Author: Madeline Reding

Madeline Reding writes for The Borgen Project from St. Paul, MN. Her academic interests include biology and creative writing. She has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellow, studying late-onset Tay-Sachs disease, and she dreams of writing for National Geographic.

SEATTLE — In December 2015, a yellow fever breakout in Africa triggered a local and international vaccine shortage.  The outbreak began in Angola and quickly overwhelmed the global emergency supply.  Brazil donated 18 million doses; South Sudan contributed 400,000. Healthcare workers diluted each dose of vaccine to 20 percent of its usual concentration to fight the vaccine shortage and contain the outbreak. Another vaccine shortage may be likely.  The BBC reported last month that Brazil ordered 11.5 million doses to combat a local outbreak.  Scientists are investigating 300 cases of yellow fever. They confirmed 70 cases and 40 deaths. Yellow fever is still prevalent in Africa, Central America and…

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Global Health Innovation Act is a bill currently between the House and the Senate. It was originally sponsored by Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ), who said its purpose was “to encourage the development of health products that are affordable, culturally appropriate, and easy to use in low-resource health systems.” This bill was passed by the House of Representatives on December 18, 2015 but was never passed by the Senate as Congress adjourned before it was considered. The Global Health Innovation Act would require the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) “to report annually to Congress on the…

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota — The frequency of flooding in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Vrbas River basin has tripled in the last 10 years. Indeed, in May 2014, the country was subject to its most extensive and damaging floods in the past 150 years. The flooding caused 23 deaths and $2.7 billion of damage — or 15 percent of the country’s GDP. As many as 90,000 people were displaced from their homes, and 25,000 homes were severely damaged or destroyed entirely. The Vrbas River valley is home to war veterans, previously displaced populations and families living in poverty. Further, as the United Nations Development…

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SEATTLE, Washington — Climate change hits low-income countries the hardest. Rainfall has become less reliable, leading to extreme droughts, and growing seasons have shortened. Particularly in regions that may already struggle with unemployment, inadequate infrastructure and political instability, food security and income suffer as a result of climatic changes. Water scarcity may also contribute to tension between people. In Sudan, for example, 12 million hectares of agricultural land are typically irrigated by rain. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has partnered with the Canadian government to provide solar-powered water pumps to farmers in Sudan and several other low-income countries. The…

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SEATTLE — The U.S. Congress holds the “power of the purse,” or the ability to set the nation’s priorities with the approval of the nearly $2 trillion federal budget. Each year, the president submits a prospective budget to Congress, and each year, both House and Senate must agree on its final form. In the Federalist Papers, James Madison called this process “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.” The federal budget includes funding for items as varied as highway construction, military spending, and disability insurance. Over time, the congressional budgeting process has…

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KIGALI, Rwanda — Neglected tropical diseases are a group of bacterial and parasitic infections most often contracted by people living in impoverished regions. They can lead to pain, malnutrition, and disability. This class of diseases may also be associated with social stigma, isolation, and a continuing a cycle of poverty. The effects of these diseases are particularly formidable given the extent of their impact: about one billion people, or one in seven people worldwide, suffer from at least one of these diseases. USAID has focused its attention on the treatment and prevention of seven specific diseases, which account for 80…

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SEATTLE — Sub-Saharan Africa is set to more than double it’s population—from 1.1 billion people to 2.4 billion—by the year 2050. However, over the past several decades, the region has experienced a decline in food production per person. In order to feed the world’s growing population, agricultural productivity will need to improve. Agricultural productivity is largely a reflection of poverty. In Malawi, for example, the 80 percent of the population works in agriculture, though agriculture accounts for only 36 percent of the country’s GDP. About 25 percent of the population exhausts their food supply just 5 months after harvest, and…

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Worldwide, 663 million people live without access to clean water. Less than a third of the world’s population, or 2.4 billion people, do not have access to flush toilets. Further, only 19 percent of the world’s population washes their hands after contact with feces. Handwashing with soap and water could save as many as 1 million lives every year. In addition to basic health, water quality and availability play a role in areas as diverse as education and gender equality. Children in developing countries miss 20 percent of school days as a result of diarrhea, typhoid,…

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SEATTLE, Washington — Worldwide, there are some 36.7 million people living with HIV; most of these patients live in low and middle-income countries. As researchers work toward a functional cure for the disease, two recent studies have brought promising new discoveries to light. At the University of Valencia (UV), researchers studying the relationship between the immune system in HIV patients and their intestinal flora found that some patients have a subset of bacteria that respond to antiretroviral therapies (ART). These bacteria both respond to and contribute to the patient’s recovery by producing anti-inflammatory molecules, which combat the immune deficiency and intestinal…

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SEATTLE — There are some 4.5 billion cell phones in use in developing countries — a number that tripled between 2005 and 2010, as reported by the International Telecommunications Union. The cell phones are put to good use; in Kenya alone, $1 billion worth of transactions are carried out per month using banking applications on cell phones. A 10 percent increase in cell phone use can boost economic growth as much as 1.2 percent. Interestingly, in areas where cell phones are not available for women, market growth may decrease significantly. Of course, cell phones have other uses outside of economic development. USAID supports…

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