Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mysterious nodding syndrome spreading through Uganda

Large areas of northern Uganda are experiencing an outbreak of nodding syndrome, a mysterious disease that causes young children and adolescents to nod violently when they eat food. The disease, which may be an unusual form of epilepsy, could be linked to the parasitic worm responsible for river blindness, a condition that affects some 18 million people, most of them in Africa. The current outbreaks are concentrated in the districts of Kitgum, Pader and Gulu. In Pader alone, 66 children and teenagers have died. More than 1000 cases were diagnosed between August and mid-December. Onchocerca volvulus, a nematode worm that causes river blindness, is known to infest all three affected districts. Nearly all the children with nodding syndrome are thought to live near permanent rivers, another hint of a connection with river blindness. The link is not clear cut, though. "We know that [Onchocerca volvulus] is involved in some way, but it is a little puzzling because [the worm] is fairly common in areas that do not have nodding disease," says Scott Dowell, who researches paediatric infectious diseases and is lead investigator into nodding syndrome with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no known cure for nodding syndrome, so Uganda's Ministry of Health has begun using anticonvulsants such as sodium valproate to treat its signs and symptoms. Meanwhile the disease is continuing to spread, say Janet Oola, Pader's health officer, and Sam William Oyet, the district's medical entomology officer. It has now reached the Ugandan district of Yumbe, which borders the Republic of South Sudan – and cases have also been reported in the southern region of the world's newest country. Since gaining independence from the rest of Sudan in July, South Sudan has remained on track to eradicate one of humanity's oldest diseases – guinea worm. It is unclear, though, whether foreign aid for the new country could help prevent the spread of nodding syndrome... New Scientist

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Take Your Candle, Go Light Your World

'If everyone light their candles' the world will be a better place to live in!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Spina bifida: interview with KTN

Against all odds. Everybody has a story: for some stories of success, for others stories of rising above challenges. Rebecca Alitsi's story is one of struggle and a determination to succeed against significant odds. KTN's Betty Kyallo tells us how Alisti inspires many around her despite being born with a rare medical condition known as Spina Bifida. From: standardgroupkenya

Thursday, July 14, 2011

South Sudan

South Sudan is Africa's newest country, the 193th member of the United Nations. Here are the links to a 3-part report on the country by the Christian Science Monitor:
Part 1: Can South Sudan limit internal strife?
Part 2: South Sudan's oil remains a sticking point
Part 3: Future of South Sudan tied to efficacy of foreign aid

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stats of the blog :)

One year elapsed since Blogger introduced stats and Rebecca can be proud with over 18,000 pageviews. That means an average of 1,500 per month or 50 a day, but the most significant data is the highest peak in this month of June with 3,152 pageviews while at the start in July last year they were only 764 – an impressive growth for the blog !

In details, most visitors came from the US (7,587), then Italy (1,914), Germany (927), the UK (842), Canada (581), France (562), the Netherlands (551), Spain (482), Kenya (285) and Russia (197). There has been a good number of visits from Switzerland, India and the Philippines. For the most popular posts see the top five in the sidebar.

Monday, May 23, 2011

British inventor's spectacles revolution for Africa

A British atomic physicist is liaising with the World Bank on a revolutionary project to distribute spectacles to 200 million children in developing countries. Users will be able to adjust the glasses to their own personal prescription without help from an optician. "All users have to do is look at a reading chart and adjust the glasses until they can see letters clearly". said Professor Joshua Silver, who was last week shortlisted for a 2011 European inventor award at a ceremony in Budapest. "Glasses like these are perfect for use in the third world. We can send them to schools where teachers can direct pupils to set their spectacles to suit each one's vision. It is as simple as that".

Silver estimates that more than a billion adults in developing nations have poor eyesight. This seriously limits their education and employment prospects. He is now working with the World Bank and the Dow Corning Corporation – which makes the silicone materials used in his revolutionary glasses – to supply 200 million pairs of self-adjusting spectacles to schoolchildren in Africa and Asia. Ultimately, he hopes a billion pairs of the glasses will be made. The scientist's work was highlighted by the European Patent Office and the European Union at a joint ceremony in Budapest as an example of the work that European scientists should be undertaking. Fourteen other projects – from new biofuel furnaces to cheap water-purification devices – were also on display.

[...] Of the EU's 27 states, 25 have agreed to a common approach to patenting. Only Spain and Italy are holding out, because the new patents will be written only in English, German and French. At the Budapest ceremony, Silver revealed that he began working on his revolutionary glasses – which are covered by patents – as a hobby more than 20 years ago, while he was relaxing from his daytime job as a professor of physics at Oxford University. "I was curious. I did it for fun". said Silver, who is now director of the Oxford-based Centre for Vision in the Developing World.

What Silver created was ingenious and, like most great inventions, amazingly simple: low-cost glasses that can be tuned by the wearer. His spectacles have "adaptive lenses", which consist of two thin membranes separated by silicone gel. The wearer simply looks at an eye chart and pumps in more or less fluid to change the curvature of the lens, which adjusts the prescription. "It is incredibly easy. You don't need an optician, just a little bit of basic instruction" - said Silver - "Our tests – which have ranged from trials with pupils in rural schools in China to inner-city schools in Boston – have found that more than 95% of adolescents can handle these glasses quite easily and set their own prescription without problem.

"We call this process self-refraction, and it offers enormous potential for use in the developing world. We have already supplied 40,000 of these glasses to individuals in 20 countries". Silver's spectacles have two disadvantages, however. They cost around £15 a pair to make. "We have to get that cost down if we want to get these in numbers to children in Africa or Asia" - said Silver - "We are working on that, and I expect we'll get the price down to around £1 a pair. At that cost, the plan to supply 200 million glasses becomes practicable". Silver also acknowledges that his glasses – which have thick, round rims – are not particularly attractive. "If we want teenagers to wear them, we will have to make them less obtrusive and more stylish. In essence, we want to make them look just like standard glasses. I am very hopeful we will succeed"... Guardian

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Condom recycling highlights gaps in HIV prevention programming

Media images of men in northern Kenya washing condoms for re-use have underscored the need to improve HIV communication and close gaps in the supply of condoms in rural areas. Local TV channels recently showed images of men in Isiolo, in rural northern Kenya, washing condoms and hanging them out to dry; the men said the price of condoms meant they could not afford to use them just once. Other men in the village said when they had no access to condoms, they used polythene bags and even cloth rags when having sex.

Male condoms are intended for single use; washing and re-using them weakens the latex, increasing the chances of breakage and in turn, the risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Washing condoms in dirty water may also carry additional disease risk. Condoms are free at government health centres, but in rural Kenya these are few and far between and supplies unreliable.

Hosea Motoro, 37, knows he risks infecting his wife of seven years with HIV if he does not use a condom. "I know I am positive but I don't want to give my wife HIV and I know if I use a condom, she is safe. We also don’t want any children because we already have five and that is enough for us," he said. Motoro usually walks the 5km to his nearest health centre for condoms, but on occasion finds them out of stock... Plus news

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Understanding Disability

Experiencing disability can be a challenge but at all cost it doesn't mean that it is inability to do or achieve something in life.
Generally, disability has been defined from negative perspective implying that once someone is experiencing it he or she becomes incapable of achieving what other people can achieve. This has created negative attitude and perceptions towards people who are physically challenged.

We should bear in mind that experiencing disability is a mere challenge and people with the challenges can achieve what they want and live a normal life just like any other human being and so they deserve respect and equality in all perspectives of life!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Italy 150

Today is the 150th anniversary of the unity if Italy, previously divided in fiefdoms but then united by heroic Giuseppe Garibaldi (whose expedition to unify Italy was made of just one thousand troops), and once completed the task he famously said "we made Italy, now let's make Italians".

In the past half-century Italian radio-TV took care of the latter problem by letting people from North to South communicating in the same language, more or less, and today we celebrate thanks to insistance of our great current President Giorgio Napolitano, who compensates for the sorry international image of our prime minister Berlusconi, widely recognized as a buffoon.

In the meantime of our history, we had an even bigger problem than Berlusconi: a great idiot called Benito Mussolini who dragged us in the biggest tragedy of our country: his fascist alliance with Nazi Germany (Hitler) caused our involvement in WWII, and moreover a civil war, with millions of victims and consequent poverty and desperation. Not to mention the unfortunate and dreadful Mussolini's colonialist ambitions in Africa... Very sorry for that.

Then we had a new Risorgimento (Resurgence): it begun when we had the most popular President of the republic ever: Sandro Pertini was a wartime prisoner who escaped jail and death penalty to fight fascism. Unfortunately things have worsened and we now have a government made of thieves and pimps, but President Napolitano has tonight given us hope by delivering a great emotional speech.

Viva il presidente Napolitano e VIVA L'ITALIA !

Friday, March 4, 2011

Do you know Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

In most cases, Down syndrome occurs when there is an extra copy of chromosome 21. This form of Down syndrome is called Trisomy 21. The extra chromosome causes problems with the way the body and brain develop.

Down syndrome is the most common single cause of human birth defects.


Down syndrome symptoms vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. However, children with Down syndrome have a widely recognized appearance.

The head may be smaller than normal and abnormally shaped. For example, the head may be round with a flat area on the back. The inner corner of the eyes may be rounded instead of pointed.

Get more information

Despite all these challenges a child with Down Syndrome can grow up just like any other child and overcome the challenges along the way.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kenny Roger, Write your Name lyrics

Old is Gold, I like Kenny Rogers song

I can't help smiling when I look at you,
To keep from going crazy is all I can do.
I'm so defenseless with you so close,
The walls have crumbled from my body and soul.

Write your name across my heart.
I want the world to know that I am yours forever.
And I will wear it like a shining star.
Write your name across my heart.

To you my life is an open door.
Everything I have is yours.
I'll try to give you everything you need,
But as far as love goes, there's a life-time guarantee.

Write your name across my heart.
I want the world to know that I am yours forever.
And I will wear it like a shining star.
Write your name across my heart.

In all my thoughts, in all I do, in all I say,
I belong to you with every breath I take....

Write your name across my heart,
I want the world to know that I am yours forever.
And I will wear it like a shining star.
Write your name, across my heart.

And I will wear it like a shining star,
Write your name across my heart.
Across my heart.
Across my heart.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kenyan mother 'cursed' with six sets of twins

Most women would struggle to cope with six sets of twins but for Gladys Bulinya it is even more difficult - as many people in her part of Kenya think twins are cursed. Her relatives will have nothing to do with her, and her husband left her, fearing she was jinxed, after the sixth pair of twins arrived last year. So the 35-year-old lives alone with 10 of her 12 children in a one-roomed grass-thatched house, a few miles from the shore of Lake Victoria. Sitting outside her small home in the village of Nzoia, she recites the birthdays of her children with ease. "John and James were born in 1993," she starts, shading her eyes from the sun's rays. She explains that she got pregnant at high school - but her boyfriend was too young to marry her. Her sorrow then turned to shock, when her own family ordered her to leave the babies at the district hospital for adoption. They told her that the Bukusu people, to which her family belongs, believe twins bring bad luck - and that unless one of them dies, it means certain death for one or both parents. The Bukusu tradition of eliminating the second twin is no longer practised, though occasional cases of infanticide are still reported in rural areas of western Kenya.

Forced marriage
Luckily, Ms Bulinya says, when her boyfriend's father learned the twins had been abandoned, he took them in and has cared for them ever since. (He is from a different ethnic group, the Kalenjin). But her troubles did not stop there. Five years later she fell in love with and married a primary school teacher. She was living with his family when she gave birth to her second set of twins, Duncan and Dennis. Fearing she had brought them a bad omen - and that someone would die - her in-laws chased her away. "I was put on a motorcycle taxi with my twins and sent to my father's home," she says. Yet again, however, her family had no sympathy. Still considering her cursed, they did not allow her on to their property. Instead, they quickly organised another marriage for her, to a man 20 years her senior. He agreed to the alliance, she says, as he had not expected to marry at his age. But more twins followed. "Mercy and Faith were born in 2003 and Carren and Ivy in 2005, Purpose and Swin in 2007," Ms Bulinya says. It was the arrival of Baraka and Prince last year, that led to her husband walking out. "I now have to do lots of odd jobs to feed my 10 children because I do not know where he is, and he is also too old to work even if he were around," she says.

'No regrets'
A few of the children attend the local junior school. Eleven-year-old Dennis has been given a scholarship to a private boarding school nearby, while his twin Duncan looks after the livestock for a retired teacher. "I have decided to sponsor one of them - that is all I can afford," Margaret Khanyunya, director of St Iddah Academy, told the BBC. Duncan's monthly ration of maize for his herding duties is enough to feed the rest of the family. So the family of twins, often ostracised by the community, just about scrapes a living. But even Ms Khanyunya, a benefactor, is critical of Ms Bulinya's situation. Ms Bulinya says she has no regrets and sees all her children as God's blessings. However, she admits that she has now reluctantly been sterilised, "against the wishes of my church", as she could not cope with any more children. "I am a Catholic. When I made the decision I asked for God's forgiveness and I am sure God understands and will forgive me for doing that". The one thing that really upsets her, she says, is the absence of her 17-year-old twins. She weeps when she recalls their last meeting, two years ago, at their circumcision, a ceremony which marks a teenage boy's rite of passage to a man. At the gathering, each parent must hand over their son to the community elders for the circumcision. "I was invited to the occasion and asked twice to pick my sons from among the crowd of 30 boys", she explains. "In both cases I picked the wrong children and my heart still bleeds each time I think of that day"... Bbc

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Taking Care of a Child with Disabillity

Once a child with disability is born in a family most people usually thinks of him or her as a burden and nothing good can come out of him or her, as a result of that the child may become rejected not just by the family and community but also self rejection. This can hinder the child's development and to some extend it may affect how that child behave and relates with other people not just in childhood but also in adulthood this may as well create trouble and more problem for these children.

Before any treatment like corrective surgery or rehabilitation the first basic thing that any child with disability needs is LOVE. Once you give them love they will reveal a higher personality about themselves and they may give society greater things that no one anticipated.

in order to integrate people with disability in out society the key issue to eliminate is prejudice and negative attitudes about disability because these two issues can be more disabling than disability itself. Then learn to love more


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Italian lesson in music #7

Malika Ayane, who will be 27 in two weeks time, is an Italian-Moroccan sensational singer last year eliminated from the top three in the stupid Festival di Sanremo among protests by the public and even the official orchestra. Here with English subtitles as usual and the Italian Lyrics in the comments (open up comments window while listening)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to School

Hello Friends,
I hope you are all doing well.
it's back to school for girls after a long holiday