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“Love each other and be kind to yourself and to others, that’s my message to Indians,” says Santa Claus Timo Alarik Pakkanen

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New Delhi, Dec 6, 2016: For almost 50 years, he has played Santa Claus — and now during his second visit to India, Timo Alarik Pakkanen from Finland advises people of this country to love others and be generous and kind to themselves.

“Love each other and be kind to yourself and to others, that’s my message to Indians,” Pakkanen, dressed in a Santa outfit, told IANS during an interaction at the Finland embassy here. He was accompanied by Nina Vaskunlahti, the Ambassador of Finland to India.

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Pakkanen, who has committed himself to the task of being Santa Claus, comes from the mysterious Korvatunturi (“Ear Fell”) in Finnish Lapland.

Perhaps one of the most famous names on the planet, this Santa Claus recognises his global influence and the responsibility that comes with it. He spends his time at the Santa Claus Village very day of the year to take care of his mission in life — to enhance the well being of children and the kindness of grown-ups, as well as spreading the message of love and goodwill of the Christmas Spirit across the globe.

For almost 40 years, he has lived the life of the fabled Santa Claus and has met and talked to people from over 82 countries and from 40 US states, 55 German cities and 24 cities from Britain.

He calls his experience of playing Santa as magical and the Christmas eve, magic.

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“The Christmas eve is a magical evening and that’s where all the magic happens. Whenever I meet people, they give me a smile and positivity and that’s the thing I like the most. So I get happiness from children,” he said.

He last visited India six years back as Santa Claus and this year has been equally special for him as people are more acceptable.

“Over the years, it has become more acceptable but I feel it’s the same everywhere. Some people are excited and some are a bit afraid and it’s same with children. Someone comes and hugs you immediately while some start to cry so it’s very different like the way people are different.

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“It’s the same every where you go. It doesn’t mater from where you come, whether it is Canada, China, India or Europe, it’s always kind of same thing,” he told IANS.

He landed in the capital on Sunday and started his trip by meeting a few school children in Vasant Vihar followed by a brunch at Hotel Leela Palace here. On Monday, he visited Gandhi Smriti and India Gate. On Tuesday, he was to visit Taj Mahal in Agra along with a few other places.

Asked how he plans to spread smiles in India at a time when demonetisation is the talk of the town, he told IANS: “My most important mission is to make people happy around me. Give happiness, joy and laughter but I am not here to solve your political problems or anything like that.” (IANS)

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New AI Model to Identify the Risk of Heart Disease in Indians

Besides Apollo, Microsoft is also planning to extend the AI model to other healthcare providers

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Heart Disease
Concern has often focused on the toxicity or carcinogenic properties of the metals, particularly at high doses. Pixabay

In a novel effort to predict the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among the Indian population, Microsoft India and Apollo Hospitals on Friday launched the first-ever Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered heart disease risk score API (application programme interface).

Part of Microsoft’s “AI Network for Healthcare” initiative, it will help doctors across the Apollo network of hospitals leverage the AI-powered API to predict risk of CVD and drive preventive cardiac care across the country.

Nearly three million heart attacks happen in India every year and 30 million Indians suffer from coronary diseases. However, even with various heart disease risk models available worldwide, doctors and cardiologists are unable to identify the probability of CVD in Indians.

“The AI-based models available worldwide were formed decades ago and are based on the western population. Our new API score is based on the data of 4,000 Indians shared by Apollo Hospitals and can easily identify the level of risk each patient has,” Anil Bhansali, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D), told IANS.

“We come in as a technology partner or expert in the AI domain, where we collaborate with healthcare providers and doctors to integrate data to help build the AI model,” Bhansali added.

Built on Microsoft’s Cloud computing platform Azure, the new AI-based heart risk score helps gauge a patient’s risk for heart disease and provides rich insights to doctors on treatment plans and early diagnosis.

The API score considers 21 risk factors including lifestyle attributes such as diet, tobacco and smoking preferences and physical activity as well as psychological stress and anxiety as reflected via rate of respiration, hypertension and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

“The score categorises risk into high, moderate and minimal and also provides insights on the top modifiable risk contributors, thereby assisting physicians to consult patients in a more holistic way, while providing insights to patients for lifestyle modification and timely interventions,” Bhansali elaborated.

heart disease
Representational image. (IANS)

When a patient goes for a cardio health check, the doctor can build up a more accurate cardio-vascular health profile of the patient based on Machine Learning (ML) of all their previous patient data.

AI can, in turn, predict future coronary ailments the patient might experience in the next 10 to 20 years based on these multiple factors.

“This heart risk score for Indian populace is a true example of how precision healthcare can accelerate prevention of cardio-vascular disease and reduce disease burden,” Bhansali noted.

According to Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals, the partnership is aimed at designing new tools and equip doctors in the fight against non-communicable diseases.

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“The amalgamation of AI and ML with the global expertise of our doctors will help prevent heart disease, save lives and ensure those with heart disease can make informed choices on their health,” Reddy said in a statement.

Besides Apollo, Microsoft is also planning to extend the AI model to other healthcare providers.

“While we are currently working with Apollo, we are also in the process of identifying partners where we can actually try this API score,” Bhansali told IANS.

“In the last couple of years we have been working on how Cloud technology, particularly AI, can help in reducing the overall disease burden. Our first step towards this, as part of the healthcare partnership, is developing the cardiac risk score for Indian population,” Bhansali added. (IANS)