Public Health: Raise Awareness
HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are three of the worlds deadliest diseases. Together, they kill 5 million people per year and sicken many more, mostly in poor and developing parts of the world. But, they also take a heavy toll on young people -- keeping workers out of their jobs, parents from feeding their children and children from going to school. That holds economic progress back for entire countries and regions, perpetuating a cycle of hunger and poverty. Both HIV/AIDS and malaria can be effectively treated and tuberculosis can be cured with drugs that sometimes cost just a few dollars per patient. However, medical systems in many areas of Africa and Asia lack the resources to treat patients properly so they can go back to work or school and provide for their families. In some cases, patients dont have the resources to get to the hospital or doctor to seek treatment. Many international organizations are focused on fighting these diseases, which affect at least one in three people around the world. But it is going to take a lot of resources to effectively treat people who have the disease, as well as educate and create awareness in an effort to teach people how to prevent in order to improve the millions of lives touched by sickness every day
What are HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis?
HIV/AIDS: HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. When people are HIV-positive, they have the virus in their cells. The virus multiplies in the host's living cells, making them highly susceptible to disease. For many, this virus eventually causes AIDS. However, thanks to scientific advancement, people with HIV who receive proper treatment can live productive lives for many years without developing AIDS. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is diagnosed based on a collection of symptoms or the onset of illness and infection. This means that multiple illnesses have developed due to the body's weakened immune system. There is no cure for AIDS. Once it has been diagnosed, it severely impacts a person's ability to live a normal life, and ultimately leads to death.
Malaria: Malaria is a disease that is caused by the parasite known as Plasmodium and transmitted to humans through infected mosquito bites. In turn, it multiplies in the human liver and infects the red blood cells. If a person is not treated right away, malaria can eventually disrupt the blood flow to vital organs. There are a number of methods used to cure and control the impact of malaria, which include responding to symptoms with medical treatment in a timely way and using bed nets and sprays to repel mosquitoes. However, not all medicine and prevention techniques are effective. In fact, in many areas throughout the world, the parasite has developed resistance to certain medicines and can still have lethal effects on humans.
Tuberculosis: An infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), tuberculosis (TB) primarily targets the lungs, but is known to affect other organs as well. TB is transmitted via droplets from the throat and lungs of people who have the active version of the disease. The symptoms of active TB of the lung are coughing, sometimes with blood, fever, chest pains, night sweats and weight loss. Tuberculosis can be treated with a six-month course of antibiotics.
Where are HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis found?
HIV/AIDS: The AIDS pandemic has reached every continent of the world. However, with 95 percent of HIV/AIDS cases occurring in developing countries, the virus disproportionately affects people who live in extreme poverty (less than $1 per day). Of the 33 million cases of HIV, 2/3 of the cases are in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. The impact of HIV/AIDS is already greater than any other health crisis in human history.
Malaria: Malaria affects approximately 245-500 million people each year and causes close to 1 million deaths, the majority of which have been concentrated among youth in Africa. Although malaria is found in 109 countries of tropical and sub-tropical regions, most cases and deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Tuberculosis: More than 2 billion people, 1/3 of the world's population, are infected with TB worldwide, over 90 percent of whom reside in developing countries. In 2007, the African, South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions accounted for 83 percent of total TB cases. In 2005, the South-East Asia Region accounted for 34% of new TB incidences globally. However, incidence rate in sub-Saharan Africa is still nearly twice that of the South-East Asia Region and, at nearly 350 cases per 100,000, it is the highest worldwide.
Who do HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis affect?
HIV/AIDS: Of the 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS, women account for 50 percent of all cases. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number rises to 59 percent. In the Caribbean , North Africa , and the Middle East , women now represent 50 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS. Young people (15-24 years old) account for almost half of all new HIV infections worldwide—nearly 6,000 youth become infected with HIV every day. As adults die from complications of the disease, the number of orphaned children increases, as does the number of out-of-school youth. In the most severely affected countries, adults between 20-49 are dying in larger numbers. The soaring numbers of deaths have a profound impact on family livelihoods, community vibrancy and the national economy.
Malaria: Almost half the world’s population, 3.3 billion people, is at risk for malaria. Children in sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 5 are one of the most severely affected population groups. Malaria is the cause of death for 1/10 children worldwide, and 1 in every 5 children in Africa. In fact, malaria kills a child somewhere in the world every 30 seconds. Additional at-risk individuals include those who have not built up an immunity to the malaria-causing Plasmodium parasite. Travelers from non-malaria zones to malaria zones, non-immune and semi-immune pregnant women, and HIV infected pregnant women are particularly at risk.
Tuberculosis: TB is a leading cause of death among people who are HIV-positive. People who have tested positive for HIV and have been infected by tuberculosis are up to 50 times more likely to have the active form of the disease than people who are HIV negative. In Africa, HIV is the single most important factor contributing to the increase of TB since 1990. Globally, men account for the highest known rate of any demographic infected with tuberculosis, specifically, men of 40 years and older. Women at a reproductive age and children are also very vulnerable.
What is the link between poverty and HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis HIV/AIDS?
Families with household members infected with HIV experience increased medical costs, reduced income, and have fewer resources for education and family care. Within families already living in extreme poverty (less than $1 per day), these increased costs and loss of income can be devastating. In addition, the loss of educated adults to AIDS reduces the number of knowledgeable resources to combat the disease and puts less experienced staff into critical decision-making, training, business, and policy positions. Less than 10 percent of the total HIV/AIDS population has access to antiretroviral therapy, the medical treatment that allows them to lead productive lives. One of the main barriers to access is that the medicine is too expensive for the majority of the infected. Even the least expensive antiretroviral medication can cost approximately $3 per day. Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS make stigma and discrimination a major challenge in fighting the AIDS pandemic. Discrimination, as defined by UNAIDS, refers to any form of arbitrary distinction, exclusion or restriction affecting people because of their confirmed or suspected HIV positive status. In fact, stigma and discrimination, when combined with poverty, are leading barriers for people to access the prevention, care, and support one needs when affected by the virus.
Malaria is significantly linked to poverty by the effects the disease has on decreasing economic activity and social stability within a community. Malaria's effects are exacerbated among the rural poor, where these communities that lack sufficient community dwellings that may act as barriers against mosquitoes become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. In countries with high levels of transmission, malaria can severely decrease economic growth and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. High rates of malaria have been known to decrease a country's GDP by 1.3% In addition, outbreaks of malaria can increase health costs for prevention and treatment for individuals, families and the local public. For example, malaria can contribute up to 40% of public health expenditures and between 30% and 50% of inpatient hospital admissions.
Tuberculosis is strongly linked to poverty, in that the poorest individuals from the poorest communities are most vulnerable to infection, and in turn, infection decreases one's ability to be economically productive. More than 75 percent of TB-related disease and death occurs among people between the ages of 15 to 54 - the most economically active segment of the population. A person with TB loses, on average, 20 to 30 percent of annual household income due to illness. TB is estimated to deplete the incomes of the world's poorest communities by a total of US$12 billion
What is the effect of treatment and prevention?
HIV/AIDS By getting the word out about the facts and myths regarding the pandemic, HIV/AIDS education programs have been highly effective in curtailing the spread of the disease and preventing stigma and discrimination. The challenge is that awareness programs require additional resources to implement. Antiretroviral Therapy Medication (ARVs) can be used by people diagnosed with HIV to improve their health and prevent the onset of AIDS. But medicine and treatment for the disease is expensive, hard to access, and requires more cost-effective strategies to address the global health crisis.
Malaria: It is estimated that in some African countries, high levels of malaria prevention and treatment can reduce child mortality rates by 50%, as well as decrease the overall burden of the disease in both adults and children. However, decreasing the burden of malaria can cost billions of dollars. While contributions from the international community and countries themselves are steadily increasing, much work and investment is still needed, especially in Africa, to protect the millions at risk.
Tuberculosis Global initiatives such as the World Health Organization's Stop TB Strategy has worked to mobilize the international community around minimizing the effects of TB. This strategy has increased TB treatment for almost 32 million patients since 1995. Even though funding has increased overall since 2002, 2008 witnessed a decrease of $1 billion of funding for the 90 countries with 91 percent of global TB cases.
What is the global response?
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an international organization that uses a multilateral approach to fight these three diseases. It is a promising model for redirecting resources to those who need them most. The problem, however, is that many donor countries have yet to keep their promises to provide funding for the Global Fund. Despite advances in treatment, most people with HIV/AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis can't afford medicine or healthcare, speeding the impact of the disease.
Through the Millennium Development Goals, the international community pledged to halt or reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis by 2015. A number of international NGOs, multilateral organizations, and government agencies have mobilized to increase the use of preventative measures, effective medical treatment, and international awareness through various initiatives. Some examples of this are the US President’s Malaria Initiative and the World Health Organization’s Stop TB Strategy.
What is Mercy Corps doing?
From Central Asia to Central America , Mercy Corps is supporting people with HIV/AIDS in their fight for dignity, justice and economic opportunity. One example is Mercy Corps' Sports for Peace and Life Program in Sudan. Due to Sudan 's 21-year civil war, two generations of youth have missed out on an education. Today there is a severe lack of schools and skilled teachers. The threat of HIV has risen because of an increase in trade and transport from neighboring countries, compounded by cultural barriers to speaking about the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Mercy Corps also works on strengthening local health systems. It has achieved remarkable success in strengthening Pakistan’s public health systems to better fight the scourge of tuberculosis (TB). What started as small, local programs are now having a tremendous positive effect nationwide, with stunning cure rates and a vastly improved ability to continue providing sustainable, long-term care to the Pakistani people What actions can you take? Now's your chance to make a difference in the global response to combat three of the world’s most devastating diseases. From donating mosquito nets to hosting dances to raise funds for HIV/AIDS to creating awareness campaigns about tuberculosis, you can take action to help eradicate these diseases.
Check out some of the following links to learn more about how you can stay in the know and take action.
The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Mercy Corps www.mercycorps.org
Malaria No More
The World Health Organization
United Nations Children's Fund
UNICEF, "Malaria and Children: Progress in intervention coverage", 2007 • UN Millennium Project www.unmillenniumproject.org/goals/gti.htm Resources
Center for Global Development
The Pulitzer Gateway
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative
Nothing But Nets
Roll Back Malaria
US President’s Malaria Initiative