Tuesday June 26, 2018

America celebrates ‘Before I Die I would like to……’ festival

"If you have thought about it when you're not in the midst of a crisis, the crisis will be better."

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Graveyard, Image credits :beforeidiefestival.co.uk
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  • This festival was held in mid-April.
  • People talk about what they would like do before death in this festival.
  • Various art and wall paintings related to death are also displayed.

Before I Die Festival is a festival celebrated in the U.S. Held in mid-April, the main purpose of this festival is to get people thinking ahead about topics they want to achieve in their remaining days. i.e. regarding organ donations, funeral arrangements, wills, good and bad deeds etc.

Lucia Wocial, the festival’s organizer and a nurse ethicist at the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics in Indianapolis said: “This is an opportunity to begin to change the culture, to make it possible for people to think about and talk about death so it’s not a mystery”.

A 62 years old Tom Davis has been lately thinking a lot about his life and death. He had a heart attack. Initially, he was planning to jolt but after the attack, he wrote “I want to see my grandkids grow up.”

Several books, films, and death related arts are displayed in this festival. At Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library once 61 pairs of boots were displayed which represented the early death of Indiana soldiers.

There are various other attractions of this unique festival such as

  • Death wall paintings
  • Death Cafes
  • Death discussions among people in the whole city
Art gallery during the festival, Image source : beforeidiefestival.co.uk
Art gallery during the festival, Image source : beforeidiefestival.co.uk

The festival organiser further told that “Death has changed, Years ago people just died. Now death, in many cases, is an orchestrated event.” This statement can be well supported by the fact now medicines have brought new innovative ways to extend the life expectancy of an individual.

Moreover, workshops on how to write an advance directive are also organised in this festival. Special emphasis was being laid on advance care planning. These documents tell doctors that If someone falls ill and can’t communicate his/her wishes then family members are enlisted in the document will take decisions on his/her behalf. Wocial thinks that “If you have thought about it when you’re not in the midst of a crisis, the crisis will be better.

Jason Eberl, a medical ethicist from Marian University said at the festival that “advance directives can address these financial issues, too. People themselves, in their advance directive, will say, ‘Look, I don’t want to drain my kid’s college savings or my wife’s retirement account, to go through one round of chemo when there’s only a 15 percent chance of remission. I’m not going to do that to them.’ ”

Coming to the festival tours to cremation facilities are also provided. Biodegradable urns are made available to dispose of human ashes. There are many things one thinks of before dying. This festival indeed makes it harder for people to think of a particular one.

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Prepared by Pritam, an engineering student in Kolkata, India and an intern at Newsgram. Twitter handle : Pritam_gogreen

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Copyright 2016 NewsGram

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A Vaccine Against Pneumonia And Meningitis Saves Million Children

"far too many deaths , about 900 every day, are still being caused by these two infections."

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A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012.
A child receives a meningitis vaccination at the community center in Al Neem camp for Internally Displaced People in El Daein, East Darfur, Oct. 8, 2012. VOA

A vaccine against bacterial pneumonia and another against meningitis have saved 1.45 million children’s lives this century, according to a new study.

The diseases the vaccines prevent are now concentrated in a handful of countries where the medications are not yet widely available or were only recently introduced, the research says.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children worldwide. The bacteria targeted by the shots, Haemophilus influenzae type b (known as Hib) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), are major causes of pneumonia and also cause meningitis. Together, the two bacteria claimed nearly 1.1 million lives in 2000, before the vaccines were widely available, according to the World Health Organization.

Vaccines against the bacteria are not new, but funding to provide them in low-income countries only became available recently.

A baby with parents
A baby with parents, Pixabay

To estimate their impact, the researchers started with country-by-country data from the WHO on pneumonia and meningitis cases and deaths, as well as vaccine coverage estimates. They factored in data from dozens of clinical studies on infections caused by the two bacteria to create estimates of illness and death from the diseases in 2000 and 2015.

They found deaths from Hib fell by 90 percent in 2015, saving an estimated 1.2 million lives since 2000. Pneumococcus deaths fell by just over half, accounting for approximately 250,000 lives saved.

The research appears in the journal The Lancet Global Health.

“What was interesting was to see the rate at which some of these deaths have been prevented in the last several years,” said lead author Brian Wahl at Johns Hopkins University, “largely due to the availability of funding for these vaccines in countries with some of the highest burdens [of disease].”

The study estimates that 95 percent of the reduction in pneumococcal deaths occurred after 2010, when 52 low- and middle-income countries began receiving funding from Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to introduce the vaccine into their national immunization programs.

“The good news is that the numbers are moving in the right direction,” wrote Cynthia Whitney at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an accompanying editorial.

Pneumonia in child
Pneumonia in child, flickr

However, Whitney added, “far too many deaths — about 900 every day — are still being caused by these two infections.”

She notes that more than 40 percent of the world’s children live in countries where pneumococcal vaccine is not a routine childhood immunization.

Many of the countries with the largest number of deaths from these two bacteria have recently introduced the vaccines, but coverage is uneven.

India, Nigeria, China and South Sudan had the highest rates of death from Hib, the study says. All but China have introduced the vaccine in the past few years.

Half of the world’s pneumococcal deaths occurred in just four countries: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pakistan. All have recently introduced the vaccine, though in India it is a routine immunization in only three states.

Also read:AI tool accelerate diagnosis eye diseases

Lowering the global burden of these diseases will depend on improving coverage in these countries, the study says. (VOA)