Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘countries’

The Real Story About Syria

The Real Story About Syria

The politics around Syria’s civil war are complex, but the reason to care about Syria’s millions of refugees is simple – there is very real suffering happening with our fellow humans. Real people like you and me whose lives have been up-ended. Millions of people who have done nothing to bring this upon themselves, who are struggling to survive, and who may never be able to return home.

With or without military intervention, the flood of Syrians displaced by the conflict, both within Syria and as refugees in neighboring countries, will continue.

All the news about weapons, governmental bodies, and military actions ignores the truly massive humanitarian crisis that continues to dramatically unfold.

This is 12-year-old Amina and 7-year-old Sahed with their grandmother, 80-year-old Amina. “I miss my friends from my old school the most. I don’t know what has happened to them,” says young Amina. “My wish is to be able to see again properly,” says her grandmother, 80-year-old Amina, of her failing eyesight, “and see Syria again.”

Syrian_refugee_family_copy

CARE is helping refugees in Jordan and Lebanon and people affected by the crisis in Syria. As the crisis escalates, we are also starting to work in Egypt and Yemen. The more than 8 million people affected by this disaster are looking to us to help by providing basic life saving support, such as: food, shelter, clean water, medicine and medical care, and the means to stay warm when winter approaches.

Please give what you can today to help those fleeing the violence in Syria, and others caught in the crosshairs of political unrest around the world.

I believe that – as human beings, confronted with the suffering and needs of others – you and I can and must do something to help. If you suddenly lost your home, wouldn’t you want to know that someone cared enough to reach out and support you to maintain your dignity while getting you through an unimaginably difficult time? I know I would.

Together we can make a difference to help each other in times of need. Please give what you can today.

As you listen to the radio and scan the headlines, keep the faces of the refugees above in your thoughts. They are the real story. And they need our support.

With greatest hope,

Holly Solberg
Director of Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance, CARE

U.S. Healthcare Near the Bottom

U.S. Healthcare Worse Than Almost All Other Industrialized Countries
by Carey L. Brown
Inter Press Service/Nation of Change
11 January 2013

U.S. citizens suffer from poorer health than nearly all other industrialized countries, according to the first comprehensive government analysis on the subject, released Wednesday.

Of 17 high-income countries looked at by a committee of experts sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the United States is at or near the bottom in at least nine indicators.

These include infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, and adolescent pregnancies, as well as more systemic issues such as injuries, homicides, and rates of disability.

USHealthLongevityLow011113

Together, such issues place U.S. males at the very bottom of the list, among those countries, for life expectancy; on average, a U.S. male can be expected to live almost four fewer years than those in the top-ranked country, Switzerland. U.S. females fare little better, ranked 16th out of the 17 high-income countries under review.

“We were stunned by the propensity of findings all on the negative side – the scope of the disadvantage covers all ages, from babies to seniors, both sexes, all classes of society,” Steven H. Woolf, a professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and chair of the panel that wrote the report, told IPS.

“It’s unclear whether some of these patterns will be experienced by other countries in the years to come, but developing countries will undoubtedly begin facing some of these issues as they take on more habits similar to the United States. Currently, however, even countries in the developing world are outpacing the U.S. in certain outcomes.”

Although the new findings offer a uniquely comprehensive view of the problem, the fact is that U.S. citizens have for decades been dying at younger ages than those in nearly all other industrialized countries. The committee looked at data going back to the 1970s to note that such a trend has been worsening at least since then, with women particularly affected.

“A particular concern with these findings was about adolescents, about whom we document very serious issues that, again, stand out starkly from other counties,” Woolf says.

Beyond insurance

The unusually high levels of population who lack health insurance in the U.S. would certainly seem to be one factor at work here. In 2010, some 50 million people, around 16 percent of the population, were uninsured – a massive proportion compared with the rest of the world’s high-income countries.

Of course, after a rancorous debate and more than a decade of political infighting, in 2010 President Barack Obama did succeed in putting in place broad legislation that will bring the number of uninsured in the United States down significantly.

Further, Obama’s winning of a second term in office, coupled with a recent decision by the Supreme Court, will now undercut most attempts by critics to roll back Obama’s new health-care provisions.

And yet, according to the new findings, the insurance issue has relatively little impact on the overall state of poor health in the United States. (In fact, those 75 years old or more can expect to live longer than those in other countries, a clear indication of the tremendous money and effort that has gone into end-of-life care.)

“Even advantaged Americans – those who are white, insured, college-educated, or upper income – are in worse health than similar individuals in other countries,” the report states. Likewise, “Americans who do not smoke or are not overweight also appear to have higher rates of disease than similar groups in peer countries.”

Indeed, some of the few categories in which U.S. citizens are found to do better than their peers in other countries include smoking less tobacco and drinking less alcohol. They also appear to have gained greater control over their cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

At the same time, people in the United States have begun to suffer inordinately from a host of other problems that can contribute to a spectrum of additional health concerns.

Sky-high obesity rates, for instance, are undergirded by findings that people in the U.S. on average consume more calories per person than in other countries, as well as analysis that suggest that the U.S. physical environment in recent decades has been built around the automobile rather than the pedestrian.

Health disadvantage

Confusingly, people in the United States not only record far lower health indicators on average when compared to other high-income countries, but also score far lower on seemingly unrelated issues related to environmental safety – for instance, experiencing inordinate numbers of homicide and car accidents.

The committee clearly had trouble putting together these seemingly disparate datasets.

“No single factor can fully explain the U.S. health disadvantage,” the report states. “More likely, the U.S. health disadvantage has multiple causes and involves some combination of inadequate health care, unhealthy behaviors, adverse economic and social conditions, and environmental factors, as well as public policies and social values that shape those conditions.”

According to Samuel Preston, a demographer and fellow committee member, “The bottom line is that we are not preventing damaging health behaviors. You can blame that on public health officials or on the health care system … but put it all together and it is creating a very negative portrait.”

Read entire article and other stories at Nation of Change.

CARE For All

Dear Gabriel,

CARE_EOY_HolidayThere’s a magical feeling to the end of each year, regardless of how it is celebrated. Here at CARE, with staff in 84 countries, there are many celebrations taking place at this time of year.

I am sure I will be hearing about some of my colleagues enjoying doro wat (spicy chicken stew) and injera bread Christmas feasts in Ethiopia, or Christmas Eve gatherings with cinnamon and clove spiced hot chocolate, in addition to peneton – a special kind of fruit cake – in Peru. In Nepal, the Diwali celebration has already brought together Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs, who string their streets and homes with lights and oil lamps, their beautiful Festival of Lights brightening the dark winter.

These celebrations share a common spirit – one of peace, hope, and unity. It’s a message that reminds me why so many of us dedicate ourselves to this work, whether as full time staff, financial supporters, or volunteers.

As you make your plans to celebrate the holidays, I hope you think of yourself as part of a worldwide CARE family. If you can, take a moment from the hectic holiday preparations to reflect on the lives touched by the generosity of CARE’s donors.

It is because of the support of our donors that thousands of Ethiopians have clean water and nutritious food for their holiday feast; that women in rural Peru can afford to get their small businesses off the ground; that farmers in Nepal learned to grow stronger, better crops.

No matter what you celebrate, or which traditions you follow, happy holidays from the CARE family to yours.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

Earth’s Human Welfare

From Nation Of Change
by Bjorn Lomborg – Op-Ed
16 May 2012

The Smartest Ways to Save the World

If you had $75 billion to spend over the next four years and your goal was to advance human welfare, especially in the developing world, how could you get the most value for your money?

That is the question that I posed to a panel of five top economists, including four Nobel laureates, in the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 project. The panel members were chosen for their expertise in prioritization and their ability to use economic principles to compare policy choices.

Over the past year, more than 50 economists prepared research on nearly 40 investment proposals in areas ranging from armed conflicts and natural disasters to hunger, education, and global warming. The teams that drafted each paper identified the costs and benefits of the smartest ways to spend money within their area. In early May, many of them traveled to Denmark to convince the expert panel of the power of their investment proposals.

The panel’s findings reveal that, if spent smartly, $75 billion – just a 15% increase in current aid spending – could go a long way to solving many of the world’s challenges.

The single most important investment, according to the panel, would step up the fight against malnutrition. New research for the project by John Hoddinott of the International Food Policy Research Institute and Peter Orazem of Iowa State University focuses on an investment of $3 billion annually. This would purchase a bundle of interventions, including micronutrient provision, complementary foods, treatment for worms and diarrheal diseases, and behavior-change programs, all of which could reduce chronic under-nutrition by 36% in developing countries.

In total, such an investment would help more than 100 million children to start their lives without stunted growth or malnourishment. And comprehensive research now shows that such interventions would stay with them for life: their bodies and muscles would grow faster, their cognitive abilities would improve, and they would pay more attention in school (and stay there longer). Studies show that, decades down the line, these children would be more productive, make more money, have fewer kids, and begin a virtuous circle of dramatic development.

Such opportunities come sharply into focus when you ask some of the world’s best minds to find the biggest bang for the buck. Micronutrient provision is rarely celebrated, but it makes a world of difference.

Likewise, just $300 million would prevent 300,000 child deaths if it were used to strengthen the Global Fund’s Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria financing mechanism, which makes combination therapies cheaper for poor countries. Put in economic terms, the benefits are 35 times higher than the costs – even without taking into account that it safeguards our most effective malaria drug from future drug resistance. Later this year, donors will decide whether to renew this facility. The panel’s findings should help to persuade them to do so.

For a similar amount, 300 million children could be dewormed in schools. By not sharing their food with intestinal parasites, they, too, would become more alert, stay longer in school, and grow up to be more productive adults – another cause that needs much more public attention.

Expanding tuberculosis treatment and childhood immunization coverage are two other health investments that the expert panel endorses. Likewise, a $100 million annual increase in spending to develop a vaccine against HIV/AIDS would generate substantial benefits in the future.

As people in the developing world live longer, they are increasingly experiencing chronic disease; indeed, half of all deaths this year will be from chronic diseases in Third World countries. Here, the panel finds that spending just $122 million could achieve complete Hepatitis B vaccine coverage and avert about 150,000 annual deaths from the disease. Getting low-cost drugs for acute heart attacks to developing countries would cost just $200 million, and prevent 300,000 deaths.

The expert panel’s findings point to a compelling need to invest roughly $2 billion annually in research and development to increase agricultural output. Not only would this reduce hunger by increasing food production and lowering food prices; it would also protect biodiversity, because higher crop productivity would mean less deforestation. That, in turn, would help in the fight against climate change, because forests store carbon.

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

HUMAN RIGHTS & MYANMAR

Burmese (Myanmar) holding photo of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was recently released after decades of house arrest and imprisonment.

Our local Amnesty International (AI) group was one of the first ones established in the U.S. In fact, we were the 5th. For over 40 years we, along with millions of people worldwide, have taken action to have prisoners of conscience released (people who have not committed any act of violence and are imprisoned solely for their political, religious or personal views and/or because of their gender or sexual preference); have fair and partial trials for anyone imprisoned; abolish the death penalty; and put a stop to torture and ill-treatment for any reason.

The Santa Cruz Chapter of AI has worked to have people released, torture stopped and people fairly treated while in detention, in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mynamar, Tibet, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and many more. Presently, we are trying to obtain the release of Myo Min Zaw and Ko Aye Aung, who were arrested in 1998 for distributing leaflets and organizing peaceful student demonstrations in Myanmar’s biggest city of Yangon. They have been given sentences of 52 years and 59 years respectively. They have reportedly been tortured as well during interrogation. Both men are prisoners of conscience detained solely for the non-violent expression of their beliefs.

YOU CAN DO SOMETHING AND HELP!

WRITE COURTEOUSLY WORDED LETTERS AND EMAILS TO THE AUTHORITIES IN MYANMAR. Call on the authorities to ensure that:

Myo Min Zaw and Ko Aye Aung are released immediately and unconditionally. They are prisoners of conscience who are imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of rights guaranteed to them under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

• Myo Min Zaw and Ko Aye Aung are not subjected to torture or other forms of abuse including any and all cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

• Myo Min Zaw and Ko Aye Aung are able to access necessary medical care and be allowed to receive visits from legal advisors and family members

• All prisoners of conscience held in Myanmar are released

HERE IS WHO AND WHERE TO WRITE:

Chairman, State Peace and Development Council
Senior General Than Shwe
c/o Ministry of Defense
Naypyitaw
UNION OF MYANMAR (Burma)
Salutation: Dear Senior General Than Shwe

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Nyan Win
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Bldg. (19)
Naypyitaw
UNION OF MYANMAR (Burma)
Tel 011 95 67 41-2335
Fax 011 95 67 41-2336 or 011 95 97 41-2395
Email mofa.aung@mptmail.net.mm
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Information
Brigadier-General Kyaw Hsan
Ministry of Information
Bldg. (7)
Naypyitaw
UNION OF MYANMAR (Burma)
Fax 011 95 67 412 363
Email Media.moi@mptmail.net.mm
Salutation: Dear General

Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S. Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax 202-332-4351
Email info@mewashingtondc.com
Telephone 202-332-3344

***

To join the Santa Cruz Chapter of AI and/or attend our monthly meetings, please contact Laura Chatham at 831-440-9738 or LChatham @ surfnetusa.com

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