Stories from Quick Reads and Health
The Matsés peoples of Brazil and Peru—have created a 500-page encyclopedia of their traditional medicine! http://t.co/4t9hh6KIQr
— Moonching Wu (@SunMoonLake99) July 4, 2015
The Amazon Rainforest supports millions of plants that could be vital ingredients in still-undiscovered medications. For that reason, many pharmaceutical companies and even the US government are currently funding projects to study the indigenous plant knowledge of native shamans and healers in the area, and develop new drugs.
The Matsés people, who live in Peru and Brazil, have created a health encyclopedia more than 500 pages long cataloging their traditional medicinal practices, preserving ancestral knowledge for younger generations. The majority of the shamans are old and without apprentices. So when they die a vast knowledge also disappears.
But, in order to avoid bio-piracy, this information remains with the Matsés people; it is only accessible in the native tongue and is only distributed within the tribe’s villages. Protective measures also include: “no scientific names are used to identify local plant species, and no plants will be pictured in detail, so as not to be identifiable to outsiders.”
“The [Matsés Traditional Medicine Encyclopedia] marks the first time shamans of an Amazonian tribe have created a full and complete transcription of their medicinal knowledge written in their own language and words,” Christopher Herndon, president and co-founder of Acaté, told Mongabay in an interview.
According to Pachamama Alliance, a global community focused on creating a sustainable future, the health and wellbeing of the Western world, often comes at a high price for indigenous peoples. As pharmaceutical companies have realized that their research generates better outcomes if they co-operate with indigenous people and tap into their wisdom, rainforest tribes are at risk of losing control over their resources.
Once the pharmaceutical companies have developed the drug, they file patents claiming exclusive rights to the medical use of the plant – hence limiting or even denying access to the plants that indigenous peoples have relied upon for centuries.
That's why in 2010, the tenth Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing. It specifically addresses the issue of bioprospecting and the rights of indigenous peoples to access to forest resources, intellectual property, and adequate compensation.
Acaté, a San-Francisco-based non-profit, assisted the five shamans who compiled the encyclopaedia. In the encyclopaedia, each entry is categorized by a disease name and features explanations of how to recognise the disease according to symptoms, understand its root causes and know how to prepare medicine from specific plants to use as treatment. The entries also make readers aware of alternative therapeutic options.
The idea behind the project is to make the tribes less dependent on conventional doctors and western drugs, while maintaining their self-sufficiency.
The winners of the “#HackAgainstEbola” competition at the 2014 Editors Lab organised by the Global Editors Network (GEN) and Penplusbytes in Accra, Citi FM are in Barcelona participating in the 5th annual GEN Summit:
Citi FM, last year, competed with other major new rooms in Ghana at Penplusbytes New Media Hub in a two-day #hackathon to develop digital tools for newsrooms to effectively report on challenges posed by the Ebola outbreak. Their product, Citi Ebola Updates – a Mobile Platform that enables people, both educated and uneducated to receive information and updates on the status of Ebola in the country in their preferred local language, was adjudged the best to win the 2014 Editors.
— Periódico La Tribuna (@PLaTribunaFunza) May 8, 2015
Pregnant 11-year-old who refused to abort creates controversy.
We wrote recently about about a 10-year-old pregnant girl from Paraguay who was allegedly raped by her stepfather and who was unable to have an abortion because of legal limitations in the country. Now, in Uruguay, where abortion is legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the case of a pregnant 11-year-old who refused to have one has shocked the country.
This girl, who has been said to have an intellectual disability, was raped by the 41-year-old grandfather of her half-sister. This man is now in custody and will be prosecuted for rape, Uruguayan officials told Agence France-Presse.
Family members, doctors, social organizations, and the media have encouraged the girl to terminate the pregnancy. They have even pressured the government to try and force her to go through with it, according to Pangea Today. The response was, however, not favorable to them:
“There is no risk for the life of the child or baby, so we cannot force her to have an abortion,” the director of INAU, Monica Silva, said.
Anna K. Mwaba discusses the future of the newly established African Center for Disease Control:
The establishment of such a center in Africa is not a particularly new idea; talks on the need for more effective means to combat epidemics on the continent were held in July 2013 at the Special Summit of the African Union on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, in Abuja, Nigeria.
In her opening remarks at that meeting, AU Chairwoman Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma emphasized the need for the AU to act and for “the final push” to tackle HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. These sentiments echoed those made at previous meetings on the matter. The fact that this was not the first time this issue has been discussed at such a high level, raised doubts as to the ability of the African Union to undertake such an endeavor.
Two main, and related, reasons for these doubts are the AU’s current financial capacity and the political will of its member nations. It is common knowledge that the AU faces significant funding challenges, compounded by the fact that many member states continuously fail to pay their annual contributions. This inability to contribute to the AU’s operating budget casts doubt on member state willingness to prioritize AU activities while facing their own domestic, often economic, challenges.
Tabra is an association launched by Guillermo Ferrero and Andrea Mesones in Peru that aims to improve life quality for children with autism and Down syndrome through surfing and contact with nature, as stated on their Facebook page.
Guillermo is the father of a 13-year-old boy diagnosed with autism, and Andrea is a psychology student at a university in Lima.
Tabra nace del deseo de probar alternativas para lograr una mejora significativa en los niños con problemas del desarrollo cognitivo, dándoles oportunidades de expandir su mundo.
Tabra was born of the desire to try new alternatives to achieve a significant improvement in children with problems in their cognitive development, giving them opportunities to expand their world.
During every monthly two-hour session, “They try to have newcomers, so everybody can participate.” Due to their logistics, they can allow only ten to 12 children per session.
As Guillermo Ferrero says:
La felicidad que tienen cuando están en el mar es tan contagiosa que realmente tú terminas una sesión de Tabra con el corazón y el espíritu lleno de energía por todo lo que te transmiten estos niños durante el momento en el que están conectados con el mar.
The happiness they feel when they are in the sea is so contagious that you really end a session with Tabra with the heart and spirit full of energy for all that these children transmit during the time they are connected with the ocean.
About the name Tabra, the blog Seis de enero tells:
El nombre nació de una manera espontánea un día que estábamos conversando fuera del agua y el muchacho [el hijo de Guillermo] empezó a decir “quiero tabra”, pronunciando mal la palabra tabla.
The name came up spontaneously one day when we were just talking by the sea and the boy [Guillermo's son] started to say “I want tabra”, with a bad pronunciation of the word tabla (the Spanish word for surfboard).
Desireé Lozano, blogging for Voces Visibles, urges attention be paid to the extremely high rate of teenage pregnancies in Venezuela, where 25% of the pregnancies are among young people, and the lack of an appropriate public policy to counter this phenomenon and its repercussions. Venezuelan statistics are the highest in South America and remains in first place from two years ago.
Maternal mortality is an issue directly related to teen pregnancy. Desiree cited Venezuelan deputy Dinorah Figuera, president of the Family Committee of the Venezuelan National Assembly, who said the state's responsibility is to provide prevention:
“Una de esas consecuencias es que las madres adolescentes son mujeres que pierden oportunidades para desarrollarse desde el punto de vista profesional y aceptan cualquier tipo de trabajo para tener algún tipo de ingresos. Por esta razón el Estado debe aplicar una gigantesca campaña de concientización para la prevención del embarazo adolescente”, señala la diputada venezolana
“One consequence of teen mothers is woman lose development opportunities from a professional viewpoint, take any job in order to make some income. For this reason, the state should mount a massive campaign to prevent teenage pregnancy,” the Venezuelan deputy says.
Additionally, teenage pregnancy contributes to an already established trend, the feminization of poverty. Furthermore, the phenomenon embodies a risk for the mother’s health, running a greater danger than the average. In her article, the writer collects interesting expert statements on the subject providing an overview of the problem.
News is spreading that ISIS fighters in the Syrian town of Rakka have been hit by a skin condition caused by a parasite known as Leishmaniasis.
According to the World Health Organisation, the disease is “caused by the protozoan Leishmania parasites which are transmitted by the bite of infected sandflies.The disease affects some of the poorest people on the planet, and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and lack of resources.” Newspaper accounts describe it as a “deadly flesh eating disease.”
Checkdesk is a liveblogging tool for journalists, with built-in tools to allow citizen journalists and staff journalists alike to make and verify reports. Anyone from the newsroom community can submit a report — a Tweet, a photo, video or other type of media — and add details that bring important context to the report. Staff journalists can then add these reports to a developing story.
To join Thalia's team, send her an email from her Global Voices Online page.
Peuhl minorities of Islamic confession have been trying to escape anti-balaka militia since the beginning of the civil war in in the Central African Republic. One of the camps where displaced Peuhl can find protection is the Yaloke camp by the Cameroonian border in the western region. The health situation in the Yaloke camp is critical where death rates is three times higher than other cities in the region. The refugees are not allowed to move out of the Yaloke Camp which has made it difficult for families to reunite. The Reseau Des Journalistes pour les droits de l'homme EN RCA (The Journalist Network for Human Rights in CAR) reports on the situation:
Pour Moussa Saidou, deux de ses enfants l’ont quitté et se retrouvent aujourd’hui à Gamba. « Ils sont partis le jour de l’attaque qui a conduit à la perte de nos bétails. Ils ont fui dans la brousse pour se retrouver à Gamba avant de rejoindre Goré au Tchad, où ils séjournent pour le moment»
Moussa Saidou explains that two of her children have escaped and now find themselves in Gamba. “They left the day of the attack that led to the loss of our livestock. They fled into the forest to find themselves in Gamba before joining Gore in Chad, where they stay for now”.
A scientific publication in the Journal of Ecological Economics argues that “over-exploitation of either Labor or Nature will result in a societal collapse” if nothing is done to prevent it.
Based on a mathematical model, the study explains (via The Guardian) that the convergence of ” the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity” and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” will increase the likelihood of the fall of society as it was observed for previous human civilizations.
That collapse is already a reality in the south of Madagascar, a region that has suffered recurrent bout of famine over the past decade. 300,000 people are at risk of famine in the region because of a severe and prolonged drought since November 2014. 90% of the Malagasy population live with less than 2 USD/day, a stark reminder of the growing inequity on the African continent. John Strauss Kotovaoarivelo is an accountant manager from the region. He visited the city of Ambovombe and could not hold back his tears from what he saw. He hesitated but felt compelled to share the urgency of the situation by posting photos of children fighting for their lives because of lack of food. Kotovaoarivelo writes :
Je ne peux pas me taire et faire comme si de rien n’était devant la gravité de la situation vécue au quotidien par nos compatriotes dans le sud. Ces photos parlent d’elles même. Je ne vais pas vous prendre la tête pour ces photos, mais quand même en vous bousculant juste un peu pour réfléchir avec moi sur les pourquoi et les comment de toutes ces choses qui font chaque jour le calvaire de ces pauvres gens. Je vais vous révéler là des photos pour ne pas dire des informations qui passent presque inaperçues [..] Nos dirigeants sont occupés ou aveuglés par d’autres choses qu’ils ne pourront jamais déchiffrer le message sur les regards de ces pauvres enfants
I cannot keep quiet any longer and pretend as if nothing is happening in the face of the grave situation that our countrymen in the south face on daily basis. These photos speak for themselves. I will not bludgeon your head with these photos, but I hope they will jost your awareness a little and help you reflect with me about the plight of these people. I am merely sharing my pictures so that their suffering will not go unnoticed [..] Our political leaders are so busy or so blinded by other things that they cannot feel the message in the eyes of these children, seeking help.
Five companies are said to have misappropriated funds for fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone:
Here are the 5 companies who were awarded the biggest contracts to provide goods and services to Sierra Leone’s ebola response as listed in the Ebola Funds Audit Report covering the period from May – October 2014. The following contracts did not meet the country’s procurement laws and policies and documentation to support the awarding of these contracts were missing, and unaccounted for. This makes it possible for fraud, waste, and misappropriation of funds to occur therefore crippling the nation’s ability to quickly respond to the crisis.
Dr. Claire Kinuthia, a Kenyan doctor and blogger, writes about how she fell in love with medicine:
How it all began.
Medicine found me when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I have a particularly vivid memory of hearing my dad get up in the middle of the night to go attend to an emergency in the hospital. Dad was already a hero in my little beating heart but that night, lying in bed imagining what he’d been called to do and how many lives he’s get to save, he was elevated to superhero status. I remember trying hard to stay awake and wait for him to tell me all about his “adventures”. Sadly, sleep won that battle. However, the seed had been sown and I always knew I’d be a doctor one day, a superhero who saved lives
Professor Pierre de Vos weighs in on the debate about assisted dying in South Africa after a South African High Court ruled that a dying person is entitled to be assisted by a qualified medical doctor to end his or her life:
It is important to note that the ruling does not force any person to end his or her life or to assist anyone else to do so. It remains a personal choice. The judgment thus confirms that the criminal law (or, I would add, the ethical rules of the HPCSA [the Health Professions Council of South Africa]) cannot be used to enforce the moral, religious or ethical beliefs of some on everyone. However, this does not force those who hold such moral, religious or ethical beliefs to act in breach of their beliefs.
Moreover, if the Constitutional Court confirms the judgment it would be desirable for Parliament to pass legislation to establish a system with minimum safeguards in order to protect patients. In the absence of such legislation a patient would have to approach a court for permission to be legally assisted to die.
— Iván Hernández (@DrIvanHdez) May 12, 2015
I Fell Asleep Too. Sincerely: @kellypeto
It's a trending topic under the hashtag #YoTambienMeDormi (#IFellAsleepToo). In one week, there have been 17,500 comments on Twitter. The stories of tens of thousands of doctors in Mexico and Latin America who are sharing pictures of them sleeping during their long hospital shifts have gone viral.
It all started when a blogger criticized a physician whose photo showed him sleeping, according to the BBC.
“We know this work is tiring, but they have the duty to fulfill their responsibilities while there are dozens of sick people who need their attention at any moment,” Noti-blog site reports, showing the photo of a medical resident at General Hospital 33 in Monterrey, México, who fell asleep at 3 am while filling out the records of that night's patient number 18.
— Sabiel Ramirez (@SabielRamirez) May 9, 2015
I Fell Asleep Too, because we are not machines but human beings like everyone else
In addition to showing solidarity, the spontaneous campaign has also been a way to put a face the sacrifices people in the profession must make, including long meal-less, sleepless shifts, which are not always financially compensated nor always provide the necessary basics for the job.
The Nantis is one of the semi-nomadic communities that live in Peru. A part of them live in the townships in the upper Camisea river and the central area of the Timpía river. There are isolated families that live scattered in the upper Timpía river and the northern area of the National Sanctuary Megantoni in Cusco in southeastern Peru.
The Nantis are one of the two subgroups of the Matsigenka or Machiguenga people. Nanti is a name that refers to a number of families that are part of this people who call themselves Matsigenka.
In late April, a delegation from the Peruvian Ministry of Education that arrived to the area confirmed that over ten children had passed away due to whooping cough, a highly contagious disease of the airways caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Bordetella pertussis. They also confirmed there were more children infected.
Other outlets mentioned four deceased children. The website Servindi reported:
Los funcionarios del Minedu (Ministerio de Educación) que llegaron hasta el lugar con el fin de realizar un diagnóstico socioeducativo y sociolingüístico […] lo que encontraron fueron aulas con pocos alumnos y una epidemia en su grado máximo.
Estos llegaron a señalar que inclusive durante su estadía, en la comunidad de Montetoni, fallecieron dos niños más, uno llamado Isaías de 4 años y un bebe de 9 meses.
The officials of the Ministry of Education went there in order to carry out an educational and socio-linguistic diagnosis […] found out classrooms with few students and an epidemic at its highest level.
The officials noted that even while they were, in the Montetoni community, two more children died, four-year old Isaías and a nine-month old baby.
Twitter echoed the news:
Peru: crianças indígenas Nanti morrem em epidemia de coqueluche, em reserva contígua aos PN Alto Purus e Manu | http://t.co/lRJ7XPEQpP
— Cassio de Figueiredo (@casdefigueiredo) abril 30, 2015
Peru: Nanti indigenous children die due to whooping cough epidemic, in a reservation next to Upper Purús and Manu.
— Perudalia (@perudalia) abril 30, 2015
Confirmed, four children from the Nanti community have died in Cusco.
Peru: “Disease” kills four Nanti indigenous children, community in stage of first contact.
The NGO Miles (Thousands) and the advertising agency Grey Chile are taking a provocative approach to showing the problem that thousands of women face in Chile with respect to abortion, using three fictitious tutorial videos that show the only legal way to have an abortion in the country.
The “advice” ranges from throwing yourself down the stairs to getting run over by a car.
Abortion is prohibited in Chile, which means that thousands of women have to resort to illegal means in order to abort. It is estimated that there are around 150,000 cases each year, some of which result in the death of the patient.
This campaign seeks to draw attention to this fact and persuade the Chilean government to approve the therapeutic abortion law that was rejected last February.
Warning before you click play: these videos contain graphic images.
Marita Seara, blogging for Voces Visibles, warns about the growing criminalization of abortion in Ecuador, one of the most difficult countries in Latin America for women to obtain an abortion, second only to Venezuela.
Hay dos únicos casos en los cuales es permitido el aborto: cuando corre peligro la vida de la mujer y cuando se trata de una “violación a una discapacitada mental”. A mi parecer, inaudito. Leo en el medio ecuatoriano, Plan V, y no salgo de mi asombro, el proceso en el cual se trata de despenalizar el aborto en dicho país, un país donde, según se señala en dicho medio, 380 mil mujeres aproximadamente han sido víctimas de violación, un país donde una de cada cuatro mujeres han sido víctimas de algún tipo de agresión sexual, un país en el cual ha aumentado un 74,8% los embarazos de niñas entre 10 y 14 años, muchos de los cuales parecen estar ligados a violación sexual; un país donde más de 3.600 niñas menores de 15 años son madres producto de una violación.
There are only two cases where abortion is allowed: when mother's life is in danger and when it's a “rape committed against a learning disabled woman”. To me, it's outrageous. I read on the Ecuadorian new website Plan V and I'm astonished [about] these attempts to criminalize abortion in that country—a country where, as Plan V points out, about 380,000 women have been raped, where one out of four women has been the victim of some kind of sexual assault, and a country where pregnancy in 10- to 14-year-old girls has increased by 74.8 percent—many of them apparently related to sexual assaults. This is a country where more than 3,600 girls younger than 15 are mothers as result of a rape.
Criminalizing abortion would have profound repercussions for doctor-patient confidentiality, not to mention aggravate the country's already staggering social inequalities.
The criminalization concept could be spreading, too. More than a dozen women now languish in El Salvadorian prisons, convicted of “aggravated homicide” after miscarrying. Some of these would-be mothers are serving out 30-year prison sentences.
Michael Duff shares eyewitness accounts of Sierra Leone's 3 day lock down that was introduced to fight ebola:
Sierra Leoneans can breathe a sigh of relief today as citizens in the capital city and in the North of the country who were under a 3 day government mandated stay at home come can now move above freely.
While there was a clash between police and residents of Devil Hole the Freetown Western Rural area that led to the firing of tear gas, the lock down was quiet for most.
Although southeast European countries are progressive in many other ways, the decline of women's reproductive rights in some Western Balkan countries has been a worrying trend. In Macedonia, several small protests have been held in recent years to demonstrate people's opposition to government involvement in determining public sentiment on issues like abortion and family planning, after the government implemented a national anti-abortion campaign that began in 2011.
In recent years Macedonia has undergone a very subtle, yet dreadfully pervasive deterioration of the situation with women's rights. Mainly unnoticed or overlooked, the government latched on the popular, deeply misogynist sentiment of the suffering mother (a metaphor often used for the country itself) and after the initial surge of promise with the introduction of the gender quotas in 2006 and the adoption of the Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, which paired with the history of equal treatment from the previous system led to even higher percentages in female representation in certain areas compared to the EU average, things started moving downwards steadily, without sufficient public resistance.
It can arguably be claimed that the ploy began with the anti-abortion posters and newspaper ads which started littering the public space out of nowhere circa 2006-2007 without anyone claiming responsibility for them…
Police are violently repressing student protests in Chad since March 10. The official reason for the protest is the new safety regulation that require bikers to wear a helmet. Motorbikes are often used as taxis in the capital city, Ndjamena. However, the reason for protests are more profound than the new law. One student explains why they are protesting:
Croyez-vous que c’est une question de port de casque ? Personne ne s’oppose à l’utilisation de casque. Il y a une sorte d’impréparation de la mesure par les autorités et d’exploitation de la vente par les commerçants. Jusque quand allons-nous accepter d’être sauvagement exploités ? Le ciment, le sucre, le pétrole…savez-vous que le marché de casque a permis à certains responsables de s’enrichir ?
Do you really think that the protests are about just helmet law ? No one is opposed to the use of helmet. The authorities are not prepared to properly implement the measures and the law is quite beneficial to all retailers. When will we say enough to this brutal exploitation ? It is the same thing for cement, sugar, oil … do you know that the helmet has allowed some officials to get rich quite rapidly ?
During the repression of the protests by the police, one student, Hassan B. Daoud was killed. Here is a video of police brutality against some students posted by ABDELKERIM YACOUB KOUNDOUGOUMI on facebook:
¡Hola! Mi nombre es Alejandra Baca, pero todos me dicen Ale, excepto los doctores, ellos me dicen “Karlita”. Vivo en Chihuahua, México. Me gusta estudiar, bailar, leer y salir con mis amigos. Estudio la Lic. en Administración y soy misionera.
Hi! My name is Alejandra Baca, but everyone calls me Ale except the doctors, who call me “Karlita.” I live in Chihuahua, Mexico. I like to study, dance, read, and go out with friends. I'm working on my degree in administration, and I'm a missionary.
The introduction from Alejandra Baca's blog, I Have Cancer and Keep Shining, where she writes about having non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Her cancer was diagnosed when she was 17. After a bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy sessions, she's had to give up modeling.
Los grandes cambios siempre vienen acompañados de una fuerte sacudida. No es el fin del mundo. Es el inicio de uno nuevo.
— Ale Baca (@AleeBaca) January 13, 201
“Big changes are always accompanied by a big blow. It's not the end of the world. It's the beginning of a new one.
February 4th is World Cancer Day (#DiaMundialcontraelCancer).