Reparations Require Identifying Slavery’s Victims First

Georgetown University recently acknowledged its historical role in slavery, offering preferential admissions status to descendants of 272 slaves it sold in 1838. Along with other measures, Georgetown updated its admissions policy to give the same advantage to the slaves’ descendants as it grants alumni, faculty and other “members of the Georgetown community.” While it is one of many U.S. institutions that was built and funded — at least in part — on the kidnapping, forced labor and sale of Black men and women, according to Richard Cellini, the Georgetown alumnus who spearheaded an independent search for the descendants, the school is one of the first to explore reconciliation beyond nominal changes and lip service.

The move highlights a critical need in bids to address reparations: As America grapples with whether and how to pay, this approach overlooks the fraught but essential process of identifying the unnamed victims and piecing together the family histories of millions of Black Americans living with and, in some cases, still suffering from the legacy of the country’s early sin.

Full article on Ozy 

On World Anesthesia Day, It’s Time to Wake Up to a Critical Medical Breakthrough

Looking back on a long and storied history of medical breakthroughs, we’re inclined to remember the discoveries that take the form of lifesaving solutions: penicillin, the polio vaccine, radiotherapy, antiretroviral drugs. Our minds turn almost naturally to the game-changing inventions designed to cure or prevent disease; rarely do they conjure up those that sow the seeds of a whole new playing field.

Such is the story of modern anesthesia, first administered in Boston on this day in 1846. If surgery was the game-changing solution to save or improve lives, anesthesia was the discovery that allowed the game (as we know it) to be played in the first place. And it’s only fitting that we rarely remember its role.

Full article on Huffington Post

(French) Redéfinir « l’innovation » dans la technologie médicale en Afrique

L’innovation – le mot à la mode peut-être le plus utilisé dans le monde du développement international – se présente de plusieurs façons mais, dans la plupart des cas, il fait référence à une variante d’une nouvelle technologie. Il peut s’agir d’une lanterne alimentée par la puissance solaire, d’un dispositif portable de filtration d’eau ou d’un test de diagnostic en temps réel. Il est cependant rare que l’innovation se concentre sur des systèmes nécessaires à la durabilité et à l’efficacité de ces technologies. Autrement dit, l’innovation porte trop souvent sur le produit et non sur le process

Pour les futurs entrepreneurs sociaux étudiant des sujets tels que la science, la technologie, l’ingénierie et les mathématiques, il est tentant de se concentrer sur l’innovation au sens traditionnel et orienté sur le produit, particulièrement en Afrique. Après tout, dans un continent confronté à des défis sociaux, économiques et environnementaux, des technologies innombrables pourraient avoir un impact immédiat et de grande portée. Par conséquent, pourquoi ne pas mettre ses talents à l’œuvre pour concevoir et développer de nouveaux produits ?

« Parce qu’il est moins important d’avoir une nouvelle technologie qu’une technologie qui fonctionne », affirme Francis Kossi, un entrepreneur social et ingénieur biomédical togolais, qui s’est lancé dans la redéfinition du terme « innovation » en Afrique de l’Ouest. « Ce dont nous avons besoin, ce sont des systèmes de distribution et de réparation des produits dont nous disposons ».

Full article on Terangaweb 

The lingering stain after the flags come down

If you walk around campus at Washington and Lee University, my alma mater, you’ll see everything you’d expect from an elite liberal arts college in rural America: idyllic red brick buildings juxtaposed against a perfectly manicured green lawn, a mostly white student body exchanging laughs as they happily mingle on school grounds, a mix of old and nascent intellectuals debating the merits of “cultural relativity” in an interventionalist world. That is, until you stumble into Lee Chapel, the eponymous lecture hall, once a burial site, that honors the great Southern general and former school president, to find its walls bearing those pale stains that signal the fresh absence of a long-hanging piece of wall art.

Though not literal, these stains represent the Confederate battle flags removed two years ago this week by the university after decades lining its most cherished building. Installed four score and six years ago (just one year off from the ultimate irony), the flags proudly flew until the university’s president, Kenneth Ruscio, ordered them to be taken down despite widespread resistance from alumni, students and other groups. This bold move preempted the wave of Confederate flag controversy that has since confronted hundreds of Southern institutions, many of which share Washington and Lee’s nominal affiliation with Robert E. Lee.

But whether or not the flags are waving, Washington and Lee remains unwavering in its commitment to its latter namesake.

Full article on Washington Post

NBA Legend Dikembe Mutombo Rejects the Status Quo of Surgical Care in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Last week, Mashable published a video from an organization called Cordaid that follows a pregnant woman on her way to a maternity clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The video is set in real time, so viewers have the rare opportunity to witness this journey in its entirety. Spoiler alert: it’s five hours long.

The woman, Chanceline, lives 17 miles from the nearest source of healthcare, and because there’s no transportation available to her, she has to make the trek on foot. While pregnant. Across rough terrain. Through a rainstorm. Alone.

Heartbreaking as it may be, Chanceline’s story is commonplace in the DRC. Despite being Africa’s second-largest country by land area and fourth-largest by population, the DRC ranks among the worst when it comes to health and wellbeing.

Full article on Huffington Post

Elevating the Role of Biomeds in Global Surgery

When John Willy—a biomedical equipment technician (BMET) in Uganda—woke up one morning last September, he probably didn’t expect to be a gatekeeper for lifesaving surgery. But after receiving an emergency call to repair an anesthesia machine at a nearby hospital, that’s what he became.

Willy was summoned by the hospital to fix a broken knob that controls the machine’s oxygen concentrator, without which the hospital’s anesthetist wouldn’t be able to manage the flow of oxygen into the patient. (In Uganda, it’s common for hospitals to lack access to cylinder oxygen.) While Willy hadn’t seen this issue before, his training (paired with some ingenuity) allowed him to facilitate the repair and ready the machine for the surgery—now able to be performed because he responded with timely, expert service.

In the world of surgery and anesthesia, BMETs like Willy are crucial pieces to a complex, systemic puzzle—a puzzle that becomes even more complex in low-resource settings like Uganda, where medical equipment challenges are far more rampant, the surgical needs far greater, and the availability of trained BMETs far less common.

Full article on 24×7 Magazine 

Curbing Road Traffic Deaths in Developing Countries with Emergency Care

This Sunday is one of those international awareness days you don’t hear much about. Football teams won’t wear a particular color, Google won’t change its logo and newspapers probably won’t devote their front page to the cause. But its importance and relevance are nonetheless profound.

Sunday is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. For most of us, this topic needs no introduction: we’ve all likely had a brush with a traffic accident at some point in our lives; and worse, we all likely know someone who’s been seriously injured, if not killed, in an accident. The impact of these severe injuries and deaths can reverberate across families and communities – their pain immediate yet long-lasting, their shock hard-to-imagine yet overwhelmingly real.

Full article on Huffington Post 

After the “Summer of Trans,” Is It Time for T to Break Away from LGB?

Seasons are, by their nature, transient  —  short-lived shifts in climate and lifestyle choices that rarely transform into something more important than their three-month transference of solar energy. But this past season was different; this summer  —  which ended on Monday  —  will be less known for its transience than its trans-ness. Yes, the summer of 2015 may henceforth be known as the Summer of Trans, culminating perfectly (as if on cue) with Sunday’s Emmy Awards and the triumph of Transparent — an Amazon series about a Los Angeles family’s hilarious and tumultuous experience with the gender transition of its p(m)atriarch.

Looking back, our societal transition toward greater acceptance of the trans community was not without foreshadowing. The summer began with Rochel Dolezal’s troubled attempt to identify as transracial, continued with President Obama’s equally troubled attempt to broker the Trans-Pacific Partnership and was dotted with countless other trans-moments — from this week’s revealing study about the human toll of trans-fat to the ongoing crisis affecting trans-continental Syrian refugees. But of course the only T word that will transcend this short-lived season is transgender, thanks to the very public transition of Caitlyn Jenner, whose emergence as a woman has propelled the term into the forefront of our national conscience.

Full article on Huffington Post

Doctors, Researchers – Tear Down this Paywall: Paving a new road to research-based action in global development

Last month, the world received some encouraging news: Liberia was declared Ebola-free. After a 14-month battle with the virus that claimed nearly 5,000 Liberian lives and brought the country to its knees, the World Health Organization announced that the devastating epidemic was over (Guinea and Sierra Leone, however, are still experiencing new cases).

As Liberia recovered from the outbreak and began the long, uphill process of rebuilding its health system for other ongoing and future health challenges, some of its leaders reflected on what could have been done to prevent the Ebola outbreak. In a New York Times editorial written about a month before the epidemic’s conclusion, Bernice Dahn, Vera Mussah and Cameron Nutt discuss a troubling reality: that European researchers knew about latent Ebola antibodies in Liberian blood samples as long as 30 years ago, positioning Liberia in the Ebola endemic zone. Yet, like many studies conducted by Western researchers, the findings sat atop the proverbial ivory tower, out of reach of the Liberian doctors and policymakers who could have acted to prevent the eventual outbreak.

This disconnect between development research and the communities it studies is an all-too-common trend in an international development community that hosts a Healthcare in Africa Summit in London and discusses poverty reduction strategies fresh off private jets.

Full article on Next Billion 

As a grammarian contrarian, I love opposites. But what about alternyms?

true snoot in every sense of the made-up word, I’ve always been fascinated by the ways opposites manifest themselves in language.

I remember being a mentally restless third-grader tormented by the fact that one could never truly declare that it’s Opposite Day. Think about it: if it’s Opposite Day, one’s saying so would mean that it’s not; and saying it isn’t would mean that it’s just another ordinary day. (I obviously had no knowledge of infinite regresses at the time.) But recently I’ve wasted much time and energy pondering self-contained opposites in language (ie semantic paradoxes; ie contradictio in terminis; ie a category of terms that mean – or are used to mean – two contradictory things). Let’s call them “grammarians’ contrarians”.

Full article on The Guardian

The Peaks Unclimbed: Former President Joyce Banda on the Unmet Goals for Girls and Women

Well, we made it. We’ve reached 2015. The countdown to the most monumental milestone in the history of international development has reached its final stretch as the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals quickly approaches. There has been no greater force of good in the fight against poverty and disease than the MDGs, having improved the lives of billions of people (yes, with a “b”) in one fell swoop of eight goals, thousands of committed partners and communities and billions of dollars in support.

But if the MDGs are Mount Everest, we’re currently sitting on a plateau somewhere halfway up: Progress is as undeniable as it is unprecedented, yet most of the goals remain unfulfilled. We are the climbers alternating glances at the outstanding summits and the path ascended. And as tempting as it may be marvel at how far we’ve climbed, Forbes’ Most Powerful Woman in Africa in 2014 believes that we will be judged by the peaks we couldn’t reach, and the millions of girls and women hanging in the balance.

“We’ve reached 2015 and it’s clear that great progress is being made,” former President of Malawi Joyce Banda recently told me (in a rare and eminently generous conversation). “But when we take stock of the MDGs, we will find that we’ve come up short for our girls and women.”

Full article on Huffington Post 

Privilege Wearing a Beer-Soaked Santa Hat

Saturday was one of the most momentous days of the year. Thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets to rally behind a cause bigger than themselves. They dressed in attire symbolic of the occasion, marching through downtown Manhattan with boundless fervor, united in the name of community and happiness for all. And boy did they make their voices heard, all in spite of a police force patrolling their spirit and ignoring their agenda. Ah yes, SantaCon 2014 was truly special.

I’m kidding, of course. SantaCon — a daylong bar crawl for 20-somethings in Santa suits — happened to be held alongside Millions March NYC — a civil rights demonstration created to spur action in response to the recent killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other Black men at the hands of white police officers. But what SantaCon offered in discounted beer and sloppy hook-ups it represented in a disturbing display of white privilege, amplified by its stark juxtaposition with a “day of anger” setting out to protest exactly that.

Full article on Huffington Post