The recent South American Zika outbreak and the humanitarian crisis in Syria has once again demonstrated the vulnerability of women and children in developing nations. The unfortunate fact is that these two large sections of the population demographic are more susceptible to a host of issues stemming from poverty and war and are more likely to suffer in areas of poverty and violence.
In addition to the health complications associated with a lack of proper nutrition and water-borne parasites, women and children are also more likely to endure violence and mistreatment during war or civil upheaval, which can compound and exacerbate health problems or create new health issues.
Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) has spent the last 25 years assisting women and children all over the world who have suffered debilitating illness or who have been victims of wartime violence.
Last month, the Canadian charitable organization shipped a container of medical tools and donated medicine to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of its work with HEAL Africa, an organization committed to providing healthcare, education, community action and leadership development programs all over Africa. The massive medical supply shipment is part of Health Partner’s ongoing effort to provide health care and access to medicine in conflict areas.
According to Doctors Without Borders, in addition to nutritional and gastrointestinal illnesses, HIV and mosquito-borne disease, rape, murder, kidnapping, and random acts of violence are all unfortunate daily occurrences for many people residing in the DRC.
“[HPIC’s] shipment, which literally is a delivery of health and hope for the women and children at HEAL Africa, will include medicines for the first time and a major donation from Apotex,” said Helen Crawley, HPIC’s Director of NGO Programs.
The four skids of pharmaceuticals that were included in January’s donation were given by Canadian generic drug manufacturer, Apotex, and will go a long way in treating Congolese women and children in remote areas.
“HEAL Africa will be receiving two pallets of acetaminophen or enough to provide 21,000 treatments,” said Crawley of the Apotex donation. “Acetaminophen is useful for managing pain after surgery and effective pain control can help speed the recovery process.”
The partnership between Apotex and HPIC shows just how important access to medicine and life-saving drugs is, coupled with access to healthcare. A 2014 report by the Access to Medicine Index found that, “pharmaceutical companies influence access to medicines in developing countries through the development of innovative and adapted products, operating equitable pricing strategies and building local capacity.”
The collaboration between HPIC, HEAL Africa and Apotex is one of the many examples of private companies in the healthcare space providing help to some of the world’s most desperate communities.
In 2012, the world’s largest drug manufacturers signed a pact with the WHO to work together to eradicate 10 of the world’s neglected tropical diseases by 2020. The consorted group will have disbursed more than 14 billion doses of medicine, treating a variety of illnesses including Leprosy, sleeping sickness and Guinea worm.
“In a project expected to affect the lives of a billion people worldwide, the partnership pledged more than $785 million to support NTD research and development (R&D) and strengthen drug distribution and treatment programs,” wrote Kate Kelland for Reuters.
Also recently, late last month, American company Johnson and Johnson donated thousands of deworming tablets to schoolchildren in Johannesburg to help treat the growing gastrointestinal worm epidemic.
The South African project is part of a larger global initiative aimed at eradicating these water-based parasites that make millions of children in developing countries ill annually.
Helping women and children’s health, while allowing them to get back on their feet and back to their daily routines, is driving the humanitarian efforts in Africa and across the globe. If anything, these international initiatives evidence the ripple effect that advocacy and empathy can have and the good that can come from charitable contributions made by private institutions.