COVID-19, 100-year floods, crop devastation from record waves of locusts, scant health care. Now hunger and worsening mental health are sweeping through communities across Kenya, including in Kisumu where WiRED has been working for many years.
WiRED International staff writers Olivia and Meghan Spirito sat down with their parents, Christopher and Jennifer, during a family dinner to discuss how COVID-19 is affecting their lives and to share their thoughts on volunteering for WiRED. The sisters came up with questions before dinner to ask each other and their parents. They recorded their answers during the dinner and then wrote the conversation down for this article.
COVID-19 has understandably preoccupied us for months, nevertheless many other critical threats have not taken a holiday. One threat — climate change — looms large, and will punish the earth long after the virus is off the front pages.
An exhaustive study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that pregnant women exposed to air pollution or high temperatures intensified by climate change risk preterm birth, low birth weight and stillbirth.
Myths about COVID-19 continue to circulate around the Internet. Misinformation ranges from the laughable (the virus arrived from outer space!) to the dangerous (hydroxychloroquine or bleach cure the virus). Conspiracy theories suggest that Greta Thunberg caused COVID-19 to help with climate change or that hand sanitizer companies invented the virus as a marketing scheme.
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to Kisumu, Kenya, is placing a heavy burden on a population already suffering routinely from disease and lack of basic health care. If that weren’t enough, since early 2020, East Africa has experienced unprecedented waves of locust swarms — a crisis linked to climate change — which has destroyed livestock and crops and threatens to worsen food scarcity.
The New York Times reports that while the COVID-19 pandemic is lessening in many of the countries hit early in 2020, new hot spots in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East are causing a record rise in the number of first-time cases of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) held the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly May 18–19 — its first-ever to be held virtually. Most low-resource countries and all developed countries attended the meeting. At the direction of the Trump administration, the United States did not participate.
The agenda focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and adopted a resolution by consensus to use the tool of global unity to fight the virus. More than 130 countries (excluding the United States, which has halted funding to the WHO) sponsored the resolution, which calls for the following actions:
* Intensification of efforts to control the pandemic
* Equitable access to and fair distribution of all essential health technologies and products to combat the virus
* An independent and comprehensive evaluation of the global response, including, but not limited to, WHO’s performance
Despite early action by the Peruvian government, COVID-19 continues to devastate the nation. Once in Lima, the virus rapidly spread to the city of Iquitos and from that gateway to remote villages along the Amazon, an area where WiRED’s partner, Project Amazonas (PA), provides medical services. Working with PA, WiRED provides health education and other IT resources, including an electronic patient record system that runs entirely off the grid; patient data collected in remote regions can be uploaded to country-level data programs for aggregation and analysis.
WiRED International’s goal is to provide free medical and health information materials and training to low-resource communities around the world. We place all our work within the context of One Health principles — that all life on our planet is interconnected. While COVID-19 is drawing everyone’s attention, conditions leading to climate change are increasing as the federal administration is rolling back nearly 100 environmental and land use regulations in our own country. In this article, WiRED board member, Dr. Elizabeth Fine, reviews a recent film that addresses how the loosening of environmental protection laws in the United States impacts our health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down. People are isolated at home with time on their hands. Anxiety levels are high.
One way to cope is to adopt or to foster an animal. Shelters and rescue organizations report record numbers of applications, and some places are empty of animals for the first time ever.