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Health

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When we wrote about Dr. Forster Amponsah in 2016, he was eager to perform surgery but faced many obstacles. "The general electricity is out and our generator is broken down," he told NPR. Has a year made a difference?

Back in April, we published a story that garnered a huge response — and empathy — from readers.

Child marriage isn't just a practice that victimizes girls in poor countries. As this blog has previously reported, it's also long been an issue in the United States, involving girls from a wide range of backgrounds. Based on state marriage license data and other sources, advocacy groups and experts estimate that between 2000 and 2015 alone, well over 200,000 children — nearly all of them girls — were married. In nearly all cases the husband was an adult.

With a reported 50 inches of rainfall, flash flooding and high, murky waters, Hurricane Harvey in Houston has gripped America's attention. But halfway around the world, another flood has wreaked havoc on historic levels. Two weeks ago, record monsoon rains hit parts of Bangladesh, India and Nepal, bringing the worst floods the region has seen in years. Over 1,200 people have been killed and 24 million affected.

Salamatu Umar was abducted by Boko Haram in 2014, when she was just 15. She and five other girls were herded in the bush. She was forced to marry a Boko Haram fighter.

She and another girl eventually escaped, running away while they were collecting firewood for cooking. Umar was pregnant at the time.

Today, she is 18 and the mother of a 1-year-old son, Usman Abubakar. She survived her "hell" and lives in a displaced people's camp in Maiduguri, the main city in northeastern Nigeria and birthplace of Boko Haram.

Umar is free — and yet she is not really free.

What's Making These Dogs In Mumbai Turn Blue?

Aug 26, 2017

Five dogs turned blue in Mumbai.

It's a hot and humid day, but the kids are buzzing. As they pile out of a coach bus at a secluded retreat center surrounded by trees and open fields, one girl spins in circles and says, "No FGM, no FGM!"

So it's definitely not your typical camp.

The words "endangered species" often conjure up images of big exotic creatures. Think elephants, leopards and polar bears.

But there's another of type of extinction that may be occurring, right now, inside our bodies.

Tanzania Gears Up To Become A Nation Of Medical Drones

Aug 23, 2017

Eight-year-old boy bitten by dog. Two-year-old child with severe anemia. Mother, age 24, bleeding severely at childbirth.

Entries like these popped up as Keller Rinaudo browsed a database of health emergencies during a 2014 visit to Tanzania. It was "a lightbulb moment," says the CEO and co-founder of the California drone startup Zipline.

If a famine occurs, aid groups send food. If there's a war, they set up health clinics.

But what to do in event of a massive cyberattack? A new disease epidemic?

A July report has an alarming message for the aid community: adapt or be left in the dust.

Imagine the worst has happened to your family. You've been forced to flee your home.

You eventually make it to safety. But now you're living in a camp for displaced persons.

You don't want to just depend on handouts. So how do you make a living?

Many of the images we associate with the plague actually depict leprosy or smallpox. In fact, there are very few images of the Black Death from the time of the scourge.

A few weeks ago, I reported a story about three cases of the plague in New Mexico. The bacterial illness pops up fairly regularly around the globe but is now easily treatable with antibiotics, if caught in time.

Sierra Leone, a country that has been battered by Ebola, civil war and massive floods, suffered yet another tragedy this week. Government and international aid workers are racing the clock to find survivors after a mudslide struck capital city Freetown early Monday morning.

Some 600 people are still missing, and there are reports that some people are still alive, trapped in their homes underneath the mud.

If you're in desperate need for some good news, look no further.

Scientists in the U.S. and India have found an inexpensive treatment that could possibly save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year.

And it turns out, the secret weapon was sitting in Asian kitchens all along: probiotic bacteria that are common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables.

A few years ago in Zambia, hippos were dropping dead by the dozens. Soon after the hippos fell ill, people started getting sick, too.

Between August and September of 2011, at least 85 hippos died in a game management area along the South Luangwa River near the border with Malawi. It turns out the hippos were the victims of anthrax, the same bacteria used in a series of letter attacks that killed five people in the weeks after Sept. 11. The anthrax outbreaks in hippos and humans in Zambia however, weren't part of some sinister terrorist plot. Instead, they were driven by hunger.

Many young American surgeons have a strong desire to do humanitarian work overseas. But their good intentions usually don't match up with the skills, such as performing cesarean section deliveries and fixing broken bones, that they'll need in poor countries.

And that means U.S. general surgeons, eager to do charitable work around the globe, may miss out on chances to help some of the world's neediest patients.

There was a time when Chenai Mathabire read Vogue, watched beauty pageants on TV and fantasized about being a supermodel. Today she helps the sick and injured as a nurse and epidemiologist.

When three-time Grammy-winning singer Angelique Kidjo was a 12-year-old schoolgirl in her native Benin, her best friend suddenly disappeared from school. Kidjo went to her friend's house and asked her father what had happened. The reason shocked Kidjo: Her friend Awaawou had become a child bride, and that meant that her friend's education — and her girlhood — were at an end.

In Africa as well as parts of Asia and Latin America, women and babies die when labor takes a complicated turn and there is no one to provide a cesarean section. Young people succumb to accidental injuries for lack of surgical interventions. A child born with a cleft palate or club foot suffers through a lifetime of disability because no team is available to provide routine surgery.

Nepal's government has enacted a new law aimed at stopping the practice of forcing a woman who is menstruating, or has just given birth, to sleep outside their home, in a hut or shed.

According to the law, any family member who forces a woman to practice "chaupadi" — the Nepali term used for menstrual isolation — can be punished with a jail sentence of 3 months and/or a fine of 3,000 rupees (about $30).

Toyam Raya, spokesperson for the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, told NPR that the new law will be implemented within a week.

Mark Andrew Green, the new head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, kicked off his first day on the job with a speech to hundreds of employees. In his speech on Monday, he focused on what they can expect from him and his vision for USAID.

"I can't tell you what an honor and a relief it is to finally be here with you," said Green, a former Republican congressman from Wisconsin. "Let's get at it. We got work to do."

You don't have to convince Likezo Nasilele that giving people a small but steady stream of cash with no strings attached may be the smartest way to fix poverty.

Just a few years ago Nasilele and her husband, Chipopa Lyoni, couldn't even afford to feed their four children properly. Then Nasilele, who lives in a rural village in Western Zambia, lucked into an experimental government program that has provided her with up to $18 every other month. In the 2 1/2 years since, she and her husband have more than doubled the money by using it to start several businesses.

Young guys in dusty polo shirts. New moms holding their babies. Grandmas in bright head wraps. They've all gathered in a clearing for one of the village meetings when something remarkable happens. Practically every person's cellphone starts tinkling.

If you're a goat, you sure don't want to catch "goat plague."

The same goes for sheep along with wild animals that are at risk, like antelope and camels.

The proper name for the virus is "peste des petits ruminants" and it is indeed a pestilence. Symptoms include "a high fever, listlessness, eye and nose discharges," says Adegbola Adesogan, professor and director of Feed the Future Livestock Systems Innovation Lab at the University of Florida.

And that's just the beginning.

Samir Hussain's life changed in 2015, just after he and a friend left a movie theater in Crawley, a town south of London.

A gang of strangers, all men, had harassed them during the show and tried to start a fight outside Hussain's car.

He noticed that one of the men held what looked like a bottle of water in his hand, wrapped in a sweater. The man splashed it on Hussain.

Preparing For A Nuclear Attack (Seriously)

Aug 5, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Barbershops and beauty salons are everywhere and overflowing with customers in Goma, a city on the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Women get their hair extended, dyed, or elaborately braided. Men have the edges of their beards and moustaches shaped or faded in innumerable ways.

The shops become busier toward the end of the week as people get ready for clubbing, church, and other social outings. "Everybody is always trying to outdo everybody else," says journalist and filmmaker Shayla Harris. "It's like a nuclear arms race of aesthetics."

Corruption.

Some U.S. officials cite it as one of the biggest reasons to stop giving aid to the developing world.

Sen. Rand Paul, for example, claimed that 70 percent of foreign aid is "skimmed off the top," in January.

But economist Charles Kenny says they've got it wrong. "The evidence that aid is siphoned off isn't there," he says.

The music video is set to a catchy tune and starts out with two transgender women in bejeweled pink and red outfits, primping before a mirror. But it soon turns dark. They get disapproving stares in the marketplace and outside a mosque. And while they dance for cash at a bachelor party, the guests rough them up.

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