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80% of the world's vanilla is grown by small holding farmers in the hilly forests of Madagascar. For a generation the price languished below $50 a kilo (about 2.2 pounds) but in 2015 it began to rise at an extraordinary rate and for the past four years has hovered at ten times that amount, between $400 and $600 a kilo.

For Shadrack Frimpong, 28, finding himself a recipient of a 2019 Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award "feels pretty crazy," he says, "because here we have a kid who grew up in the middle of the forest in rural Ghana being compared to someone who really was the greatest of all time."

He is one of six recipients of the annual award, given to advocates and activists for social change who are under 30. The awards were presented Sept. 12 in Louisville, Ky.

The young girl walks so fast that the sleeves of her sparkly black dress and untucked portions of her blue headscarf billow behind her. As she makes her way to the front of the High Court of Kono, an eastern district of Sierra Leone, she passes the defendant's stand but is careful not to look at the person in the dock. (Neither person's name is being used in this story to protect their privacy and the privacy of their families.)

The girl takes a seat on a wooden chair in front of the judge. The state prosecutor asks whether she is Christian or Muslim.

"Muslim," she says.

Have you ever volunteered abroad?

From students and young professionals to retirees, nowadays everyone seems to be trying to make a difference in communities around the world.

But what are these efforts really achieving? Do they help — and if so, who benefits? And if they cause harm, what can we do to make things better?

All important questions, as volunteering abroad has grown tremendously. Estimates suggest the industry is now worth at least $173 billion.

There's been a lot of excitement lately that the powerful gene-editing technique CRISPR could offer a new way to treat health problems ranging from cancer to blindness.

But there hasn't been much direct scientific evidence in actual patients about whether it might work or would be safe — until now.

Chinese scientists have published the first report in a scientific journal of an attempt to use CRISPR-edited cells in a patient--a 27-year-old man who is HIV-positive.

Marie Gorette piled the broken glass carefully in a corner behind her house.

She had put it on top of a white curtain that was so soaked with blood, it had turned red.

Overnight, armed men had ransacked through her house. They took the TV; they broke the windows and they shot two of Gorette's sons, both of whom are recovering in the hospital.

She picks through the glass. She looks exasperated.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Life in Karachi has been tough lately.

The monsoon rains washed garbage and sewage onto the streets of Pakistan's largest city.

There was a late summer plague of flies and mosquitoes. "They're so scary, they're hounding people," Dr. Seemin Jamali of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center told the New York Times in August.

And then came reports of hazardous medical waste – syringes and blood vials – washed up on Sea View Beach, also known as Clifton Beach.

This week, Pope Francis began a seven-day trip to Madagascar, Mauritius and Mozambique. On his second visit to sub-Saharan Africa, he hopes to offer comfort and rekindle unity in a region struggling with natural disasters, poverty and religious and political tensions.

A Doctor Or Nurse Might Earn Just $6 A Month In Venezuela

Sep 6, 2019

In September 2018, Maria Paula Toledo got her first monthly paycheck from the Venezuelan Ministry of Health for her work as a doctor at a rural clinic in Venezuela, outside the city of Maracaibo. It was the equivalent of about $1.50 — enough to buy a regular pizza, she says, but with no extra toppings.

With measles making a comeback in many upper-income countries including the United States and still rampant in some poorer nations such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar, a leading measles expert is warning of a danger beyond the spread of the disease itself: There's mounting evidence that when a person is infected with measles, the virus also wipes out the immune system's memory of how to fight off all sorts of other life-threatening infections – ranging from gastro-intestinal bugs that cause diarrhea to respiratory viruses that trigger pneumonia.

Viral Video: Moonwalking Over The Potholes Of India

Sep 5, 2019

The fan base of those who love Nanjundaswamy's video — and hate potholes — apparently extends beyond India's borders. Another Twitter user invited the artist to Denver, to make a similar video there.

Imagine this — you're going to school, and you hear that the government has banned homework. Wouldn't that be the best day ever?

Well, it actually happened in India. The government said there would be no homework for students in grades one and two. The reason: heavy school bags.

YouTube

In August 2018, NPR reported on two farmers from a small village in India who went viral for

There's an astonishing outpouring of new information linking genes and health, thanks to the efforts of humble Englishmen and women such as Chritopeher Fletcher. The 70-year-old man recently drove 90 miles from his home in Nottingham to a radiology clinic outside the city of Manchester.

Even at Sunday Mass, you cannot miss the signs of Ebola.

Parishioners at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Goma line up behind buckets to douse their hands with a solution of bleach and water. Then they get in another line where a team of health care workers check their temperature with an infrared thermometer.

The bells from the church tower toll. Girls run around in formal dresses. They flit around posters warning of Ebola symptoms, as the health workers look out at them from behind protective goggles.

The crisis in Kashmir has spilled over into medical journals.

In April, a medical mystery made headlines in Larkana, Pakistan. Some children with persistent fevers were tested for HIV. There were 14 positive results. Additional testing identified 494 children in the area who were HIV-positive. But according to the authorities, their parents were not HIV-positive. An investigation has been launched. What do we now know?

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In January 2016, Goats & Soda reported on lead levels in the soil of neighborhoods near an abandoned smelter in Kabwe, Zambia — and in the blood of the children. For nearly 100 years, smoke from the smelter, which closed in 1994, had been releasing heavy metals, including lead, in the form of dust. Children have grown up playing in that dust, inhaling it — and being poisoned by it.

Man Kaur started running in 2009, when she was in her 90s — it was her son's idea — and began racking up medals. We first wrote about her when she was 101. Is she still a track and field star?

In October, NPR reported on the efforts of reproductive rights activist Farhad Javid in Afghanistan. He was trying to free girls and women who had been jailed for failing a virginity test, even though such tests are banned by the U.N. Was he successful?

The last time we spoke to Javid, he was about to meet with Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani and his wife, first lady Rula Ghani.

In 2014 and 2015, NPR reported on a mysterious form of kidney disease that has killed tens of thousands in Central America, many of them in their 30s and 40s. Now there's a new theory about a possible cause.

Nailed It: Bringing Science Into Nail Art

Aug 24, 2019

Of all the things I love about being a girl, I love doing nail art the most. But I'm also a scientist, and scientists aren't usually associated with perfectly manicured nails. Nail art became my way of debunking some common stereotypes, including those that associate scientists with being cold or unapproachable.

I got into nail art four years ago after a friend of mine bought a beginner nail art kit. It contained one metal plate with various nail-sized designs etched on the surface – animals, flowers, food – along with nail polish, a scraper and a silicone stamper.

Lost in all the brouhaha about President Trump's scuttled plan to buy Greenland from Denmark has been this: What do the Greenlandic people think about the whole thing?

In the small capital city of Nuuk, "everybody is talking about it," says Alexander Montgomery-Andersen, a 30-year-old Greenlandic dancer and choreographer. "It's a little comical."

When childhood cancer is diagnosed early and treated effectively, the survival rate is impressive. In the United States, for example, the five-year survival rate for children with cancer is 80 percent.

Yuletsy Martinez, 19, and her husband crossed the border into Colombia when she was pregnant with her second child. They left because they couldn't find food or medical care in Venezuela. Martinez gave birth at a hospital in Colombia. "They took good care of me. And they helped me there," Martinez told NPR correspondent Ari Shapiro in a report that aired on All Things Considered.

Locusts are not just a biblical plague. They're swarming around the world. Still. Again.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the desert locust situation is serious in Yemen and at the Indo-Pakistan border.

As you walk into Ibiza, a dance club in the middle of Goma, the bouncer takes your temperature, and you have to wash your hands with a bleach and water solution. Then you walk past a little gazebo and into the strobe lights, and you're welcomed by a black-and-white portrait of the late, great rumba musician Papa Wemba. The band, its members dressed in matching silk shirts, is already setting up.

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