Tuesday February 20, 2018

Cuba becomes the first country to eliminate mother-to-child HIV: WHO

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Havana: Cuba on Tuesday became the first country in the world to eradicate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to newborn, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO announced in a press release that it validated Cuba’s success in eliminating mother-to-child transmission.

“Eliminating transmission of a virus is one of the greatest public health achievements possible,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said.

“This is a major victory in our long fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation,” she added.

Cuba celebrated getting the recognition from the international agency.

“It is a historic day for the prevention of HIV and AIDS and for progress towards a generation free of this burden both nationwide and around the world,” Xinhua cited Cuba’s state daily Granma as saying.

“This is a celebration for Cuba and a celebration for children and families everywhere. It shows that ending the AIDS epidemic is possible and we expect Cuba to be the first of many countries coming forward to seek validation that they have ended their epidemics among children,” said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS.

Image Credits: youthandeldersja.wordpress.com
Image Credits: youthandeldersja.wordpress.com

Every year, an estimated 1.4 million women around the globe living with HIV become pregnant. Untreated, they have a 15-45 percent chance of transmitting the virus to their children during pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding, according to the WHO.

The good news is that the risk drops to just over 1 percent if anti-retroviral medicines are given to both mothers and children throughout the stages when infection can occur.

The number of children born annually with HIV has almost halved since 2009, down from 400,000 in 2009 to 240,000 in 2013, but much more needs to be done “to reach the global target of less than 40,000 new child infections per year by 2015”, the WHO said.

Nearly 1 million pregnant women worldwide are infected with syphilis annually, which can result in early fetal loss and stillbirth, neonatal death, low-birth-weight infants and serious neonatal infections.
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Thanks to Cuba’s “equitable, accessible and universal health system”, infected pregnant women are ensured key early access to prenatal care, and HIV and syphilis testing for them and their partners, the WHO said.

Cuba succeeded in lowering the HIV transmission rate to 1.85 percent, below the 2 percent target rate countries in the region in conjunction with the WHO and other health agencies had been aiming for.

“Cuba’s achievement today provides inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis,” said Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organisation.

(IANS)

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IIT-Delhi Collaborates With Indiana University To Help Visually Impaired

The new approach can be used for exploring semantic communication, developing fun tactile game, educational pedagogy, retention and memory

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the collaboration is taking place to develop the tactile graphics. Wikimedia Commons
  • IIT-Delhi and indiana University collaborates to help the visually impaired
  • The collaboration has taken place for the developement of tactile graphics
  • India has largest number of visually impaired people in the world

A three-year collaborative research by IIT-Delhi and Indiana University in the US has led the team to new technologies and cognitive strategies that could improve the lives of the blind and visually impaired (BVI).

The collaboration has resulted in research for the development of a novel new design approach to tactile graphics.

IIT Delhi and Indiana university collaborate to help visually impaired. Pixabay
IIT Delhi and Indiana university collaborate to help visually impaired. Pixabay

“Tactile graphics” — sometimes called as raised line drawings — are two-dimensional images composed of linear and textured design elements raised very slightly above a flat surrounding surface.

“It’s not that what we are doing is attempted for the first time in the world, there are people who have formed similar solutions in the US, Europe, Britain, Japan etc. But the key challenge was to make it cost-efficient for developing countries like India,” M. Balakrishnan, Professor at IIT Delhi, told reporters.

“Tactile diagrams have been here for a long time. While the US-based tactile diagrams cost more than $2 per page, we have produced it for 25 cents and we hope to go further down to 5-7 cents over a period of time,” he added.

According to World Health Organisation estimates, there are 38 million visually impaired people of which 90 per cent of them live in the developing world.

As per 2011 census, India has more than five million visually impaired people – largest for any country.

Out of all the visually impaired people in the world, 90% are in sync with the technicalities of the world. Pixabay
Out of all the visually impaired people in the world, 90% are in sync with the technicalities of the world. Pixabay

Books for visually impaired people are normally completely in Braille text with no accompanying graphical images.

Introduction of low-cost Tactile Graphics will create a noticeable improvement in the quality of education of visually impaired people.

Tactile Graphics generally use a design strategy that distills pictures of objects or scenes into simple contour line drawings.

Also Read: Visually Challenged, yet a Printing Expert: Meet Kalim Iftikar Shaikh of Mumbai

It then translates these into raised lines that blind and visually impaired students trace with their fingers, much as they read Braille.

The new approach can be used for exploring semantic communication, developing fun tactile game, educational pedagogy, retention and memory. IANS