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).

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Humanosphere
12:01 pm
Mon June 13, 2011

Gates' vaccine efforts criticized for favoring drug industry

Bill Gates at World Health Assembly.
United Nations

Vaccines are “miracles,” Bill Gates likes to say, because of their power to prevent death and disease so simply and at such a low cost.

Today, governments and international donors (the Gates Foundation chief among them) agreed to boost funding for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization initiative by $4.3 billion.

In this time of economic recession, GAVI’s success at fund-raising is extraordinary. However, the question must be asked: Does GAVI strike the hardest bargain with drug companies, getting the needed vaccines at the lowest cost?

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Humanosphere
12:28 pm
Wed June 8, 2011

Is cancer care too expensive for poor countries?

No doctor, no medicine at clinic in rural Nigeria.
Tom Paulson Humanosphere

There’s a big push going on right now to expand the scope of the global health agenda, to include many non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer.

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HUMANOSPHERE
10:47 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Wireless pioneer Craig McCaw and cell phones to the world's poor

Founders of Seattle's Grameen Technololgy Center share a laugh. From left, Alex Counts, Peter Bladin, Susan McCaw, Craig McCaw. McCaw donated $2 million in seed money to the organization, which aims to bring technology to the developing world.
Tom Paulson KPLU

A decade ago, few thought poor people had much use for cell phones and, likewise, few in the cell phone industry had much use for poor people.

The folks who launched Seattle’s Grameen Foundation Technology Center, which yesterday celebrated its 10th year anniversary (and new digs in Belltown), disagreed with both of those assumptions.

Humanosphere
3:33 pm
Wed May 18, 2011

Happy News: Journalist colleague and friend D Parvaz set free

Dorothy Parvaz, a reporter for Al Jazeera and a former colleague of mine at the Seattle Post Intelligencer, has been released by Iranian authorities after she was detained in Syria and deported to Iran. Parvaz returned to Doha, Qatar, where she is now based.

Here’s the New York Times on this Happy News and, for quick background, what I wrote when D (as she prefers) first disappeared weeks ago when attempting to enter Syria to report on the protests going on there against the Assad government.

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HUMANOSPHERE
11:17 am
Thu May 12, 2011

Guest post: Why are all these white folks deciding what Africa needs?

Nigerian Kunle Oguneye, a former tech worker and current children's author decries the lack of diversity in the global health and development community.

This is a guest Humanosphere post from Kunle Oguneye, president of the Seattle chapter of The African Network, a Nigerian and former tech worker who now writes children’s books (which should, I hope, explain the photo).

Oguneye wrote me to suggest that Humanosphere tends to suffer from the same bias, or lack of diversity and perspective, that afflicts much of the local global health and development community.

Here’s what he says:

HUMANOSPHERE
12:05 pm
Tue May 10, 2011

Bill Gates: Key to beating climate change is energy innovation. Is it?

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Bill Gates was the keynote speaker for Seattle-based Climate Solutions‘ annual fund-raising breakfast today.

The gist of Gates’ message: The best way to fight climate change is to create forms of energy production that significantly reduce carbon emissions and are cheap enough to be of value to poor people worldwide.

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HUMANOSPHERE
9:08 am
Mon May 9, 2011

"Geek heretic": Technology cannot end poverty

Kentaro Toyama is clearly a heretic. A geek heretic.

And, based on his career path, I would guess brilliant.

A computer scientist currently at the University of California, Berkeley, Toyama co-founded Microsoft Research India in 2005 and remained there as assistant managing director until 2009.

If you’re not familiar with what they do at Microsoft Research, think artificial intelligence, computer vision, terabyte juggling, high-octane mathematics and the craziest things you can try to do with bits, bytes or any kind of information technology.

Read more:

Missing Journalist
10:54 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Humanosphere: My friend and colleague missing in Syria

Dorthy Parvaz, who holds American, Canadian and Iranian citizenship, arrived in Damascus on Friday and has not been heard from since.
Seattlepi.com

Maybe you've heard about it already, but former Seattle PI reporter and columnist Dorothy Parvaz has gone missing in Syria.

Journalists take risks to make sure people’s stories are told, to shine a light on wrongdoing based on the belief that public awareness is the first step toward positive change. Today happens to be World Press Freedom Day, this year hosted by the U.S.

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HUMANOSPHERE
10:03 am
Thu April 28, 2011

The Gates Foundation's new headquarters - a sneak preview

The Gates family and epidemiologist Dr. William Foege at a preview of the new headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle.
Tom Paulson KPLU

I got a sneak preview of the new Seattle headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Wednesday evening, courtesy of Bill Foege, one of several Bills there.

Foege’s title at the Gates Foundation is “senior fellow.” But that doesn’t really tell you much, except to imply he’s old. It certainly doesn’t tell you how tall he is. He’s a very tall senior fellow.

More importantly than what I think, Foege appears to have been one of the key inspirations for Bill and Melinda Gates’ philanthropic mission. That’s basically what Melinda Gates said yesterday to the philanthropy’s staff after introducing those attending to their new home.

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HUMANOSPHERE
5:43 am
Thu April 28, 2011

Poverty, health and chocolate: "Do-gooder central"

Left to right: KPLU/Humanosphere's Tom Paulson, William Foege (the man who figured out how to rid the world of smallpox), Chris Elias (president at PATH), Wendy Johnson (UW health activist) and Joe Whinney (Theo Chocolate founder)
Justin Steyer KPLU

KPLU-Humanosphere’s event at Seattle Town Hall — Can Seattle Save the World? – was clearly a huge hit, drawing in an estimated 700 people on Tuesday night. Yes, the title was a bit goofy. We intended it so.

Obviously, people here care a great deal. Global health, global poverty and social justice are hot topics in this community, which I dubbed off-the-top-of-my-head “do-gooder central” at the event.

Tickets available at the door
12:00 pm
Tue April 26, 2011

Can Seattle Save The World? Preview tonight's Town Hall event!

UPDATE: Advance ticket sales have ended. However, additional tickets are available at the door tonight for $10 - cash only, starting at 6pm.

For those who would like to use Twitter to follow and participate, or even suggest questions now, see #SEAsaves and chime in. My colleague Charla Bear has graciously agreed to live-blog the event on Humanosphere and KPLU.

Here are a few thoughts in advance of tonight's event...

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HUMANOSPHERE
7:27 pm
Mon April 18, 2011

Ten sips from “Three Cups of Deceit” — starting in Seattle

aubergene Flickr

Jon Krakauer describes Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Deceit,” and its Seattle origins.

By now, most of you have probably heard something about the allegations of literary fabrication and financial misdeeds of the celebrated humanitarian Greg Mortenson, author of the inspiring book Three Cups of Tea.

The accusations were aired on CBS last Sunday, on 60 Minutes.

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HUMANOSPHERE
1:24 pm
Tue April 12, 2011

Five Millennials on global health

Sarah Dawson is a University of Washington senior majoring in public health and Spanish. She’s pictured here working with children at a Burmese eye clinic.
Tom Paulson

Global health is a big deal in Seattle.

As a matter of worldwide significance, it is of course a big deal everywhere — by definition. But what I mean is that global health is today the cause célèbre for Seattle and throughout the region. It’s especially popular among the Millennials.

“Global health is the movement of our generation,” said Kristen Eddings, a program associate at the Washington Global Health Alliance and one of the primary organizers of a big global health shindig in Seattle coming this June known as Party with a Purpose.

Read more:

Humanosphere
3:49 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Why young people are flocking to global health and poverty – a series preview

Michael Thompson Flickr

For the past few weeks I’ve been talking to young people, mostly around Seattle, who are involved in global poverty issues. And I’m blown away by the number of initiatives being pursued by people in their 20′s and early 30's.

  • A fellow heading to Mongolia to work on microfinance
  • A young Bengali couple who have started an organization to fund smaller projects that often get ignored
  • A woman who plans to work at the International Criminal Court on women’s issues

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Humanosphere
11:19 am
Thu March 24, 2011

One of every three of us on planet has TB; Seattle rates remain twice national average

In this 2003 file photo, Dr. Masa Narita, TB Control Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County, looks at x-rays of tuberculosis patient lungs. There were 116 cases of TB in King County in 2010.
John Froschauer AP

My friends always tend to disbelieve me (in general, but also specifically) when I tell them that one out of every three people on the planet has been infected with tuberculosis.

So where are all these consumptive folks, they might say? — This is assuming they know that TB used to be called consumption because of the way it “consumed” and withered the body as the infection progressed.

They’re everywhere, I’d reply, including right here in wealthy and smug Seattle.

Seattle, in fact, has one of the worst problems with TB in the nation. But it’s always here, managed by the public health folks, so it’s hardly news.

The news is that it’s World TB Day.

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