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Robert F. Kennedy once said that GDP, or gross domestic product, "measures everything ... except that which makes life worthwhile."

GDP, in case you weren't paying attention in Econ 101, looks at economic activity as a way to size up how a country is doing.

Before traveling to Thailand in 2011, American poet Cameron Conaway viewed malaria as many Westerners do: a remote disease summed up by factoids:

It's borne by mosquitoes.

Half the world's population — 3.4 billion people — is at risk of catching it.

The disease claims 627,000 lives a year – that's one death every minute.

There are currently 13,042 confirmed or suspected cases of the deadly Ebola virus in six countries, according to the World Health Organization. But the group says its latest figures also hold some good news, as the number of Ebola cases in hard-hit Liberia appear to be on the decline.

WHO released its data for the period up to Nov. 2 Wednesday, saying that Ebola has now been blamed for 4,818 reported deaths.

The panic over Ebola in the U.S. gets a one-word comment from Gregg Gonsalves: "Crazy."

Actually, he has a few more words than that to say. In this week's online New England Journal of Medicine, Gonsalves co-authored an essay called "Panic, Paranoia, and Public Health — The AIDS Epidemic's Lessons for Ebola."

Two new U.S. Ebola treatment facilities are expected to open in Liberia over the next week. One is a 25-bed field hospital near Monrovia's airport, specifically to treat local health care workers who get infected. The other is a 100-bed Ebola treatment unit, or ETU, in the town of Tubmanburg, north of Monrovia.

If there's one thing college kids do best, it's thinking creatively. Often operating with limited resources and tight deadlines, they're used to coming up with ingenious solutions to life's everyday problems (usually on little sleep). So it's no surprise that experts are turning to students for help in battling one of this year's most pressing global health issues: the Ebola outbreak.

Why do people sometimes give generously to a cause — and other times give nothing at all?

That's a timely question, because humanitarian groups fighting the Ebola outbreak need donations from people in rich countries. But some groups say they're getting less money than they'd expect from donors despite all the news.

Wilson Kipsang, the Kenyan winner of Sunday's New York City Marathon, told reporters after it was over that he'd had to slow down — to "exercise a lot of patience" — as he logged the first miles of the 26.2-mile race.

And even with his purposely slowish (!) start, he completed the marathon in two hours, 10 minutes and 59 seconds.

What if you could track people getting sick just by analyzing how they surf the Web?

Knock, knock.

Who's there?

If you're an older resident of a low-income area outside Cape Town, it might be Gloria Gxebeka. She's a 63-year-old grandmother and retired cook who used to spend her days at home alone and glued to the TV, especially the American soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. But now she's got a new job. She goes door-to-door, checking on the health of other older folks in her neighborhood.

This Election Day comes as the world is dealing with an Ebola crisis. Eager to educate the public and/or pander to paranoia, politicians have been eagerly weighing in on the disease. Can you match the quote and the speaker?


1. "Ladies and gentlemen, we have an Ebola outbreak, we have bad actors who can come across the border. We need to seal the border and secure it."

2. "I don't believe when you're dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary [quarantine] system. This is government's job."

Nigeria has been a stubborn hot spot of polio — and that turned out to be a good thing when it came time to fight Ebola.

In late July, a patient with the deadly Ebola virus arrived from Liberia. Health workers knew what to do. The country has created a massive public health effort to wipe out polio; institutions and strategies were repurposed to fight Ebola.

On the other hand, anti-polio efforts in the countries hit hardest by Ebola are on hold — and that could lead to disaster.

First, the good news, from Nigeria.

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In the West Point slum of Monrovia, Liberia, at a holding center for those suspected of but not yet confirmed as having Ebola, photojournalist John Moore witnessed a man stagger, fall and hit his head on the floor. The man's wife was with him, but because of the highly contagious nature of the Ebola virus she could not reach down to embrace him, even touch him, without risking infection herself. She was left helpless, unable to do anything but stand over him. "It was especially hard on the eyes to see," Moore says.

In West Africa, the Ebola virus has killed more than 5,000 people, but there have been far fewer funerals. The bodies of Ebola victims are so infectious that they can only be handled safely by special burial teams. They wear head-to-toe protective gear and use special body bags and chlorinated water to disinfect the area where the person died.

In Liberia, many of those teams are organized by the aid group Global Communities. Since March, the group has been trying to spread awareness about the dangers of burying Ebola victims without proper protection.

Decontee Davis knows how she got Ebola. Her fiance's aunt was gravely ill with a fever, unable to bathe herself. Decontee helped.

A week later, Decontee and her five-year-old son began to feel sick. They both had a fever, chills and severe headaches.

It felt like malaria. "We went to the drug store for a malaria medicine," she says. "My son responded to treatment, but I did not."

Over the next week, her fever worsened. She lost her appetite completely and began vomiting.

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For the past 25 years, Jill Andrews has been making extravagant dresses for brides and whimsical costumes for actors. But this past weekend, the 47-year-old wedding gown designer from Baltimore used her sewing skills to create a different kind of garment: an anti-Ebola protection suit.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, just returned from a four-day trip to all three of West Africa's Ebola-stricken countries. Speaking with Melissa Block of All Things Considered, she said she saw promising signs of recovery but had also gained a sense of just how much work must still be done.

In Liberia, Power was struck by the gratitude expressed to the United States for "rescuing these countries in their hour of greatest need."

If you want the inside scoop about what's happening with the Ebola outbreak, then just hang out at the Mamba Point Hotel in Monrovia.

It's packed with scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, international reporters and a bunch of guys and gals in camouflage from the U.S. Army.

North Korea has a number of serious public health woes: malnutrition, tuberculosis and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few. Ebola isn't one of them. The disease hasn't hit anywhere in Asia, much less this isolated and rarely visited Northeast Asian nation.

Why My Grandma Never Had A Pap Smear

Oct 31, 2014

"So, did Grandma ever have a Pap smear?"

A strange question for a son to ask his mom, as I did last Thursday, but it came to mind because of careHPV.

The careHPV test is a quick, simple DNA test for the primary cause of cervical cancer — human papillomavirus (HPV) — could overcome serious obstacles to screening for cervical cancer in developing countries.

Vincent Racaniello, who studies viruses at Columbia University, says Ebola has recently become his obsession.

"I find myself reading incessantly about Ebola when I should be doing other things," says Racaniello, host of the online show This Week in Virology, which has devoted several recent programs to Ebola.

When American nurse Kaci Hickox came home after treating Ebola patients in Liberia, she was quarantined in a tent at Newark Liberty International Airport for three days — even though she showed no signs of illness.

People living in the United States have little to no reason to fear contracting Ebola, a deadly viral illness causing an epidemic in West Africa. Yet on Friday night, some Americans will dress up in hazmat suits akin to what health workers wear when treating an Ebola patient.

And, of course, there's even a "sexy" version.

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The world is facing a double-barreled pandemic reminiscent of the dual epidemic of tuberculosis and HIV that emerged in the 1980s – only potentially much bigger.

It's a "co-epidemic" of TB and diabetes that's beginning to affect many countries around the globe — poor, middle-income and even rich nations.

Public health types are getting increasingly annoyed with people freaking out about Ebola in the United States, from governors to the general public. It's easy to see why; when I heard a swim coach was getting questions from parents worried that their children might get Ebola from the pool water, it was hard not to cue the eye roll.

On the other hand, I suspect I'm not the only person whose husband asked her to buy chlorine bleach and gloves the next time I went to the store.

There are all kinds of theories why Ebola hasn't arrived in Ivory Coast, despite the fact that it shares a long and very porous border with two Ebola-afflicted countries, Liberia and Guinea.

Some Ivoirians credit a beefed-up border patrol. The citizens in this country thank God. But Mumadou Traore, who works as a field coordinator for CARE International, has a third theory. He credits the legendarily infuriating Ivorian bureacracy.

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