The Upside Show Notes – Episode 14

2:30pm Ukrainian Grain Delivery

For our first story, after months of delays caused by the Russian invasion, some of the grain produced in Ukraine is finally getting to its destination. 

As the fantastic newsletter Proximities reports, via the AP:

A ship carrying grain for Ethiopians at risk of starvation has set sail from Ukraine in the first shipment of a new program to get aid to countries on the brink of famine. Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of grain and the war there has severely hampered the ability of the UN World Food Programme to get food aid to those in need. But Ukraine and Russia reached a deal with Turkey on July 22 to get shipments out. Ethiopia, which has been in a state of civil conflict for almost two years, is one of five countries the UN says are in need of emergency help for starving people.

Proximities newsletter

Proximities, btw, is a daily newsletter that covers stories from outside the Western world that you perhaps might miss otherwise. Note that these are generally not very positive stories, unlike today’s example, but I find the information important, plus it’s good to broaden one’s perspectives when possible. You can sign up at: https://proximities.substack.com/.

3pm More good news for babies

In my last show, several weeks ago, I highlighted how Botswana is becoming the first country in Africa to eliminate mother to baby transmission of HIV. 

Today there’s more good news for babies: as the WHO reports in its Weekly epidemiological record (pdf), significant progress has been made to eliminate mother-to-baby transmission of hepatitis B globally. 

The WHO, as part of its broader Sustainable Development Goals, which we’ve discussed a fair amount on this show already, declared eliminating all viral hepatitis as a goal by the year 2030. As the epidemiological record states, as of “December 2020, 190 (98%) of the 194 WHO Member States had introduced universal infant vaccination with hepatitis B vaccine (HepB), and 110 (57%) countries provided HepB-BD to all newborns.”

Staying with the same WHO report, South Nigeria has successfully eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus, with work first embarked on in 1989. This was accomplished via improved delivery protocols, vaccination, and surveillance. 

Finally, Gavi, also known as The Vaccine Alliance, is now expanding its rollout of the world’s first malaria vaccine, introduced in 2019, for children in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi. As a reminder of this terrible disease’s toll, in the year 2020, one child died every single minute from malaria in Africa; it remains a top cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Hopefully the further availability of this jab will change that situation. So far about 1.3 million children have received this life-saving vaccine and it’s anticipated that the additional funding from international supporters of US$160 million will allow many million more kids to benefit.

3:30pm Round-Up

For our final segment, as usual, a round-up.

Wired reports that several European countries are experimenting with a potentially new human right: free public transportation. Spain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Estonia, and Austria have all introduced fare-free routes or times on their public transport networks. This move will work towards more equitable access to transportation, obviously cheaper ways of getting around, hopefully less automobile congestion, traffic, and pollution, and yes, maybe even an expansion of human rights. More info in Wired.

Speaking of human rights, the UN General Assembly has declared that access to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a universal human right. 161 member states voted in favour of the resolution, which hopes to help “in the collective fight against the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.”

The Forest Service of the US is going to plant a billion trees to combat climate change, reforesting 4.1 million acres of land damaged in wildfires.And finally, I read in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday that there’s been a medical breakthrough in organ transplants: a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge has found a way to change the blood type of all kidneys to the universal donor type, O. Those on the waiting list for a kidney need to find one that is a compatible blood type – otherwise the body will reject it. This development could expand the possible pool of available kidneys for those who really need one significantly.

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