Tom Paulson

Humanosphere Blogger

The host of the Humanosphere community is Tom Paulson, who spent 22 years reporting on science and medicine at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Tom was one of the first daily news reporters to cover the topic of “global health” (a much-debated label which he discusses the merits of on the Humanosphere website).

Ways To Connect

Mike Urban / mikeurbanart.com

Amid all the dire reports that seem to indicate the world is going to heck in a handbasket, here’s some good news:

The United Nations children’s agency, otherwise known as UNICEF, reports that 89 percent of the world’s population now has access to safe drinking water.

Read more on Humanosphere.

The Associated Press

While the battle over drugs in the murder capital of the world intensifies and the U.S. president sends in VP Joe Biden, one Seattle expert worries the whole drug mess in Honduras is becoming a red herring.

Mauricio Vivero, executive director at the Seattle International Foundation, says many parts of Central America are in crisis today because of the combination of poverty, destabilized governments and a disengaged businesses.

There is no Hollywood-action-movie game plan that will fix the problem, he said. If the U.S. government truly wants to put a dent in the illegal drug trade, the first step should be to do whatever it can to promote trust and partnerships between business and local governments.

... but that’s just not as easy as sending guns and money.

Read more on Humanosphere.

JSmith / Flickr

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation officially calls it the Grand Challenges Exploration program and it was initially launched to fund unorthodox — some might even say "wacky" — scientific research projects aimed at solving problems in global health and development.

This week, the philanthropy is asking for a new round of proposals from all you creative types. In addition to the standard calls to optimize crop yields and improve vaccines, this round adds a new not-so-technologically geeky category into the mix: Advocacy and storytelling.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Wikimedia Commons

There are many neglected diseases out there but not many as prevalent or as ravaging as visceral leishmaniasis, also known as black fever or kala azar — the ‘parasitic version of AIDS.’

Scientists at Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute will soon begin testing an experimental vaccine they have designed to work against the most deadly form of this common parasitic disease spread by the bite of sand flies.

Read more on Humanosphere.

What do a Seattle-based global real estate firm, trees and Tony Blair have in common with fighting poverty and inequity worldwide? They’re all a part of a new charitable fund-raising initiative called Everyone Gives that launched this week out of Seattle.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Tom Paulson / Humanosphere

To mark the start of the Tibetan New Year, Losar, some of Seattle’s Tibetan community demonstrated downtown against China with colorful flags, angry chants and coffins.

“The situation in Tibet right now is very, very bad,” said Jampa Jorkhang, president of Tibetan Association of Washington and one of the organizers of the protest yesterday.

Read more on Humanosphere.

4blueyes / Flickr

Seems silly to talk about weaponized chickens, but that’s exactly the kind of talk world leaders have become afraid of.

The latest debate raging among scientists is whether to publish the results of recent experiments done on the bird flu virus. Those experiments have created a super deadly version of the H5N1 virus that could potentially be loosed by chickens (or other birds) and kill many tens of millions of people.

johanoomen / Flickr

Remember when the CIA did that fake vaccination scheme in Pakistan, the one that many predicted (correctly) would undermine confidence in American health assistance and other aid programs?

Well, there’s another ongoing saga that illustrates the cost of mixing up foreign aid with foreign policy, especially when we use covert means to achieve foreign policy goals.

Read more on Humanosphere.

The scientific community is in serious kerfuffle right now about whether or not to publish the details of certain bird flu virus experiments.

Angry words are flying back and forth between experts – much like the proverbial behavior of chickens with their heads cut off. One commentator for Scientific American has even suggested banning all such research.

It’s all a bit much, and probably not good for science or for our global health. I would like to offer five reasons not to panic.

Read more on Humanosphere.

The Associated Press

A new global estimate of malaria deaths by researchers in Seattle has revealed the death toll is much greater than most experts had thought — and is not, as had been universally assumed, mostly a killer of children.

The study found more than 1.2 million people died from malaria in 2010, nearly twice the official estimate put out by the World Health Organization, and more than a third of the deaths were in adults.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Tom Paulson / KPLU

Former President Jimmy Carter is in Seattle, having spoken last night at the World Affairs Council’s 60th anniversary celebration and speaking today at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about Guinea worm.

Guinea worm is a human parasite that eats its way through the human body and emerges a year later, incapacitating people with the pain of completing its life cycle. It’s horrible.

Jimmy Carter and his team at the Carter Center are close now to completely ridding the world of this horrific disease. It’s a great story, and perhaps of much broader significance to global health than many might realize.

Read more on Humanosphere.

The Associated Press

There’s a lot of talk in recent years about Seattle being a global city. That vision goes back a long ways. Seattle’s World Affairs Council is celebrating its 60th birthday this week. 

Former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter helped mark the milestone, in front of a sold-out Paramount Theater last night. 

“These are not neglected diseases but diseases of neglected people.”

For the London Declaration on Neglected Diseases, the Gates Foundation pledged $363 million to support research into new treatments.

Drug makers pledged to step up research as well as to expand donation programs of medications to poor countries. And others such as the World Bank, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. and U.K. have brought the total estimated commitment to $785 million.

But we and others are wondering, What is a neglected disease? Some say cancer and mental illness are two of the largest neglected diseases that don’t normally get lumped in the ill-defined category.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Calling all local Humanospherians! Do you like beer? Want to make the world a better place?

If so, please come join the gang at Humanosphere for our ‘inaugural’ (that means first) Change-Up gathering at Seattle’s Re:public public house and cafe on Westlake in the beautiful and fascinating (okay, that’s going too far) South Lake Union neighborhood.

Short notice. It’s this Thursday, Jan. 26.

The Associated Press

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the spread of the Arab Spring from Tunisia to Egypt. Yet at last year’s hobnob gathering of the upper one percentile at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, nary a peep was heard about this world-changing popular revolution.

Even weirder, WEF was celebrating Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif as one of the world’s top model young leaders.

Some said then that WEF at Davos had become worse than irrelevant. What about now: Does Davos matter?

Read more on Humanosphere.

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