Friday, November 03, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - November 3 Edition

Global Health, Fraud

"There are a several reasons why fraud and waste are rife in the global health sector. Donors tend to send money to ministries of health and other organizations in large tranches, mostly because making smaller grants involves higher transfer fees and bigger administrative burdens. This creates surpluses and easy targets for graft. What’s more, supply chains in low- and middle-income countries are often weak and opaque, sometimes involving dozens of changes in custodianship before goods reach their destinations. Medicines and equipment can easily go missing or expire–as 1.3 million doses of pentavalent vaccine (a kind of vaccine that protects against five diseases) did in Pakistan in 2015. The cost of identifying the breakdowns in supply chains often outstrips the value of the goods that are lost.

 Many international organizations are trying to deal with these problems. Since July 2011, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and several others have blacklisted 368 individuals and firms involved in corruption. But such scrutiny takes money and time. The World Bank employs 417 people to monitor compliance with its financial and procurement standards, and in a single investigation in the case of Mali in 2010, the Global Fund reviewed some 59,000 documents. Worse, auditors can only identify fraud that has already occurred. They cannot track and stop problems as they develop. The result is that donors catch only a fraction of transgressions, months or years after they have happened. And when donors respond by suspending aid, patients suffer.

This is where blockchain comes in. Commonly referred to as a distributed-ledger technology, blockchain creates secure digital records of transactions that can be accessed by approved users across a wide network. Every transaction validated by the network adds a new “block” to the “chain,” creating an indelible record that can be accessed in real time. A number of multinational corporations—from Walmart and IBM to the mining giant BHP Billiton—are already using the technology to manage supply chains, following goods as they move around the world."

Fall Travel, Italy

"For many travelers — both those who have had the chance to visit in person and those who dream of it — a trip to Italy is often envisioned in the summer, when they can stroll the piazzas eating gelato or take a dip in Lake Como.

But Italy, much like gelato, is something to be enjoyed year-round, and one of the best times to go is November.

Sandwiched between the peak seasons of summer and the winter holidays, November is a time when museum lines are shorter, restaurants are less crowded, and even airfare dips. But those aren't the only reasons to book your trip now.

Aid groups could similarly use the technology to oversee medical supplies as they travel from factory to patient. As a shipment of vaccines approaches its destination, for instance, each of its handlers—from the crew unloading the shipment at the airport to the courier bringing it by motorcycle to a village clinic—could use a smartphone to tag it with a permanent, real-time record of where it has been, when it was there, and who has dealt with it. All these details would become part of the shipment’s digital identity, creating a record of its custody and making it impossible for goods to be stolen or replaced with counterfeits without the network being notified."

Immunotherapy, Cancer, HIV

"Immunotherapies, and checkpoint inhibitors in particular, were the first type of therapy that could truly transform cancer patients into long-term survivors. While other therapies, including chemotherapy, prolonged survival a couple of months, a certain percentage of patients treated with checkpoint inhibitors, in the order of 10-20%, live on for years.

Now, the next step is: how would you increase the number of patients that benefit from it? And the answer was quite clear. Everybody is trying to combine immunotherapy treatments to enhance the effect, and it works. Currently, there are hundreds of combination trials ongoing worldwide.

Then, if you look at the complexity of the immune system, there are so many targets that you can trigger. Many are still there to be explored. And the whole medical community is learning so much about how to treat cancer, how to tackle it. With every year, we are coming closer and closer to making many cancer indications manageable diseases. The number of patients that survive cancer today is much, much bigger than compared to the past."

Artificial Intelligence

"It wasn't so long ago that artificial intelligence was reserved to the realm of science fiction according to the public. Skip ahead to 1997 and IBM's Deep Blue brought real artificial intelligence into the public eye when it bested Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 2 matches(though losing the series 4-2). Fast-forward to last year and AI has beat the masters in virtually every game you can think of, including Go(which is both older and more difficult than Chess). From mastering games to contemplating the meaning of life, AI has made major strides in recent years.

A fully developed, self-teaching AI unit is no longer a dream, it has transitioned into an inevitability with the only real question being "who will get their first?" There have been so many artificial intelligence breakthroughs in recent years, it can be difficult to imagine what's next.

So, in the hopes of shedding some light on that subject, here's a list of 5 AI trends to watch in 2018."

Feel Good Story, Animal Rescue

"Zeus the dog was on a sailboat whose motor supposedly failed. The USS Ashland came to the rescue."

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