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Stories from and

How a Young Kenyan Doctor Fell in Love With Medicine

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

On Assisted Dying Ruling By a South African Court

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.

#IFellAsleepToo: Sleeping Latin American Doctors Go Viral

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.

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.

Whooping Cough Epidemic Looms Over Nanti Children in Peru

Niños nanti. Imagen en Flickr del usuario  Lemurian Grove (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Nanti children. Image on Flickr by user
Lemurian Grove (CC BY-NC 2.0).

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: Nanti indigenous children die due to whooping cough epidemic, in a reservation next to Upper Purús and Manu.

Confirmed, four children from the Nanti community have died in Cusco.

Peru: “Disease” kills four Nanti indigenous children, community in stage of first contact.

Blunt Pro-Abortion Campaign in Chile

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.

Winners of #HackAgainstEbola Represent Ghana at 2015 Global Editors Network SUMMIT

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.

Pregnant 11-Year-Old in Uruguay Refuses Abortion

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.

Can Africa Really Maintain Its Own African Centers for Disease Control?

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.

Initiative Helps Children With Autism Through Surfing

Foto en Flickr del usuario Manolo Guijarro (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Image on Flickr by user Manolo Guijarro (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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).

‘Nappies in Adolescence': Alarming Number of Pregnant Teens in Venezuela

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.

Continue reading Desireé Lozano‘s and Voces Visibles‘ work here or on Twitter.

This post was part of the 46th #LunesDeBlogsGV  (Monday of blogs on GV) on April 13, 2015.

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