Showing posts with label International. Show all posts
Showing posts with label International. Show all posts

April 27, 2020

Beating the COBID-19 Virus in Developing Countries

The fight against coronavirus will not be won until every country in the world can control the disease. But not every country has the same ability to protect people.
For low-income countries that struggle with weak health systems, large populations of impoverished people and crowded megacities, "there needs to be a very major adaptation" to the established measures we've been using to fight COVID-19, says Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist and director of ICAP, a global health organization at Columbia University. 
The COVID-19 playbook that wealthy nations in Europe, Asia and North America have come to know — stay home as much as possible, keep a six foot distance from others, wash hands often — will be nearly impossible to follow in much of the developing world. 
"I think they're trying, but it's not easy," El-Sadr says. "Ministries of health are working, partnering with international organizations to try to innovate — and hopefully, if the innovation works, it can be scaled up."
Here are some of the solutions now being tried.

Fly in tons of medical gear

Problem: Countries in the developing world face massive shortages of medical gear like personal protective equipment, says Avril Lenoir, executive director of Doctors Without Borders. And the cutback in commercial flights has made it difficult to bring in equipment.
Solution: The U.N. has launched what it's calling "solidarity flights" – hiring charter planes to airlift millions of face masks, face shields, goggles, gloves, gowns and other supplies. On April 14, the U.N. dispatched an Ethiopian Airlines charter flight from Addis Ababa full of COVID-19 gear to transport to countries in need. 
"This is by far the largest single shipment of supplies since the start of the pandemic, and we will ensure that people living in countries with some of the weakest health systems are able to get tested and treated," said Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean in a statement.
Assessment: "In the short run, a program like this is fine so long as we're dealing with an acute event," says El-Sadr. "Without [supplies like] PPE, you're at risk of losing your scarce and precious health workforce — and you want to protect them at any cost."
But hiring chartered flights to deliver any kind of aid – instead of commercial flights – is expensive, says Manuel Fontaine, director of emergency programs at UNICEF. The U.N. is calling on donors to provide $350 million to continue this program; so far, it has received $84 million.

Create safe havens for the sick and elderly

Problem: How do you protect the most vulnerable individuals in crowded cities and refugee camps? And how do you keep infected individuals from spreading the disease?
Solution: Health authorities are trying out a somewhat controversial strategy: separating the sick and those at high risk, moving them from the homes where they might live alone or with an extended family into vacant homes or taking over facilities previously used for other purposes, such as learning centers. The people being targeted include the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions that make them susceptible to COVID-19 — as well as the homeless. 
The strategy has been cited by several health researchers as a practical way to control the spread of disease in densely packed communities. Francesco Checchi of the London School of Tropical Health and Medicine wrote a paper on the subject, and Dr. Paul Spiegel of Johns Hopkins University, in another paper, recommended this as a potential solution in refugee settings.
Assessment: In his paper, Spiegel warns that the strategy of isolating these groups are "novel and untested." And thus far, in parts of the developing world where the strategy has been rolled out, it has had mixed results.
Shah Dedar, an aid worker with the humanitarian group HelpAge, says that religious and community leaders among the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh don't like the idea of taking the sick or the elderly from the families who might care for them. But "elderly men and women with chronic diseases [who lived alone] were very much keen to the idea and appreciated the initiative," says Dedar.
While HelpAge was able convince local Rohingya leaders to give it a try, Spiegel of Johns Hopkins University says that this may not always be possible. In the case of a severe outbreak, aid workers may have to forcibly separate populations, whether the community approves or not. And he warns that this shielding measure is no guarantee it will keep the virus at bay — it could spread within these facilities, as has happened at some nursing homes in the U.S.
And in Cape Town, South Africa, conditions in a homeless "camp" set up by the government have prompted complaints from the residents about close contact and lack of sanitation — and a call from Doctors Without Borders to shut it down.

Get out of town

Problem: Some citizens are afraid of staying in big cities where social distancing is hard to maintain and outbreaks are more likely to spread.
Solution: Those who have family in ancestral homelands are traveling back to stay in these rural environments – it's happened in countries ranging from Bangladesh to Italy.
Assessment: Both government officials and citizens have criticized this exodus,saying that it puts elderly people in those rural environments at risk if the city dwellers might be contagious yet asymptomatic or presymptomatic.
The other downside of fleeing to these more remote areas, says El-Sadr, is that "health care services are less likely to be available."
That said, El-Sadr notes that this kind of population shift can be a good strategy in an area where transmission within a community has not yet occurred but is deemed likely. This could be a "way that people can have more of an ability to survive, to make a living, get social support [if they are sick], get more access to food, where they can socially distance more readily."

Get the police involved

Problem: Social distancing is hard to enforce in densely populated low-income countries. 
Solution: Many governments around the world have turned to the police to ensure that people stay home — and hand out punishments to those who aren't following the lockdown rules. In India, for example, people who violate the lockdown could face up to a year in prison. Others in the country have faced unusual punishments, such as writing "I am very sorry" 500 times, according to an NPR report
Assessment: Unfortunately, there have been reports of officers using physical violence to keep people in their homes in several countries, including India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. In Kenya, the violence has resulted in public outcry, with citizens calling for more civility from its police force. "This is no way to fight a coronavirus epidemic," tweeted a Kenya-based journalist. 

Reinvent factories so they can make medical equipment

Problem: More supplies to fight COVID-19 are needed.
Solution: Get factories to switch gears and respond to the coronavirus.Kenya's textile industry has pivoted to making masks and protective equipment. The Kitui County Textile Center (KICOTEC) has shifted from sewing chef's whites and school uniforms to turning out face masks and scrubs for healthcare workers. Kenya's state-owned oil company is now making hand sanitizer, which it says it is distributing for free.
In South Africa, the state-owned missile manufacturer Denel, has been working to design and build ventilators, and to convert armored trucks into ambulances. The government has launched an initiative called the National Ventilator Project, which calls for companies to build 10,000 ventilators by the end of June, using locally available parts and materials.
Similar efforts are underway in Nigeria, where the government announced that they're working with car companies to manufacture locally-made ventilators. 
In Kenya, KICOTEC turning out 30,000 surgical masks a day, according to Kenya's Ministry of Health. Kenya's petroleum company has produced more than 80,000 gallons so far, and plans to make at least 600,000 gallons more. 
But WHO projects that countries will need millions of masks, goggles and other supplies to protect healthcare workers and citizens while mounting a response to COVID-19. 
So local manufacturing can only partly fill the gap. But local authorities believe it is critical: "We're trying to build up local capacity to ensure that the critical facilities, the beds and ventilators, respirators could be made available within the country," says Adaeze Oreh, a senior official in Nigeria's Ministry of Health, "So we're not constrained by international travel restrictions, border closures and relying on imports."

Set up handwashing stations

Problem: Public health officials globally stress the importance of frequent hand-washing in the fight against COVID-19. In low- and middle-income countries, however, 35% of people lack regular access to soap and water, according to WHO.
"The health workers say we must wash our hands," said Zukwisa Qezo, a 47-year-old mother of two who lives in the Cape Town township to NPR. "But with what?! The city must bring us soap."
Solution: To improve the ability for people to clean their hands, WHO advises that hand hygiene stations — either with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer — to be placed at the entrances of buildings, and in transport hubs such as bus and train stations. The system can be as simple as two buckets — one filled with chlorinated water, and one to catch the wastewater.
Assessment: Public hand-washing stations, which were effective in the fight against Ebola, are being resurrected in countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, NPR reports. Doctors Without Borders reports that their volunteers are setting up hand washing points in many of the settings they operate in, including migrant camps in Nigeria and health facilities in Mozambique.

April 23, 2020

Love Will Survive Despite a Lockdown Despite Age and Years


  MOLLEHUSVEJ BORDER CROSSING — She drives from the Danish side, in her Toyota Yaris.

He cycles from the German side, on his electric bike.
She brings the coffee and the table, he the chairs and the schnapps.

Then they sit down on either side of the border, a yard or two apart.
And that is how two octogenarian lovers have kept their romance alive despite the closure of the border that falls between his home in the very north of Germany and hers in the very south of Denmark.
Every day since the police shut the border to contain the virus, Karsten Tüchsen Hansen, an 89-year-old retired farmer, and Inga Rasmussen, an 85-year-old former caterer, have met at the Mollehusvej border crossing to chat, joke and drink, while maintaining a modicum of social distance.
Mr. Tüchsen Hansen, carrying a grand bouquet of flowers, was on his way to drop in unannounced on another elderly Danish widow he’d known for decades. But before he reached her house, he met Ms. Rasmussen as they both were in line at a strawberry stand beside a traffic circle.
Rather taken, he decided against visiting the first woman. Instead, Mr. Tüchsen Hansen impulsively gave the flowers to Ms. Rasmussen. He then invited her to dinner in Germany and the pair soon grew close, much to the surprise of Ms. Rasmussen’s three daughters.
“Never marry a German,” Ms. Rasmussen had often warned them as teenagers — not from xenophobia, but because she wanted them to live close to her home.

 The landscape near the border.Credit...Emile Ducke for The New York Times

The match was also surprising for more poignant reasons. Both had been widowed in recent years, after more than six decades of marriage for each, and both thought their days of companionship had ended. “I never dreamed this would happen,” Ms. Rasmussen said.

But against all expectations, Ms. Rasmussen began to visit Mr. Tüchsen Hansen every day, thanks to European regulations that had for years allowed free movement between countries like Denmark and Germany.

The pair typically cooked a daily meal together, chatting in a mixture of German and Danish. Then Ms. Rasmussen usually stayed overnight before returning to her own home in Denmark for a few hours the next morning.

That happy routine came to an abrupt halt on March 13, when the Danish government announced it would close its borders the next day to all but people traveling for work. Frightened she would be locked out of her homeland, Ms. Rasmussen hurried back to her house in Denmark, a 15-minute drive away.

Neither knew when they’d next hold the other’s hand.
But then they hatched a plan.

On a quiet lane that winds through the flat farmland between their two homes, a few hundred meters from where Mr. Tüchsen Hansen was born, the police blocked the road only with a flimsy plastic barrier. It’s about halfway between their two homes, so Ms. Rasmussen and Mr. Tüchsen Hansen have met there for a picnic every afternoon since the shutdown, usually at 3 p.m.
In gentle deference to medical advice, they try to avoid physical contact. “The worst thing is we can’t embrace each other,” Mr. Tüchsen Hansen said. “We can’t kiss. We can’t make love.”

But they have found other ways to show their affection.
Each day, Mr. Tüchsen Hansen brings Ms. Rasmussen a present. When I visited, it was a bottle of merlot (though Ms. Rasmussen drinks only coffee until the Toyota is safely parked back at home).
In return, Ms. Rasmussen brings biscuits, a cake and sometimes even a cooked lunch. “If there’s respect and acceptance, then sex is not so important,” Mr. Tüchsen Hansen declared.

The Danish police have threatened to fine them if they stray over the border, Mr. Tüchsen Hansen said.
But galvanized by the presence of a journalist, Mr. Tüchsen Hansen clambered past the plastic fence to point out an old border stone hidden in the bushes.
It was another moment of poignancy.
In the early 20th century, the border lay much further to the north. But in a plebiscite on March 14, 1920, the residents of what was then the northern tip of Germany voted to join Denmark. That decision shifted the border southward to this stretch of farmland — as denoted by the old stone in the bushes.
In 2001, that border effectively disappeared again, as Denmark joined a border-free zone within the European Union. But then on March 14, 2020, exactly 100 years after the plebiscite, the border barriers were erected once more.

“My parents saw when the stone was installed,” Mr. Tüchsen Hansen said. “Now I see these barriers go up.”

The Danish mayor of a nearby town, Henrik Frandsen, first noticed the couple’s routine.
Cycling along the border 10 days after it was closed, Mr. Frandsen struck up a conversation with them. Touched by their story, he later posted a picture of them on Facebook.

Within days, they had become regional celebrities, the focus of several reports in local newspapers and radio stations.
“I think it brings people some hope, a little bit of light in the darkness,” said Mr. Frandsen, who cycled over again to introduce me to the couple. “You have these elderly people who’ve found a way out.”
As a result, the couple’s picnic spot has become the site of a minor pilgrimage. Journalists and residents from both sides of the border visit the couple most afternoons. When I turned up, a German reporter was already there, and a Danish couple arrived soon after, delighted to find the story was true.

(A scene near the border this month.Credit...Emile Ducke for The New York Times)

But the couple has received one visitor with slightly more mixed feelings.
It was Kirsten Hansen, the woman to whom Mr. Tüchsen Hansen had originally planned to give the bouquet, two summers ago.

She had not known about Mr. Tüchsen Hansen’s amorous intentions: He did not tell her he had intended to visit, and in any case, he never turned up. She only learned about the near miss from the flurry of recent news coverage.

“Hey!” she said, laughing. “Those flowers were meant for me!”
Emile Ducke contributed reporting.

April 7, 2020

Italy, Spain, France Lockdowns Are Beginning To Give Results, In US(No Fed.lockdowns) Virus Spikes Up

  • Italy, Spain and France have the three worst coronavirus outbreaks in Europe. All are in lockdown — and there are clear signs that it is working.
  • It has taken between three and four weeks since the countries ordered lockdowns for daily new infections and deaths to begin to decline.
  • On Sunday, each country had recorded at least a two-day consecutive decline in deaths from the virus, and new recorded cases also appear to be dropping, according to figures on Worldometer
  • The numbers from China, however, suggest it may take more like a month for the impact on coronavirus deaths to really be felt.  Three European countries hit the hardest by the coronavirus have begun to show early signs of the virus slowing, roughly three weeks after the date of their respective lockdowns. 
Italy, Spain and France all reported declines in their daily death tollsfrom the virus on Sunday. They have also begun to show a leveling-off, or more than one consecutive day of decline, in their rate of new cases. 


Italy, which still has the world's highest recorded death rate from the virus, at 15,887 deaths, was the first European country to go into lockdown on March 10.
Citizens have been barred from all but essential travel and only essential businesses remain open. 

daily new cases Italy coronavirus
Daily new cases of the coronavirus in Italy up to April 5. 

21 days into that lockdown, on March 30, daily new cases of the virus dropped from 5,217 to 4,050 the day before — more than a thousand fewer. Since then, those cases have risen only moderately, hovering between around 4,000 to 4,800 per day, lower than the March 21 peak of 6,557. On Sunday — 27 days after Italy was put under lockdown — the country also reported its third consecutive daily decline in deaths, at 525. At the virus' height on March 27, 919 people died in a single day. 

daily deaths coronavirus Italy
Daily recorded deaths from coronavirus in Italy up to April 5 


In Spain, it has also taken around 21 days for similar indications to show in the country's death rates and rates of new infection. Having gone into lockdown on March 14, the country began what has become its third consecutive-day decline in deaths from the virus on April 3, recording 850 deaths. By Sunday, that figure dropped to 694. 

daily deaths in Spain
Daily deaths from coronavirus in Spain up to April 5 

New cases in Spain also began a four-day decline on April 2. On Sunday, new cases dropped steeply from 6,969 the day before, to 5,478. 

daily new cases coronavirus Spain
Daily new cases of coronavirus in Spain up to April 5 


France went into lockdown on March 17 — one week after Italy did — and both deaths and new cases have slowed since April 3.
The picture there is less clear, having been distorted by a massive spike in deaths and new cases on April 2 and April 3. 
The spike is from previously-unreported deaths and infections which had been recorded in nursing homes rather than hospitals. They were added to the national totals across two days even though many took place earlier.

daily deaths from coronavirus france
Daily recorded coronavirus deaths in France up to April 5 

18 days after the lockdown began, 518 people were recorded dead from the virus on Sunday in France, a huge drop from the country's peak of 1,355 on April 2. However, Sunday's numbers only show a return to levels roughly similar to those recorded before that April 2 spike. 
Sunday was France's third consecutive day of declining new cases numbers — the country recorded 2,886 new cases, an encouragingly low number just 19 days after its lockdown began. However just two days prior, the country had recorded 23,060 new cases. 

daily new coronavirus cases France
Daily new cases of coronavirus in France up to April 5 

China (Hubei)

The three-to-four week timescale of lockdown affecting the spread of the virus is broadly consistent with the dates of China's lockdown of Hubei, the province where the virus originated. 
Hubei, where the vast majority of China's cases were located, was locked down on January 23. Worldometer's figures show that daily new reported cases began a noticeable decline on February 14, 23 days later. The figures are for the whole of China, but Hubei represents more than 80% of all Chinese cases.

china daily new coronavirus cases
Daily new reported cases in China up to April 5 

The data there is also distorted by a huge spike in numbers on February 12, when the method of diagnosing the virus was broadened.
Daily reported deaths from the virus went through phases of decline and subsequent growth until February 24, a full month later. Only then, when 71 people were reported dead, did deaths more consistently begin to decline. 

daily new reported deaths from coronavirus in China
Daily new reported deaths from coronavirus in China up to April 5 

In the United States, which has recorded more than twice as many infections as any other nation, there is no nationwide lockdown, though many orders are in place at the state and city level.

February 25, 2020

Cock Fighting in Puerto Rico,Mexico, Bull Fighting Spain, Children Fighting as Sport in Macedonia

Global Voices

Pavlina Simonoska Arsikj

Screenshot from video by on “gladiator fights” of children in Skopje. Image by Institute for Communication Studies, used with permission.
A Macedonian news outlet has recently revealed the existence of public, organized “gladiator fights” between minors in the capital Skopje in a story that left citizens astounded. reporters obtained a video showing two boys fighting in a playground while dozens of onlookers, mostly adults, cheer on. A referee can also be spotted in the video. 
 Residents interviewed in the video say that these fights take place frequently, but that the participants are not from the neighborhood.
A follow-up story by revealed that the fight's organizers charge entrance fees, too: 20 denars (less than half of a US dollar) for watching and 300 denars (6 dollars) for recording.
My elder son told me he knew that these events were happening. He doesn't attend them, but he told me that it was “a normal thing for his age.” I was very upset when I heard that, and explained to him that it is not normal for children to participate into such fighting matches. My son has also informed me that watching the fights came with a charge, including a 300 denars (6 dollars) charge for filming the fight with a mobile phone.
Global Voices contacted eighth-grade students from a school near the playground where one of the videos was recorded. They said they had classmates who have attended those fights, and added that the organizers charge 50 denars (1 USD) per “standard tickets” and 200 denars (3.50 USD) for “VIP” spots in the first row next to the ring.
Meanwhile, local media alleged that the adults attending the fights are also engaging in betting.
It is still unclear whether the police will investigate the events, whose organizers are yet to be identified. In response to an inquiry by newspaper Sloboden Pechat, the Ministry of Interior stated that authorities had taken measures such as notifying the public prosecutor and recommending the police addresses the matter in educational lectures it gives in schools.

 Many Macedonians have been dissatisfied with the official responses so far. When reporters approached Minister of Education Arbër Ademi, he merely said that, because the fights take place outside of schools, the ministry has no authority over them.
The playground where the videos were recorded is located in the municipality of Centar, and all nearby schools are under its authority. Still, Mayor Sasha Bogdanovikj claims the children who appear in the videos are not residents of the municipality.

Организирани борби на малолетници, што се наплаќаат за забава, и тоа во Капиштец? Ако тоа се случува во центар на Скопје, да очекуваме дека на други места се одгледуваат деца за борба? Луда Макседонија, жална и назадна

Organized fights of underage kids, as a form of pay-per-view entertainment, and all that taking place in Kapishtec neighborhood? If such a thing is taking place in the center of Skopje, should we expect that in other places children had been raised to do these battles? Macedonia as crazy, pitiful and backward.
In recent years, similar fighting events involving children have been reported in different places worldwide, including Alberta, CanadaSt Louis, United States; in Preston, Great Britain; and Moscow, Russia.
Half of the students aged 13 to 15 worldwide – around 150 million – report having experienced peer-to-peer violence (physical fights and bullying) in and around school according to a 2018 report by UNICEF. According to the Macedonian human rights group Helsinki Committee, who recently issued a statement demanding authorities take action against the children “fight clubs,” 42 percent of students aged 13 and 15 in North Macedonia have reported experiencing peer violence.
Other analyses have shown that a significant proportion of victims (36 percent) and perpetrators (18 percent) of hate crimes in North Macedonia are minors. Ethnicity and political affiliation constituted the main grounds for hate crimes in 2018, with a smaller number of incidents involving refugee or migrant status, religious belief, and disability.

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