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5/29/2013

Filed under: costa rica,guatemala,mexico,nicaragua,panama,usa,weather — Tags: — admin @ 3:08 am

The 2013 Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone season was extremely active, destructive, and deadly. Three notable storms occurred this year, Hurricanes Erick, Juliette, and Kiko. Erick killed 800 people and caused $500 million damage due to major landslides across Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and many other Central American nations. Juliette caused an unprecedented rainfall catastrophe across many of Hawaii’s islands, as well as producing tornadoes of EF-3 intensity on Hawaii’s Big Island. Combined with storm surges of 10 feet, the hurricane caused $1.4 billion in damage and 1,300 fatalities across Hawaii. Kiko also produced deadly landslides across Guatemala, southeastern Mexico, and Hawaii, killing 1,100 people and causing total damages of $1.1 billion. Elsewhere, Hurricanes Cosme, Priscilla, and Tico, as well as Tropical Storms Dalila and Flossie, had minor land impacts, but they were not as severe as Erick, Juliette, or Kiko’s.

5/22/2013

MERS-CoV

Filed under: disease/health,india,malaysia,saudia arabia,tunisia — admin @ 4:05 am

A 66-year-old Tunisian man has died from the new coronavirus following a visit to Saudi Arabia and two of his adult children were infected with it.

His sons were treated and have since recovered but the rest of the family remains under medical observation. The cases are the first for Tunisia and indicate that the virus is slowly trickling out of Saudi Arabia, where more than 30 coronavirus cases have been reported. There have been at least 20 deaths worldwide out of 40 cases.

The Tunisian fatality, a diabetic, had been complaining of breathing problems since his return from the trip and died in a hospital in the coastal Tunisian city of Monastir. Many previous coronavirus patients have had underlying medical problems, which WHO said might have made them more susceptible to getting infected. There is no specific treatment for the disease, but the agency has issued guidelines for how doctors might treat patients, like providing oxygen therapy and avoiding strong steroids.

The new virus has been compared to SARS, an unusual pneumonia that surfaced in China then erupted into a deadly international outbreak in early 2003. Ultimately, more than 8,000 SARS cases were reported in about 30 countries and over 770 people died from it.

The new coronavirus is most closely related to a bat virus and is part of a family of viruses that cause the common cold and SARS. Experts suspect it may be jumping directly from animals like camels or goats into people, but there isn’t enough proof to narrow down a species yet. The virus can cause acute respiratory disease, kidney failure and heart problems.

The Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina will receive millions of pilgrims from around the world during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which falls in July and August this year.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona virus (MERS-CoV), which was first reported in Saudi Arabia and is now slowly spreading to other countries like the U.K., Jordan, France, and Tunisia.

Strange enough, despite the fact that Kerala has a lot of women working in the health sector in the Middle East and that there is good traffic between the Middle East and Kerala, active surveillance for the illness has not yet been launched.

The infection is still being reported in small clusters, even outside Middle East countries and hence no screening at airports has been advised by WHO. Yet, given Kerala’s widespread links to the Middle East and the fact that so many Malayalis live in very crowded environs in these countries, it is very much possible that the virus could come into Kerala.

Human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed with many cases being reported among family members and through hospital-acquired (nosocomial) infections. The virus has so far resulted in 40 confirmed cases of severe respiratory disease, including 20 deaths.

The MERS-CoV belongs to the same family as the SARS virus, which had erupted as a major global outbreak in 2003. The novel CoV, however, though more lethal than SARS virus, does not spread from humans as easily as SARS.

Till now, all the confirmed cases of MERS-CoV has had some link to the Middle East – persons who travelled to the destination, their close family members, or health workers who came into contact with confirmed cases in hospitals.

5/20/2013

Man dies of flu-like illness

Filed under: cnmi,disease/health — admin @ 11:44 am

THE Commonwealth Health Center saved the lives of two pregnant women and their babies from adult respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, but a man died of the flu-like illness.

Commonwealth Health Care Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muna, in a press conference yesterday, said they wanted to make it clear that there was no influenza outbreak in the CNMI.

ARDS, according to CHC federal consultant Dr. Poki Namkung, is a devastating condition that is related to many causes including severe pneumonia.

In the three cases admitted at CHC, Namkung said they didn’t make a definitive finding although many tests were conducted. The influenza tests are negative so far but the hospital is doing further tests, she added.

Namkung admitted that they have not found a bacterial source yet but added that ARDS can be caused by chemical, bacterial or viral causes. She said ARDS destroys the ability of the lungs to function and the mortality rate in such cases is very high.

She said it was a blessing that the women are now improving despite that fact that both of them were pregnant when they were admitted.

Muna said one of the women was admitted on May 13, while the other was admitted on May 16.

The third case, a middle-aged man, was admitted on May 14 and died on May 17.

Muna said “the cause of death is unknown at this time” but the patient had a flu-like illness and was admitted at CHC for severe respiratory illnesses.

Muna said there was no link between the three cases.

“We would like the public to know that we are very, very concerned about the situation and we are working extremely hard and have done an exceptional job in attending to the patients,” she said.

Muna said there is no evidence of H7N9 infection in the three cases, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is asking for further testing. CHC, she added, is in constant communication with the federal agency.

Nurse supervisor Wilma Gamundoy said when the two pregnant were admitted they had to “evacuate” the babies in the wombs so they could treat the mothers. The babies were delivered through Caesarian-section. The infants had to be put on ventilators at first but were finally taken off yesterday. The mothers, too, are now improving, Gamundoy said.

Muna is urging the public to take extra precautions.

The symptoms of ARDS include fever, coughing and difficulty in breathing.

5/13/2013

Filed under: cnmi,culture,weather — admin @ 6:11 am

MAHANSEN

Filed under: bangladesh,burma,disaster,india,weather — admin @ 5:57 am

Cyclone Mahansen continues to be only forecasted to become a equivalent of a weak typhoon before landfall in Bangladesh on Thursday. To many around the world and especially first world countries this sounds like a gentle breeze to ride out in the coming days.

Yet many of those living in low lying areas in Myanmar this storm is a very real and serious threat. Nearly 130,000 people are living in makeshift camps near the coastal plains of the country after fleeing violence between clashes Buddhist and Muslims in western portions of the country. These cyclonecamps are not made to withstand cyclone, even a weak one. And this pending storms brings the threat of a disaster if it is to hit of these refugee camps as a Severe Cyclonic System.

At this time the worst of the storm is forecasted to stay west but with the pending track still uncertain. Even if the was to miss the refugee camps a heavy rainfall would still bring harsh conditions for those who make the area home. We hope for the safety of those ahead of the storm.

It would be easy to say this area is used to deadly storms. In 2008 the country suffered 180,000 casualties when a cyclone hit the Irrawaddy River delta. In 1991 a cyclone hit a little farther north in Bangledesh resulting in the deaths of 350,000 people.

5/10/2013

Filed under: bangladesh,burma,india,weather — admin @ 4:49 am

5/9/2013

MANNGINGI’

Filed under: cnmi,culture,resource — admin @ 4:44 pm

We should not pursue economic development in the Northern Islands

Written by By Anastasia Schweiger

MANNGINGI’ is a Chamorro practice I learned while growing up in Tanapag. By bowing one’s head, kissing an elder’s hand with your nose, and saying nora or not, manngingi’ is a simple but profound gesture that shows one’s respect for the manamko. It is a respect that my father has taught me all my life, a deep respect for this place that I call home.

So when I prepared for today’s topic, I realized that very few people and very few countries have given the Northern Marianas and its people the respect they so deserve.

Throughout the CNMI’s history, foreign powers have made major decisions for these islands without knowing much about them, let alone having the common decency to ever visit them when making those decisions.

This history has been nothing short of disrespectful, an insult to the cherished tradition of manngingi’.

However, I fear that now, we stand poised to make that same mistake about the Northern Islands, about which we know very little and to which many of us have never been.

That is why I stand here today to argue that we should NOT pursue economic development in the Northern Islands.

To begin with, in the spirit of manngingi’, rather than seeing them as the ultimate jackpot, we should treasure the Northern Islands as family heirlooms that we preserve for future generations.

We need to live by the Native American proverb:

“We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

With that in mind, we have to remember that the profit of today may be the ultimate sacrifice of tomorrow.

For instance, mining pozzolan may be the next black gold rush, but it will strip Pagan dry, leaving it polluted, barren, and vulnerable to erosion.

Commercial farming may make us the bread basket of Micronesia, but like other countries that have over-farmed their soil, that could suck the land of all its nutrients, leaving it infertile for countless generations.

And commercial fishing could result in overfishing that depletes our oceans of the one food staple that the islands have relied on for centuries.

Yes, these economic developments may bring money today, but what about tomorrow?

What happens when we have mined the last ounce of pozzolan?

What happens when we have harvested the last coconut?

And what happens when we have caught the last fish?

When that happens, we will realize that we cannot eat money.

Like the Iroquois nation, when making decisions, we must consider their impact on seven generations into the future.

If we are to ensure that our islands are here for the next seven generations, rather than developing the Northern Islands, we should preserve them.

This brings me to my second point.

In order to preserve the Northern Islands, we need to enact legislation that gives us more control over these islands.

Current federal legislation gives the CNMI jurisdiction over less than three miles off the coast of each island. That leaves hundreds of miles of ocean that we have absolutely no control over.

How are we to protect against overfishing in those waters?

How are we to prevent illegal undersea mining?

How are we to regulate any kind of maritime activity?

The U.S. Coast Guard may patrol these waters, but who decides what is acceptable and unacceptable in our submerged lands?

Shouldn’t those decisions be made by the people who live in these islands?

But it’s not just about submerged lands.

As far back as 1971, a Use and Occupancy Agreement between the U.S. government and the former Trust Territory governments permitted the use of Farallon de Medinilla as an aircraft and ship ordnance impact target area. In other words, a place to drop bombs, all for one measly payment of $20,600.

And now the U.S. Department of Defense wants to do the same with Pagan, destroying its environment, its character, and its people?

As Northern Islands Municipal Council member Diego Kaipat put it, “If Pagan is taken by the military, residents will become the real endangered species.”

Aside from the military, even environmental activities have taken away our control of the Northern Islands.

Specifically, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument gave the federal government control over almost 100,000 square miles of the entire Northern Marianas, or about a third of the CNMI.

So between submerged lands, military lands, and environmental lands, our commonwealth controls only a small fraction of the actual area of the NMI.

How are we to preserve our commonwealth, let alone the Northern Islands, without the basic authority to make decisions about these islands?

We cannot protect, we cannot preserve our own home if we don’t even have the keys to that home.

Therefore, the U.S. Congress must enact legislation that gives the CNMI more authority to regulate its own waters.

Only then will we be in a position to preserve all our islands, not just the Northern Islands.

However, I know that more control will require that we become more responsible in how we handle our islands, which brings me to my third and final point.

In order to preserve the Northern Islands, we need to become better stewards of all our islands.

And that will only happen when we change the way we think about economic growth.

Famous British economist, John Clapham, once said, “Economic advance is not the same thing as human progress.”

We, in the CNMI, have proven this point all too well.

Just look at us now. What did the economic advance of the 80s and 90s bring us?

A large influx of foreign workers that overwhelmed our infrastructure and led to human rights abuses resulting in federalization.

A real estate rush that led to families turning on each other and ultimately losing much of their land.

And the construction of more hotels and garment factories than we ever needed which led to red-flagged beaches, sewage overflows, and Mount Puerto Rico.

Sure, these things brought in money, but at what cost?

Communities plagued by crime, drugs, gambling, and domestic violence?

A government driven into corruption by bribery, greed, and cronyism?

And a westernized culture that values money over family, friends, and community?

Yes, there has been economic advance, but not human progress.

The solution to these problems, and the key to becoming better stewards of our islands, can be found in what I started with: the essence of manngingi’.

In his book, “The Rope of Tradition,” Lino Olopai demonstrates this essence when describing the traditional way of building a canoe. Noting that a breadfruit tree provides the best kind of wood for a canoe, Lino explains how before the canoe is even built, the family on whose land the tree is found is consulted at length, sometimes for several weeks. And even when the family finally gives permission to cut down the tree, the canoe builders carry out a ritual that involves talking to the spirit of the tree.

This traditional process of building a canoe is not a simple and quick financial transaction. You don’t just order it online and have it delivered. It is a dialogue that cultivates relationships, community bonds, and appreciation for both nature and people.

It’s not about cost. It’s about value. It’s not about money. It’s about respect.

And to me, that’s what manngingi’ is all about: respect.

Today’s topic asked us to “take into account the needs of the residents of the Northern Islands.”

Well, in my opinion, they deserve more than just being taken into account. They deserve our utmost respect.

Because who else has been on the front lines fighting the militarization of the Northern Islands?

Who else has learned to live in balance with nature?

Who else respects their islands as much as they do?

So, no, we should do more than just “take their needs into account.”

We should salute them, and learn from them, and listen to them.

Because they live by something my Uncle Frank Aguon taught me a long time ago growing up in Tanapag, that if you take care of the land, it will take care of you.

And that is what we must do. We must take care of the Northern Islands and honor them as we would honor our own manamko’.

And in the spirit of manngingi’, let us bow our heads in humility, kiss them with love, and treat them with respect.

Thank you.

A Mount Carmel High School senior, the author is this year’s winner of the 29th Attorneys General Cup Speech Competition.

5/8/2013

Aid agencies rush help to drought-stricken Marshalls

Filed under: disaster,marshall islands,weather — admin @ 2:04 pm

MAJURO — Thousands of gallons of drinking water and solar-powered water-making units are being rushed this week to drought-stricken populations in the Marshall Islands

“We’ve got 3,700 people without drinking water,” said national water advisor Tom Vance on Wednesday following a trip to Mejit Island.

Earlier this week, the United States and Australian governments announced $100,000 in emergency-aid grants as Marshall Islands officials elevated a drought “emergency” to a drought “disaster.”

With almost no rainfall since late last year on islands above eight degrees north of the equator, most have run out of drinking water and ground well water has turned salty and brackish. Health officials who tested the wells say the wells are unsafe to drink from. Drinking coconuts offer some relief, but there are no other sources of fresh water on these islands besides rain. “The situation is dire,” Vance said.

Four new reverse-osmosis water-making units provided by the U.S. government are expected to arrive later this week for installation on northern islands. More RO units are expected to be purchased and flown in to provide water relief, according to government Chief Secretary Casten Nemra, who is heading the emergency-relief program. Four hundred and fifty large, collapsible water containers donated by the U.S. government were filled with water in Majuro and sent to the stricken islands by ship Tuesday. Locally, groups are fundraising and collecting water and food donations for distribution on the outer islands.

“The situation will become increasingly desperate if this drought persists in the northern islands and atolls,” said Nemra. “We have yet to receive a full assessment from the deployed teams still out there but, through the radio, indications clearly are that the ground wells are not safe to drink from anymore while water tanks have been depleted in most of the affected communities.”

Several of the remote islands have RO water-making equipment. But the units are small, producing at most 300 gallons of water daily for island populations ranging from 100 to over 600 people.

The drought has severely damaged local food crops, and people’s lives and health are in imminent danger, Nemra said. Many of the affected communities have less than 11 days of drinking water left and are already rationing households to one gallon of drinking water for six people per day.

Several of the islands are reporting cases of diarrhea, conjunctivitis (pink eye), influenza and other illnesses that officials say are drought related. “The Northern Marshall Islands is suffering an incredible level of hardship and reports indicate that conditions will get worse in the coming days,” Nemra said. “We want to ensure that all affected communities in the Northern Marshall Islands get the assistance they need quickly and this declaration (of drought disaster) will give them access to all available resources of the government.”

5/5/2013

Chikungunya – Malaria

Filed under: disease/health,png — admin @ 11:30 am

Avoiding mosquito bites is the key to avoid Chikungunya fever because the virus is carried by infected Aedes mosquitoes.
This is according to a fact sheet distributed by the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR). The factsheet says that if a person is infected and bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito may later spread the virus biting another person. These mosquitoes can be identified by the white stripes on their black bodies and legs and aggressive during the day.
Symptoms of appear on average 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and most patients feel better after a few days or weeks. Some people may develop longer term joint pain. Some of the symptoms include; sudden onset of fever, severe joint pain in arms and legs, headache, muscle pain, nausea and rash. To avoid been infected, people should avoid mosquito bites. According to the factsheet, a person with chikungunya fever should limit their exposure to mosquito bittes to avoid infecting other people.
The mosquitoes carrying the virus live in a wide range of habitats. One main area is standing or stagnant water, where mosquito eggs develop into adults.
There is no specific medication or vaccine available for chikungunya but it should be treated with panadol and not aspirin.

ALMOST 90 per cent of the country’s population is at risk of malaria.
Each and every district in our country continues to record malaria cases. In fact, PNG has the highest malaria burden in the Western Pacific Region. Approximately 1.7 million clinical cases of the disease are recorded in the health facilities each year, and up to 600 deaths.
Reported incidences of clinical malaria was 1.6 million in 2008.
Last year reported infections were 1,1 million. During the same period, the reported number of deaths was also reduced by one third from over 600 to 431 in 2012.
While celebrating Malaria Day last week in Port Moresby, Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Michael Malabag said PNG has made some significant progress in reducing the malaria burden and ultimately achieving elimination.
“All our health indicators do not look very good compared to the rest of the pacific, and I believe that we can improve many of our health indicators simply by concentrating our efforts on very high health impact diseases of which malaria happens to top the list,” Mr Malabag said. Rotary Against Malaria, Oil Search, and Population Services International (PSI) were acknowledged as major partners in the fight against malaria.
He noted the health department has pooled substantial resources from external sources to fund our efforts to control malaria.
From 2005-2009 the Global Fund had provided over $US20 million under the round three grant. In the current round eight grant, the global fund has again made available anther $US 120 million. AusAID has provided $A3 million for the past three years and WHO has continued to provide technical support.
Furthermore, the minister said he is encouraged by the partnerships between the private sector and the department in malaria control efforts. The minister left a challenge with other members of parliament and provincial governments to recognise the impact of malaria on the lives of people and take action.

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