Tuesday December 19, 2017

Ugandan Engineers Invent Better Way to Diagnose Pneumonia, the leading Killers of Young Children in Africa

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Makerere University Telecom graduates Brian Turyabagye (left) and Besufekad Shifferaw (Right) show off the smart jacket that will be used in the diagnosis of pneumonia in children, Kampala, Uganda, April 5, 2017. (H. Althumani/VOA)

ree university engineering graduates in Uganda are taking on one of the leading killers of young children in Africa – pneumonia. They say the prototype of their invention, a “smart jacket” they have named Mama’s Hope, can diagnose the illness faster and more accurately than the current medical protocol.

Four-month-old Nakato Christine writhes on a hospital bed, breathing fast. On the other end of the bed is her twin sister, in the same condition.

Nakato coughs as Senior Nurse Kyebatala Loy adjusts the nasal gastric tube.

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“They have been put on oxygen because they have difficulty in breathing and the feeding is also difficult because of their fast breathing,” Kyebatala said.

Since January, 352 babies have been admitted with pneumonia to pediatric ward 16 at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala.

Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death for children under five years of age in Africa and south Asia, according to the World Health Organization. In 2015, pneumonia killed nearly a million children worldwide.

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A key problem is the challenge involved in diagnosing the disease. The sooner the sick children start receiving antibiotics, the better their chance of survival. But health workers armed with stethoscopes and thermometers can miss the infection in its early stage. Dr. Flavia Mpanga of the U.N. Children’s Fund in Kampala says other methods, like the respiratory timer, can lead to misdiagnosis.

“If you see the respiratory timer, it’s got a ticking mechanism that confuses the community health workers. When they are taking the breathe rates, they confuse the ticking sound of the respiratory timer with the breathe rates and every child is almost diagnosed with pneumonia,” said Dr. Mpanga.

She says over-diagnosis means some children are taking antibiotics they don’t need, which is also a public health problem.

A trio of recent university engineering graduates in Uganda think they have an answer. They have been working with the Mulago School of Public Health to test a prototype of their invention, the smart jacket, called Mama’s Hope.

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Two of the inventors, 26-year-old Beseufekad Shifferaw and 25-year-old Brian Turyabagye, gave VOA a demonstration.

“Ahh so…[zipper sound]… the jacket…is placed on the child…first, this goes around the child and then the falcon fastening is placed, and then the flaps are placed…[fade out]”

“This jacket will simply measure the vital signs of pneumonia. That is the breathing rate, the state of the lungs and the temperature,” said Turyabagye. “Now those signs are transmitted to our unit here, through which a health worker can read off the readings, which include cough, chest pains, nausea or difficulty in breathing. With those additional signs and symptoms, they are coupled with the result that has been measured by the jacket and it gives a more accurate diagnosis result.”

For now, it is just a prototype. But the inventors say their tests have shown that the smart jacket can diagnose pneumonia three times faster than traditional exams.

UNICEF has put the team in touch with its office in Copenhagen in charge of innovations to help them advance in the pre-trial stage. Dr. Mpanga sees potential.

“My only hope is that this jacket can reach a commercial value and be regulatory-body approved so that it can help the whole world,” said Dr. Mpanga.

Dr. Mpanga says taking the guess work out of pneumonia diagnosis could save countless lives in the developing world. (VOA)

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Kidney disease may increase the risk of Diabetes: says a study

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Kidney disease may increase the risk of diabetes.
Kidney disease may increase the risk of diabetes. IANS

New York, Dec 12: If you are suffering from kidney dysfunction, you may be at high risk of developing diabetes, finds a study.

The risk may be attributed to the rising level of urea — the nitrogen-containing waste product in blood, which comes from the breakdown of protein in foods.

Kidneys normally remove urea from the blood, but it can build up when kidney function slows down, resulting in greater insulin resistance as well as secretion in the body.

“We have known for a long time that diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease, but now we have a better understanding that kidney disease, through elevated levels of urea, also raises the risk of diabetes,” said the Ziyad Al-Aly, Assistant Professor at the Washington University in St. Louis.

“When urea builds up in the blood because of kidney dysfunction, it often results in increased insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion,” Ziyad added.

The findings, published in the journal Kidney International, are significant because urea levels can be lowered through medication, diet — for example, by eating less protein — and other means, thereby allowing for improved treatment and possible prevention of diabetes, the researchers said.

For the study, the team evaluated the records of 1.3 million adults without diabetes over a five-year period, beginning in 2003.

Out of these, 117,000 of those without diabetes — or 9 per cent — had elevated urea levels, signalling poor kidney function and were at 23 per cent higher risk of developing diabetes. (IANS)

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Islamic Yoga: Amalgamation of Yoga and Quranic Recitation by Muslim Women of Vadodara

A yoga session was organized by Tadbeer Foundation in which around 52 Muslim women participated

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Islamic Yoga, Amalgamation of yoga and Quranic recitation by Muslim Women
Islamic Yoga, Amalgamation of yoga and Quranic recitation by Muslim Women. Pixabay
  • Yoga is an age-old technique practiced since thousands of years and it is not a legacy of any one religion
  • Through Islamic yoga, we are trying to blend the ancient practice with Islamic chanting
  • I am a very good believer of Islam but there is a myth that only Hindus can practice yoga

Vadodara, Gujarat, August 22, 2017: Does only one religion have an exclusive right over yoga? Is yoga to be practiced by Hindu’s only?  It’s is a long going debate if practicing yoga is permitted in Islam religion or not as it originated from being a form of Hindu worship. Different people of Muslim faith have contrasting opinions on it. Don’t worry!  A city-based foundation called Tadbeer Foundation has come up with an uncommon way to spread yoga amongst Muslims. They have mixed yoga with Quranic recitation.

A special yoga session was organized by Tadbeer Foundation in which was attended by around 52 Muslim Women on August 20. The session was held at Taiyyebi Hall which is on Ajwa Road, Vadodara.

According to TNN report, Naasheta Bhaisaheb of the Tadbeer Foundation said, “Generally, women from our community stay away from doing yoga believing that it belongs to a particular faith. But yoga is an age-old technique practiced since thousands of years and it is not a legacy of any one religion. Through Islamic yoga, we are trying to blend the ancient practice with Islamic chanting,”

She added that the Islamic yoga is a completely a new concept altogether and in this practice, Quranic recitation gets blended along with various yogic posture in which Muslim Women try to enhance the physical benefits of yoga by adding a spiritual touch with recitation.

“The yoga session was specially designed by our spiritual leader Saiyyedna Haatim Zakiyuddin Saheb and my husband Dr. Zulqarnain Bhaisaheb, a homeopathy doctor,” said Bhaisaheb.

ALSO READ: Yogatomics Training and Wellness Centre in Stonington, USA Uses Healing Sound to Bring Twist in Traditional Yoga Practices

For this particular session, an international yoga expert – Shabanaben Lalawala came especially from Mumbai. He targeted common problems which women often suffer from like osteoarthritis of knees, back pain, frozen shoulders and hip pain among other diseases. Yoga can help in providing relief from diseases like these to an extent and can also prevent women from having such diseases if they practice yoga on a regular basis.

She added, “In this session, we focused on 5 asanas. From next session onwards, we will be focusing on problems related to diabetes, thyroid and so on.”

ALSO READ: These 7 Yoga Practices Can Help You to Ease Your Wandering Mind and Enhance Concentration

A local Muslim woman got herself a private yoga practitioner to help her with yoga postures. Fatema Lokhandwala, a 43-year-old woman, who holds a master’s degree in medical microbiology, said “I am a very good believer of Islam religion but there is a myth that only Hindus can practice yoga. Since last 4 years, I have been practicing yoga for which I got a private yoga practitioner. But the Islamic yoga that we did on Sunday was meant for physical, mental as well as spiritual upliftment and added more to what I was practicing so far,” mentions TNN report.

Shahina Chasmawalla, a 41-year-old lady, a resident of Vasna Road said “I am practicing yoga since last 5 years but Islamic yoga was a totally new concept for me. There is a taboo because of which some Muslim women don’t practice yoga. Anybody can practice yoga for its health benefits.”


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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)