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Health

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At first glance, you see a young girl goofing around with her friends.

But there's one crucial detail: This girl — 16-year-old Nirma — has a traditional stripe of vermilion powder smudged into her forehead. In her region in India, that's a sign that means Nirma is married.

Years before she became the health minister of Rwanda, Agnès Binagwaho tried to lock a fellow pediatrician in a hospital room. She saw a doctor in an examining room with a mother who held her sick daughter in her arms. And he was asleep.

In the East African country where they were born, the conjoined twin girls would likely both have died.

But even in the wealthiest of nations, it's not easy to make decisions about how to treat conjoined twins. If surgery is warranted, it is a long and difficult procedure.

And there are ethical considerations that transcend culture.

Red Cross To Scale Back In Afghanistan

Oct 26, 2017

Some people traveled for days across the harsh terrain of northern Afghanistan to reach the orthopedic center only to find its gates closed. Staff and security guards had tried to spread the word that the center was suspending operations after a Spanish physical therapist was gunned down in September, but some never received the devastating news. They stood there in tears, say local staff.

Wake Up, Sleepy Ikea Shoppers!

Oct 26, 2017

Ikea sure makes Chinese shoppers comfortable. Customers of all ages nap on sofas and beds in showrooms all over China.

The Swedish furniture giant has had enough. In April 2015, a Beijing Ikea store introduced a new regulation, banning people from sleeping on furniture displays. But customers did not obey the rules. And Ikea staff members have found it difficult to implement the no-nap policy.

According to the World Bank, if you're living on $1.90 a day or less, you're living in extreme poverty.

The 767 million people in that category have $1.90 a day or less in purchasing power to fulfill their daily needs.

Most of that money goes for food – only it may not be enough to purchase nutritious food or to stave off hunger. Hundreds of millions of the extreme poor are malnourished.

Their housing may be of low quality. And they may not have enough money for school fees (primary education isn't always free) or health-care expenses.

Journalist Alexis Okeowo spent years reporting in Africa — and quickly grew fatigued with the common narrative: stories of victimhood, hopelessness, chaos and despair.

In her new book, A Moonless, Starless Sky, the 2006 Princeton University grad writes instead about ordinary Africans who are standing up to extremism, people who are in their own ways resisting religious and cultural fundamentalism in acts of everyday bravery.

Dove isn't the only skin-care company caught up in a controversy about its ads.

Nivea, a German company with global reach, has been called out on social media for ads in West Africa that many described as racist, colorist and tone-deaf.

The ads promote Natural Fairness Body Lotion, a cream that promises, according to the tagline, "visibly fairer skin." The social media storm erupted after the Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG posted the ad on Instagram this week.

When the drinking water in Flint, Mich., became contaminated with lead, causing a major public health crisis, 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao took notice.

The world is incredibly close to wiping out polio. This year the number of polio cases has shrunk to fewer than a dozen. And those cases are in just two countries — Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Exposure to polluted air, water and soil caused nine million premature deaths in 2015, according to a report published Thursday in The Lancet.

The causes of death vary — cancer, lung disease, heart disease. The report links them to pollution, drawing upon previous studies that show how pollution is tied to a wider range of diseases than previously thought.

There are 2,666 emojis available for tweets and texts.

Everything from a butterfly to a croissant to a unicorn.

But global health advocates think there's one important emoji that's missing: the mosquito. It is, after all, the world's deadliest animal. The diseases it spreads, like malaria and dengue, cause one million deaths a year.

Rob Vos has been tracking global hunger for years, and he says until recently the mood among his fellow hunger experts was almost giddy.

Since 1990 the world had made so much progress curbing hunger that in 2015, leaders met at the United Nations and vowed to eliminate hunger for good by 2030.

India is set to celebrate Diwali this week, but the Indian capital could be in for a different sort of celebration.

Once illuminated with clay lamps, the festival of lights has morphed into a festival of sound and fury.

It's estimated some 50,000 tons of fireworks are exploded during Diwali, which marks the homecoming of the Hindu god Lord Ram from exile. But a public health alarm was sounded in Delhi after Diwali last year, when a toxic haze blanketed the city for days.

How White Cane Day Makes A Difference

Oct 16, 2017

On an early Sunday morning, before the sun has even risen, Zaw Lin Htun walks down the middle of what is usually one of the busiest roads in downtown Yangon, the capital of Myanmar.

He strolls past a golden pagoda. He taps his white cane back and forth on the pavement, making sure to avoid the potholes, loose electrical wires and debris that fill the street and sidewalks.

Not long ago, two Americans caused a scene in a Mozambique village. Locals were mystified by the tourists spending several days photographing a single tree.

"Sometimes we have to explain to people what we're doing but often they just think, 'Okay these guys are nuts,'" says New York photographer Len Jenshel.

Bacquerette woke up early. She made breakfast for her 2-year-old daughter, left the child with her neighbor and started the long walk to the village of Ambohitsara. Bacquerette wanted to make sure she was one of the first people in line for a one-day-only family planning clinic.

She walked almost two hours on footpaths that snake along the sandy bank of the Canal des Pangalanes in eastern Madagascar. And she managed to arrive at the event just after it started.

The 33-year-old single mother had come to get an IUD.

Ingenuity, inspiration, an elaborate ruse and a touch of madness. That is what it took for Zainabu Hamayaji to protect her family from Boko Haram.

The terror network in northeastern Nigeria has killed 20,000 people, abducted thousands more and driven more than 2 million people from their homes during its eight-year insurgency. The 47-year-old mother of 10 — four biological and six orphaned children ranging from age 5 to 15 — had to feign insanity to keep the insurgents away.

The bond between humans and dogs isn't just psychological or the common love of bacon.

It's also genetic.

For about 15,000 years, dogs have migrated in lockstep with humans around the globe. They have followed us from Asia into Europe, North America and back to Africa — all the while hunting, protecting and snuggling us.

Now it looks as though dog DNA has evolved in lockstep with our DNA.

Scientists in China have found evidence that dogs developed protection against malaria in the same way that people in West Africa have.

India has made a significant change to its laws about rape. The Supreme Court has ruled that if a husband has sex with his wife and she is under 18, he is committing an act of rape.

Up until now rape was illegal, but there was one glaring exception. A wife could not bring charges of rape against her husband unless she was under age 15 — an age set in a 1940 law.

An outbreak of the plague is growing in Madagascar.

In just over four decades, obesity levels in children and teenagers have risen dramatically worldwide, though that rise has been far from uniform. In a new study published online Tuesday, British researchers and the World Health Organization say those levels have plateaued lately in high-income countries, "albeit at high levels," while the rise in obesity rates has only accelerated in regions such as East Asia and Latin America.

Oct. 11 is the "International Day of the Girl" – proclaimed by the U.N. as a time to look at the challenges girls face and to promote their "empowerment" and human rights.

What kind of year has it been for girls? We looked at the stories we've done over the past year, and the headlines alone captured both the tragedies and the triumphs. In many ways a horrible year for girls. But even at the bleakest moments, there are stories of hope and triumph.

Here is a sampling of our stories about the world's girls:

What will it take for the people of this world to drop their prejudices, to move past intolerance — and just get along?

That's a question Princeton psychologist Betsy Levy Paluck — one of the 24 MacArthur Fellows announced on Wednesday — has dedicated her career to answering.

With so much going on in the world right now, we wanted to know from our audience: Which global problem keeps you up at night?

In a wealthy suburb in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, a group of young Pakistanis veered between laughter and distress as they played a board game that echoed their lives in both funny and painful ways.

The name of the game is "Arranged" and the goal is to avoid at all costs an arranged marriage – and the matchmaker who sets them up. She's known as Rishta Aunty, slang in Urdu and Hindi for a certain kind of middle-aged, busybody matchmaker who knows all the single men and women.

Sometimes you can see the smoke of Myanmar's burning villages from across the border in Bangladesh.

For Muslim Rohingya who have fled their predominantly Buddhist country, it's a reminder of the violent crackdowns they faced. Since late August, half a million Rohingya have escaped Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh.

In the spring of 2016, there was a frenzy over the threat of Zika virus at Brazil's Olympic Games. As infections reached their peak, a group of scientists called for the games to be moved somewhere else. A number of athletes, worried about sexually transmitting the virus to pregnant partners, chose to stay home.

But a group of researchers with University of Utah and the United States Olympic Committee announced Saturday that they weren't able to find any evidence that U.S. Olympians, Paralympians or staff got Zika virus at all.

Last weekend's massacre in Las Vegas is only the latest reminder of the persistent gun violence in the United States. And a new set of statistics on the rates of gun violence unrelated to conflict underscores just how outsize U.S. rates of gun deaths are compared with those in much of the rest of the world.

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