1. In Sierra Leone, A Lockdown … Or A Time To Reflect?
Starting just after midnight, residents of Sierra Leone will be confined to their homes for a three-day lockdown.
It’s the latest government plan meant to stem the tide of Ebola cases, which exceeded 1,500 last week in Sierra Leone.
But the plan has not won the support of the international medical community — and is causing concern among Sierra Leoneans as well.
"Everyone is rushing to the markets and stores to stock up on food to get ready for these three days, when they’re not going to be allowed to leave their houses," says NPR’s Anders Kelto, reporting from Freetown, the capital city.
Stephen Gaojia, head of the Ebola Emergency Operations Center in Sierra Leone, bristles at the word “lockdown.” He says 28,000 volunteers have been recruited and trained to go door-to-door throughout the country, educating families about Ebola.
Earlier this month, the government’s health ministry said it would actively seek out Ebola patients, but now it says it won’t. “This process is not a lockdown, neither is it a shutdown, neither is it a root-out exercise,” Gaojia told All Things Considered Wednesday. “This is more a psycho-educational exercise.”
Instead, Gaojia says, it’s a time for people to “stay together to do some reflection, engage in prayer, generate some kind of family discussion about Ebola.”
Continue reading.
Photo: A woman washes clothes in a slum in Freetown. (Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images) View in High-Res

    In Sierra Leone, A Lockdown … Or A Time To Reflect?

    Starting just after midnight, residents of Sierra Leone will be confined to their homes for a three-day lockdown.

    It’s the latest government plan meant to stem the tide of Ebola cases, which exceeded 1,500 last week in Sierra Leone.

    But the plan has not won the support of the international medical community — and is causing concern among Sierra Leoneans as well.

    "Everyone is rushing to the markets and stores to stock up on food to get ready for these three days, when they’re not going to be allowed to leave their houses," says NPR’s Anders Kelto, reporting from Freetown, the capital city.

    Stephen Gaojia, head of the Ebola Emergency Operations Center in Sierra Leone, bristles at the word “lockdown.” He says 28,000 volunteers have been recruited and trained to go door-to-door throughout the country, educating families about Ebola.

    Earlier this month, the government’s health ministry said it would actively seek out Ebola patients, but now it says it won’t. “This process is not a lockdown, neither is it a shutdown, neither is it a root-out exercise,” Gaojia told All Things Considered Wednesday. “This is more a psycho-educational exercise.”

    Instead, Gaojia says, it’s a time for people to “stay together to do some reflection, engage in prayer, generate some kind of family discussion about Ebola.”

    Continue reading.

    Photo: A woman washes clothes in a slum in Freetown. (Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

  2. Global health

    Ebola

    Sierra Leone

    lockdown

    infectious disease

  1. His Camera Takes Us To The World ‘We Must Preserve’

    They’re silvery and stunning — and their beauty bears a message.

    "Genesis" is a new exhibit of over 200 black-and-white images from the noted Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado. He wants to show us what the world and its peoples look like now, how climate change has already had an impact — and what might be lost if Earth’s climate continues changing.

    His pictures will be on view at the International Center of Photography in New York City through Jan. 11. Goats and Soda is featuring four images that show parts of the world that our blog covers. We spoke with Salgado to learn more about his work.

    What’s your goal with this exhibit?

    My issue was to see what we must preserve in this planet. Any photo I can take to convince the authorities, to convince the companies, to convince anyone, this is the minimum I can do. In this sense, I hope that these pictures, that this show, shows a kind of state of humanity of the planet, that we cannot destroy more than we already have.

    What kinds of damage have you seen?

    I was working in West Papua, Indonesia, with tribes that are living in the Stone Age. When I say that, I mean all of the instruments of their work, anything they have, are made from stone. Now [their] forest is getting destroyed [by man]. For me, that is the point: We are going too fast here. We must start to rebuild what we have destroyed.

    We are doing this in Brazil. In part of the show, we are showing a rain forest that we planted in Brazil. We created an institution called Instituto Terra. We planted now more than 2 million trees of more than 300 different species, all local species. We must replant.

    Continue reading and see more photos.

    Top photo: The photographer Sebastiao Salgado, in New York City on Thursday, says we are at a “special moment” — our world now needs to be protected from climate change and other forces. (Misha Friedman for NPR)

    Left photo: Fierce winds keep even daytime temperatures low inside the Arctic Circle. This scene is from Siberia’s Yamal peninsula. 2011. (© Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas images-Contact Press Images)

    Right Photo: Chinstrap penguins on icebergs located between Zavodovski and Visokoi islands in the South Sandwich Islands. 2009. (© Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas images-Contact Press Images)

  2. Siberia

    international center of photography

    sebastiao salgado

    brazil

    genesis

  1. Some Airports Have A New Security Routine: Taking Your Temperature
Airports in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are relying on a familiar tool to stop the spread of Ebola: the thermometer.
Airport staff are measuring the temperature of anyone trying to leave the country, looking for “unexplained febrile illness,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is advising these countries on their exit screening processes.
Other countries that are far from the infected region are screening passengers arriving from West Africa or who have a history of travel to the region. Temperature takers include Russia, Australia and India.
Travelers who exhibit an elevated fever, generally over 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit (though it varies by country), are stopped for further screening. That could mean a questionnaire or medical tests.
Critics of exit screening have pointed out the flaws in using thermometers: fever can lay dormant for two to 21 days in someone who’s been infected with Ebola, and low-grade fevers can be lowered further by simple medications like Tylenol or Advil.
While they can’t predict symptoms before they emerge, the CDC is prepared to thwart those trying to mask a fever with a pill.
"Airline and airport staff are trained to do visual checks of anyone who looks even slightly ill," says Tai Chen, a quarantine medical officer from the CDC who returned from Liberia this past Tuesday. "And most airports are using multiple temperature checks, starting when you arrive on the airport grounds in your car until you get on the plane. Even if you take medication, your fever will likely have manifested by then."
Here’s the three methods that can be used at airports.
Photo: A Nepalese health worker uses a handheld infrared thermometer on a passenger arriving at Nepal’s only international airport in Kathmandu. (Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images) View in High-Res

    Some Airports Have A New Security Routine: Taking Your Temperature

    Airports in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are relying on a familiar tool to stop the spread of Ebola: the thermometer.

    Airport staff are measuring the temperature of anyone trying to leave the country, looking for “unexplained febrile illness,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is advising these countries on their exit screening processes.

    Other countries that are far from the infected region are screening passengers arriving from West Africa or who have a history of travel to the region. Temperature takers include Russia, Australia and India.

    Travelers who exhibit an elevated fever, generally over 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit (though it varies by country), are stopped for further screening. That could mean a questionnaire or medical tests.

    Critics of exit screening have pointed out the flaws in using thermometers: fever can lay dormant for two to 21 days in someone who’s been infected with Ebola, and low-grade fevers can be lowered further by simple medications like Tylenol or Advil.

    While they can’t predict symptoms before they emerge, the CDC is prepared to thwart those trying to mask a fever with a pill.

    "Airline and airport staff are trained to do visual checks of anyone who looks even slightly ill," says Tai Chen, a quarantine medical officer from the CDC who returned from Liberia this past Tuesday. "And most airports are using multiple temperature checks, starting when you arrive on the airport grounds in your car until you get on the plane. Even if you take medication, your fever will likely have manifested by then."

    Here’s the three methods that can be used at airports.

    Photo: A Nepalese health worker uses a handheld infrared thermometer on a passenger arriving at Nepal’s only international airport in Kathmandu. (Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images)

  2. thermometer

    west africa

    airports

    ebola

    infectious disease

  1. A Frightening Curve: How Fast Is The Ebola Outbreak Growing?
In the past week, world leaders have started using a mathematical term when they talk about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
"It’s spreading and growing exponentially," President Obama said Tuesday. “This is a disease outbreak that is advancing in anexponential fashion,” said Dr. David Nabarro, who is heading the U.N.’s effort against Ebola.
Researchers at Columbia University developed a model to forecast how the current Ebola epidemic might continue through mid-October, based on the infection rates as of Sept. 7. The “no change” forecast assumes that current efforts at stopping the virus will continue at the same rate of effectiveness. The “improved” forecast assumes that interventions will become more effective.
So what does this mean? If nothing changes in the next few weeks, we could see at least 60,000 cases by the end of 2014.
Here’s why.
Right now we’ve had more than 5,000 cases of Ebola, and at least 2,600 people have died.
Some scientists, like Alessandro Vespignani at Northeastern University in Boston, are taking numbers like that and putting them into computer models to see where this epidemic is going.
"For instance, in our modeling, by mid-October, we’re already between 10,000 to 25,000 cases," he says.
Continue reading.
Graph: Researchers at Columbia University developed a model to forecast how the current Ebola epidemic might continue through mid-October, based on the infection rates as of Sept. 7. The “no change” forecast assumes that current efforts at stopping the virus will continue at the same rate of effectiveness. The “improved” forecast assumes that interventions will become more effective. (Source: Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases, World Health Organization / Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR) View in High-Res

    A Frightening Curve: How Fast Is The Ebola Outbreak Growing?

    In the past week, world leaders have started using a mathematical term when they talk about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

    "It’s spreading and growing exponentially," President Obama said Tuesday. “This is a disease outbreak that is advancing in anexponential fashion,” said Dr. David Nabarro, who is heading the U.N.’s effort against Ebola.

    Researchers at Columbia University developed a model to forecast how the current Ebola epidemic might continue through mid-October, based on the infection rates as of Sept. 7. The “no change” forecast assumes that current efforts at stopping the virus will continue at the same rate of effectiveness. The “improved” forecast assumes that interventions will become more effective.

    So what does this mean? If nothing changes in the next few weeks, we could see at least 60,000 cases by the end of 2014.

    Here’s why.

    Right now we’ve had more than 5,000 cases of Ebola, and at least 2,600 people have died.

    Some scientists, like Alessandro Vespignani at Northeastern University in Boston, are taking numbers like that and putting them into computer models to see where this epidemic is going.

    "For instance, in our modeling, by mid-October, we’re already between 10,000 to 25,000 cases," he says.

    Continue reading.

    Graph: Researchers at Columbia University developed a model to forecast how the current Ebola epidemic might continue through mid-October, based on the infection rates as of Sept. 7. The “no change” forecast assumes that current efforts at stopping the virus will continue at the same rate of effectiveness. The “improved” forecast assumes that interventions will become more effective. (Source: Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases, World Health Organization / Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR)

  2. Global health

    Ebola

    infectious disease

    West Africa

  1. It’s All About The Girls: Is The World Listening To Them?
"My shoes wear out from walking to school, and then I can’t go because we can’t afford new shoes," says a girl from Indonesia.
"I want to live freely," says another girl, in Egypt. "I don’t want people to dictate what I do. No one to control us, no one to hit us, no one to tell us what clothes to wear."
In Congo, a girl starts to list her chores: “Tidying the house, fetching water, preparing meals,” she says. “There are so many I can’t even name them all.”
Their voices are part of a chorus of more than 500 girls, ages 10 to 19, from 14 developing countries. They’ve shared their challenges and dreams with the Girl Declaration, a campaign started last year by the Nike Foundation.
he aim: to change the way the world thinks about girls, says Lyric Thompson at the International Center for Research on Women, which worked with Nike on the project.
Writing this week in the journal Science, Melinda Gates says that “no society can achieve its potential with half of its population marginalized and disempowered.”
They are the “engines” of global development, writes the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And they should be at the center of development plans and goals.
Continue reading and see more photos.
Photo: "I want to grow up and become a police. But I need to study in a good school for that. I want to become a police to protect the country." - Fiza, 13, India (Courtesy of Nike Foundation) View in High-Res

    It’s All About The Girls: Is The World Listening To Them?

    "My shoes wear out from walking to school, and then I can’t go because we can’t afford new shoes," says a girl from Indonesia.

    "I want to live freely," says another girl, in Egypt. "I don’t want people to dictate what I do. No one to control us, no one to hit us, no one to tell us what clothes to wear."

    In Congo, a girl starts to list her chores: “Tidying the house, fetching water, preparing meals,” she says. “There are so many I can’t even name them all.”

    Their voices are part of a chorus of more than 500 girls, ages 10 to 19, from 14 developing countries. They’ve shared their challenges and dreams with the Girl Declaration, a campaign started last year by the Nike Foundation.

    he aim: to change the way the world thinks about girls, says Lyric Thompson at the International Center for Research on Women, which worked with Nike on the project.

    Writing this week in the journal Science, Melinda Gates says that “no society can achieve its potential with half of its population marginalized and disempowered.”

    They are the “engines” of global development, writes the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And they should be at the center of development plans and goals.

    Continue reading and see more photos.

    Photo: "I want to grow up and become a police. But I need to study in a good school for that. I want to become a police to protect the country." - Fiza, 13, India (Courtesy of Nike Foundation)

  2. Global Health

    MDG

    millenium development goals

    girls

    united nations

    gates foundation

  1. Which Contagious Diseases Are The Deadliest?
No one knows what the death toll in the Ebola epidemic will be. As of Tuesday, nearly 2,500 people have died and nearly 5,000 have caught the virus, the World Health Organization says.
So how does this epidemic compare with the toll taken by other contagious diseases?
Comparing fatality rates could help put the current Ebola outbreak in perspective. Trouble is, getting an accurate value for many diseases can be hard, especially in places where the health care infrastructure is weak.
Take the situation in West Africa right now. “We can only count those who come to the doctor, not those who stayed home and got well, or those who stayed home and died,” says Carol Sulis, an epidemiologist at Boston University School of Medicine and the Boston Medical Center.
Another issue is that “deadliest” can mean two things. It can refer to the fatality rate — the number of deaths per number of cases — or it can mean the number of deaths in total caused by a disease.
What’s more, diseases can take a different toll in different parts of the world. In low- and middle-income countries, only limited medical care may be available, if that. This will raise the fatality rate for many infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria and infectious diarrhea.
"Similar to Ebola, people’s chances of survival increase for most of these [contagious] diseases, some dramatically, if people receive medical treatment," says epidemiologist Derek Cummings, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Even if lists have their limitations, they can shed light. We spoke to Cummings and Sulis and consulted data from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to come up with two lists: the deadliest contagious diseases by death toll and by death rate if untreated.
See the lists here.
Photo: Do you know what the deadliest disease is? Hint: It’s not Ebola (viral particles seen here in a digitally colorized microscopic image, at top right, along with similar depictions of other contagious diseases) NPR Composite/CDC View in High-Res

    Which Contagious Diseases Are The Deadliest?

    No one knows what the death toll in the Ebola epidemic will be. As of Tuesday, nearly 2,500 people have died and nearly 5,000 have caught the virus, the World Health Organization says.

    So how does this epidemic compare with the toll taken by other contagious diseases?

    Comparing fatality rates could help put the current Ebola outbreak in perspective. Trouble is, getting an accurate value for many diseases can be hard, especially in places where the health care infrastructure is weak.

    Take the situation in West Africa right now. “We can only count those who come to the doctor, not those who stayed home and got well, or those who stayed home and died,” says Carol Sulis, an epidemiologist at Boston University School of Medicine and the Boston Medical Center.

    Another issue is that “deadliest” can mean two things. It can refer to the fatality rate — the number of deaths per number of cases — or it can mean the number of deaths in total caused by a disease.

    What’s more, diseases can take a different toll in different parts of the world. In low- and middle-income countries, only limited medical care may be available, if that. This will raise the fatality rate for many infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria and infectious diarrhea.

    "Similar to Ebola, people’s chances of survival increase for most of these [contagious] diseases, some dramatically, if people receive medical treatment," says epidemiologist Derek Cummings, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    Even if lists have their limitations, they can shed light. We spoke to Cummings and Sulis and consulted data from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to come up with two lists: the deadliest contagious diseases by death toll and by death rate if untreated.

    See the lists here.

    Photo: Do you know what the deadliest disease is? Hint: It’s not Ebola (viral particles seen here in a digitally colorized microscopic image, at top right, along with similar depictions of other contagious diseases) NPR Composite/CDC

  2. Global health

    diseases

    ebola

    pneumonia

    diarrhea

    rabies

    malaria

    HIV/AIDS

  1. Who’s Giving What: Nonprofits Step Up Anti-Ebola Efforts
"Charities and individual philanthropies have given generously and they can make a big difference," President Obama emphasized yesterday during his announcement of U.S. plans for addressing Ebola.
Indeed, one nonprofit has had a huge impact from the start of this outbreak.Doctors Without Borders established the first treatment centers back in March after officials confirmed that the virus had killed 59 people in Guinea.
The group’s president, Dr. Joanne Liu, has been critical of the international response, calling it "too little, too late."
Now, with the outbreak surging in West Africa, nonprofits and philanthropists are ramping up their efforts.
Last week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $50 million — the largest donation ever made by the organization to a humanitarian emergency. The money will buy medical supplies for health workers and fund research for vaccines and better diagnostic tools. (As many readers and listeners know, the Gates Foundation also supports NPR.)
It’s an unprecedented move for an organization that has largely focused on long-term initiatives to combat diseases that kill millions each year. But the contribution isn’t out of line with the overall mission, says CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann.
"Our guiding principle is that all lives have equal value," she tells Goats and Soda. "We were struck by the inequity that is so visible, how these individuals in West Africa are not able to access health care."
Continue reading.
Photo: Medical emergency aid group Direct Relief has been shipping supplies to West Africa since the start of the outbreak and will make its 11th shipment this weekend. It will be the group’s largest shipment ever to any country. (Courtesy of Direct Relief) View in High-Res

    Who’s Giving What: Nonprofits Step Up Anti-Ebola Efforts

    "Charities and individual philanthropies have given generously and they can make a big difference," President Obama emphasized yesterday during his announcement of U.S. plans for addressing Ebola.

    Indeed, one nonprofit has had a huge impact from the start of this outbreak.Doctors Without Borders established the first treatment centers back in March after officials confirmed that the virus had killed 59 people in Guinea.

    The group’s president, Dr. Joanne Liu, has been critical of the international response, calling it "too little, too late."

    Now, with the outbreak surging in West Africa, nonprofits and philanthropists are ramping up their efforts.

    Last week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $50 million — the largest donation ever made by the organization to a humanitarian emergency. The money will buy medical supplies for health workers and fund research for vaccines and better diagnostic tools. (As many readers and listeners know, the Gates Foundation also supports NPR.)

    It’s an unprecedented move for an organization that has largely focused on long-term initiatives to combat diseases that kill millions each year. But the contribution isn’t out of line with the overall mission, says CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann.

    "Our guiding principle is that all lives have equal value," she tells Goats and Soda. "We were struck by the inequity that is so visible, how these individuals in West Africa are not able to access health care."

    Continue reading.

    Photo: Medical emergency aid group Direct Relief has been shipping supplies to West Africa since the start of the outbreak and will make its 11th shipment this weekend. It will be the group’s largest shipment ever to any country. (Courtesy of Direct Relief)

  2. Global health

    Ebola

    nonprofits

    Gates Foundation

    Liberia

    Sierra Leone

  1. More Birthdays For Kids Under 5 Around The World
In 2013, 6.3 million children under the age of 5 died. That’s a tragic statistic — yet it represents a 49 percent drop from 1990, according to data released Tuesday by the United Nations.
Dr. Mickey Chopra, the head of UNICEF’s global health programs, spoke with us about the encouraging trend — and what still needs to be done in parts of the world where children’s lives are threatened by unsanitary water, disease and malnutrition.
What do child mortality numbers tell us?
In many ways, under-5 mortality is a lens of how far we have progressed as a civilization. Newborns, premature babies and children under 5 are the most vulnerable members of our society. They are completely reliant on the values, the care and the love that we as a society are providing to each other.
The reduction in mortality rates is a measure of children’s lives, which are very important. Each life saved is someone else who will contribute to our well-being as a whole. But it’s also a measure of how we are progressing as human beings. If there are still children dying of causes which can be easily prevented, cheaply, and we still aren’t doing that? Then we aren’t really progressing as much as we think we are.
Read the rest of the interview.
Image: Deaths Of Children Under Age 5, Per 1,000 Live Births (Source: UNICEF CME Info / Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR) View in High-Res

    More Birthdays For Kids Under 5 Around The World

    In 2013, 6.3 million children under the age of 5 died. That’s a tragic statistic — yet it represents a 49 percent drop from 1990, according to data released Tuesday by the United Nations.

    Dr. Mickey Chopra, the head of UNICEF’s global health programs, spoke with us about the encouraging trend — and what still needs to be done in parts of the world where children’s lives are threatened by unsanitary water, disease and malnutrition.

    What do child mortality numbers tell us?

    In many ways, under-5 mortality is a lens of how far we have progressed as a civilization. Newborns, premature babies and children under 5 are the most vulnerable members of our society. They are completely reliant on the values, the care and the love that we as a society are providing to each other.

    The reduction in mortality rates is a measure of children’s lives, which are very important. Each life saved is someone else who will contribute to our well-being as a whole. But it’s also a measure of how we are progressing as human beings. If there are still children dying of causes which can be easily prevented, cheaply, and we still aren’t doing that? Then we aren’t really progressing as much as we think we are.

    Read the rest of the interview.

    Image: Deaths Of Children Under Age 5, Per 1,000 Live Births (Source: UNICEF CME Info / Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR)

  2. Global Health

    child mortality

    child birth

  1. "When you go a week without seeing a human face, that does something to you," Dr. Kent Brantly tells NPR’s Melissa Block on All Things Considered. 
Brantly was in Liberia working with Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse when he contracted Ebola. He was flown to Atlanta for treatment and is now cured. This week, Brantly is in Washington to testify before Congress about the dire need for help in West Africa.
Listen to his interview: The Insights Of An Ebola Doctor Who Became A Patient View in High-Res

    "When you go a week without seeing a human face, that does something to you," Dr. Kent Brantly tells NPR’s Melissa Block on All Things Considered. 

    Brantly was in Liberia working with Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse when he contracted Ebola. He was flown to Atlanta for treatment and is now cured. This week, Brantly is in Washington to testify before Congress about the dire need for help in West Africa.

    Listen to his interview: The Insights Of An Ebola Doctor Who Became A Patient

  2. Global Health

    ebola

    Kent Brantly

    doctor

    survivor

  1. Africans Are Introduced To The Blood Pressure Cuff
Some blame witchcraft. Others think it’s a bad batch of moonshine.
But Esther Okaya, who lives in Korogocho, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, says even teetotalers are falling victim. One minute quarreling with a neighbor; the next minute, dead.
And it’s happened to her.
Okaya’s husband left her. He took the money for her children’s school fees. A few mornings later, her 9-year-old son shuffled home after being turned away by the teacher.
And then she felt it. It was as if her heart seized up. She could not breathe.
At the health clinic the next day, a nurse did something to Okaya that she hadn’t seen before: wrapped a rubber cuff around her arm that squeezed and beeped and spit out a number.
The number was 148.
148 over 90, her blood pressure. Esther Okaya, age 39, had hypertension, which made her more susceptible to heart attack or stroke.
While hypertension is a condition we might more readily associate with a 55-year-old office worker in an American city, it’s actually more prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, affecting nearly 1 in 2 residents over the age of 25. Genetic proclivity to salt-retention may play a role. Another factor is economic good news. As Africans earn more and move to cities and spend more on food, their risk factors start to look more Western.
Continue reading.
Photo: Esther Okaya has a health problem that is a growing concern in Sub-Saharan Africa: high blood pressure. View in High-Res

    Africans Are Introduced To The Blood Pressure Cuff

    Some blame witchcraft. Others think it’s a bad batch of moonshine.

    But Esther Okaya, who lives in Korogocho, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya, says even teetotalers are falling victim. One minute quarreling with a neighbor; the next minute, dead.

    And it’s happened to her.

    Okaya’s husband left her. He took the money for her children’s school fees. A few mornings later, her 9-year-old son shuffled home after being turned away by the teacher.

    And then she felt it. It was as if her heart seized up. She could not breathe.

    At the health clinic the next day, a nurse did something to Okaya that she hadn’t seen before: wrapped a rubber cuff around her arm that squeezed and beeped and spit out a number.

    The number was 148.

    148 over 90, her blood pressure. Esther Okaya, age 39, had hypertension, which made her more susceptible to heart attack or stroke.

    While hypertension is a condition we might more readily associate with a 55-year-old office worker in an American city, it’s actually more prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, affecting nearly 1 in 2 residents over the age of 25. Genetic proclivity to salt-retention may play a role. Another factor is economic good news. As Africans earn more and move to cities and spend more on food, their risk factors start to look more Western.

    Continue reading.

    Photo: Esther Okaya has a health problem that is a growing concern in Sub-Saharan Africa: high blood pressure.

  2. Global health

    hypertension

    blood pressure

    Kenya

    Africa