Category: Sanitation & Hygiene

Sanitation and hygiene are very much related to poverty, illiteracy, use and abuse of natural resources in particular water resources. Poor sanitation and hygiene have major negative impacts on public health with serious feedback effects on productivity in all sectors and levels in the society. To enhance the socio-economic developments and achieve acceptable and sustainable levels, e.g. in Africa and Asia, organized, coordinated and regular efforts are needed to improve the situation in these regions. It is not a matter of individual responsibility only since children, students and labor are continuously interacting with each other in various daily life activities where common facilities and resources are usually shared. Access to organized forms information packages, coaching, training and demonstrations for raising public awareness among communities, stakeholder’s activities, organizations and institutes are IMPERATIVE.

On Editorial Board – The 6th President of Republic of Mauritius Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is Biodiversity scientist, Entrepreneur, Author and the 6th President Republic of Mauritius. She has joined the Editorial Board of Sustain-Earth.Com.

It is a great honor to have Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim on the Editorial Board of Sustain-Earth.Com. She has been the Managing Director of the Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique (CIDP) Research and Innovation, also Professor of Organic Chemistry with an endowed chair at the University of Mauritius. She has served as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Pro Vice Chancellor (2004- 2010). She also worked at the Mauritius Research Council as Manager for Research (1995-1997). She was elected and served as Chairperson of the International Council for Scientific Union – Regional Office for Africa.


As a Founding Member of the Pan African Association of African Medicinal Plants, she co-authored the first ever African Herbal Pharmacopoeia, authored and co-edited 30 books, several book chapters and scientific articles in the field of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. She has lectured extensively across the world; is a Member of the Editorial Boards of major journals, has served on Technical and national committees in various capacities. Elected Fellow of several academies and societies, Ms Gurib-Fakim received several international prizes including the 2007 l’Oreal-UNESCO Prize for Women in Science, the African Union Commission Award for Women in Science, 2009.

The 6th President and the First Female President of the Republic of Mauritius and served in that capacity during June 2015-March 2018. She was elevated to the Order of GCSK by the Government of Mauritius, and received the Legion d’Honneur from the Government of France in 2016. In 2017, she received both the lifelong achievement award of the United States Pharmacopoeia-CePat Award and the American Botanical Council Norman Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award. In 2018, she received the Order of St George at the Semperopernball, Dresden, Germany.
In June 2016, she was in the Forbes List for the 100 ‘Most Powerful women in the world’ and 1st among the Top 100 Women in Africa Forbes List 2017, 2019. She is honoured as one of Foreign Policy’s 2015 Global Thinkers.

More about Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim can be found in Wikipedia (https://sv.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ameenah_Gurib); Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/profile/ameenah-gurib-fakim/); Council of Women World Leaders (http://www.councilwomenworldleaders.org/ameenah-gurib-fakim.html); Linkedin (https://mu.linkedin.com/in/aguribfakim).

Scaling up science and technology to promote and implement the UN-SDGs is crucial for achieving sustainability in Africa and bringing prosperity to future generation. In this context coupling science and technology and integrating them in the socio-economic-environment pillars of society is imperative. We invite you here to see the progress, challenges and opportunities for cross-sector innovations toward gender parity, among others, in leadership in Africa and globally. https://youtu.be/sx8d_Xkt4xY

Spatio-Temporal COVID-19: UN-SDGs Empower ’WE THE PEOPLE’ to Make Our Planet Earth Great Again.

While ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ in singular terms are composed of unique individuals from all walks of life, we still seek and need common solutions in spite of the fact that the modern political party systems are product of socio-economic conflicts of the last few centuries (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left%E2%80%93right_political_spectrum). Globalisation, by being affected by internetisation, is strongly shaping and reshaping democracies around the world. More and more intensive and complex engagement of world population, i.e. individuals of “WE THE PEOPLE”, is taking place. So, the number of solutions to achieve peace, security and prosperity are becoming endless especially if sustainability, with its ‘socio-economic-environment’ pillars, is to be seriously and actively taken in consideration. However, from the Science and Technology viewpoint a problem is a solution that is not yet found’ (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/288957; https://www.itseducation.asia/article/finding-possible-solutions; https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/look-for-the-solution-within-the-problem.html; https://www.aicpa-cima.com/news/the-problem-is-the-solution.html). We are desperately seeking new solutions and this remains to be the main concern shaping this century though the problems, barriers and challenges in our modern societies are becoming multilayered in nature, complexity and even diversity. It is not straightforward to tune individuals and their political structures to the same goals, i.e. to redefine what is meant by ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ in global context. It is a spatio-temporal dynamic process coherent with an ever ongoing progress in the development of human evolution on planet Earth.

This said, the COVID-19 crisis by being part of a complex health system on planet Earth demonstrates clearly the paradox in how to define ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ from viewpoint of individuals and communities, i.e. in ‘bottom-top’ models on the one-hand; and in political structures and governmental institutions, i.e. in ‘top-bottom’ models on the other-hand. Considering the global geographical data of COVID-19 and the associated antibody tests by today (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/) we may conclude that the so-called herd immunity, population immunity, or social immunity hasn’t been achieved yet as the time elapsed since the breakdown of the novel coronavirus ‘COVID-19 pandemic’ is yet very short. Herd immunity (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious diseases that occurs when a large percentage of a population become immune to an infection. Generally, it can be achieved through previous infections thus providing a protection for individuals not yet immune. As COVID-19 is resulting from a new virus it will take longtime to achieve herd immunity and unless we keep doing at least what we are doing now we could face severe consequences. According to WHO, we are currently taking huge and yet unknown risks by reopening our economies. The spread of COVID-19 is refuelling itself and accelerating in the same way as it started back in China by the end of 2019 (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/19/who-says-coronavirus-enters-new-and-dangerous-phase-as-daily-cases-hits-record.html). Herd immunity can be also achieved through vaccination which in the case of COVID-19 is not yet available and may take up to several years for worldwide public use. However, there is some light at horizon as we have new reasonable explanations about the contradictions in global infection and death rates around the world. We have delayed effects in the global immunity that resulted from BCG vaccination which has been introduced and still being used in the developing countries. This is apparent from the strong correlation of reduced infection and mortality rates of COVID-19 in the developing countries. Excluding the countries with low-income levels that have few number of cases of COVID-19 per million inhabitants, i.e. 0.32± 0.09, because of risks for biases from improper reporting. The middle high and high-income countries with current universal BCG policy (55 countries) the same value of COVID-19 is 59.54± 23.29 (mean±s.e.m) cases per million inhabitants, to be compared with middle high and high income countries that never had a universal BCG policy (5 countries) with about 4 times the number of cases per million inhabitants, with 264.90± 134.88. This difference between countries is significant (p=0.0064, Wilcoxon rank sum test), suggesting that broad BCG vaccination along with other measures could slow the spread of COVID-19 (https://www.dw.com/en/can-a-tuberculosis-vaccine-help-combat-covid-19/a-53388220). The epidemiological evidence, from this German-study, indicates that differences in morbidity and mortality produced by COVID-19 across countries might be partially explained by a country’s BCG vaccination policy. Italy, for example, with very high COVID-19 mortality never implemented universal BCG vaccination. Japan with low COVID-19 mortality rate despite not implementing the most strict forms of social isolation have been implementing BCG vaccination since 1947. Iran that is heavily hit by COVID-19, started its universal BCG vaccination policy only in 1984 thus leaving anybody over 36 years old unprotected. China despite having a universal BCG policy since the 1950’s, its tuberculosis prevention and treatment agencies were disbanded and weakened during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). This, according to this German study, could have created (https://www.dw.com/en/can-a-tuberculosis-vaccine-help-combat-covid-19/a-53388220) a pool of potential hosts that affected by and spread COVID-19. However, the situation in China, assuming COVID-19 data from China are correct, now seems to have improved relatively fast. So the present global COVID-19 data suggest that BCG vaccination seem to significantly reduce mortality associated with COVID-19. The earlier that a country established a BCG vaccination policy, the stronger the reduction in number of deaths per million inhabitants, consistent with the idea that protecting the elderly population might be crucial in reducing mortality. Similar studies have been performed around the world, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia (MCRI) organized a trial to investigate whether the tuberculosis (TB) vaccine known as the bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) might offer protection against COVID-19 (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-could-tb-vaccine-offer-protection). Earlier work has shown that it might reduce the risk of some respiratory infections that are entirely unrelated to TB (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31025-4/fulltext). In this publication it is indicated that in addition to the specific effect against tuberculosis, the BCG vaccine has beneficial nonspecific (off-target) effects on the immune system that protect against a wide range of other infections and are used routinely to e.g. treat bladder cancer. This led to the suggestion that vaccination with BCG might have a role in protecting health-care workers and other vulnerable individuals against severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Also in a study carried out in France and The Netherland (https://www.france24.com/en/20200403-could-tb-vaccine-protect-medics-from-covid-19) it is stated that though BCG vaccine does not directly protect against the coronavirus, it can provide a boost to the immune system which may lead to improved protection and a milder infection. So, the race to develop COVID-19 vaccines has well and truly begun, but amid this research excitement another, rarely talked about vaccine is suddenly getting a lot of attention (https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/can-bcg-vaccine-protect-against-covid-19). During its long existence, an array of evidence has emerged suggesting that BCG vaccine may also offer beneficial off-target effects, providing some protection against not just some forms of TB but other diseases as well as it appears to help boost the immune system.

So, putting COVID-19 in a global historical perspective what regards the evolution of pandemics and diseases that threatened humanity reveals and uncover many important and strategic issues (https://www.converse.edu/story/reflections-on-current-past-pandemics/; https://www.historyassociates.com/the-covid-19-pandemic-in-historical-perspective/; https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/spanish-flu-pandemic-and-mental-health-historical-perspective). Until around 1970, historical research about pandemics had been virtually non-existent. Some novels and popular histories appeared over the decades, but it was Alfred Crosby’s 1976 book Epidemic and Peace, 1918 (reissued in 1989 under the title America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918) that paved the way for international research about the subject. One of the book’s major achievements was to draw attention to the fact that the pandemic quickly disappeared as a topic of public conversation soon after it was over, ignored by periodicals and textbooks for decades. To many historians, this collective silence is as much a part of the pandemic’s story as the course of the disease itself. The first outbreak of global diseases occurred from 1347 to 1351, killed up to 50% of the Europe’s population (https://www.converse.edu/story/reflections-on-current-past-pandemics/). King Edward III of England ordered English ports to be closed before the plague reached England late in the summer of 1348. The best advice, that remains to be true until today, anyone could offer was to flee, in essence a form of social distancing. As in this case distancing all the population of England by closing its borders. A more recent pandemic, the influenza of 1918-1919 also has even more lessons for us to learn (https://www.historyassociates.com/the-covid-19-pandemic-in-historical-perspective/). The 1918 influenza pandemic occurred in a world devoid of viral vaccines, relatively minimal medical knowledge, medical infrastructure, and limited global communications. Most important, a century ago, medical professionals didn’t categorize the flu as a viral infection and there were no efficient, precise ways of diagnosing and documenting the influenza. There were neither a World Health Organization for global coordination of health issues nor scientific know-how to allow for isolation of viruses and the generation of quick effective antiviral tests. The origin of the 1918-1919 disease is still undetermined, it seemed to simultaneously appear in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Usually, influenza affects the young and the elderly, described as a ‘U’. The outbreak of 1918-1919 described as a ‘W’ shape as young, elderly and many in the twenties and thirties were affected too. Over 500 million people were infected worldwide, i.e. one-third of world’s population at that time. Between 50 and 100 million people died worldwide and 675,000 people in the USA. The period 1918-1919 overlapped with WW-I, so in addition to the huge lack of understanding of infectious diseases and medical responses, specially to civilians, the WW-I itself put more constraints on medical reserves and full implementation of social distancing both in Europe and the USA. Both Europe USA and other countries were placing most of their attention and support to the war. In the USA for example, as the flu found a foothold, Philadelphia’s health commissioner ignored warnings from medical experts and proceeded with a planned parade to support the war effort. While St. Louis issued warnings almost immediately when the first cases appeared and its health commissioner promptly banned public gatherings exceeding twenty people, closed schools, theaters, churches, and other places for several weeks. The death rate in St. Louis amounted to less than half, per capita, of that in Philadelphia. Flattening the Curve by social distancing was already used in 1918 though other cities around the world still went business-as-usual in running civil and public sevices, and businesses promoting the war.

The BCG vaccine (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BCG_vaccine) first became available in 1921 and it appears on the World Health Organization (WHO) List of Essential Medicines. More than 100 million babies globally receive the BCG vaccination each year. Aside from TB, the BCG vaccine also protects against other conditions that involve mycobacterium (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium) including leprosy. Scientists produce the vaccine using live Mycobacterium bovis (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium_bovis) taken from bovines, which they have attenuated to reduce their virility. Although no studies, to date, have investigated the BCG vaccine’s influence over SARS-CoV-2, the scientists hope that the story might be similar. If the BCG vaccine can bolster and strengthen the immune system, it might reduce the infection rates of SARS-CoV-2 or lessen the severity of COVID-19 (http://theconversation.com/could-bcg-a-100-year-old-vaccine-for-tuberculosis-protect-against-coronavirus-138006). This is actually an important finding of the careful studies and examination of the global spatio-temporal data of COVID-19. So, without the collaboration of world health institutions, collation, coordination and compilation it would have been impossible to arrive to such achievement which is an essential conclusion for the advancement in science and technology. This is a reminder of the strategic importance of Goal 17 of the UN-SDGs “Goal 17 seeks to strengthen global partnership to support and achieve the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda to bring together national governments, the international community, civil society, the private sector and other actors”. Again the Goal 17 itself can’t be achieved without promoting and implementing a web of many other underlying infra-structures that are very-well defined in the UN-SDGs. Such underlying infra-structures allow stronger coupling of the citizens and communities to their multi-layered governmental and institutional bodies and organizations on all levels and scales. It is a matter of improving and strengthening vertical and horizontal communications in ‘botton-top models’. ‘Top-bottom models’ are not as effective and efficient in the developing and less-favored countries, it can be also the case in some developed countries. This is how to arrive to the proper operational definition of “WE THE PEOPLE”, i.e. empowering the citizens to enhance their performance in the very basic three pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environmental. A global transformational process where the responsibility is shifted more and more towards citizens to achieve knowledge-based democracy of engaged and well-informed citizens.

“Globalisation” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimensions_of_globalization) means different things to different people, and the same applies to “Democracy” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy). Globalisation has benefits, challenges e.g. risks and contradictions (https://www.chathamhouse.org/london-conference-2015/background-papers/overcoming-risks-and-contradictions-globalization; https://velocityglobal.com/blog/globalization-benefits-and-challenges/; https://www.newyorkfed.org/newsevents/speeches/2017/dud170511) with tectonic transformation and challenges associated with it. It has Pros And Cons for the poor and the rich countries in terms of access of small businesses, multi-nationals and working people to free markets. Not all barriers in globalisation, that hider the promotion and implementation of the UN-SDGs, can be eliminated overnight and risks still remain for social injustice, abuse of human rights, unfair working conditions, mismanagement of natural resources, and ecological damage, violation of intellectual properties, spread of infections and diseases, human trafficking and degradation of social welfare in general (https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikecollins/2015/05/06/the-pros-and-cons-of-globalization/amp/). We have also to take in consideration the existing illiteracy, corruption and misconduct in developing countries. Also, the remains of destructive impacts in the socio-economic fabrics that resulted from centuries of colonisation and slave-handel.

Both democracy and globalisation are dynamic in evolution and depends on political structures around the world. The shift from agricultural and rural societies to industrial and urban ones has forced new challenges that resulted in economic development but also economic competition. Advances in science and technological were major drivers that resulted in screwed shifts and systematic changes with trends in more and more differentiated, polarised and degenerated globalisation and democracies (https://ged-project.de/globalization/what-are-the-drivers-behind-economic-globalization/) in favour of trade and economic structures as defined and driven by growth and linear economies. Growth and linear economies, as consequences of screwed globalisation and democracies, are in flavour of developed countries that have easy and prompt access to science and technology on all aspects (https://ourworldindata.org/is-globalization-an-engine-of-economic-development; https://www.salon.com/2014/08/02/how_the_middle_class_got_screwed_college_costs_globalization_and_our_new_insecurity_economy/). Currently, globalisation is not an accurate descriptor of the 21st century as there has been tectonic and huge internet-driven transformational changes sweeping in all public and private sectors, trade and businesses. Yet, the international economic landscape is not tuned to incorporate within it the UN-SDGs. It is unfortunate that the UN-SDGs are degraded and reduced to only one goal, i.e. Goal 13: The Climate Action. Though Climate Action is important in itself, the same can be said for all goals as evident from COVID-19. The term internetisation is believed to be a replacement for the concept of globalisation as time and geography are irrelevant (https://www.google.se/amp/s/theconversation.com/amp/internetization-a-new-word-for-our-global-economy-88013). Internetisation is the contemporary face of globalization as it includes all modern tools of electronic globalisation and embraces the digital connectivity and empowerment of the internet and the World Wide Web. Globalisation of knowledge, including science and technology, and the associated impacts on industrialisation and economy, has benefitted, almost entirely the developed countries, through the considerable brain-drain from the developing countries either actively or passively. In passive terms, all researchers around the world are forced to publish in international journals that either controlled by the science and technology policies serving mainly growth and linear economies or fit in the science and technology strategies defined by the developed countries.

The gradual and systematic shift from ‘globalisation’ to ‘internetisation’ has also negative and positive impacts as is the case for globalisation. IOT, ICT and social media are still controlled by free market economy, i.e. linear and growth economy. This evolution has affected the way individuals define ‘WE THE PEOPLE’, i.e. from viewpoint of the citizen which is not coherent with how the political structures define it. We are not any longer living in isolated bubbles. Here are some literature that explain how countries, citizens and businesses around the world are becoming more interconnected, as various drivers such as technology, transportation/travel, social media, and global finance make it easier for goods, services, ideas, innovation and people to move freely across traditional and classic borders and boundaries (https://courses.lumenlearning.com/marketing-spring2016/chapter/reading-globalization-benefits-and-challenges/). These changes underline the ongoing transformation from ‘slow globalisation’ to more and more ‘fast globalisation’, i.e. ‘internetisation’. In any case, the major impacts on businesses that provide an abundance of worldwide benefits comes with major challenges for individuals, stakeholders and governments (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.globalization-partners.com/blog/benefits-and-challenges-of-globalization/amp/; https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/spero.htm). As globalisation or ‘internetisation’ can open and create new markets and technological advances with potential to empower and enrich everyone, so far it has created global unsustainable ‘socio-economic-environment’ inequalities. So, more and more political challenges have emerged that urge us, our governments, institutions and multilateral policy-makers to overcome the associated risks and contradictions. As companies, and stakeholders alike, start to grow and expand they face new difficulties to navigate and reach their global expansion goals and overcome competition barriers, decentralisation of industires, protectionism and cultural differences around the world. However, it is time to end the profit-at-all-costs mentality, because if we don’t build an economic future within a sustainable framework in which we are respectful of our planetary boundaries, and the need to change our energy, use of natural resources and technology systems, then we will not have a living planet for human beings. It is also, very important for countries to recognize there are essential services that need to be provided in terms of healthcare, education, good governance and a social safety that cannot be compromised on. The volume of needs that we have today made it clear that global cooperation is imperative and abundantly clear.

Racism – A Global Virus of Historical Cultural Roots

To start with ‘racism and discrimination’ do exist in many forms and ways but with the growing global socio-economic-environment awareness the impacts and consequences of ‘racism and discrimination’ can’t be denied anymore. ‘Enough is enough’ and the whole world is now protesting after the legitimate cry of George Floyd “I Can’t Breath” that resulted in his cruel death. Finally racism and discrimination that has been taking place systematically and by institutional organisations even in democratic societies is being filmed (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.the-sun.com/news/924037/girl-who-recorded-george-floyd-killing-therapy-online-trolls/amp/). The echo of George Floyd is a symbolic reminder of how we humans still fail to give space for each other to exist. This is done through how we brought up to think and to act ‘Me, my and mine’ as by today in year 2020 the survival of some on the Earth with seven billion people, among other living species, is still ruling above all and everything. It has now culminated in a phrase ‘I Can’t Breath’ that millions and millions (if not billions) of people wish to say but they were always, and still, ordered to listen. This mindset is a long-standing historical heritage that was gradually and systematically allowed to grow and expand globally. From generation to generation, it has established itself as a global culture to dominate our life-style on planet Earth. It is not only about discrimination and racism but it is about a cancer (with no medicine) or a virus (with no vaccine) that has resulted in destroying all forms of life on planet Earth including humans themselves.

Modern democracies started to feel the pain of racism and discrimination as expressed by those suffering from it “I Can’t Breath”. This has been crystal clear through endless negotiations in the UN committees to bring peace and prosperity to our world. The cure, that the world agreed on, is being defined in a holistic document of 17 goals; the UN-SDGs of 2016 (https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html) which is a roadmap for achieving sustainable development for all. Indeed it is a collective global approach for counteracting all forms of historical racism and discrimination by building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”. Among these goals is erasing poverty and hunger that are very dominant in the black communities specially in Africa (https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/research-news/2017-10-25-pollution-and-poverty-a-deadly-mix.html) also through providing people with quality education, health, clean water, sanitation, energy, equal opportunities and decent jobs. Global partnerships are needed to achieve these goals by peaceful means. The wicked problems of racism and discrimination though neither be solved overnight nor be left for centuries without solutions. We can’t keep running away from them by todays business-as-usual policies, strategies and politics. ‘Enough is enough’ and the world can’t go on turning their backs and leaving behind future generations on a planet that is full of ‘viruses’ of different forms. It is an imperative and urgent need to tune our collective efforts to save the planet from a total annihilation. Better late than never.

ICT-Medical Innovation – Shaping the Sustainable Transformation of Africa

Health is a key issue for the sustainable socio-economic-environment transformation of any society. That is clear and evident now to all, and everyone, of us specially in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. However, moving the whole African continent and putting it on a sustainable roads of secure and safe public health it neither trivial nor can be achieved overnight. Africa is very much different and has several obstacles that hinder direct transfer and import of technology from the developed world. But challenges and opportunities are enormous. Not all innovations are likely to survive in the longterm and large-scale because of several reasons that are either treated or will be treated in sustain-earth.com. Future innovations have be based on solid and deep rooted sustainability pillars. Examples on such innovations are given at (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/26/africa-innovations-transform-continent) and will be commented on, elsewhere, at sustain-earth.com. We need to screen all the existing innovations to evaluate and assess them against the new criteria of sustainability.

The African demography (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Africa) has special features what regards population distribution, growth, health, diseases, health care systems, transportation, urban/rural mobility, economy, …. ect all of which have to be taken in consideration to bring about successful transformation to sustainable communities. In the current state of development, innovative ICT-medical tools provide appropriate solutions to offer public health services as ICT/IOT has capabilities to couple P-2-P and M-2-P communications by short-cuts without the need of unnecessary transport specially in critical situations and for people in isolated locations. One such ICT-based solutions is Cardiopad that enables Remote Heart Diagnosis through digital tablets (https://youtu.be/NFIOuy3J-IQ). This has been developed by Arthur Zang, a Cameroonian engineer. When such new innovations find its way in the market they open a chain of other applications and services that can together build integrated and coherent infra-structures to scale-up solutions for whole communities. Let us congratulate Arthur Zang, his team and Cameroon for their innovation.

African Innovation of ’smart jacket’ – An ICT-Based Diagnoses of Pneumonia in Children

According to UNICEF, Pneumonia kills half a million children under five in sub-Saharan Africa (https://www.unicef.org/media/media_89995.html). Pneumonia, an infection in one or both lunges by bacteria, viruses, and fungi, causes inflammation in the air sacs in lungs that can make it difficult to breath. COVID-19 is an actual example that can cause severe pneumonia among elderly specially risk-groups.

Among several African innovations (https://www.responsiblebusiness.com/news/africas-news/5-african-innovations-help-achieve-equitable-prosperous-future/) that could help achieve an equitable and prosperous future is Biomedical smart jacket ‘MamaOpe’. This is an example of increasing number of start-ups in Africa that are based on innovation that seeks to offer consumers better experiences in areas such as commerce, health, finance, and agriculture. Such innovations play a key role for a sustainable development future in Africa.

A main contributing factor to death, of children in Africa from pneumonia, is the slow diagnosis in particular in remote areas far from medical centres. Ugandan inventor ‘Brian Turabagye’ has created a biomedical smart jacket that can diagnose the condition four times faster than a doctor and it’s also more accurate. Sensors embedded in Smart Jackets (http://mamaope.com) pick up sound patterns from the lungs, temperature and breathing rate and within four minutes, the data is computed and sent to a mobile phone application which then gives a diagnosis. The device is called MamaOpe “mother’s hope” and doesn’t require a doctor to run the tests and a unique feature is that it can be used at remote locations. This wearable medical device could help save millions of lives in Africa and beyond every year.

© UNICEF/UNI169762/ClarkBaby Abinet, 3 months old and suffering from pneumonia, at the Hamido health post in Ethiopia. 2014

Made in African – Turning Waste to Electric Mini Taxis

Sustainable development in Africa will be brought about by spreading innovation across the continent. It stems from the extreme needs for immediate sustainable solutions for the critical problems facing and threatening its advance to the next phase of development. One of such obstacles to achieve sustainable communities is waste, that either existing, e.g. sanitation, or emerging, e.g. e-waste and waste from fossil remains (mining including oil). Innovation for better healthcare, increased access to quality of education, improved social life, poverty reduction and better life-quality by promoting renewable-based technologies are some examples.

Africa is urbanising and ‘motorising’ faster than any other region in the world. The degradation of the continent’s urban air quality will triple or quadruple within 15 years. Invention of small cars, e.g. electric mini-cabs, such as Mellowcabs (https://youtu.be/UKlkS8ZloRE) that operate on three-wheels with low cost, eco-friendly is a convenient taxi and transport services in that can empower cities across Africa. Other innovations are that these vehicles are being manufactured from recycled materials, and feature state of the art electric motors and batteries. Other multi-layered advances in these small and practical vehicles that are embedded in their technology are ICT-technologies, connectivity, data collection, and analytics are catalysing a technology revolution that could dramatically alter the face of the transport sector in Africa and beyond.

In several previous posts (sustain-earth.com) several issues were addressed to describe and highlight the diverse characteristics of our present era ‘The Anthropocene’ in particular what regards human waste and pollution (sustain-earth.com). In this context, positive and promising innovations to handle, treat and turn waste to beneficial and friendly products in the developing countries, e.g. Africa, are being introduced. Waste and pollution from irresponsible production and consumption are being continuously injected to our main spheres that govern all life forms on planet Earth, e.g. the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere in three forms, physical, chemical and biological remains. The threats has to do with how we use our natural capital resources, including the minerals in the lithosphere, of planet Earth that have caused enormous, continuous and commutative damage to all life forms on planet Earth. Unfortunately, we have accepted and even welcomed all types of waste and pollutions to the level that we are gradually pushing the waste and pollution peak to unknown distant future. A future that doesn’t belong to us. Waste and pollution is described by some people as a ‘hoax’ or ‘fake news’ not created neither by the market nor by us. So, let it be the fate of future generations and the fate of who don’t contribute in ongoing irresponsible production and consumption. It is the current narrative to keep expanding and supporting irresponsible production and consumption. That is the philosophy of denying and refusing to listen to the facts of science that brought us to the point of tip-over of our planet Earth to the very edge of no return. So, would the young generation of Africa manage to change such narratives?

COVID-19 – Inconvenient Truth About Health Care.

Statistics from around the world regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including the most developed countries in Europe and the USA, show considerable gaps in our health care systems in particular for the risk groups of world population. According existing data most infections and deaths do take place in hospitals (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52196978). It is an unprecedented truth in the 2020 that our modern health care systems, even in most advanced countries, are unable to provide safe and secure medical treatments for the most needed when it is needed. It is a scary reality for all of us, even for professionals in the health care sectors. The working conditions in hospitals and in health care systems are suffer from several uncertainties with clear associated risks to die among doctors and nurses in COVID-19 is also unacceptably high (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/asia-pacific-health-workers-risk-all-to-fight-covid-19/1791014; https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/90-000-healthcare-workers-infected-with-covid-19-icn/1831765). The pitfalls and other shortcomings in global health care systems and the related health consequence are being analyzed, assessed and compiled by WHO (e.g. 20200411-sitrep-82-covid-19.pdf). The figure given here shows people died with confirmed COVID-19 in England and Wales by week ending 27 March 2020 according to data from Office for National Statistics (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52196978). In this figure about 93% of the people infected by COVID-19 died in hospitals, i.e. a total of 501 persons out of a total of 538).

This situation and chaos didn’t take place overnight, though according to the UN-SDGs of 2017, Goal 3 calls is about: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/). Naturally the global health care system is very much dependent of other major factors: education; life on land; life under water; clean water and sanitation; poverty; hunger; energy; economic growth; industry and innovation; inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible production and consumption; climate action; peace and strong institutions; partnership in goals and gender equality, all of which are goals in the UN-SDGs-package. According to New York Times, we knew the coronavirus is coming, yet we failed “the vulnerabilities that COVID-19 has revealed were a predictable outgrowth of our market-based health care system”. Also, in Europe, the crisis has been systematically developed and evolved during very long periods, e.g. for Sweden (https://mobil.unt.se/ledare/mangarigt-kaos-i-varden-av-de-allra-aldsta-5564852.aspx) as the death of coronavirus in olderly health care is above 45%. There are several reports of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes across Europe, e.g. strains on health and social care systems and healthcare workers have been reported with shortages in laboratory and testing capacity, personal protective equipment and healthcare capacity (including ICU ventilator and healthcare workforce capacity and staff being absent due to illness, quarantine or isolation (covid-19-rapid-risk-assessment-coronavirus-disease-2019-eighth-update-8-april-2020.pdf). These highlight vulnerability of the elderly in long-term care settings and the importance of infection control measures to protect the vulnerable population in nursing homes. However, this is the situation of the reality as we know it today and more unknown data and facts will be unfolded gradually as the COVID-19 pandemic will still remain with us for some time. There is no definite answer how long it will keep circulating and how the future will be. Let us hope that we will not have the same fate as the dinosaurs, it was probably a virus that caused them to disappear. When science and technology has no solution it is only the natural laws of the survival of the fittest as described by Darwin.

Indeed, the pandemic is far from bring over and several counties, e.g. in Europe are hesitating in opening their economies or rather have considerable difficulties and uncertainties to do so. At the same time the rates of infections and death are still rapidly growing in many countries around the world, e.g. Russia, Brazil, India, Mexico,
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Bangladesh, Colombia, South Africa, Egypt, Kuwait, Algeria, Nigeria, Iraq and Bolivia (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/).

We are back to Darwins time of the 19th century which strongly motivated him to do research on biological evolution rather than studying medicine. Ironically, he didn’t realize the strong links between medicine and biological evolution which we are facing today because of our tight interaction with ecosphere to secure our food. In his research he answered many questions as how species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwinism).

Winning Against COVID-19 – Is a Scaling-up of Collective Policies with Stakeholder and Citizens Engagement

Different strategies and approaches have been implemented in various spatio-temporal scenarios by different countries to cope with breakdown of COVID-19, its local, regional and global evolution in terms of spreading and containment. Never in the history of humanity there have been such involvement of politicians, policy-makers, stakeholders and citizens as we are experiencing in the COVID-19 pandemics. Thanks to the wide-scale of engagement worldwide and the open access to everyone to the World Wide Web ‘WWW’ (https://sv.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web) that made information, data and statistics as well as the critical analyses of news on COVID-19 openly accessible and affordable worldwide. With some exception in the variations of the quality of information and data, it has been possible to follow with reasonable convenience the COVID-19 pandemics also with possibilities for live-updates (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?utm_campaign=homeAdUOA?Si). So far great achievements with various degrees of success were obtained, yet much need to be done to declare being winners against COVID-19. Currently, it is not certain if we can securely and safely reopen our economies at least globally on local and regional levels. It is too early to say when and how we can do so. We are in a transition state requiring new measures and actions to get the situation under total control and not to be confronted continuously with a pressing state of “lifting or not lifting” the restrictions of the total lockdown of socio-economic activities and businesses around the globe. In this context, so many countries are confronted with yet complex challenges and difficult decisions. The way to go back to normal life is not simple, easy or straightforward or even clear as it would involve several careful and well-balanced decisions on multi-layered spatio-temporal scales involving how COVID-19 would look like after recovering from the first round of the pandemic in the northern hemi-sphere. Currently, we started to see signes of partial spatio-temporal recovery in many, but still limited, places around the world as we see, also, signes of partial spatio-temporal spreading in other regions far from the original epi-centers in China, Europe, Asia and the USA. So, there would be unknown delayed-effects here and there with further negative feedbacks. There are mainstream theories or hypotheses and even evident-based facts on why we have achieved various successes or failures in coping with COVID-19. Among high-lights is the secret behind New Zealand’s (https://youtu.be/mKorML1GPVY), Vietnam’s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_in_Vietnam), Germany’s (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/610225/) COVID-19 success, also to some extent UAE (https://www.khaleejtimes.com/Dubai-lifts-24-hr-movement-restrictions-in-Naif-Al-Ras–), just to mention some. Is it the wise management of New Zealand’s, Vietnam’s, Germany’s and UAE’s or are there other yet unknown circumstances? Is it because of policy-makers and their leadership as based on scientific background and how science-based approaches are coordinated with effective engagement of public/private institutions, stakeholders and citizens? Or is it the strong appeal to the notion of social togetherness and the believe that we will pass this test if all citizens genuinely see this as their task? Is it also, about the very rational assurances and emotional appeal to the citizens, institutions and stakeholders at a time of rising panic? In any case, it is thanks to a variety of factors, e.g. Vietnam, New Zealand, Germany and UAE that appear that these countries have dealt with the outbreak better than many other countries. Germans for example largely continue to heed the chancellor’s detailed directives. Unlike in the US, Italy, Spain, France, the UK and others with high rates of cases and deaths, total deaths in Germany, Vietnam, New Zealand and UAE have been relatively low or even very low. However, any resulting successes are at least in some degree attributable to the leadership, a way of bringing “divergent interests together in compromise,” as explained by some. Their abilities to admit what they don’t know, and delegate decisions, have been particularly important for healthy political structures. In the case of Germany, it is about putting together experts from well-funded scientific-research organizations, including public-health agencies and the country’s network of public universities. The Berlin Institute of Health, a biomedical-research institution, has, like other organizations, recently pivoted its efforts in order to study the coronavirus, e.g, working closely together to “establish nationwide systems” of research. The federal government, with Merkel at the helm, plays a convening role, recently gathering all of the country’s university medical departments into a single coronavirus task force. The virus is still far from defeated but judging by Merkel’s approach in collating information, her honesty in stating what is not yet known, and her composure she may someday be remembered not as Germany’s greatest scientist, but as its scientist in chief: the political leader who executed, celebrated, and personified evidence-based thinking when it mattered most. This is an unfailing demonstration on how the “Scientific Approach” even in wicked socio-economic crises can lead us to successful outcomes. On the other-side of the mainstream celebrities and politicians with large social media followings are proving to be key distributors of disinformation, random thinking and irrational speculations relating to coronavirus. According to a study that suggests the factcheckers and mainstream news outlets are struggling to compete with the reach of influencers. The actor Woody Harrelson and the singer MIA, for example, have faced criticism after sharing baseless claims about the supposed connection of 5G to the pandemic, while comments by the likes of the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, playing down the scale of the crisis in the face of scientific evidence have attracted criticism in recent days (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/apr/08/influencers-being-key-distributors-of-coronavirus-fake-news). This also the case of president Trump that considerably played down the risks of COVID-19 and delayed putting in place mitigation actions, also as unlike other global leaders who pledged to accelerate cooperation on a coronavirus vaccine and to share research, treatment and medicines across the globe did not take part in the WHO initiative with a sign of Trump’s increasing isolation on the global stage. Both China and the US have accused each other of bullying and disinformation over the COVID-19 outbreak thus damaging efforts to secure cooperation at the G20, the natural international institution to handle global health outside the UN (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/24/us-stays-away-as-world-leaders-agree-action-on-covid-19-vaccine). Yet, as countries from Italy to New Zealand have announced the easing of coronavirus lockdowns, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, back at work on Monday after being hospitalised with the disease, announced that it was too early to relax restrictions there (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/04/27/some-countries-prise-open-covid-19-lockdowns-but-uk-says-not-yet/). For Europe as a whole it remains to see how the economy will be reopened (https://shmfakhruddin-net.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/shmfakhruddin.net/2020/04/20/europes-plan-to-ease-restrictions-for-covid19/amp/). This reflects how sound policies play an important role not only in saving lives but also in how fast economies can be reopened and recovered.

Why Testing COVID-19 – Science versus Policies?

One of the most important things that help to understand and stop spread of COVID-19 is testing. Science explains why testing is important, what it involves and scientific needs for data-sets. So how many tests countries are doing based on available data from official sources are among important issues. Testing allows infected people to know if they are infected and needs care. This can, also, help take measures to reduce probability of infecting others. On region-wide scale testing allows to understand the spread of the disease, to take evidence-based measures to slow down the spread and eventually to control the pandemic. Because of several reasons, the capacity for COVID-19 testing is still very limited worldwide, so we still do not have detailed understanding of the spread. With testing someone ‘COVID-19 infected’ may produce false-negative results and may require more than one test (https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing). While science is the bases and reference to make sound policies and decisions there are several practical and technical constraints what regards when, where and how to scale-up an effective, prompt and affordable infra-structure for nation-wide testing capacity (https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/why-widespread-coronavirus-testing-isnt-coming-anytime-soon). The US for example, reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on January 21st. Eight weeks later, there still aren’t enough tests for the virus available for everyone who needs them and this is also the case in many other countries around the world. “It is a failing,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as “The system is not really geared to what we need right now.” People who are sick or have been in contact with sick people are struggling to be tested and labs to get the supplies needed (https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/17/21184015/coronavirus-testing-pcr-diagnostic-point-of-care-cdc-techonology). But some African, Asian, European, and South American countries are responding quite differently. Below is a sampling of the ways different countries have been working to protect citizens from the Covid-19 virus (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/science-and-health/2020/3/22/21189889/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-response-south-korea-phillipines-italy-nicaragua-senegal-hong-kong). South Korea has the world’s most comprehensive protective measures with the most novel, too “Public Phone Booths”. A hospital in Seoul has installed them to offer easy, quick testing to people worried about having the disease. The way it works is spectacular: One person at a time can enter one side of the glass-walled booth and grab a handset connected to a hospital worker standing on the other side of the glass. After a consultation, the staff member can stick their arms into rubber gloves embedded into the booth to swab the patient quickly, collecting a sample before the booth is quickly disinfected. The hospital says the seven-minute exam allows it to test almost 10 times as many samples as it could without the special booths. Similar techniques are used in hot radioactive labs to protect laboratory-staff against radiation. However, Taiwan has very high ranking of protection measures against COV-19 though close to China, has intensive traffic and relatively higher population than other counties with very high infection and death rates. There are other examples of countries struggling with many complications such as inadequate testing, lack of staff and lack of protective equipment for medical staff, e.g. the Philippines. The country’s main island of Luzon is under lockdown with half the country’s population of 107 million live on Luzon including 12 million in Manila. The Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc. has begun to warn of potential gaps in the food supply chain. Some says if you can’t get tested? Maybe you’re in the wrong country (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/world/europe/coronavirus-testing-world-countries-cities-states.html). It is not about science, very early, scientists around the world were waiting at their computers in early January when China released the coronavirus genetic code, the blueprint for creating tests and vaccines. Within days, labs from Hong Kong to Berlin had designed tests and shared their research with others. However, decisions and blunders made months ago have caused testing disparities worldwide. The science, it turns out, was the easy part.

EU, Sweden and the UK- The COVID-19 Policies

The coronavirus is taking strong grip in the member states of the EU and the spreading of COVID-19 has achieved different stages in the member states with variable geographic rates, extent and hot zones distribution. The top of the spreading-peak is far from being achieved in all of the member states as is the case in China where the recovery seems to be taking place. The situation in Europe is worse than the corresponding one in China at its early stages of COVID-19 spreading (https://www.svd.se/who-kraver-mer-provtagning-och-isolering; https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/save-lives-with-social-distancing-how-to-protect-your-family-from-coronavirus-primed-to-hit-india-like-a-bomb/). The EU is now facing tectonic threats on several scales as coronavirus is new, aggressive and fatal on all levels and has complex, dynamic and fast interactions and impacts on all sectors. Though there has been division between the EU member states regarding how they can deal with COVID-19, the policies have shifted and converged very rapid into general strategies to limit spreading of the COVID-19 by restricting mobility and gathering of the citizens in public and working places. However, such restrictions don’t apply to strategic and critical service in key sectors such as health care. In higher education and upper school system there is major turn from campus teaching to distant and IT online teaching to limit gathering and travel and transport (mobility). It is a total turn away from previous theories and actions to use, apply and implement the so-called ‘herd immunity’ (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity; https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/coronavirus-herd-immunity-meaning-definition-what-vaccine-immune-covid-19-a9397871.html%3famp) as it was suggested, e.g. in the UK (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/16/pm-tells-britons-to-avoid-non-essential-contact-with-others). Sweden has (https://youtu.be/Snnflr_8HKM) in particular taken many solid decisions in this respects to protect and support its citizens on several levels. The UK (not member state) shifted away from considering potential advantage of the population to acquire some element of herd immunity as this scenario, according to new data from Italy would require the loss of very high number of people from the coronavirus. The herd immunity model fierced backlash on social media in the UK with people claiming it amounted to evidence that their government was happy for large numbers of people to get coronavirus (https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/15/boris-johnson-to-hold-daily-coronavirus-press-briefings). All of the member states in Europe however aren’t in favor of such strategy and follow more or less the recommendations of the WHO to break the chain of the COVID-19 transmission, i.e. to limit the expansion of the disease. Early actions (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/save-lives-with-social-distancing-how-to-protect-your-family-from-coronavirus-primed-to-hit-india-like-a-bomb/) can save lives and the WHO has previously slammed the UK and Sweden for scaling back coronavirus testing and warned ‘don’t just let this fire burn’. However, though “Wait and See” strategies exhausted the early possibilities of coronavirus testing, the new policies now are going in the right track to save more lives and empower the citizens by correct public awareness tools as well as to give the private and public sectors the necessary economic support. In Sweden for example, the government has launched strong economic support packages (300 billion ‘swedish crowns (https://www.google.se/amp/s/www.thelocal.se/20200316/sweden-launches-300-billion-kronor-coronavirus-crisis-package/amp) to protect businesses and jobs from the fallout of the new coronavirus. Among other measures in Sweden for example, narrowing the possibilities of gathering and mobility, strengthening distant and online teaching, intensifying health care efforts, public awareness on protective health issues and providing economic support to compensate impacts from shutting down work-places and effects from health injuries.