Billions of people worldwide are at risk for contracting life-threatening endemic diseases, which thrive in the world’s poorest regions. The Life You Can Save’s recommended nonprofits do work that prevents, contains and treats such diseases in some of the world’s most impoverished areas.
A diagnosis of HIV is no longer the death knell it was before antiretroviral treatment (ART). In 2015, 17 million people globally were receiving ART—up from just 0.8 million in 2003. And new HIV infections fell 35 percent between 2000 and 2015, from 3.5 million cases to 1.1 million. Despite these advances, 36.7 million people still live with HIV/AIDS worldwide, with risk of contraction significantly higher in endemic regions. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected area, where there are 25.6 million people living with HIV and two-thirds of new global infections arise. Expanding ART and prevention choices can help avert 21 million AIDS-related deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.
In the last 15 years, 6.2 million malaria-related deaths have been averted, the majority in children under five years living in sub-Saharan Africa. During the same time period, the global malaria incidence rate fell by 37 percent and the mortality rate by 58 percent. However, malaria continues to pose significant health risks—especially for vulnerable groups such as young children and pregnant women. 2015 saw 214 million new cases of infection—472,000 of them fatal. In 97 countries, the disease is still endemic and 3.3 billion people continue to be at risk, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 80 percent of related deaths worldwide. We must continue progressing in protecting those in poor, high-risk areas from this crippling disease.
Schistosomiasis (parasitic worms)
Schistosomiasis is a waterborne disease of poverty that leads to chronic and disabling ill-health for millions globally—particularly children—with hundreds of millions at risk. An estimated 66.5 million were treated for schistosomiasis in 2015, while a boggling 218 million people required preventative treatment, with nearly 83 percent of treatments in sub-Saharan Africa. Simple and inexpensive preventative treatment can be a game-changer in averting health and economic ill-effects of this insidious disease that we in developed countries have rarely heard of.
Around the world, 285 million people are visually impaired, of whom 39 million are blind. More than 90 percent of the visually impaired live in impoverished regions. Cataracts--a clouding of the eye-- and Trachoma--a bacterial eye infection-- are the main causes of these highly debilitating causes of loss of vision for people living in poverty, leading to loss of education, employment, and often survival, not to mention quality of life. Yet 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured--work in which two of our recommended nonprofits are global pioneers.
Among the many health problems endured by those in developing countries that are now virtually unknown in affluent parts of the world, is obstetric fistula. This devastating injury caused by difficult childbirth renders a woman incontinent and frequently results in her ostracization from family and community. Surgery is literally and figuratively transformative , and the cost is a fraction of what such a procedure would cost in industrialized countries.