humanosphere

RECENT POSTS

Taking a closer look at whether anti-malaria programs really work | 

Malaria and the mosquitoes that carry it met a formidable foe in the form of nets laced with deadly pesticides a decade ago. Hanging a net above the bed so that it drapes around the people inside provided protection from mosquito bites while not making it hotter in tropical locations nor harming the people that use them.

Programs flourished that distributed and/or sold the bed nets. People used them and progress towards ending malaria seemed on track.

Ten years later malaria is still around and the mosquitoes are showing signs of resistance to the insecticide used in the bed nets. Journalist Amy Costello, host of the podcast Tiny Spark, recently traveled to Malawi to see what was actually happening in the fight against malaria. She sees mosquitoes that are surviving the only pesticide used in bed nets to kill them and families using bed nets with giant holes.

The story was carried by Public Radio International’s The World earlier this week. It’s the first in a series of stories called Tracking Charity. Like she does with the malaria piece, Amy will travel around the world to see if aid projects are delivering on their promises.

“To my mind, the most important barometer of aid effectiveness is how it impacts the people it is trying to help. That is why I will put the recipients of aid at the forefront of every story I report,” explains Costello in introducing the series.

“I am interested in knowing if programs work for them. I want to find out what happens to people who live at the end of dirt roads when charitable projects don’t pan out as promised.”

In this week’s podcast, I spoke with with Amy about the project (our producer re-recorded my questions to improve audio quality). We discuss her previous investigations into TOMS shoes and medical volunteers following the Haitian earthquake. Costello explains why she is driven to take a tougher look at the business of doing good and the resistance she receives from people in and out of the charity sector.

And don’t miss a podcast! Subscribe on iTunes.

Continue reading

Humanosphere’s experiment in collaborative journalism | 

Great to see you all last night at the monthly ChangeUp gathering at Paddy Coynes Pub. It was as always loud, boisterous, fun and informative. And by the way, who ate the other half of my shepherd’s pie?

Anyway … To follow up and provide info for those who didn’t make it, I’ll reiterate here what we tried to explain – amid the beer, food and background music — is being proposed. We want to make Humanosphere serve as a hub for an experiment in collaborative journalism, social media, new media and citizen journalism. This is a much bigger kind of ChangeUp.

It is still a work in progress, but what isn’t really? We are excited about its potential, and about enlisting your participation.

And because we can’t help but try to have fun with it, we are calling this initiative for now the Development News Network, DNN.

Forget about that old cable news network CNN and Sanjay Gupta and all those well-coifed talking heads. This is DNN and it’s intended to be your news network, reporting on the community by the community.

Why are we doing this? We are trying to solve what we see as a major problem — the lack of coverage of global health and development issues.

Humanosphere is today one of the few news sites out there devoted to covering global health development. As part of the NPR and the public media family, we see it as an obligation to do what we can to improve coverage of issues of interest to the community. Continue reading

New and Improved and More Inclusive: Can Seattle Save the World? | 

Due to popular demand, we’ve moved upstairs to a bigger room at Seattle’s Town Hall for our event next Tuesday evening, 7 p.m., Can Seattle Save the World? Poverty, Health and Chocolate.

Tickets are on sale again. And here’s my invitation to you, and repeat description of the event:

So … Can Seattle Save the World?

No, of course not. Don’t be silly.

But Seattle folks, and many like-minded others throughout the Northwest, are actually crazy enough to believe they can do something to make the world a better place.

We should probably talk about this.

And we will, on the evening of April 26, at Seattle Town Hall, with you and a panel of our leading local experts who are working to reduce disease and poverty around the world.

We’ll explore what I am calling, for the sake of debate (and I do like a good debate), the “Seattle approach” to saving the world. Bill Foege, the man who figured out how to rid the world of smallpox, Chris Elias, president at PATH, UW health activist Wendy Johnson and Theo Chocolate founder Joe Whinney.

Chocolate? Yeah, chocolate and disease and poverty. You’ll see.

Obviously, a big reason for our community’s constant chatter of can-do, humanitarian global optimism is because the 8,000-lb. gorilla in the do-gooder universe happens to be located here — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The folks at the Gates Foundation — which is perhaps now the most influential player in global health and certainly one of the leaders in many anti-poverty efforts — like to say they are impatiently optimistic. We’ll take a look at both the reasons for the impatience and the optimism.

Other questions we will explore:

  • What’s special about Seattle’s approach to fighting poverty?
  • Does charity, or any kind of humanitarian effort, really work?
  • Why does poverty exist and can we get rid of it?
  • How can fighting disease help in the fight against poverty?
  • Is this the next big thing for young people — a dot.compassion revolution rather than just another dot.com?

And any question you bring to the forum. Feel free to submit a question on Twitter at #SEAsaves in advance, during or after the event. (We’re planning to post live updates from the event, here on Humanosphere.)

Come join us for a celebration and examination of what may be a revolution in process, a revolution in how we look at poverty, inequity and, well, the rest of the world. The Humanosphere.

For more info on the event and to purchase tickets, go to Brown Paper Tickets.

Can Seattle Save the World? | 

Flickr, D Sharon Pruitt

Rainbow Flower pinwheel

No, of course not. Don’t be silly.

But Seattle folks, and many like-minded others throughout the Northwest, are actually crazy enough to believe they can do something to make the world a better place.

Yeah, we should probably talk about this.

And we will, on the evening of April 26, at Seattle Town Hall, with you and a panel of our leading local experts who are working to reduce disease and poverty around the world.

We’ll explore what I am calling, for the sake of debate (and I do like a good debate), the “Seattle approach” to saving the world. Bill Foege, the man who figured out how to rid the world of smallpox, Chris Elias, president at PATH, UW health activist Wendy Johnson and Theo Chocolate founder Joe Whinney.

Chocolate? Yeah, chocolate and disease and poverty. You’ll see. Continue reading

NPR: Seattle’s global health industry | 

Flickr, by striatic

My colleague Keith Seinfeld did a story for NPR today on our local boom in the global health industry that you can listen to at this link entitled “Seattle Benefits from Growth in Global Health.”

Industry?

I always twinge a little when I hear people talk about global health as an industry. It is, in the sense that people work in it, get paid to do it and sometimes make things they hope to give or even sell to people in the developing world. But the word bugs me.

The story was introduced on NPR as a bright spot in the down economy: “In Seattle, at least one industry is booming.” The story includes a nice profile of Ken Stuart, founder of Seattle Biomed, and tells of his perseverance working for decades on a shoestring budget (even in a garage) on neglected tropical diseases — until the Gates Foundation stepped in to give him truckloads of money. The story also includes Gov. Christine Gregoire celebrating global health as a great new economic engine for our region.

The Governor isn’t alone in talking about global health mostly as a jobs program. There seems to be some kind of public forum or conference every few weeks based on this notion. Continue reading