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Heroes

These worms get under your skin, literally. The hero fighting them? Jimmy Freaking Carter.

This is shaping up to be one of the biggest public health success stories of our time.

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Gates Foundation

If you lived in northeastern Uganda 25 years ago and drank from public water sources, there was a pretty high chance that you'd contract a common but excruciating illness.

Guinea worm disease starts with a pain in your leg or foot, then a blister. Eventually, a parasite emerges from the wound. During this time, the pain is often so intense that you might not be able to work, take care of your family, or even walk.

It’s horrifying to even think about. But guinea worm has been a thing of the past for Ugandanssince 2009.


Recently, guinea worm disease hit another major milestone: It's almost gone.

This change from full-blown public health crisis to nearly eradicated in only 30 years is a huge, life-changing deal for communities across the globe. And former President Jimmy Carter made it happen.

Carter visited Lojura, Sudan, in 2010 and was struck by how awful guinea worm is. After this visit, he made eradicating the disease his personal mission. Photo by Peter Martell/ AFP Photo/ Getty Images.

Carter’s nonprofit, The Carter Center, launched its guinea worm eradication program 30 years ago, in 1986. When Carter decided to make guinea worm his cause, there were about 3.5 million people suffering from guinea worm infections — and just as daunting, there were no vaccines or medicines to treat it.

In 2015, there were only 22 guinea worm infections in the world — down from 126 in 2014.

How did it happen? Hard work, smart public education campaigns, and lots of clean water.

Guinea worm spreads through water. About a year after someone drinks water infected with guinea worm larvae, they get a blister, and the parasite begins to come out of the body. So the most important step was to keep guinea worm larvae out of drinking water.

The Carter Center built wells, gave water filters to villages, and worked to keep people with infections from bathing in water sources.

The center also relied on community health workers to provide education on preventing guinea worm disease.

“I’ve sometimes had thousands of students from schools lined up outside on the highway when I come into the village. In Nigeria, they had big signs that said, ‘Watch out, Guinea worm, here comes Jimmy Carter!’ That makes you feel good,” Carter said in a recent NPR interview.

There are only four countries left with documented guinea worm cases, which means we could see its end very soon. We went from more than 3 million infections to fewer than 25 in just three decades — solely from effective prevention methods.

This is already shaping up to be one of the biggest public health success stories since, well, the beginning of time.

As it approaches the eradication of guinea worm disease, the Carter Center has expanded its focus to include cultivating peace, protecting human rights, and eliminating other harmful diseases in the same way.

Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images.

“I would like the last guinea worm to die before I do,” Carter said at a news conference last August.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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