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The next great insect repellent might come from a strain of bacteria that lives inside a common parasitic worm.

A study published Wednesday in Science Advances has found that a compound derived from these bacteria is three times more potent than DEET in repelling mosquitoes. More research must be done to demonstrate its safety, but this bacterial chemical could play an important role in the fight against mosquito-borne illness.

Human trafficking has taken on "horrific" dimensions, according to the 2018 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons released this month by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Venezuela is not a good place to grow old.

As president Nicolas Maduro starts his second term of office, the country is mired in an economic crisis that has brought the health care system to the brink of collapse.

The lives of the elderly are more a battle to avoid calamity than a sweet retreat.

At least 85 percent of medicines are in scarce supply, according to the Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela.

Study: Coca-Cola Shaped China's Efforts To Fight Obesity

Jan 10, 2019

The Coca-Cola company exerted strong influence over the way the Chinese government addressed the country's growing obesity problem, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Public Health Policy and the BMJ.

In a prime-time address from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, President Trump said there is a "growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border."

Aid groups agree that what is happening on the border meets the definition of a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of migrants are fleeing Central America to seek asylum in the U.S., a journey that puts many at risk of health problems and human trafficking as well as detainment by U.S. authorities.

At this year's annual meeting of the Indian Science Congress from Jan. 3 to 7, senior research scientist Kannan Jegathala Krishnan dismissed Albert Einstein's theory of relativity as "a big blunder" and said Isaac Newton didn't really understand how gravity works.

Nageswara Rao, a vice chancellor at Andhra University in South India, said that Ravana, a demon god with 10 heads, had 24 kinds of aircraft of varying sizes and capacities — and that India was making test-tube babies thousands of years ago.

Over the last decade and a half there's been a major push by economists to do rigorous research on poverty — basically to run experiments to figure out which solutions actually work.

But putting a halt to those that come up short is easier said than done.

At the beginning of 2018, we made predictions about what the year in global health and development might look like in the countries we cover.

The pundits we interviewed forecast that 2018 would bring a decline in the number of health workers around the world, inspire more humanitarians to share their #MeToo stories and see more conflict that would drive the world's humanitarian crises.

It was 3 p.m. on New Year's Day when Rakhee Madhavan, a 39-year-old teacher living in Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala, decided that she wanted to begin 2019 by doing something meaningful.

So Madhavan, who was visiting her hometown of Mullukkara 60 miles away for the holidays, boarded a bus there that was brimming with women. One hour later, she was part of what is reportedly the largest public gathering of women for the cause of gender equality in India.

They called it the "women's wall" — vanitha mathil in the local language of Malayalam.

Schistosomiasis is listed as a "neglected" tropical disease by the World Health Organization — one of those diseases that's been overlooked by modern medicine.

It mainly hits poor people in poor countries — and it hits a lot of them, up to 200 million a year. There are only a few drugs available to treat it. There are no designer drugs being cooked up in a lab in Europe for schistosomiasis. Doctoral students rarely pen their thesis on this disease.

Climate change, vanishing ice and erratic rain patterns are causing the wetlands in two Andean communities to shrink — and that's a big problem for the communities of Miraflores and Canchayllo. The villagers depend on the puna, a set of alpine ecosystems above 13,000 feet that include grasslands and wetlands to graze sheep, cows, alpacas, llamas and vicuñas — animals that provide them with their livelihoods.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in February and has been republished with updates.

Today, everyone respects Arunachalam Muruganantham, 52, a social entrepreneur who lives in the city of Coimbatore in South India. But there was a time, he says, when his neighbors were convinced he had lost his mind. Some even believed that he was a vampire.

"It all started because I wanted to create a good sanitary napkin for my wife," he laughs.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DON GONYEA, HOST:

An American health care worker who was providing treatment to patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being monitored at a Nebraska health care facility after possible exposure to the deadly Ebola virus, hospital officials said.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha confirmed Saturday that the unidentified person was being monitored in a secure facility not accessible to the public or other patients. The person is not sick nor showing any Ebola symptoms, but could be monitored for up to two weeks, officials said.

The Health Of The World In 2018, By The Numbers

Dec 28, 2018

At year's end, global health numbers offer reason for both hope and despair.

There is one strong positive note. An overriding public health finding is that people are living longer. "If that's not a bottom line reason for optimism," says Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, "I don't know what is."

How Do You Teach Kids To Be Honest?

Dec 25, 2018

Let's say you're a student in class. There are boxes full of delicious snacks on a table in front of the room: muffins, peanut brittle, candy, samosas (deep-fried potatoes wrapped in a packet of dough). There's a money box next to the snacks.

It's up to you whether to pay or not. And nobody's watching.

Would you be an honest citizen and toss some coins into the box? Or would you walk off with a snack without chipping in?

That's the premise of the honesty shop – an unattended business that relies on the customer to do the right thing.

Last year, my wife, daughter, and I traveled from the U.S. to my childhood village in Zimbabwe for the holidays.

As far as nostalgia goes, nothing for me beats holidays at my childhood rural home. The entire village feels very much like one happy family reunion as folks from nearby cities, neighboring countries and overseas converge in their childhood homes to celebrate the festive season. I am especially proud to share this tradition with my Hungarian wife and my American-raised daughter.

It was an epic year for women activists. Nadia Murad, who had been sexually enslaved by ISIS, was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against human trafficking. She was one of many women who made news — and made changes — in 2018. Here are six inspiring women we profiled on Goats and Soda in 2018.

Two years ago, Padmini Ray Murray created a controversial video game at a hackathon contest. But it's not just a game. It a microcosm of what's happening today in India.

In the game, called Darshan Diversion, avatars of women in red saris try to reach the top floor of a temple, dodging miniature Hindu priests along the way. A red blinking light indicates when the women are menstruating. The priests try to block them, shouting in exasperation.

This week, 1-month-old Joy was vaccinated against hepatitis and tuberculosis. Those are standard childhood vaccinations, but there was something definitely non-standard about the way they reached Joy. They arrived by drone.

Joy and her mom, Julie Nowai, live on Erromango, part of Vanuatu, an island nation made up of some 80 Pacific islands, lying west of Fiji. With very few airfields, paved roads or available refrigeration in Vanuatu, around one in five children do not receive vaccines, according to the government.

How do you get people to pay attention to the plight of refugees?

The Amnesty International arm in the Netherlands had an idea. With the help of a Dutch media agency called Tosti Creative, they self-published several hundred copies of a 36-page magazine called Glamoria. It looks like a glossy fashion magazine, with a name that seems to be a spin on the word "glamour." But Glamoria also references the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. The organization's goal was to focus on the plight of refugees now living in camps on Greek islands.

History unfortunately does repeat itself.

Two thousand years ago the Romans laid siege to Carthage, killing more than half of the city's residents and enslaving the rest.

Hitler attempted to annihilate the Jews in Europe. In 1994 the Hutus turned on the Tutsis in Rwanda. The Khmer Rouge killed a quarter of Cambodia's population. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbs slaughtered thousands of Bosnians at Srebrenica in July of 1995.

The major cause of death in children aged 1 to 19 years is not cancer or other another medical condition. It's injury. And by a long shot – 61 percent, versus 9 percent for cancer.

The largest cause of injury was motor vehicle crashes, and next was firearms, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study sorts through the 20,360 deaths of U.S. children and adolescents in 2016, as counted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Which Goats and Soda stories were most popular this year?

You loved the stories that looked to the developing world that offered insights into the way we live our lives: how to sit without hurting your back; whether it's OK to sleep with your baby.

A forceful call for justice for the victims of war-related rape and sexual violence resonated in the December 10 acceptance speech of this year's Nobel Peace Prize co-winner, Dr. Denis Mukwege.

"I insist on reparations, measures that give survivors compensation and satisfaction and enable them to start a new life," said the Congolese physician, who has devoted the past 20 years to treating thousands of victims of war-related sexual abuse. "I call on states to support the initiative to create a global fund for reparations for victims of sexual violence in armed conflicts."

"See this street! Look!" says Bai Xiao Cheng as gestures toward his village's main concrete road.

It's barely half a mile long, and apart from one small grocery store, a few home entrances and a handful of parked cars, it has no notable features. That for Bai, is precisely the point. "It's very clean, very good!" he smiles.

Herders Vs. Farmers: A Deadly Year In Nigeria

Dec 17, 2018

Deadly conflicts between farmers and cattle herders in central Nigeria over land and natural resources reached a high point in 2018, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

Magical Photos Bring Fables From Mbomo To Life

Dec 17, 2018

Traditional fables from the Republic of Congo are collected in a new book, Congo Tales: Told By The People Of Mbomo — and illustrated with painterly photos that have a touch of magical realism.

Eva Vonk, a Dutch film producer, came up with the concept for Congo Tales. It's the first project from a new multimedia series called "Tales of Us," which aims to communicate the importance of protecting remote ecosystems and the people who live there.

A food delivery man in India has been fired after a video that showed him eating a customer's order went viral.

The video shows a balding man dressed in a red T-shirt with a red delivery bag on his motorbike. The T-shirt reads "Zomato," a popular online food delivery company in India.

The man is parked at the side of a road. He uses a spoon to skim a few bites from a container of food he's opened, puts the lid back on, then picks another container and does the same thing. He puts the containers back in a plastic bag and reseals the bag with tape.

Like many a cockamamie idea, this one was so crazy, it just might work.

But then again, the Bassler microbiology lab at Princeton University was built on crazy ideas that proved right, like that bacteria talk to one another, says Bonnie Bassler, director of the lab, chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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