Dionna Fry, a 2014 graduate from Emory University, spent last summer in Ethiopia devoting herself to toiletry. For six weeks, she worked with nonprofit organization Catholic Relief Services, going door to door to interview village leaders and families in different communities about how they liked Arborloos, low-cost and ecologically-friendly pit latrines with a concrete slab to squat over. The waste falls into the pit.
Introduced over the past 10 years in Ethiopia, the latrines protect families from diseases spread by open defecation and also turn human waste into an agricultural resource — the food to feed a plant tree that could eventually becomes a source of food and income for the family.
She says families, for most part liked it, and have grown trees that are taller than people.
Fry’s mind was on the toilet for most of the trip, but here’s a peek at her overall experience.
Did you try the toilet? What was it like?
All the Arborloos I used provided privacy [with lightweight walls] and had little odor. Users apply a mix of ash and soil to the pit after use. This decreases odor and the prevalence of flies.
Local habit you liked?
In Ethiopia they tear off a piece of injera [a spongy flatbread], wrap it around some food on the plate, mush it together and feed it to somebody. It’s a sign of respect and love, and the larger the piece the stronger the bond.
The hand that you clean yourself with after defecation, in many cultures, is the left hand, and so that’s considered the dirty hand. The thing is I’m left-handed, and you’re supposed to eat with your right hand. Sometimes I would forget and eat with my left hand, and I would think, “Oh shoot, people are going to think I’m gross.”
About 30 to 40 Gelada baboons, whole families with babies, were sitting on the road just hanging out, which caused a huge traffic jam.
Photo: An Ethiopian woman and her child stand next to an Arborloo latrine. (Courtesy of Dionna Fry)
Struggling with multiple chronic illnesses shortens life expectancy dramatically, and for older Americans, it threatens to reverse recent gains in average lifespans.
Nearly four in five older Americans now live with multiple chronic medical conditions, which perhaps could explain why increases in life expectancy for US seniors are already slowing, report researchers.
“Living with multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, and heart failure is now the norm and not the exception in the United States,” says lead author Eva H. DuGoff, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“The medical advances that have allowed sick people to live longer may not be able to keep up with the growing burden of chronic disease. It is becoming very clear that preventing the development of additional chronic conditions in the elderly could be the only way to continue to improve life expectancy.”
Life expectancy in the US is rising more slowly than in other parts of the developed world. Many blame the obesity epidemic and related health conditions for the worsening health of the American population.
(MONROVIA, Liberia) — One of Liberia’s most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying to combat an outbreak that has killed more than 670 people in West Africa — the largest ever recorded.
A second American, a missionary working in the Liberian capital, was also taken ill and was being treated in isolation there, said the pastor of a North Carolina church that sponsored her work.
Dr. Samuel Brisbane, a top Liberian health official, was treating Ebola patients at the country’s largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia, when he fell ill. He died Saturday, said Tolbert Nyenswah, an assistant health minister. A Ugandan doctor died earlier this month.
The American physician, 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly, was in Liberia helping to respond to the outbreak that has killed 129 people nationwide when he fell ill, according to the North Carolina-based medical charity, Samaritan’s Purse.
He was receiving intensive medical care in a Monrovia hospital and was in stable condition, according to a spokeswoman for the aid group, Melissa Strickland.
“We are hopeful, but he is certainly not out of the woods yet,” she said.Early treatment improves a patient’s chances of survival, and Brantly recognized his own symptoms and began receiving care immediately, Strickland said.
Today is World Hepatitis Day!
The Health Department, the Fund for Public Health in New York and five community partners – the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Cornell Medical College, VNSNY Choice and HealthFirst – announced today that they have received a $10 million Health Care Innovation Award from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to focus on hepatitis C (HCV).
Project INSPIRE NYC (Innovate & Network to Stop HCV & Prevent complications via Integrating care, Responding to needs and Engaging patients & providers) aims to achieve:
- Better care, by increasing the number of patients starting hepatitis C therapy, strengthening management of behavioral health problems, reducing hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and maintaining a high level of satisfaction among enrollees;
- Better health, with increased hepatitis C cure rates, fewer hepatitis C-related complications, and increased screening for depression and alcohol abuse; and
- Lower costs, by reducing expenses from preventable hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and complications of hepatitis C infection.
Hepatitis C Facts:
- An estimated 146,500 New Yorkers have chronic hepatitis C, though about half do not know that they are infected.
- Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
- Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with hepatitis C enters the blood stream of someone who is not infected. Today, people most often become infected with hepatitis C by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions.
- Most people living with hepatitis C have few symptoms of illness until 10 to 30 years after initial infection, when life-threatening complications can develop. People with hepatitis C are at risk for developing cirrhosis, liver cancer, and other types of liver damage.
- Given unprecedented advances in hepatitis C treatment, a cure has become achievable for most. Treatment is now shorter, less toxic, and more effective than in the past.
NYC Health is releasing a number of new resources including an updated website and site locator, informational video, Risk Assessment postcard, Hep C Facts booklet, and a City Health Information Bulletin for primary care providers, as well as a mobile app. New Yorkers can also text LIVER to 877877 to be connected with Hepatitis C testing and care services.
Read our Press Release for more information and the full resource list.
KOLO BENGOU, Guinea — Eight youths, some armed with slingshots and machetes, stood warily alongside a rutted dirt road at an opening in the high reeds, the path to the village of Kolo Bengou. The deadly Ebola virus is believed to have infected several people in the village, and the youths were blocking the path to prevent health workers from entering.
“We don’t want any visitors,” said their leader, Faya Iroundouno, 17, president of Kolo Bengou’s youth league. “We don’t want any contact with anyone.” The others nodded in agreement and fiddled with their slingshots.
Singling out the international aid group Doctors Without Borders, Mr. Iroundouno continued, “Wherever those people have passed, the communities have been hit by illness.”
Health workers here say they are now battling two enemies: the unprecedented Ebola epidemic, which has killed more than 660 people in four countries since it was first detected in March, and fear, which has produced growing hostility toward outside help. On Friday alone, health authorities in Guinea confirmed 14 new cases of the disease.
Workers and officials, blamed by panicked populations for spreading the virus, have been threatened with knives, stones and machetes, their vehicles sometimes surrounded by hostile mobs. Log barriers across narrow dirt roads block medical teams from reaching villages where the virus is suspected. Sick and dead villagers, cut off from help, are infecting others.
“This is very unusual, that we are not trusted,” said Marc Poncin, the emergency coordinator in Guinea for Doctors Without Borders, the main group fighting the disease here. “We’re not stopping the epidemic.”
Efforts to monitor it are grinding to a halt because of “intimidation,” he said. People appear to have more confidence in witch doctors.
Remove Ticks Safely From Your Skin
This graphic shows the life cycle of the ebolavirus. Bats are strongly implicated as both reservoirs and hosts for the ebolavirus. Of the five identified ebolavirus subtypes, four are capable of human-to-human transmission. Initial infections in humans result from contact with an infected bat or other wild animal. Strict isolation of infected patients is essential to reduce onward ebolavirus transmission.
Soda companies spend big money to influence public health initiatives meant to decrease sugary drink consumption. But policies like taxes on sugary beverages can encourage people to make healthier choices. The beverage industry is doing everything in its power to keep that from happening.
(From Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity)