endorsed SAFE strategy in the 1990s. This included surgery for trichiasis, antibiotics to treat trachoma, facial cleanliness and environmental improvements to help prevent the spread of trachoma.
  7. Acid Mine Drainage: Acid mine drainage is an issue in Morocco. When people do not clean mine sites, the acid mine drainage at the mines can contaminate the land and the groundwater.
  8. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools (WinS): Morocco implemented the program Water, sanitation and hygiene in schools (WinS) in order to provide clean water and improve sanitary facilities in 19 primary schools in the country. Improving sanitary facilities at schools can help prevent water-related diseases and encourage children to stay in school and graduate.
  9. European Space Agency Technology: The University of Kenitra utilizes technology developed by the European Space Agency to clean groundwater so that it is safe for people to drink. The water treatment facility will provide water for 1,200 students.
  10. Safely-Managed Drinking Services: As of 2017, 70.266 percent of the people in Morocco have access to safely-managed drinking water services. This also means that as of 2017, 29.734 percent of the people in Morocco do not have access to safely-managed drinking water services.

These 10 facts about sanitation in Morocco show that the water supply is improving and will continue to improve. As technology and new initiatives increase the water supply, more people will gain access to safe drinking water.

Frank Decapio
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Biggest Problems in the World 
There is no better time to focus on the biggest problems in the world. The everlasting tightened world economy, war threats and lingering diseases all ubiquitously affect human lives in every corner of the world. The United Nations (U.N.) has compiled a list of the current 10 biggest problems in the world.

 10 Biggest Problems in the World

  1. Peace and Security: Civil conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen, Russian aggression over Ukraine and its neighbors and tensions in the South China Sea are some global peace and security threats that are in existence today. These threats cost many lives due to terrorist acts and population displacement. The U.N. has 16 peacekeeping operations currently underway with nine in Africa, three in the Middle East, two in Europe and one in the Americas. With a peacekeeping budget of approximately $8.2 million, it keeps over 125,000 military personnel, police and civilians grounded and armed. The U.N. has made some progress with success stories coming from Burundi and Sierra Leone. U.N. forces eliminated more than 42,000 weapons and 1.2 million rounds of ammunition. It also demilitarized 75,000 fighters, including children, in Sierra Leone.
  2. AIDS: Among these 10 biggest problems in the world, AIDS is still a global health issue with 37.9 million people living with HIV. HIV newly infected around 1.7 million people and 770,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2018. Many global initiatives have emerged to lower the number of HIV cases including the GMT Initiative and TREAT Asia. The Foundation for AIDS Research, amfAR, lowers the number of AIDS cases with its GMT Initiative by supporting HIV organizations in developing countries to provide better education about HIV, expand prevention services and advocate for more HIV treatment and prevention funding. The TREAT Asia initiative links a network of clinics, hospitals and research institutions to perform research on HIV and AIDS treatments within the Asia-Pacific region. Many people (23.3 million) living with HIV in 2018 were undergoing antiretroviral therapy. New HIV infections have fallen by 16 percent since 2010 and AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 55 percent since the peak in 2004.
  3. Children in Poverty: Children around the world regularly do not have a fair chance for health, education and protection due to armed conflicts, violence and poverty. Millions of young children in 2019 did not have basic health care and proper nutrition resulting in stunted growth. The Millennium Development Goals have been in place for the past 15 years to help address the above issues affecting children. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been working with governments, the U.N., other NGOs and the private sector to broaden the impact on addressing child poverty with a particular focus on child malnutrition.
  4. Climate and Agriculture: The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report stated that human activities cause climate change and that the impacts are adverse. Climate change ties to world poverty by negatively impacting agriculture with increasing energy use, decreasing food production and increasing food prices. Many say that more water is necessary to grow crops due to high temperatures and drought, downpour rain in other areas causes sea level rises and that people require more lands with favorable climates. Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan had low yield on their crops in the summer of 2010 due to excessive heat that led to very high food prices, starvation, malnutrition and poverty. Some agricultural areas around the world have made improvements to their agricultural practices such as scaling sowing time, using different cultivation techniques and testing different cultivars.
  5. Democracy: Countries around the world often experience democracy deficit, weak institutions and poor governance. The U.N. is working to bring democracy to countries around the world by working with each country’s government to promote fair and exemplary governing practices, facilitate transparency and accountability and advise on new constitutions. The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) is funding projects that promote human rights, civil society and democratic inclusion. UNDEF is funding projects to include youths in elections in Cote d’Ivoire, promote gender equality in Palestine and support citizens in elections in Brazil.
  6. Poverty: The United Nations poverty facts and figures show that approximately 8 percent of the world’s workforce and their families live off of less than $1.90 daily. High poverty rates exist in small and deserted regions with armed conflicts, and approximately 55 percent of the world’s population has no social protection such as cash or food benefits. The condition of those living in poverty is improving following the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In fact, the percentage of the world’s population living off of $1.90 or less per day in 2015 is down to 10 percent from 16 percent in 2010.
  7. Hunger: Statistics have identified that 821 million people around the world suffered undernourishment in 2017, 149 million children had stunted growth and 49 million children under 5 years old experienced wasting due to malnourishment. The World Food Programme, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development are working together toward the Sustainable Development Goal to end hunger, maintain food security, improve nutrition and promote excellent agricultural practices. The World Bank Group is working with partners to promote farming practices, improve land use, grow high-yield and nutritious crops and instruct on storage and chain supply to prevent food loss.
  8. Gender Equality: Women in more than 60 countries cannot get citizenship. Sixty percent of people lacking basic literacy skills are women and one-third of women experience sexual violence, according to U.N. Women. The United Population Fund supports the protection of women’s rights through the law. They helped fight for women’s access to reproductive health care in Ecuador and Guatemala. The United Population Fund also helps to build shelters for trafficked women in Moldova and girls fleeing mutilation in Tanzania.
  9. Health: Half of the 7.3 billion people worldwide do not have access to adequate health services, according to the world health statistics of 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) is leading the efforts in addressing world health issues which include malaria, women’s health and tuberculosis. For the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014, WHO deployed experts, medical equipment and medical teams to set up and run mobile laboratories and treatment clinics.
  10. Water: In 2019, 2.2 billion people did not have access to safe drinking water and 297,000 children under 5 years old died from diarrheal diseases. Eighty percent of wastewater went back into the ecosystem without prior treatment in 2017. The U.N. is promoting agreements among countries to ensure better usage of water. The 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda includes policies and measures that incorporate finance, technology, innovation, trade, debt and data to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals including water sanitation and water usage.

These 10 biggest problems in the world may bring uncertainty and worry, however, many organizations are planning and implementing initiatives to solve these issues. People can provide support to these organizations either financially or through direct involvement to aid in eliminating these challenges.

Hung Minh Le
Photo: Pixabay