@Amnesty International votes to decriminalize sex work; controversy ensues

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Note: This was cross-posted to the IH Blog.

At its International Council Meeting in Dublin on Tuesday, human rights organization Amnesty International adopted a resolution allowing the organization to develop a policy toward the decriminalization of sex work, with the goal of strengthening human rights protections for sex workers around the world.

UN intern living in a tent reveals that UN internships favor those with money - and people are (apparently) shocked

This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while, but apparently most of the world was unaware of it: because UN internships are unpaid, only those with money (read: young adults with personal fortunes and/or rich parents) can take them. The BBC ran a story yesterday on an intern who was living in a tent on the shores of Lake Geneva because he could not afford the city's rent, and the world was apparently shocked:

@theIRC Makes its Commodity Tracking System #opensource

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian relief and refugee resettlement organization, has released the source code for its Commodity Tracking System, which allows the organization to keep track of aid shipments to help ensure that they reach their intended destination. In its press release, the IRC explains:
The IRC like other INGOs cannot deliver medical aid and other supplies such as shelter materials or heating supplies inside Syria for security concerns, so it works with local civil society groups inside Syria that pick up IRC’s shipments at border points from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan and they deliver them to intended locations inside Syria.
Every IRC package going into Syria is tagged with a QR code. Using GPS-enabled smart phones with dedicated software the civil society groups that IRC works with scan these shipments as they are crossing the borders to various distribution points.
Intended recipients confirm receipt of the shipments via email or Skype providing additional levels of assurance to the tracking system.
The concept itself is nothing new, and other aid groups use similar tracking systems to monitor their shipments, but this is the first time that the source code for such a program has been made freely available. You can access it on GitHub here. H/T to Tom Murphy at Humanosphere for this one.

#Polio eradication may indeed be in sight: Africa is polio-free for one year today

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

More great news on the polio eradication front: today marks one year that the African continent is polio-free. According to the Guardian:
No cases have been identified in Africa since 11 August last year in the Hobyo district of Mudug province in Somalia, meaning that the continent is two years away from being certified polio-free.

But both Somalia and Nigeria, which also saw its last polio case in 2014, are battling Islamist militant groups – al-Shabaab and Boko Haram respectively – raising fears that vaccines will not reach children displaced by conflict.
Despite the turmoil, Nigeria could soon be removed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) from the list of countries where polio is endemic. As recently as 2012 the country had more than half of all the world’s cases, but numbers fell by 92% between 2013 and 2014. Somalia suffered 194 cases of polio in 2013, most of them children, but this was cut to just five in 2014, all in the north-east region of Puntland.

Africa’s progress intensifies pressure for action in the only two other polio-endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, where there have been 28 and six cases respectively so far this year. Global health experts hope that by 2018 polio will become the second human infectious disease, after smallpox, to be wiped out.
These active Islamist insurgencies are an important asterisk to the good news, as unrest has enormous potential to undo public health progress in a devastatingly short amount of time (as we have seen in Iraq and Syria). It is also important to remember that while wild poliovirus is mostly gone, vaccine-derived poliovirus continues to circulate, so ongoing vaccination campaigns will be critical. Nonetheless, this is enormously encouraging.

Toothpaste ads: a #publichealth #fail for your Friday

Friday, August 7, 2015

This public health fail-tastic piece of advertising crossed my social media feeds earlier this week, but my day job has kept me busy for the last couple of days and I did not have a chance to share it until now. The ads, which were designed by a Korean advertising agency for the European market, show a tooth having a grand old time with a range of characters that are bad for both teeth and health with the slogan "enjoy life."

"Branding in Asia," which features all sorts of jaw-dropping ad campaigns from the East, notes:
The ad was produced by the highly-acclaimed Seoul-based creative agency Cheil Worldwide, which was founded in 1973 by Samsung patriarch Lee Byung-chul, and now has 48 offices and 8 affiliates in 41 countries.

Ijota Super Whitening Toothpaste is produced by Greenpeer. They are also based in Seoul and tapped Cheil for the print ad campaign aimed at the European Market -where it’s already raising eyebrows.

A Korean blogger made note that these ads will likely not appear in the Korean market due to their sexual nature, adding that the ad commission would likely insist that they be toned down.
This is a public health fail on so many levels, and going into them all just seems gratuitous, so...I am just going to leave them there and wish everybody a good weekend.

Go enjoy life.