DAILY DOSE: The World Health Organization’s monkeypox problem isn’t just about the virus; Science and social justice.


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Slowly but surely, the international community is beginning to send over much needed supplies to regions of earthquake-ravaged Afghanistan. Logistics remains a major issue for local and international efforts. Per Reuters, “Aid began arriving on Thursday in a remote part of Afghanistan where an earthquake killed 1,000 people but poor communications and a lack of proper roads are hampering relief efforts in a country already grappling with a humanitarian crisis… ‘We can’t reach the area, the networks are too weak, we trying to get updates,’ Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesman for the top Taliban military commander in hardest-hit Paktika province, told Reuters, referring to telephone networks.” The earthquake measured 6.1 on the Richter Scale and was the deadliest quake in the country for decades. https://reut.rs/3HLLTJ0


The World Health Organization cannot seem to get out of its own way. In response to the outbreak of monkeypox in Europe and, to a lesser degree, the United States, the organization is considering declaring its spread a global emergency. African scientists are taking exception to the news and are asking, What took you so long. Per the Associated Press, “As the World Health Organization convenes its emergency committee Thursday to consider if the spiraling outbreak of monkeypox warrants being declared a global emergency, some experts say WHO’s decision to act only after the disease spilled into the West could entrench the grotesque inequities that arose between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic.” The critics have a point. https://bit.ly/3yh4GsR


An article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences takes a look at brain imaging technologies that are less resource intensive than current fMRI methods. Specifically, the authors discuss functional near-infrared spectroscopy as a means of taking a snapshot of the brain. “Functional near-infrared spectroscopy, or fNIRS, affords a view into the brain based on blood oxygenation without the need for a big, immobile scanner. This optical imaging technique detects changes in how hemoglobin absorbs near-infrared light—usually wavelengths between 750 and 1,200 nanometers. And like fMRI, fNIRS provides an indirect measure of localized brain activity (1, 2). In the last 40 years, researchers have explored the technique’s potential to augment studies of brain function. Now, fNIRS has advanced from relatively simple measures of blood-oxygen changes to a sophisticated method of recording real-time brain responses associated with a wide variety of activities and cognitive tasks.” https://bit.ly/3OiZ5b0


Sometimes, the granular aspects of science seem detached from society at large. Its esoteric nature often puts it at odds with real world problems. It doesn’t have to be that way and slew of recent articles in Nature, address how science can play a role in social justice. One article deals with how the scientific model for conducting trials can be adopted by social scientists. According to the article, “As in Niger, many of the latest anti-poverty programmes are grounded in science. Starting in the 1990s, researchers began to run randomized controlled trials — assigning participants to either receive an intervention or not — to test the effectiveness of various forms of help, ranging from subsidies for textbooks to direct distribution of money. Now, governments and aid organizations are starting to scale up the most promising strategies. They are also asking new questions about how to tackle inequality — and how to make sure programmes benefit those who need them most.” https://go.nature.com/3OiHIqy

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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