Global Health

Humanosphere
9:55 am
Wed September 7, 2011

Contagion: What can we learn from movies about killer viruses?

Image cropped from the poster for the movie "Contagion." Killer viruses make for great movies, but do those movies teach us anything?

Time for another movie about a killer virus that spreads across the planet: "Contagion" by Steven Soderbergh is due out in a few days. Can these movies teach us anything?

Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson writes about the movie and his science-writing colleague, “one of the top public health and pandemic journalists out there," who was a consultant for it.

“Despite her misgivings, Garrett agreed to work as a consultant to the filmmakers for 'Contagion.' She says it is definitely based on an extraordinarily virulent bug that spreads fast. But the science is solid, she says, and there are some valuable lessons contained in the drama.”

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
2:30 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Gates Foundation identifies plant vaccination as new initiative

Do you have a solution for making plants more resistant to disease? The Gates Foundation wants to hear from you.
Eric Hershman Flickr

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has done a lot to boost the science and delivery of vaccines for human health and to assist in the fight against disease.

Now, the Seattle philanthropy would like to start vaccinating crop plants to help poor farmers and hopes solutions will emerge through its next round of Grand Challenges Explorations.

Humanosphere
11:34 am
Mon August 29, 2011

Does success in Libya make the case for humanitarian warfare?

Gandhi and Che, two kinds of freedom fighters
Runs with Scissors Flickr

CNN’s Global Public Square blog writes "... as the first unambiguous military enforcement of the Responsibility to Protect norm, Gadhafi’s utter defeat seemingly put new wind in the sails of humanitarian intervention."

Tom Paulson, blogger for KPLU's Humanosphere, has written on this topic before and continues the discussion on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
9:14 am
Thu August 25, 2011

Heroic humanitarian narrative - more harm than good?

Stephen Poff Flickr

The heroic narrative is almost irresistible as a storytelling strategy.

But many in the aid and development community think it frequently does more harm than good.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
5:22 pm
Tue August 23, 2011

Critical of U.S. celebrity focus, African writer names top women

Ory Okolloh from Kenya is a Harvard-trained lawyer, activist and blogger. She is No. 1 on the list of young power women of Africa.
Forbes

In response to this somewhat typical (if not also dispiriting) celebration of American celebrity elite – particularly when it comes to lists of "power women" – Nigerian writer Mfonobong Nsehe decided to put together for Forbes his own list of the top 20 young power women of Africa.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Humanosphere
11:43 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Insecticide-resistant mosquitoes challenging Gates malaria efforts

A child with cerebral malaria.
Mike Urban

The World Health Organization has long been worried over reports that mosquitoes were increasingly resistant to chemical-treated bed nets, a mainstay in the Gates Foundation-led, worldwide campaign against malaria.

Now, a study from Senegal raises doubts over Gates’ plant to beat malaria, blaming mosquitoes’ growing resistance to insecticide.

Humanosphere
1:16 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

American girls enlisted in global campaign against child marriage

Tom Paulson introduced the teen-directed program, Girl Up, last year, on Humanosphere.org, as the United Nations Foundation and Seattle students helped launch the new initiative.

This year, the Girl Up campaign says it has mobilized 150,000 American teens around the issue of child brides. Organizers say the disturbing prospect of 100 million child brides in the next decade has galvanized American teenage girls, who are demanding action on behalf of their young counterparts around the world.

Read more on Humanosphere.org

Humanosphere
1:12 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

Cautionary tales: Effective foreign aid often proves elusive

The tents of displaced Afghans still dot the countryside.
Wikimedia Commons photo

Despite the best intentions, foreign aid often goes awry in countries overwhelmed by war.

A series of recent news stories have shown clearly that governments rushing in to help people in war-torn countries often find they have solved few long-term problems and sometimes made matters worse.

Read more.

Humanosphere
1:50 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

Gates Foundation still struggling with 'transparency'

While the Gates Foundation is probably more transparent than many, if not most, private foundations, it is still struggling with a public relations problem identified a year ago:  Many felt then that the Seattle philanthropy was difficult to work with and fairly uncommunicative.

In its new annual report released today, Gates CEO Jeff Raikes said, "Many grantees said we are inconsistent and unclear about our decision-making process and our programmatic strategies. They also said we should be more welcoming of their feedback."

Humanosphere
9:54 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Foreign aid on chopping block

A refugee carries food aid on his back at a food distribution center run by the World Food Programme, in the town of Dadaab, Kenya, today.
Associated Press

Given the demand for cuts in government spending following the compromise deal Congress struck in order to raise the debt ceiling, many experts say foreign aid and development programs are on shaky ground.

Read more.

Humanosphere
2:26 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Community, collaboration: The next phase for Seattle’s do-gooders

'In Seattle, we are already the Silicon Valley of sustainable, social and innovative development,' Hub Seattle's Brian Howe. 'But we are still very fragmented, many of us working inefficiently in isolation.'
Tom Paulson Humanosphere

Clearly, the explosion of do-gooders in Seattle represents a great opportunity – an opportunity to do more good, to maybe even “do well by doing good” or at least find a job.

But our region’s emerging humanitarian “sector” also poses some dangers: A plethora of good (and maybe not-so-good) causes competing for funding, of redundancy, lack of clarity, lack of criteria for measuring success (or failure) and, overall, of not making the most of this opportunity due to lack of collaboration, of community.

That’s where Hub Seattle hopes to play a role.

Read more.

Humanosphere
5:38 pm
Wed July 27, 2011

New Seattle org wants to unite all the do-gooders in Seattle

Seattle has a plethora of organizations helping people around the world. (Pictured is Seattle International Foundation's Mauricio Vivero in Guatemala, checking on a Seattle-funded microfinance project). A new organization wants to connect them all.
SIF

“We live in this amazing community where so many people are trying to make a difference …”

Seattle has become a hub, or more accurately a hodgepodge, of international do-gooders. And, well, nobody seems to really have a handle on everything going on.

That’s where another internationally oriented foundation in Seattle comes in. Appropriately enough, it’s called the Seattle International Foundation.

Read more.

Humanosphere
10:24 am
Wed July 27, 2011

Malawi protests: An African spring?

A protester burns vegetation in a street in Lilongwe, Malawi, last week. Protesters went on the rampage after a court injunction stopped them protesting the economic and democratic crisis in the country.
Associated Press

Just as when Tunisians first rose up against their government, few outside are paying much attention.

The same basic forces — unemployment, high food prices, human rights abuses and mistrust of government — which sparked the revolt in Tunisia and then led to today’s widespread popular revolution across the Arab world, is now at play in this small, southeastern African nation.

Read more.

Humanosphere
10:44 am
Tue July 26, 2011

Perspectives: Famine in East Africa is a crime … and bad science

Somalis from southern Somalia carrying their belongings make their way to a new camp for internally displaced refugees in Mogadishu Tuesday. The U.N. will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia.
Associated Press

As the United Nations and the international community ramps up to airlift food and supplies into East Africa, mostly for starving Somali refugees, two perspectives on this crisis seemed especially interesting to Tom Paulson, who runs KPLU’s Humanosphere.

One: In Foreign Policy, Charles Kenny contends that, in this day and age, allowing a famine to occur is basically a crime against humanity.

Two: David Dickson, editor of the Science and Development Network, contends that the UN, Western powers and aid organizations could have been well-prepared for this crisis – if they had paid any attention to the scientific evidence.

Read more.

Humanosphere
5:14 pm
Wed July 20, 2011

Water advocate wonders at Gates Foundation’s focus on the toilet

Marla Smith-Nilson and friends.
Water 1st

Marla Smith-Nilson is director of Seattle-based Water 1st International and has worked for decades trying to improve access in the developing world to clean water and safe, healthy sanitation.

Smith-Nilson said she welcomes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation decision to get more involved in water and sanitation issues. But she is concerned that their primary interest in re-inventing the toilet is focused too much on the simple fix.

Read more.

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