Universal well-being for all
While we would all like holidays for greater health and well-being, more than 6 million children die even before their fifth birthday every year still, many in places we visit: 4 out of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa. 16,000 children still die each day from preventable diseases such as measles and tuberculosis and AIDS, now the leading cause of death among teenagers in sub-Saharan Africa (UN).
These deaths can be avoided through prevention and treatment, education, immunization campaigns, and sexual and reproductive healthcare.
For this reason, Sustainable Development Goal #3 of the 17 Global Goals is:
SDG #3 "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages"
The Goal addresses all major health priorities, including reproductive, maternal and child health; sexual health; communicable (passed from person to person), non-communicable and environmental diseases; and mental health. It calls for universal health coverage, access for all to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and vaccines, more research and development, increased health financing, and strengthened capacity of all countries in health risk reduction and management.
National health systems are often under-resourced, private healthcare prohibitively expensive, and affordable services extremely limited, leaving many with no viable healthcare options. Risk reduction strategies are therefore vital to reduce the need for medical care.
Poor health was recognised by the government in Madagascar as one of the key challenges in the Madagascar Action Plan of 2007-2012, but since 2009, political crisis saw government spending on health cut by 75%, education cut by 82%, the price of basic food staples like rice double, and the value of saleable assets like cattle halved. As such, Madagascar is one of the world's least developed countries and most impoverished.
“At only $22 per day, the Malagasy national health system is amongst the worst funded in the world” — World Health Organisation, 2014.
- SEED Madagascar volunteers work on grassroots projects alongside Malagasy communities and their own sustainable solutions for health, education, livelihoods and conservation in this amazing destination.
- Malawi is also amongst the world's least-developed and lowest per capita income countries in the world, heavily dependent on outside aid to meet needs for healthcare. RSC seek to rectify this through sustainable development by social enterprise, reducing the dependence on the aid industry by driving tourism-generated income to rural communities through partnership and education.
- In Kenya, MWCT supports the Maasai with employment of the only doctor and provision of the only ambulance in the area; 4 sustainably solar-powered health facilities with dispensaries and one clinic equipped with modern laboratory for enhanced diagnosis and treatment, a lab technician and 7 support staff.
- Jicaro Island Ecolodge’s initiatives have included creating a new community health centre, enabling medical professionals to operate vital equipment needed for medical examinations.
- Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge in Nepal provide an ambulance for emergencies and have supported the local Nepal Red Cross branch to construct a meeting hall as a training and disaster-preparedness centre.
Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from wealthier families. And children of educated mothers—even mothers with only primary schooling—are more likely to survive than children of mothers with no education.
- In Madagascar, inadequate diets lead to 50% of children under 3 malnourished and suffering retarded growth, with 10% dying (40% in rural areas) before the age of 5 from easily preventable diseases, such as diarrhoea.
- In Kenya, MWCT’s health outreach to remote areas has meant greater child immunisation, prenatal care, early disease detection and treatment including for breast and cervical cancers.
- In Nicaragua, Jicaro Island Ecolodge aim to fight malnutrition with “a glass of milk” (the project’s name) and a snack before classes for students.
Every day hundreds of women still die during pregnancy or from child-birth related complications. In many rural areas, only 56 percent of births are attended by skilled professionals and in developing regions, where only half of women receive the recommended amount of health care they need, the maternal mortality ratio – the proportion of mothers that do not survive childbirth compared to those who do – is still 14 times higher than in developed regions.
In Madagascar, Malagasy women are over 55 times more likely to die from maternity related causes than women in the UK. Increasing community awareness of healthy practices during pregnancy and birth can be offered through education of pregnant women, their families and community elders. This may include simple messages such as the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy, reinforced through illustrated information cards specifically designed for people who cannot read or write, and home visits.
- SEED Madagascar’s health education project in Fort Dauphin increases women’s access to quality sexual, reproductive, maternal and child health information.
- In Kenya, MWCT was donated an ambulance in 2012 which is a huge help and has expanded the reach of medical capabilities for emergencies in remote villages. For example, for local Maasai in Kuku Group Ranch, enabling emergency c-sections to be performed where otherwise a mother or baby's life could in jeopardy.
Sexual health is often taboo in traditional societies, but high incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can suggest widespread practice of risk-taking sexual behaviours and high vulnerability to HIV. STIs are unpleasant and embarrassing at the best of times, no one likes having to go and get tested. However, they are a serious health hazard and can increase the chances of contracting HIV, if exposed through sexual contact, by as much as 200%-500%. So, no matter how embarrassing or awkward to discuss testing with a partner, STIs must be taken seriously and action taken as soon as possible. Without having the correct knowledge, people are prevented from openly discussing sexual health matters and the ability to act on it, so STIs and HIV/AIDS will continue to spread. Education is key.
Globally, adolescent girls and young women face gender-based inequalities, exclusion, discrimination and violence, which put them at increased risk of acquiring HIV, the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide. AIDS is also now the leading cause of death among adolescents (aged 10–19) in Africa and the second most common cause of death among adolescents globally.
Malawi’s high prevalence of HIV/AIDS (12% of the population), sees at least 70% of Malawi's hospital beds occupied by HIV/AIDS patients.
While young people are particularly at risk, they are also quick to pick up new information and more open and willing to change their behaviour than older people. A broad sexual health education can offer the people tools necessary to negotiate safer sexual relationships with the goal of preventing the transmission of HIV and STIs and reducing unintended pregnancies, safe sex, and raising awareness for STIs and HIV. Taking control of sexual health and making healthier life decisions can impact on future generations.
- SEED Madagascar works with young people to raise awareness of safe sexual practices and develop their sexual health knowledge prior to the establishment of sexual practices, which can be as young as 11 in the region, encouraging people to change behaviours.
- In Kenya, MWCT hold regular friendly youth sports tournaments to encourage health education, promotion, awareness and counselling including for Female Genital Mutilation (FGV) and HIV/Aids, including voluntary testing.
Sanitation & hygiene
In 2012, an estimated 889,000 people died from infectious diseases caused largely by faecal contamination of water and soil and by inadequate hand-washing facilities and practices resulting from poor or non-existent sanitation services. In 2012, household and ambient air pollution resulted in some 6.5 million deaths.
- In Malawi, 2 million don't have access to safe water; 10 million don't have access to adequate sanitation and over 3,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.
Take part in a Global Development Workshop for health and well-being and you’ll contribute a PES contributing to local health, learn about village healthcare provision, clean water access HIV, malaria, bilharzia and malnutrition, work with a community NGO and volunteer to raise awareness of a key rural health issues; and visit village facilities on the shores of Lake Malawi.
Open defecation occurs where people have no choice but to defecate outside onto the ground, often in full view of other people. It affects around 15% of the world’s population, almost entirely in poor areas. It’s unpleasant to live with and bad for public health – attracting flies and pests which transfer germs from exposed faeces to food and water sources and spread disease. A single gram of faeces can contain as many as 10,000,000 viruses, 1,000,000 bacteria, 100 parasitic cysts and 100 parasitic eggs. However, a lack of material resources coupled with local taboos can make this no simple challenge.
In Madagascar, poor hygiene leads to typhoid, polio, acute respiratory infections and trachoma blindness. Only 14% of people have access to improved sanitation facilities (Unicef, 2014).
- SEED Madagascar is tackling open defecation through projects in urban Fort Dauphin and rural communities to stimulate debate around the issue, encouraging people to question traditional practices and to adopt new, healthier approaches, supported by the construction of hundreds of new latrines built in homes and schools throughout the region. Some 38,000 people (60% of Fort Dauphin’s population) are expected to participate in at least one of the project’s activities and the entire population will benefit from a cleaner, safer environment.
Non-communicable diseases (not passed from person to person)
Of all deaths among persons under the age of 70, commonly referred to as premature deaths, an estimated 52 per cent were as a result of non-communicable diseases. Of those, over three quarters were caused by the four main categories of non-communicable disease: cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.
Respiratory disease is a common consequence of smoke inhalation caused by fossil fuel fires.
- SEED Madagascar is supporting people to build fuel-efficient stoves to minimise smoke inhalation and eye infections as well as reduce pressure on protected forests.
Substance use and substance-use disorders have also created a significant public health burden.
Worldwide, alcohol consumption was highest in the developed regions (10.4l per person) and lowest in Northern Africa (0.5l per person).
In 2013, only about 1 in 6 people worldwide suffering from drug-use disorders received treatment: Approximately 1 in 18 in Africa, compared with 1 in 5 in Western and Central Europe.
Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression occur in all regions and cultures and can lead to suicide: 86% under the age of 70, and globally, the second leading cause of death age 15-29.
Take a trip to one of our fantastic destinations and you’ll be supporting their local people, communities and their wellness initiatives. But we must not forget the importance of our own health to be able to support others. We can make lifestyle choices in our own consumption and exercise, which can affect the health of communities half the world away (such as reducing all use of plastics) and in taking breaks for our all-round well-being.
We need to get away from work and daily life, to switch off our stressors, breath in fresh air, relax, retreat and recharge. Spending time in nature is energising, connecting with people is motivating and exercise is revitalising.
- Detox with organic, local food and out of this world taste; de-stress and be pampered with a spa; retreat, relax and recharge in a hammock in Costa Rica, Nicaragua or Indonesia.
- Improve your fitness with a charity challenge in Malawi, horse-riding in Kenya, snorkelling at Chumbe Island Marine Park in Tanzania and all manner of activities at Nikoi Island!
- And often, change is as good as rest: join a sailing expedition across the ocean for a real change of scene.
Discover true health and wellness with all of our Earth Changers destinations.