Friday December 13, 2019

Malawi – an Unknown Country in Africa- is Attacking its own People with Albinism

People with albinism are targeted in Malawi and other parts of Africa because of a false belief that potions made from their body parts will bring good luck and wealth.

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Lilongwe-a city of Malawi. Wikimedia Commons

Malawi is a nondescript country in Africa, bordering Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. It was also called Nyasaland in the past. The country has been witnessing a strange phenomenon: over last two years, it has witnessed killing of 17 people with  medical condition known as Albinism (there is a lack of Melanin pigmentation, thus skin looks blonde)

A person with Albinism. Due to lack of formation of Melanin pigment, the skin looks blonde. Wikimedia Commons
A person with Albinism. Due to lack of formation of Melanin pigment, the skin looks blonde. Wikimedia Commons

so much so that the United Nations cautioned that in Malawi, albinos may be at the risk of total extinction.

VOA reports:

Stronger laws are needed to protect albinos in Malawi from senseless attacks, civil rights campaigners stressed as several hundred people participated in a march to parliament in Lilongwe.

“The presentation of the petition to parliament marks our determination as citizens and civil society to call for immediate stop and end to the killings of people with albinism,” said Edward Chileka Banda, who helped organize the march.

The petition calls for life imprisonment for people who attack albinos.

Parliament member Ester Jailosi Jolobala received the petition on behalf of the speaker of parliament. She said lawmakers will take swift action.

https://youtu.be/8MkEoL9EC1o

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“You know it is disturbing … when you see perpetrators [released] either due to bail, or maybe lenient judicial sentences,” Jolobala said. “This increases fear in people with albinism here in Malawi.”

Seventeen albinos have been killed in Malawi in the past two years. Few perpetrators are caught.

People with albinism — an absence of pigment in their skin, hair and eyes — are targeted in Malawi and other parts of Africa because of a false belief that potions made from their body parts will bring good luck and wealth.

Malawi has dedicated this week to raising awareness on the issue. The country’s top football league kicked off its “Game Over” campaign. The league invited albino individuals to a special match and posted banners around the stadium denouncing attacks.

Albinism is a genetic disease. It is not contagious or infectious.

Next Story

‘Project Nightingale’ of Google Confronts a Federal Inquiry in the US

Meanwhile, in a blog post, Google tried to clarify its partnership with Ascension

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As part of "Project Nightingale", Ascension uploaded patient data to Cloud servers of Google. Pixabay

Partnership with US healthcare organisation Ascension of Google over health data collection of millions of Americans through its “Project Nightingale” has triggered a federal probe, the media reported on Wednesday.

The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services in the US is launching an inquiry into “Project Nightingale”, reports CNN Business.

The Office for Civil Rights “will seek to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals’ medical records to ensure that [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA] protections were fully implemented”, office director Roger Severino was quoted as saying.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that “Google is engaged with one of the US’s largest health-care systems on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states” and at least 150 Google staffers may have access to the data.

The St. Louis-based healthcare organisation Ascension is allegedly sharing details such as lab results, diagnoses and hospitalisation records — as well as health histories complete with patient names and dates of birth — with the tech giant.

As part of “Project Nightingale”, Ascension uploaded patient data to Google’s Cloud servers.

Meanwhile, in a blog post, Google tried to clarify its partnership with Ascension.

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Partnership with US healthcare organisation Ascension of Google over health data collection of millions of Americans through its “Project Nightingale” has triggered a federal probe. Pixabay

“All of Google’s work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations regarding patient data, and come with strict guidance on data privacy, security and usage,” said Tariq Shaukat, President, Industry Products and Solutions, Google Cloud.

Ascension also issued a statement, saying it is working with Google to optimise the health and wellness of individuals and communities, and deliver a comprehensive portfolio of digital capabilities that enhance the experience of Ascension consumers, patients and clinical providers across the continuum of care.

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According to Google, some of the solutions it is working on with Ascension are not yet in active clinical deployment, but rather are in early testing. (IANS)