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April 7: World Health Day

World Health Day was celebrated all over the world on April 7, 2014. Theme for 2014 was “Vector-Borne Diseases (VBDs)”. The campaign for World Health Day this year is ‘small bite: big threat’. Mosquitoes, flies, ticks and bugs may be a threat to your health – and that of your family – at home and when travelling.

What are Vectors? 

Vectors are organisms that are transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person or animal, to another e.g. mosquitoes, bugs, ticks, freshwater snails, etc.

Which VBDs (Vector Borne Diseases) are of concern especially in India?

  • As per WHO, VBDs make up for more than 17 % of diseases.
  • Some VBDs are almost present globally viz. malaria, dengue, schistosomiasis, Human African trypanosomiasis, Leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, Onchocerciasis, etc.
  • In India, VBDs affecting people include malaria, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, kala-azar, lymphatic filariasis and chikungunya. 
  • In India, issues related to these VBDs are addressed by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • People suffering from diabetes are more susceptible to VBDs because of the fact that high blood sugar in their bodies (resulting in high susceptibility), and lower levels of immunity, makes them more prone to VBDs.

World Health Day

World Health Day is celebrated every year on April 7, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization (WHO), in order to focus on increasing the life expectancy by adding good health to the lives of people and promoting healthier living habits. The First World Health Assembly was held by WHO in 1948 where it was decided to celebrate April 7 (to mark WHO’s founding) of each year, with effect from 1950, as the World Health Day. 

Objective: April 7 every year is seen as an opportunity by the WHO to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health each year.

World Health Organization (WHO)

Formation: April 7, 1948
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
Head: Margaret Chan
Parent Organization: United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Themes of World Health Days:

  • 1950:“Know your Health Services”.
  • 1951:“Health for your Child and World’s Children”.
  • 1952:“Healthy surroundings make Healthy people”.
  • 1953:“Health is Wealth”.
  • 1954:“The Nurse: Pioneer of Health”.
  • 1955:“Clean water means better Health”.
  • 1956:“Destroy disease carrying Insects”.
  • 1957:“Food for All”.
  • 1958:“Ten years of Health progress”.
  • 1959:“Mental illness and Mental Health in the World of today”.
  • 1960:“Malaria eradication – A world challenge”.
  • 1961:“Accidents and their prevention”.
  • 1962:“Preserve sight- prevent Blindness”.
  • 1963:“Hunger= Disease of millions”.
  • 1964:“No Truce for Tuberculosis”.
  • 1965:“Smallpox – constant alert”.
  • 1966:“Man and his Cities”.
  • 1967:“Partners in Health”.
  • 1968:“Health in the World of Tomorrow”.
  • 1969:“Health, Labor and Productivity”.
  • 1970:“Early detection of Cancer saves Life”.
  • 1971:“A full life despite Diabetes”.
  • 1972:“Your Heart is your Health”.
  • 1973:“Health begins at Home”.
  • 1974:“Better food for a healthier World”.
  • 1975:“Smallpox: Point of no return”.
  • 1976:“Foresight Prevents Blindness”.
  • 1977:“Immunize and protects your Child”.
  • 1978:“Down with High Blood pressure”.
  • 1979:“A healthy Child: A sure future”.
  • 1980:“Smoking or Health: Choice is yours”.
  • 1981:“Health for all by year 2000 AD”.
  • 1982:“Add life to years”.
  • 1983:“Health for all by year 2000 AD: Countdown has begun”.
  • 1984:“Children’s Health: Tomorrow’s Wealth”.
  • 1985:“Healthy Youth- Our best Resource”.
  • 1986:“Healthy living: Everyone a winner”.
  • 1987:“Immunization: A chance for every Child”.
  • 1988:“Health for All: All for Health”.
  • 1989:“Let’s talk Health”.
  • 1990:“Our Planet our Earth: Think Globally Act Locally”.
  • 1991:“Should Disaster Strike, be prepared”.
  • 1992:“Heart beat: A rhythm of Health”.
  • 1993:“Handle life with care: Prevent violence and Negligence”.
  • 1994:“Oral Health for a Healthy Life”.
  • 1995:“Global Polio Eradication”.
  • 1996:“Healthy Cities for better life”.
  • 1997:“Emerging infectious diseases”.
  • 1998:“Safe motherhood”.
  • 1999:“Active aging makes the difference”.
  • 2000:“Safe Blood starts with me”.
  • 2001:“Mental Health: stop exclusion, dare to care”.
  • 2002:“Move for health”.
  • 2003:“Shape the future of life: healthy environments for children”.
  • 2004:“Road safety”.
  • 2005:“Make every mother and child count”.
  • 2006:“Working together for health”.
  • 2007:“International health security”.
  • 2008:“Protecting health from the adverse effects of climate change”.
  • 2009:“Save lives, make hospitals safe in emergencies”.
  • 2010:“Urbanization and health: make cities healthier”.
  • 2011:“Anti-microbial resistance: no action today, no cure tomorrow”.
  • 2012:“Good health adds life to years”.
  • 2013:“Healthy heart beat, Healthy blood pressure”.
  • 2014:“Vector-borne diseases”.

“Walk Again Project”: World Cup Soccer 2014, Brazil

Screenshot_1Wearing a sophisticated mind-controlled exoskeleton, a paralysed teenager will start off the World Cup Soccer 2014, to be held in Brazil, with a ceremonial kick.

The Walk Again Project is a nonprofit, international collaboration whose researchers have created the first real-time Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) which uses the concurrent electrical activity, produced by thousands of brain cells located in the primate cortex, to directly control the movements of a variety of robots, including a multi-degree of freedom prosthetic arm.

How the Mind-Controlled Exoskeleton made by the Walk Again Project works?

The Patient wears a cap fitted with 32 electrodes that pick up Electro-Encephalo-Graphy (EEG) signals from the brain. The Computer in backpack converts brain signals into commands for the exoskeleton. Battery and hydraulics system in backpack move the exoskeleton’s limbs. The battery can power the exoskeleton for 2 hours. The Gyroscopes on the exoskeleton keep it balanced. The Sensors on the foot plates detect footfalls and give sensory feedback to patient through the sleeve of their shirt.

The exoskeleton is made from alloys and polymers to make it light and flexible.

READ (Read-Engage-Achieve-Dream): Indio-US alliance to improve reading skills at Indian Schools

READ (Read-Engage-Achieve-Dream): It is an alliance between India and USA to improve the Reading skills of millions of primary school-aged children in India. It is a US $3.2 Million alliance between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Indian Center for Knowledge Societies (CKS). READ will seek to discover and test reading solutions for improving reading skills for children in Indian Schools.

Indian-origin teenager Suvir Mirchandani shows how printing in ‘Garamond Font’ could save US Government $400 Million every year

Suvir Mirchandani, a 14 year old Indian origin student at a school in Pennsylvania, has found a way of saving the US government $400 million dollars (£240 million) per annum. Suvir has shown how by simply changing the Font US Govt uses for printing official documents, the US Govt can save $400 million dollars (£240 million) per annum.


Rationale for the finding:

Suvir calculated that if US government uses “Garamond” font instead of the “Times New Roman”, font usually used by Govt, the Garamond font would use 25% less ink as each character in Garamond is lighter and thinner. Thus, cost of printing voluminous documents of Government would be subsequently reduced.

Federal government if used just Garamond then it could save $136 million (£81 million) per year. If State Governments also use the Garamond font, then an additional $234 million (£140 million) could be saved annually.