Human Health and Heredity in Africa: Research Grants Program

The National Institutes of Health, otherwise called NIH, is an agency operating in the United States Department of Health and Human Services that is seriously in command of ensuring and supporting all of the country’s biomedical and health-related research studies.

The grants and objectives of the NIH are all aimed towards contributing to the realization of their agency mission, which is to “seek elemental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that information to enhance health, lengthen life, and scale back the burdens of illness and disability.”

As per this mission, the National Institutes of Health has established the Human Health and Heredity in Africa: Research Grants Program whereby they plan to invite applications from foreign institutions that are based in African states who have got the desire to conduct scientific studies referring to the genomic/genetic/environmental contributors of human health and diseases which are widespread in Africa.

The project proposes to achieve its objectives by making use of state of the art, cutting edge research tools which may greatly aid the analysts in the process of thoroughly understanding the diseases and conditions that are affecting the African people.

The Human Health and Heredity in Africa: Research Grants Program was at first created to handle the concerns of low and middle-income states who are having the difficulty to safeguard and sustain the health and contentment of its folks.

The target counties frequently face the burden of having to address numerous health conditions like infectious diseases, malnutrition, and a rising number of chronic diseases.

The project aims to address this concerns by targeting the boundaries of the research studies in the following areas:

1) Genetic/environmental contributors to non-communicable illnesses in Africa

2) Genetic/environmental contributors to infectious illnesses in Africa

3) Contribution of the human microbiome to health and diseases in Africa

4) The occurrence of Mendelian diseases in Africa

5) The field of Pharmacogenics

The National Institutes of Health is ready to administer a total funding amount of $1.25 million every year, which can last as long as four years.

The establishments and organisations that are able to submit an application under Human Health and Heredity in Africa: Research Grants Program are the following:

a) Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (African Establishments) like African institutions, Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education, and Private Institutions of Higher Education

b) Non domestic foreign institutions.

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A Look At South African Poverty!

South Africa can boast of a mixture of several races and cultures due to its historical background. Several different population groups with different languages, cultural backgrounds and origins all reside in South Africa. If one were to measure human development by established standards such as life expectancy, infant mortality and adult illiteracy, South Africa would compare unfavorably with many other middle-income countries of the world. These indicators also vary widely by race group, gender and geographical location within the country.

Poverty can perhaps be defined as the inability to attain a minimal standard of living, measured against basic consumption needs or the income which is required to satisfy them. It is conventional to use a poverty line in order to reflect the monetary value of consumption which separates the poor from the non-poor. In the case of South Africa this can be defined by considering the poorest 40% of households (about 19 million people or just fewer than 50% of the population) as poor.

The majority of these poor people reside in rural areas. In fact although 50% of the population of South Africa is rural, the rural areas contain 72% of those members of the total population who are poor. The poverty rate, which is the proportion of people in a particular group or area falling below the poverty line, which actually measures how widespread poverty is for rural areas is, 71%. The poverty gap was about R28 billion in 1995, and 76% of this was accounted for by the rural areas.

When considering South Africa’s poverty it is necessary that prevailing accounting systems are investigated. In fact in many instances the national income of developing countries are not properly evaluated due to the fact that economic activity in these places takes place outside the recorded sector. Commonly dubbed as the informal sector, these activities are responsible for most economic activity in South Africa. Of course, it does not appear in the national income sheet because such transactions are unrecorded!

When considering South Africa’s poverty relative to the rest of the continent or perhaps even the western nations, it is easy to devalue the culture of African people. Many times when examining South Africa’s poverty people get caught up in the desolation of the nationals. It is important to recognize the output of its people in order to attempt to alleviate poverty for this nation.

Maternal Health in Africa

Maternal health is a huge problem in Africa, with 50 percent of maternal deaths happening on the continent. African woman are a staggering 100 times more likely to die during childbirth than elsewhere, with around one and a half thousand of such cases every day.

One of the main causes for these tragic statistics is the lack of adequate facilities. Hospitals can be few and far between in some areas, and the hospitals there are often do not have enough trained midwives, meaning the care is not of the same standard expected elsewhere in the world. This is compounded by some of the best doctors moving to other countries where salaries are better. There is also a lack of up-to-date equipment and drugs. Many pregnant women are forced to walk many miles to a hospital, which contributes towards only 20 per cent of births taking place in hospitals.

Around 50 percent of births happen at home, and unlike elsewhere these usually do not include the help of fully qualified midwives. As well as those outlined above, one reason for this is the cost. A hospital birth usually costs around $6, which goes up to $15 if a cesarean is required. Traditional birth attendants often help with home birth but they are not qualified. They do though only cost around $2. Many more maternal health problems arise at home births in comparison with those at hospitals. Local clinics account for 30 per cent of births in Africa. The mortality rate here is also much higher than hospitals, partly because they are insufficiently equipped to deal with complications such as cesareans.

There are significantly more births in Africa than on any other continent. With women typically having more children, it multiplies the risk of maternal health problems. Part of the reason for more births is the child mortality rate, due to epidemics such as aids, malaria and starvation, and the lack of contraception. Because so many children die, people tend to have more children to increase the chances of some reaching adulthood.

Aids is another massive problem. The lack of availability of education about contraception is one of the reasons for this. Even where there is availability it is not affordable for all. If a mother has Aids or HIV during pregnancy this will get passed onto her children. Many Mothers die from Aids leaving their children Motherless, and if their Fathers have also succumbed to the decease, as often happens, then Brothers and Sisters can be left to look after themselves. This causes all sorts of social issues, and further increases the changes of starvation.

Lack of education around the whole subject of family planning means there are more pregnancies not just for adults, but also for young girls. This results in many becoming pregnant young before their bodies are able to fully cope with giving birth, meaning yet more maternal health issues.

5 Ways on How to Help Poverty Victims in Africa

Most people think they are not in a position to help poverty victims. I strongly believe that any one can lend a helping hand and it does not always have to be through offering some money. Let me share briefly about how to help poverty victims in Africa.

Food

Food is one of the basic necessities for any human being. Food has become scarce in the continent because of the decline in food production brought about by numerous factors. Droughts, famine, lack of resource, deaths are one of the factors that have made food scarce. More and more the African depends on hand outs to feed its population and people are dying of hunger. Help in the form of food can make a huge difference.

Health care

Health care is another way to help poverty victims in Africa. Almost every homestead has been affected by the limitation or shortage of adequate access to health care in the continent (UN, worldhealth.org). The reality is, Africans are challenged when it comes to health, besides their beliefs in their own traditional medicines. Some deaths are caused by the lack of health care as some of the diseases like AIDS are manageable but people die earlier than they should.

Shelter

There is a growing population of the homeless in the continent who can no longer be ignored. Almost every city has people who stay there, sleep in pipes etc. These people have been displaced by different reasons but the common denominator is that all of them are homeless.

Education

I strongly believe that one of the ways to fight poverty and to cut the chain of poverty is through education. If a member of poverty stricken family is given access to education it is believed he/she would generate income and take care of his/her siblings as dependants their lives would not be the same. Different reasons deprive African children of education and which they much need to change their lives.

Self -sustaining projects

This my last point about how to help poverty victims in Africa.

It may be hard to always be donating to people but if they also try to move from their poverty situations it becomes a lesser burden. In some parts of the continent the people only need mealie-meal but they are able to make a living by growing vegetables to feed themselves and sell the surplus. It is encouraging to see the people trying to help themselves than solely relying on hand outs. Helping Africans to start their self-sustaining projects especially in food production is one way one would help to fight poverty in Africa and Africans can also help themselves. They may be poor and hungry but they had workers.