Malaria: how technologies can improve prevention campaigns

I started reading something about malaria the first time I went to Africa. It was more than 20 years ago. I only needed to know the best treatment to prevent the disease.

I surprisingly realized that there weren’t many medicines, and they couldn’t prevent the disease for sure. I wasn’t affected with malaria, but I had a lot of diseases because of the treatment.

It was in that time that I asked myself how so many people in different countries can struggle against this disease, as treatments are so expensive, and plenty of side-effects.

I began from my country, Italy. Malaria was widespread in 40’s and 50’s, in many areas in the countryside. Then, there were many environment reclamations, and this issue became less and less important.

Nowadays that many people move from one country to another, as it’s easier to travel for tourism or for job, and the costs are becoming more and more higher for many countries, there is an increasing attention on this disease.

Just a couple of highlights from the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2008, which draws upon data collected through 2006:

–       new methods estimate the number of malaria cases is 247 million for 2006.

–       small children remain by far the most likely to die of the disease  (a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds)

–       malaria is endemic in more than 90 countries

–       access in Africa to a rather new artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), which is recommended by WHO, reached only 3% of children in need

One of the more effective malaria intervention is the bed net, so far.

But there is a good news, as many researchers are trying to find new solutions, supported by technology. Thanks to the last issue of Wired-Italia I acknowledged that  the team of Environmental Surveillance Core at Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, led by Gregory Glass.

By using a special software, a GPS computer identifies the area more infected by plasmodium mosquitoes. Satellite  pictures and data are processed in order to give information about at-risk areas, and consequently planning effective malaria interventions, campaigns, bed nets distribution, etc.

Isn’t it great? Fortunately, this is just one of the many projects to struggle malaria. And they are increasing together with the awareness of importance of this disease.

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Internet for Peace: a photo contest

Dears All,

once again I am proud as I can offer my little help to Shoot4Change, by promoting an important campaign.

As you probably know (otherwise, please read my previous post!), last November, the magazines Wired Italia, Wired UK, and Wired US proposed Internet as candidate for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

This proposal generated a worldwide movement, supported by Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Prize 2003), Umberto Veronesi (scientist), Nicholas Negroponte (founder MIT medialab and OLPC), Giorgio Armani (fashion designer), Zeferino Andrade De Alexandre Martins (Minister of Education of Mozambico), Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire (Minister of Education and Sports of Uganda), Luìs Federico Franco Gómez (Vice President of Paraguay), Joi Ito (CEO of Creative Commons), and the three Wired directors: Riccardo Luna, Chris Anderson, and David Rowan.

Everyone can be part of this movement. Everyone can play a starring role in this project.

That’s why Shoot4change launched SHOOT FOR PEACE photo contest! It’s not a commercial contest, its aim is to focus attention on the peaceful power of Internet.

You can take pictures using a camera or your mobile phone, but don’t hesitate in showing your point of view about Internet for Peace.

You have 100 days until June 30th, 2010.

For more info … www.shoot4change.net and http://internetforpeace.org/

Talking Timbuktu

“Salt comes from the north, gold from the south, but the word of  God and the treasures of wisdom come from Timbuktu.”

Inspired by an article of the Italian issue of  Wired, I’d like to share with you my surprise and happiness about this news.

Timbuktu is the legendary city founded as a commercial center in West Africa nine hundred years ago. It is located in Mali and it has been an intellectual and spiritual capital and centre for the propagation of Islam  throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries.

In 14th century, scholars from Cairo and Baghdad used to attend Timbuktu’s University.

Nowdays, Timbuktu’s treasure is made of hundreds of ancient manuscripts. Most of them come from private collections owned by families in different villages nearby. Most of the are in terrible conditions because of dust, termites, mice.

Thanks to the commitment of different government and institutions, especially South African government, and to technology, there is a new hope for this tresure.

Three different actions for the same aim: firstly, with government funds private libraries became public.

Then,  South African government financed a new museum, according to the climate rules to preserve delicate papyrus.

Last but not the least, the restoration and the digitalization process of all the books and manuscript has been started.

Let’s imagine this mix: ancient manuscripts, technology and Sahara’s sand … The future is today!