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from The Human Impact:

Can the world get rid of tuberculosis?

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It would be easy to think that tuberculosis is under control. TB, one of the world’s top two infectious disease killers, has been declining slowly but steadily and in some parts of the world it has been almost eradicated.

But one of the oldest epidemics afflicting mankind has come back with a new face: drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is on the rise globally and experts warn that deadly strains are spreading at an alarming rate, threatening to unravel much of the progress made in tackling TB.

Around 450,000 people fell sick with these dangerous superbug strains of TB in 2012, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Fewer than one in four were diagnosed, putting the rest at risk of dying due to the wrong medicines or no treatment at all.

Patients with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) fail to respond to treatment with two of the powerful anti-tuberculosis drugs. Totally-drug resistant TB, which cannot be treated with any known drugs, is also rising. The cost of treating these forms is high - £250,000 compared to £5,000 for conventional TB, and the side effects are even worse.

from The Human Impact:

Q+A- Sierra Leone cholera outbreak spreading unusually quickly – ChildFund

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Poor road networks and heavy rains are limiting the ability of aid workers to accelerate the fight against a severe cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone, which has claimed the lives of at least 250 people and infected more than 15,000, according to charity ChildFund International.

Insufficient resources, a lack of proper toilets and insecure access to safe drinking water are also complicating relief efforts, Billy Abimbilla, national director for ChildFund Sierra Leone, told AlertNet.

from Photographers' Blog:

Hope in the fight against AIDS

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By Mike Segar

The photos in this project, conceived ahead of this week's International AIDS Conference, are not the dramatic, heartbreaking, moving sort that we have been used to seeing of AIDS patients from the ‘80s and ‘90s. What I came to quickly realize is that this story, or I should say this portion of it, is about hope - hope and recovery. Living and learning to live as best one can with a disease the world has come to know all too well as an indiscriminate killer.

Take for example the hope that I saw in the eyes of 40-year-old AIDS patient Bobby Billingsly, a man who was close to death when he arrived at Broadway House in Newark, New Jersey, with a CD4 count near zero in 2009, an indication of what is known as Full blown AIDS.

from The Human Impact:

How can contraception cut child deaths?

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LONDON (TrustLaw) - It’s well known that good family planning vastly reduces the risk of women dying from pregnancy complications and helps prevent miscarriages and still births.

What is far less recognised is the effect that spacing out pregnancies has on the survival of children way beyond birth.

from The Human Impact:

Researchers hope to reduce sub-Saharan Africa newborn deaths

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Clinical trials are underway to test a new treatment for pregnant women, which could tackle some of the leading preventable causes of death for babies in sub-Saharan Africa, researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have said.

A large number of pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with both malaria and sexually transmitted--reproductive tract infections (STIs - RTIs), according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

from Global Investing:

BRICS: future aid superpowers?

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Britain's aid programme for India hit the headlines this year, when New Delhi, much to the fury of the Daily Mail, described Britain's £200 million annual aid to it as peanuts. Whether it makes sense to send money to a fast-growing emerging power that spends billions of dollars on arms is up for debate but few know that India has been boosting its own aid programme for other poor nations.  A report released today by NGO Global Health Strategies Initiatives (GHSi) finds that India's foreign assistance grew 10.8 percent annually between 2005 and 2010.

The actual sums flowing from India are,  to use its own phrase, peanuts. The country provided $680 million in 2010. Compare that to the $3.2 billion annual contribution even from crisis-hit Italy. The difference is that Indian donations have risen from $443 million in 2005, while Italy's have fallen 10 percent in this period, GHSi found. Indian aid has grown in fact at a rate 10 times that of the United States. Add to that Indian pharma companies' contribution -- the source of 60- 80 percent of the vaccines procured by United Nations agencies.

from Photographers' Blog:

The children of Dadaab: Life through the lens

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Through my video “The children of Dadaab: Life through the Lens” I wanted to tell the story of the Somali children living in Kenya’s Dadaab. Living in the world’s largest refugee camp, they are the ones bearing the brunt of Africa’s worst famine in sixty years.

I wanted to see if I could tell their story through a different lens, showing their daily lives instead of just glaring down at their ribbed bodies and swollen eyes.

from FaithWorld:

Who wants to live forever? Scientist sees aging “cured” by stem cells

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(An elderly couple stroll through Tiergarten central park on a sunny autumn day in Berlin October 29, 2010./Fabrizio Bensch)

If Aubrey de Grey's predictions are right, the first person who will live to see their 150th birthday has already been born. And the first person to live for 1,000 years could be less than 20 years younger. A biomedical gerontologist and chief scientist of a foundation dedicated to longevity research, de Grey reckons that within his own lifetime doctors could have all the tools they need to "cure" aging -- banishing diseases that come with it and extending life indefinitely.

from Entrepreneurial:

Mobile app helps diagnose Parkinson’s

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Can smartphones help diagnose disease? Yes, according to Konrad Körding, one of the developers of an Android app being used to track the movement of Parkinson’s patients.

The app uses the phone’s sensory capabilities to evaluate a user’s patterns of movement, such as if walking is unstable or if a fall occurs.

from Natasha Elkington:

PHOTOBLOG: From mud cakes to earthquakes, Haitian mothers and children face rising malnutrition

Pictures landed from Haiti the other day showing a woman crouched on the side of a street fashioning clay-like medallions with a spoon. At first sight, the flat light-brown shapes laid out on canvas looked like pottery, but the caption read "a resident prepares mud cakes in the zone of Cite-Soleil in Port-au-Prince". Yes, that's right: cakes made from mud.

Reuters photographer Eduardo Munoz explains: "Only a small portion of the Haitian people eat these mud cakes. I think it is the poorest people who are eating these kind of things. It's not all the country."

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