global health

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November 18th, 2016

Early morning biochemistry setup, and thinking about lab work. Tbh when my supervisor asked if I could be at the lab at 8am my heart died a little, but I’m eternally grateful that she’s taking me under her wing. I’m eternally grateful that she’s not using me as her “dish-washer,” that she’s teaching me the nuts and bolts of a research lab, encouraging questions, and encouraging me to do my own research. She actually felt bad for asking me to grab ice for her???? We need more researchers like this because lets be real even university level labs don’t cover a fraction of the knowledge you need to work in a real lab and that’s really a shame. 

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With so much attention paid to high-profile women in 2016, from Hillary Clinton to Wonder Woman, it’s easy to lose sight of lesser-known women who are blazing a trail in low- and middle-income countries. In ways big and small, these women have moved the needle on gender equality by being activists, role models or simply taking a stand.

Here’s a roundup of some of the many memorable women profiled on NPR’s Goats and Soda blog in 2016, including:

7 Women Trailblazers Who Took A Stand In 2016

Photos: Courtesy of Future Productions LLC; Courtesy of Thumbi Mwangi; Yana Paskova for NPR; Poulomi Basu for NPR

Popular Anti-Vaxx Arguments w/ Rebuttals

Starting with the most popular…

So where did this idea come from? Back in 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield released a study stating that vaccinations cause autism. The claim has since been discredited after multiple scientists were unable to reproduce his results. As anyone who works in science knows, the ability to reproduce research is one of the foundations of the scientific method. Therefore, if your research is not reproducible it is not valid. 

Furthermore, even if vaccines could cause autism, the fact that you would rather expose your child to deadly, preventable illnesses versus them being autistic shows that your priorities are way out of line. 

And the next one is…

How could my unvaccinated child get your vaccinated child sick anyway?

Well, that might be reasonable if I only cared for my own child’s health, but believe it or not, as a future physician, I am concerned for everyone’s health. There are children who cannot get vaccines secondary to allergies or deficient immune systems. The fact that other’s find these children unworthy of protection through herd immunity is outrageous. 

Here is a rough example as to how herd immunity protects those who cannot receive vaccinations:

None of these diseases are really that bad anyway. It’s just a minor rash. 

Really? Is that why an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die of preventable diseases across the world each year? We live in a country in which vaccines are readily available and relatively inexpensive. We are privileged in that fact, yet there are those who act like vaccines are an atrocity.  

And last of all, my favorite…

What proof is there that vaccines even work anyway?

Yes, maybe you didn’t live through the times of smallpox to realize how devastating of disease it was. It’s hard to realize the efficacy of vaccines when we don’t actually see their direct effects. But lets take Syria for example. Syria was declared free of polio in 1999. But the disease re-emerged approximately two years ago after conflict. Less children were vaccinated resulting in the disease affecting 100’s of children.This disease can leave your child paralyzed for the rest of your life. Would you want to carry that burden when you could have easily vaccinated your child? 

The U.S. has been polio free since 1979. We could potentially see polio re-emerge in the United States if people stopped getting vaccinated. We, as a whole, can eradicate these diseases. We are already experiencing a large outbreak in measles due to people not vaccinating. Let’s use common sense and vaccinate!

Deadly Dinners

Polluting biomass stoves, used by one-third of the global population, take a terrible toll. But efforts to clean them up are failing. After returning from her nine-and-a-half-hour shift as a security guard, Savita Satish Dadas begins plucking fenugreek leaves from their stems for dinner. She and her two children, along with three of their cousins, gather in a shed-like structure next to their house in the Satara District of Maharashtra, India. As goats and cows settle in for the night a few metres away, Dadas and the children sit down on a packed dirt floor around the family hearth….read more.

Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.
—  Ban Ki-moon

Sporozoites of the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum emerging from their oocyst to infect gastrointestinal epithelial cells.

Cryptosporidium, commonly known by the comic book supervillian name “Crypto,” is transmitted by ingesting water or food contaminated with Crypto oocysts. Once ingested, the oocyte ruptures, and the sporozoites contained within infect the gut of their new host, causing watery diarrhea. 

Though outbreaks occasionally occur in the developed world, few infected in those outbreaks die from Crypto. However, in the developing world, some of those infected with Crypto develop chronic disease and die, particularly small, malnourished children.

For more on Crypto and how scientists are tackling this tricky parasite, check out this article on NPR’s All Things Considered about the work being done by the Striepen lab at the University of Georgia Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases.

Image courtesy Boris Striepen and Muthgapatti Kandasamy, University of Georgia Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases

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#Influenza can have a serious impact on #patients with a chronic condition. Ever wondered how your flu vaccine is made? Look no further. #vaccineswork

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

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A woman has HIV. She becomes pregnant. What are the chances that she can deliver a baby who is not infected?

In some countries, like Yemen, for example, only 11 percent of pregnant women with HIV receive treatment to prevent their babies from being infected. For women who aren’t part of that fortunate group, the chance of passing HIV to their infant is as high as 45 percent.

But in Cuba, the chances are now practically nil. On June 30, Cuba became the first country to receive what can be seen as a global seal of approval — the World Health Organization validation — for essentially eliminating transmission of AIDS from a mother to her baby. (Cuba has eliminated transmission of syphilis as well.)

That doesn’t mean Cuba is on a pedestal all by itself. By 2014, more than 40 countries were testing and treating more than 95 percent of pregnant women; some places, including Anguilla, Barbados, Canada, Montserrat, Puerto Rico and the United States, have likely hit the mark as well. But Cuba is the first to go through the WHO monitoring program, which requires data on transmission for at least two years and an on-site visit by WHO members examining care in all parts of the country, including remote, impoverished and underserved areas.

Here’s how Cuba did it.

Cuba Is First To Earn WHO Seal For Ending Mother-Baby HIV Transmission

Photos: Courtesy of Pan American Health Organization/WHO

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