How Schistosomiasis affects Sub-Saharan Africa

 

What are Schistosomes and How do they Infect Us?

To start, what are Schistosomes? According to Science Direct, adult schistosomes are grayish-white flatworms that are about 7 to 20 mm long. Eggs called Miracidia are released into the water through feces and urine. They hatch and then go onto penetrate the skin of snails.

At an adolescent age the parasites are released from the snails and and are able to swim freely, they are known as Cercariae. During the penetration of the human skin the Cercariae lose their tails and reach adulthood, they are then known as schistosomula.

Schistosoma male and female pair

The schistosomula then enter the bloodstream and come to rest near the liver, intestines or genitals; each causing a different form of schistosomiasis. The worms pair together and mate for life, laying eggs which are released through urine and feces, beginning the life cycle over again.

 

What is Schistosomiasis?

Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by the parasitic blood fluke, schistosoma.  Schistosomes in Sub-Saharan Africa cause both intestinal and urogenital schistosomiasis. There are five different species of schistosomes but, the two that terrorize Sub-Saharan Africa are S. Mansoni and S. Haematobium. They cause Intestinal and Urinary/Genital Schistosomiasis.

The World Health Organization 2 states that most people are infected through contact with contaminated water. This would make it very common in underdeveloped countries especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa. WHO estimates “…that at least 91.4% of those requiring treatment for schistosomiasis live in Africa.”

Intestinal schistosomiasis is caused when schistosoma pairs come to rest in blood vessels in or near the intestines. Intestinal schistosomiasis often includes an array of symptoms ranging from minor to dire. This includes blood in feces, diarrhea, abdominal pain, further along the disease can enlargement of the liver.

If left untreated schistosomiasis can lead to a painful death. Those infected with Urogenital schistosomiasis face a similar fate. Telltale signs of urogenital schistosomiasis often include blood in urine, fibrosis of bladder and ureter and kidney damage. Long term infection can also result in bladder cancer, lesions on genitals, infertility and death.

How does this affect children?

Children in Sub-Saharan Africa are at a higher risk for infection of schistosomes and schistosomiasis. This is most likely because children are always playing in water, eating whatever they can, and have no thought or care for cleanliness. They may also be affected during their daily lives, usually through washing clothes, playing and taking baths.

Bio-med central 3 informs that school aged children are the mostly to receive schistosomiasis and die from the disease.

School children’s urine and feces being collected to test for schistosomaisis

This is due to the large quantities of eggs and worms found in the overly exposed children. Infants are also prone to getting the disease during their first year of life. The only available treatment, praziquantel, is often used to treat school aged children.

This often leaves children younger and adults older exposed and in danger. Even with the treatment many school aged children do not receive the medication, allowing for re-contamination. The World Health Organization 2 has found that children infected with schistosomiasis have a different list of symptoms than the adults. Children are often found with anemia and both stunted growth and ability to learn. However, if the treatment is given quickly the effects can be reversed, if not they may be lethal.

What is being done?

In addition to the medication Praziquantel, a preventative chemotherapy drug, there are other ways to help minimize and reduce the spread and infection of schistosomes and schistosomiasis.

The CDC 4 warns travelers that there is no vaccine available at this time and lists way they can minimize their risk of being infected. The largest step is remembering to bring the water used for drinking or bathing to a boil for at least one minute to kill any parasites or contaminants.

It is also recommended to dry with a towel if accidentally exposed to contaminated water. These measures are also taking place in countries that have high infection rates, like those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In order to help control and reduce the number of people infected, there is being extensive effort to remove the snails the parasites use for their life cycle. This has already worked in other areas like Egypt.

To review, schistosomes are parasitic blood flukes that burrow into the skin of humans, living in blood vessels and producing eggs which are released in urine and feces. These parasites cause schistosomiasis, that produces many different symptoms based on the location of the worms. Left untreated the end result is usually death. Children in Sub-Saharan Africa are at the greatest risk for infection. The only treatment, Praziquantel is usually available for school aged children. There is no vaccine yet available. Matters are being taken to help prevent and control schistosomiasis, such as eliminating the snail population where the schistosomes reside. 


1 Science Direct.2015. “Impact of human schistosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa” Retrieved March 20

2 World Health Organization. 2018. “Schistosomiasis- Fact Sheet” Retrieved March 19

3 Biomed Central. 2017. “Moving from control to elimination of schistosomiasis in sub-Saharan Africa: time to change and adapt strategies” Retrieved March 20

4 CDC. 2012.  “Parasites-Schistosomiasis, Prevention and Control” Retrieved March 20

 

HIV/AIDS Epidemic in South Africa and Nigeria

By Caroline Cooney

What is HIV/AIDS and how has it affected Africa?

HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus spread through certain body fluids and attacks the immune system. If left untreated, the disease weakens the immune system until the body can no longer fight off infections and disease, leading to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS (“What are HIV”, 2017)1. Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, around 78 million people have become infected with the disease and over 35 million have died due to AIDS-related illnesses. According to UNAIDS data in 2016, there were over 36 million people living with HIV worldwide, with an estimated 25 million of those infected living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Two countries hit the hardest by the epidemic are South Africa and Nigeria.

HIV/AIDS funding in the United States

For those who live in the U.S., it may be hard to understand the way other countries suffer from diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Currently, there are around 1 million people living with HIV in the United States whereas countries like South Africa are home to over 7 million people infected with the virus. The United States is able to fight diseases due to the amount of funding and research that is performed every year. We often take for granted the health benefits we are able to receive because we don’t always educate ourselves about why other countries are struggling. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, federal funding for HIV/AIDS rose to more than $32 billion in 2017 (“U.S. Federal Funding”, 2017)2.

New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in South Africa from 1990 to 2015

HIV epidemic in South Africa 

With over 7 million people living with HIV, South Africa is home to the largest HIV epidemic in the world (UNAIDS, 2017)3. The man who runs CAPRISA, a major research lab in Durban working to fight HIV/AIDS, known as Salim Abdool Karim, states “one out of every five people living with HIV in the world lives right here in South Africa” (“How South Africa”, 2016)4. Regardless of these numbers, the country has made great efforts to ensure that those infected with the disease are aware of their status and receive antiretroviral treatment (ART). Since HIV is such a major issue, there are three targets countries aim for in an attempt to keep the epidemic under control, known as 90-90-90 targets (“HIV and AIDS”, 2017)5. The goal is for 90% of those infected to be aware that they have the disease, 90% to be receiving treatment, and 90% to be virally suppressed. As of 2016, South Africa has reached 86-65-81. This success is largely due to the amount of funding the country has put towards HIV programs, which has helped them to build the largest ART program in the world and nationwide campaigns which focused on providing education about HIV/AIDS and encouraging more people to get tested for HIV.

Progress made in South Africa

Due to their efforts, South Africa was able to almost reach the first 90-90-90 target, which is for those living with HIV to be aware that they are infected. This is an important step because if they do not get tested, they will not be able to receive treatment. With more people aware of their status, they have been able to get around 56% of adults and 55% of children to be on ART and have lessened the amount of AIDS-related deaths to around 110,000 in 2016.

New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in Nigeria from 1990 to 2015

AIDS epidemic in Nigeria

Unlike South Africa, Nigeria has a low prevalence of HIV; however, due to a small number of testing and counseling sites, and low access to antiretroviral treatment for those infected with HIV, a large number of AIDS-related deaths occur in this country. Nigeria has made efforts to increase government spending on HIV/AIDS programs, but has still fallen short as in 2016, there were still around 160,000 AIDS-related deaths (“HIV and AIDS”, 2017)5.

Nigeria’s 90-90-90 targets

A major problem in Nigeria is that many are unaware that they are infected with the disease since there aren’t many testing sites like in South Africa. The 90-90-90 targets in Nigeria are 34-88-81, which is a bit misleading as there really are only 31% of adults and 21% of children infected with HIV receiving treatment. Education is a major need in Nigeria in order to raise the amount of awareness of HIV/AIDS and the number of people getting tested for the disease throughout the country. 

Legal barriers in Nigeria

There are some legal barriers which have affected the number of people who are able to access treatment as in this country. Those who take part in same-sex relations can be sentenced to around 14 years in prison. This has greatly limited access to HIV prevention programming and has caused a great amount of discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

Lack of funding and education in Nigeria

Lack of funding and education may be the largest barrier in Nigeria. While South Africa is able to invest a large amount of money to create strong programs that provide information to educate those who visit about HIV/AIDS, most of the funding of Nigeria’s HIV response comes from international donors. Nigeria’s first 90-90-90 target number of only 34% knowing that they are infected with HIV shows a need for education (UNAIDS, 2017)3. Educating those who are unaware of how HIV is transmitted could have a significant impact on this number as it may persuade more people to get tested for the disease. Also providing ART to all people living with HIV would be beneficial not only to those already living with HIV, but to those at risk of getting the disease as well. Treatment greatly reduces the chances of transmission to others and since in Nigeria there are so many not receiving the treatment they need, it is hard to keep the epidemic under control.

Hope for progress

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has taken a huge toll over the years, infecting 78 million people and taking the lives of over 35 million. While many in the United States have experienced the epidemic, due to a great amount of funding and research, we are able to keep the disease under control. Other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa including South Africa and Nigeria haven’t been as lucky. Although they have been hit the hardest by the epidemic, efforts are being made to control the disease by building testing sites/campaigning to raise awareness and raising funding to allow more access to treatment. While countries like South Africa have made great progress in recent years, many countries like Nigeria have found it difficult to find ways to fund treatment programs; nevertheless, there are hopes to make progress in the near future.

 

 

 

References

 

1What are HIV and AIDS? (May 15, 2017). HIV.gov. Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/what-are-hiv-and-aids.

2U.S. Federal Funding for HIV/AIDS: Trends Over Time. (November 09, 2017). KFF. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/u-s-federal-funding-for-hivaids-trends-over-time/.

 

3South Africa. (2016). UNAIDS. Retrieved from http://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/southafrica.

 

4Brangham, W. (Interviewer) & Karim, S. A. (Interviewee). (July 21, 2016). South Africa, the nation hardest-hit by HIV, plans to ‘end AIDS’ PBS News Hour. [Interview Transcript]. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/south-africa-nation-hardest-hit-hiv-plans-end-aids.

 

5HIV and AIDS in Nigeria. (March 26, 2018).  AVERT. Retrieved from https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/nigeria.

 

Life and Death: Sierra Leone

Mothers waiting outside a clinic in Sierra Leone.

By Cassandra Holden

As human beings, we are drawn to the subject of death as it is an event one day we will all face. However, one circumstance we rarely link with death is childbirth. In the twenty-first century, maternal mortality is at an all-time low and hardly ever occurs in the United States, or so many of us thought. Although the maternal mortality rate in the United States is relatively low at 14 deaths for every 100,000 live births according to the CIA World Factbook 1, there still needs to be a conversation about reducing maternal mortality even further. Especially in countries such as Sierra Leone where the maternal mortality rate is 1,360 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015. That is by far the highest maternal mortality rate for any country in the world. But why is it so high?

Relief Web states that in 2016 there were 706 reported maternal mortality deaths in Sierra Leone and that it is questionable whether this figure is accurate or if the number is much higher 2. Taking a closer look at Sierra Leone one cause is of this health care crisis is clear; there is a shortage of access to care as well as supplies. UNICEF3 has found that many mothers in rural areas of Sierra Leone have an opportunity to see trained health care professionals due to their scarcity. Some never even seek out help and continue to see traditional birth attends who do not have medical or training. When this women in rural areas do not seek proper care by the time it is realized that the mother is in danger it is already too late.

A family says goodbye after their loved one passed away due to post-partum hemorrhaging.

The birth attendants do not have adequate training and equipment, and the closest doctor could be hours away. In many cases post-partum hemorrhaging that is more than survivable if caught early in the US becomes a death sentence for these women. In addition to seeking health last minute not many women find care throughout their pregnancy which creates a potential risk of missing preexisting conditions and makes it impossible to monitor the mother. With severe outbreaks such as the Ebola virus protecting soon to be moms is impossible.

UNICEF is making many strides to address this healthcare crisis. With capital from the European Union, UNICEF has been supporting five doctors, gynecologists, and obstetricians in Sierra Leone. Plans have been moving forward to distribute care more effectively by creating five emergency birthing units and one comprehensive care center in each of the 14 districts of Sierra Leone. Proposals for a free healthcare initiative have also been in the works which would include the distribution of supplies to mothers of children under the age of 5.

Zainab Turay holds here son after visiting George Brook Community Health Centre throughout her pregnancy.

At this point, you might be asking yourself “what can I do?” One simple thing you can do is to raise awareness about the maternal mortality crisis on Sierra Leone. Women all around the globe deserve to have accessible maternal health care and to bring their children into the world without fear. Just by starting the conversation you can help take the step in the right direction.

References

1Central Intelligence Agency. (2015). The world factbook. Maternal mortality ratio. Retrieved from www.cia.gov

2Relief web. (2016). Maternal Death and Surveillance. Retrieved from reliefweb.int

3Mason, H. (2016). UNICEF. Making strides to improve maternal health in Sierra Leone. Retrieved from www.unicef.org

Food Security: GMOs, Changing the Future of Farming.

By: Parker Kirwin

A big problem in Sub-Saharan Africa is food security. Over 60 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are malnourished and are facing starvation 1. This is a result of the millions of acres of unused land in Sub-Saharan Africa. These acres go unused because the farmers don’t have resources to properly use them. These include better seeds, plants with higher yields, and fertilizers.

Genetically modified organisms, or as most people know them GMOs, play a huge role in how the farming industry works today. Genetic modification is a process where genes from an outside source are implanted into another organism’s genes 2. They were first introduced into our food products in the 1990’s, and now are in a great majority of our food products.

One of the biggest factors in farming is the yield of the crop. Because of the genes implanted into them, GMOs have been proven to have a higher average yield. The average yield of corn in the U.S. has increased by 37% since 1996 3. The average yield of soybeans has also gone up; increasing by 21% since 1994.

Part of the reason that the yield of plants in Sub-Saharan Africa is low is because of the amount of nitrogen in the soil. It is so low that their yield is only 20-40% of the United States yield 4. In order to help this without having farmers spray so much nitrogen fertilizer that it hurts the environment, is to use nitrogen fixing plants. With the nitrogen fixing plants the ground will be better fit to grow the crops, resulting in the higher yield.

Another major factor that affects how well their crops grow is the ineffective use of part of the land. Obviously this cannot be changed fully, but it can be helped with the use of GMOs. With new plants that have pesticides implanted into their genes, the amount of effort put into farming is decreased 5. Along with making their farming easier, GMOs with pesticides infused into them can make the crops healthier.

A group of women sort through their harvested crops.

Although food insecurity in Sub-Saharan africa is a huge problem, with the help of GMOs it could soon be on the decline. Once the commercialization of GMOs is popularized, the higher yield in crop will help. Along with decrease in labor needed to tend the crops. As well as the better economic state most of these small farmers could find themselves in. All of these factors show how GMOs would help with Sub-Saharan food insecurity.

References

1.Africa’s Sub-Saharan Countries Face Famine (2016, May 22). Develop Africa. Retrieved from https://www.developafrica.org

2.GMO Education (n.d.). Institute For Responsible Technology. Retrieved from http://responsibletechnology.org

3.Hettinger J. (2017, February 27). From yield protection to yield boosting: GMO crops of the future. Investigate Midwest. Retrieved from http://investigatemidwest.org

4.Hirschberger C. (2017, April 5). Bioengineering Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria and Staple Crops:

5.How Will GMOs Impact Our Future?(2018, February 18). West Shore Series. Panel Discussion

Limited Access to Clean Water in Africa Causing Diarrhea

by Lucien Chasse

The Problem

Each year, upwards of 525 000 children die every year because of diarrhea1. In fact, the leading cause of child morbidity worldwide is a diarrhoeal disease. Diarrhea itself is a symptom of infections caused by bacteria and parasitic organisms that are most commonly spread by water contaminated with fecal matter, some of these parasites include: Rotavirus, Escherichia coli, cryptosporidium, and shigella. Unfortunately, there are currently around 319 million people living in Africa without regular access to clean water2

In South Africa, 20% of the children under five deaths are caused by diarrhea3. Tshikuwi is a small rural town in South Africa with a very low employment rate and extremely limited access to clean water. This limited access to clean water sparked an outbreak of diarrhea in 20064. After this outbreak, there was a study to see if the contaminated water and the diarrhea outbreak were truly linked. A questionnaire was made, and forty percent of the households participated. This questionnaire uncovered a few shocking things about Tshikumi: of the forty percent that participated, not one had a flush toilet in their house, they only had pit latrines; their drinking water was collected from abstraction points that were not treated in any way before consumption, and the water that was collected was generally stored in jerry cans for several weeks. Later in the study, a few water samples were taken from the three main water sources. Two of the three water sources had an alarming amount of diarrhea cases.

Young girl drinks dirty water from a plastic bottle.

Water Issue

South Africa is in the midst of a devastating drought that has recently been declared a national disaster. The entire city of Cape Town could be completely out of water by July if the water level in the dams do not rise5. The drought has impacted much more than just Cape Town, it was swept over most of the southern and western regions of the country. This drought has turned a bad situation worse in South Africa because with an even more limited access to clean water impoverished communities will be more susceptible to diarrhea, especially young children6. “…Malnourished children are more susceptible to an infection, and the illness itself causes severe malnutrition once the infection develops into diarrheal disease.”

Member of the United States Air Force tests the quality water of the water using an ultrameter.

The Opportunity 

There is a hope for South Africa, though. Organizations have been making great efforts to design systems and raise money to get clean water to Africa. Organizations like: Safe Water, Living Water International, and Charity: Water. Not only are there hundreds of organizations and governments making an effort to provide clean water to this part of Africa, but there is also an effort being made towards a solution. There are several ideas for this problem, such as graphite coated sand, and bicycle-powered water purifiers; however, one of the simpler solutions just may be one of the best innovations that could be made to provide rural towns in Sub-Saharan Africa with water, the solar still7. The solar still is a device that can be filled with water and left in the sun. As the sun heats the water it begins to evaporate. As the water evaporates the water particles are then trapped in the glass and funneled into a cup or jar for use. While this design has been around for a very long time, scientists today are finding ways to make it large scale and cost-efficient.

While lack of clean water in South Africa is a daunting issue that seems unsolvable, there is always hope. Some of the top minds in the world have come up with feasible solutions that could be made at a large scale to provide clean water to towns like Tshikumi in the very near future; however, with the current state of the country, every contribution counts.

 

 

References:

1.Diarrhoeal disease. (May 2, 2017). World Health Organizations. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diarrhoeal-disease

2.15 Distressing Truths About Africa’s Water Pollution Crisis. (2014). Retrieved from http://all-about-water-filters.com/water-pollution-in-africa-facts/.

3.Cholo, L. Michalow, J. Tugendhaft, A. Hofman, K. (April 17, 2015). Reducing diarrhoea deaths in South Africa: costs and effects of scaling up essential interventions to prevent and treat diarrhoea in under-five children. BMC Public Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4411658/.

4.Bessong, P. Odiyo, J. Musekene, J. Tessema, A. (October 27, 2009). Spatial Distribution of Diarrhoea and Microbial Quality of Domestic Water during an Outbreak of Diarrhoea in the Tshikuwi Community in Venda, South Africa. Journal of Health, Population & Nutrition,Vol. 27. Retrieved from EPSCOhost.

5.Winning, A. (March 2, 2018). South Africa to investigate water ministry amid severe drought. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-safrica-drought/south-africa-to-investigate-water-ministry-amid-severe-drought-idUSKCN1GE1IZ.

6.Davies, K. Koizumi, E. Paluch, S. Riviere, S. Summers, M. (April, 2014). Reducing Child Mortality in Sudan by Preventing Diarrheal Disease. The Journal of Global Health. Retrieved from http://www.ghjournal.org/reducing-child-mortality-in-sudan-by-preventing-diarrheal-disease/.

7.Markham, D. (May 16, 2012). 15 Concepts and Solutions for Providing Clean Drinking Water. Retrieved from https://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/concepts-providing-clean-drinking-water.html..

South African Education: Teachers Aren’t Teaching

by Caleb Schoon

The ability to get an education, in many developed countries, is taken for granted. In the United States, for example, children get up and go to school daily without thinking twice about it; however, there are many countries worldwide that continue to struggle with their educational systems despite many attempts to develop and improve them. Ranking 75th out of the 76 countries studied, according to the OECD Club, South Africa clearly shows the struggle to improve education (South Africa… worst education systems, 2017).1

The Issue

An illustration of the variety of languages spoken in South Africa, showing one difficulty faced in common education goals

For many years, South Africa has continued to demonstrate  difficulties in education. One direct result of this is the number of students who dropout of school. According to Holborn (2013)2, 56% of students drop out before getting the first level high school senior certificate . Students blame the poor teaching quality from every level of schooling. Is this even possible? Could every teacher in the school system lack the ability to supply quality education?

The South African government has spent as much as “20 percent of its budget on education, or 6.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) (considerably more than many other emerging market economies) and yet preforms dismally in international comparisons” (Holborn, 2013)2. With all of this government funding, it is not likely that the problem lies in the country’s financial support of education. If the problem with education in South Africa is not financial, the possibility of the problem being centered on teaching seems more likely. In the words of Gugulethu Xhala, a former student from a village in South Africa’s Eastern Cape called Matatiele, “Teachers sometimes just talk about whatever, nothing to do with education. They are not being monitored to make sure they are doing a good job.”2 A lack of teacher oversight is present throughout South Africa.

There is no criteria for teachers to follow which leads them to teach, or not teach, whatever they see fit. Researchers found that, “Course content differed dramatically, with three of the universities failing to provide subject knowledge of English even though teachers with weak English proficiency will eventually use the language as a medium of instruction” (City Press, 2014)3. Because of the low entrance requirements that teachers have, they may not even be qualified to teach, yet still get teaching positions. The regulations on selected teachers needs to vastly improve, and there needs to be a criteria that is set for all schools so that they may grow in student education.

Teacher goes through the English alphabet to a young class

How Will Basic Education Help African Nations Grow?

Why does this all matter? Why is basic education such an important factor for the growth of South Africa? By giving children the necessary basic education, they will have the tools needed  to continue on to either attend a university or get a good, well paying, job. The issue with so many of South Africa’s student population is that they drop out of school before receiving their basic senior certificate. Without this basic certificate, job opportunities decrease, especially those that pay well enough to support an individual and/or a family. A well educated society is necessary for a country to grow. By increasing the level of education, the safety of South Africa — because of financial security — will also increase.

What Can We Learn From This?

The lack of quality teaching that is seen throughout South Africa demonstrates what could happen when there is no common core in a country. Here in the United States, the issue of having a Common Core is disputed. Some people say that there should be a common curriculum throughout the entire country for students, and some disagree. In South Africa, we see what happens when there is no common curriculum or standards. Lacking some common requirements in education causes  students to suffer and gives an unfair advantage to those with teachers who care and are qualified. An educated country is essential for financial stability . Through business, communication, politics, and all form of interactions, if all citizens receive the same education requirements, stability and success are more likely.

Having  an educated population would allow an increase in equality and prosperity. By providing good and equal education for all, not only would South Africa’s workforce grow, but also the safety of the country would increase — including the safety of the  countries that surround it. To conclude, “Basic education should be seen as a primary driver of transformation in South Africa” (DeVos, 2015)4.

 

References:

1. South Africa has one of the world’s worst education systems. (2017, January 7). The economist. From: https://www.economist.com

2. Holborn, L. (2013, September 11). Education in South Africa: where did it Go Wrong? Ngopulse. From: http://www.ngopulse.org

3. City Press (2014, September 7). Bad teachers fail S.A. school curriculum. News24. From: https://www.news24.com

4. DeVos, P. (2015, December 3). Basic Education: Democratic South Africa has failed the children. Daily Maverick. From: https://www.dailymaverick.com

Why Has Nigeria Been Unable to Eradicate Polio?

by Ben Knoer

Introduction

Here in the United States we take for granted our health benefits and security in everyday life. Americans rarely have to worry about terrorist threats (in comparison to African and European countries) or diseases that have been mostly eradicated. The amount of funding and research that goes into disease prevention yearly in the US is enough to make sure these diseases never come back; over $10.4 billion has been spent in 2017 alone 1.

The African Country of Nigeria does not have the same luxuries as first world countries like the United States. Nigeria is one of only three countries left in the world that has been unable to completely eradicate Polio; along with Afghanistan and Pakistan 2. It has been a long and difficult fight for Nigeria, a country that had gone two entire years (2014-15) without any reported cases of polio. Considering that the World Health Organization created a program called the “Global Polio Eradication Initiative” in 1988 that was very successful, there must be something preventing Nigeria from becoming completely polio free.

What is Polio?

This is an image of an African child receiving a polio vaccine. They are very easy to administer.

Polio is a crippling, dangerous infectious disease that can cause paralysis and can be contracted in several ways, but can only be prevented through vaccination 3. If treated quickly and effectively, polio is relatively harmless. Almost 75% of people won’t even have any symptoms and about 25% of people who do have symptoms will have very minor ones, like stomach aches and headaches. However, if it is left to grow and gather strength without being treated, it can become very deadly and cause paralysis and meningitis as it attacks the spinal cord. The worst part is that it spreads very easily from person to person contact or contact of contaminated food or water. Polio can easily be prevented with vaccines for children, but countries like Nigeria do not have complete access to these vaccines.

Misconceptions

The common opinion, especially in America, is that Nigeria can’t eradicate polio because it is a poor African country whose government is non-existent and its citizens are uneducated. Most people can’t even take a second thought about all the possible reasons that Nigeria cannot eradicate polio before making an assumption. With AIDS being a well known issue among sub saharan African countries, it is easy to assume that these countries are just unable to get the healthcare funds together to get rid of the issue. It is also possible to think that a lack of education in Africa has left their people without any knowledge of how to get rid of these diseases.

The Boko Haram

The most difficult obstacle to getting rid of polio is the insurgency of terrorist organizations, like the Boko Haram group 4. How does Boko Haram prevent Nigeria from eradicating polio? It does so by displacing people. Makinde states “that over 2 million people have been displaced since the onset of the insurgency, including 700,000 people being displaced in 2015 alone”. People who live in these now terrorist controlled areas all across the country “have been subjected to severe rationing of meager supplies of food and water whilst in captivity.” Being cut off from the rest of the world and held to rations that barely sustain life, has led these captive people to develop new “wild-type” polio cases. The development of wild-type polio in areas that have no access to healthcare or liberation makes it nearly impossible to fight back against it. The fact that Nigerian health officials don’t even know that some people have polio because they are being held captive is another reason eradication has been impossible.

Map of Boko Haram’s major attacks and impact in Nigeria

The region of Borno, Nigeria is almost completely under control of Boko Haram and around 60% of its people are out of reach of vaccinations 5. It has become far too dangerous for vaccinators to do their job and get vaccines to the children in regions like Borno. Back in 2012, “nine vaccinators were shot dead [by Boko Haram terrorists]” and since then all polio campaign workers have had to do their jobs without announcing that they are in the area. The dangers involved in entering these areas are so great that Nigeria’s border countries, along with itself, declared a public health emergency in these regions. In the case of the Borno region, the polio outbreak was the result of an old strain of polio that had been overlooked. This just highlights how isolated regions like Borno are. The same strain of polio that had infected hundreds of people only six years ago, is still infecting people up until now; even though a vaccine could have stamped it out.

There is hope, however, as a man by the name of Ibrahim Musa has started fighting back in a way that has led many more to follow in his footsteps. “His latest tactics are ‘hit and run’ vaccination campaigns in local bus stations and along roadsides to catch some of the children who’ve been missed as Boko Haram has confounded global efforts to eradicate polio” 6. He has quite a following as well, with hundreds of workers who all spread out across the country and vaccinate children in slums and alleys. They work to do what the Nigerian government cannot, and that creates very dangerous circumstances for Musa and his followers. In 2013 a Boko Haram terrorist attacked his clinic and killed ten people. At that point the polio campaign were suspended. Even so, Musa and others haven’t backed down and have continued to supply vaccinations as best as they can. It is because of groups and people like Musa that there is a hope that polio will become eradicated in Nigeria.

Conclusion

Polio is a crippling and very deadly disease that has no cure and can only be prevented through the use of vaccines and has been eradicated in every other country except for Afghanistan and Pakistan 5. Funding issues and the insurgency of Boko Haram terrorist group displacing people have made it nearly impossible to locate all children who need the polio vaccine. The World Health Organization and people like Ibrahim Musa have attempted to fight back against both the terrorist group and the polio disease itself. To answer the question to my research, there are many reasons that Polio is still around in Nigeria, including funds and education, but the most difficult hurdle to get over is the Boko Haram terrorist group who have done their best to interrupt the vaccination process of polio.  

References:

1. O’Brien, S. (October 30, 2017). Getting the flu can wreak havoc on your finances. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/

2. Progress towards poliomyelitis eradication: Nigeria, January-December 2017. (March 2, 2018). World Health Organization. Retrieved from EBSCO database.

3. What is Polio. (July 25, 2017). Centers for Disease control and prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/polio/about/

4. Makinde, J. (October 26, 2016). Eradicating polio amidst insurgency in Nigeria. Scidevnet. Retrieved from https://www.scidev.net/sub-saharan-africa/disease/feature/eradicating-polio-amidst-insurgency-in-nigeria.html

5. Varo, L. (June 1, 2017). A marathon without finish: Nigeria’s fight against polio. New Internationalist. Retrieved from https://newint.org

6. Webster, P. (May 9, 2017). Fighting scourges of polio and terrorism of Boko Haram. National Observer. Retrieved from nationalobserver

Sub Saharan Africa: Problems in Early Childhood Education

by Michaela Malkowski

Picture yourself as a student. All of the things you had to learn the past years all started since you were a child. Your parents and your preschool teacher taught you all of the soft skills you know today. Those soft skills could include responsibility, using strong communications skills, and problem solving strategies. Each and every soft skill you learned has helped you one time or another. These soft skills are important for a child’s educational future. What are Africans doing to help increase early childhood education enrollment in sub- Saharan Africa?

Parent Involvement 

Having parent involvement in a child’s early education is crucial. Parent involvement is one important thing that is missing in sub- Saharan Africa, that could help improve the enrollment of children in school. Early childhood education is defined as happening before the age of eight, when a child will go through a rapid development of growth.  1 Having the parents educated gives a child more confidence. Parents being involved in their child’s education is very important. Parent and teacher communication is crucial, because parents need to know what is happening in the classroom. Whether their child is striving to do their best or having a difficult time keeping up with the lesson needs to be communicated between teacher and parent. This way parents and teachers can talk about how they can help a child not to struggle, or if they need to be challenged more.

Qualified Teachers

Early Childhood Teacher effectively engages with her students in Ziway, Ethopia.

The most important thing for education is to have highly qualified teachers. We rely on these people to teach children accurately and be able to help them if they are struggling. In sub- Saharan Africa, they are struggling to find enough qualified teachers to educate children. “The educational system needs to find quality teachers, who will specifically specialize in early childhood education.” 2Teachers need to get a proper education and receive a certificate or a degree in early childhood education. “There should be four essential components supporting teacher effectiveness: decent conditions of employment, which includes appropriate contracts and salaries, and prospects for career progression and promotion; good conditions in the work environment with high-quality pre-and in-service training for teachers; and effective management, including teacher recruitment and deployment.” 3 Giving teachers fair salaries and benefits will increase the amount of people wanting to go into teaching.

Funding

Education is important, but having a school with quality teachers and adequate facilities needs funding. Having proper funding for schools will help increase enrollment, and children will be able to get the proper education to help them strive throughout their life. The United States is also struggling with funding for schools. “The average cost of the center-based care in the United States compromises nearly thirty percent of the median family income.” 4 Being able to support children who have disabilities and need more help, will increase with time. School supplies, clean facilities, and a playground for young children are important, and funding from the government is crucial for children to succeed.

Multiple governments in Sub Saharan Africa are not having enough funding for teachers, they are trying to do as much as possible. The State of Education in Africa had a conference in 2015 to see what they could do to help solve these problems in sub- Saharan Africa. They are making an effort to help get education for children and to make sure that they have proper facilities and a quality education. The United States struggles as well as sub- Saharan Africa, and could use the financial support. Sub- Saharan Africa isn’t the only region who is struggling with early childhood education, but they are making an attempt to make a change for the better. 

 

References

 1. Early Childhood Education. (2018). The National Association for the Education of Young Children. Retrieved from https://teach.com/become/where-can-i-teach/grade-levels/early-childhood/.

2. Howell, M. (2015). Early Childhood Education: Helping the most at-risk succeed. The Africa-  America Institute. Retrieved from http://www.aaionline.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/AAI-SOE-Outcomes-Report-2015-final.pdf.

3.  Sub-Saharan Africa need new and qualified teachers. (2017).United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/dakar/about-this-office/single-view/news/sub_saharan_africa_need_new_and_qualified_teachers/.

4. Early Learning in the United States:2017. (2017). Center for American Progress. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/early-childhood/reports/2017/07/20/436169/early-learning-united-states-2017/.

GMOS IN AFRICA

by Rusty McGrady

The world population is currently around 7.6 billion with Africa making up roughly 1.2 billion of the population. 1 Food production is an ever-increasing challenge for the world especially in parts of the world like Africa where the nations aren’t as developed as others and they face harsh climates. Drought being one of the major problems that countries in Africa face. In order to face these challenges and feed their people African countries are increasingly using GMO’S to improve the chances of having successful harvests.

GMOS

GMOs are genetically modified organisms, so what that means is that an organism or a seed in this case is modified from its’ original form to a more suitable form for whatever purpose they desire. Some seeds are modified to be more resistant to certain weed killers like round up, while others are modified to use water more efficiently. Another trait that they may add is resistance to insects for areas that have a high insect population. All of this benefits the farmers and helps them improve their crops yield. “When people refer to genetically modified organisms – GMOs – they are referring to crops developed through genetic engineering, a more precise method of plant breeding.” 2

Monsanto

Monsanto is an Agricultural Biotech company that is mainly known for their work with GMO’S. They have over 20,000 employees world-wide and have facilities in 69 countries. Monsanto is Headquartered in St. Louis, MO (Monsanto 2018). They are also a fortune 500 company. In short, they are a powerhouse of a company on a global scale. One of Monsanto’s most recognizable products is Roundup weed killer. They also sell seeds that are specially designed to be resistant to Roundup. They supply roughly 25% of all seeds worldwide. So, it makes sense that they’d be interested in improving their product for any climate depending on what challenges face it. For southern Africa one of the main challenges is drought. If their seeds are what works best then the farmers will obviously choose to use them instead of another company’s seeds, thus increasing Monsanto’s bottom line.

Maize in Africa

 

 

 

 

 

So, to combat drought Monsanto decided to develop maize that would be better suited to the drought affected climates of southern Africa. “Water Efficient Maize in Africa (WEMA) is led by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Key WEMA partners include the National Agricultural Research Institutes in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and Monsanto.” 3 Monsanto was able to get a lot of support for their WEMA project from other large organizations that the farmers in these areas just wouldn’t of had access to on their own.

References

1Worldometers.info. (2018, April 26). Retrieved from http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

2GMO Basics. (2018) GMO Answers website. Retrieved from https://gmoanswers.com

3Edge,M. (2015, May10). Retrieved from https://www.sharedvalue.org/groups/monsanto-helping-drought-and-insects-africa-wema

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diamond Mining in Southern Africa

Diamond Mining in Southern Africa
Camerin Carson

A group of miners in Kailo, with children among the workers, as posted on Flickr, a photographer blogging website

The clanking of pickaxes and the rough sounds of engines fill the hot, arid air with a message; time to go to work. The diamond industry is a very popular, and surprisingly profitable one at that. The popularity of diamonds in the western world as a sign of wealth or status has made it really easy to find and mine gem into a powerhouse for both the entirety of southern Africa’s economy, and the funding of rebel groups within. The value of the diamond has also brought to light the use of unethical methods of obtaining these diamonds; slave labor.

Where and How? 

According to the World Press, a non-profit news website, around 65% of the world’s diamond supply comes from southern Africa1, and where there are diamonds to be found, there is to be seen infrastructure, health care, education, particularly from the mines of Botswana. And while countries like Botswana, whom have a stable governments to support this type of revenue, there is a flip side to this coin. Blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds, are diamonds that have been mined by rebels and/or corrupt governments who sell these diamonds and then use the money to fund military operations and weaponry. The process of mining these types of diamonds is often through the use of slave labor of men, women, and children while under inhumane conditions. Due to these conditions, The Kimberley Process (KP) was formed by the United Nations to determine whenever or not a diamond was mined legitimately or if it was a conflict diamond. But, some countries, like zimbabwe, have twisted the rules of what it means to be a conflict diamond. Since the KP define a conflict diamond to be mined by a rebel or terrorist organization, zimbabwe’s military presence and misconduct of the the workers at the mines does not violate any mandates of the KP, effectively allowing them to trade with the other members of the KP, such as the big, technological powerhouses of the world: U.S, U.K, and so on.

Usage and Verification

The usage of diamonds is quite important in today’s technology, such as modern cutting, polishing and grinding, as pointed out by Chamber of Mines in South Africa2, without the huge diamond reserves in Africa, technology would be struggling to advance forward at the pace it currently is, and limiting humans to expand their knowledge. But not all of the diamonds are validated by KP standards. A survey made by the Amnesty International survey showed that about 83 percent of U.S jewelers say that their customers “rarely or never” ask about the source of their diamonds and that 56 percent of jewelry do not audit their diamonds to see if they are conflict diamonds, and the ones that do use the KP certification3. Because most jewelers don’t audit to check the legitimacy of their diamonds, they may have purchased from unethical operations and funded either a rebel group or a terrorist organization, both of which break UN policies.

Diamonds are both a sin and a blessing. On one hand, they offer technological advances, help fund functioning, non corrupt governments and allow its citizens to succeed. On the other hand they fund rebel/terrorist groups, cause unethical treatment of humans, and promote the greediness of companies. But you, the consumers, have the power to ask jewelers where there diamonds come from and if they are KP certified, and if your are not happy with diamonds, you can use another type of gem for the occasion instead, like sapphire, ruby, or emerald.
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References

1.3. Diamonds. (2017,31). Chamber Of Mines of South Africa. Retrieved from http://chamberofmines.org.za/sa-mining/diamonds

2. Schure, T. (2010, May 14). Blood Diamonds: Still Bloody. World Press Organization. Retrieved from http://www.worldpress.org/article.cfm/Blood-Diamonds-Still-Bloody

“The Worst Form of Child Labor” in the Cocoa Industry

Cocoa beans in the hands of a farmer.

Anya Stakenas

Chocolate is a sweet that comes in many different varieties and forms. It is a treat that Americans often take for granted, but in places where it is produced, this commodity is nothing more than a burden and curse. Much of the world’s cocoa is produced in sub-Saharan Africa, and in many places this luxury is forcing children to undergo “the worst form of child labor”.

Definition of “The Worst Form of Child Labor”

“The worst form of child labor” is a term that is used in only the most extreme circumstances. By definition it is slavery in every form, work which a child could have their morals, safety and health harmed, using a child for illegal activities and using a child for prostitution or anything that is remotely sexual.1 Because of the low prices that African cocoa farmers are being paid, they use underage children in order to have competitive prices.2 These children are being taken from their homes or sold to farmers by relatives. They work in unbearable conditions and many hours a day. Children have been found to be between the ages of 12 and 16 but some have been found to be as young as 5 years of age. Many of these children work at these farms until adulthood, never knowing a life outside of the cocoa farms.

The Conditions that the Children have to Work and Live in

The children that work on the cocoa farms have many struggles that they are forced to face. Cocoa plants that are about three to four years old reach heights of about five feet tall.3 Young children have to climb up these plants and cut down the cocoa pods with a machete as their tool.4 There are many dangers that come with children using such a sharp tool. They run the risk of severely wounding themselves. After the cocoa pods have been cut down, the children force the pods open with the same machete. If the child’s hand happens to slip during this process they could lose an appendage.2 Sharp tools are not the only hazards that these kids face working on cocoa farms. To keep pests away that would destroy a harvest, they spray the fields with chemicals.4 During the process of spraying the cocoa fields, children use no sort of protection from the harmful pesticides. Without proper protection the children are susceptible to respiratory diseases and infections. Children face a variety of hazards while producing cocoa, including dangerous tools and pesticides that can hinder their health in a major way.2

The Cocoa Supply and it’s Statistics

The cocoa in Africa makes up for 70% of the world’s cocoa and is supplying the world by unethical methods.2 So large companies such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle are all importing cocoa from West-African farmers that use slave and child labor to harvest and gather cocoa. Cocoa farms use slave labor from children that are between the ages 12 and 16. About 40% of children working in the farms are not enrolled in any schools and only 5% are paid for their work.4 Companies that produce chocolates from the cocoa that they buy from sub-saharan Africa never state on their packages where they import from. So it is hard to tell if your purchases are harming someone across the globe. They state on their packages that their imports are ethical but taking other measures they could be using a loophole. This is a factor that consumers should take into consideration before purchasing chocolate.

Conclusion

Chocolate is something that Americans love and the industry is huge, but the people that these companies import their cocoa from are unethical. Much of the world’s cocoa is produced in sub-saharan Africa, and in many places this luxury is forcing children to undergo “the worst form of child labor”. Little is being done by companies to stop this injustice but spreading awareness can bring about a change in this cycle of pain and torture in children’s lives.


References

1International Labour Organization. The Worst Forms of Child Labor, Education and Violent  Conflict. (2010). United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retreived from http://unesdoc.unesco.org

2International Labour Organization. The Worst Forms of Child Labor, Education and Violent  Retrieved from http://www.foodispower.org

3Grant A., Cocoa Tree Seeds: Tips On Growing Cacao Trees. (April 4, 2018). Gardening Know How, Retrieved from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com

4Child Labour In The Cocoa Farms Of Ivory Coast And Ghana. (2016). Global March, Retrieved from http://www.globalmarch.org

Sub-Saharan Education: A Textbook Epidemic

By: Hannah Jaworski

From Ghana to Mozambique, students are struggling due to the scarcity of textbooks.1 This unavailability is greatly contributing to the illiteracy of many young African students across sub-Saharan Africa; it is a problem best understood through the explanation of the current situation, how it was caused, and the role textbooks can potentially play in the classroom.
Continue reading Sub-Saharan Education: A Textbook Epidemic

Zika Virus: A concern in Sub-Saharan Africa?

By Stacy Ford

Millions of mosquitoes have been released in South Miami to combat Zika. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION

7,557 suspected cases of Zika in Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically in Cabo Verde as of May 8th, 2016 according to the World Health Organization (WHO).1 Zika is now spreading worldwide, but is most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, Central America and South America.

Where did the Zika Virus come from?
This virus was first discovered in a Rhesus monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947, making the virus native to Sub-Saharan Africa. The first human case of Zika was reported in 1952 in Nigeria. Between 1952 and 2007 there are only fourteen documented cases of the virus being found in humans. Both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitos are responsible for the transmission of the virus.

What is Zika?
Zika is a mosquito-born Flavivirus. It is typically transmitted by bites received from the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitos, but can also be transmitted through sex, blood transfusions and from a pregnant mother to her fetus. Most people who get the virus do not experience symptoms or even know that they have the virus and therefore causing many individuals to be misdiagnosed.

 The Risk of Zika 
The Zika virus is still prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are numerous reasons for widespread transmission; including mosquitos that transmit the virus are native to Africa. Other reasons the virus is so widespread is due to cross-border mosquito movement between countries and militia groups attacking healthcare workers causing a shortage of medical personal. In addition, there is a lack of education to the people of Africa. There is risk for more outbreaks in Sub-Saharan Africa and other third world countries that do not have access to or receive the government assistance and funding they need.

Conclusion
The good news for the people of Africa and the rest of the world is that once a person gets the virus they build up immunity to it, thus decreasing the chance of reoccurrence. With better education, access to healthcare, funding and security help from countries in Europe and the United States, Sub-Saharan Africa could better be able to control the epidemics and may even find a way to stop the spread of Zika.

References
1.World Health Organization. (N.D.). WHO confirms Zika virus strain imported from the Americas to Cabo Verde.
Retrieved from http://www.who.int/en/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Zika Virus Overview.
Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/
Baraka, V. & Kweka, E. J. (2016). The Threat of Zika Virus in Sub-Saharan Africa – The Need to Remain Vigilant. Frontiers in Public Health.
Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/
Gather, D. & Kohl, A. (2016). Zika Virus: a previously slow pandemic spreads rapidly through the Americas. Journal of General Virology.
Retrieved from http://www.microbiologyresearch.org
Gramer, R. (2017). The Zika virus just quietly spread to West Africa. Standard-Examiner.
Retrieved from http://www.standard.net/
Gyawali, N., Bradbury, R. S. & Taylor-Robinson, A. W. (2016). The global spread of Zika virus: is public and media concern justified in regions currently unaffected? Infectious Diseases of Poverty.
Retrieved from https://idpjournal.biomedcentral.com
Renwick, D. (2016). The Zika Virus. Council on Foreign Relations.
Retrieved from https://www.cfr.org/
Whittington, K. T. (2016). How War and Crisis Help Spread Diseases Like Zika. The National Interest.
Retrieved from http://nationalinterest.org
Ziegler, A. (2016). Will Africa Suffer Zika’s Bite?. Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Retrieved from https://africacenter.org/

 

Out of School Numbers are on the Rise for African Women

by Karsyn Alexander

Take a minute to reflect your time spent in school classrooms or just obtaining information from others in general. Whether you enjoy it or not, you have learned something. Chances are that you have spent a large majority of your life furthering your education. Could you imagine this luxury taken away from you? Can you imagine waking up without a resource for learning? As a teenage American girl who has attended school for the past ten plus years, I couldn’t comprehend what it would be like without schooling. “Across Africa, 28 million girls between the ages of 6-15 are not in school and many will never even set foot in a classroom.”1 Everyday, there are girls being forced to give up their right to an education due to the effects of poverty.

Mothers’ Associations speak out to keep girls in school.

The Obstacles 

There are multiple factors as to why younger women are continuously giving up their opportunity to attend school in Africa. Such factors include the resources available, at home responsibilities, and fear of attending school in general. The more knowledgeable women have a more successful life. “More educated women tend to be healthier, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their own children, all of which can lift households out of poverty.”1

Any girl marrying at the ages of 15-16 has absolutely no chance at completing a secondary school education. Early pregnancies, rape, and harassment create a huge burden on the girls. “Across 18 of the 20 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage, girls with no education were up to six times more likely to marry than girls with high school education.”2 

“Poor families, are forced to send boys to school while keeping the girls at home helping with chores in the belief that they are lessons to learn how to keep a family.”3 Through different studies, we have been able to conclude that even though more girls will enroll, their chances of dropping out are significantly higher than boys. According to the UNESCO, “Reasons behind the declining enrollment for girls include sagging global economic growth, increased emergency situations, proliferation of conflicts, and rapid population growth.”3

A couple of girls in Mali sharing a desk and textbook due to the lack of resources within the classroom.

Not only does the exterior environment and culture play a large part in this issue. The individual classrooms, resources, and even necessities are in poor condition. On average, there are 50 kids within a room. In addition to the large amount of students, there is a major demand for more teachers who are qualified for the positions. Students are asked to share materials like books and papers. Most schools are buildings without toilet facilities, drinkable water, or even electricity. The different disadvantages within the African school systems are more than just background issues, it is the availability and conditions we have to consider as well.

The Realization

“Africa has the world’s lowest secondary school enrollment rates.”4 Several of Africa’s children that are out of school are either living in conflict zones, in camps for displaced people in their home country, or living as refugees. It’s good to note how much the school is actually teaching the students, although there is a higher percentage than not of women able to experience this benefit. In South Africa, “One-third of children fall below the learning threshold… predominantly low-income black and mixed race children.”4 Half of the students in fifth grade classrooms are unable to perform basic literacy and numeracy tasks. The school systems in Africa are affected by the social and economic environments. 

The Impact of Women

Zalimba Village, student showing her excitement when holding school reading materials.

Women are seen as powerful and inspiring throughout many different countries. No matter where or when, children will look up to the women in their lives and see a strong and independent person. The things that make these women even stronger is their intelligence. Without an education or form of gaining knowledge, their confidence drops and they lose hope. Gender roles and household poverty force the girls out of school and into their home employment rather than expanding their knowledge. No matter how we as Americans determine the need throughout African schools, there will always be a new and upcoming situation that needs to be established.


References

1. Mundy, K, Costin, C. and Montoya, S. (March 2015). No girl left behind – education in Africa. Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from https://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/no-girl-left-behind-education-africa

2. Education Plays Key Role in Advancing Women, Girls, and Communities, Report Says. (May 2014). The World Bank. Retrieved from http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/05/14/education-key-role-women-girls-communities-report

3. Kuwonu, F. (April 2015). Millions of girls remain out of school. African Renewal. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/april-2015/millions-girls-remain-out-school

4. Watkins, K. (January 2013). Too Little Access, Not Enough Learning: Africa’s Twin Deficit in Education. Brookings. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/too-little-access-not-enough-learning-africas-twin-deficit-in-education/

 





Guinea-Worm: Making Medical Strides in Africa

By Noah Cameron

Imagine going several weeks with a meter-long nematode dangling from a blister on your leg. This was a painful reality for many millions of Africans before the outside efforts intervened. The history of Guinea-Worm, a once crippling parasite, is an excellent example of what cooperation and focus can do to fix African health problems. In the 1980s, over 3 million people were infected with the parasite per year; In 2016 only 26 cases were recorded. 3 In less than 40 years, several groups including the CDC, the Carter Center, The World Bank, and more, were able to bring us closer than ever to eradicating this disease 8. If this amount of progress can be made with guinea-worm, imagine what could be done with other preventable diseases in Africa.

What is guinea-worm? Guinea-worm disease, also known as dracunculiasis, is when people drink unclean water that contains guinea-worm larvae. The larvae incubates in their body for about a year before showing symptoms. After this time, it may cause a painful blister on lower extremities where the meter-long worm emerges over the course of a week or so. This can be accompanied by vomiting and dizziness and it is very rare for this disease to be lethal 5. It may also be hard for the person to walk or do work. Although it might not seem like a big deal, with over 3 million people infected per year in the 1980s, many were out of work and could not provide food for their families, leading to greater problems.

Guinea-worm was mostly in Africa and somewhat in Asia and India 7. According to the Carter Center, in 2002, Sudan alone was responsible for nearly ¾ of all reported cases. Although somewhat easily preventable, there was not enough knowledge and healthcare accessibility to deal with the parasite. As of today, “Guinea worm disease is set to become the second human disease in history, after smallpox, to be eradicated. It will be the first parasitic disease to be eradicated and the first disease to be eradicated without the use of a vaccine or medicine”2.

Many groups took part in the rather hasty eradication of the disease. One of the leaders, the Carter Center, had the strategy of, “ [working] with ministries of health to stop the spread of Guinea worm disease by providing health education and helping to maintain political will” 2*. They called their effort, “The Guinea Worm Eradication Program,” and it primarily wiped out the disease through community-based programs to educate people on the importance of filtering all drinking water and by preventing transmission by keeping the infected away from water sources. Through these types of simple yet effective efforts, the disease has declined to a mere 26 cases in 2016.

Although Guinea-worm is nearly eradicated today, amoebic dysentery is still a problem.  According to Leonila Dans of the National Institute of Health,  “Entamoeba histolytica(The parasite responsible for much of the dysentery in South Africa)… is transmitted in areas where poor sanitation allows contamination of drinking water and food with faeces.” This is astonishingly similar to the issue with the guinea-worm. “ In these areas, up to 40% of people with diarrhoea may have amoebic dysentery”4. Since this disease and the guinea-worm are both water borne parasites, it is likely that it could be eradicated with similar efforts to those used to eradicate guinea-worm.

Obviously guinea-worm and amoebic dysentery aren’t the only water borne diseases in South Africa. If we can eradicate guinea-worm through simple efforts, imagine how many other diseases like guinea-worm can be dealt with in a similar way. It is possible that through humanitarian and political efforts similar to those done by the Carter Center, we can work on wiping out more African diseases and improve health standards everywhere.

           Figure 1: A man pulls a guinea-worm from a blister on his foot.6

 

References

Berman, J. (2009, October 29). WHO: Waterborne Disease is World’s Leading Killer. Voice of America News. Retrieved from https://www.voanews.com/a/a-13- 2005-03-17-voa34-67381152/274768.html

2 2*Carter Center. (2018). Guinea worm eradication program. Retrieved from https://www.cartercenter.org/health/guinea_worm/

3Carter Center. (n.d.). Distribution by country of 49,886 indigenous cases of dracunculiasis reported during 2002. [Graph]. Retrieved from https://www.cartercenter .org/documents/nondatabase/graph.pdf

4Dans, L. (2007, January 1). Amoebic Dysentery. National Institute of Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943803/  

5Greenaway, C. (2004, February 17). Dracunculiasis (guinea worm disease). National Institute of Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC332717/

6Hayden, M. (2009, March 30). [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://cdn-www.cracked.com/articleimages/dan/parasites/guinea.jpg   

7Sharma, R. (2000, March 11). India eradicates guinea worm disease. National Institute of Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1117704/

8World Health Organization. (2014). The health of the people: what works: the African regional health report 2014. Retrieved from http://extranet.who.int/iris/restricted/bitstream/10665/137377/4/9789290232612.pdf?ua=1&ua=1

 

The Truth Behind Chocolate

By Allison Janowiak

There is one thing almost everyone can agree on; chocolate is delicious. It is a product that people all around the world love, causing it to be over a $60 billion industry 1 It is placed at a high demand with a low price. If people knew where chocolate came from, would they still want it so much? 70% percent of the world’s cocoa is grown in Ghana and on the Ivory Coast and is harvested by child laborers, slaves, and through the use of human trafficking.

Cocoa beans ready to be exported.

How and why do children enter the industry?
The cocoa industries in Ghana and the Ivory Coast in Africa have become some of the worst cases of child labor and slave labor seen in the world. Some children are sold to cocoa farms for approximately $30 by their family because of poverty, unaware of the terrible conditions.1 Some even choose to work there to help support their family. Other children are stolen from nearby, poorer countries, such as Burkina Faso and Mali, never able to see their families again.

A typical day for the workers
The typical day on a cocoa farm consists of working from 6 a.m. until dusk. Children use dangerous tools, such as chainsaws and machetes.1 The children climb cocoa trees to cut down bean pods, then pack them into heavy sacks that are carried across the forest. After this, they have to pry open the pods with a machete to access the cocoa beans. If the children don’t work to their supervisor’s liking, they are often punished and get whipped. At the end of the day, the children are sent to small buildings where they sleep on wooden boards and have no access to clean water or bathrooms. They eat inadequate foods causing malnourishment. These conditions aren’t safe or healthy for children and aren’t worth what they have to go through especially when most of them never receive payment.

This image depicts young men separating the cocoa beans from the pods.

Dangers
When using the machete, the children often slip and cut themselves causing permanent damage to their bodies. In addition to using dangerous tools, children also have to use chemicals when working on the cocoa farms. Children have to spray the chemicals, to protect the cocoa from insects, without wearing any form of protective clothing or face masks.2 Every time these children use the pesticide, there is a risk of things such as irritated skin or eyes, or even creating tumors or cancer. Children on the cocoa farms work dangerously with no pay and virtually no future. These children don’t get the chance to go to school for an education. Without an education, there is little hope for ever getting out of poverty.

Why isn’t it stopped by local governments?
The chocolate industry in Ghana and the Ivory Coast is the main source of income for their communities. The industries have helped build roads, schools, hospitals and more, anything to help the areas thrive and grow.3 Ghana and the Ivory Coast have become dependent on the cocoa industry, while the industry has become dependent on their cheap labor prices. The world has such a high demand for chocolate, yet we want it at low prices. This makes it almost inevitable for cocoa farmers not to use child and slave labor because the farmers aren’t making enough profit for themselves. If chocolate companies would pay cocoa farmers a living wage for their cocoa they could help end child and slave labor.

What can we do to help?
Fair Trade Chocolate is chocolate that tastes just as good as convention chocolate, yet it is better because they pay cocoa farmers a guaranteed wage and don’t use child or slave labor. 4 Fair Trade Chocolate also harvests their cocoa with sustainable practices that are good for the earth. Gaining awareness of the child labor problems in Africa is the first step to ending the problem. Companies like Fair Trade Winds promote and even sell products that are mindful of civil rights all around the world. If society knows the horrors that are happening within the chocolate industry in Africa, they can help make a difference.


1. Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry. (2017, September). Food Empowerment Project website. Retrieved from http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate

2. Toxicity of Pesticides. (2012). Cornell University. Retrieved from http://psep.cce.cornell.edu/Tutorials/core-tutorial/module04/index.aspxm 

3. Hawksley, Humphrey. (2011, November). BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-15681986

4. Fair Trade Chocolate. (2017, February). Fair Trade Winds. Retrieved from https://www.fairtradewinds.net/fair-trade-chocolate/

Cocoa farmer David Kebu. (2018, March). Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cocoa_farmer_David_Kebu_Jnr_holding_the_finished_product,_dried_cocoa_beans_ready_for_export._(10687070725).jpg

Cocoa farmers during harvest. (2016, November). Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cocoa_farmers_during_harvest.jpg

 

 

Is this the end of the Northern White Rhino?

By Amanda Babcock

On March 20th, 2018, the last male northern white rhino was euthanized 1. The rhino, named Sudan, suffered from a long struggle with an infection in his back leg. At the elderly age of 45, he was passed reproduction age and was no longer able to stand properly. Therefore, the veterinary team at Garamba National Park, where Sudan lived out his final years, was forced to euthanize the last hope for a nearly extinct species.

A rhino handler stands beside ‘Sudan’ at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

We came to such a bleak outlook relatively quickly. By contrast, 50 million years ago there was a diverse group of rhinos that varied drastically not only in size but in climate acclimation2.

Today, however, there are only five subspecies of rhinoceros; white, black, one-horned, Sumatran, and Javan (located in Asia). In the 1970s and ‘80s, the highest and most effective genocide of the northern white rhino took place. The northern white rhino was wiped out of Uganda, Central African Republic, Sudan, and Chad. Their numbers were decimated further in the 1990s and early 2000s, there were 20 or 30 in the wild, located in Garamba National Park. Finally, in 2008, there were only four left. The species was then considered extinct in the wild. In 2014, their numbers dwindled to three. Now, in 2018, we’re left with only two.

This isn’t the first time we’ve allowed this to happen, however. In 2011, poaching wiped out another subspecies of rhinos; the western black rhinoceros. These did not receive nearly the worldwide attention that the death of Sudan has brought.

The last northern white rhino in the US, deceased since 2015

Indeed, it is the hope of conservationists that Sudan’s death will give enough attention to this issue that we will see both more funding and worldwide change to poaching 3. The Chief Executive of Ol Pejeta Richard Vigne highlights this; “We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death… but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of the unsustainable human activity. One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists worldwide.” After all, if there were to be more attention paid to this issue, why couldn’t we save the other rhinos? We could use the northern white rhino as a symbol to remind people of the consequences of poaching, as we failed to do when the western black rhinos were driven to extinction.

Though the northern whites are the most current victims of the extreme poaching taking place, they’re far from the only ones. All five subspecies of rhinoceros have been driven near to extinction because of their horns.
However, this discussion of the apocalypse of the rhinos begs the question; why has it come to this? There are a few key reasons why the rhino horn is so valued in different parts of the world.

Some action has already been done without limited success by conservationists.

In Yemen, upon reaching the age of manhood, boys are presented with a dagger called a “jambiya” with a hilt of ivory from a rhino. This signifies boys are now men and devoted to Islam. In China, where the Javan rhino is located 4, rhino ivory has been used as early as the 7th century AD. There, they would carve the ivory into ornamental pieces. In addition, other parts of Asia would use rhino ivory in traditional medicines. This was used to treat different diseases and disorders. In Persia as far back as the 5th century BC, vessels from carved ivory were said to be able to detect poisonous liquids, this belief carried on to the royal courts of Europe.

Though the outlook for the northern white rhinoceros seems quite bleak, all hope is not lost. One of the first things we must do is restrain the growing price of ivory. The illegal trade is driving up the already sky price of an ivory horn, made worse because it’s being viewed as a nonrenewable resource 5. If we were to make it clear that rhinos are more economically valuable alive than dead, they could have less potential to be murdered so often and so brutally. Rhinos do in fact grow back their horns in time, and if they were to lose their horns and then grow them back, it would be more sustainable to everyone because there would continuously be more ivory and more ivory producers.

Another important part of this is disproving once and for all the notion of any truth to ivory used as a medicine. This, however, is even more difficult to bring about. Ivory as medicine is more traditional and is more of a cultural icon than fact. It’s likely that believers in the power of ivory as a cure wouldn’t listen to any explanation contrary to tradition. However, with the growing attention of the world due to Sudan’s demise, it’s more likely than ever that there would be a chance for change to occur.

Lastly, even though Sudan has passed away, all hope is not lost, even for the northern white rhino. With today’s technology, there is still a chance to bring it back 6. Scientists are now potentially able to create a surrogate pregnancy with the northern’s close cousins, the southern rhinos. If a southern rhino were to have a surrogate pregnancy with the egg and sperm of two northern white rhinos, this subspecies could be brought back from the edge of extinction. It would take years, decades even, for two artificially made rhinos to reproduce on their own and to continue their species, but now, the possibility remains of the northern white rhino, back from the dead.


References

1.Dixon, R. (2018, March 20) “The last male northern white rhino has died, spelling probable extinction for the species” Los Angeles Times www.latimes.com

2. Pavid, K. (2018, March 20) “White Rhino Sudan dies: is all hope lost for this subspecies?” Natural History Museum www.nhm.ac.uk

3. PBS Nature (2010, August 20) “Rhino Horn Use: Fact vs. Fiction www.pbs.org

4. Zachos, E. (2018, March 2). Survival of Northern White Rhino: Hinges on Last Sick Male National Geographic Retrieved http://news.nationalgeographic.com

Land of the Forgotten

By Jaelynn Tarrant

Male African elephant taken by Gary M. Stolz, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

What would it be like to live in a world where elephants seize to exist? The reality is, we aren’t too far away from living in this world. Poaching has influenced a huge threat to the population of elephants around the globe, but especially in Southern Africa. Beginning in the first century, the illegal hunting game has changed the way middle-easterners experience their lives. The silk road introduced ivory to western nations, sprouting an industry that would soon become a notion for wealth in China and surrounding Asian countries. 1  Elephants were up to 1.3 million in 1970, but quickly declined due to the killing of the animal for their ivory tusks. Big game hunters and human civilization pushed the species to nearly a population of nearly 600,000 by 1990. So what does this mean for Africa?

Kruger National Park in Southern Africa is a hot spot for elephant poaching. Nineteen elephants habituating within the park had been killed by October of 2015 – twelve of them killed between September and October of that year. “South Africa can expect elephant poaching to increase dramatically in the Kruger Park,” said wildlife filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dereck Joubert. In Mozambique, most of its elephant population have died due to poaching. Collecting ivory as a result of poaching comes from the countries of Tanzania, Mozambique, and Central Africa. “The ivory trade appears to be professionalizing fast, with heavy involvement of police, border guard, and political criminal networks,” according to a report published last year by the Animal Advocacy Group Born Free USA. “Given the ease of rhino poaching in South Africa, fears of serious, professionalized ivory poaching in the Kruger Park are well founded.” Edna Molewa, South Africa’s environment minister doesn’t express any concern for elephant poaching. She stated, “We did an ivory once-off sale, and elephant poaching has not been a problem since.” This sale occurred in July of 2008, when China and Japan were given permission by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the international organization that regulates the wildlife trade, to buy 108 tons of ivory from four southern African countries. In those countries – Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa – elephant populations were regarded as relatively healthy. However, this sale spiked the poaching crisis. A 2008 report by the Environmental Investigation Agency showed that demand for ivory increased significantly after the 2008 sale 2. As illegal as it may be, ivory is once again on the Asian market, where only the wealthy are able to purchase the expensive gem. 

China has been the largest consumer of ivory for decades. Dating back to the first century, China’s demand for ivory extends more than for jewelry and decorations. The Chinese have used ivory for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. They also believe that ivory can be seen as a social status, where the more ivory you possess, the more successful you appear. Ivory has been believed to bring the Chinese good luck, and if you hold a piece, it could protect you against harmful poisons. Seventy-percent of the world’s ivory remains in China. However, there is an international trade ban on ivory. Introduced in 1989 by CITES, China made an agreement to no longer allow the beloved jewel  into the country. Nearly ninety five-percent of China’s population believes ivory should be a precious hardware that belongs on the animal and not in man’s possession 3. Other countries disagree with this treaty, and continue to illegally buy the ivory. Countries like Vietnam believe it’s part of their tradition and send big game hunters in search of the species beholding the resource that has been adorned on a wealthy man’s chest for years. But is the poaching crisis only affecting African and Asian countries?

Elephant hunting is not a sport that American citizens can actively take part in. Safaris can cost more than $50,000 per person, plus the additional costs of bringing the animal itself home. Poaching an elephant can cost over $100,000 – and all for a decoration.

Poaching has been a threat to species’ existence for decades, yet hardly anything has been done to stop this harmful hunting. Humans have become more selfish along the years, wanting nothing more than trophies of a foreign animal in their house. Africa’s animals are quickly dwindling in population, just as fast as the bans on international trade are being lifted. Poaching branches out across the world, even to our own soil. America plays just as big a factor in poaching as any other country in demand of ivory. To learn more, visit washingtonpost.com Soon, elephants and rhinoceroses will be extinct and the next generation will have to read about them in history books; much like we do dinosaurs.

 

 

 

1.Wikipedia contributors. “Ivory.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 Apr. 2018. Web. 23 Apr. 2018

2.. Mark Strauss, 2015. “Who Buys Ivory? You’ll Be Surprised.” https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150812-elephant-ivory-demand-wildlife-trafficking-china-world/

3..”Threats to African Elephants.” WWF Global, 1961. Accessed April 23, 2018. http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/elephants/african_elephants/afelephants_threats/

 

How Technology is Helping Agriculture in Kenya

By Ethan Skaggs

When people talk about Africa, it’s not usually about their technology. People usually talk about the hunger issues, the harsh climate, no internet, and lack of education. But one country stands out from the rest, and that’s Kenya. Since the 1980s, about 80 percent of Kenya’s workforce comes from farming alone. Since being in Africa, Kenyans don’t have the technology like the rest of the world does.  But, throughout the past few years, Kenyan technology is greatly impacting their agriculture and even their community.

How Technology is Helping Cow Farmers

Most of Kenya’s landscape is arid or semi-arid, arid meaning no rain and/or too dry to have vegetation, thus making farming a very difficult task. However, 20 percent of that land is suitable for farming.1 Since Kenyan farmers have a hard time farming because of their climate, anything would be beneficial to them, especially technology. Su Kahumbu wanted to do just that. In Kenya, technology is increasing rapidly.2

One of the most used mobile apps is iCow, founded by Kahumbu. Used to tell farmers when their cows need to be fed. iCow also is used to keep track of when their cows are supposed to be in heat so the farmers can milk the cows at the right moment. “In a nation where 80 percent of the population farm their land,

Local cow farmer looks for a pasture to feed his cows.

iCow started off with a simple premise: The creation of a gestation calendar would increase the productivity of the cows and, hence, food production and the wealth of individuals and communities.” With this technology, Kenyan communities can make more food and make more money for their families and communities.

How Technology is Helping in the Community

Father and son tend to their cattle.

Raghavan also states that a well known money-transfer service, used by millions, is M-PESA.What this service allows for is farmers can pay for things, such as cows, food, or any other good straight through an SMS (Short Message Service). M-PESA is helping the community by making it easier to get money from the cow buyers and people who want to trade goods. “Mobile technology is improving the lives of some of Africa’s poorest people, in some of the continent’s most remote areas…fishermen are using text messages to set up markets along the shores of Lake Victoria and negotiate prices with buyers, which helps them sell more fish.” However, there are some downsides to the app. The app is only in English, so whoever has the app has to read and understand English, or use a translator which can make things more complicated. iCow isn’t just going to stay in Kenya; Kahumbu is hoping to expand the app into more countries in sub-Saharan Africa; these countries include Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Not only is technology improving the lives of communities and making them wealthier, it is also bringing them closer as a community itself. iCow has helped over 45,000 people that handle cows and has made some communities, families, and people much wealthier, If iCow were to spread to all of Africa, it could really help their economy flourish. Also, if iCow has helped people with their cattle, people could and should develop apps for other goods.

1“Farming in Kenya – Crops and Livestock Farming in Kenya.” softkenya. Retrieved from: www.softkenya.com/kenya/farming-in-kenya/

2Raghavan, Sudarsan. (2013, March 31) “New Apps Transforming Remote Parts of Africa.” The Washington Post. Retrieved from: www.washingtonpost.com

Devastating Truth of Malaria and Children of Sub-Saharan Africa

By Kendra Lifer 

The rain is hailing from the dark grey clouds as the drops bounce off the roof of a little home in Sub- Saharan Africa. Adamma, a two-year-old little girl is singing away to the noise while her family is lying in bed. August has come and has brought the rainy season with. Unfortunately, there is a problem with all that rain.  In a matter of days, some children like Adamma won’t be singing anymore. Her mother will be trying to bring down a fever, trying to take away the unexplainable pain, warm her chills and just to provide some comfort to little Adamma. What Adamma’s mother doesn’t know, is those are the first indications of something much worse and all resulted from a single bite a few days ago.  Left untreated and in just twenty-four hours Adamma will be suffering from life-threatening complications of (Plasmodium falciparum) malaria, transmitted by infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.  The clinics and hospitals will see a piercing increase of admissions with children like Adamma suffering from severe anemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis and even cerebral malaria. Sadly, seventy percent of malaria deaths that occur, are in the age group of five and under. 1

Thick and thin blood smears are used to find out whether malaria-causing parasites are in the blood.

Eye-opening Truth

Malaria remains a major killer of children under five, taking the life of a child every two minutes! In 2015 an estimated 303,000 African children died before their fifth birthday due to malaria. 2  Due to their underdeveloped immune system children under five carry the worse prognosis in an endemic area and repeated attacks on can lead to further medical issues such as chronic anemia, malnutrition, possibly stunted growth, and seizures. Survivors of malaria may have sequelae (e.g. hemiparesis, cerebellar ataxia aphasia, spasticity) according to the research in Pediatric Malaria.  According to UNICEF malaria kills 1,200 children daily, about fifty children every hour. 3

The Burden

Malaria is leaving a devasting mark on Africa. World Health Organization is supporting malaria emergency responses in Nigeria, South Sudan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Yemen, where ongoing humanitarian crises pose serious health risks. Among the 41 high-burden countries, overall, funding per person at risk of malaria remains below $2. 4 Africa Indoor Residual Spraying Project known as AIRS has reported the economic burden annually is at an estimated cost of twelve billion in direct cost and has reduced the gross domestic product growth by 1.3%. 5 These endemic areas are suffering due to the lack of tools such as insecticide-treated nets, residual spray, preventive treatments for pregnant women and children. The lack of these tools significantly contributes to death especially in children and young mothers to be. An estimated 10,000 women and up to 200,000 infants under one-year-old annually lose the battle to this infectious yet preventable disease.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/usaidafrica/33154602994
President’s Malaria Initiative provides malaria prevention and treatment measures like insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

Insecticide-treated nets or long-lasting insecticide nets hung over the sleeping areas in homes to prevent mosquitoes from biting potential victims. These treated nets range in price and are usually under ten dollars. The use of insecticide-treated nets can reduce the childhood mortality rate by twenty percent according to Presidents Malaria Initiative. 5

AIRS project has made strides to prevent this parasite transmission with indoor residual spraying and enhanced entomological monitoring. In 2015, over 30,000 individuals were trained in indoor residual spraying. According to the Malaria Journal residual spray also known as IRS cost in the range of $2.22-$12.85. 6 However, Sub-Saharan Africa has an estimated 43% of people at risk of malaria in the region that were not protected by either a net or indoor insecticide spraying in 2015. 7

Preventive treatments are also available and these intermittent preventative treatments range in price depending on who is receiving the treatment. UNICEF proves that administering these crucial treatments during the recommended antenatal care visits could reduce neonatal mortality by 31% but with three out of four Sub-Saharan Africa pregnant women not receiving these treatments, especially in endemic areas leaves approximately twenty-eight million unprotected births at risk for contracting malaria during an extremely vulnerable time.

Investment.

With the overwhelming devastation of malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa, stable along with continuous investment in malaria research and development is critical. World Health Organization Malaria 2017 world report outlines the financial need for the Global Technical Strategy, a 15-year blueprint for all countries working to control and eliminate malaria. The strategy set ambitious targets for 2030, including reducing malaria case incidence and death rates by at least 90%. Eliminating malaria in at least 35 countries and preventing the reintroduction of malaria in all countries that are malaria free. 8 To reach the first milestone, investments need to increase to $6.5 billion annually by 2020.

Striving to Defeat Malaria.

With funding improved in malaria education, prevention, testing, and treatment, lives can be saved. From 2001 to 2013, with improved access to malaria education, prevention, testing and treatment roughly 4.3 million lives were saved, 3.9 million of those lives were children under five in Sub-Saharan Africa. 9 However, malaria deaths reached 445,000 in 2016, a similar number to the 446,000 reported in 2015 according to World Health Organization . 10

“…One day this disease will no longer be a reality of everyday life…” Bovill said during her remarks at World Malaria Day 2010

The devastation on the population in Sub- Saharan Africa leaves all the African countries in a vulnerable state, which is why funding is important. With the End Malaria Now mission and core values: community, commitment, collaboration defeat of malaria, stimulation of economic growth and reduction of poverty in Africa are within reach. “No child should die of malaria. No child and no pregnant woman should be denied access to effective and readily available treatment because of where they live, or how poor they are,” Dr. Chopra added. “Deaths from malaria are preventable and it is up to all of us – governments, the international community, health professionals, or donors – to put measures in place to defeat this devastating disease once and for all.” 11  Malaria is preventable and curable, we can avoid this devastating disease and save the lives of children with the right education, prevention, testing, and treatment.

 

 

 

References

1Malaria Fact Sheet. (2017, November). World Health Organization. Retrieved from www.who.int

2WHO. (2017, November). World Malaria Report 2017. World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int 

3Wallace, Rita Ann. (2015, April 23). Malaria kills 1,200 children a day: UNICEF. UNICEF for every child. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org

4Key points: World malaria report 2017 (2017, November 29) World Health Organization, Retrieved from http://www.who.int

5Malaria Burden in Africa. (n.d). President’s Malaria Initiative Africa Indoor Residual Spraying Project. Retrieved from www.africairs.net

6White, Michael T. (2011, November 3). Costs and cost effectiveness of malaria control interventions-a systemic review. Retrieved from https://malariajournal.biomedcentral.com

7WHO. (2017, November). World Malaria Report 2017. World Health Organization. Retrieved from www.who.int

8Chaib and Smith. (2017, April 24). Prevent Malaria- Save lives: WHO push for prevention on World Malaria Day 25th April. World Health Organization, Retrieved from www.who.int

9Wallace, Rita Ann. (2015, April 23). Malaria kills 1,200 children a day: UNICEF. UNICEF for every child. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org

10Malaria Fact Sheet. (2017, November). World Health Organization. Retrieved from www.who.int

11Wallace, Rita Ann. (2015, April 23). Malaria kills 1,200 children a day: UNICEF. UNICEF for every child. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org