Friday, July 27, 2012

Are judges getting braver? - Free Malaysia Today

Are judges getting braver? - Free Malaysia Today:

Free Malaysia Today

Are judges getting braver?
Free Malaysia Today
The rakyat are wondering if they are sensing the mood of the nation and beginning to perform to the standards expected of them. In the past week, two judges delivered verdicts that proved to be a morale booster for the Malaysian rakyat.
High Court denied Lynas' the injunction to gag NGOMSN Malaysia News
Lynas fails in bid to gag SMSLMalaysia Star

all 3 news articles »

Power Searching with Google

Power Searching with Google

Just do it! Information is "King".

Super fast fiber for Kansas City

Super fast fiber for Kansas City: Our goal is to build products that will help improve our users’ lives. And when it comes to Internet access, it's clear what provides a better user experience:

  • Fast is better than slow. On the web, nobody wants to wait for a video to buffer or a website to load.
  • Abundance is better than scarcity. There’s a plethora of rich content available online—and it’s increasingly only available to people who have the speeds and means to access it.
  • Choice is better than no choice. Competition and choice help make products better for users.
With that in mind, we embarked on a journey to bring ultra-high speeds to Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo. And today, we’re excited to announce Google Fiber. Google Fiber is 100 times faster than today’s average broadband. No more buffering. No more loading. No more waiting. Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the web. Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.

When we asked people what they value in their Internet service, the majority of them simply said, “choice.” So we listened. Kansas Citians will choose where we install and when. We’ve divided Kansas City into small communities we call “fiberhoods.” To get service, each fiberhood needs a critical mass of their residents to pre-register. The fiberhoods with the highest pre-registration percentage will get Google Fiber first. Households in Kansas City can pre-register for the next six weeks, and they can rally their neighbors to pre-register, too. Once the pre-registration period is over, residents of the qualified fiberhoods will be able to choose between three different packages (including TV).

It’s easy to forget how revolutionary high-speed Internet access was in the 1990s. Not only did broadband kill the screeching sound of dial-up, it also spurred innovation, helping to create amazing new services as well as new job opportunities for many thousands of Americans. But today the Internet is not as fast as it should be. While high speed technology exists, the average Internet speed in the U.S. is still only 5.8 megabits per second (Mbps)—slightly faster than the maximum speed available 16 years ago when residential broadband was first introduced. Access speeds have simply not kept pace with the phenomenal increases in computing power and storage capacity that’s spurred innovation over the last decade, and that’s a challenge we’re excited to work on.

To find out more about the different service packages and the pre-registration process see our Google Fiber Blog, which we’ll regularly update with new information over the coming weeks. This is an exciting new project for Google and we can’t wait to get homes connected to Google Fiber in Kansas City—because we’re pretty certain that what people do with a gig will be awesome.

Posted by Milo Medin, Vice President, Access Services

(Cross-posted from the Google Fiber Blog)

Make your mark on Google with Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search

Make your mark on Google with Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search: Unlike searching on a desktop or laptop computer, when you're searching on a touch-screen mobile device it’s often inconvenient to type. So we strive to give you a variety of ways to interact with Google, be it by speaking your queries, getting results before you finish typing, or searching by image. Now there’s a new way for you to interact with Google: Handwrite for web search on mobile phones and tablets.

Say you’re standing on a busy street corner, in a bumpy taxi ride, talking with a friend, or sitting on the couch with your tablet. Handwrite enables you to search by just writing letters with your finger most anywhere on your device’s screen—there’s no keyboard that covers half of the screen and no need for hunt-and-peck typing.

Getting started is easy: go to in your mobile browser, tap on “Settings” at the bottom of the screen and enable “Handwrite.” Note that after you've saved the setting, you may need to refresh the homepage to see the feature.

On tablets, the Search settings are available as an option behind the gear icon.

Once the feature is enabled, tap the Handwrite icon on the bottom right corner of your screen to activate the writing surface. Write a few letters and you’ll see autocomplete options appear below the search box. If one of the options is what you’re looking for, just tap it to search. For longer queries, you can continue writing and use the arrows next to the autocompletions to move the right one into the search box. Since you can write anywhere, you don’t have to look back and forth repeatedly from the keyboard to the search box.

For more tips and tricks on how to use Handwrite, see our Help Center article. To make accessing faster, be sure to bookmark it and add it to your home screen.

We designed Handwrite to complement rather than replace typing: with the feature enabled, you can still use the keyboard at any time by tapping on the search box. Handwrite is experimental, and works better in some browsers than others—on Android devices, it works best in Chrome. For now, we’ve enabled Handwrite for iOS5+ devices, Android 2.3+ phones and Android 4.0+ tablets—in 27 languages.

Have fun with this new way of searching!

Posted by Rui Ueyama, Software Engineer

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

PLoS ONE: A New Body Shape Index Predicts Mortality Hazard Independently of Body Mass Index

PLoS ONE: A New Body Shape Index Predicts Mortality Hazard Independently of Body Mass Index Abstract Top Background Obesity, typically quantified in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeding threshold values, is considered a leading cause of premature death worldwide. For given body size (BMI), it is recognized that risk is also affected by body shape, particularly as a marker of abdominal fat deposits. Waist circumference (WC) is used as a risk indicator supplementary to BMI, but the high correlation of WC with BMI makes it hard to isolate the added value of WC. Methods and Findings We considered a USA population sample of 14,105 non-pregnant adults () from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2004 with follow-up for mortality averaging 5 yr (828 deaths). We developed A Body Shape Index (ABSI) based on WC adjusted for height and weight: Read further from link above.

Cambodia unravels cause of mystery illness - The Lancet

Cambodia unravels cause of mystery illness Abby Seiff Investigations by WHO and Cambodia's health ministry have pinpointed the cause of a mystery outbreak that has killed more than 50 children this year. Abby Seiff reports from Phnom Penh. A so-called “mystery disease” in Cambodia, which has seen an unusual number of young children die shortly after admission to hospital is due to a severe strain of hand, foot, and mouth disease and has been exacerbated by incorrect treatment, health authorities have concluded. Since April, at least 60 children have been affected and more than 50 have died of the previously unknown illness. The bulk of the patients were younger than 3 years of age and most died within a day of being admitted to hospital. In Phnom Penh on July 13, officials from the WHO and Cambodian Ministry of Health said investigations into the cause of the deaths determined that a “severe form” of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) was to blame. While most patients died before samples could be taken, most of those analysed tested positive for enterovirus 71 (EV—71)—a widespread and sometimes powerful strain of HFMD. “This particular type, EV-71, was never seen before in Cambodia. It doesn't mean it wasn't here, just that we've never seen it”, Nima Asgari, a public health specialist at WHO said in a recent interview. “Considering it was seen in the region already—in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia—it's not surprising to see it here.” Since the 1970s, millions of cases of HFMD have been seen in the region. Although the disease is generally mild and self-limiting (most patients recover within 10 days), outbreaks of the severest forms have led to deaths, especially among children. In the first 5 months of the year alone, 29 people in Vietnam have died from EV—71 and 244 in China, according to WHO. “It's actually a very widespread disease, it's prevalent in many countries throughout the world”, Asgari told a group of reporters during a conference held at the Ministry of Health in Phnom Penh last week. “Usually it's a mild disease, usually it lasts about a week. But a very small number develop serious symptoms and need hospital treatment.” In Cambodia, at least 54 children have died of the disease since April. In June, Beat Richner, director of the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospitals, alerted the Ministry of Health to the outbreak and called for an investigation noting that shortly before death, most of the patients' pulmonary alveoli were destroyed. “They are suffering from an encephalitis and in the last 6 hours they develop a most severe pneumonia. The x-ray and CT are showing that the alveolars are destroyed within hours before passing away”, Richner documented at the time. In its mild form, HFMD symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, and telltale blistering on the palms, soles, and mouth; but neurorespiratory problems—including convulsions and breathlessness—can occur in severe cases. WHO and the Ministry of Health focused their investigation on 61 cases. Those who died ranged from between 3 months and 11 years old, though the median was 2 years old. 55% of patients were male. Health officials concluded that the death rate was likely aggravated by chronic conditions such as malnutrition among the patients as well as mistreatment. “A significant number of cases had been treated with steroids at some point during their illness. Steroid use has been shown to worsen the condition of patients with EV—71”, the Ministry of Health and WHO said in a statement of their findings. Health centres have been cautioned to avoid steroid treatment going forward, and the ministry will begin training courses for clinicians to manage patients with mild and severe forms of HFMD, said Sok Touch, the director of Cambodia's Communicable Disease Control Department. A widespread education campaign aimed at both the general population and health professionals is in the works as well. The disease is spread through direct contact and much of the public health focus has been on basic good hygiene practices, such as washing hands before eating or cooking and after bathing children. At the moment, cases seem to have abated, but the Ministry of Health and WHO cautioned health-care providers to remain alert. A surveillance system to monitor neurorespiratory syndrome has been installed and health centres instructed to report mild cases of HFMD. Likely, the increased monitoring will result in an uptick of cases, health officials warned. Currently, management of HFMD focuses on treating symptoms but vaccine research has been moving forward. At least two companies are now holding clinical trials for vaccines targeting EV—71. In June, Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac said that they had vaccinated 10 000 infants as part of their phase 3 trial, while the US-based Inviragen in March announced positive immune responses during their phase 1 trial of INV21.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mystery illness in Cambodia solved

Mystery illness in Cambodia solved, doctors say By Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Danielle Dellorto, CNN July 11, 2012 -- Updated 2116 GMT (0516 HKT) STORY HIGHLIGHTS Doctors say the inappropriate use of steroids worsened many cases No new cases of the condition have been confirmed since last Saturday The pathogens include enterovirus 71, streptococcus suis and dengue Most of the patients have come from southern Cambodia Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN) -- The cause of a mysterious illness that has claimed the lives of more than 60 Cambodian children has been determined, medical doctors familiar with the investigation told CNN on Wednesday. A combination of pathogens, disease-causing micro-organisms, is to blame for the illness, the World Health Organization, in conjunction with the Cambodian Ministry of Health, has concluded, the doctors said. The pathogens include enterovirus 71, which is known to cause neurological disease; streptococcus suis, which can cause infections like bacterial meningitis in people who have close contact with pigs or with pork products; and dengue, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. The inappropriate use of steroids, which can suppress the immune system, worsened the illness in a majority of the patients, the doctors said. The World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to advise health care workers to refrain from using steroids in patients with signs and symptoms of the infection, which include severe fever, encephalitis and breathing difficulties. While not all the microorganisms were present in each patient, doctors concluded the illness was caused by a combination of them and worsened by steroid use. The WHO sources did not want to be identified because the results of the health organization's investigation have not yet been made public. "I'm very confident for the reason of the epidemic," said Dr. Phillipe Buchy, chief of virology at the Institut Pasteur in Cambodia and one of the doctors who cracked the case. "The first thing that goes through your mind is, is this one of the usual suspects you haven't detected before?" said Dr. Arnaud Tarantola, chief of epidemiology and public health at the Institut Pasteur. "If it is, has it mutated, or changed in a way that it causes more severe disease? Or is it something completely new?" On the steroids issue, Tarantola said, "When you have a dying child, you try to use what you have at hand, and they were right to try that." But, he acknowledged, "from the cases we reviewed, almost all of the children died, and almost all of them had steroids." Parents face anxious wait over mystery illness "I think we can close the case and move ahead asking different questions," Buchy said. "Not what is the illness, but now, how long has the virus been circulating? What is the extent of the circulation of the virus? How many mild diseases are we missing? That's the next step." Over the past four months, doctors at Kantha Bopha Children's Hospitals in Phnom Penh have been faced with the mysterious syndrome, which kills children so fast that nearly all of those infected with it die within a day or two of being admitted to the hospital. Dr. Beat Richner, head of the children's hospitals -- which cared for 66 patients affected by the illness, 64 of whom died -- said that no new cases of the illness had been confirmed since Saturday. Other hospitals in the country have reported similar cases, but far fewer than the children's hospitals in the capital, which are the most popular. In the last hours of their life, the children experienced a "total destruction of the alveola(e) in the lungs," Richner said. Alveolae are the air sacs where oxygen enters the bloodstream. Most of the children who have contracted the illness have come from the south of the country, though health officials cannot find what is known as a cluster -- a lot of cases coming from one specific area. By June 29, the WHO had been contacted and Cambodian officials were scrambling to instruct health providers across the country to spread information about the illness as quickly as possible. Officials search for clues in disease killing Cambodia's children The WHO and the Cambodian authorities' announcement of the situation drew criticism from Richner, who said they were "causing unnecessary panic." The WHO said the unexplained nature of the outbreak obliged it to communicate the information. Over the weekend, lab tests linked enterovirus 71 (EV71) to some of the cases. But the tests didn't solve the whole puzzle and health officials continued their investigations, noting the detection of other elements like streptococcus suis and dengue. The link to EV71 does not particularly help in the treatment of the illness, as there is no effective antiviral treatment for severe EV71 infections and no vaccine is available. In milder cases, EV71 can cause coldlike symptoms, diarrhea and sores on the hands, feet and mouth, according to the journal Genetic Vaccines and Therapy. But more severe cases can cause fluid to accumulate on the brain, resulting in polio-like paralysis and death. Outbreaks of the enterovirus "occur periodically in the Asia-Pacific region," according to the CDC. Brunei had its first major outbreak in 2006. China had an outbreak in 2008. Adults' well-developed immune systems usually can fend off the virus, but children are vulnerable to it, according to the CDC. "It looks like (EV71) has emerged strongly, probably because it hadn't circulated with the same intensity in the past years," Tarantola said. Reported cases of streptococcus suis have risen significantly in recent years, notably in Southeast Asia, according to a paper that appeared last year in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The rainy season in Cambodia, which lasts from May to October, is a key problem in trying to control diseases like dengue. Because of a lack of indoor plumbing in many homes, people collect rainwater in vats, creating potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes. In Cambodia, as with many places around the world, parents first try treating their child at home. If that doesn't work, they typically then go to a local clinic. A hospital visit, which often involves a long trip, is a last resort. Mystery illness claiming dozens of lives CNN's Sara Sidner and Tim Schwarz contributed to this report.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Parents face anxious wait over Cambodia's mystery illness -

Parents face anxious wait over Cambodia's mystery illness -

Watch this video
  • Doctors at Kantha Bopha hospital in Cambodia report 66 cases of mystery illness
  • At least 64 children have died mysteriously over the past three months
  • Fifteen of the 24 patients screened have tested positive for Enterovirus Type 71
  • Health officials warning parents nationally to monitor symptoms
Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN) -- Before dawn, the line of parents trying to comfort their sick children stretched around the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital in Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh.
Dozens of children waited their turn for treatment. It is the normal daily routine here, especially during the rainy season when mosquito-borne illnesses are most prevalent.
But over the past four months doctors inside the busy hospital have been faced with something that is not routine at all; a mysterious syndrome killing children so fast nearly all of the children infected with it die within a day or two of being admitted to the hospital.
Other hospitals in the country also began reporting similar cases -- though far fewer than the children's hospital in the capital, which is the most popular. Since April, doctors at the Kantha Bopha hospital have reported 66 cases of the illness. Of those cases only two children survived, while 64 died.
Most of the children who have contracted the illness have come from south of the country, though health officials cannot find what is known as a cluster -- that is a lot of cases coming from one specific area.
"We have no evidence there are particular places where this is more likely to occur. So it is really a different pattern from a normal infectious epidemic where you have a cluster of cases. This does not follow that pattern," the World Health Organization'srepresentative in Cambodia, Pieter van Maaren, told CNN.
By June 29, The WHO had been contacted and Cambodian Health officials were scrambling to instruct health providers across the country to spread the message to the masses as quickly as possible.
Gupta: Mysterious virus kills kids fast
Cambodia child deaths baffle doctors
Cambodia mystery illness striking kids
At the Takeo Provincial Hospital in southwest Cambodia, every bed was taken in the children's ward. Many of the children were diagnosed with Dengue fever. A few hadEncephalitis.
On Sunday, the head of pediatrics was in the hospital surrounded by children hooked up to intravenous drips. A five-year-old howled with stomach pain, while another child was too lethargic to lift his head. Most of the children were feverish and dehydrated.
Dr. Te Vantha darted from one sick child to another trying to make sure they were getting the treatment they needed. Nurses hurried in and out with syringes and medicines. Meanwhile, mother's stroked their children's heads, their faces blank from tiredness or wrinkled in worry.
At this time of year, about 50 children per day are brought to the hospital for treatment. Usually their ailments are treatable but in the past four months Dr. Vantha said he has seen two cases that have left him baffled. In both cases the children's condition deteriorated alarmingly fast.
In one child the "lung X-ray on the right side showed consolidated opacity. The right lung had been destroyed," he said.
"There was rapid evolution from hour to hour."
That child died within 24 hours of being admitted to his hospital. The other died within 48 hours.
He said their symptoms included difficulty breathing, high fever and coughing. He has been telling any parent he can that if a child has similar symptoms to rush them to hospital.
In Cambodia, as with many places around the world, parents first try treating their child at home. If that doesn't work then they go to their local clinic, with a trip to the nearest hospital the last resort as it often involves a long trip.
That is exactly what the family of five-year-old Pov Roath did. They waited a week before bringing him to the hospital after trying their local clinic first. Nor Nim, his grandmother, sat beside him in the intensive care unit as he gasped for air and held his stomach. Nurses hurriedly put an oxygen tube in his nose to try to make it easier for him to breathe.
Dr. Vantha examined him as the boy vacillated between yelping in pain and struggling to breathe.
Eventually little Roath was diagnosed with Dengue fever. An estimated 10,000 Cambodians have contracted Dengue fever so far this year, authorities say. Some 45 people have died from it. It is a nasty illness but its mortality rate here is far lower than that of the current mystery illness.
Roath's grandmother was relieved because by the time she got to the hospital, she had heard of the mystery illness that had taken so many children's lives.
"I heard about it on television. It's terrible," she said.
But many other parents -- even those lining up at the main children's hospital -- had yet to hear of it.
"I did not know [about the new disease]," Yin Penh said, as she waited in the long line outside the Kantha Bopha Hospital with her eight-year-old daughter. "I just know my daughter has a fever and is vomiting."
Doctors at that hospital said children age three and younger seem to be most at risk, but one child as old as 11 had contracted the mystery illness.
Lab tests have revealed a link that may explain or at least get health providers a step closer to solving the mystery. Of 24 samples tested, 15 came back positive for EV71, a known Enterovirus associated with hand foot and mouth disease, that is also known to cause neurological disease.
The most recent outbreaks have been in Asia but none has been reported in Cambodia until now. But health officials warn it does not explain why the illness is taking lives so quickly, or why it hasn't spread faster as EV71 is highly contagious. There is no known cure or treatment for EV71.
The WHO representative made clear the tests at this point have not solved the mystery of the unnamed illness. More tests are being done at laboratories.
In the meantime the government is trying to make the public aware. Some are getting the message.
Eam Srey brought her four-year-old son to the hospital as soon as she noticed his fever and blood in his stool.
She clutched him on her lap and put a cold compress on his forehead while she waited to get into the hospital.
"I am very worried that my son might have the new disease," she said.
Her only comfort is her son doesn't have all the symptoms, so she is hopeful he will be treated and released.
The wait to find out is agonizing.
CNN's Tim Schwarz contributed to this report.

Cambodia Mystery Illness Tied To Common Childhood Illness

Cambodia Mystery Illness Tied To Common Childhood Illness

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- A deadly form of a common childhood illness has been linked to the mysterious child deaths in Cambodia that sparked alarm after a cause could not immediately be determined, health officials said Monday.
Cambodia Mystery IllnessLab tests have confirmed that a virulent strain of hand, foot and mouth disease known as EV-71 is to blame for some of the 59 cases reviewed since April, including 52 deaths, according to a joint statement from the World Health Organization and Cambodian Health Ministry. The numbers were lowered from the initial report of 62 cases.
EV-71 is a virus that can result in paralysis, brain swelling and death. Most of the Cambodian cases involved children younger than 3 who experienced fever, respiratory problems that led to rapid shutdown and sometimes neurological symptoms.
Epidemiologists are still trying to piece together information about the cases by interviewing parents because some details may have been omitted or missing from medical charts and specimens were not taken from most children before they died, said Dr. Nima Asgari, who is leading the WHO investigation. Of 24 samples tested, 15 came back positive for EV-71.
"As far as I'm aware, EV-71 was not identified as a virus in Cambodia before," Asgari said, adding that based on the information now available it's likely that the majority of untested patients were infected with it.
"We are a bit more confident. We are hoping that we can come up with something a bit more conclusive in the next day or so," he said.
Hand, foot and mouth disease has been raging across Asia and usually causes a telltale rash. Blistering was only reported in some of the Cambodian cases, and it's possible that steroids administered by doctors could have masked the symptom or it may not have been recorded, he said.
The lab results also identified other diseases in some cases, including mosquito-borne dengue fever and Streptococcus suis, a germ commonly seen in pigs that sometimes infects people, often causing meningitis and hearing loss.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is spread by sneezing, coughing and contact with fluid from blisters or infected feces. It is caused by enteroviruses in the same family as polio. No vaccine or specific treatment exists, but illness is typically mild and most children recover quickly without problems.
The virus gets its name from the symptoms it causes, including rash, mouth sores and blisters covering the hands and feet. Many infected children don't get sick but can spread it to others.
Neighboring Vietnam has been battling a surging number of hand, foot and mouth disease cases for the past few years, with EV-71 also wreaking havoc there. Last year, the disease sickened more than 110,000 people and killed 166, mostly children whose immune systems were not strong enough to fend off the infection.
China is also experiencing an outbreak, and more than 240 people have died of the disease there this year, according to China's Health Ministry.
The Cambodia investigation is continuing, but the H5N1 bird flu virus, SARS and Nipah – a deadly virus usually spread by fruit bats or pigs – have all been ruled out.
AP Medical Writer Margie Mason contributed to this report from Hanoi, Vietnam.

Monday, July 09, 2012

WHO finds virus link to Cambodia mystery disease — TalkVietnam

WHO finds virus link to Cambodia mystery disease — TalkVietnam: Health experts working to identify an illness that has killed dozens of children in Cambodia found a link to a virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease,...

Big Tent Sendai: Smarter ways to share information in a crisis

Big Tent Sendai: Smarter ways to share information in a crisis: As we’ve seen in the last decade, information technology can save lives in a crisis. But even as data becomes more crucial to rescue efforts, key information like evacuation routes, shelter locations and weather alerts often remains inaccessible to the public. Time is of the essence in the wake of a disaster, and it's critical for emergency information to be available in open standards and formats to enable instant communication among first responders and affected populations.

This was the theme of our first Big Tent in Asia, held yesterday in Sendai, Japan. The event brought together tech industry leaders, non-profits, volunteers and government officials to discuss how technology can better assist in preparing for, responding to and rebuilding from disasters. This is an extremely pertinent issue for the Asia-Pacific region, as nearly 70 percent of fatalities from natural disasters occur here. And with the earthquake and tsunami last year affecting the coastal regions of Northeastern Japan, Sendai was a particularly meaningful location to discuss new ways that technology can aid the efforts of responders to reduce the impact and cost of disasters.

During the panels, the audience heard stories about how two Pakistani volunteers mapped their home country so well through Google MapMaker that the UN’s mapping agency UNOSAT adopted the maps and provided them to aid workers during the Pakistan floods. Sam Johnson, Founder of the Christchurch Student Army and Young New Zealander of the Year, talked about using Facebook to quickly coordinate relief efforts on the ground after the earthquakes in Christchurch in 2010 and 2011. Twitter Japan Country Manager James Kondo talked about Japanese earthquake victims tweeting with the hashtag “stranded” in order to find help. Meanwhile representatives of open source project Ushahidi talked of “brainsourcing” reporters on the ground and remote volunteers to keep the world abreast of conditions in disasters such as the earthquake in Chile in 2010.

After the panels, conversations and debates, four key themes emerged. First, there is a conflict between traditional closed data architectures and emerging open models—and we need to close the gap between them. Second, we need to find complementary ways to embrace both authoritative data from official sources and crowdsourced data. Third, there’s a universal need for data, but they way it’s shared needs to be tailored to the local environment—for example, Internet-reliant countries vs. SMS-reliant countries. Finally, we were reminded that beyond the data itself, communication and collaboration are key in a crisis. Information isn’t worth anything unless people are taking that information, adapting it, consulting it and getting it to the people who need it.

One of the panels at Big Tent Sendai

Crisis response tools will continue to improve and more people across the globe will own devices to quickly access the information they need. But there are still major challenges we must address. As Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction said, we can now get quick warnings and alerts to many populations on their phones, but many who receive the alerts don’t know how to act.

To see clips from Sendai and previous events, visit the Big Tent YouTube channel, where you can also join in the debate via comments, get more information on the presenters and see how different communities approach many of the same issues. We’ll hold more Big Tents in Asia soon, so please check back on our website to learn more.

Posted by Nigel Snoad, Product Manager, Crisis Response Team

Crafty anti-smoking stunt by the Thai Health Promotion Board

Crafty anti-smoking stunt by the Thai Health Promotion Board:

Most people know how bad smoking is for their health. So instead of using the usual scare tactics, Ogilvy Thailand sent kids up to adult smokers to ask them for a light. As expected, all the adults approached were quick to explain how harmful smoking was, and cited various negative health effects. At this point, the kids handed the adults a brochure which said, "You worry about me. But why not about yourself?” accompanied with a hotline to call for information about quitting.

According to the video below, most of the adults approached threw away their cigarettes and none of them threw away the brochure. In fact, the foundation reported a 40% increase in calls to the hotline.

Using cute kids – sneaky, yet effective.

Celebrate freedom. Support a free and open Internet.

Celebrate freedom. Support a free and open Internet.: On July Fourth, America celebrates its independence.

In the summer of 1776, 13 disenfranchised colonies spoke. It took days for their declaration to be printed and distributed throughout the colonies, and it took weeks for it to be seen across the Atlantic.

Today, such a document could be published and shared with the world in seconds. More than any time in history, more people in more places have the ability to have their voices heard.

Powering these voices are billions of Internet connections around the world—people on their mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. The Internet is a powerful platform that makes it easier for people to speak, to assemble, and to be heard. This is true no matter where freedom is taking root.

Yet we’ve only just begun to see what a free and open Internet can do for people and for the freedom we cherish.

Today we’re sharing a video we made to celebrate our freedom and the tools that support it. Please take a moment to watch it, share it with your friends, and add your voice.

Join us in supporting a free and open Internet.

Posted by Susan Molinari, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Americas

Officials make break in baffling disease killing Cambodian children

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN) -- Health officials say they have made an important discovery in the mystery surrounding the deaths of 64 children in Cambodia. The Institut Pasteur in Cambodia tested samples taken from 24 patients and found 15 had tested positive for Enterovirus Type 71 -- a common cause of hand, foot and mouth disease that can also cause severe neurologic complications, mainly in children. "These results now give a good explanation to this outbreak," Dr. Philippe Buchy, head of the institute's virology unit, said in an e-mail. "We will get more results hopefully by next Tuesday or Wednesday." But an official with the World Health Organization cautioned that the outbreak has not been fully solved, and more analysis is needed. Outbreaks "occur periodically in the Asia-Pacific region," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Brunei had its first major outbreak in 2006. China had an outbreak in 2008. Though the detection of EV71 in Cambodia is significant, there may be other factors, said Dr. Beat Richner of Kantha Bopha hospitals. Over the past three months, 66 children -- between 2 and 3 years old -- were admitted to Kantha Bopha facilities. All but two died mysteriously after suffering severe neurological and respiratory complications, Richner said. Deadly disease kills Cambodian children Cambodia child deaths baffle doctors Mystery disease killing Cambodian kids In their last hours of their life, the children suffered a "total destruction of the alveola(e) in the lungs," Richner said. "We have now to see what really is causing the deadly pulmonary complication and see if a toxic factor is playing a role too," he said. Investigators probe mystery disease killing Cambodian children The positive test for EV71 does not particularly help in the treatment of the illness, as there is no effective antiviral treatment for severe EV71 infections, and no vaccine is available. In milder cases, EV71 can cause coldlike symptoms, diarrhea and sores on the hands, feet and mouth, according to the journal Genetic Vaccines and Therapy. But more severe cases can cause fluid to accumulate on the brain, resulting in polio-like paralysis and death. Adults' well-developed immune systems usually can fend off the virus, but children are vulnerable to it, according to the CDC. Richner said the patients suffered from encephalitis, which is the inflammation of the brain. On Sunday, a World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Cambodia warned the new discovery "does not mean we have solved the problem of the undiagnosed cases. A lot more analysis is needed, and further laboratory investigations need to be done." Richner criticized WHO for previously making statements to the media "without being clear on the facts," the hospital official said in his statement Sunday. "WHO was telling whole the world: New mystery killer disease in Cambodia! This was causing unnecessary panic in Cambodia," Richter wrote. Richner has said the number of cases affected by the mysterious disease is relatively low -- 34 cases in June, compared with the 75,000 sick children at Kantha Bopha's outpatient clinics and 16,000 hospitalized kids. But Pieter van Maaren with the WHO in Cambodia rejected suggestions that his organization caused any kind of panic. He said Richner was the one who stated, in a letter to the government, that the situation in Cambodia was "most severe." "WHO has not made any statement about the disease, other than what we issued in the joint press release with the Ministry of Health," van Maaren said. The ministry reported the outbreak to WHO through the International Health Regulations, which 194 nations are parties to, van Maaren said. "Since this event fitted the criteria of being an event where the underlying agent, disease or mode of transmission is not identified at the time, WHO is obliged to communicate information to other member states." EV71 was first isolated in California in 1969, according to the CDC. Mystery illnesses: A mother's painful quest for answers

Saturday, July 07, 2012

SOS Children’s Village
Authorities Find No Name for Cambodian Mystery Illness

SOS Children’s Village
05/07/2012 – International and national health authorities working in Cambodia have ruled out an alphavirus, dengue fever and influenza as causes of the unknown illness that has claimed the lives of at least 61 children.

Cambodian and international health authorities are trying to get to the bottom of a mysterious illness that has so far claimed the lives of more than 60 children in the country since April of this year. The youngest of the children was three months while the oldest was seven years old.

Symptoms of this “undiagnosed syndrome” include severe fever, respiratory problems, swelling of the brain and, sometimes, neurological problems. Respiratory functions are reported to deteriorate rapidly with most of the children dying from symptoms of pneumonia within 24 hours. The rest died within three days.

At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) is unsure of whether or not a new or established disease is responsible for the deaths.

So far, dengue fever and the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus have been ruled out as causes of the deaths. It is also unlikely to be influenza, says one health official.

“This can be a mixture of a number of known diseases—virological, bacterial or toxicological—which have been reported as one syndrome or something new,” Dr. Nima Asgari, of the national WHO office informed CNN.

Only one of the 62 infected children has survived, according to one press release. That child is still in hospital. However, a doctor at the hospital where the first cases were discovered recently told Al Jazeera that the number of cases reached 66 with two surviving.

A joint statement by the WHO and the Ministry of Health said that they first became aware of the disease from a doctor at the Kantha Bopha Hospital. The healthcare facility is in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital located on the Mekong River coast in the southern part of the country. All of the sick kids came from 14 provinces in southern and central Cambodia, though the disease has not clustered in a particular area.

The identification of the disease is expected to take some time. However, it does not appear to be contagious, as neither staff nor people around the hospitalized children have contracted the elusive illness.

But, one doctor worries that drug interactions and incorrect treatments are behind the deterioration of the lungs and untreatable pneumonia, local media reports.

As per global health regulations, neighbouring countries have been made aware of the situation. The investigation by health authorities in Cambodia, supported by the WHO, is ongoing.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Mysterious Illness Claims Children's Lives In Cambodia

The source of an unidentified illness that has led to the deaths of 61 children in Cambodia since April is under investigation, according to the World Health Organization.

Most of the reported cases occurred in southern Cambodia. Health authorities in the Southeast Asian nation say the majority of the mystery ailment's victims have been under 7, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reported.
They suffered high fevers, followed by severe respiratory problems, and in some cases neurological symptoms.

It doesn't appear that the illness, whatever it is, is being spread from person to person, WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi told the Associated Press.

The Phnom Penh Post reported that Kantha Bopha Children's Hospitals, "which first raised the alarm about the deadly illness," are investigating the outbreak. "We are working very hard, but there is no update," said Kantha Bopha's Dr. Denis Laurent, according to the Post. "We are still waiting for results, hopefully tomorrow."

Cambodian authorities have told neighboring countries about the disease, and WHO issued a global alert.

Probe into mystery illness ongoing .

Source: Investigations continued yesterday into the mystery illness that has caused the deaths of at least 60 children in Cambodia since April, but answers were not yet apparent, health officials said. A joint statement issued by the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health last night said the majority of cases had appeared in the southern part of the country and that neighbouring countries had been officially informed as the the “cause and source of the disease” were sought for “appropriate control”. WHO public-health specialist Dr Nima Asgari said the UN agency was providing support for the Ministry of Health to investigate the cases. “The investigations will try to identify any linkages in time, place and person between the cases and also if there has been exposure to similar factors and how that can be linked . . . to a possible causative agent.” Dr Denis Laurent, from Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals, which first raised the alarm about the deadly illness, said the hospital was independently pursuing its own investigation. “We are working very hard, but there is no update. We are still waiting for results, hopefully tomorrow,” Laurent said. Communicable disease health officials from the Ministry of Health could not be contacted yesterday, and rapid- response hotline officials declined to comment. Siem Reap province health department director Kros Sarath said an alert from the ministry’s Rapid Response Team had been circulated on July 1. “We have spread the information to all 76 commune health centres in the province,” he said. “We don’t have any reports yet of severe cases of the disease in our province.” --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

60 children killed in Cambodia by mystery disease .

Source: An unknown deadly illness has appeared in Cambodia, killing at least 60 children in the past three months, health officials said yesterday. Of the 62 children admitted to the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals with similar symptoms of severe fever and respiratory and neurological destruction, only two were able to be saved, hospital founder Dr Beat Richner said yesterday. In a letter from Richner to Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng sent on June 20 and obtained by the Post yesterday, the Swiss doctor raised the urgency of the issue and told the minister such a disease had not been seen in the past 20 years in Cambodia. “They [the children] are suffering from an Encephalitis and in the last 6 hours they develop a most severe pneumonia," he wrote. “The X Ray and CT are showing that the alveolus [pockets in the lung for oxygen exchange] are destroyed within hours before passing away.” All the children who died, died within 24 hours of being hospitalised in what Richner called a “dramatic evolution” of the lung-destroying disease. At the time of the letter, 47 children had died. In the 13 days following, there have been a further 13 deaths at the Kantha Bopha hospitals. World Health Organization public health specialist Nima Asgari yesterday confirmed the international organisation had teamed this week with the Ministry of Health to investigate the mysterious and fatal affliction. “It is very early to find the cause. We are still trying to gather data,” Asgari said, adding it was unlikely the disease was related to dengue or the re-appearance of Chikungunya in the Kingdom. The United Nations agency said in a June 30 report that the clinical signs of those afflicted with the disease “appear unusual,” with patients suffering from fever and a rapid deterioration of respiratory functions, although platelet counts, liver and renal functions were found normal. Ministry of Health officials, including minister and deputy director of the Communicable Disease Control Department Ly Sovann, referred all questions to department director Sok Touch, who could not be reached for comment yesterday. A hotline official at the Communicable Disease Control Department said two teams from the Health Ministry had visited Takeo and Kampong Cham provinces yesterday to investigate other cases of the unknown disease. “It has happened in 14 provinces across the country,” the official said. “We have not found the cause of this disease yet, but they [patients] have severe respiratory problems,” he said, adding that a third team would go to the Kantha Bopha hospitals on Thursday. Takeo provincial hospital deputy director Te Vantha said he had joined a meeting with Ministry of Health and Kantha Bopha officials on June 29 to discuss the situation. “Kantha Bopha has informed us about the rapid development of a disease that can kill children within 24 hours, so we must be careful,” Vantha said. “This unknown disease happens to children mostly under the age of 5 years and the symptoms are fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.” He said that in Takeo, there were two known cases of children dying from the unknown lung-destroying disease in June. Speaking from the Kantha Bopha hospital in Siem Reap, where there have been two deaths, Richner said his team had been unable to definitively determine a cause yet but worried it may be the result of what he termed “wrong treatment”. “All these children had encephalitis [acute inflammation of the brain] and were hospitalised and treated at private clinics before coming to us," he said. “I worry that a wrong treatment and drug intoxication at some private clinics has destroyed the lungs leading to a pneumonia we cannot treat.” He added that his hospitals had been receiving a high number of encephalitis cases. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------