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A team of five (5) teenage girls representing Nigeria has defeated teams from the United States, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan and China to win the 2018 Technovation world pitch junior division which was held in San Francisco.

The team, Save-A-Soul from Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha, comprising of Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye developed a mobile application called ‘FD Detector’ to tackle the problem of fake pharmaceutical products in the country.

The Nigerian schoolgirls were selected from 2,000 mobile app developers to represent Africa at the world pitch. This is the first time a Junior Nigerian team will emerge among the finalists to visit Silicon Valley and the Nigerian teenage girls will be pitching their app to investors in Silicon Valley, California.

Technovation is a program that invites girls to identify a problem in their communities and then challenge them to solve them by developing apps. According to Team Save-A-Soul, Nigeria has one of the largest markets for fake drugs. The teenage girls from Anambra State plan to partner with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), using the app, to tackle this challenge.

The girls won the competition on Thursday 9th August 2018 after facing judges from around the world.

“When it comes to the start of breastfeeding, timing is everything,” said Henrietta Fore, the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Executive Director, on the eve of World Breastfeeding Week.

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world by providing infants with the nutrients they need.

“In many countries, it can even be a matter of life or death,” she added.
In the report, Capture the Moment, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) note that while newborns who breastfeed in the first hour of life are significantly more likely to survive, they estimate that 78 million newborns are excluded.

“Each year, millions of newborns miss out on the benefits of early breastfeeding and the reasons – all too often – are things we can change,” she continued. “Mothers simply don’t receive enough support to breastfeed within those crucial minutes after birth, even from medical personnel at health facilities.”

Even a few hours delay after birth could pose life-threatening consequences. Skin-to-skin contact along with suckling at the breast stimulate the mother’s production of breastmilk, including colostrum, which is produced ahead of regular milk, in the first few days after giving birth. It is so rich in nutrients and antibodies, that it is often referred to as the baby’s first vaccine.

According to the report, 65 per cent of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have the highest rate of breastfeeding within the first hour, while East Asia and the Pacific have the lowest rate with only 32 percent benefitting from the early initiation.

While nearly nine-in-ten babies born in Burundi, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu are breastfed within that first hour, only two-in-10 born in Azerbaijan, Chad and Montenegro were nursed.

“Breastfeeding gives children the best possible start in life,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We must urgently scale up support to mothers – be it from family members, health care workers, employers and governments, so they can give their children the start they deserve.”

The WHO and UNICEF-led Global Breastfeeding Collective also released the 2018 Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, which tracks progress for and urges countries to advance breastfeeding policies and programmes to help mothers breastfeed their babies in the first hour of life.

Source: news.un.org

Princess Mako of Akishino, the first child of Fumihito, Prince Akishino, a member of the Japanese Imperial Family visited the indigenous Japanese in Brazil during the Japanese festival.

Nearly two million Japanese people or their descendants live in Brazil – mainly in Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city.

Shortly after her arrival, Princess Mako toured the Japan Festival, a three-day event showcasing Japanese cuisine, culture and products.

She also planned to visit the Monument to Japanese Immigration Pioneers at the city’s Ibirapuera Park and the nearby Japanese Pavilion.

Earlier in the week, she visited Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue and Botanical Gardens.
Princess Mako visited many Brazilian cities and Japanese cultural sites and meeting with Japanese families in Brazil.

Source: Independent.ie

Flossie Wong-Staal is a woman who has made tremendous strides in the fight against AIDS. She is a Chinese-American virologist and molecular biologist. She was the first scientist to clone HIV and determine the function of its genes, a major step in proving that HIV is the cause of AIDS. From 1990 to 2002, she held the Florence Riford Chair in AIDS Research at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She was co-founder and, after retiring from UCSD, Chief Scientific Officer of Immusol, which was renamed iTherX Pharmaceuticals in 2007 when it transitioned to a drug development company focused on hepatitis C, and where she remains Chief Scientific Officer.

Her early life

Flossie Wong-Staal was born originally as Wong Yee Ching on August 27th, 1947 in Guangzhou, China. Wong-Staal was among many Chinese citizens to flee to Hong Kong after the Communist revolution in the late 1940s. During her time in Hong Kong, Wong attended a girls’ Catholic school taught by British nuns where she excelled in science. Throughout her time at the school, she was encouraged by many of her teachers to further her studies in the United States. Her father chose the name Flossie for her after a massive storm that had struck their area around this time.  At the age of eighteen (18), she left Hong Kong in order to attend the University of California, Los Angeles where she pursued a Bachelor of Science in bacteriology which she earned in 1972.

She got married Steven Staal in 1971 and in 1972 she earned her Ph.D. and was named the Woman Graduate of the Year at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She did her post-doctorate work at the University of California, San Diego, where she would continue to research.  In 1973 her husband, a medical doctor, began working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda as their Managing Director, so Flossie joined him there and got a job at Robert Gallo’s lab in the National Cancer Institute at NIH.

Her career
Sequel to acquiring her doctorate, in 1972, Flossie Wong-Staal undertook postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). At Robert Gallo’s institute, Wong-Staal began her research into retroviruses. The research conducted in the institute focused on viruses that caused cancer in animals, and how those viruses affected cells.  Their work on oncogenes in animals led Flossie to be the first to find oncogenes in humans.  Flossie quickly rose to a leadership position in the lab and flourished, enjoying the research that frequently led to new and exciting discoveries.

Photo source: Fine Art America

In 1983, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) lab and the Pasteur Institute in Paris separately isolated and identified the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).  In 1984, Flossie Wong-Staal became the first to clone and map the genes of HIV.  This was significant in allowing for the development of HIV blood tests.  In 1985, she was divorced but kept her hyphenated name.

In 1990 a team of researchers led by Wong-Staal studied the effects that the Tat protein within the viral strain HIV-1 would have on the growth of cells found within Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions commonly found in AIDS patients. The team of researchers performed tests on a variety of cells that carried the tat protein and observed the rate of cell proliferation in cells infected by HIV-1 and the control, a culture of healthy human endothelial cells. Wong-Staal used a type of cellular analysis known as radio immune-precipitation in order to detect the presence of KS lesions in cells with varying amounts of the tat protein. The results of these tests showed that the amount of that protein within a cell infected by HIV-1 is directly correlated to the amount of KS lesions a patient may have. These findings were essential in developing new treatments for HIV/AIDS patients who suffer from these dangerous lesions.

The same year, Flossie Wong-Staal moved from National Cancer Institute (NCI) to the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Wong-Staal continued her research into HIV and AIDS at UCSD. In 1994 she was named as chairman of UCSD’s newly created Center for AIDS Research. In that same year, Wong-Staal was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies.

Wong-Staal’s research in 1990, focused on gene therapy, using a Ribozyme ‘molecular knife’ to repress HIV in stem cells. The protocol she developed was the second to be funded by the United States government.

In her quest to find treatments, vaccines, and cures by various methods, she retired from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 2002 and now holds the title of Professor Emeritus. She then joined Immusol, a biopharmaceutical company that she co-founded while she was at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), as Chief Scientific Officer. Recognizing the need for improved drugs for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), she transitioned Immusol to a Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) therapeutics focus and renamed it iTherX Pharmaceuticals to reflect this.

The dedication and impeccable inventions of Flossie Wong-Staal made her a widely respected researcher. Her publications were once found to be the most-cited by female researchers in the 1980s.  She was named the top woman researcher of the 1980s by the Institute for Scientific Information. In 2002, she was named by ‘Discover’ Magazine as one of the fifty most extraordinary women scientists. ‘The Daily Telegraph’ in 2007 listed Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal as number thirty-two (#32) of the ‘Top 100 Living Geniuses’. She remains as a Research Professor of Medicine at UCSD.

By

EMEKPO CHARLES.

Sleep is imperative for every human, especially for women. So what do you think will happen when disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea or recent ones like tight schedule cause you to lose sleep? Well, the implication is very simple; it affects your healthy life, particularly your heart.

The importance of sleep can never be overemphasized, the 8-hour sentence in a useless void, the research is pretty clear on this point: sleep is sacrosanct for healthy living. It helps the brain, mood, keeps you sharp, strengthens your immune system, fights inflammation, and keeps your heart and blood vessels in tip-top shape.

Shelby Freedman Harris, PsyD, Director of behavioral sleep medicine at Montefiore Medical Centers Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in New York City asserted that, “When you’re sleeping you’re regulating hormone levels, you’re regulating insulin levels, your blood pressure is being kept under control, there are a lot of things going on, and if you’re not getting enough sleep you’re throwing these things out of whack. While you are sleeping, the body repair damaged tissue, produces crucial hormones, and strengthens the brain a process called consolidation, which helps you perform a new skill better after sleeping than you would if you spent an equivalent amount of time awake.

Virend K. Somers, MD, a professor of medicine and cardiovascular diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who also studied sleep and heart health stated that “It’s a way for the body to integrate everything that happened over the past waking day and to kind of prepare for the next day.”

A Healthy heart requires good sleep
Women who get less than six hours of sleep a night, as well as ones who don’t spend enough time in the deepest stages of sleep, are at higher risk of heart attacks and strokes than those who get at least seven hours.

A study in Japanese factory workers in 2011 found those who slept less than six hours a night had a five-fold increased heart attack risk over a 14-year span compared with those who logged between 7 and 8 hours a night. Another published in 2011 found that healthy women from 65 and above with normal blood pressure were nearly twice as likely to develop hypertension during the study if they spent less time in the deepest sleep stage (known as slow-wave sleep) compared with those who spent the most time deeply asleep.

There’s also some limited evidence that short-term sleep deprivation may be harmful to those with heart problems. In 2012, Swedish researchers reported that hospital admissions for heart attacks increased by about 4% in the week after the spring transition to daylight saving time compared to other weeks. This is when we “spring forward” and set our clocks an hour ahead, meaning many of us to lose an hour of sleep.

Charles Czeisler, MD, the Baldino; Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston on sleep apnea stated “It’s as if somebody’s choking you, so your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes up, and instead of having a daily cycle in which everything slows down at night, instead everything is higher during the night. Over time, even your daytime blood pressure is higher.” In fact, he adds, many experts think sleep apnea may account for one-third of all cases of high blood pressure among adults.

When you feel you have not rested enough during the day and your bed partner says you snore, you should ask your doctor about sleep apnea. According to Dr. Somers “There is enough evidence out there suggesting that sleep apnea is bad that people need to take it seriously.”

Shelby Freedman Harris stated that women with less severe sleep apnea may be able to get their symptoms under control by just adopting strategies that prevent them from sleeping on their back, for example sewing a tennis ball into the front pocket of a T-shirt and wearing it backward. There are even shirts that you can buy with built-in padding to prevent back sleeping.

For more severe cases, a device can help prevent the lower jaw from falling backward into the airway, Dr. Somers says, or a face mask that delivers pressurized air into the nose (called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP) can keep the airway open at night.

Can less sleep make you fat?
Research has suggested that a lack of sleep could be contributing to problems like diabetes and weight gain- both serious health concerns. Some studies have linked shorter sleep to a greater likelihood of obesity, but whether or not sleeping less is a cause or effect of obesity remains unclear.

It is common knowledge that sleep deprivation reduces sensitivity to insulin, the key blood-sugar-regulating hormone while making it harder to metabolize blood sugar properly. Short sleep also boosts levels of hormones that make us hungry, while reducing secretion of the hormones that help us feel full. So it makes sense that being starved for sleep could lead to weight gain even if only for the fact that being awake longer gives you more time to eat.

Dr. Czeisler asserted that women who sleep less but eat more, their blood sugar goes higher and they are more resistant to the effect of insulin than if they ate the same cookie after a good night’s sleep, says. “If you are on a diet to lose weight and you’re sleeping five to six hours a night, 75% of the weight you lose will be lean body mass.”

That means just 25% of the weight you’re losing is fat, he added; when people sleep enough, fat accounts for 50% of weight loss.

Freedman Harris stated, “A lot of women who don’t get enough sleep often say they have trouble losing weight, or they have this slow weight gain.”  Often, she further stated, women who start getting treatment for sleep apnea to find that once they are sleeping better, it is easier for them to lose weight and losing weight may help lessen sleep apnea symptoms. “You don’t have to be overweight to have sleep apnea, but if you are, sometimes losing at least 10% of your body weight can reduce the severity of your sleep apnea.”

Ways to get a sufficient night’s sleep
Once you are in bed, prepared for a healthy seven or eight hours and then stare at the clock for four of them. Is all lost? If you have trouble sleeping for a few days here and there, taking steps to improve your sleep should get you back on track. And you can be assured that you have plenty of company. According to the National Sleep Foundations, 2011 Sleep in America Poll, 60% of U.S adults say they have sleep problems every night or almost every night.

Any woman who finds out that she is having sleeping problems should, first of all, take a careful look at her sleep hygiene, asserted Dr. Harris. This means organizing your surroundings and activities to promote sleep as bedtime approaches. Skip caffeine after noon, she advises (and do not forget that diet soda, herbal teas, and chocolate can contain caffeine too). Avoid alcohol or heavy meals within three hours of bedtime. “Exercise is great for sleep, especially falling asleep,” she added. You’ll get the most benefit by working out five to six hours for bedtime. A hot shower or bath about an hour and a half before bedtime can also be helpful.

Photo Source: Healthline

 “If you cannot sleep, get out of bed, go somewhere else, do something quiet, calm and relaxing, go back to bed when you are sleepy again.” Go to bed and wake up at the same time within a half hour every day.

Dr. Somers warned against making your Facebook, I-phone, or TV your final destination of the evening. Using these devices for communication is clearly eating into our sleep time, says. “People are spending more time being connected than sleeping.” Texting friends, playing computer games, or just watching TV stimulates our brains and bodies at a time when we should be winding down, and the extra light we expose ourselves to when we peer at a screen could be throwing off our body clocks.

This is because when it gets dark, our bodies release a hormone called melatonin that helps make us sleepy, and pre-bedtime bright light exposure especially exposure to the blue light emitted by screens large and small weakens melatonin release. “I have heard a lot of patients say, I’m just watching YouTube videos on my I-Phone at night.” “It might be calming, but it’s actually doing something to the melatonin in your brain. I usually tell people to cut off screen time an hour before going to bed.”

Women with long-standing, chronic insomnia need more than a sleep hygiene tune-up. A few sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of counseling designed to help people change the way they think about challenging situations like insomnia and respond more positively to them, can be helpful. Four to eight sessions are usually enough.

Virend Somers stated, “In the sleep field we actually recommend that patients do that first because it’s short-term and it’s better than getting hooked on a pill.” However, if CBT doesn’t help, medications may be necessary. “They have a place certainly, but they need to be used carefully and thoughtfully.”

“The best way to be sure that you are sleeping enough is to wake up spontaneously without the use of an alarm clock and to feel rested when you wake up. If those things happen and you are not feeling sleepy during the day, then you’re probably sleeping enough.”

Getting enough sleep plays an important role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Proper quality sleeps at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

By
Emekpo Charles.