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GUARENAS, VENEZUELA, November 1, 2016 — Deep inside a hilly Venezuelan slum, Ericka Torres rocks her three-month-old son Jesus to soothe his near-constant crying.
Jesus was diagnosed with microcephaly, a birth defect marked by a small head and serious developmental problems, after his mother contracted what was probably the mosquito-borne Zika virus during pregnancy in the poor city of Guarenas.
Torres said her boyfriend left after scans showed their child had birth defects, and she now struggles to afford medicine, clothes and even diapers for Jesus in the midst of Venezuela’s brutal economic crisis.
[bctt tweet=”The Venezuelan government has not acknowledged a single case of Zika-related microcephaly in the country.” username=””]
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“It’s intense. But I can’t get stressed, because this struggle is only just beginning,” said Torres, 28, a supermarket security guard who smiles easily despite barely sleeping because of Jesus’ screams and convulsions, common traits of babies born with microcephaly.
The Venezuelan government, however, has not acknowledged a single case of Zika-related microcephaly in the country.
Beyond some health warnings and a handful of televised comments about Zika at the start of the year, the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro has largely kept quiet about the virus even as neighboring Brazil and Colombia publish weekly bulletins.
Venezuela does provide data to the World Health Organization, which shows it has had some 58,212 suspected Zika cases and 1,964 confirmed ones since the virus emerged in Brazil last year and then spread rapidly through the Americas.
But it has not, however, declared any cases of confirmed congenital syndrome associated with Zika, such as microcephaly, and has not mentioned any suspected cases either.
To be sure, inadequate Zika testing has thwarted efforts to precisely diagnose Zika-caused microcephaly. But countries like Brazil have turned to clinical diagnoses and report “confirmed and probable cases” of Zika-associated congenital syndromes to the WHO, for instance.
Some doctors accuse Venezuela’s unpopular government of hiding the Zika problem amid a deep recession that has everything from flour and rice to antibiotics and chemotherapy medicines running short and spurred fierce criticism of Maduro.
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They also say government inaction means kids are missing out on targeted state-sponsored therapy programs that would help to stimulate them.
“This delays the patient’s development, because no matter how much knowledge or drive you have, if you don’t have the physical tools like materials, resources, medicines, well that delays everything,” said Maria Pereira, a doctor in Caracas.
Local media have put the number of babies born with suspected Zika-linked microcephaly so far this year at around 60. Physicians in Caracas, the western city of Maracaibo, and the coastal state of Sucre, confirmed at least 50 cases in interviews with Reuters.
Venezuela’s Institute of Tropical Medicine estimates the real number could be much higher by the end of the year – between 563 and 1,400. That estimate is based on the numbers in Brazil, which has more than 1,800 confirmed cases, and pregnancy rates in Venezuela.
Product shortages have likely aggravated the effects of Zika in Venezuela: lack of contraceptives lead to unwanted pregnancies; lack of bug spray and fumigations lead to bites; and lack of anticonvulsant drugs or state support add to the hardships of children with the birth defect.
Venezuela’s health and information ministries did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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The government says it has one of the best health care systems in the world, pointing to free Cuban-staffed clinics in slums and social programs for maternal and child well-being. But it has stopped releasing data as the health sector has crumbled in the last two years.
Dozens of women and babies line up in the hot, dimly lit corridors of the J.M. de los Rios children’s hospital in Caracas, often waiting hours before an overstretched doctor can finally see them.
In the last three months, doctors say some 25 babies with microcephaly have been examined at what was once one of the leading hospitals in Latin America, with the majority of their mothers reporting symptoms including rashes or fevers during pregnancy.
Physicians order exams and prescribe therapies, but the overwhelmingly poor families struggle to scrape together enough money in the face of triple-digit inflation.
That delays early intervention and the discovery of other potential syndromes that have been linked to Zika, like vision problems or joint deformities.
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“You feel impotent that you can’t provide anything more because there are no resources,” said Pereira, who works at the J.M. de los Rios hospital. Her family has to send her food and money from the provinces because she only earns around $70 a month between her salary and food tickets.
Other poor Latin American countries have also been criticized for their response to Zika. Brazil was called slow to investigate the initial surge of microcephaly cases and doctors say Zika prevention was spotty in Honduras, which estimates it will have some 340 cases of microcephaly by the end of the year.
Doctors and opposition lawmakers say Venezuela is faring the worst and have called for foreign aid and a stronger stance from the WHO.
Venezuela has rebuffed requests for aid, with officials saying it is an attempt to justify a foreign intervention in the oil-rich country.
When asked about criticism it was not doing enough in Venezuela, the WHO’s regional office for the Americas told Reuters its role was to provide technical cooperation to member countries and that it was working to strengthen that cooperation with Venezuela’s Health Ministry.
In the meantime, families are feeling the squeeze.
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Home-based hairdresser Isabel Jimenez, her unemployed husband, and their four kids had already stopped having breakfast before the birth of Joshua, who has microcephaly, two weeks ago.
Now the family in the isolated Caribbean peninsula of Paraguana is under further pressure and has to rely on relatives for help with diapers, milk and medical appointments.
“I cried a lot,” said Jimenez, 28, of learning about Joshua’s condition. “At first I had a lot of anger and sadness, but I have to keep going with my baby because I can’t do anything else.” (VOA)
The pandemic brought about a global boom of entrepreneurship in 2020. Thousands of small businesses launched in the UK last year, and many were very successful. Some businesses started as passion projects, while others aimed to fill a hole in the pandemic market. Services and products, like at-home workouts, popped up all over social media from new and exciting businesses. The pandemic left many Brits financially unstable and scared for the future of their career. Launching their own business gave them something to focus on again and a small amount of income.
The Financial Times reported that the number of registered companies in the UK increased by 30% in 2020. As the world returns to normal, it will be interesting to see how these new businesses approach the post-pandemic world.
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If you have just set up a new business, here are some essential marketing tips to get the ball rolling:
Exploit social media
Social media is one of the most effective marketing platforms available. You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. Post consistently and use high-quality imaging to catch your audience's attention. Engage with potential customers by replying to direct messages, comments, shares and likes. Use a few platforms to maximise your exposure and create a strong brand identity.
You can connect with a global audience for free and market your product or service to them. | Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash
Network as much as you can
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. Use sites like LinkedIn to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and those in different industries. Reach out to them directly and ask about their company or role. You might be surprised by how much you can learn from one conversation. Once in-person events return, you should look to make the most out of meeting people in your industry. You might find brands to collaborate with or a mentor to learn from. Make sure to hand out your business cards at the event so people can get in touch with you in the future.
Networking is a vital part of business, and you can do it on and offline. | Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash
Create a blog
You need to be an expert in your industry. Create a blog and share your journey of learning to be a business owner. You can share your expertise and why you started the company, which other entrepreneurs can read and learn from. Your knowledge and experience might be extremely helpful for those just starting out. Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase.
Use a range of marketing techniques to launch your business into the next phase. | Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)
One of Indias fast growing Direct To Consumer (DTC) beauty and personal care brands, MyGlamm, launches its national TVC around the message 'All Natural #NoNasties today with actress Shraddha Kapoor, who is also an investor in the brand.
Kapoor who has a great millennial and Gen Z connect introduces 'My SUPERFOODS Kajal' which has No Parabens, No Mineral Oils, No Nasties while still being long-lasting and smudge-free and made with the goodness of nature. This is followed by many girls trying applying the kajal with confidence and while highlighting the ingredients Avocado Oil, Goji Berries, Vitamin E and Sunflower Seed Oil.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. Wikimedia Commons
The brand focuses on creating quality products that are high efficacy made with all-natural and no chemicals in the formulae. his campaign follows the #TellMyGlammWhatYouWant campaign where women logged in to tell the company what they wanted from their beauty products. It aims to establish a beauty democracy by giving consumers the power to tell the brand what they want thus changing the entire experience of how women buy beauty products in India.
Commenting on the campaign, Apratim Majumder, CMO, MyGlamm says "Women have been telling us about what they want from their beauty products for a while now. We have been innovating to serve those needs with products. When they told us that they want a kajal that is not only long-lasting and smudge-proof but also takes care of their eyes, we knew we had to do this. The campaign is about telling everyone out there who told us they need a kajal that cares, MyGlamm Superfoods Kajal is here for you! The campaign debued on MyGlamm's social channels- YouTube & Instagram on September 16. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, Direct beauty brands, My Glamm national, girls, kajal, confidence ingredients, Avocado Oil, Shraddha Kapoor
Phishing attacks targeting organisations rose up considerably during the pandemic, as millions of employees working from home became a prime target for cybercriminals. A large majority (83 per cent) of IT teams in India said the number of phishing emails targeting their employees increased during 2020, according to a report by UK-based cybersecurity firm Sophos on Monday.
"It can be tempting for organisations to see phishing attacks as a relatively low-level threat, but that underestimates their power. Phishing is often the first step in a complex, multi-stage attack. According to Sophos Rapid Response, attackers frequently use phishing emails to trick users into installing malware or sharing credentials that provide access to the corporate network," Sophos' Principal Research Scientist, Chester Wisniewski said in a statement. The findings also reveal that there is a lack of common understanding about the definition of phishing. For instance, 67 per cent of IT teams in India associate phishing with emails that falsely claim to be from a legitimate organisation, and which are usually combined with a threat or request for information.
The findings also reveal that there is a lack of common understanding about the definition of phishing. | Pixabay
As many as 61 per cent consider Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks to be phishing, and half of the respondents (50 per cent) think threadjacking - when attackers insert themselves into a legitimate email thread as part of an attack - is phishing. Most of the organisations in India (98 per cent) have implemented cybersecurity awareness programmes to combat phishing. Respondents said they use computer-based training programmes (67 per cent), human-led training programmes (60 per cent), and phishing simulations (51 per cent).
Four-fifths of Indian organisations assess the impact of their awareness programme through the number of phishing-related tickets raised with IT, followed by the level of reporting of phishing emails by users (77 per cent) and click rates on phishing emails (60 per cent). All the organisations surveyed (100 per cent) in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kolkata say they have a cybersecurity awareness programme in place. This was followed by Chennai where 97 per cent have such programmes, and then, Bengaluru and Mumbai at 96 per cent each. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: programmes, organisation, emails, phishing