This is a topic close to my heart, international health (my passion turned into my career-to-be). If you could take the time to bear with this long, unfunny wall of text, I'd be really grateful.
There are many developing countries that are raged with problems that limit human productivity, quality of life, maternal and child health, and, sustainability of a stable future.
Some of you may have heard of the UN Millenium Project, which, in 2000, declared the Millenium Declaration, which aims to reach eight Millenium Development goals at a global level, by 2015 (http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/):
1) eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
2) Achieve Universal Primary education
3) reduce child mortality
4) promoting equality between gender with a target to empower women
5) improvements to maternal health
6) combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7) to ensure environmental stability
8) encourage and develop global partnership for development *
* (Bill & Melinda Gates foundation (The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) is one of the fore-runners as a great example of this - but, at the private sector; governments, sadly have been mostly silent, nationally and globally)
My aim with this post is to (most obvious) raise awareness, and, if I can get some of you even interested, in a tangible way (you don't have to tell me, just do it, if you want), then, I've accomplished something. To do this, I will just choose some random topics to highlight (there are too many too choose, sadly).
I am sure that most, if not all, of you, are aware of the dire conditions plaguing much of the developing countries, esp. the countries in Africa, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa; from political conflict, to HIV/AIDS, to hunger and poverty, lack of access to efficient health care, ridiculously high child mortality rates, lack of access to education, and the list could go on.
Here are 3 I shall highlight today (I will add more intermittently)
* Neglected tropical diseases (known as NTDs):
WHO | Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases
They are often neglected because they are byproducts of extreme poverty and do not directly result mass number of deaths, like that attributed to HIV/AIDS, hence the lack of 'attention', but, the burden of the diseases cannot be ignored. Its DALY (disability-adjusted life years) is staggering and it leads to poverty due to many of these diseases leaving those afflicted blind, disfigured (leprosy, elephantitis), and stigmatized within society which hinders them from achieving productivity and earning wages to sustain themselves and their families. The domino affect then continues forth - affecting children, to communities.
And, the saddest part is that we have no real cases of these diseases in North America (or other developed nations), because we have the drugs, the access to sanitation, education, and other hosts of preventitive measures which enable vector control and management. And, some of these diseases have been with us since the beginning of our civilization, yet, for parts of our world, it is still very much a present reality.
Over 1 billion people in this world are afflicted with NTDs. Most are transmitted by vectors such as worms, snails, black flies, etc.
For a case on how this impacts us, why should we care, I refer you to this article: Controlling Neglected Tropical Diseases May Be Key To U.S. Foreign Policy
Controlling Neglected Tropical Diseases May Be Key To U.S. Foreign Policy
What you can do? One option:
Can You Spare 50 Cents for Global Health? | Global Network
UNESCO - Homepage | UNESCO.org | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
"Two-thirds of the 776 million adults in the world who cannot read are women and girls account for more than half of the 75 million children who are out of school." - UNESCO
The first 5 years of a child's life is key to cognitive and physical development. If we do not nurture and tap into their potential at that time, we've already given ourselves a lagging start to this race. Millions of children in developing countries, with a lot of those countries, again within Africa, get held back from school due to problems with health and nutrition. Imagine being too tired because of nutrient deficiency that being able to pay attention in school is a luxury. Forget dreaming out the window to go and play. You dream of looking IN through the window. Because, what waits you outside is labour, even if you are 5 years old; your family needs you, and your mind is told to wait (or not even acknowledged)...so forget nourished. There aren't teachers enough. Your family doesn't have the money to send you to school. You are in a conflict zone. If you are a girl, it is a paradox that you should be educated. And, these are some of the obvious hurdles. There are muti-level complexities to getting an education in such impoverished nations.
What you can do?
You can help! How to donate ...: UNESCO SHS
If you are ever visiting any developing countries, think to save some extra space in your luggage so you can take some books (many of the classrooms are lacking even basic resources such as books).
* Child & Maternal Neonatal and postnatal health (and child mortality)
Although childhood mortality is decreasing in many nations, maternal and neonatal mortality have remained the same. - UNICEF
UNICEF - Health - Maternal health
Most of these babies die within 27 days of birth. One of the key issues is maternal health.
1.6 million newborns die per year in sub-saharan Africa. Most of these deaths are easily preventable if they had the resources (health care).
- WHO, WHO | Opportunities for Africa's newborns: Practical data, policy and programmatic support for newborn care in Africa
I won't say more on this, but, the reason I chose to end with this, is because there have been some great innovative interventions to tackle this problem.
Simple. Ingenious. Innovative.
- Promotion of breatfeeding
-> many do not know that the breastmilk produced within the hour of birth is the most nutritious meal a person will have in their whole life, with naturally-occuring ingredients that promote immunity and greatly increases the survival of the child. While many communities still have traditions that the first breastmilk (which is heaviest in its consistency) is bad/tainted, and it gets thrown out.
DFID | News | Press Release | Breastfeeding in the first hour of life could save almost one million babies lives each year
- The kangaroo mother care (KMC) method worldwide (this one brought a tear to my eye)
I won't explain more, but, please have a watch of this video:
YouTube - Saving Newborn Lives: A Success Story in Malawi - Save the Children
I know the 'solutions' I gave you were as simple as giving $, which, if you turn on the tv, you will see enough commercials with a token fly-on-mouth child, and I don't know how to convince otherwise, to see the urgency through a mere forum post. I'm just trying.
I think the only way poverty will be history is if we could make money off of making poverty history. We loathe those that want our money. But, sadly, money makes this world go around. We all know that.
We can also hem and haw about natural selection doing what it does best, taking out the weak, we can propose arguments such as 'well, there is overpopulation', but, if we have the ability to think so critically, so abstractly about what is wrong with the world and why, can we not then direct this ability towards a solution? Towards active change? With all of our potential for such thought, for such inquiry, our curiousity, we must then also have the power to hope. Why not direct our innovations, our ideas, our abilities towards those that are calling out for it the most? If you can't actively be part of the solution, why not support those that have chosen to take on this endeavour. And, as with the last example, I showed two great innovative interventions that have done much good. Change CAN happen.
We each won't be around long enough to hear the persistent call of humanity, but, we may hear just one, and to answer even just that one......one is still more than none.
Thank you to those who made it this far, and for giving me your time. I know it was long with too many links, but, seriously, thank you.