The toast, the butter and the technology: DMA 2013

first_imgI’m going to be speaking at the DMA Non Profit Conference next week. If you’re a Washington, DC-area native or are coming into town for the conference, come say hello.The DMA has asked me to share these details on the conference: It’s a great opportunity to gain insights into what other organizations like yours are doing in the fundraising world. Topics will include better ways to integrate your fundraising channels, build donor loyalty and improve your fundraising results. I’ll be speaking about what technology can and can’t do for fundraising. And toast and butter.Technology has enormous potential, but it’s all in how we use it. Technology is at its essence a delivery system. That means what’s being delivered will determine how much good comes of it. Adam Gopnik, a favorite writer of mine, compares technology to toast: “Our thoughts are bigger than the things that deliver them… Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn’t really about the quality of the bread or how it’s sliced or the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It’s about the butter.” He means the content of our ideas—the butter—is more valuable than the delivery vehicle —the toast of technology— that carries them. I’ll be talking about toast, butter and how to use technology in a way that drives more dollars.More details here.last_img read more

How to Make Your Mission More Compelling

first_img3. Speak in story.Last, make sure you are describing what you do through story, not just facts and jargon. Stories make a cause relatable, tangible and touching. Remember, a good story has a passionate storyteller (you), clear stakes and a tale of transformation at its core. The NRDC, an organization focused largely on process and the work of lawyers and scientists, does an amazing job with storytelling all over its home page. There are heroes with a heartbeat to show every dimension of their work in stories. Many nonprofits have trouble making their missions relatable and exciting to potential supporters. I often get questions like this one from Deirdre:“As an organization with a mission that is a bit more abstract than, say, feeding hungry children or saving whales, we often struggle to make our work concrete. How can organizations dedicated to civic engagement or research create an inspiring story?”Whatever your issue area, these three tips will make your cause clear and compelling.1. Describe your mission as a destination.Don’t talk about your process or philosophy. Talk about your outcomes.Let me give you an example. Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Switch and Decisive, provide a great example from a breast care clinic as envisioned by Laura Esserman. She could have described her mission in ways that focused on the building or the philosophy. For example:  “We are going to revolutionize the way breast cancer is treated and create a prototype of the next-generation breast cancer clinic.” Another poor choice:  “We are going to reposition radiology as an internal, rather than external, wing of the clinic, and we will reconfigure our space to make that possible.” These all fall into the customary trap of talking about HOW your approach your work rather than WHAT the end result will be. (They also make the mistake of having no people in the description of their cause, but that’s the second point below.) What would be better? The Heaths nail it: “A clinic with everything under one roof—a woman could come in for a mammogram in the morning and, if the test discovered a growth, she could leave with a treatment plan the same day.” You can see the destination clear as day. 2. Give your mission a pulse.You have to talk about what you do in a way that makes clear its effect on people or animals. If you don’t have a heartbeat to your message, no one will care about your cause. Suppose you are advocating for quality schools. Don’t get so lost in descriptions of quality education and advocacy techniques that you forget to talk about kids! This is one of the most common mistakes I see. Always answer the question, “at the end of the day, whose life is better for what we do?” I like how Jumpstart talks about their work in early childhood education. They put it this way: “Working toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed.”last_img read more

Fear Factor: Help Your Board Conquer Fundraising Phobias

first_img“Fundraising is the F-word to many board members.” —Gail Perry, Fired Up Fundraising It’s all too common for board members to avoid fundraising for your nonprofit because it can cause a lot of anxiety—even downright fear. We asked Rachel Muir, vice president of training at Pursuant and founder of Girlstart, to share how you can reframe some common fundraising fears to help your board members feel confident every time they make an ask. Fear: If a donor gives to our organization, it might hurt them in some way. Truth: The world is full of generous people who want to give. The wrong approach to fundraising is feeling like you’re taking something away from someone. Encourage your board members to believe in abundance. We don’t have to look any farther than the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised $220 million. Before the challenge, that $220 million was sitting in people’s pockets and bank accounts, but that challenge inspired people to give. Fear: I’ll be rejected and fail. Truth: Ninety-five percent of the ask is what leads up to it. Think about a marriage proposal. You pretty much know the answer before the words are spoken out loud. It’s not how the question is asked; it’s all the work you did beforehand to build the relationship. That’s what gets you to yes, and it’s the same in fundraising. It’s what happens before the solicitation that brings a person to give. Getting a meeting with a donor, for example, is a very positive indicator. People won’t agree to a meeting unless they’re highly likely to make a gift. Ideally, you’ve been cultivating this person appropriately. It’s important for your board to remember that. The ask feels like the hardest or scariest part, but the real ask is all the work that happened before your board member invites the donor to contribute. Fear: I don’t want to put someone on the spot. Truth: Giving is a joyous experience that feels good to the donor. This fact is so important to remind your board. According to a recent donor engagement study from ABILA, donors feel the most engaged and connected to your cause when they’re making a gift. As donors, we tend think about how the person on the receiving end will feel. We’re excited about the organization opening the mail and finding our check. If we’re giving online, we’re excited about the nonprofit receiving the email announcing our donation. It just feels good to give. Ultimately, it comes down to reminding board members that they’re simply sharing their passion for your cause. They’re offering people an opportunity to make a real impact in the world. There is much to be given, and there is much to be had. Want more great advice from Rachel Muir to help your board members become fundraising superstars? Download the complete Nonprofit 911 webinar, “10 Tips to Get Your Board Fundraising in One Hour,” right now!last_img read more

New MHTF Topics Page: Post-2015: What’s Next for Maternal Health?

first_img ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on January 23, 2014August 10, 2016Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The MHTF is pleased to announce the launch of our latest topic page: “Post-2014: What’s next for maternal health?” Along with our ongoing guest blog series on the proposed maternal health goal for the post-2015 development agenda, the topics page will compile key findings and debates on the position of maternal health in ongoing global and national discussions of health and development goals and challenges. The page includes resources on progress and lessons learned under the MDG framework, as well as on the position of maternal health in the ongoing process for developing the next global development framework. As with all of our topics pages, the post-2015 topics page will serve as a hub, featuring the latest in research, news and debates. To recommend a resource, please contact us.  If you would like to submit a blog post for our ongoing guest blog series on proposed maternal health targets, please email Andrea Goetschius: goetschi@hsph.harvard.eduShare this:last_img read more

Manifesto for Maternal Health: In-Country Perspective From the White Ribbon Alliance Tanzania

first_img ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on April 24, 2014November 4, 2016By: Rose Mlay, National Coordinator, The White Ribbon Alliance TanzaniaClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Throughout my career as a midwife, I am all too familiar with the challenge of women arriving too late to the hospital to give birth. Over and over again, I have attended to women who had traveled for days to reach care. It is so heart breaking to know that these women’s lives could be saved if only they could reach quality professional care faster. We, at the White Ribbon Alliance, have advocated strongly over the years to our government in Tanzania to focus on maternal and newborn health, and great promises have been made! Now, we are faced with the challenge of making sure these promises are delivered. And we are working hard on that front!In recognition of the one-year anniversary of the publication of the Manifesto for Maternal Health, I’d like to take this opportunity to share some of our recent efforts to ensure that promises to women and newborns are kept.Just last year the White Ribbon Alliance Tanzania brought together national leaders engaged in maternal and newborn health ranging from the media, government, non-governmental organizations, and professional associations to set out a strategy for holding the government of Tanzania accountable for delivering on commitments made to our women and newborns. More specifically, we collectively set out a plan for holding the government accountable on promises to provide comprehensive emergency obstetric care (CEmONC) in at least half of all health centers by 2015. Together, we concluded to focus our efforts on the commitment to CEmONC because we listened to our citizens who have asked for these services to be closer to their homes. In addition, we know that the majority of the 24 women who die every day in childbirth die due to the lack of access to quality emergency care.In order to make our case, we knew we would need strong evidence to show the government just how off track their promises are, so we carried out a full facility assessment in 10 government-run facilities in Rukwa region. We engaged with community leaders, media and district officials as we moved through the region. Rukwa is beautiful with its rolling hills and great lakes, but it is a treacherous journey through the dirt tracks to get to rural health centers, with many being so remote that they are out of reach of telephone signals.As we gathered the data, we found that for a population of 1 million people, and over 10 health centers throughout the district, there was not a single health center that was providing the level of care that the government had promised.According to plan, we shared the evidence with the district government teams, and we pushed the district leadership to budget adequately for emergency obstetric care. In the meantime, we also set up meetings with national leaders and the Parliamentary Safe Motherhood Group to make sure emergency obstetric care is budgeted for adequately in the 2014-2015 budget cycle.We also made this film about the situation in Rukwa which Dr. Jasper Nduasinde, our White Ribbon Alliance focal person from the region took to the United Nations General Assembly to get global attention on the gap between promises and implementation.We called on our politicians to act. The Safe Motherhood Group in Parliament is working to get all politicians to sign a petition to the government to prioritize this issue.We called for a meeting with the Prime Minister. We spoke for an hour and a half on what could be done now to change this critical situation. He promised to take action.We also made this film about Elvina Makongolo, the midwife in Mtowisa who works tirelessly to save women’s lives.As we move to make these critical changes happen, we are faced with very sad news that motivates us even more. Shortly after this film was made with Elvina, the teacher of her grandchildren died in childbirth. Leah Mgaya died because Mtowisa health center does not have a blood bank. In the maternity ward of the health center ,a big refrigerator stands tall but the electricity to power it is missing. The closest blood supply is 100 km away at the regional hospital, reached only by a 4×4 vehicle due to the rough terrain.Leah’s husband, Cloud Kissi, said: ‘My wife has left a big gap in my life and she has left three children without a mother. It has left me with trauma as every time I see a woman carrying a baby I feel that if my wife could have survived, she could have been carrying a baby like the one I am seeing. I am quite sure that if we had a good operating theater, availability of safe blood and a reliable ambulance, we would have surely saved my wife’s life.’We continue to hear the personal accounts of husbands losing their wives, children losing their mothers, families losing their aunties, sisters and nieces and, in Leah’s case, a community losing their teacher. Citizens want change and they are pushing for it.In Rukwa alone, over 16 thousand citizens have signed a petition pushing the district officials and their MP to prioritize a budget for CEmONC.Recently, on White Ribbon Day in Rukwa, the Minister of Health spoke on behalf of the Prime Minister to say that this budget must be prioritized across the country.We now believe that the Prime Minister has become this campaigns’ greatest ally! And we know that our President Kikwete cares about the women of our nation. He has committed greatly to preventing these tragic deaths. But we cannot let up until women can access emergency life saving care near their homes. It is their right.As critical decisions are being made on budget allocation for 2014-2015, we are urging our leaders to listen to the citizens of our nation and budget adequately for comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care.If you would like to share your in-country story with us, please email Natalie Ramm or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.Share this:last_img read more

Women, Girls and Universal Health Coverage: Who Is Accountable?

first_img ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on January 14, 2015December 7, 2016By: Belkis Giorgis, Global Technical Lead for Gender, Management Sciences for Health (MSH); Fabio Castaño, Global Technical Lead for Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Management Sciences for Health (MSH)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)This post is part of the Woman-Centered Universal Health Coverage Series, hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force and USAID|TRAction, which discusses the importance of utilizing a woman-centered agenda to operationalize universal health coverage.Who is accountable for the young woman dying during childbirth in a hospital in Lusaka, Zambia? For the woman in a health center in Bugiri in Uganda? For the girl child in a rural home in Uttar Pradesh, India? In a shanty town in Tegucigalpa, Honduras? Who is accountable for the women and adolescent girls in a thousand places everywhere?The burden of ensuring safe delivery does not fall solely on the shoulders of women and girls, but falls on all of us. Whether we are policymakers, service providers, development workers, husbands, fathers or mothers-in-law, we can all make a difference. It is our responsibility to do so.  As a society, we owe it to women to ensure they have a safe delivery and access to family planning information and services.Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among women and female adolescents in their reproductive years in low- and middle-income countries. Both family and cultural structures, as well as the health system, fail many women and girls, especially those living in rural and hard-to-reach regions. This is evidenced by the father who married off his daughter when she was a child, the husband who would not let his wife go to a health facility and a lack of affordable, accessible, quality facility-based care. These factors—in addition to ill-equipped clinics, poorly trained health workers and cultural perceptions that childbirth does not require skilled care—contribute to the high maternal mortality rates in developing countries.We have the responsibility to hold policymakers accountable for reforming health systems in pursuit of universal health coverage (UHC), which will transform populations’ health and save women’s and children’s lives. UHC shifts the burden of health costs from women to society and in a small way, shows our gratitude to women for giving life. UHC recognizes that women should not be neglected when they give birth and that women should not die while giving life. The responsibility of caring for women during delivery is a societal debt paid partly by eliminating the obstacles to safe, skilled and respectful care during childbirth.Because women often bear the greatest share of the economic costs associated with their families’ health, UHC can also have a proportionally greater effect on women by dramatically reducing their out-of-pocket costs and offering financial protection.Low-income countries must start with modest but high-impact services. A core package of services for reproductive, maternal and child health driven by community health workers provides the logical cornerstone of UHC plans.Family planning should be non-negotiable and included in even the most frugal UHC plans. Everyone has the right to access family planning services, which includes the ability to choose when and how to utilize a variety of options. Fulfilling the unmet need for family planning alone would prevent 150,000 maternal deaths and 640,000 newborn deaths globally each year.Through UHC, health systems can be strengthened to ensure that frontline health workers are in the right place at the right time to deliver the right services effectively.Who is accountable? We are. UHC that delivers for women and girls in the post-2015 era requires us all to be accountable. We must embrace this responsibility to accompany, support and empower women and adolescent girls on this journey fraught with both barriers and possibilities.Share this:last_img read more

Fundraising with Direct Mail: What Every Small Nonprofit Needs to Know

first_img Let them know you care about more than their wallets. A good direct mail campaign is part of a comprehensive communication strategy. Ensure you are communicating with your community year-round, sharing the successes made possible through their support. Invite donors and potential donors to participate in events, volunteer, receive your newsletter, or follow your blog. But you should still respect their wishes. Give them the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of communications they don’t want, while still receiving the ones they do.Direct mail still matters. Take the time to be strategic and intentional with your direct mail efforts and you will see return on your investment. Your community will grow and your fundraising results will increase. Build a campaign page on your website that mirrors the core message of your letter.Shoot a brief, 2-minute video to share on social media.Send an email that will arrive within a few days of the expected letter arrival.Write a blog post that speaks to the same core message that is within your email appeal.Plan social media posts in and around the letter timing, to lift the message.The days of a one-and-done letter being effective are gone. When you are sick of hearing the message, it will begin to penetrate your audience. Make it as easy as possible for them to reply. Include a self-addressed envelope with postage on it if you can. (A U.S. Postal Service indicia makes it easy and allows you to only pay for those that are returned.) Also, make it easy for them to give online by including a direct and memorable URL that goes directly to your donation page. Make a compelling case and cast donors as the heroes. It is one thing to ask for money and quite another to invite people to join you in making a real difference. Are you ‘selling to them’ in your letter or offering them an amazing opportunity to partner with you for change? Think about what your donors care about and use your letter as a place to explain what you are doing about it. And a good direct mail appeal will answer the questions, “What’s in it for me?” and “Why should I care?” for the donor. Test and measure. After a campaign’s completed, take time to learn from it. Review your results, process what you’ve learned, and respond to feedback.Find out the percentage of people who responded and how many gave online as a direct response. This is easy to track if you have a branded donation page and have analytics on your website. If you don’t yet have these capabilities, then determine if you had an increase in online donations while your campaign was happening.Need a donor management system or branded donation page to help you track your campaigns? Talk to us!Other good questions to ask include:What number of donors responded to each list?What was the average gift size?What did you spend on the production and mailing vs. the return received?center_img Keep it simple and be concise. People are scanners. When they open your letter, if it is a sea of black type with no ‘design,’ they’ll lay it down and never read it. Or, they’ll just scan the first sentence of a few paragraphs and miss your core message.Just like a good sauce needs to be boiled down, reduce your message to as few words as possible. That means edit, then edit again. Use short paragraphs and bullet points. And always include a call-out box or a P.S. that hits your main point, as these are always read first. Cut through the clutter with layered messaging. From emails and text messages to Facebook posts, we are constantly bombarded with information. That’s why it is important for you to develop a layered communication strategy to compliment your direct mail campaign. Here are a few ideas: A solid development plan used to rise and set around direct mail, and while there are many new fundraising channels available today, direct mail can and should still be an important part of your plan. Here are seven steps to executing an effective direct plan campaign that’s also integrated into your overall communication and fundraising strategy.Begin with good data. Solid data management is the bedrock of effective direct mail. We all know how easy it is personalize content, so never start a letter “Dear friend.” People who receive your piece should feel like they are on a first-name basis with your organization. As best as you can, track relationships: Bob and Jane are married (Mr. & Mrs.), but Jane and Tom are mother and son (not Mr. and Mrs.). Try to capture birthdates so that a 5-year-old event participant doesn’t get an appeal.Data can also help you personalize what your piece says. For consistent givers, start by thanking them for their ongoing support. For those who have lapsed, make a compelling case for why they should come back. For those that have never given, draw them into your mission and let them know that even a small gift makes a big difference.last_img read more

6 Successful Major Donor Outreach Activities

first_imgMajor donors need to be cultivated one at a time. A major gifts program takes time and commitment. The reality is that a small number of donors have the potential to make up a large part of your overall giving total. Reaching out to this group of donors will pay off. Cultivating relationships with major donors and identifying opportunities for them to give will have a dramatic (and positive) impact on your organization’s long-term stability, and more important, advance your mission.Each major donor has their own reasons for giving to your organization. They also have individual preferences about personal attention and connectivity. Mix-and-match these outreach activities—and create some of your own—to steward your major donors and reap the benefits.How Will You Connect With Major Donors?Individual MeetingsFace-to-face meetings are always the most valuable way to build meaningful relationships. Schedule lunch dates between major donors and your executive director for that extra-special touch.Group MeetingsInvite donors and prospects to the home or club of a peer leader; ideally, someone who is already a major donor. Use this time to have donors talk about their support of your nonprofit, take the temperature of potential donors, and note what programs they are most interested in.Gift AnniversariesSaying thank you is a comfortable reason to reach out, and it gives you an opportunity to request a face-to-face meeting.BirthdaysSame as gift anniversaries, this event offers another opportunity to thank donors for their support.Special EventsBe sure to invite those on your major gift prospect list to appropriate events where you can engage them in conversations that may organically lead to follow-up meetings.Donor Stewardship EventsTake advantage of events built into your annual calendar. Invite your top prospects to mingle with your best donors and let them feel the enthusiasm in the room.You know your donor’s likes and interests. Fit your engagement efforts to match their tastes, and you’ll see your relationship deepen over time.Download our eGuide, “How To Enhance Your Donor Engagement,” for more on how to engage your donors.last_img read more

VIDEO: Take an Interactive Tour of Our Donor Management System

first_imgAs a small nonprofit, you need systems that intuitively understand the jobs you need to accomplish. On any given day, nonprofit development staff members are hard at work communicating with supporters. The fundamentals of your work can be broken into five categories: soliciting donations, stewarding donors, acknowledging gifts, analyzing your data, and reporting on activity. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were one, integrated system that would let you do all of that? There is! It’s a donor management system.Our Back to School campaign continues with a campus tour—of our donor management system.An all-in-one donor management system (DMS) allows you to track your donors’ activity with your organization; send appeals and acknowledgments; and launch campaigns with branded, designed donation pages. Well-organized information focuses your efforts and shows you new ways to improve your fundraising results.At Network for Good we believe small organizations deserve great technology. Take a tour of our donor management system and see for yourself:See the full picture of your contacts and donors.At-a-glance reportingClear visuals show your progress and trends, eliminating time spent searching and creating reports.View an immediate snapshot of your lapsed donors to know where to target your outreach.Record donations, relationships, and communications to better track information on all of your contacts.Use our recommended filters to segment groups of donors and contacts for targeted cultivation.Keep your data clean and organized with automated checks. Easily find and merge duplicate contacts.Combined with our beautiful donation pages and inspiring peer to peer fundraising campaigns you’ll have the best donor experience integrated with the easiest donor management software powered on any device. Read our recent blog post, 3 Ways to Efficiently Fundraise with Donor Management, to find out how a DMS can improve your fundraising efforts.Network for Good believes in the power of small nonprofits. We believe a donor management system should save you time and improve efficiency, in order to free you up to do the good you do in your community.Want to know more? Contact us for your own personal “campus” tour. We’d love to show you around!last_img read more

Love Letter to Nonprofits

first_imgI love nonprofits. I must. Why else would I voluntarily spend most of my career working 12-14 hour days for less money than the for-profit sector pays? And vacations or retirement? Those are for other people. Because working for a nonprofit isn’t a traditional job. It’s a vocation. A calling. A personal mission.Nonprofits uplift communities, aid and protect us in hard times, create social change, and inspire action. Whether stemming from religious beliefs, cultural traditions, justice, or simple human decency, nonprofits are what make our world a better place.“The Third Sector”Since America’s earliest days, charitable organizations have been the bridge between what the government can provide and what people need. From churches and schools to libraries and community centers, nonprofits have always brought people together. Working alongside the public and private sectors, philanthropic organizations—”the third sector”—create the backbone of America.As early as 1894, the U.S. government was making tax exemptions for certain organizations. Then came prohibition on private inurement, which ensured that no individual associated with tax-exempt organizations financially benefitted from its existence. To help fund America’s participation in WWI and encourage individual philanthropy, The Revenue Act of 1917 allowed individuals to deduct charitable giving. Corporations eventually followed suit in 1935. In the early 20th century, prominent Americans such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and John Ford sought ways to use their wealth for good and created foundations that still stand today.How Nonprofits Shaped AmericaFrom the Native American tradition of giving as a sign of honor to early settlers seeking refuge from persecution to Cotton Mather’s Essays to Do Good and abolitionists who took great risks to help others, we have a long tradition of philanthropy in this country. It has evolved over the decades, but it is uniquely American.1940sDuring World War II, Americans rationed supplies to support the war effort and soldiers. The YMCA, Salvation Army, National Jewish Welfare Board, and several other organizations united under Franklin D. Roosevelt to create the USO. Following the war, Americans sent supplies to Europeans in need and the U.S. government launched the Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe.1960s and 1970sActivism of the 1960s and 1970s reverberates today in the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements. From the March on Washington to Title IX, the Civil Rights Movement and Women’s Rights Movement were a tectonic shift in society that inspired individuals and foundations to contribute time, money, and passion—and set the bar for modern activism and philanthropy.TodayWith the advent of the internet as well as online and mobile giving, we have seen an unprecedented increase in American involvement in global philanthropic relief following natural disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami, Japanese tsunami, and Haitian earthquake. Support and connectivity were cemented closer to home following the devastation of September 11, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Maria. In 2012, that connectivity earned a Global Day of Giving with the launch of #GivingTuesday.PhilanthropiaSounds almost like utopia, doesn’t it? A place of ideal perfection. The word philanthropy, from the Greek philanthropia, means “love of mankind.” I can’t think of anything more ideal or perfect. That ideal is what donors support. That pursuit of perfection is what nonprofits provide. And that’s why I love them.Read more on The Nonprofit Bloglast_img read more

A Maternity Ward During the Ebola Outbreak: My Experience As an Ebola Fighter

first_imgPosted on July 1, 2015June 12, 2017By: Rudy Lukamba, Medical Field Coordinator, Women for Africa FoundationClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)This week Dr. Lukamba is taking part in Safe Mothers and Newborns in CaixaForum Barcelona, a workshop supported by the MHTF, ISGlobal and Aga Khan University.There are so many ways to become famous; unfortunately West Africa will mark humanbeing history by being the area on Earth which experienced the worst Ebola outbreak. Ebola disease was known since 1976, but in this part of the world, no one was having an idea about it in November 2013 when the first cases started in Guinea Conakry. The weakness of the health system, the poor communication, the lack of coordination and resources contributed to the quick and large spread of the disease all over the subregion. Ebola created fear and panic in the societies of all countries affected; a lot of health facilities closed because health workers- who paid a huge tribute during this outbreak became afraid to treat any patients with Ebola-like symptoms. So the virus was killing one person directly and several others indirectly—mainly women—because all complications during pregnancy present similarly to Ebola (e.g. infection, eclampsia, bleeding, etc).Our intervention as Ebola fighters was less to treat patients affected by the virus than to avoid that those who were not Ebola infected died due to lack of proper care. The challenge was to provide maternal health care in the context of the Ebola outbreak. What follows is an account of our experience at the Maternity of Saint Joseph Catholic hospital in Monrovia, Liberia from November 2014 to June 2015. Our main method of work was to adjust the Infection Prevention Control (IPC) protocols to our reality of referral maternity which has to deal with all obstetrical emergencies. The main rule of IPC is the NO TOUCH POLICY. So our main concern was to find the way to attend to a pregnant woman without touching her. We developed innovative protocol to make it possible.All the patients, including all maternity patients, were going through hand washing with chlorine solution 0,05% and control of body temperature at the gate of the hospital. Then everybody passed by the triage to separate suspected cases (patient with fever and 2 to 3 others Ebola symptoms such as bleeding, body pain, vomiting, convulsion) from clean cases (patients having only pregnancy-related problems). Suspected cases were sent to the holding center (a building separated from the main hospital building) which was considered a red zone: an area where the wear of advanced personal protective equipment was mandatory. Quick assessment to evaluate the condition of the patient and blood specimen was taken for major endemic diseases (e.g. malaria, typhoid) and for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). An initial treatment was started waiting for the EVD result. When the EVD test was negative the patient was then cleared and sent to the maternity for further management. A delivery room was set in the holding building to attend to pregnant in advanced labor that couldn’t wait for the result to come.Patients without any symptom were sent to antenatal care, which was a new screening, comparing information from the patient’s history with those from the triage. Women were then scanned with an ultrasound which allowed a good clinical assessment without touching the patient.  Patients in labor were sent to the maternity, which was divided in three areas: red zone (labor and delivery room, because health professional were dealing with a lot of body fluid), yellow zone (postpartum, because the secretion was small) and green zone (nursing station). Over a 6 month period we screened 4,000 pregnant women, realized 700 deliveries, and performed 250 C-sections. And most important, avoiding the death of so many women who were wrongly suspected of Ebola. However the fight against Ebola is still going on.This post has been lightly edited from its original posting on the ISGlobal Blog.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more

New Guidelines for Postnatal Care: a Long Way to Go to Ensure Equity

first_img ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on October 20, 2015October 13, 2016By: Katie Millar, Senior Project Manager, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministries of Health of Sri Lanka, Rwanda and Ethiopia gathered yesterday to discuss an often forgotten part of the maternal and neonatal health continuum: postnatal care (PNC), which is critical to both the health of the mother and newborn. Even when progress is seen in facility care and skilled birth attendance (SBA), PNC lacks behind and has the lowest coverage of any care type along the continuum. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, only 35% of mothers receive PNC, while 93% have SBA, said Etienne Langlois of WHO.With the majority of deaths for women and newborns happening after birth and within the first month of life, standards for PNC reflected in policy and practice are crucial. The new postnatal guidelines released by the WHO this month will hopefully serve as a catalyst to amplify efforts for PNC.Bernadette Daelmans, coordinator of policy, planning and programmes in the department of maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health at WHO, presented the process adopted to create the evidence-based guidelines and what changes have been made since the last iteration. So what is new about the guidelines? It is now recommended that women should receive facility care for at least 24 hours after birth, an increase from the previously recommended 12 hours. In addition, there should be at least three PNC visits. The timing of these visits, on day 3, between 7-14 days and six weeks after birth, are selected for the unique impact they can have on mortality and morbidity.Another large change to the PNC guidelines is in regards to neonatal skin care. For years, studies have shown that chlorhexidine used for umbilical cord care after birth can decrease neonatal infections and death. Now, WHO has a guideline and recommendation for this practice. Women who give birth at home in areas with a neonatal mortality rate greater than or equal to 30 neonatal deaths per 1000 live births, should apply chlorhexidine daily to the umbilical cord for the first week of life. For newborns born in health facilities or where the NMR is low, clean, dry cord care is recommended, with chlorhexidine used where traditional, yet harmful substances are used on the cord.But what does this mean for countries? How can they implement these changes in a context specific way? WHO recommends creating a continuum between facility and home, ensuring adequate infrastructure so providers can provide care respectfully and implementing the baby-friendly hospital initiative. Though this sounds straightforward enough, country experts reveal the challenges around implementing PNC and these new guidelines.Currently, PNC has some of the greatest inequities, with coverage currently favoring urban settings. What does this mean and how can we address these inequities? Community-level interventions are needed but “we also need health systems that deliver quality PNC services. We need to strengthen delivery at health system level,” said Langlois.Kapila Jayaratne, national programme manager in the family health bureau at the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka, noted that sufficient human resources are often a problem in reaching women and newborns with PNC. Catherine Mugeni of the Ministry of Health in Rwanda echoed the issue of human resources. Turnover of staff is high and even where numbers of health workers are sufficient, keeping them properly trained and updated is difficult.Part of this problem may be that often community health workers who serve on a volunteer basis don’t have the resource or renumeration they need in order to provide sufficient and quality care. Lisanu Taddesse of the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia, noted a solution to this problem in the structure of Ethiopia’s Health Extension Worker (HEW) Program where HEWs are government employees. This improves regulation and supervision, he argued.Taddesse summarized the successes they’ve had in increasing both facility birth and PNC in Ethiopia, but also the challenges. Where neonatal and infant mortality are high, women and families don’t consider the newborn a full human being for the first days or months of life. This coupled with cultural practices of maternal isolation after birth are barriers to seeking postnatal care where home visits are not possible.As Jayaratne, Taddesse and Mugeni summarized their current approach and considerations for context specific implementation, Langlois issued a reminder. “When the PNC guidelines are implemented at the country level, adaptability can’t inhibit fidelity,” he said. Robert McPherson an independent consultant at Save the Children, agreed. Guidelines are connected to outcomes by evidence and when that evidence isn’t applied, the results we’re aiming for won’t be realized.As we move forward in implementing the new PNC guidelines, we must do so carefully, to both maintain fidelity but also ensure the care is meeting the needs of the women and children it is meant to serve. Certain aspects of the guidelines, like facility watch for 24 hours after birth, may inhibit facility delivery for women who, due to cultural or livelihood reasons, may not be able to stay that long. In addition, women and their families need supportive education as the world adopts new cord care standards that replace valued traditional practices.Photo: ©2014 Katie Millar/MHTFShare this:last_img read more

Fifteen Aboriginal organizations reaffirm boycott of missing women inquiry

first_imgAPTN National NewsMissing Women Commission of Inquiry head Wally Oppal had invited all of the Aboriginal organizations currently boycotting the inquiry to return, saying their input was needed.But the groups have reaffirmed their boycott, with one representative calling the process “tainted and corrupt”, adding that they “don’t see how anything healthy and meaningful can come out of this inquiry at this time”.APTN National News reporter Rob Smith has the details.last_img

PMO silent on Brazeau Galipeau comments about Spence First Nations

first_imgAPTN National NewsPrime Minister Stephen Harper so far has refused to address comments made this week by a member of his party and a Conservative senator he appointed that mocked Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence and First Nations.MP Royal Galipeau and Sen. Patrick Brazeau teamed up at a Conservative fundraiser in Ottawa Tuesday to attack Spence and her 44-day fast on behalf of First Nations.After explaining he was lost five pounds because he had the flu Brazeau had this to say.“I’m sorry. I’m not a comedian, but I look at Miss Spence when she started her hunger strike and now? he said and then someone in the audience yelled out, “she’s fatter.”The room was full of laughter from the crowd.The speech was tape recorded by Ottawa reporter Nevil Hunt of Metroland Media and provided to APTN National News.He then said her community suffered from poor leadership.“It undermines his office as a senator, but it shows how retrograde this, this senator is,” said Ottawa NDP MP Paul Dewar Friday. “That’s really sleazy, it’s unbecoming and I can’t believe that the government hasn’t called them out yet. I saw Mr. Galipeau sitting on the front bench during Question Period feeling very comfortable today. I don’t think he should feel very comfortable.”The Prime Minister’s Office said they had no comment.Galipeau represents the Orleans riding and said he met with Spence in December in her teepee. He mocked her manicured finger nails, saying his wife couldn’t afford them.When reached by APTN National News Thursday Galipeau refused to comment on his speech but said what was published in the media was a matter of public record.Neither Harper or Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan would comment on the speeches during Question Period Thursday when pressed by the opposition saying only the federal government continues to provide jobs for Canadians, including First Nations.Dewar wasn’t the only one calling on Harper to address the comments Friday.Grand Chief Murray Clearsky wrote a letter to Harper saying PMO’s silence is deafening.“(It) shows your disdain, disregard and utter ignorance for the concerns of First Nations in Canada,” said Clearsky. “I am demanding that your government give Chief Spence and all First Nations people across Canada an unequivocal apology and exercise the respect for the cultural diversity of this country and hold your appointee and elected official to the higher standard.”Brazeau went on to put down the Idle No More movement stopping short of suggesting First Nations should assimilate and move on from past grievances.“Because it would have been easier for me to listen to my leaders, sit back, wait for the government to give me handouts, maybe get on welfare, maybe drink, maybe take drugs,” he said. “I, as an Algonquin person, is living proof that nobody will colonize me. I’m gonna participate, I’m gonna integrate, I’m gonna take advantage of the opportunities just like all of you will.”Dewar said Brazeau was being borderline racist.“He was at a fundraiser. So he’s using these frankly, I would call racist kind of epitaphs, in the way he’s describing First Nations,” said Dewar. “It brings us back to those stereotypes that many of us grew up with, that you know, lazy, they don’t want to work, all that. And for him to use that to raise money for Mr. Galipeau is cheap, it’s sleazy and it’s something that should be called on, not just by me and others, but by the prime minister because we, all we’ve had really is silence.”More to comelast_img read more

Mens basketball Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann making difficult nonconference schedule priority

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann leading a team practice on Oct. 4, 2017 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing Editor for ContentOhio State men’s basketball head coach Chris Holtmann promised during his opening press conference in June that a “really challenging” nonconference schedule was a priority.Tuesday, his influence on the Buckeyes’ future schedules was first seen with the scheduling of a season-opening home-and-home with highly regarded program Cincinnati in 2018 and 2019. That’s just the first example of what he and the coaching staff intend to do with future nonconference slates, Holtmann said Wednesday.“Our schedule is tied into some future series,” Holtmann said. “I would like to play in some of these events that happen, some of these tournaments. Whether it’s Maui, Battle for Atlantis, whatever, I would like to do that.”In the past few seasons with former head coach Thad Matta, Ohio State had one or two games scheduled nonconference against ranked teams per year. At Butler under Holtmann, the Bulldogs were often in early-season tournaments and played in the Crossroads Classic with a game against either Indiana, Purdue or Notre Dame in Indianapolis.In 2016-17, Ohio State had the 290th most difficult nonconference schedule while Butler ranked 40th, according to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced statistical ratings. Holtmann’s Bulldogs played in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in 2015 and the Las Vegas Invitational in 2016 against high-major teams Miami (Fla.), Vanderbilt and Arizona, all of which made the NCAA Tournament last season.Calls for a tougher nonconference schedule have been prominent from the Ohio State fan base, especially for games against quality in-state programs Cincinnati, Xavier and Dayton. Holtmann said at first he wasn’t aware of the hankering from fans to see those games scheduled. The first scheduled series with Cincinnati since 1919 and 1920 is a step in that direction.“I don’t know if I really understood that until I had spent maybe a few weeks, a couple months, here,” he said. “This game met all the requirements to be a really high-level game and the excitement [from fans] was certainly a big part of that.”As much as Holtmann wants to be involved in nonconference destination tournament fields with top-ranked teams, he’s limited with Ohio State’s one-game obligation to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the CBS Sports Classic, the Big Ten-Big East agreement for the annual Gavitt Tipoff Games, and the possibility of the Big Ten expanding conference seasons from 18 to 20 games.“It’s a puzzle we’re trying to put together here based on what I would like to do and what is reality,” he said.Matta’s schedules don’t require a massive overhaul, Holtmann said, but there are changes he wants to make based on his philosophy. That philosophy could include packed schedules with several blue-blood programs, including at least one or two marquee home games in November or December per season, before a demanding Big Ten slate.“The argument that you don’t have to play [in-state teams] because you’re the state university, that doesn’t resonate with me as much because, again, the quality of the program and the energy around the game, and the fact that it could be a really good RPI game,” he said. “I think if you can do that, your fans, it’ll excite your fan base.”The Buckeyes are reportedly scheduled to play Xavier in a closed-door scrimmage this month, which Holtmann said was originally scheduled by Matta. Holtmann has a relationship with Xavier coach Chris Mack and said he would be open to scheduling the Musketeers if the two do not meet in the Gavitt Tipoff Games.“We get a dose of reality and honesty in those settings,” Holtmann said. “And why not do it against a high-caliber team?” read more

Baseball Ohio State faces hothitting coldpitching Xavier

Ohio State senior utility player Brady Cherry (1) swings at a ball during the game against Michigan on April 12. Ohio State won 10-5. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorThe Ohio State baseball team will aim to end an up-and-down homestretch on a positive note.Tuesday will mark Ohio State’s ninth home game in its past 10 games, and the Buckeyes (20-17, 4-5 Big Ten) have only won three of their eight games at Bill Davis Stadium over this stretch. A battle-tested Xavier (14-22, 5-1 Big East) squad will travel to Columbus for a bout with the Buckeyes. After a five-game skid that included a sweep by Northwestern at home, Ohio State has righted the ship, to an extent. The Buckeyes have taken four of their past five games, including a big series win over rival Michigan. Despite their record, the Musketeers have experience that could prove invaluable. Xavier has played No. 8 Louisville, No. 16 Arizona State and No. 17 North Carolina, going 1-6 in those matchups. Xavier has shown the potential to play with top-flight teams. The Musketeers played a three-game series at then-No. 13 Texas where the run differential was only three.In terms of Xavier’s offensive lineup, no single player sticks out; the strength is in the team’s balance. Five Musketeers are hitting within the range of .286 to .301. Junior infielder and pitcher Conor Grammes leads the team with a .301 average. Grammes has started on the mound nine times to earn a 5.53 ERA. Redshirt senior outfielder Jake Shepski has a team-high 24 RBI, while hitting .292 on the season. Behind a team batting average of .265, the Musketeers have scored an average of 5.36 runs a game.On the mound, Xavier has struggled mightily. With a team ERA of 6.71, the Musketeers only have two pitchers with an ERA below 5.50. The pitching staff is prone to allowing the long ball, allowing 47 home runs this season. This could prove advantageous for an Ohio State team that has hit 34 home runs this season. Senior Sam Czabala leads the team with a 1.19 ERA and .147 opponent batting average. The left-hander has pitched 22.2 innings in 12 appearances.The other pitcher with a sub-5.50 ERA is freshman Lane Flamm, who has a 3.55 ERA and a team-high four saves in 16 appearances. Ohio State will host Xavier at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday. read more

Trump Basically Says ObamaEra Marijuana Policies Arent Going to Change

first_imgCannabis It’s been an April to remember for the legal marijuana industry in the United States.First came the news that former marijuana opponent John Boehner, the former Speaker of the House, had joined the board of Acreage Holdings, one of the largest cannabis companies in the United States.Now President Donald Trump has reportedly assured U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado that he will support protection of states that have legalized marijuana from federal interference.But Trump apparently went beyond even that. In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole Memo — an Obama-era Justice Department memo that essentially protected states that have legalized marijuana from federal interference — caused concern in the cannabis industry that a crackdown could happen.According to Gardner, Trump told him that will not be the case. He then went one step beyond that, saying he plans to support changes at the federal level that will strengthen state’s rights.Related: Where to Find Funding for a Cannabis BusinessAll this is based on a statement Gardner released on his website, in which he said, “I received a commitment from the president that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry. Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”The White House later confirmed the accuracy of Gardner’s statement.Art of the Marijuana DealApparently, all of this — which seemed unlikely just months ago — happened because of Sessions’ decision to rescind the memo.In reaction to Sessions’ action, Gardner has since held up 20 of the Trump Administration’s nominations to the Department of Justice. Gardner said he would stop blocking nominees “based on these commitments” he received from Trump that Colorado’s marijuana industry is not in jeopardy.While not straightforward, it’s one of the first signs from the Trump Administration that it won’t crack down on legal marijuana states.Sessions position is well known. Up until this month, Trump had remained largely silent on the marijuana. Marc Short, the legislative affairs director for the White House, told the Washington Post the administration was “reluctant to reward” Gardner’s maneuvering.“But at the same time, we’re anxious to get our team at the Department of Justice,” Short said. He also went on to say that Trump “does respect Colorado’s right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue.”That last part is likely what marijuana industry entrepreneurs will most pay attention to.Related: Marijuana Edibles Make the List of Top 10 Food Trends This YearChallenges AheadTrump’s assurances to Gardner, coupled with the Boehner decision, has created yet another buzz in many places about marijuana moving into the mainstream and the challenges it still faces.One good example is from NPR. While making the point that Boehner certainly did well politically in opposing marijuana, the article also notes that his decision to join the Acreage Holdings board signals a shift.His decision “comes in time to help people who see cannabis as a promising business opportunity,” the article states. However, it also points out that minorities continue to get arrested for marijuana in disproportionate numbers and could get shut out of the legal marijuana industry.To stay up to date on the latest marijuana related news make sure to like dispensaries.com on Facebook Next Article A conservative Republican senator from Colorado has wrung a big concession from the administration to protect his state’s booming cannabis business. dispensaries.com Add to Queue 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Download Our Free Android App Free Green Entrepreneur App Keep up with the latest trends and news in the cannabis industry with our free articles and videos, plus subscribe to the digital edition of Green Entrepreneur magazine. Image credit: Mandel Ngan | Getty Images Trump Basically Says Obama-Era Marijuana Policies Aren’t Going to Change Easy Search. Quality Finds. Your partner and digital portal for the cannabis community. –shares April 24, 2018 Guest Writerlast_img read more

Antibiotic levels in water and potential risk of drugresistant bugs

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 27 2019A JRC report brings together data on antibiotic levels in water, showing that small concentrations have found their way into a range of Europe’s waterbodies.Because of the threat of new drug-resistant bugs evolving when these antibiotics come into contact with bacteria present in the water, scientists are gathering evidence to better understand the potential risk.Their data confirms that the levels of antibiotic residues in drinking water are minute and do not represent a risk to human health.However, antibiotic residues can be found at higher levels in waste water, surface waters, agricultural runoff and water used for aquaculture (farms of fish, muscles, seaweed and other marine species).The report is part of JRC efforts dedicated to investigating the implications of antibiotics in water.Scientists aim to determine the minimum concentration of antibiotics that could cause resistance in bacteria, so that future limits can be based on risk assessments that take into account this potential.The report also highlights that the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) (the phenomenon of bacteria resisting the effects of antibiotics) can be constrained if measures are taken to improve the effectiveness of wastewater treatment processes and to control the use of antibiotics in medicine and animal husbandry.Where do antibiotics end up after they’ve done their job?Antibiotics are prescribed for a vast range of bacterial infections in humans and have saved the lives of millions since their discovery.They are also given to animals as part of veterinary treatment, including to control infections in farm livestock.Resistant bacteria regularly evolve in places where antibiotics are commonly used – such as in hospitals where the MRSA ‘superbug’ (resistant to a wide range of antibiotics) is often found.On top of this, antibiotics don’t simply disappear after they’ve done their job of fighting off a bug.They are excreted from the body and so there’s also a risk of similar bugs proliferating in water in treatment plants, in manure and slurry, and in the environment if the concentration of antibiotics is high enough to select for their survival.The prevalence of antibiotic use has led to growing concern over the spread of AMR. In Europe, about 25000 people die of infections from antimicrobial-resistant bacteria every year.It’s also estimated that AMR costs the EU €1.5 bn per year in healthcare costs and productivity losses.Which antibiotics? How are they monitored?Looking at data on 45 antibiotics from 13 countries worldwide, the report’s authors found sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim and ciprofloxacin to be the three most frequently found in the water that flows out of waste water treatment plants.Most of the data came from Europe (79.2%) and, for the antibiotics detected, the concentrations ranged up to 1 µg/L (one millionth of a gram per litre).Related StoriesA bacterium may limit cardiovascular risks of 1 in 2 people, study showsRaw meat can act as reservoir for bacteria associated with hospital infections’Scissors’ component of CRISPR/Cas9 sometimes gets stuckThese medicines are all commonly prescribed for urinary tract infections, while ciprofloxacin is also prescribed for ear and chest infections.Similar concentrations of antibiotics were also reported in surface waters, despite the fact that a reduction in their levels might reasonably have been expected due to the dilution of these substances as effluents run into rivers and lakes.Ciprofloxacin is included alongside amoxicillin, erythromycin, azithromycin and clarithromycin on the Watch List monitoring program under the EU’s Water Framework Directive, which gathers data on substances that may pose a risk at EU level.The analytical methods used have to be able to detect concentrations as low as between 0.019 and 0.089 µg/L, corresponding to concentrations considered not to have direct effects on aquatic organisms such as algae, crustacean and fish.Antibiotics in fish farms?The report notes that therehasso far beenlittle research into the use and effects of antibiotics in the aquaculturesector.In Europe,the use of antibiotics inallanimalfarming activities, including aquaculture,isregulatedby specific legislation.Aquaculture products(as well as any products from the animal farming systems)must not contain pharmacologically active substances abovean established Maximum Residue Limit.Efficient monitoring at EU levelreliesonsurveillance programmesimplementedin the EU Member States, andrelevant dataaremadeavailableto the Commission.Aquaculture is the fastest growing food-producing sector and it is estimated to account for approximately half of the total food supply coming from fish.While it is necessary to prevent bacterial diseases in aquaculture products, the use of vaccines could lessen the need for chemicals and antibiotics in this sector, on condition that vaccines against the most relevant diseases are registered and accessible in all EU member states.BackgroundIn June 2017 the Commission adopted the EU One Health Action Plan against AMR. The key objectives of this new plan include:1. Making the EU a best practice region2. Boosting research, development and innovation3. Shaping the global agendaThe Commission has also adopted the first deliverables of the plan, for example the EU Guidelines on the prudent use of antimicrobials in human health.The guidelines aim to reduce inappropriate use and promote prudent use of antimicrobials in people. They target all actors who are responsible for or play a role in antimicrobial use.The Commission also recently adopted a Strategic Approach to Pharmaceuticals in the Environment – a set of actions addressing the multifaceted challenges that the release of pharmaceuticals poses to the environment. Source:https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/antibiotics-water-and-risk-drug-resistant-bacterialast_img read more

Study provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated

first_imgThe human brain contains functionally segregated neuronal networks with dense internal connections and sparse inter-connectivity. Aging is thought to be associated with reduced functional specialization and segregation of these brain networks.Joint senior authors Assoc Prof Zhou and Prof Michael Chee, Director of Duke-NUS’ Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, led the research team, collecting data from neuropsychological assessments and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans from a cohort of 57 healthy young adults and 72 healthy elderly Singaporeans. Each elderly participant was scanned two to three times during a period of up to four years. The neuropsychological assessments tested participants’ ability to process information quickly, focus their attention, remember verbal and visuo-spatial information, and plan and execute tasks. The fMRI scans measured how brain regions are functionally connected based on low-frequency blood oxygenation level fluctuations over time. Participants were asked to relax with their eyes open and remain still as these were performed.Related StoriesRush University Medical Center offers new FDA-approved treatment for brain aneurysmsNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionDr Joanna Chong, first author of the paper and a PhD graduate from Assoc Prof Zhou’s lab at Duke-NUS, developed approaches to convert the fMRI images into graphic representations that depict the inter- and intra-network connectedness of each individual’s brain. She then compared differences in brain functional networks between the young and elderly participants, and in the elderly over time.The team tracked changes in brain functional networks that affected specific cognitive abilities, such as goal-oriented thought and action, and choosing where to focus attention. As one ages, these networks associated with cognition are less efficient in information transfer, more vulnerable to disturbance, and less distinctive.”Overall, our research advances understanding of brain network changes over time, underlying cognitive decline in healthy aging,” said Assoc Prof Zhou. “This can facilitate future work to identify elderly individuals at risk of aging-related disorders or to identify strategies that can preserve cognitive function.”Commenting on the study, Prof Patrick Casey, Senior Vice Dean for Research at Duke-NUS, stated, “Aging is a significant risk factor for a variety of chronic diseases in people, including neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular diseases. Governments worldwide are concerned about the public health implications of increasingly aging populations. Basic research such as this plays a vital role in informing efforts to help us stay healthy longer as we live longer lives.”The researchers aim to next examine how various factors, such as genetic and cardiovascular risks, might influence aging-related changes in brain networks. By studying a larger group of healthy young, middle-aged and older adults, they hope to develop better ways to predict cognitive decline. Source:Duke-NUS Medical SchoolJournal reference:Chong, J.S.X. et al. (2019) Longitudinal Changes in the Cerebral Cortex Functional Organization of Healthy Elderly. The Journal of Neuroscience. doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.1451-18.2019. We currently live in a rapidly aging society. Compared to cross-sectional studies, it is vital to understand brain changes over time that underlie both healthy and pathologic aging, in order to inform efforts to slow down cognitive aging.”Study’s corresponding author, Associate Professor Juan Helen Zhou, neuroscientist from the faculty of Duke-NUS’ Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders program Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jul 14 2019Functional regions within the brain become less distinct and inter-connected in the elderly over time, especially in those networks related to attention span and cognition. The finding, published by researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in The Journal of Neuroscience, adds to current understanding of longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with aging.last_img read more