Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cost-Effectiveness of Cancer Drugs Is Questioned

The widespread use of expensive cancer drugs to prolong patients’ lives by just weeks or months was called into question by an article published Monday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Crunching data from published studies, the authors found that treating a lung-cancer patient with Erbitux, a drug that costs $80,000 for an 18-week regimen, prolongs survival by only 1.2 months.

Based on that estimate, extending the lives of the 550,000 Americans who die of cancer annually by one year would then cost $440 billion, they extrapolated.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fragile Tanzanian Orphans Get Help to Thrive

BEREGA, Tanzania — The Berega Orphanage, a cluster of neat stucco cottages in this village of red dirt roads and maize plots, is a far cry from what the name suggests. The 20 infants and toddlers here are not put up for adoption, nor kept on indefinitely without hope of ever living with a family.

Most of their mothers died giving birth or soon after — something that, in poor countries, leaves newborns at great risk of dying, too. The children are here just temporarily, to get a start in life so they can return to their villages and their extended families when they are 2 or 3 years old, well past the fragile days of infancy and big enough to digest cow’s milk and eat regular food.

And, in an innovative program designed to meet the infants’ emotional as well as physical needs, many have teenage girls from their extended families living with them at the orphanage.

Africa is full of at least 50 million orphans, the legacy of AIDS and other diseases, war and high rates of death in pregnancy and childbirth. With the numbers increasing every day, Africans are struggling to care for them, often in ways that differ strikingly from the traditional concept of an orphanage in the developed world.

Programs like the one in Berega are “the way to go” in Africa, said Dr. Peter Ngatia, the director of capacity building for Amref, the African Medical and Research Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Falling Slowly

What a beautiful song!
(Hat tip to Paul)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vision of eye care charity

Trachoma causes blindness but can be treated, and one charity brings such cures to poor areas, writes MICHAEL McHALE .

THE EYELIDS turn inwards. They make contact with the eyeball, scratching the cornea and leading to excruciating pain and scarring. Usually there is only one outcome: blindness.

These are the effects of trachoma, an infectious disease that, according to figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), affects about 84 million people worldwide. Eight million become visually impaired as a result, causing 3 per cent of the world’s blindness. Yet it is preventable.

The disease is most prevalent in developing countries that have difficulties with water supply, overcrowding and large numbers of flies, thereby triggering infection.

It is spread from person to person, often from child to child or from child to mother. A disease of poverty, it was only eradicated in Ireland in the 1930s.

Orbis Ireland is a charity that hopes to halt the spread of trachoma in two of the largest regions in Ethiopia – Gamo and Gofa – which combined have a population of two million. Of this population, 40 per cent are infected with the disease while 70,000 have already been made blind by it.

Blind Adventurer Hikes Entire Appalachian Trail with Help from Strangers

Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail is a major challenge for any outdoors enthusiast—but imagine how tough it must be for a blind man. But against all odds, Trevor Thomas managed to complete the entire hike with help from strangers he met along the way.

Monday, June 22, 2009

World Hunger Reaches 1 Billion People Mark

AP, June 19, 2009 · One in six people in the world — or more than 1 billion — is now hungry, a historic high due largely to the global economic crisis and stubbornly high food prices, a U.N. agency said Friday.

Compared with last year, there are 100 million more people who are hungry, meaning they receive fewer than 1,800 calories a day, the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report.

Almost all the world's undernourished live in developing countries, where food prices have fallen more slowly than in the richer nations, the report said. Poor countries need more aid and agricultural investment to cope, it said.

"The silent hunger crisis, affecting one-sixth of all of humanity, poses a serious risk for world peace and security," said the agency's director-general, Jacques Diouf.

Soaring prices for staples, such as rice, triggered riots in the developing world last year.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alcohol’s Good for You? Some Scientists Doubt It

By now, it is a familiar litany. Study after study suggests that alcohol in moderation may promote heart health and even ward off diabetes and dementia. The evidence is so plentiful that some experts consider moderate drinking — about one drink a day for women, about two for men — a central component of a healthy lifestyle.

But what if it’s all a big mistake?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Neighbors: A Glimpse Into Typical Cameroonian Life

My friend, Ryan Hansen, has just returned to his orphanage in Cameroon. He nicely depicts a typical day in Cameroon--and not unlike most of the rest of sub Saharan Africa...The web address is http://www.greeneyesinafrica.blogspot.com

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Orbis in Kenya

Sorry I haven't had much time to blog of late here in Kenya. I have been involved in yet another fantastic Orbis trip in Nairobi.
There is an outstanding photographer from Toronto on this trip who has some nice photos and commentary on this trip on his blog--Kelvin Young photography

Thursday, June 04, 2009

14 Facts of Life You Must Know

We often lost our confidence and feel useless in life. My friend sent me the 14 facts of life some times ago and now I want to share it to you all. If there is something which you think is not right, don’t take it too seriously, use the principle “take the good ones, leave the bad ones”.
I hope it will be useful :

Paul Hawken's Commencement Address in Portland

As I am headed out to Kenya to do work with Orbis, I found this piece--which reminds me of the change Orbis brings to our world...

What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world." There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done.
Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

On the blue-gray waters of Lake Edward, where the eastern fringe of Congo blends into Uganda, Byanmongo Matabishi, a fisherman from the Congolese vill

The Virunga National Park, as described herein, is one of the most beautiful places I have been--with an amazing degree of biodiversity...which appears to now be threatened

On the blue-gray waters of Lake Edward, where the eastern fringe of Congo blends into Uganda, Byanmongo Matabishi, a fisherman from the Congolese village of Vitshumbi, stands on a pirogue and shakes his head.

“Nothing,” he says, glancing into the empty nets in the hull. “Nothing.”

Three days on the lake, and he has no fish to show for it.

By now, the internecine wars of eastern Congo have acquired a haunting familiarity: rebels plunder the country’s natural riches, and the looting feeds a cycle of impoverishment, corruption, and violence. But in Vitshumbi, more-elemental changes have been complicating the pattern. The hippopotamuses started falling first. Then the elephants. And now the fish are disappearing, too. An ecosystem seems to be unraveling.

As we leave the village, we see two men weaving through the tall grasses from the direction of the Rwandan Hutu camp. One strains under a large, lumpy sack.

“Thieves!” shouts one of the park rangers in our car. The two men run. Our SUV chases them toward a tarp, where two soldiers man a checkpoint between the rebel camp and the village.

The car doors fling open, and the rangers jump out and lunge at the thieves, while the soldiers leap to their feet. Amid shouts and scuffling, the sack opens, and stolen fish spill all over their wiry bearer. Covered in slime, the pirate fisherman slumps on the ground. A ranger grabs the other man, who stands limp and silent. The environmental activist fires questions at the two, demanding to know why they were fishing without licenses.

“Because,” the wiry man says, “we were hungry.”

Monday, June 01, 2009

Cum Laude in Evading Bandits

Many of these tips are familiar to many international travellers--but I did like the tip of using one's backpack as an airbag--will consider this on my next trip to Kenya--in two days!

One of the great failures of American universities is that they are far too parochial, rarely exposing students to worlds beyond our borders.

If colleges provide credit for dozing through an introductory Spanish class, why not give credit for a “gap year” in a Bolivian village? If students can learn about microfinance while sitting comatose in 9 a.m. lectures, couldn’t they learn more by volunteering with a lender in a Bangladesh slum?

In response, here are 15 tips for traveling to even the roughest of countries — and back:

There is alot more useful information in the letters to Kristof's blog here

Moyo's confused attack on aid for Africa

Famed Columbian economist,Jeffrey Sachs, answer to Dambisa Moyo's criticism of African aid, including commentary on malaria and bed nets....

Aid critics have recently been blaming aid as the source of Africa’s poverty. This column explains how Africa has long been struggling with rural poverty, tropical diseases, illiteracy, and lack of infrastructure and that the right solution is to help address these critical needs through transparent and targeted public and private investments. This includes both more aid and more market financing.
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