Health in Asia

December 9, 2017 by

Health is a key issue to development in any society and it is a human right. Health contributes much to productivity, learning, work and income which promotes economic growth. Asia is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing regions around the world however governments spend less on public health and do not focus on those that need it most. Health issues become so expensive to the individuals hence causing poverty. Another challenging factor is the prevention and control of diseases. As countries work together there is an increase of people moving from country to country in order to exchange goods. This increases the chances of spreading diseases especially HIV/AIDS.

Over nine million children die every year under the age of five around the world and 41% of those are from Asia and the Pacific. Half a million pregnant women also die due to poor health and lack of medical attention or medical expenses. The percentage of death in new-born babies is over 56% and over two thirds of the babies born are with low birth weight in this region.

It was clearly seen that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) sections 4 to 5 that were meant to achieve universal access to health reproduction and reduce child and maternal mortality failed. The lives of children and mothers are greatly affected by the quality and quantity of health spending. Saving women and children’s lives is one of the key principles that lead to development in a society. Saving a pregnant woman is as good as saving the new-born baby.

The governments have the ability to fix the problem but they focus on other issues. Governments together with partners could spend their money on promoting good health and preventing illnesses. This could help to reduce the high costs of medical expenses that people go through when they fall sick. This can save the World Health Organisation up to $700 million at a global scale.  The WHO could also save $7 billion by providing hygiene, water and sanitation. On the other hand $1 spent on family planning could save $4 spent on treatment of unplanned pregnancy complications.

All in all, investing in mothers and children’s health could lead to a rapid increase in the productivity of the population and enhance economic growth. Between the years 1965 and 1990 the economy of Asia was busted as a result of child mortality and infant reduction of health changes and favourable demographic. There was also a substantial improvement in reproductive health and the rate of fertility was also reduced.

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Health Issues in Uganda

December 9, 2017 by

According to the World Health Organisation Uganda is ranked 186th out of the 191 countries in the world with poor health. The Ugandan Health Workers estimated that respiratory tract infection, gastroenteritis and Malaria were the main cause of deaths in Uganda during the late 1989. Twenty per cent of the deaths were caused by unidentified diseases according to the international health officials. The Health workers in Uganda were more concerned about the infant mortality which was caused by premature birth, low birth weight and neonatal tetanus. Childhood illness like gastroenteritis, measles, respiratory tract infection and malaria contributed toward much loss of lives as well. Tuberculosis and malaria accelerated the number of deaths in adults during the 1980.

Some form of cancer was also common in Uganda before it was properly identified in African countries. Burkitt’s lymphoma has relatively caused a large number of deaths in infants in African countries. This type of cancer was first identified in Uganda in 1958. This disease was thought to be related to food storage practices which allows the breeding of carcinogenic stain bacteria or moulds in grain storage or peanuts and malaria. Other researchers suggest that the spread of cancer could be related to other insect-borne diseases or parasites.

Liberated Syria, An Alternative Life

December 9, 2017 by

Life in Syria had dramatically changed after the beginning of the Syrian Revolution in March 2011. People all over the country found themselves in a totally different new situation on all levels. Most of the people thought that the revolution in Syria will not last long. They built their hope on what happened in other Arab countries like Tunisia and Egypt, where people succeeded in ousting the dictators there in less than one month. Others depended on the Libyan experience, where NATO, apparently, in less than two months sent forces to fight against Moamar Qadafi. However, Syrians later discovered that the Human Rights Principals don’t even worth the ink that was used to write them. Their only choice was to find deal with the new and the continuous changing situation in their areas.

In late 2012, the the Local Councils began to appear in Syria to manage the liberated areas. Later in March 2013, the Temporary Syrian Government was announced to manage these areas. In the next lines I am going to talk about how local initiatives were developed by people themselves to help them re-acclimatize with the new situation till they reached to a management system represented by the local and provisional councils.

Alternative Media:

The government closed all foreign media, very limited originally, offices in Syria early in 2011. Only state media and the government alliances media, Iran and Russia and some Lebanese, were equipped and authorized to act in Syria. A new phenomenon appeared and quickly spread as a solution to convey news to international media and human rights agencies. The citizen journalist, which meant that every one is responsible for documenting events by his/her mobile phone and send to media with a voice saying time and date. The international media depended on those also to report from Syria. They used to name them as the eye witnesses. This phenomenon could citizen journalists have filled the gap left by professionals denied access to or evacuated from the most dangerous country in the world for working journalists. With the passage of time and division of the country under different control areas, this phenomenon developed. Tens of journals, magazines, radios, Movies, TV reports, and even TV channels are being managed  by people who started their careers as citizen journalists. Many others became professional reporters for the most important media agencies in the world. In late 2013, the Alternative Media Unit was formed in Syria to coordinate all these efforts together. To keep the memory of the citizen journalist phenomenon, a Mobile Movie Festival is being organized every year.

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Alternative Life Utilities:

One the most difficult challenges faced liberated areas in Syria was life utilities such as water, electricity, internet and market goods. The Assad regime, in his full-scale war against Syrians rebels, stopped these utilities directly on any region directly after losing control over. To deal with these files, Syrians working in these fields began grouping and find local solutions.

Regarding water, some regions had already artesian wells and needed electricity to drag water from. They began raise donation from local people and seek fund from INGOs in order to fix solar panels to generate electricity needed to get the water and distribute to  people. Artesian water wells were dug in other regions. An associations were organized to manage wells, the distribution on people and develop the process  continuously. There is a for sure a shortage of water in these areas, but at least people get water every now and then.

Electricity solutions varied from region to another. In some regions it is managed by the private sector. Huge generators were fixed and people buy subscriptions according to their ability of afford. In other regions, Local councils which were formed to manage the liberated areas bought these generators and distributed electricity at much cheaper prices.

Internet totally belonged to the private sector, investors made contracts with Turkish internet companies and manage the process. The internet in the liberated areas is much better than government-held areas. Local councils nowadays are trying to activate the internet in the liberate areas depending on contracts with the Turkish government.

Market goods basically come from Turkey.

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Alternative Education:

The most complicated and challenging file in the liberate areas Syria. It began with volunteers cleaning the schools and announce educational courses. The experience developed later to having a university and some separated colleges in different specifications. In the beginning, many people took the risk and continued going to the government held areas to do only final exams for the primary and secondary stages. Those went under huge pressure from both regions they come from and also mixed with risk in regions they had to move to to do exams.

More and more people engaged in the alternative educational process. Wide network of volunteers exerted prominent efforts in convincing parents send their sons to schools despite danger of being shelled by regime war crafts at anytime. That happened in tens of times and many brutal massacres happened. Yet, schools in liberated areas continued and are being managed in a more organized systems. Especially after local councils were formed and INGOs funded parts of the educational process. Schools in the underground floors were also established everywhere to avoid the regime attacks.

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Other Alternatives:

As I mentioned earlier, the change happened on all life scales. Many ways of making living appeared and millions found themselves working in a totally new field they’d never imagined to work in. The appearance of internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, where hundreds of camps were established as a new societies had to be managed and systematized. Judicial system was given also its importance but the associations formed faced the charges, like all sectors by the way, of Islamic armed brigades of secularism vs Sharia (By me using a nick name). New kinds of needs such as associations that emerged to deal with destruction left by shelling. Documentation of human rights violations that needed huge efforts. Protecting children from extreme thoughts that began to spread among the Syrians as a reaction of the isolated situation and ignorance of the international community that had to end Syrians sufferings.

Many out of control challenges Syrians tried to deal with but mostly failed because their efforts alone were not enough. Rather, these efforts had to be met by international reaction. For instance, The issue of official registration of new born children and issuance of travel documents for Syrians in the liberated areas.

 

To sum up, all Syrians tried to re-acclimatize with the new situation in all the possible means. Suddenly, all life aspects became commons demanding social awareness and charging each and every individual responsibility in order to continue, or to kneel again for the dictator.

Supporting Families with Offenders in the UK: POPS

December 8, 2017 by

In the United Kingdom, the organisation Providing Support to Families of Offenders (POPS) was founded in 1988, beginning as a peer support group for offenders’ of families. The founder Farida Anderson MBE, through a personal family experience, discovered that there was no service to assist families through this traumatic and stressful period, which they were labelled ‘GUILTY by association’.

Several years on the organisation continues to be instrumental in influencing changing in all demographic societies from its humble beginnings – 1990 HMP Manchester – The Strangeways Riots – 25 days prisoners riot over prison treatment and living conditions – 1991 the first court-based family support project established – 1992 Black Prison Support Group – 1997 the Coalition for Racial Justice (UK). The organisation currently supports over 200,000 families, with a dedicated team of 85 staff and 35 volunteers.

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Family Forums provide families with the opportunity to influence change

The passion and commitment of POPS are summarised in the words “Prisoners’ families founded POPS and they remain at the heart of everything we do”. The understanding of the situation families are having to adjust too, as a result, of a family member convicted, is incomprehensible. The questions, blame, mental torture to gain understanding creates unexpected human reactions within family members. The professionalism to handle through listening compassionately to provide guidance, direction, with issues concerning Custody, Resettlement, Community, Employment and delivery of information to Influence positive change despite the current predicament, POPS has proven solidarity with a Common vision and purpose of family, together not as an island, with engagement, participation and dialogue we will overcome and rebuild ourselves stronger and more resilient. We need to be inclusive and supportive of each other, as exclusiveness or disconnection between people does not easily encourage healing and restoration to families and communities.

Family, Community and Bridging Parent Prisoners with their Children: Wells of Hope Ministries

December 8, 2017 by

Family lives are drastically changed when one or both parents of a child are convicted and sentenced to prison. The emotional and psychological trauma a child will experience is unimaginable, due to the age when parents are detached from their children. Those children who are fortunate may be taken in by in-laws and hopefully raised in a reasonably stable environment without abuse, receiving an education and adjusting to a new place they can call home. Some parents have several children who end up being separated from their siblings due to age, sex or simply affordability to look after all of them together. The community may not take kindly to these children, branding or associate them with potential troublemakers, for the crimes of their parents. The scenarios of issues faced presented and arise that both the children and parents in prison encounter a numerous (Family rejection and abandonment, sexual exploitation, child abuse, HIV-Aids Treatment, Education, Financial, Community Stigma).

Wells of Hope Ministries Founder, Francis Ssuubi knows the challenges, conditions parents of prisoners in Ugandan prisons face from first-hand experience. In 2002 a vision to help, reunite parents with children was born while in prison. The model is designed in form of a triangular approach focused on three areas.

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Francis believes the effects affecting children in Uganda are transnational and require the engagement and participation of various stakeholders both nationally – Government of Uganda has welcomed and supported the work and internationally. With this in mind, Wells of Hope Ministries is in collaboration with International Coalition for Children with Incarcerated Parents (INCCIP), an organisation that works with all parties who are supporting families of parents, in particular, children of incarcerated parents in prison, representing INCCIP in three countries Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

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A single vision shared with people with a Common connection to support a fellow human being in need, aimed at improving their livelihood, human dignity, sharing love and compassion, empowering all gender despite the current situation for a better future generation of the young and upcoming leaders – the children. The Common focus is the child, providing hope and strength through educational, health and wellbeing but most importantly reuniting children with parents. A team of volunteers Commoning together through sharing of resources both financial and non financial, giving in a pot, that continues to be stirred to impact change, promise, example, challenge and inspire fellowship from within Prison in communities. The model is replicable, inclusive of all who are campaigners for a transformational change in the lives of children who have parents in prisons.

 

 

December 7, 2017 by

December 7, 2017 by

‘Help us upgrade, don’t evict us’: Sierra Leone’s slum dwellers battle for their homes

A year after many businesses were washed away, businesses have reopened in Freetown’s Colbot slum but many still live in fear. With widespread of criminals, infectious diseases and with more risks of heavy rains, it is the threat of eviction from their tents that is worrying to thousands of slum residents. Living on government lands, lack of land regulations for Freetown’s slum residents gives them lesser powers to develop their homes taking into considerations of being evicted without any caution. Due to the scarcity of untouched land, many people living in the slums live in unhygienic and overpopulated conditions, with either less or no access to toilets or clean water, electricity, and drainage systems. With possible floods and likely outbreak like the Ebola, which caused havoc in the West African nation in 2014, the government has frequently threatened to evict slum residents.

However, the government is taking into consideration a new land policy, drafted in 2016, which would rule out evicting slum dwellers and instead of addressing their present lack of land security by developing the area or moving them somewhere else. Sierra Leone remains unstable from a civil war, world’s worst Ebola eruption and the recent mudslide, the city remains populated, lack of housing has caused many to reside in slums with the population expected to be two million by 2030.Heavy rains killed four people in September 2016 and caused thousands to flee their slums resulting to many seeking refuge in the national stadium. There are other factors preventing people from improving their homes, they fear eviction from self-proclaimed landlords who collect rents claiming control of the land, there are always problems between the slum lords and tenants as they are always increasing the rent, forcing more people, to build homes on what little unclaimed land remains by the sea a process well-known as banking.

 

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There is no system that prevents land titling or mapping in Sierra Leone, data of land use and ownership were ruined during the rebel war, Existing land files are mishandled and hard to access, while there is corruption in land distributions by the ministry of lands. Corruption is common in Sierra Leone, and it is no different when it comes to land allotment and management which makes the institution fragile and ineffective. While the new land policy is seeking to provide land security, the government is more or less seeking to move them out of Freetown and upgrading the slums with special consideration that the people living in slums are vulnerable to regular floods. The city is chaotic as slums have become an eyesore for many Sierra Leoneans, a resettlement process would leave many jobless, too expensive and impossible due to a lack of accessible land, where would they go to begin a new life?

 

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MAAN, We Are Still in Here

December 6, 2017 by

Three years after the beginning of the Syria Revolution in March 2011, the revolutionaries, deliberately or Accidentally, began to take the shape of opposition parties. The international community and foreign media began using the ”Civil War” expression for any news about Syria. Islamist groups spread increased over the liberated areas adding to the appearance of Jabhat Al-Nusra as Qaeda branch in Syria, and the announcement of the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS). Even the Free Syrian Army which was known as the armed brigades on behalf of the revolution began to divide and show loyalty to stakeholders. In short, there was a big mess and disorder and Syrians had to bear the consequences of that in addition the Assad regime shelling by war crafts and helicopters.

Syrians Grassroots felt that they no longer have role in what was happening. They felt that their only role was bearing all kinds of death after the crack down of the Assad regime was in reach after he lost control slightly over two thirds of the country.

With all that situation in mind, I thought that something should be done. The grassroots’ voice should be heard again, we are in a public revolution not in a civil war, people, should keep updated with what was happening on the international level regarding Syria, and civilians should be at the front of the scene not behind it. I had the idea of creating a platform for interacting between Syrians and their revolution. In mid-2014 MAAN, which means ‘together’ in English, saw the light.

Many volunteers and me fixed an old building was being used as a wedding ceremonies hall before 2011, and decorated it to be the place where civilians of our region meet and discuss over local, national and international level. For my amazement, nearly 500 people registered themselves as members of MAAN in only the first week.

The main activities used to take place in MAAN Center were, weekly Syrian news discussions; daily reading books from a library with 10.000 multi-subject books  were gathered from civilians houses who supported the idea of MAAN; weekly seminars on different topics; public statements issued when necessary to express our region civilians attitude towards specific event; movie showing; and the door was open for any initiative held by the civilians to use MAAN as a space for their ideas.

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Later, after MAAN had 69 volunteers, we coordinated with supporters journalists and media professional to train a staff to issue a magazine its writer are only civilians. MAAN Magazine aimed to take the grassroots’ voice further. The 11 issues which were issued of the magazine were written and designed by people who never worked in media.

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MAAN was like a beehive where activities take place on a daily basis. After only few months, we were able to mobilize people in advocacy for human rights issues, and renew the demonstrations in the region but this time not only against the regime, but also against the opposition and armed brigades violations. MAAN Center could also enable grassroots to play accountability role on the local councils in Jabal Al-Zaweya region, 250.000 in population, through regular meeting between local councils members and civilians and mutual update of what local councils were doing and what people need.

In less than one year, MAAN opened other centers in many liberated regions all have the same name even though they were opened by different activists whether with or without any coordination with us. Tens of centers with other names were established in other regions inspired with the idea of bringing people together horizontally.

Islamic Brigades tried to close MAAN Center since the beginning accusing it of being a place where men and women gather at the same time which is a taboo according to them, but people protected the center and refused to stop its activities. It was also shelled by a barrel bomb by Assad regime but people again fixed it and reused.

Increasing Transparency; How today’s corporations appeal to consumers

December 5, 2017 by

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The age of unrestricted corporate expansion is over. Those industries and companies that were once set on nothing but the most effective way to increase capital, have now turned their sights to the moral high road. Obtaining ‘Fair Trade’, ‘Organic’, and ‘Non-GMO’ labels are all the rage. It seems that the once greedy capitalists that cared more about exploiting cheap workers, slack labor laws, low-valued currency, and non-existent import tariffs have had a change of heart. Why the sudden conviviality and desire for equality? Boris Felgendreher believes there are eight reasons why we have entered ‘The Age of Transparent Supply Chains’.

Even though consumers and regulations are cracking down on how, where, and with what material companies are making their goods, is it enough? Who or what is keeping these immeasurable international entities in check? The USDA reported that 43 percent of ‘organic’ samples they had collected in the Unites States ‘contained prohibited pesticide residues’. Some of this might be due to unintentional consequences, however that still leaves plenty unaccounted for, which means those corporations are still up to their old tricks, lies, and subterfuge. Around the globe, consumers want to make informed purchases and workers want to commit their resources to an institution and mission they value. There are plenty of non-profit, non-governmental, and volunteer organization that advocate for cleaner and more equitable modes of production internationally, yet when aid money is given into the hands of the corrupt and powerful, when oil spills are forgotten, when profits are made from war, the weaknesses in a watchdog system become abundantly clear.

New technology, however, can offer the promise of actual transparency and ownership. Blockchain technology was created to manage the online currency Bitcoin. The software uses peer-to-peer data transfer that keeps all transaction formation stored in a ‘block’. These blocks are linked together to create chains; hence the Blockchain. All transactions in a Blockchain are shared by other users on a vast web. Because all users are interlinked on the web, and each transaction has a digital signature, all users are able to access all transactions freely. This access makes Blockchain able to self-govern and stay truthful. If an unauthorized change in one transaction takes place, all nodes in the chain would be alerted instantly, and can make a decision communally to validate or reject the change. This technology has huge potential in keeping supply chains transparent, and companies know it.

Big multi-national companies such as Mars, Patagonia, Cargill, and IBM have already implemented new technology to keep their supply chains transparent and truthful. There are now more and more companies and start-ups that are focusing solely on creating and applying Blockchain technology such as: Provenance, Fluent, Skuchain, and Blockverify. All of these emergencies seem to shine the light at the end of the tunnel. Software, and other new technology, such as Blockchain could push us into a Great Transition, in which a new paradigm of sustainable practices and production provide planet earth with the ability to survive for centuries to come. Countering consumerism, individualism, embracing systems thinking, ensuring rights, building stakeholder partnerships, preserving nature are all necessary components of this new paradigm.

In order for these changes to take place, continual commitment and innovation to a unified cause are imperative. Therefore, transnational corporations need to be responsible global citizens, politicians and governments needs to prioritize their constituents’ values, and, most importantly, active and responsible citizens need to unify around a common vision and create a global movement.

 

 

 

December 4, 2017 by

Ivory Coast: People buy machetes to protect themselves against the “microbes”. Coming together to tackle common issue by Nicole Guehi

The phenomenon of microbes is taking a very worrying turn. There is no day passed without these “dangerous” kids attacking the life of honest citizens.

Face to the inability of the national security system to ensure the security and tranquillity of the population, self-defence groups are being created with the aim of overcoming any eventuality. People are getting together to tackle the insecurity issue affecting the whole population of the capital city.

According to a national newspaper (Le Quotidien), in Yopougon, the largest municipality of Côte d’Ivoire, heads of families or leaders buy knives, including machetes and weapons. A leader of a self-defence committee stated during a meeting with the media that he is determined to no longer watch the offenders attack residents and families without doing anything. He added that the Ivorian government has left the population in the hands of the “microbes”. Therefore, in different neighbourhood, communities are organising themselves for their own defence. They also provided themselves with knives and machetes for their safety as, according to them nobody is willing to protect them. He concluded nervously by saying that “in this country we have learned that when someone blows hot, you have to send the hot to cool down.

In other parts of the capital, people have started organising themselves. The aggressions and the attacks perpetrated by the “microbes” are persistent. Young people have also taken the resolution to defend themselves by joining adults in the self-defence. They argued that they have given themselves the means to respond to the terror of the “microbes”.

Everywhere, people took the responsibility to watch the safety of their neighbourhood day and night. They set up groups of 10 to 15 members each who watch over the security of each other.

They organize themselves to overcome these young delinquents. Even if they are not visible, these self-defence committees do exist. People set up surveillance groups to fight the “Microbes” who slashed their victims, after robbing them and taking of all their property, It is one of the self-defence committees that fought against one of the dangerous gang of the “microbe” in south Abidjan last July.

But if nothing is done, it’s clear that we fall into a cycle of violence. It is therefore up to the Ivorian authorities to act well and quickly not to fall into the law of talion where “an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth” is the motto.defence