Category Archives: Huffington Post

Breathing Life into Medical Oxygen Ahead of WHO Committee Decision

Mount Kilimanjaro stands nearly 20,000 feet above sea level, its snow-capped peaks providing a stark contrast against northern Tanzania’s otherwise equatorial backdrop. As Africa’s tallest mountain, it draws tens of thousands of climbers a year: some of whom reach the summit successfully, many of whom must stop short because of low levels of oxygen in their blood (the peak’s atmospheric pressure offers about half the breathable air as at sea level). The irony, however, is that in Tanzania – and nearly every country in sub-Saharan Africa – you don’t need to climb a mountain to reach an environment with too little oxygen; you just have to walk into a hospital.

Oxygen is one of the most frequently-required medical interventions in the world, yet it remains in critically short supply in low-resource hospitals. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that less than half of health facilities in Africa have reliable access to medical-grade oxygen – let alone the trained staff, supplies and infrastructure to deliver it.

Full article on Impatient Optimists

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

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

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 

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