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When Wanuri Kahiu took to the TED Fellows stage this week in Vancouver, the 36-year-old had on green shoes and a beaded necklace worn like a crown — a hint to her offbeat worldview.

When Chris Ategeka was a boy of 7 in Uganda, his parents died of HIV/AIDS. And his brother, not yet 5, died of malaria.

Today he's 32. He's got a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley (where he was the commencement speaker for the college of engineering at his graduation in 2011). With his entrepreneurial spirit, he could have followed classmates to Silicon Valley.

But he didn't.

In his TED Fellows talk in Vancouver this week, he explained how his personal history set him on a different path.

Because I Was Harmed

Apr 27, 2017

Unlike my fellow Americans, the news of a Detroit doctor being arrested for performing female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) did not shock me. I grew up in the same religious sect (Dawoodi Bohra) as the doctor, and twenty-seven years earlier, in 1990, before U.S. federal legislation criminalizing FGM/C existed, I too was cut.

Why Do So Many Africans Drown?

Apr 27, 2017

Peter Ssali makes his living on Lake Victoria. Most days he fishes on Africa's largest lake. Sometimes he ferries cargo to the lake's islands or gives tours to sightseers on the small boat he leases for around $5 a day.

The 34-year-old Ugandan with a scruffy beard and shaved head has been on the lake pretty much every day for the last 12 years.

But he can't swim.

Back in the 1960s, a female doctor in Japan created a powerful drug to help mothers who hemorrhage after childbirth.

The medicine is inexpensive to make. It's safe to use. And it stops bleeding quickly by helping keep naturally forming blood clots intact.

The drug's inventor, Utako Okamoto, hoped that the drug called tranexamic acid would be used to help save moms' lives.

In her first running of the Boston Marathon, Edna Kiplagat powered across the finish line of the Boston Marathon this month nearly a minute ahead of her closest rival. Kiplagat made the 26.2 mile outing look like a spirited jog in the park. She even clocked a blazingly fast 5:02 minute mile at the 20-mile mark of Boston's storied road race.

It sounds like a fairy tale. A benefactor gives you a million dollars to make a wish come true.

Only it can't be a selfish wish. The TED annual award goes each year to an "exceptional individual with a creative and bold vision to solve a timely, pressing problem." (TED is a nonprofit dedicated to "ideas worth spreading" and sponsors the TED talks aired on NPR's TED Radio Hour.)

Vending machines are selling increasingly novel items: cupcakes, live crabs and fresh baguettes.

In China, you can now add HIV testing kits to that list.

Malaria transmission in the United States was eliminated in the early 1950s through the use of insecticides, drainage ditches and the incredible power of window screens.

But the mosquito-borne disease has staged a comeback in American hospitals as travelers return from parts of the world where malaria runs rampant. In the early 1970s there only a couple hundred malaria cases reported in the entire U.S. but that number has steadily increased in recent years.

Can all hope be lost?

I used to think not.

I used to think that no matter how tough life gets for people, they always have hope to cling to – to get them through it.

Then I met some Rohingya refugees on a trip to Bangladesh last month. Reporter Michael Sullivan and I were there to report on the latest wave of the Muslim minority group to flee over the border from Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Nasir Abdullahi is sitting in a mall in downtown Abuja, sipping fresh juice and eating plantain chips. Small, distinguished with an embroidered cap, Nasir looks like your typical Northern Nigerian businessman, but he's also a farmer.

A few years ago he got a call from an employee on his millet farm in Jigawa, Nigeria.

"He was even crying when he called me," Abdullahi says. "I said, 'Talk!' He said, 'There is something serious, there is something serious!' I said, 'Did anybody die? What is it?' He said, 'No, it's cattle herdsmen.'"

To say that the U.N.'s peacekeeping mission in Haiti has been controversial is an understatement.

The peacekeepers are blamed for bringing cholera to the island nation for the first time.

They were accused of sexually abusing locals. Haitians have accused them of being an occupying army.

But the peacekeepers also have been credited with bringing a measure of stability to one of the most impoverished, unstable nations in the hemisphere.

And now, after 13 years, the end of the mission is in sight.

Most creepy, crawly bugs are pretty much harmless when it comes to infectious diseases.

But there are two classes of little critters that cause big — and we're talking big — problems: ticks and mosquitoes.

To learn how climate change could alter the course of tick- and mosquito-borne diseases, we talked to two scientists who have devoted a major chunk of their careers to answering that question.

Let's start with the bloodsuckers that can stay on your skin for days.

What do you want to know about world hunger?

One thing we do know is that more than 20 million people are now at risk of starvation and famine. The United Nations is calling it the biggest humanitarian crisis since the U.N. was founded in 1945. Conflict and drought are blamed for the looming crisis in four countries in Africa and the Middle East: Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria.

The United States spends the most on health care per person — $9,237 – according to two new papers published in the journal The Lancet.

Somalia spends the least – just $33 per person.

The United Nations' top human rights official is condemning a chant by a pro-government youth militia in the small East African country of Burundi.

The chant is shown in a video recorded and distributed by the human rights groups iBurundi and RCP Burundi. The U.N. says the members of the militia, called Imbonerakure, are encouraging the rape of women from the opposition so "that they give birth to Imbonerakure."

When Emmanuel Ikubese first saw the show MTV Shuga, he was a university student and an aspiring actor. Like many fans, he was hooked.

Gandelina Damião, 78, is permanently hunched, carrying her sorrow. She lost three children to heroin in the 1990s.

A quarter century ago, her cobblestone lane, up a grassy hill from Lisbon's Tagus River, was littered with syringes. She recalls having to search for her teenagers in graffitied stone buildings nearby, where they would shoot up.

"It was a huge blow," Damião says, pointing to framed photos on her wall of Paulo, Miguel and Liliana. "I was a good mother. I never gave them money for drugs. But I couldn't save them."

Girindra Nath Jha was born and raised in the tiny village of Chanka, a settlement in the state of Bihar in northern India, close to the Nepal border. It's mostly grassy fields and mud huts with thatched roofs. It gets just seven hours of electricity per day and its first paved road arrived only last year. None of the homes have toilets.

And a lot of its 7,000 residents have gray hair.

When Dr. Thumbi Mwangi was a child growing up in Kenya, his father would send him out to care for the calves.

What will our dinners look like when temperatures and sea levels rise and water floods our coastal towns and cities?

Allie Wist, 29, an associate art director at Saveur magazine, attempts to answer that question in her latest art project, "Flooded." It's a fictional photo essay (based on real scientific data) about a dinner party menu at a time when climate change has significantly altered our diets.

It's an ad for Vicks, maker of cold and cough remedies, produced for the Indian market. It's had 9 million views on YouTube so far. And it's launched a discussion on social media about the rights of transgender people.

The 3 1/2-minute commercial, released online on March 31, doesn't mention any products. Instead, it tells what is labeled as a "true story."

Three years ago, Liberia was in the opening act of an unfolding catastrophe. The first cases of Ebola had been confirmed in the country on March 30, 2014. Over the next months, the virus spread, largely undetected at first. By late summer, every day the country awoke to news of dying Liberians being turned away from treatment or of families ripped apart by the virus. Uncertainty and fear swirled in the streets of Monrovia.

But on the afternoon of Sept. 11 that year, amid the chaos, there was a quiet pocket of joy.

Scientists love patterns.

It's what makes science possible — and powerful — especially when it comes to infectious diseases.

Over the past 30 years, scientists have noticed a distinctive pattern of mosquito-borne diseases in the Western Hemisphere: Three viruses have cropped up, caused small outbreaks and then one day — poof! — they hit a city and spread like gangbusters.

On a scorching afternoon in March, Agner Balladares Cardoza drives along Managua's chaotic main road, the Masaya Highway, jammed each day by the city's stressed-out commuters.

Balladares, 36, is the father of a 6-month-old girl. He has no formal job and makes his living selling whatever he can get his hands on — pants, used car batteries, baseball caps — and by working as a driver on occasion. When he has nothing to sell and no one to drive, Balladares stays at home and takes care of his little girl.

When 1,700 specialists in global health descended upon Washington, D.C., this past weekend, they brought suitcases full of data and experience.

The Consortium of Universities for Global Health conference offered marathon sessions that covered everything from noncommunicable diseases and breast-feeding to climate science and injury prevention.

At a research lab on top of a forested hill overlooking Hong Kong, scientists are growing viruses. They first drill tiny holes into an egg before inoculating it with avian influenza to observe how the virus behaves.

After you see a case of elephantiasis, you can never forget it.

People's legs, feet and toes swell up so much that they can't walk. Or move easily. The skin thickens and breaks open, creating ulcers and infections.

"It causes so much pain. So much pain," says epidemiologist Christine Kihembo, at Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala, Uganda.

Stella Nyanzi, one of Uganda's most controversial academics and activists, appeared in court Monday, after being arrested and charged Friday with cyber harassment and the misuse of a computer, for "shaming" the government.

Nyanzi's latest run-in with the 31-year-old regime of President Yoweri Museveni began with a fight for free sanitary pads for school-age girls.

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