Global Health Issues

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Part
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Tackling Health Issues in Low Income Countries - German Sentiment

While the requested information is not readily available in the public domain, there are indications that most Germans find it important for their government to play an active role in helping other countries solve their problems, including health-related challenges. There are other global issues that appear more important than health issues, however, and they include ending poverty and improving education. Germany is one of the frontrunners in the area of promoting good health and well-being for all and most Germans express satisfaction with the overall direction their country is taking, so it is likely that Germans are satisfied as well with the collective efforts of their government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as far as tackling health issues in low-income countries is concerned.

Since public sentiment is of interest, we looked for surveys, interviews, or opinion pieces of Germans and their views on the following topics: health issues in low-income, third-world, or developing countries, global issues, foreign or humanitarian aid, and the achievement of the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs). Information specific to health issues in low-income countries is very limited, but from the few surveys that we found, we were able to pull together insights that enabled us, in turn, to form conclusions about the public sentiment.

THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD PLAY AN ACTIVE ROLE

There is a source suggesting Germans, particularly young German adults, expect their government to play an active role in helping low-income countries tackle health issues. Page 56 of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Survey, which polled 3,641 young people aged 18-35 in Germany, shows that nearly all young German adults find it important for their country's government to play a part in solving other countries' problems. Fifty-four percent of young adults in the country believe their country's participation is very or extremely important, while 43% consider it slightly or moderately important. Given that the majority of young German adults view their country's participation as very or extremely important, we can deduce that most young German adults want their government to play an active role in solving other countries' problems, including health-related ones. Bertelsmann Stiftung's research in 2017 also indicates that 80% of Germans agree that the European Union should expand its role in global affairs.

GERMANS HAVE PRESSING INTERNAL PROBLEMS, HOWEVER

Though most young German adults believe their government should play an active role in helping less fortunate countries, Germans have other more pressing problems. Ipsos GmbH surveyed 1,630 German adults in 2017 on behalf of the Center for Insights in Survey Research, and respondents were asked to identify the most concerning problem Germany is facing.

Based on page 7 of the center's survey results, the problems that emerged on top were as follows: social inequality and poverty (18%), refugee policy (16%), terrorism (8%), pensions (7%), jobs and unemployment (7%), crime (6%), immigration control (6%), social problems (4%), rise of extremism (4%), education (4%), safety, security, and peace (4%), healthcare (3%), international wars or crises, politics or internal policy (2%), environment-related threats (2%), youth problems (1%), taxes (1%), democracy or rule of law (1%), economy (1%), European Union membership (1%), and others (2%). These figures suggest that these problems will be prioritized over other countries' health issues.

OTHER IMPORTANT GLOBAL ISSUES are more prioritized

According to Germans, some areas for international engagement deserve more attention than others. Page 9 of The Berlin Pulse shows that, based on a survey of 1,005 German respondents in 2017, the areas Germans think require Germany's engagement, in order of decreasing importance, are as follows: fighting terrorism and ensuring security (71%), protecting the climate and the environment (67%), protecting human rights worldwide (64%), controlling illegal immigration to their country (54%), improving developing countries' living conditions (49%), protecting their country's interests overseas (41%), and helping other countries achieve democracy (24%).

On the other hand, Ipsos published a slide presentation of its Goalkeepers Global Youth Outlook Poll that it conducted for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and based on slide 39 of this presentation, when it comes to global issues, German adults find promoting health (17%) more important than improving access to jobs (8%) but less important than ending poverty (45%), improving economic fairness (23%), and improving education (21%). German youth find promoting health (17%) more important than improving access to jobs (12%) but less important than ending poverty (38%), improving education (25%), and ending conflicts (21%).

MOST GERMANS ARE SATISFIED WITH THE DIRECTION THEIR COUNTRY IS TAKING

Based on Bertelsmann Stiftung's research in 2017, 59% of Germans express satisfaction with the overall direction Germany is taking. This finding suggests that Germans may also be satisfied with their country's collective efforts as far as health issues in low-income countries are concerned. Sources indicate that the country is one of the most active countries in the area of global health.

In an article published by the Council on Foreign Relations, it was mentioned that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, wrote the global health community and the World Health Organization (WHO) a letter, publicly asking for increased commitment to the SDGs of the United Nations and recommending that the WHO develop a “Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All.” The three leaders hope the action plan can be prepared in time for the next World Health Summit, which will be held in Berlin. "Good health and well-being" is Goal 3 of the United Nations' SDGs.

It was mentioned in the article as well that Germany is intensifying its efforts, politically and financially, to alleviate global health problems. Germany is one of the main contributors to The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the WHO's Contingency Fund for Emergencies. A study published in the journal The Lancet also talked about Germany's growing role in the area of global health. According to this study, "Germany has become a visible actor in global health in the past 10 years."

Considering that Germany is one of the few countries at the forefront of advancing global health and the United Nation's SDGs, it is unlikely that Germans have any complaints as to how their government and NGOs are tackling health issues in low-income countries. As mentioned earlier, Bertelsmann Stiftung's research found that most Germans are satisfied with the direction their country is taking and that among European countries, the satisfaction rate is highest in Germany. Moreover, according to slides 67 and 68 of the Goalkeepers Global Youth Outlook Poll, 65% of German adults and 66% of German youth find the United Nations' SDGs important.


Part
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of two
Part
02

Tackling Health Issues in Low Income Countries - UK Sentiment

Based on multiple sources, the UK public thinks that their government and other non-governmental organizations in the United Kingdom should be more concerned with providing foreign aid as well as supporting developing countries to tackle their health issues. A recent announcement by the International Development Secretary that the UK was planning to reduce foreign aid to developing countries was met with resistance from the UK public, with the hashtag "#proudofaid" going viral on Twitter. Below is our methodology, as well as a deep dive into our findings.

METHODOLOGY

To gather insights into the sentiments of the public in the UK about how the government and UK based non-governmental organizations should be tackling health issues in low-income countries, we first searched through various credible public surveys, opinion polls, and petitions such as YouGov, SmartSurvey, OnePoll, Kantar Surveys, BBC Opinion Poll, Change Petition, among others. Through this search, we hoped to identify any pre-compiled insights into this concern. We found out that multiple sources shared government parties debates and political issues concerning the UK government policies for international aid and supporting mental healthcare in low-income countries, but no robust insights could be found highlighting the public sentiments.

Next, we searched through multiple UK news forums such as BBC, The Telegraph, Denver, The Guardian, Express, among others, to identify any recent major issue covered by news forums relating to "tackling health issues in low-income countries " by the UK government and other NGO's. We hoped to use this information as a proxy to dig deeper and search through multiple sources for the public sentiment in the country and the people's take on how the UK government should be tackling health issues in low-income countries. Through this search, we found news articles from BBC and The Telegraph on the recent decision by the UK government to slash its foreign aid (0.7% of total national income) to developing countries which is mostly used to support health, welfare, education, and other national issues of the low-income countries.

By further searching through the news articles mentioned above, social media sites (Twitter), and community sites such as FeverBee, we found various evidence of public sentiments on the UK government's decision. We found multiple news articles, social media viral tweets (#proudofaid with more than 10,600 tweets), along with petition letters to members of parliament from the public urging them to support foreign aid to low-income countries.

Additionally, we found other sources from educational institutions (York University and Kings College), which shared the institutions' volunteer actions to help low-income countries tackle their health issues. The sources also highlighted the sentiments of senior researchers from the institutions on the 'treatment gap' and support provided by the government and other institutions to support mental health patients in low-income countries.

CUT IN FOREIGN AID TO LOW -INCOME COUNTRIES

According to a recent decision by the UK government, they were planning to reduce overseas aid that is granted to low-income countries to support health advancement, poverty eradication, encouraging sustainability, and in-home development. The UK government spends £13 billion every year (0.7% of national income) in overseas aid for developing countries. According to Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, the UK could slash foreign funding to countries that do not invest in their people.

The government's decision to cut foreign aid funding to developing countries created unrest among the UK public and caused various debates in communities. The UK people care about this issue, and they disagree with the government's decision. The UK public feel that supporting low-income countries to tackle poverty and underlying health issues is a matter of great importance that brings honor to the UK. They also believe that overseas aid has greatly impacted the third world countries in building sustainable health systems, and they feel like slashing foreign aid is a step in the wrong direction.

News from BBC, Telegraph, and Devex captured the concerns of people who think that UK government should take back the decision as the move will violate the OECD rules, tarnish the country's integrity, and diminish the credibility of the UK. The public also thinks that 0.7% spending of the total national income is a minimal amount for the world's fifth wealthiest nation to be worried about. A letter on behalf of all CARE supporters was written to UK members of parliament to take back the decision to cut the foreign aid and continue to support the 62 million people in low-income countries who get financial aid support from the UK that helps them to access clean water and better sanitation.

In protest against the UK government's decision to slash foreign aid to low-income countries, the public took to social media with the Twitter hashtag, #proudofaid, going viral and more than 10,600 tweets were generated with a potential reach to 50.9 million people, and it was the fourth most trending hashtag in the UK.

OTHER ACTIONS, OPINIONS, AND SENTIMENTS

IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTHCARE IN SIERRA LEONE
As part of social intervention, researchers from the University of York volunteered to support healthcare reforms for improving healthcare access in the low-income country of Sierra Leone. They feel that there is a treatment gap in addressing the aid for people experiencing mental distress in low and middle-income countries such as Sierra Leone.

SCALING UP MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Researchers and students from the Kings College of London helped in developing international guidelines for improving mental health care in developing countries. These researchers feel that there is a treatment gap to aid the developing countries where fewer than 10% of people with mental health problems get access to treatment.

LOW-INCOME COUNTRIES CANNOT EFFECTIVELY TACKLE MENTAL HEALTH
The Telegraph highlights the sentiments of the public on why developing countries are ill-equipped to tackle mental healthcare. According to Dr. Shekhar Saxena, a former World Health Organization mental health director, there is a lack of funding to effectively deal with mental health issues in low-income countries.
Sources
Sources