Wednesday October 17, 2018

Australian Scientists hope to reduce Myanmar’s high death toll from Snake bites in Rural Communities

The official toll from snake bites in Myanmar is 600 deaths a year out of some 13,000 cases among a rural population dependent on rice harvesting

0
//
110
FILE - A snake charmer walks with pythons on his shoulder to attract tourists in Amarapura, Mandalay region, Myanmar, Jan. 2, 2016. Mandalay alone registers an estimated 700 to 800 snake bite victims each year. VOA
Republish
Reprint

Bangkok, March 19, 2017: Australian scientists, working with counterparts in Myanmar, are hoping to reduce Myanmar’s high death toll from snake bites in rural communities, especially among vulnerable populations facing inadequate emergency care.

The official toll from snake bites in Myanmar is 600 deaths a year out of some 13,000 cases among a rural population dependent on rice harvesting for a living. But rice paddy fields and rice stacks lure rats and mice, and in turn draw snakes, the most venomous being the Russell’s vipers and cobras.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

But the hopes for survival are often challenged by long distances from emergency care, with poor roads and infrastructure between snake bite victims and life-saving medical treatment.

Chen Au Peh, a renal specialist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia, said speedy access to emergency medical treatment is crucial.

“So all these factors accumulate to a long delay between bite and administration of an anti-venom. So to help them, we have to help them produce more anti-venom, to get the anti-venom to where it’s required to help them keep the anti-venom in the refrigerator and to help the health professionals,” Peh said.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

Lifestock also affected

The project has also involved ensuring higher survival rates of horses used in the production of the anti-venom after being injected with snake venom. High mortality rates were evident among the horses due to anemia, nutritional problems and veterinary practices. Changes in practice included learning the skills developed by Myanmar horse handlers.

“In the last 10 months the average horse mortality is something like six or seven per month – compared to 50 per month – and this is very good news not only for horses but for human patients who may need the anti-venom. The more horses that survive the month, the more vials of anti-venom you can produce,” Peh said.

FILE – A Dec. 18, 2015, photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society, shows an 18-inch, one-year-old cobra is shown. Cobras and vipers are among the most venomous snakes in Myanmar.
VOA

As a result, production of anti-venom has risen sharply to 100,000 vials from 60,000 vials.

The team’s work, part of a $1.77 million effort begun in 2014 with support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and working with Myanmar’s Ministries of Industry and Health, is focused on the northern city of Mandalay, a region that faces an estimated 700 to 800 snake bite victims each year.

The Australian team, which includes Afzal Mahmood, a senior lecturer in public health at the University of Adelaide and Julian White, a world renowned toxicologist from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, is working with specialists in Myanmar and local partners on guidelines, protocols and standard operating procedures for the health sector.

Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.

Real numbers higher

Mahmood said a recent survey indicated the rate of snake bites was considerably higher than official figures.

“It is not a new phenomenon, it happens because many people do not reach the health system where recording takes place. Some people get treated by the traditional healers; some may die without actually reaching the health system and some may suffer and get healed,” Mahmood told VOA.

But he said the program has succeeded in boosting the skills among the local medical and non-medical community.

“We have produced revised guidelines for the doctors [and] some diagnostic tests, and the training of some 200 health care providers,” he said.

The work has reached about 150 villages with local community meetings targeting around 7,000 people to promote awareness of snake bite treatments.

The goal, the scientists said, is to shorten the time to treatment by providing solar powered refrigerators near to local communities with supplies of anti-venom.

Mahmood says the challenges go beyond the initial treatment.

“Psychological issues post-bite [affect] not only the person but the family themselves suffer. It’s a very life-changing experience,” he said.

Victims of snake bites are among Myanmar’s poorest. They often face long periods of hospitalization, leaving families facing high medical bills, often equivalent to several months of real earnings as they struggle to meet hospital and transport expenses, even those receiving subsidies.

To ensure the project is sustainable, its goal is to provide a model that can be applied elsewhere in Myanmar. (VOA)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Facebook ‘Too slow’ in Fighting Hate Speech in Myanmar

Facebook said it is working with a network of independent organisations to identify hate posts

0
Facebook
Facebook faces $1.63 bn in EU fine over fresh data breach. VOA

The ethnic violence in Myanmar is horrific and we have been “too slow” to prevent the spread of misinformation and hate speech on our platform, Facebook acknowledged on Thursday.

The admission came after a Reuters investigation on Wednesday revealed that Facebook has struggled to address hate posts about the minority Rohingya, the social media giant said the rate at which bad content is reported in Burmese, whether it’s hate speech or misinformation, is low.

“This is due to challenges with our reporting tools, technical issues with font display and a lack of familiarity with our policies. We’re investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence that can proactively flag posts that break our rules,” Sara Su, Product Manager at Facebook, said in a statement.

According to Facebook, in the second quarter of 2018, it proactively identified about 52 per cent of the content it removed for hate speech in Myanmar.

“This is up from 13 per cent in the last quarter of 2017, and is the result of the investments we’ve made both in detection technology and people, the combination of which help find potentially violating content and accounts and flag them for review,” said Facebook.

Facebook said it proactively identified posts as recently as last week that indicated a threat of credible violence in Myanmar.

“We removed the posts and flagged them to civil society groups to ensure that they were aware of potential violence,” said the blog post.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

In May, a coalition of activists from eight countries, including India and Myanmar, called on Facebook to put in place a transparent and consistent approach to moderation.

The coalition demanded civil rights and political bias audits into Facebook’s role in abetting human rights abuses, spreading misinformation and manipulation of democratic processes in their respective countries.

Besides India and Myanmar, the other countries that the activists represented were Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines, Syria and Ethiopia.

Facebook said that as of June, it had over 60 Myanmar language experts reviewing content and will have at least 100 by the end of this year.

“But it’s not enough to add more reviewers because we can’t rely on reports alone to catch bad content. Engineers across the company are building AI tools that help us identify abusive posts,” said the social media giant.

You May Also Like to Read About the Latest News on Amazon Speakers- Students Get Amazon Alexa – Electronic Voice-Controlled Assistants in University Campus Housing

Not only Myanmar, activists in Sri Lanka have argued that the lack of local moderators — specifically moderators fluent in the Sinhalese language spoken by the country’s Buddhist majority — had allowed hate speech run wild on the platform.

Facebook said it is working with a network of independent organisations to identify hate posts.

“We are initially focusing our work on countries where false news has had life or death consequences. These include Sri Lanka, India, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic as well as Myanmar,” said the company. (IANS)