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HIV in MadagascarMadagascar, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, has one of the lowest rates of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa at below 0.3%. This is due to the country’s location as an island and its low rate of urbanization. However, the number of HIV cases in Madagascar has been on the rise, with an estimated 54% increase since 2010. Only around 8% of individuals have been tested for HIV in Madagascar. As a result, the threat of the virus could be more significant than the recorded numbers tell.

HIV/AIDS Statistics in Madagascar

Around 5.5% of the 191,200 sex workers in Madagascar are living with HIV. About 14.9% of the estimated 17,000 men who have sex with men living with HIV and around 57.2% use condoms. Approximately 5% of women and about 13% of men in Madagascar use condoms. Around 13% of adults and children in Madagascar receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage, and about 25% of pregnant women receive ART. Among children up to the age of 14, around 9% receive ART. Less than 25% of people living with HIV in Madagascar are aware of their status. Among the population of ages 15 to 24, about 24.1% have awareness about HIV prevention.

Stigma

Many factors lead to HIV in Madagascar, such as high poverty levels, education rates, lack of awareness of HIV prevention and limited access to treatment. Many of those living with HIV not only face the direct consequences of the virus but the impact of stigma and potential discrimination due to testing positive. Lack of knowledge about the transmission of HIV leads to this stigma.

Often people living with HIV will avoid being tested due to a fear of stigma. According to data gathered in Madagascar from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), when asked the question, “Would you buy fresh vegetables from a shopkeeper or vendor if you knew that this person had HIV?” 63.4% responded no. HIV stigma is a prevalent issue in the country. However, education on how to prevent HIV can solve the problem.

Project Mitao Responds to HIV/AIDS in Madagascar

Additionally, in the Anosy region of Madagascar, over 90% of the population has not been tested for HIV. Therefore, Sustainable Environment, Education & Development in Madagascar (SEED), a British charity, created Project Mitao in support of people in the Anosy region. Through Project Mitao, SEED Madagascar conducts research to gain a better understanding of healthcare in the area. SEED Madagascar found that 64% of high school students lack knowledge of using a condom correctly. Moreover, Project Mitao is to educate the youth of the region and guide them in HIV prevention.

USAID, UNAID and UNICEF

Furthermore, Madagascar also relies on foreign support as a solution to HIV. In 2012, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided $60 million for a health program, including HIV prevention and treatment. USAID is also supporting HIV/AIDS programs to influence behavior change, such as increasing the use of condoms to decrease the prevalence of HIV in Madagascar.

UNAIDS and UNICEF created the All In! to #EndAdolescentAIDS plan to reduce AIDS-related deaths and the number of HIV cases among adolescents. Doing this would eventually achieve the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. AIDS is a leading cause of death among the youth in Africa. Therefore, All aims to improve the quality of healthcare in its approach to testing and treating HIV. Also, All In plans on addressing discrimination against those living with HIV to make care more accessible.

– Zoë Nichols
Photo: Flickr

The Future of Pediatric Aids
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (EGPAF) strives for a future that prioritizes equal treatment, healthcare and research for children with HIV. It is playing a significant role in shaping the future of pediatric AIDS.

The Story Behind the Organization

In 1981, Elizabeth Glaser gave birth to her first child, Ariel. During labor, she contracted the AIDS virus through a necessary blood transfusion. Unknowingly, she then passed it to her daughter through breast milk and then to her son, Jake, in utero.

Due to the insufficient research-tested pediatric AIDS treatments, Ariel lost her life in 1988. Fearing for her son’s life in the wake of this tragedy, Glaser decided to put her fear and hopes into action. She soon joined her two friends, Susan DeLaurentis and Susie Zeegan, and founded the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Their central aim has not changed since then: to fund research and provide treatment and care for children suffering from AIDS. These ideals were at the forefront of Glaser’s first visit to Capitol Hill.

At the 1992 Democratic Convention, two years before she lost her own battle with AIDS, Glaser presented a moving speech. Drawing on the loss of her daughter and her own experience with AIDS, Glaser’s speech called for change. More specifically, it called for a stronger response to pediatric AIDS. Glaser remarked that “this is not politics. This is a crisis of caring.” With this statement, she made it clear that this was not only about her life or her children. Rather, she wanted to prepare the nation to help children with HIV and shape the future of pediatric AIDS. Since then, EGPAF has become the leading nonprofit organization fighting against pediatric AIDS globally.

Recent Statistics

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1,800,000 children under the age of 14 required treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2011. Roughly 27% of those diagnosed received antiretroviral coverage.

HIV in children has two primary sources: mother-to-child transmission and infections in medical hospitals. Rates are higher in countries with few resources and little healthcare and regulation. Although it is the most common contraction method, mother-to-child transmission is preventable. If the mother has access to antiretroviral therapy, the chances of her passing the virus to her child via breastfeeding or delivery, or in utero, greatly decrease. As Glaser’s experience demonstrates, healthcare malpractice can also result in the transmission of the virus. In order to prevent this, healthcare workers must strictly regulate sanitation practices and blood transfusions.

By recognizing and addressing these means of contraction, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and other organizations like EGPAF increased treatment to cover 70% of the affected population in Africa by the end of 2019.

The Impact

The steady advancements in global pediatric AIDS treatment are by no means a signal to slow down. At least for EGPAF, an organization committed to eliminating childhood HIV and AIDS completely, this is only a part of the journey. Focusing on countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, EGPAF treated 96,716 HIV-positive pregnant women to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission in 2019. By improving access to HIV services, it also tested over 8,000,000 individuals and facilitated treatment to approximately 86,537 children.

EGPAF’s in-house research division has also performed extensive work in the clinical and operational fields, strategizing and altering treatments. For example, The Kabeho Study was one of the first studies that assessed the implementation of lifelong antiretroviral therapy in pregnant women. Its findings suggested a decline in mother-to-child transmission when mothers receive proper treatment. Project Acclaim also showed that engaging community leaders led to the greater prioritization of newborn and child health.

From early congressional meetings and calls for change, EGPAF’s impact has grown immensely. As the organization continues to advocate for the cause and raise awareness, it simultaneously provides healthcare for children without the financial means – not only in the United States but also overseas.

Samantha Acevedo-Hernandez
Photo: Flickr

HIV prevention in AfricaHuman Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is known to have impacted the world for approximately 40 years. Considering the fact that the virus was equally as aggressive as it was untreatable, first world countries like the United States and France were more able to provide for their citizens. Doctors could properly and continually perform research in order to educate citizens on the virus. Additionally, they could hastily link HIV prevention and methods of protection and treatment. Unfortunately, in sub-Saharan African countries, accomplishing the same feats proves more difficult. Therefore, 66% of newly diagnosed HIV cases worldwide come from sub-Saharan African countries.

HIV/AIDS’s Effect on Africa

Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, parts of South Africa, regions in Zambia, Namibia, Southern Malawi and Kenya are the countries in Africa whose populations have the highest rates of being infected or affected by HIV. In Kenya, only about 30% of sexually active individuals practice safe sex methods. Additionally, only 47.5% of adolescent women could properly identify methods that would prevent them from contracting HIV sexually. With that said, women are at an extremely high risk of contracting HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

An Increased HIV/AIDS Risk Factor for Women

One of the main factors contributing to women being at a higher risk of contracting HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is that the rate of school attendance is extremely low for girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Girls are more likely to be exposed to social and economic scenarios that could potentially threaten their survival and put them at an increased risk of contracting HIV. Therefore, it is important to increase both the school attendance rate for girls and the amount of sex education offered at school. This would include information on HIV and STI prevention.

Sex Education’s Impact on Adolescent Health and Choices

UNAIDS analyzed a series of studies in order to determine whether or not sex education makes a significant impact on school-aged children’s sexually based decisions. Out of a total of 53 studies, 22 studies showed that, after sex education was implemented, three things changed– individuals waited a longer amount of time to initially have sex, the number of sexual partners per person decreased and the number of unplanned pregnancies and STI diagnoses decreased. Additionally, 27 studies showed that HIV/AIDS rates, alongside overall sexual health, did not improve or worsen the amount of sexual activity, pregnancies or STI rates.

Overall, the results of these studies support the claim that implementing sex education in schools’ curricula is an efficient way to reduce practices that could result in the spread and contraction of HIV/AIDS and other STIs in school-aged children.

Africa’s Implementation of Sexual Education

South Africa has taken the initiative to create and implement a plan for discussing HIV prevention in the school setting. The priorities of this plan include generating attention toward HIV/AIDS for both students and teachers, including information on HIV/AIDS in the school’s curriculum and creating models that display the effects of HIV/AIDS on the school district. This initiative also ensures the protection of students’ and teachers’ constitutional rights and confidentiality about HIV/AIDS status.

Due to these precautions, HIV-positive individuals will not be discriminated against. In order to ensure that the students are learning the best methods of HIV-AIDS prevention, the curriculum will remain up-to-date and teachers will be trained accordingly.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Eleven sub-Saharan countries have introduced various courses into their schools’ curricula to educate them on sex education in varying degrees. Rwanda and Zambia adhere to what the United Nations has deemed necessary for students to learn through sex education. These classes fall under the category of “Comprehensive Sexuality Education” (CSE). These classes discuss healthy relationships between genders and how to decrease sexual violence; in addition to sex education in a way that is appropriate for younger children and adolescents. The main objectives of CSE are to teach children:

  • to acknowledge their “health, well-being and dignity”
  • to create considerate relationships, both sexually and socially
  • to analyze their choices and consider how the potential consequences will affect themselves and others
  • how to comprehend and protect their rights throughout their lives
There has recently been evidence of CSE being used at an increased rate in certain areas of Africa. Burundi, Senegal, Nigeria, Mozambique and Zambia have all ensured that their teachers and educators receive the proper education and training on CSE. Zambia’s program has been especially praiseworthy because the costs of instruction for sexual and reproductive health are included in the budget for education.

Various projects and initiatives throughout the world have provided crucial information pinpointing which countries need HIV prevention through sexual education implementation. The collaboration between many organizations has allowed third world countries to access resources that would be more difficult to achieve independently. Fortunately, the difficult challenges that impoverished countries have faced to prevent the spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are becoming more attainable.

– Amanda Kuras
Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Kenya is a coastal country located in East Africa. The nation is developing significantly in terms of economy and healthcare provision. However, since there is a high prevalence of natural disasters and poverty, there are recognizable problems when it comes to healthcare in Kenya. For instance, there are 8.3 nurses and 1.5 doctors per 10,000 people. These numbers fall drastically short of the WHO recommendation of 25 nurses and 36 doctors per 10,000 people. Here are six of the major issues related to healthcare in Kenya and how the country is addressing them.

6 Facts About Healthcare in Kenya

  1. In 2016, malaria was the leading cause of mortality in Kenya. The CDC reported that there are nearly 3.5 million new clinical cases and 10,700 deaths each year. Nevertheless, treatments are on the rise. Long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets and artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) have proven to be effective prevention and treatment. ACTs are fast-acting and “artemisinin-based compounds are combined with a drug from a different class” to make the treatment. Since the early 2010s, access to ACTs has increased significantly, though there is still a need for access to them in rural areas. In 2019, the WHO reported that Kenya became the third country to implement the world’s first malaria vaccine. Children receive this vaccine as part of routine immunizations, and experts expect it to lower malaria cases significantly in Kenya.
  2. Kenya has one of the highest rates of HIV-infection in the world. UNAIDS reports that, in 2018, 1.6 million Kenyans were living with HIV. Of this population, Avert, a resource for information on HIV and AIDS, states that more than half are unaware of their HIV status. Fortunately, the Kenyan Ministry of Health has announced that HIV cases are decreasing, with the HIV prevalence standing at 4.9% as of February 2020. To improve HIV status awareness, the Kenyan government has partnered with the EGPAF to invest in door-to-door testing campaigns and self-testing kits. The program has emphasized aiding counties with high or rising HIV prevalence. Additionally, UNAIDS reported that 91% of HIV-positive pregnant women were able to access antiretroviral treatment in 2018.
  3. Kenya is one of the most highly industrialized countries in East Africa, meaning that pollution is prevalent. Air pollution in Kenya causes death both directly and indirectly. The State of Global Air reports that, in 2017, air pollution directly caused 4,710 deaths in Kenya. Indirectly, air pollution has increased cases of pneumonia, tuberculosis, water pollution and diarrheal diseases, which are among the top fatal diseases in the country. The combined direct and indirect deaths from air pollution total approximately 18,000 each year. However, there is hope for improvement. Inventions like air sensors can report data about air quality. Kenyans are using these sensors to report data via social media and pressure leaders into making change.
  4. Cancer cases in Kenya are on the rise. As a noncommunicable disease, cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Kenya. The Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) reports that Kenya has 47,000 new cases every year. The UICC also notes that cancer tends to appear in the younger population, and this trend is attributed to lifestyle and environmental changes. To address this crisis, the country is investing in cancer research and support. Additionally, the Kenyan Parliament passed a law to address proper cancer management.
  5. Infant deaths are one of the greatest challenges facing healthcare in Kenya. UNICEF reports that 74,000 children in Kenya die before the age of five each year. These deaths are often caused by poverty, as many families cannot easily access the resources needed for child healthcare. One such resource is insurance. According to the WHO, in 2018, 80% of the Kenyan population did not have any insurance. As a result, the government set aside $40-45 million to establish Universal Health Coverage to help more people to access appropriate healthcare services.
  6. There is a stigma surrounding mental health in Kenya. As a result, there are limited resources allocated to mental health awareness, and Kenyans resist seeking help for mental health issues. Despite this stigma, there is intensive research being done to engage both informal and formal health practitioners in addressing mental health problems to improve healthcare in Kenya.

 

Kenya is determined to address the most challenging problems related to healthcare in the country. There is an emphasis on research and investing in resources to help more people to access better and more affordable healthcare services. Healthcare in Kenya is expected to see improvement in the coming years.

Renova Uwingabire
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in ChadLocated in Central Africa, the country of Chad is the fifth largest landlocked state and has a poverty rate of 66.2%. With a total population of approximately 15.5 million, a lack of modern medicine, dramatic weather changes and poor education have riddled the country with deadly diseases and resulted in severe poverty in Chad.

Poor Health Conditions in Chad Lead to Disease

The most common types of disease and the primary causes of death include malaria, respiratory infections and HIV/AIDS. Malaria, usually spread through mosquito bites, is a potentially fatal disease and is quite common in the country of Chad. Due to poor sanitation, Chadians are more susceptible to malaria; the most recently estimated number of cases was 500,000 per year.

Along with malaria, lower respiratory diseases contribute to Chad’s high mortality rate – the most common and deadliest of those being meningitis.  Lower respiratory tract infections occur in the lungs and can sometimes affect the brain and spinal cord. A lack of available vaccinations in the country has increased susceptibility to meningitis. Meningitis is most deadly in those under the age of 20, and with a countrywide median age of 16.6 years old, Chad has seen a rise in total meningitis cases and overall deaths.

As of 2015, there were an estimated 210,000 Chadians living with HIV. According to UNAIDS, there were 12,000 AIDS-related deaths just last year, along with 14,000 new cases. Those living with HIV/AIDS are at a higher risk of death with their compromised immune systems. They are unable to fight off diseases and, with the preexisting severe risk of malaria and meningitis, they are more susceptible to death.

Harsh Weather and Its Role in Food Insecurity and Disease

Due to its geography, Chad is one of the countries most severely affected by climate change. Approximately 40% of Chadians live at or below the poverty line, with the majority relying heavily on agricultural production and fishing. The drastic change in rain patterns and the consequent frequency of droughts have placed a significant strain on their food supply. Fishing in particular has been sparse. Lake Chad, the country’s largest lake, has diminished by 90% in the past 50 years. The rising temperatures in Chad have caused a decrease in both crop yields and good pasture conditions, placing more strain on those who depend on Lake Chad for food and the nutrients it adds to farming.

In addition to affecting poverty in Chad, intense weather patterns have also increased the number of infectious diseases. The infrastructure of the country has not been able to keep up with the rapidly growing population in urban areas. This results in poor sanitation. The sanitation services are overwhelmed during floods: which contaminates the water supply.

Lack of Education Affects Poverty in Chad

Despite the relatively large population, less than half of school-aged children are enrolled in school. With attendance rates so low, the literacy rates in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 fall; currently, they only reach 31%.  According to UNICEF, attendance rates are astonishingly low; 8% for children in upper secondary school and 13% for lower secondary school. With education rates so low, income inequality, infant and maternal deaths and stunting in children continue to rise; as a result, the overall economic growth of the country declines.

Enrollment is low in Chad due to the lack of resources in schools. With the country in severe poverty, schools remain under-resourced, both in access and infrastructure. Some schools have no classrooms and no teaching materials. Furthermore, teachers are often outnumbered 100:1. As a result, the quality of learning decreases, as does the overall attendance rate.

As of now, only 27% of primary-school-age children complete their schooling. According to UNESCO, if adults in low-income countries completed their secondary education, the global poverty rate would be cut in half. Even learning basic reading skills could spare approximately 171 million people from living in extreme poverty. Educated individuals are more likely to develop important skills and abilities needed to help them overcome poverty. Education also decreases an individual’s risk of vulnerability to disease, natural disasters and conflict.

Poverty in Chad is widespread, and the rate of impoverished people will continue to grow if it is not addressed. Poor health conditions and a lack of education are just a few of the many problems people face; while the living conditions may seem dire in Chad, a gradual decrease in overall poverty rates proves that there is hope.

Jacey Reece
Photo: Flickr

HIV in Djibouti
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), addressing poverty means first reaching those who feel the greatest impact; progress does not necessarily trickle down to the population that is most disadvantaged. The 2016 Human Development Report found that one-third of the world’s population lives in low human development circumstances. Furthermore, some sectors of society are more disadvantaged than others. Inequalities and social exclusion that people such as those living with HIV face present larger barriers to development and access to health programs. For this reason, the World Food Programme, alongside UNDP, UNAIDS and the national network of people living with HIV in Djibouti (RNDP+), have created an income-generation program that provides loans for people living with HIV. Such loans are empowering women with HIV in Djibouti to live dignified and successful lives.

Men and Women with HIV in Djibouti

As of 2017, 1.3 percent of the adult population in Djibouti was living with HIV, a decrease from 1.6 percent – or 9,900 people – in 2014. Social and cultural norms, destructive policies, improper medical services and restrictive laws impede HIV treatment and prevention measures. In Djibouti, women are most vulnerable to stigma and social exclusion and therefore often suffer the most.

The Income Generation Programme

The World Food Programme’s income-generation initiative supports and empowers women through longterm aid. By providing a regular, stable income, the World Food Programme is creating financial security for women with HIV in Djibouti. The money that women receive typically goes toward starting and running a retail business. These loans generally range from $141 to $148 per person and include a training program teaching effective business skills.

How it Works

Recipients of the loan become chosen from two networks in Djibouti that specifically support those living with HIV: ARREY and Oui à la Vie – Yes to Life. Oftentimes, those diagnosed with HIV are susceptible to deteriorating conditions, are unable to hold down a job and face discrimination, causing the citizens to be unwelcome in public sectors. Women with HIV in Djibouti that receive these loans are able to make a consistent income for themselves and overcome the stigma that some associate with HIV. Further, these women are able to take back control of the lives they previously led.

The Outcome

One such recipient of the loan stated that she was “no longer a desperate woman.” She now makes enough to support her family and other dependents. Additionally, once this loan gave her the capital to launch a sustainable business, she was able to repay the loan in only 10 months. During that time the recipient was also able to expand the retail business to include furniture and electronics.  

The World Food Programme’s income-generation initiative aids the Sustainable Development Goal of ending HIV by 2030, and furthermore, leaving no person behind. According to UNDP’s findings, development itself does not automatically ensure that the entire population is included. Programs such as this target the multidimensional factors involved in people receiving proper aid.

Empowerment is an essential part of development; without the ability to feel successful and fulfilled, women often lack the means to seek treatment and make educated decisions regarding health. The loan initiative empowers women living with HIV in Djibouti to combat the associated stigma and obtain financial investment necessary to develop a sustainable business. With a stable income, women are able to seek health services that might not have been previously accessible. 

Laurel Sonneby
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Macedonia
North Macedonia is a landlocked country in the Balkan Peninsula, home to 2.074 million people. Macedonia has struggled with poverty for many years, and while some problems still linger, citizens have been making great leaps in technology, security and medicine to increase the country’s average life expectancy.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Macedonia

  1. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, the average life expectancy in Macedonia is 75.9 years. In 2018, males lived an average of 73.8 years while females lived for around 78.2 years.
  2. In 2015, 21.5 percent of all Macedonians lived below the poverty line. Poverty has a direct link to life expectancy and one can see this all around the globe, even in the United States. In 2018, The Independent reported that U.S. citizens living below the poverty line died almost 10 years younger than the rich and found that those living in poor sectors showed a higher death rate due to illness.
  3. The main causes of death in Macedonia are stroke and heart disease, with strokes causing 23.3 percent of deaths and heart disease causing 20.5 percent of deaths in 2010. This is an almost 10 percent rise from the rate in 1990 when there was a 16.6 percent mortality rate for stroke and a 14.8 percent mortality rate for heart disease. In recent years, the Stroke Alliance for Europe (SAFE) and other health organizations have been providing free screenings to determine a patient’s risk of stroke and established four stroke units around the country in order to combat this epidemic.
  4. Deaths due to tuberculosis have decreased to less than 20 percent of the rate in 2000, dropping from five out of 100,000 citizens to one out of 100,000 citizens. The World Health Organization also reported an 88 percent success rate in tuberculosis treatment in 2016. This change is due to more efforts to provide necessary medication to those afflicted and is likely responsible for the increase of the average lifespan of Macedonian citizens.
  5. In 2018, there was a 12 percent increase in murders, a 21 percent increase in attempted murders and a 31 percent increase in acts of violence, according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council. Poverty and crime correlate, so it is likely that Macedonia’s poverty rate and crime rate are connected. While there have been improvements in quality of life, a rising crime rate, especially in violent crimes, may cause an unnecessary drop in the average Macedonian’s lifespan.
  6. UNAIDS reports that the amount of people living with HIV in Macedonia has increased from around 250 in 2013 to more than 500 in 2019. As the number of people living with HIV has increased, UNAIDS has been making efforts to increase treatment. Starting in 2010, UNAIDS has implemented antiretroviral therapy to more and more citizens as the rate of affliction has risen. Due to these efforts, UNAIDS treated over 50 percent of the afflicted population in 2018, and the amount of AIDS-related deaths per year remains under 100 to this day.
  7. Macedonia suffers from heavily polluted air. In 2018, Macedonia’s two biggest cities, Tetovo and Skopje, reported air pollution indexes of 95.57 and 83.53 respectively. In contrast, New York’s air quality index stagnates between 40-45. Macedonia’s heavily polluted air has unquestionably affected the health of its residents, causing 1,469 deaths due to respiratory illness between 2015 and 2016. Recently, people like Gorjan Jovanovski have made great strides, who is a resident of Macedonia and developed an app to protect people from the densely polluted air. Jovanovski’s app draws information from air quality measuring stations around Macedonia and reports the air quality of the users’ general area based on readings from the nearest station.
  8. The CIA reports that people use North Macedonia as a hotspot for illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine to pass through from Asia and Europe. The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported that Macedonia suffered 14 drug-related deaths in 2011 and 18 in 2012. Reports also say that there were 47 cases of drug-related infectious diseases between 1987 and 2004. These diseases and deaths could be a strain on the average life expectancy in Macedonia.
  9. In 1990, UNICEF reported that the infant mortality rate in Macedonia was 36.7 deaths per 1,000 lives births, usually due to preventable diseases or injuries. In 2019, the rate is only 13.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. This steep drop in child mortality is due to the implementation of more in-depth medical practices. In 2017, 93 percent of children that supposedly had pneumonia went to a health care provider, 91 percent of all infants received three doses of DTP vaccine and 97 percent of children received a second dose of the measles vaccine.
  10. Unclean water has a direct link to the health and life expectancy of those who drink it. UNICEF estimated that, globally, 2,000 children die due to diseases that spread through unclean water sources. In 2013, the World Health Organization began an initiative to improve Macedonia’s drinking water and sanitation, after reporting that the country was disposing of most of its wastewater into its rivers and lakes. In 2015, North Macedonia reported that 99.4 percent of its citizens had access to clean drinking water.

Altogether, life expectancy in Macedonia is well within the world average. While there are still changes that the country could make, the quality of life has only gotten better in recent years. Macedonians have clean drinking water, few deaths due to AIDS and some citizens are even working to combat the pollution in the air to provide a better future for them and their country.

Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Guyana
Guyana is a country in northeastern South America that Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname border. In 1966, the country gained independence from its English colonizers. Since the liberation of Guyana, the country has found itself in political unrest that has resulted in an inability to thrive economically. As the country has grown and developed as an independent entity since 1966, it has seen a drastic improvement in life expectancy through government initiatives and treatment development. The 10 facts about the current life expectancy in Guyana will display that.

Though Guyana boasts rich gold, sugar, bauxite, shrimp, timber and rice industries – with great potential for expansion – the country still finds itself struggling to come out of poverty and attract foreign industry. However, in May 2019, the Guyanese government paired up with the U.N. Environment to tackle establishing the Green State Development Plan. The plan would work to develop sustainable economic growth in the country while still protecting its vast natural resources. The project would also work to diversify the Guyanese economy and steer them away from their current resource-reliant industry. Guyana would slowly transition into being a low-carbon developer bolstering a diverse economy, draw foreign investment, lower emigration rates and produce an ever-bettering quality of life for its people. Here are the 10 facts about life expectancy in Guyana.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Guyana

  1. Between 1997 and 2017 there has been a 13.47 percent increase in Guyana’s population. Population distribution in 1990 showed a consistent pyramidic tapering with zero to four having the greatest representation in the population. Afterward, there was a fairly consistent tapering off as age grew with the only seemingly notable inconsistency being with children five to nine-years-old. However, the shape became irregular in 2015, possibly due to a massive Chikungunya outbreak in 2015. In the age categories of zero to nine and 25 to 39, there were massive drops in population density.
  2. Sanitation is key in preventing many of the diseases that plague Guyana. In 2014, the Ministry of Public Health developed a plan to take action to improve the coverage and quality of waste management predominantly in rural areas. The plan started in 2015 and will end in 2025. It should improve the health and lifespan of many citizens.
  3. In 2015, Guyana became one of only 28 countries worldwide to adopt a national suicide prevention plan. The Ministry of Health issued the program after the World Health Organization called on it in 2014 for having one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Guyana has an average of 44.2 suicides per 100,000 deaths, four times the global average.
  4. Between 2005 and 2008, the leading causes of infant mortality in Guyana were respiratory disorders (31 percent) and congenital malformations (9.7 percent). For the respective years of 2005 and 2008, the infant mortality rates were 34.20 per 1,000 births in 2005 and 31.80 per 1,000 births in 2008. As of 2017, the reported rate has dropped to 26 per 1,000 births. Though still higher than the average in developed countries – the U.S. has an average of 5.5 per 1,000 births (2015)– there is a noted improvement in the country.
  5. From 2002 to 2014, the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women in Guyana dropped to 1.9 percent from 3.5 percent – a 1.6 percent drop. This drop is because of an AIDS protocol that a collective effort from UNAIDS and the National AIDS Committee of Guyana put in place. HIV/AIDS positive mothers take antiretrovirals which is a prescription drug that suppresses the growth of the virus and lowers the likelihood of the infected passing along the disease. After birth, within 48 hours, infants receive a course of antiretrovirals. Afterward, children receive tests at six and 18 months to look for the infection. No one has documented the number of children this protocol has saved, but early detection of the virus is key not only to the individuals’ survival if they do become infected with HIV, but also to lower the spread of the virus.
  6. Fifty-five percent of Guyanese people emigrate from the country. This leaves the country with a deficit of skilled workers like health care professionals. This lack of health care professionals augments the effects of diseases on the Guyanese people, as they cannot receive care if there is no one to give it to them. This lack of a staffed health care industry leads to lowering life expectancy.
  7. Due to the terrain of Guyana, there is great disparity in the delivery of health services from those who live on the more accessible coast to the predominantly indigenous peoples who live in the interior of the country. To help fight this disparity in 1991, the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) set up to help support and lobby in favor of creating more protections for the indigenous peoples of Guyana.
  8. Guyana’s resource reliant industries, gold and timber, require many of the coastal inhabitants to travel to the interior of the country to work. However, because of this migration, there has become a link with the spread of malaria. Guyana is 60 percent rainforest, and those forests mostly concentrate inland where a majority of indigenous people dwell. As coastal workers come into the inland to work, they may bring malaria. However, those coming into work have the resources to return to where they came from and receive treatment more readily. The indigenous people cannot receive care because of an inability to travel to the coast, as well as the difficulty there is in bringing treatment inland to them.
  9. In 2015, more than 200 people died of AIDS in Guyana. The country ranks as number 30 globally in adult HIV/AIDS prevalence. HIV is an incurable disease that will progress to AIDS and death without the treatment of antiretrovirals.
  10. In September 2016, Guyana started receiving funding from the U.S. government for efforts into Zika infection prevention and reducing the spread of the virus. With the funding, Guyana established The Maternal and Child Survival Program and worked to expand the capabilities of the Ministry of Public Health to provide therapies to affected children and their parents.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Guyana show that although Guyana is still struggling with disease control and various disease’s effects on life expectancy, it is taking great initiatives to work towards improving and solving its current issues.

– Emma Hodge
Photo: Flickr

Fight Disease in the DRC
With 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 precious metals and minerals, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has quickly established itself as a large exporter in the lucrative diamond industry. Despite this, the DRC ranks 176th out of 189 nations on the UN’s Human Development Index and over 60 percent of the 77 million DRC residents live on less than $2 a day. Internal and external war, coupled with political inefficacy and economic exploitation, has hindered the country’s ability to combat poverty and improve health outcomes. Listed below are some of the most deadly diseases that are currently affecting individuals in the DRC and the different strategies that governments and NGOs have taken to fight disease in the DRC.

3 Deadly Diseases Currently Affecting Individuals in the DRC

  1. Malaria

The DRC has the second-highest number of malaria cases in the world, reporting 15.3 million of the WHO-estimated 219 million malaria cases in 2017. Of the more than 400 Congolese children that die every day, almost half of them die due to malaria, with 19 percent of fatalities under 5 years attributed to the disease. However, some are making to reduce malaria’s negative impact.  For example, the distribution of nearly 40 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets, or ITNs, has helped lower the incidence rate by 40 percent since 2010, with a 34 percent decrease in the mortality rate for children under 5. The DRC government procured and distributed the nets with international partners such as the Department for International Development, Global Fund and World Bank. In addition, the President’s Malaria Initiative, a program implemented in 2005 by President Bush and carried out by USAID, has distributed more than 17 million nets. UNICEF has also been a major contributor in the efforts to fight malaria and recently distributed 3 million ITNs in the DRC’s Kasaï Province. However, the country requires more work, as malaria remains its most frequent cause of death.

  1. HIV/AIDS

Among its efforts to fight disease in the DRC, the country has made significant progress recently in its fight against HIV/AIDS. As a cause of death, it has decreased significantly since 2007, and since 2010, there are 39 percent fewer total HIV infections.

This particular case illuminates the potential positive impact of American foreign aid. The DRC Ministry of Health started a partnership with the CDC in 2002, combining efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. PEPFAR, signed into U.S. law in 2003 to combat AIDS worldwide, has invested over $512 million since 2004, which has helped to fund antiretroviral treatment for 159,776 people. In 2017, it funded the provision of HIV testing services for 1.2 million people.

The country is also addressing mother-to-child transmissions. In the DRC, approximately 15 to 20 percent of mothers with HIV pass the virus onto their child. The strategy to end mother-to-child transmissions involves expanding coverage for HIV-positive pregnant women, diagnosing infants with HIV earlier and preventing new infections via antiretroviral drug treatment. UNAID, The Global Fund and the DRC Ministry of Health have undertaken significant work to accomplish these objectives and their efforts have resulted in the coverage of 70 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women.  However, much work remains to cover the remaining 30 percent of pregnant HIV-positive women.

Overall, there is still a lot of necessary work to undergo in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the DRC and around the world.  In total, UNAIDS estimated that HIV/AIDS was the cause of 17,000 deaths in the DRC in 2018.  While this is a decrease from previous years, it shows that the DRC still has a long way to go in order to fully control the spread of the disease.  Additionally, there must be more global funding. The U.N. announced on July 2019 that annual global funding for fighting HIV/AIDS decreased in 2018 by almost $1 billion.

  1. Ebola

Since 2018, the DRC has undergone one of the world’s largest Ebola outbreaks. On July 17, 2019, WHO declared the outbreak an international health emergency. Since August 2018, more than 2,500 cases have occurred, with over 1,800 deaths.

However, the country is making efforts to prevent the transmission and spread of Ebola in the DRC.  Recently, more than 110,000 Congolese received an experimental Ebola vaccine from Merck & Co. The vaccine is called rVSV-ZEBOV, and studies have shown the vaccine to have a 97.5 percent efficacy rate.  This vaccine provides hope that people will be able to control Ebola breakouts in the near future.

While there have been attempts to fight disease in the DRC in recent years, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and Ebola, each disease remains a major issue. In the coming years, the country must continue its efforts.

– Drew Mekhail
Photo: Flickr

Celebrities HelpingCelebrities are regularly known for their top hits, exquisite gala ensembles and daily routines. However, there are many celebrities supporting charities and organizations through advocacy, fundraising and donations. Below are five celebrities helping the current HIV/AIDS crisis.

Elton John

British singer, songwriter, pianist and composer Elton John established the nonprofit organization Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) in 1992. The Foundation was created to support various HIV/AIDS prevention programs, increase public awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and ultimately end the disease. EJAF prioritizes grant-making and donations and has raised more than $350 million across the world over the past 25 years.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation held their first-ever Midsummer Party on July 24, 2019 to support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services and raised six million dollars with the help of celebrity donors from all over the world.

Bill Gates

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was launched in 2000 and is reported to be the largest private foundation in the world. Along with many other causes, the foundation has promised to donate $100 million towards HIV/AIDS awareness and support in India.

At the announcement in New Delhi, Gates said the foundation is dedicated to supporting India’s efforts to contain its HIV/AIDS population at a low level. India currently has only a small population living with HIV/AIDS, and therefore the foundation wants to help terminate the epidemic at the earliest stage possible. Gates has faith that India could be a global leader in developing new and improved HIV prevention technologies.

Victoria Beckham

The fashion designer and former Spice Girl was appointed UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador in 2014 and continues to support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment through spreading awareness about the virus. The designer has designed t-shirts for World AIDS Day over the past years and 100 percent of t-shirt sales are donated to the charity Born Free Africa, which works on Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT).

Beckham has also joined the mothers2mothers (m2m) organization in hopes to eliminate pediatric AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. She has sold more than 600 pieces of her wardrobe and all proceeds have been donated to m2m and its efforts to help HIV-positive mothers and their babies. Beckham has visited m2m sites in Cape Town, Africa and is determined that a cure to HIV can be found with continuous support.

Rihanna

Singer/songwriter Rihanna was named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017 and has helped MAC Cosmetics’ MAC AIDS fundraise over $500 million to help fight the current HIV/AIDS epidemic. Rihanna is a brand ambassador for Mac Cosmetics’ Viva Glam lipstick, in which 100 percent of proceeds are donated towards HIV/AIDS awareness.

Rihanna also took a series of HIV tests with Prince Harry of Wales on World Aids Day in efforts to raise awareness about the virus and to encourage more people to get tested.

John Legend

The singer has taken part in Belvedere Vodka’s #MAKEADIFFERENCE campaign to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. The campaign has created a unique Belvedere Vodka bottle that donates 50 percent of each purchase towards the HIV/AIDS fight.

John Legend has joined 80-year-old South African artist Esther Malanghu in the campaign to help Africa fight HIV/AIDS. Legend has written the song “Love Me Now” that will be used for the campaign and hopes that HIV/AIDS will be completely terminated during his daughter Luna’s lifetime, who was born in 2016.

Celebrities helping, like those mentioned above, know the power of their influence, and they’re using it to positively impact the world by fighting HIV and AIDS.

– Paige Regan
Photo: Flickr