Fallen Heroes: A Tribute To The Health Workers Who Died Of Ebola

More than 360 African health workers died of Ebola this year. Some of them made headlines around the world, such as Dr. Umar Sheik Khan, the Sierra Leonean physician who treated more than 100 Ebola patients before contracting the disease himself.

But most of the fallen health workers didn’t get that degree of attention. They were doctors, nurses, midwives, lab technicians. They didn’t have the proper protective equipment. As they tried to save the lives of others, they sacrificed their own.

The loss is tremendous. Liberia, for example, a nation of 4.3 million, had only about 50 doctors before the Ebola outbreak. The country has reportedly lost four of them to the epidemic.

In some West African clinics and medical facilities, the faces of the lost health workers stare out from tribute walls: Photos of the deceased are posted in hallways outside offices and examination rooms. A person’s name and job may be scrawled in ink underneath the photo, along with a personal note.

At Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone, the messages included:

“Angie, We all love U but God loves U. May her soul rest in perfect peace.”

“Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.”

“Another fallen hero.”

Continue reading.

Photo: Theses 32 health workers are among the 360-plus who sacrificed their lives in the fight against Ebola. Their names are listed at the bottom of the post. The photos are displayed at the Liberian Midwives Association in Monrovia. (NPR Composite)

(Image from water.org)

Today is World Water Day. This year, more than 840,000 people will die due to lack of access to clean water. That’s unjust, and it’s also unnecessary. There’s been tremendous progress in the past 20 years; as a result, more women are able to work for income, and more children are able to go to school.

But the water crisis continues to be a massive barrier to gender equality, to improving global health, and to reducing poverty. Clean water makes a huge difference to communities, as nerdfighteria has seen from Bangladesh to Haiti to Ethiopia, and so on this World Water Day, I hope you’ll join me in taking a few minutes to read a bit about the water crisis and how governments and NGOs are trying to address it.

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1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss

WHO highlights serious threat posed by exposure to recreational noise

Today is Ear Care Day

Make Listening Safe initiative

To mark International Ear Care Day, celebrated each year on March 3rd, WHO is launching the “Make Listening Safe” initiative to draw attention to the dangers of unsafe listening and promote safer practices. In collaboration with partners worldwide, WHO will alert young people and their families about the risks of noise-induced hearing loss and advocate towards governments for greater attention to this issue as part of their broader efforts to prevent hearing loss generally.

Worldwide, 360 million people today have moderate to profound hearing loss due to various causes, such as noise, genetic conditions, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, and ageing. It is estimated that half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable. To address this issue, WHO collates data and information on hearing loss to demonstrate its prevalence, causes and impact as well as opportunities for prevention and management; assists countries to develop and implement programmes for hearing care that are integrated into the primary health-care system; and provides technical resources for training health workers.

(From WHO)

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The Unfixed Brain

This video is a bit graphic, but it’s also pretty amazing.

Most of us “think that the brain is sort of the consistency of a rubber ball,” says neurobiologist Suzanne Stensaas of the University of Utah. That’s the consistency the organ becomes when researchers preserve it in chemicals, such as formaldehyde. 

But when alive and firing, the brain is actually really soft and compressible, like a sack of goo. “It’s much softer than most of the meat you see in a market,” Stensaas says. 

In this video, Stensaas explores the anatomy of a 1,400 gram brain freshly removed from an autopsy, before it’s put in any chemicals.

The video gave me a whole new understanding and appreciation for how remarkable – and vulnerable – this amazing organ is. 

Wear your helmets!

Video from University of Utah Brain Institute/Youtube.com

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Let’s talk about our stereotypes about Africa and how ridiculous they are. Also college!

This interactive map visually plots global outbreaks of measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, and other diseases that are easily preventable by inexpensive and effective vaccines. The Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations has been tracking news reports on these outbreaks since the fall of 2008. This project aims to promote awareness of a global health problem that is easily preventable.

Al Jazeera broke the story that the U.N. likely brought the cholera epidemic to Haiti. But, despite the mounting evidence of its role, the U.N. still refuses to take responsibility for the epidemic and has invoked diplomatic immunity to refuse to pay compensation to cholera victims and their families. 

Tune in tonight at 7ET for our Award-winning film “Haiti in a Time of Cholera,” detailing the continuing human cost of the outbreak. 

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Mapping The Diseases That Will Most Likely Kill You

Depending on where you live, these are the diseases that will most likely kill you. Using data from the World Health Organization, Simran Khosla at the GlobalPost labeled each nation with the disease that caused the most death in that country.

And it seems like much of the world will succumb to heart disease. Most prevalent in Africa is HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. You can zoom in on the other regions at GlobalPost.

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In which John discusses who gave norovirus to whom in the great Thanksgiving family nightmare of 2014. 

The global battle against malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases faces plenty of obstacles. Among them: a pandemic of fake and poor-quality medicines.

The extent of the bad drug problem is laid out in 17 papers in a special supplement of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 16,800 samples of anti-malarial and anti-tuberculosis medicines, antibiotics and anti-leishmaniasis drugs, testing showed that between 9 and 41 percent of the medications failed to meet quality standards.

When patients unknowingly take bad drugs, they don’t just fail to get better. If a drug contains just a little but not enough of the active ingredient, it can also help breed superbugs that become more resistant to the real stuff.

Fake Medicines Do Real Damage: Thousands Die, Superbugs Get Stronger

Photo Credit: Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

The #1 reason people die early, in each country

The above map shows the leading cause of lost years of life by country. The data comes from the Global Burden of Disease study, whose 2013 installment was released just a few weeks ago.

It’s worth stressing that “cause of lost years of life” and “cause of death” aren’t identical. For example, deaths from preterm births may cause more lost years of life in a country than deaths from heart disease even if heart disease is the leading cause of death. Deaths from preterm births amount to many decades of lost life, whereas heart disease tends to develop much later on.

(More from Vox)

A Simple, Elegant Invention That Draws Water From Air

When Italian designer Arturo Vittori and Swiss architect Andreas Vogler first visited Ethiopia in 2012, they were shocked to see women and children forced to walk miles for water.

Only 34 percent of Ethiopians have access to a reliable water supply. Some travel up to six hours a day to fetch some or, worse, resorts to using stagnant ponds contaminated by human waste, resulting in the spread of disease.

Worldwide, a whopping 768 million people — two and a half times the U.S. population — don’t have access to safe drinking water. So just imagine if we could just pull water out of thin air?

That’s what Vittori and Vogler asked once they saw the magnitude of problem and vowed to take action. Their firm, Architecture and Vision, has since come up with WarkaWater, a majestic palm-like structure that may look like something you’d see in a modern art museum but it’s been designed to harvest water from the air.

WarkaWater, which is named after an Ethiopian fig tree, is composed of a 30-foot bamboo frame containing a fog-harvesting nylon net that can be easily lowered for repairs and to allow communities to measure the water level.

Collecting water through condensation is hardly a new technique, but the creators of WarkaWater say their tree-inspired design is more effective, maximizing surface and optimizing every angle to produce up to 26 gallons of drinkable water a day — enough for a family of seven.

Continue reading.

Photo: The WarkaWater gathers water from fog and condensation. Named after an Ethiopian fig tree, it consists of a 30-foot bamboo frame and a nylon net. It was invented by an Italian firm and three of them are shown here in an Ethiopian village. (Courtesy of Architecture and Vision)