How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreThe current educational system in the US was constructed almost two centuries ago to meet the needs of the industrial age. Now that our society and economy have evolved beyond that era, our schools must also be reinvented.We can see what the future looks like in places like Mexico where one teacher fueled his low-income students to rise to the top of the nation by letting go of the reigns of teaching, to allow for child-led natural learning.Or we can look to Finland, where they adopted this new philosophy nationwide—with outsize results. In the 1990s, Finland pared the country’s elementary math curriculum from about 25 pages to four, reduced the school day by an hour, and focused on independence and self-directed learning based on their innate curiosity. By 2003, Finnish students had climbed from the lower rungs of international performance rankings to first place among developed nations.(READ the featured story in Wired)Photo credit: One Laptop Per Child projectAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

Read More →

New 24-Hour Vending Machine Dispenses Clothing and Blankets to the Homeless for Free

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreAs winter approaches, this new vending machine is being stocked with warm blankets and clothing for the homeless – and all of it can be accessed for free.The vending machine is readily available to the 200 homeless people who are currently living in Muncie, Indiana. All they have to do to access the supplies is register with local community services.Once registered, they are given vending machine tokens that can be used to take the goods for free. RELATED: Simple Solution Provides the Homeless With Housing and Jobs in One Fell SwoopAll the machine’s contents were donated by local residents who want to offer their support to the needy.“We know that they are out there. Some are in shelters, some are in different living situations,” Karee Buffin with the Bridges Community Services Fund told RTV6.“We really want to use something like this to reach out to people. It does demonstrate that our community cares.”(WATCH the news coverage below) – Photo by RTV6Help Your Friends Warm Up With This Wonderful News By Sharing It To Social MediaAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img read more

Read More →

Saint Mary’s launches mental health initiative focusing on first-year experiences

first_imgEditor’s Note: An earlier version of this article misstated the use of a wellness initiative survey and incorrectly listed Becky Lindstrom and Shay Schneider as faculty members.Saint Mary’s decided to make significant changes to how mental illness is addressed on campus. The College created two new administrative positions to address mental health concerns. With the help of new staff members Becky Lindstrom and Shay Jolly Schneider, the College launched a new wholeness framework designed to address the physical, mental and emotional needs of its students, particularly through restructuring the first-year experience. Lindstrom, a registered life coach, joined the faculty on a two-year contract to help address increasing concerns about wellness and health on campus.“I was brought in by Saint Mary’s late last year to help the school address the rise in stress and anxiety among students,” Lindstrom said. “The initial conversation was about creating a peer coaching cohort, so bringing in a life coach was the logical first step. Since the start, it has gotten so much bigger. There are so many other pieces involved.” Schneider, the new director of retention and first-year experience, said she knew she needed to reach out to new students to address anxieties and improve overall well-being. “I work closely with our first-year programming, whether that be through orientation programs, Belles Beginnings, preview days or the first-year experience course [otherwise known as Sophia Program in Liberal Learning] and the peer mentor program,” she said. “We saw that mental health was one of the main reasons that students were choosing to leave. We realized that the retention piece was not missing anything, but there was something we could do better.”This led Lindstrom and Schneider to combine forces to initiate campus-wide changes, starting with improving some aspects of the freshman experience and educating upperclassmen on how to provide appropriate support and resources. “When [Lindstrom] was brought in, we talked about launching this peer coaching program which we are working on,” Schneider said. “We are looking to recruit members during the fall semester with a formal launch in the spring.”  Lindstrom and Schneider also looked at the first-year program and decided to make some new changes.“In the past, we’ve gotten feedback from first-year students and peer mentors that they felt there was a lack of connection between the two groups,” Schneider said. “Peer mentors didn’t feel like they were having the best opportunities to build relationships with their first years and vice versa. We saw this as an opportunity to reboot our peer mentor program and bring some fresh energy into that.” As new ideas began to develop, Lindstrom created a new wholeness framework to integrate into the SPLL course. “The framework is essentially the idea that if you’re going to educate the whole student, you have to help them help themselves by taking care of physical health, mental wellness and faith and spirituality,” Lindstrom said. “You also need to have the emotional resilience to be able to be aware of what you need to feel fulfilled. So we are trying to build that idea of inherent self-worth in addition to self-awareness and fulfillment.”She said the framework stresses the values of identity and community in the hopes that it will give students resources to succeed.“The framework is truly about developing the person and what it means to be a Saint Mary’s woman,” Schneider said. “We don’t want anyone to feel like they’re just checking off boxes through a program. It’s something that will ultimately help you to help yourself.”  While the programs are specifically geared towards freshmen, many upperclassmen have also been provided with the framework. Lindstrom and Schneider said they hope upperclassmen involvement will help the program spread to the populations they can’t reach. “The focus was to start with the incoming freshmen hoping that this year, these students will become sophomores — who will then eventually become juniors — and within four years, this will be something that’s known around campus,” Lindstrom said. “While we won’t be doing anything for the sophomores, juniors and seniors directly, we’re hoping that within that leadership community of upperclassmen, this program will spread organically.” Peer mentors working with freshmen have noticed a positive change in the restructuring of the first-year program.“I think the wellness program is so helpful, I wish I had it when I was a freshman,” senior peer mentor Liz Ferry said. “It helps us to frame the conversation, not only how to be a good student, but also how to be a good person and how to focus on your mental health, academics and spiritual well-being. That is all part of your experience at Saint Mary’s.”Junior, peer mentor Carin Kaminski thinks the new framework provides practical activities to help overall well-being.“This year we have some new ways to help freshman deal with stress,” Kaminski said. “We introduced this self-planning goal program called WOOP. Also, we have different weeks dedicated to self-awareness, community, how to handle stress and how to get involved on campus.” Kaminski also thinks it puts the freshmen in a better position to utilize the resources the College has to offer. “I think these freshmen know a lot more than what we did,” she said. “I am telling them everything from the bus schedule to all that our academic offices, counseling and health and wellness center have to offer. I just think we’re giving them all the resources that we possibly know, and because of this, they are a lot more prepared than we were.” While many of the program activities are just being introduced, first years are taking the program seriously.“Right now in my SPLL class we’re discussing the basics of college — time management, stress and how to manage it all,” first year Abby Brown said. “When we’re discussing all of this, I take it seriously.”The College hopes the new wellness initiative will have significant short and long-term impacts for the school. Lindstrom said she hopes her presence at the College will ultimately allow this project to grow. “Short term goals have to be simple and effective,” she said. “We hope to show results for the students so that it gives them the momentum to keep doing it. In the long term, I hope the students will take ownership so that when they graduate, it won’t just be about how to be Saint Mary’s students. It will help them live their lives.”For Schenider, creating a better future for Saint Mary’s students is a personal goal. “As an alum, I think about the things I wish that I had as a first year student,” she said. “It’s not that Saint Mary’s is missing anything, it’s that we’ve seen a concern and given this initiative structure. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to be part of setting the groundwork and hopefully leaving this legacy of what could truly be a student experience unlike any other.” Tags: first-year experience, Mental health, wholeness frameworklast_img read more

Read More →

Which player was key to Lancers’ state football run? No one

first_imgThe Lancers came off the field Friday after securing the team’s first-ever trip to the state title game.As his team began celebrating on the field after the Lancers’ 37-27 defeat of Olathe North Friday, a friend of coach Dustin Delaney ran up to him and shouted the word “unbelievable” over and over again.And when asked what differentiated his team from those who had been eliminated from a shot at the title, Delaney himself used the word again.“Unbelievable teamwork,” Delaney said. “We’ve had new kids step up every single night. And we’re the ultimate concept of team. All our kids will do anything for each other. The reward is that we get to go to state.”Indeed, one of the defining aspects of this year’s SM East team is its lack of a true “star.” A check of individual season stats through the Sectionals round produces a notable lack of SM East players at the top of any category. Luke Taylor was among the top three running backs in the league with 1,102 yards and 11 touchdowns – but the Lancers don’t have a player among the top five in passing or receiving yards.Yes, there are players whose names found their way into the box score more frequently than others over the course of the season. But, from game to game, it seemed an entirely new set of players would account for the key plays that secured the win.SM East doesn’t beat Olathe Northwest without Alec Dean pulling in a bobbled ball after Christian Blessen’s Hail Mary. SM East doesn’t beat Olathe North in the regular season without Dominique Atkinson’s fourth quarter safety. SM East doesn’t beat SM South without Luke Taylor running in for an overtime touchdown. And if the Lancers are going to finish the mission they started and bring home the first football title in SM East history, you’d better believe it’s going to be a true team effort on Saturday.Congrats on an amazing season so far, Lancers. Go beat Derby together. Goin to STATE from Brian Libeer on Vimeo.last_img read more

Read More →

JoCo district attorney charges 3 juveniles in connection to Prairie Village shooting death

first_imgA day after announcing 1st degree murder charges against a man for the shooting death of a teen in Prairie Village earlier this month, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe has announced additional charges against three juveniles.The charges include:Premeditated 1st degree murder and attempted robbery against a 17-year-old from Kansas City, Kan.1st degree murder and attempted robbery against a 16-year-old female from Mission1st degree murder and attempted robbery against a 17-year-old-male from Merriam.The Johnson County District Attorney’s office does not release the names of minors charged with crimes. Their cases are handled in juvenile court.On Wednesday, Howe’s office announced that law enforcement had arrested Jesse M. Monreal, 35, and charged him with 1st degree murder and attempted robbery stemming from a shooting May 5 that left a teen dead in Prairie Village. The deceased was identified as Kiven M. Maquial of Mission. He was 18.last_img read more

Read More →

Minnesota aims to cut down on turnovers

first_imgMinnesota aims to cut down on turnoversThe team has been struggling with turnovers, which has led to losses.Chelsea GortmakerGophers assistant women’s basketball coach Fred Chmiel joined Marlene Stollings’ coaching staff in late May 2014. Chmiel will coach aganist his former team, Penn State, today. Matt GreensteinJanuary 28, 2015Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintJust more than a year ago, Penn State assistant coach Fred Chmiel watched the Lady Lions trample the Gophers 83-53.Chmiel — now an assistant coach at Minnesota — will watch the two teams play again on Wednesday from the opposite sideline.“We all are here right now. We all are Gophers,” redshirt sophomore Amanda Zahui B. said jokingly.Last time the teams played, the Gophers suffered. They turned the ball over 21 times.“It definitely stings when you lose to a team by that much. We definitely want to show them up this year,” junior guard Shayne Mullaney said.Chmiel, who works primarily with guards, spent four seasons at Penn State. But this time around, he’ll try to help the Gophers cut down on costly turnovers.Mullaney said Minnesota is using Chmiel’s Penn State coaching time to its advantage.“He obviously knows their style of play. Coach Fred is in charge of our scouting reports, and he’s great at that. Obviously, we want to win extra for him because that’s where he came from,” Mullaney said.And for the Gophers to do that, they must improve their ball handling.The team has averaged just over 16 turnovers in its losses.  Mullaney has accounted for 16 of the team’s 34 turnovers in the past two games.“We had way too many turnovers last game. We need to limit our turnovers, especially me as a point guard. It makes a difference in a close game,” Mullaney said. Jack Satzinger contributed to this report The turnovers have forced the Gophers to battle back from deficits.“We just need to come out more aggressively in the first half and not dig ourselves a deep hole,” senior forward Shae Kelley said.While Mullaney has struggled with turnovers, she currently is second in the Big Ten for assists. “We’re putting her in situations where we feel she can give looks to those kids for shots,” head coach Marlene Stollings said.Stollings said Mullaney has distributed the ball well, but she wishes the team would become less selfless.“If [there is] any problem that we have, it’s telling them to shoot more instead of pass,” Stollings said. “Shayne’s performed really well for us, but she’s logging a lot of minutes. We don’t have a lot of depth, so we’re going to try to help her with that. We want her to remain very confident.”The team has dropped two consecutive games, largely due to its turnovers, but Stollings has tried to keep the team’s confidence up.“Coach has told us that we can’t dwell on [the losses] too long. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We just need to keep everybody’s spirits up,” Kelley said.Mullaney said the team is hungry for a victory after dropping its past two games.“Everybody’s fighting for their lives this time of year. It’s a time of separation in the conference,” Stollings said.last_img read more

Read More →

Newtown CDC Receives $150,000 Grant from Wells Fargo

first_imgWells Fargo announced it has donated $150,000 to Newtown Community Development Corporation as part of $6 million in grants awarded across 59 nonprofits through its Leading the Way Home Priority Markets Initiative to help stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods hard-hit by the economy.   The Leading the Way Home Priority Markets Initiative provides grant support for neighborhood stabilization projects that are located in areas designated for revitalization to stimulate growth, stability and investment in distressed areas.The grant will help to provide down payment assistance toward the purchase of vacant REO properties in Chandler and help fund the Newtown CDC’s Recoverable Rehab Loan Program that provides home rehabilitation loans for CLT homes in Tempe and Chandler.“Community support is at the heart of our Vision & Values and these grants will help stabilize, rebuild and sustain local communities,” said Pam Conboy, lead regional president for Wells Fargo Arizona.  “We are so pleased to assist Newtown Community Development Corporation in their efforts to provide affordable housing and revitalize neighborhoods in the East Valley.”“We are delighted to receive this generous grant from Wells Fargo,” said Allen Carlson, executive director of Newtown Community Development Corporation.  “It will go a long way to helping us in our mission to provide homeowners with the assistance they need receive much needed rehabilitation loans and help qualified prospective and existing homeowners receive down payment assistance.”Newtown CDC was selected from requests submitted by local team members and nonprofits Wells Fargo identified as being in need of extra help with large-scale neighborhood revitalization projects.Wells Fargo’s Leading the Way Home community outreach program helps communities stabilize their current housing situation while advancing homeownership to build strong communities into the future.  From 2008 through October 2012, Wells Fargo has invested more than $148 million in community revitalization programs and $40 million in support of housing and credit counseling services.The Leading the Way Home Priority Markets Initiatives are administered through the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. Since 2009 the Leading the Way Home Priority Markets Initiative grant program has provided more than $18 million to more than 75 communications.  Since its inception in 1993, the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation has stewarded nearly $200 million and 4.5 million team member volunteer hours in support of creating affordable housing and community revitalization programs.  Wells Fargo Housing Foundation’s Team Member Volunteer Program has mobilized more than 175,000 volunteers to build or refurbish 4,0oo homes in low-to-moderate income communities.  In 2011, Wells Fargo Housing Foundation programs delivered a record 1,245 donated properties to support local affordable housing and community revitalization programs.last_img read more

Read More →

Experts see a stronger year in Phoenix housing market

first_imgThe spring weather isn’t the only thing that’s favorable in Arizona.“The biggest overall trend we see in residential real estate is the market trending upward from relief to optimism,” says Matt Widdows, founder of HomeSmart International. “We are continuing to see an uptake in the market across the board. Housing prices are on the rise and so is the rental market.  We are seeing very early signs of multiple offers, which could possibly be an indication of the return of a seller’s market.”According to the latest monthly report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, all signs point to the Phoenix area housing market having having better results in 2015, compared with 2014. Here are the highlights of that report on Maricopa and Pinal counties for January:The median single-family-home sales price went up 5.6 percent from January 2014 to January 2015 — $197,000 to $208,000.• The average price per square foot gained 5.1 percent from January 2014 to January 2015.• Condos and townhomes continue to gain a larger share of the market. Their median price up 11.6 percent – from $121,000 to $135,000February figures show demand about to boom, with the number of homes under contract dramatically rising.“January is always a quiet month, but we believe this was a lull before the storm,” explains Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School. “We have already seen early signs of much stronger activity from buyers in February and March. Looking at the number of homes going under contract, there was significantly increased demand in the lower and middle price ranges.”According to the Fannie Mae February 2015 Housing Survey, consumer optimism toward the housing market and the economy has reached a new all-time survey high. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they believe the economy is headed in the right direction. Likewise, the share of respondents who believe it would be easy to get a mortgage today rose to 54 percent, another record survey high.“Population growth is on the rise and home values, after a few years of steady growth, are now providing homeowners with more flexible equity positions,” according to Doug Reynolds, vice president, loan officer and division manager at Washington Federal Bank. “These improvements, along with long-term rates staying low and financing remaining readily available, should continue to be positive drivers of new construction and increased values.”Orr notes that listings for non-distressed homes under contract in the Phoenix area were up 26 percent from last year on a typical day in February. Listings from $150,000 to $600,000 were up more than 30 percent. He attributes this largely to lenders starting to relax their tight loan-underwriting guidelines and “boomerang buyers” who went through foreclosure or short sale being able to come back into the market.“I’m noticing a lot more showings at all of my listings, which is a sign of activity in the market,” says Mike D’Elena, a Realtor with HomeSmart and co-owner of Northgate Group. “Most of the buyers out looking right now are new buyers just beginning their search. I’m also working with a lot of move-up buyers — these are people who have recognized that rates are trending upwards and want to take advantage of current low rates and get a bigger home.”Experts says supply is an issue when it comes to all types of homes, including affordably priced rentals, which Orr says are at the lowest level he has seen in 14 years. But Tom Davis, vice president at Pioneer Title Agency, says in some areas, pending listings are up as much as 33 percent and this appears to be the trend throughout the Valley. Davis is quick to add that we are still in somewhat of a sellers’ market, with only about a six week inventory of homes on the MLS.“Supply remains relatively low except at the high end of the market,” Orr says. “At the moment, we are seeing early signs that demand is likely to recover quite a bit faster than supply. It would only take a modest increase in first-time home buyer demand to overwhelm the current weak level of supply, making it tougher to find affordable homes for sale.”Orr says home builders aren’t enjoying 2015 much yet. In January, newly built single-family homes hit their lowest monthly sales total in three years. However, most experts expect that trend to reverse, too.“Traffic is running about the same as it has been, but sales are substantially up,” says Dennis Webb, vice president of operations for Fulton Homes. “We are seeing more buyers that have experienced a short sale or foreclosure and now want to move into a new home again. We are also seeing people who have a home to sell being able to move up because the value of their existing home has increased.”last_img read more

Read More →

BMJ, European group criticize WHO pandemic actions

first_imgJun 4, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – An article published by the British Medical Journal says three scientists who helped frame World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on pandemic influenza preparedness had consulted for pharmaceutical companies that stood to profit from the WHO guidance and that the WHO did not disclose the scientists’ industry ties.The lengthy report, published online yesterday, says the scientists had declared their industry connections in other publications, but the WHO did not reveal them in its guidance document, WHO Guidelines on the Use of Antivirals and Vaccines During an Influenza Pandemic, issued in 2004.The report also raises other questions about the WHO’s transparency and its management of potential conflicts of interest. In particular, it is critical of the WHO’s refusal to reveal the names of the members of its Emergency Committee, which was set up to help guide the WHO response to the H1N1 pandemic, including when to change pandemic alert phases. The secrecy fuels conspiracy theories about issues such as the triggering of vaccine contracts, the article says.In related developments, a committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) today approved a report that denounced the response of the WHO and European national health agencies to the pandemic as an “unjustified scare” that led to a waste of public resources, according to a Council of Europe press release. PACE’s social, health, and family affairs committee approved the report in Paris today, setting the stage for a debate on Jun 24 during PACE’s summer session.The WHO in recent months has repeatedly rejected charges of undue pharmaceutical company influence on its pandemic preparations and response and has said it has appropriate procedures for managing potential conflicts of interest. The agency recently commissioned a group of independent experts to review the WHO response to the pandemic.WHO advisors namedThe BMJ article was written by the journal’s features editor, Deborah Cohen, and Philip Carter, a journalist with the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.The article lists the three experts who helped develop the WHO guidance as Fred Hayden, of the University of Virginia and the Wellcome Trust; Arnold Monto of the University of Michigan, and Karl Nicholson of the University of Leicester, England.Hayden authored the part of the 2004 guidance document dealing with the use of antivirals in a pandemic, the article says. He told the BMJ that he was being paid by Roche, maker of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), for lectures and consulting when the guidance was produced. The guidance advised governments to consider making plans to ensure they would have a supply of antivirals in the event of a pandemic.The article says Monto wrote an annex to the WHO guidance that covered vaccine usage in a pandemic. At the time, he was declaring receiving honorariums, consulting fees, and/or research support form three companies, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and ViroPharma, according to the report.Nicholson wrote another annex, “Pandemic Influenza,” to the WHO guidance, the article says. According to declarations he made in BMJ and The Lancet in 2003, he had received travel funding and honoraria from Roche and GSK for consulting and for speaking at medical conferences.All three experts told the BMJ that the WHO required experts attending agency meetings to complete declarations of interest. But the article adds, “WHO itself did not publicly disclose any of these conflicts of interest when it published the 2004 guidance. It is not known whether information about these conflicts of interest was relayed privately to governments around the world when they were considering the advice contained in the guidelines.”The BMJ writers say they asked the WHO for the conflict-of-interest declarations for the meeting that launched the development of the 2004 guidance document. The request was turned down by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.Since 2004, according to the BMJ, the WHO has produced additional pandemic guidance prepared by experts who had received payments from manufacturers of antivirals and vaccines. These activities included a global preparedness plan in 2005 and an interim Pandemic Influenza Task Force in 2006.The article also contends that the WHO is inconsistent in its approach to transparency and its management of possible conflicts of interest. While it has kept secret the names of its Emergency Committee members, the names of its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization are public knowledge, and the agency publishes summaries of their declarations of interest.Following a Jun 1 meeting of the Emergency Committee, the WHO yesterday announced it would maintain the current phase 6 pandemic alert for the time being. In the announcement, Chan said the agency guards the names of the committee members “to protect the integrity and independence of the members while doing this crucial work,” but promised to reveal them eventually.The agency told the BMJ it protects the names of the Emergency Committee members to shield them from being influenced or targeted by industry.The BMJ article also raises questions about the quality and disclosure of data that led to the licensing of oseltamivir and zanamavir (Relenza) in Europe and the United States, a topic that the journal covered in a review in December. At that time the journal said it couldn’t get access to manufacturer data on the two drugs. Since then, staff members of the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have said the two agencies struggled with the “paucity” of data on zanamivir and oseltamivir, respectively, during the licensing process, the article says.Call for transparency supportedSteven Miles, MD, a bioethicist at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, said the BMJ article shows that the WHO needs to be more transparent about its advisors’ potential conflicts of interest and the data it relies on.”The bottom line is that the WHO is looked to for health policy by the world community, including many countries which do not have the capacity to evaluate the health policy and technical questions that they turn to the WHO for guidance on,” he said.”For this reason the WHO has to have the strongest possible standard both with regard to managing conflicts of interest and transparency regarding the origins of its recommendations,” he added. “That includes disclosure not only of conflicts of interest bearing on its experts, but also transparency regarding the data they’re relying on.”In this circumstance it appears that neither was present—that there was no disclosure of industry ties of experts, but also that at least some of the data they were relying on was from industry-funded studies which were under proprietary control.”Miles said the fact that the three experts’ connections with industry were known because of their declarations in other publications doesn’t excuse the WHO from listing those ties in its guidance document.’It’s not enough if you disclose in one location if you don’t disclose in all the locations where you publish,” he said. Also, many of the journals in which the experts publish are not open-source journals, so many of the users of WHO guidelines, such as health officials in countries like Thailand or Nepal, would not have access to the publications in which disclosures were made, he added.In defense of the WHOThe WHO was defended today by Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, which publishes CIDRAP News.Osterholm said the WHO needs to rely on leading experts on issues such as antivirals, and such experts will often have some ties to industry. He also said the BMJ writers presented no evidence that the industry connections of its advisors led to any inappropriate actions or recommendations by the WHO.”Over the years there’s been a small group of researchers who have concentrated in antiviral treatment and prevention for flu. Why should it be surprising that they may have worked with drug companies on these drugs?” he said. “To exclude them would be to exclude the universe of expertise.””Today it’s very easy to do science witch hunts or character assassination by inference. There’s no evidence whatever that any of these individuals acted improperly, nor did WHO,” Osterholm added.If the WHO wanted authoritative information on the use of antivirals, he said, “I can’t think of anybody in the world who would know more about it” than Hayden. “Is there any evidence that Fred or anyone like him recommended drugs that benefited him financially?”Osterholm said he is very supportive of transparency and disclosure, while asserting that the WHO has systems in place to prevent conflicts of interest from distorting recommendations or votes. Ultimately, he said, the relevant decisions were made by the WHO itself, not by its expert advisors.Council of Europe reportThe PACE committee report denouncing the pandemic response by the WHO and European governments was produced by committee member Paul Flynn, a Labour member of the British parliament.The Council of Europe, a group separate from the European Union, works on issues such as civil rights, economics, and democracy. The group was established after World War II and is made up of elected officials from 47 nations.The committee’s report charges that there were “grave shortcomings” in the transparency of decision making during the pandemic, which they say raises questions about pharmaceutical industry influence. They questioned why the WHO emergency group and European advisory groups didn’t publicize the names and conflict-of-interest declarations of their members.Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the BMJ, appeared before the committee today to detail the journal’s report that scientists with drug industry ties helped WHO develop guidelines on flu vaccine stockpiling.The PACE committee’s report recommends several measures designed to improve transparency and safeguard against what it says is undue influence. The group also calls for a public fund to support independent research and expert advice, possibly funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and closer collaboration with the media to avoid sensationalistic coverage of public health events.Before and during a PACE committee hearing in January, the WHO defended itself from the accusations. Keiji Fukuda, MD, special advisor on pandemic influenza to the WHO director-general, said the new virus that quickly swept the globe required an unprecedented global cooperation from wide-ranging groups, including pharmaceutical companies.He said the International Health Regulations (IHR) provide an orderly framework for assessing and declaring a pandemic.A pharmaceutical company representative also rejected the committee’s charges at its hearing in January. Dr Luc Hessel, chairman of the European Vaccine Manufacturers Public Health Policy and Advocacy working group, said vaccine companies delivered a safe, effective vaccine in a timely manner, as countries asked them to do, based on the best information they had at the time.He said many governments had preexisting contracts for pandemic vaccine to avoid difficult negotiations and ease the response during a public health emergency. Hessel countered that vaccine companies have shouldered financial risks in advance of the pandemic by expanding production capacity.Several top health officials have defended government and WHO actions in the wake of the PACE committee’s criticisms.  For example, British Heath Secretary Andy Burnham told the House of Commons in January that he would not apologize for preparing to protect the public during a pandemic, and Australia’s chief medical officer, Jim Bishop, in a media report called some of the groups claims “historically and medically inaccurate” and said the WHO made its pandemic decisions based on cases and deaths in Mexico and the United States, not on pharmaceutical industry influence.At the recent World Health Assembly, which wrapped up its work on May 21, representatives from several nations, including France, India, and the United States, also defended the WHO’s pandemic actions, according to media reports. French health minister Roselyne Bachelot called criticism of the WHO’s response unfair.”The vaccine, which was the answer to a real danger, turned into a source of risk in the collective mind,” Bachelot said, according to Agence France-Presse. “The effects of this smear campaign are potentially devastating.”Cohen D, Carter P. Conflicts of interest: WHO and the pandemic flu “conspiracies.” BMJ 2010;340 (published online Jun 3) [Full text]See also:Jun 4 PACE statementJan 14 CIDRAP News story “WHO, vaccine group deny pandemic scare charges”Jan 26 CIDRAP News story “European hearing airs WHO pandemic response, critics’ charges”Jun 3 WHO emergency committee statementlast_img read more

Read More →

Home oxygen fire death toll falls

first_imgGet instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270. Subscribelast_img

Read More →