This week’s news includes a potentially far-reaching decision by the Indian Supreme Court that will give people in developing countries continuing access to low-cost copies of drugs to treat diseases and infections like HIV and cancer. We’re also intrigued by a young software engineer’s inquiries into how to give people information in ways that stand a better chance of changing their behavior.
Where YouTube meets the farm
The New York Times, April 3, 2013
One of the great paradoxes in today’s world is that information is so easy to transmit—few places on earth are beyond the reach of cellphones or televisions —and yet our efforts to get lifesaving, livelihood-boosting information to people in a form that sticks, a form that will actually change behavior, are frequently disappointing.
That was a problem that gripped Rikin Gandhi, a young American-born software engineer, while he was working in Bangalore for Microsoft Research India seven years ago. Rikin was interested in how rural telecenters might be used to spread education and information about health and agriculture in remote areas. A colleague suggested he investigate the application of the Digital StudyHall model in rural Karnataka. Gandhi did just that—and his experience led to the creation of Digital Green, a platform and process for extending knowledge and influencing behavior that has seized the attention of many development experts.
Aid from rich countries falls for second year in a row, says OECD
The Guardian, April 3, 2013
Official development assistance fell by four percent in real terms last year, following a two percent dip in 2011, but a moderate recovery is expected in 2013, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Body’s anti-HIV “training manual” offers vaccine hopes
BBC, April 3, 2013
HIV mutates in order to survive the onslaught of a patient’s immune system. However, some patients develop highly effective antibodies that can neutralize huge swathes of HIV mutants. A North Carolina team analyzed the arms race between body and virus, published in the journal Nature, and has shown how these antibodies are made.
Low-cost drugs in poor nations get a lift in Indian court
The New York Times, April 1, 2013
People in developing countries worldwide will continue to have access to low-cost copycat versions of drugs for diseases like HIV and cancer, at least for a while. Production of the generic drugs in India, the world’s biggest provider of cheap medicines, was ensured on Monday in a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court.
Multiple vaccinations on same day does not raise autism risk
TIME, March 29, 2013
Infants now receive several shots at a time, but the latest study says that does not increase their risk of developing autism.