There’s no denying that winter is a more challenging time for everyone due to chilly weather and shorter, darker days. Despite this, in the UK, most of us can wrap up warm in our centrally heated homes, shutting out the cold and darkness. Unfortunately, people in developing countries aren’t gifted with such a privilege. Instead, they’re forced to combat winter health hazards without any protective provisions, resulting in discomfort, illnesses and, sometimes, death.
Here at Orphans in Need, we work to protect people in developing countries from the detrimental effects of winter. We’ve put together a list of winter health facts to explain how threatening winter can be in developing countries.
It Gets Bitterly Cold
First thing’s first, it needs to be addressed just how much the temperature can drop in each of these countries. It’s widely believed that Asian and African countries stay warm and mild all year round; however, this is false. For example, winter temperatures in Pakistan can drop to as little as -2°C.
Here in the UK, we typically don’t see temperatures drop below 2ͦC, yet we’re still sure to wrap up in winter coats and put the heating on full blast. In the absence of amenities such as these, any temperature lower than 10ͦC can be detrimental to health and wellbeing.
Neonatal Hypothermia is Extremely Common
Neonatal hypothermia describes hypothermia in newborns due to an inability to keep them warm after birth. The prevalence range of neonatal hypothermia in infants born in hospitals in developing countries ranges from 32% to 85%, whereas in homes in developing nations ranges anywhere between 11% and 92%.
This is because structures in developing countries don’t have thermal protection, leaving newborns susceptible to the cold and resulting in neonatal hypothermia. Though this doesn’t tend to be the direct cause of death, the severe infections caused by it often lead to mortality.
Mild Winter Illnesses Can be Deadly
In the UK, many of us can easily fight off the common cold, flu, and coronavirus. We can even get vaccinated to prevent infection and can undergo self-isolation upon becoming infected. However, in developing countries, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Due to a lack of nourishment, people in these countries don’t have strong enough immune systems to combat these illnesses. Additionally, the healthcare systems in these countries aren’t properly equipped to treat even the simplest of illnesses. On top of this, people in developing countries often have to live in cramped conditions, making diseases extremely transmissible. Finally, a lack of running water means that people can’t wash their hands regularly, further contributing to the spread.
People Don’t Have the Means to Warm Up
Many people in developing countries live in makeshift shelters that aren’t designed for permanent living. As a result, the homes have next to no insulation, meaning they’re completely useless when it comes to retaining heat. Similarly, people in developing countries can’t afford to fill their cupboards with cosy jumpers and fluffy blankets, further stunting their ability to shut out the cold.
On top of this, not all homes are equipped with gas or electricity, meaning central heating is virtually non-existent. Furthermore, people in underprivileged countries can’t even rely on the comfort of a hot meal as they’re often suffering from hunger and food insecurity, too.
Attaining Water is More Difficult
As we all know, water freezes when the temperature drops below 0ͦC. Therefore, known bodies of safe water can often freeze over the winter months, making it all the more difficult to get water for drinking and washing purposes.
Combat Winter with Orphans in Need
Why not use your Sadaqah Jariyah and Zakat donations to help people in need this winter? Donate to Orphans in Need today.