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Maternal Health Program for Low-Income Families
Since 2001, the province of Manitoba, Canada, has provided 63,000 pregnant and low-income women with cash supplements to help them take care of themselves and their families. The program is called the Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit.

The supplements are “financial cushions” meant to provide women with the money they need to get health care, healthy food and nutritional supplements. Researchers who have worked with the program say that it has provided a blueprint for other provinces in Canada to follow. If this maternal health program for low-income families works well on a cross-country scale, it could possibly be further developed to help other countries as well.

Maternal Health Program

The money is not the most important part of this project, though. Because the cash supplement was only around $62 per month, the mothers cannot afford many things with it. However, the financial cushion encouraged women to seek healthier food, better transportation options and other things they might not splurge on.

Also, this was a gateway for ensuring that women get into prenatal care as soon as possible. Along with the stipend comes a community. There are approximately 70 prenatal and postnatal support groups across Manitoba that educate women about their future children, what they need to know during pregnancy, and other tips and tricks they may not have received otherwise. All in all, it has been a successful maternal health program for low-income families.

Impact of the Program

Women who have participated in the Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit program said they felt like confident mothers after going to support groups and using their supplements to better their lives. The program drew inspiration from France, the country that is touted as one of the best countries in the world to raise children. Programs like the Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit are inspiring others around the world as well.

Cambodia has set up a UNICEF funded pilot project that gives stipends to women if they follow up on their prenatal checks. It was relatively successful, which gives hope to the government and other nongovernmental organizations that funding projects like this are important in the long term. Taking care of the mother’s body while pregnant not only helps the future child but also helps the mother. It decreases the death rate among pregnant women, which can drastically change a child’s future.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 830 women die every day from preventable issues related to pregnancy and childbirth and 99 percent of those women come from developing countries. Women in rural areas are affected the most because they do not have access to adequate health care. The most interesting thing that can be concluded from these facts is that skilled care before, during and after childbirth can save the lives of women and newborn babies. This directly relates to the cash programs in countries like Canada, France and Cambodia.

Other Countries That Need Similar Programs

There are a lot of countries that could benefit from the programs such as the Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit program and that can develop their own maternal health programs. In this article, three of such countries are listed.

Sierra Leone is the first country on the list that could improve maternal health care. There are around 1,360 deaths per every 100,000 live births in the country, which makes the situation urgent. The second on the list is Chad, a country that has approximately 856 deaths per every 100,00 live births. Children make up for 57 percent of Chad’s population and this dangerous trend could potentially leave many of them without mothers. In Nigeria, there are approximately 814 deaths per every 100,000 live births. Nigeria has looked into cash supplement programs before, but creating one specifically for pregnant women would create a great and much-needed change.

Developing countries can and should follow Canada’s example and success with a maternal health program dedicated specifically to low-income families. There is a successful blueprint in the world and it just needs to be adapted to each country that needs it.

– Miranda Garbaciak
Photo: Flickr

Displacement in Syria
Syria is a country located in the Middle East that has been in constant warfare since 2011, leaving millions of people displaced.

Today, there are several nonprofit organizations that are directly affecting the lives of people that are affected by war and, as a result, displacement in Syria.

United Nations Work on Displacement in Syria

The United Nations estimates that 6.6 million people are internally displaced in Syria. Refugees considered, there are approximately 12 million people in and bordering Syria that need humanitarian assistance.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has teamed up with other United Nations humanitarian and development agencies to appeal for $8 billion in new funding to help millions of refugees.

The first aspect of the appeal is the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for 2018-2019.

The plan will give $4.4 billion in support for over 5 million refugees in neighboring countries and close to 4 million people in the communities hosting these refugees.

The second aspect is known as the 2017 Syria Humanitarian Response Plan and seeks to provide $3.2 billion in humanitarian support and protection to over 13 million people in Syria.

The Case of Idlib

Idlib, a city in northwestern Syria, has been hit with bombings and airstrikes in the past few months. It is estimated that over 1 million people living in Idlib were previously displaced from elsewhere in the country and citizens still face uncertainty with constant violence.

Many citizens remain trapped in the city, with main exits of the city closed. It is estimated that 30,000 people from the city have fled the country since the violence began. More than 2 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance even before the violence began.

Displacement in Syria and Water Issues

Overpopulated makeshift settlements in Syria are often reliant on unsafe drinking water.

It is estimated that 35 percent of the population rely on sources of drinking water that is not safe. Areas with the largest refugee populations have faced drastically low levels of water.

Many refugees rely on less than 22 liters of water a day, less than one-tenth of what the average citizen of United States uses.

The World Health Organization has tested and treated 650 unsafe sources of drinking water in 2017 alone. The production of water storage tanks and groundwater wells have provided water to over 200,000 people.

The WHO has developed a disease reporting system that monitors the spread of infectious diseases. Around 1670 sentinel sites have been built across the country. This system allows professionals to rapidly detect and respond to typhoid fever, measles and polio in Syria and in neighboring countries.

The WHO is also supporting the integration of mental health services into health care and community centers in Syria. More than 400 health care facilities have been built and are proving mental health assistance.

The WHO also started the Mental Health Gap Action Programme in northwest Syria in 2017. The program has trained more than 250 Syrian health care workers and mental health professionals.

Displacement in Syria is the direct consequence of the constant violence present in the country since 2011. Due to the unsafe situation in the country, people are moving from their homes in search of a safer environment in the country or abroad. Organizations such as WHO and UNHCR are providing important humanitarian support to those in need.

– Casey Geier

Photo: Flickr

International affairsThe International Affairs Budget is a crucial investment in foreign aid and development. Fighting diseases and epidemics, providing humanitarian aid and educating children who are most vulnerable to dropping out and not receiving an education are just some of the areas where funding is applied. Those suffering from poverty are less likely to receive aid and proper health services necessary to prevent and cure illnesses.

Thinking about more recent epidemics, such as the Ebola and Zika virus, it can be seen that funding for health-related programs within The International Affairs Budget was crucial to lowering the statistics of those who are affected. Up to now, 16 percent of The International Affairs Budget is dedicated to global health funding. This includes maternal and child healthcare, nutrition and tackling diseases such as polio and HIV/AIDS.

The Polio Virus Around the World

The Polio vaccine is a great example of a threat that could be eradicated with the correct application of foreign aid. Polio, also known as Poliomyelitis, is an infectious disease that causes paralysis and possibly death. According to The Polio Global Eradication Initiative, as of 1988, polio has infected and paralyzed over 1,000 children daily worldwide.

In 1931, Sir Macfarlane Burnet and Dame Jean MacNamara were able to identify multiple strains of polio, which became known as types 1, 2, and 3. In 1955, a polio vaccine was introduced from wild-type poliovirus strains that were killed, therefore inactive. Also known as IPV, this form of the vaccine has been able to eliminate polio from countries such as Scandinavia and the Netherlands.

In 1961, the oral polio vaccine, a mixture of the 3 strains of polio, was introduced. The strains selected are less likely to originate within the body and be spread to others. Due to the high rates of success of the OPV, alongside its low cost to purchase, this version of the vaccine has been key in globally eliminating polio.

Despite these 2 forms of vaccines being available, The Polio Global Eradication Initiative reports that 430 million children are still at risk of contracting polio, mainly in Africa and Asia. As of February 2015, The United States government approved a $228 million in funds to tackle the elimination of polio.

Once a pandemic, now the rates of polio have been reduced by 99.99 percent because of funding that has gone towards research and creating initiatives such as The Global Polio Eradication Initiative to continually fight polio.

The Smallpox Virus Around the World

Variola virus, also known as smallpox, was an infectious disease that caused fever and a specific type of progressive skin rash. While many recovered from the disease, three out of 10 died and, of those who survived, many had large scars left on their body.

Looking back at the history, there had been several global outbreaks of smallpox from China to Africa to Australia. In 1959, The World Health Organization (WHO) started a plan to eradicate smallpox, but it was difficult to obtain funding and countries willing to participate. When The Intensified Eradication Program started in 1967, progress was made in areas such as South America, Asia and Africa. One thing that became clear was that, with the eradication of smallpox, comes lower medical expenses.

For instance, when smallpox was finally eradicated in 1980, quarantine conditions no longer had to be initiated. When combined with the costs of the disabilities of those who had survived the disease after fighting smallpox, the savings were around $1 billion. Therefore, it can be concluded that with funding, comes research and initiatives, which heightens the likelihood of vaccines and lowers medical expenses both domestically and globally.

HIV/AIDS Around the World

Around $330 million of the global health percentage of The International Affairs Budget has been dedicated to HIV/AIDS. Out of these funds, $275 million will be shared with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance. According to The Lancet, AIDS-related deaths, when comparing 2005 to 2016, have decreased .9 million. In addition, the rates of new infections have decreased by 16 percent.

One reason for this decrease is because of increased treatments that are available due to an increase in funding. Therefore, if funding is reduced, inversely, there would be a rise in infection rates of HIV/AIDS due to lack of research, services and education about preventing the virus.

As readers can see, The International Affairs Budget is crucial to the progression of global health. Instances such as polio, smallpox and HIV/AIDS are prime examples of how funding can be the key to reduction and even eradication. With increased funding, comes increased research, cures, education and prevention techniques. E-mail your senators and representatives today to urge their support and protection for the funding of The International Affairs Budget.

– Jessica Ramtahal

Photo: Flickr

New Mosquito NetsTwo weeks ago, The Lancet published a promising study on the effectiveness of a new type of mosquito net. After a two-year trial period in Burkina Faso, the researchers found the new mosquito nets, treated with two insecticides, decreased cases of malaria by 12 percent. These findings promise strong potential for lowering the risk of malaria worldwide with the implementation of these new mosquito nets.

This research is a collaboration among several institutions including Durham University, Burkina Faso’s National Center for Malaria Research and Training, Liverpool’s School of Tropical Medicine and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

Malaria Worldwide

According to The World Health Organization, almost 50 percent of the world’s population was at risk of contracting malaria in 2016. While risk areas exist around the world, sub-Saharan Africa suffers the most cases of malaria each year.

In 2016, sub-Saharan Africa had 90 percent of the world’s malaria cases and 91 percent of the world’s malaria-related deaths. Though malaria-related deaths have declined significantly, from 440,000 in 2010 to 285,000 in 2016, malaria is still a great threat to health worldwide. Traditional, chemically-treated mosquito nets have helped to reduce the cases of malaria, however, as mosquitoes grow more resistant, these traditional nets have become less effective, leaving users more vulnerable to malaria infection.

The World Health Organization estimated there were five million more cases of malaria in 2016 compared to the total number of malaria cases in 2015. The above-mentioned study’s mosquito nets address this problem, by targeting insecticide-resistant mosquitoes that are causing these problems.

New Mosquito Nets

The older mosquito nets generally have a pyrethroid insecticide treatment, intended to kill mosquitoes on contact. This treatment has become less effective with time since the mosquitoes have developed a resistance to the insecticide. The new nets, presented in the research, combat this issue, by using a different insecticide.

The new insecticide is effective because it combines traditional pyrethroid treatment with another agent, pyriproxyfen. Pyriproxyfen works as an insect growth regulator, shortening the lifespan of mosquitoes and thus their ability to transmit disease, as well as reproduce.

According to professor Steve Lindsay, who worked on the study, this combination of chemicals has three main benefits: it kills more mosquitos, reduces the number of mosquito bites and decreases the likelihood that mosquitoes will develop resistance to the chemical mixture.

Results in Burkina Faso

A two-year trial, conducted in Burkina Faso, demonstrated the effectiveness of these new mosquito nets, treated with pyrethroid and pyriproxyfen. Burkina Faso was ideal for the study, due to the high number of malaria cases. Located in sub-Saharan Africa, Burkina Faso has more than 10 million cases of malaria every year. Mosquitoes in Burkina Faso were also ideal test subjects since they exhibit high resistance to pyrethroid treatment. According to Professor Lindsay, 80 percent of mosquitoes in Burkina Faso are so resistant to pyrethroid, they are no longer killed by it.

Researchers conducted the study in 91 villages throughout rural areas of the country. By switching traditional mosquito nets with nets treated with the new chemical blend, researchers saw a 12 percent decrease in malaria cases. Furthermore, the overall exposure to mosquitoes dropped by over 50 percent during the test period.

With these results, the researchers concluded the trial mosquito nets offer increased protection against malaria as opposed to standard pyrethroid-treated nets. They also recommended that these new nets replace standard nets in areas with high malaria transmission rates and high instances of insecticide resistance among mosquitoes.

Future Potential

Although 12 percent reduction in malaria cases may seem marginal, on a global scale and in real numbers, this decrease in malaria infection would be monumental. As Professor Lindsay noted, if the nets were used across all of Burkina Faso during the two-year trial, researchers would expect 1.2 million fewer cases of malaria in the population overall.

Dr. Alfred B. Tiono, who headed the field study, has great hope for the impact these new mosquito nets could have globally. He believes, if used correctly, the nets could prevent millions of malaria cases worldwide. It is still unclear how costly large-scale manufacturing of the dual-chemical nets will be. However, Professor Lindsay remains hopeful the manufacturing costs will not exceed the costs of producing traditional nets. If only one life is saved by applying the new nets, no price is too high to pay.

– Morgan Harden
Photo: Google

inspiring actionAn inspiring action is something one thinks of when seeing a good deed done. For some photojournalists, their profession is intended to do just that. In taking thought-provoking, sometimes hard to look at, photos of a war-ravaged country or a starving child, photojournalists are inspiring action through their work for the betterment of the people in the photos.

The Inspiring Actions of Photo Journalists

Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor by author Thomas A. Nazario is a book that features photography by Pulitzer Prize-winner Renee Byer. The photographs capture the lives and struggles of people from 10 different countries living in poverty on less than a dollar a day. Byer worked as a photojournalist for the Sacramento Bee for many years before becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.

Inspired by the reaction of people viewing her photos for Living on a Dollar a Day before the book and exhibit were published, Byer created the Youbridge-it app. The app allows viewers of her photographs to donate to specific poverty-related causes as soon as they see the people in the photos and are inspired to help.

For Example, Intrahealth International is one of the foundations that viewers can donate to specifically through the Youbridge-it app. This organization provides treatment for women with obstetric fistula in Mali, which accounts for six percent of all maternal deaths every year and is preventable. With the Youbridge-it app, people can simply pull up the app at the exhibit or when looking through the book and donate.

Aside from helping women across the globe with her photography, Byer is “…asking people to imagine that reality as their reality.” Byer believes people are desensitized to photographs of people suffering, another reason why the app is so important and effective.

Her belief in the power of photography has served as a catalyst for change. It happens in real time, as people feel empathy while viewing the pictures; they can donate immediately on the app. Connections like these are essential to inspiring action that creates change by means of photojournalism.

The Dangers and Sacrifices of Photo Journalists

Not only are photojournalists opening doors to the ills of the world but they also often risk their lives in taking these photos. Chief photographer for Agence France-Presse in Kabul Shah Marai was killed in a suicide bombing in April of this year on the job. Marai had been documenting the war and lives devastated by corrupt government rule in Afghanistan since 1998. Over the course of 20 years, 18,000 photos taken by Marai had been published, educating the world on the horrors and realities of people living in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

In countries where media is controlled by corrupt governments, photojournalism speaks truths that inspire those globally to step in. Though Marai and other photojournalists are not necessarily directly linked to any charity organizations, their photos are inspiring action among those that are more fortunate.

Neither charity organizations nor the media would be quite as effective without the photographs of the truth to go along with them. As Byer said, putting oneself in a suffering person’s shoes inspires empathy, and that empathy is what creates change.

There are millions of suffering people in the world, and photojournalists are connecting the gap between us and them. The continued innovation of apps like Youbridge-it and the bravery of the photojournalists behind such projects will help people living in poverty around the world by inspiring action from the more fortunate.

Hope Kelly
Photo: Flickr

World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a worldwide company first launched in April of 1948. WHO was established as a specialized agency of the United Nations, created to focus on improving the health of our society.

Now employing more than 7000 people in 150 countries around the world, WHO strives to ensure that everyone has access to the most basic needs everyone deserves. The World Health Organization focuses on several important areas, including noncommunicable and communicable diseases, health systems and promoting health through the life course.

Smallpox and Polio

The WHO’s campaigns against two deadly diseases of smallpox and polio were extremely notable. Thanks to the WHO’s multimillion-dollar vaccination campaign, the smallpox vaccine became available around the world in 1967. The campaign was successful, and by 1980, the world was free from the disease.

In 1988, the World Health Organization once again created a vaccine campaign, but this time for polio. Polio was once a disease that affected people all over the world, but thanks to the efforts of the WHO, it is now confined to South Asia and Africa.

The Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics Campaign

In April of 2018, WHO announced it would be collaborating with several organizations — including Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and many others — to vaccinate close to one billion people in Africa against yellow fever. The hope is to have reached this goal by 2026.

This campaign is called the Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics, and was launched by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who stated, “With one injection we can protect a person for life against this dangerous pathogen.” This is just one of many comprehensive strategies created by this organization to combat the outbreak of deadly diseases across the globe.

The World Health Organization, along with Gavi The Vaccine Alliance and many other organizations, have made an incredible amount of vaccines available all over the world. They have collaborated to provide vaccines for things such as tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis b.

Partnerships of Improvement

January of 2018 also sparked a new collaboration between WHO and U.N. Environment. This new agreement will increase joint action between the two organizations in the effort to increase action on topics such as air pollution, water quality and food and nutrition issues.

These organizations have recognized that the environments in developing countries cause hundreds of thousands of deaths per year, because of pollution and contaminated drinking water. With these two major organizations working closely to implement new programs, the hope is to tackle these major issues and see growth each year. The two organizations will meet annually to discuss strategies and plans for reaching these goals.

Changing Lives, Eliminating Disease

For 70 years, the World Health Organization has been a leader in strategic planning and implementation of new programs around the globe. Hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries contract diseases and suffer from malnourishment each year, but WHO is working with leaders all over the world to ensure everyone is able to access lifesaving vaccines, clean water and shelter.

Working in over 150 countries around the world and raising millions of dollars each year, the World Health Organization strives to end diseases globally, and provide support to countries in need. With the support of world leader and donor countries, the WHO is changing the outcome of countless lives.

– Allisa Rumreich
Photo: Flickr

Vaccinations in Egypt
Vaccinations have been proven to be the most powerful and most cost-effective health intervention that can be provided to a population. Vaccinations have been proven to reduce disease, disabilities and deaths, especially in children under the age of five. The majority of unvaccinated children reside in low to middle-income countries where health systems are compromised, such as Egypt. Vaccinations in Egypt have proven incredibly successful, but the country still has a ways to go.

There are three main organizations that supply vaccinations to low-income countries. These are UNICEF, the Pan American Health Organization and the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. These organizations understand the impact vaccinations have on the eradication of disease.

Vaccinations in Egypt Have a Track Record of Success

Vaccinations have had a large impact on the health of children in Egypt. The vaccinations in Egypt that have been the most successful are poliomyelitis and neonatal tetanus. These vaccinations are responsible for nearly eradicating these diseases. The last case of polio was recorded in 2004, and by 2005, only 25 cases of neonatal tetanus were recorded.

Egypt established the National Immunization Program in the 1950s, and the first vaccinations introduced to the population were tuberculosis and diphtheria. Pertussis and tetanus vaccinations in Egypt became available in the 1960s. In 1977, the measles vaccination was introduced, followed by the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) combination in 1999.

However, better access to vaccinations in Egypt is critical. Measles and rubella were the most common diseases prior to vaccination programs in 1977, and even though it has been estimated that as of 1999, 95 percent of children were vaccinated with MMR, there were still major outbreaks of measles and rubella in Egypt between 2005 and 2007. Measles was considered endemic until 2008, when measles cases were estimated at less than one per every 100,000 people.

International Efforts to Increase Access to Vaccines in Egypt

Egypt has developed a strategy to increase access to vaccinations for the general population. The main organizations that coordinated and funded this plan are the Ministry of Health and Population, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The plan is to increase access to vaccinations in Egypt in these ways:

  • Target 36 million children between the ages of two and 19
  • Maintain coverage of the vaccinations already supplied
  • Strengthen and increase school immunization programs
  • Obtain stronger disease surveillance
  • Improve social mobilization
  • Establish the Interagency Coordinating Committee

Egypt has put forth great effort to provide vaccinations to all of its children. However, there is still a substantial need for more vaccinations in Egypt.

There are nonprofit organizations that are working to improve this situation for Egypt and other countries in need. The Access to Medicine Foundation is motivating the pharmaceutical industry to aid low to middle-income countries such as Egypt. In 2008, the Access to Medicine Foundation published the first Access to Vaccines Index. This index acknowledges the pharmaceutical companies that are responding to the need for vaccination in low-income countries and highlights each company’s progress. There are many positive actions that are improving access to vaccinations in Egypt and other low-income countries. However, the need is still present and crucial.

– Kristen Hibbett
Photo: Flickr

Improvements in Nigeria’s Water Quality
In Nigeria, more than 70 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, more than 110 million do not have access to proper sanitation, and 124,000 children under the age of five die every year from waterborne diseases such as diarrhea. Despite the circumstances, there have been steps towards improvements in Nigeria’s water quality.

Effects of Unsafe Water Are Far-Reaching

Unsafe drinking water can cause many health problems, from cognitive deficits and malnutrition to respiratory disease. These consequences do not stop here; children miss school and adults miss work, creating further social problems for the population. According to UNICEF, women and girls in Nigeria are affected more often than men due to the fact that in Nigeria, women are the main carriers of water. The distances that women need to travel to collect and carry the water is vast, and this can have large effects on health and quality of life for these individuals.

Rural areas struggle to access safe drinking water even more than urban areas. Nigeria’s population is rapidly increasing. Within one decade, Nigeria saw a population increase of approximately 60 million people. Water infrastructure is overloaded, rural populations are being cut off, and without funding, water infrastructure in Nigeria is unable to support the population without substantial and prompt upgrades.

Government Unveils New Water Quality Standards

But not all is bleak. Vast improvements in Nigeria’s water quality have been made. Africa’s biggest economy released a plan in March 2018 that outlined standards for water quality in the nation. In conjunction with foreign aid, steps have been taken to improve its water quality. The Nigerian government has established a Nigerian Standard for Drinking Water Quality that is based on a collaborative multi-agency approach in order to get the perspective of many different stakeholders. Some of the standards in this plan include limits on hazardous water contaminants and national guidelines for mandatory limits that designate safe water.

The Water and Sanitation Program, a subset of the World Bank Group’s Water Global Practice, identified that the main challenge to financing a proper safe water supply is a lack of funding. This is where foreign aid comes in. Organizations such as UNICEF are bringing in foreign aid to support water goals and implementing educational programs to help the Nigerian population identify and cultivate safe drinking water.

Past Decade Has Seen Improvements in Nigeria’s Water Quality

Are these campaigns and goals working? From 2010 until 2015, the WHO estimates that consistent access to safely managed drinking water has risen from 17 percent to 19 percent. In the same timeframe, data shows that the percentage of Nigerians with access to at least basic safe drinking water has risen from 46 percent to 67 percent. Growth is occurring and hopefully will continue due to the efforts of both the Nigerian government and foreign aid collaborators.

These improvements in Nigeria’s water quality could have further widespread effects on the Nigerian population. The Nigerian minister of water resources, Suleiman Adamu, said that waterborne diseases are a huge burden on national health care delivery. These improvements in Nigerian water quality could influence improvements in other areas, such as healthcare in the region.

There is hope on the horizon, and while there is still a problem, there is also an opportunity for growth and improvement. Nigeria is moving towards a better tomorrow.

 – Katherine Kirker
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Humanitarian AidThroughout the twentieth and twenty-first century, the global community has made a concentrated effort toward ending world poverty. Very often, Americans hear of the term “humanitarian aid” without a transparent knowledge of what that aid does or who and where it goes to. Below are nine interesting facts about humanitarian aid, including some of the origins of organized aid, countries and organizations that provide aid and the countries that benefit from humanitarian aid provisions.

Humanitarian Aid Facts

  1. One of the less well-known facts about humanitarian aid is that it is thought to have originated toward the tail end of the nineteenth century. The first global aid relief effort came about during the Great Northern Chinese Famine of 1876-79 that killed nearly 10 million of China’s rural population. British missionary Timothy Richard called attention to the famine and raised what is valued at $7-10 million today in an organized relief effort to end the famine.
  2. Modern western imagery of humanitarian aid came about during the 1983-1985 Ethiopian famine. BBC reporting from Michael Buerk showcased imagery of the “Biblical famine” that shocked the world.
  3. The publicity surrounding the Ethiopian famine led to a worldwide western effort to raise money and bring an end to the plight. Irish singer-songwriter Bob Geldof organized the Live Aid event that raised over €30 million and set the precedent for humanitarian aid fundraising events across the globe.
  4. Every year, the amount of humanitarian aid contributed by developed countries to places where aid is needed has increased. In 2017, the global community contributed $27.3 billion of foreign aid toward humanitarian relief efforts.
  5. According to Development Initiative, approximately 164 million individuals are in direct need of humanitarian aid. Those in the direst need of relief include the 65.6 million individuals displaced from their home countries and individuals that live in the world’s most dangerous countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  6. Another interesting fact about humanitarian aid is that the largest humanitarian aid organization fighting world hunger is the World Food Programme (WFP). Each year, the WFP reaches about 90 million individuals in approximately 80 countries.
  7. Humanitarian aid is also donated in large quantities toward natural disaster relief. To illustrate, Red Cross relief efforts toward the tragic 2010 earthquake in Haiti raised approximately $488 million.
  8. In 2014, United States spent about $2.7 billion of its foreign aid budget on humanitarian aid. This money is mostly used to care for refugees who have been displaced from their home countries.
  9. One of the more serious facts about humanitarian aid is that relief workers have a tough and dangerous job. In 2017, over 150 employees were attacked while trying to conduct their work. However, many would argue that the risk is worth the lives that these individuals save.

Based on these facts about humanitarian aid, it is clear that global aid is vital to creating a global community of countries that care about one another. The global aid network creates a myriad of positive outcomes in global health, development and politics, truly saving the lives of many.

– Daniel Levy

Photo: Pixabay

Cholera, an acute infectious disease, is not new to the east African country of Uganda. For 47 years, epidemics of cholera have occurred frequently in the country, and cases of the disease in Ugandan communities are still reported annually. Uganda’s recent cholera outbreak was reported Feb. 22, 2018.

Refugee Overcrowding

The announcement came after 668 cholera cases had been identified in the refugee settlements in Hoima District. Hoima District is a Western Ugandan district home to thousands of Congolese refugees escaping ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern Ituri province.

More than 4.4 million people have been forced out of their homes in Democratic Republic of Congo amid a surge in severe violence. The aggression stemmed from President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in 2016. As a result of the humanitarian disaster, it is estimated that about 43,000 Congolese refugees have settled into Ugandan areas this year. This brings the total of Congolese refugees in Uganda to more than a quarter of a million.

Increased Violence

Although Uganda welcomes all those fleeing violence and seeking refuge into the country, government-funded health facilities have been overwhelmed by the sharp rise in the refugee population. Since the initial outbreak announcement in February, at least 1,747 people have become sick and at least 36 have died from the worsening situation. Most of the deaths were recent evacuees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In addition to plaguing the refugee resettlements in Hoima District, Uganda’s recent cholera outbreak has also now spread to two additional sub-counties. It is estimated that drinking unsafe water from Lake Albert, poor sanitation and a lack of handwashing facilities in the area have contributed to the dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting and fatality rates.

Response Efforts

Uganda’s recent cholera outbreak has proven an urgent demand for additional resources and funds to prevent the spread and deaths from the bacterial disease. However, some response efforts and services are currently in place. Thanks to a fast-acting response plan by the U.N. Refugee Agency and The Ministry of Health, health actors and community leaders are working to provide medical supplies, health personnel and other essential support. This includes demonstrations on proper food and hand hygiene and water safety to reduce transmission of the illness. Many technical teams are working to conduct medical screenings, provide treatments and produce water purification tablets near Western Uganda’s Lake Albert and Kyangwali refugee settlement.

Additionally, international agencies like the World Health Organization and UNICEF have provided two different cholera kits with vital supplies for cholera case management. Uganda Red Cross Society has actively supported social mobilization to prevent and regulate the outbreak.

Because of these life-saving efforts enforced by health workers and technical teams, there has been a significant decrease in the number of new cholera cases within the western Lake Albert region. As of Feb. 28, health care workers were detecting approximately 100 new cases of cholera a day. By March 12, the daily case number had decreased to 20. The medical assistance provided helped decrease the mortality rate by two percent. However, Uganda’s recent cholera outbreak is not over and the work in cholera-suffering hotspots is far from resolved.

– Natalie Shaw

Photo: Google