Afghanistan has some of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world, and a high concentration of donkeys.
Enter the maternity saddle — a new invention that promises to carry women in labor across Afghanistan’s difficult terrain so they can get the medical care they need.
The British charity HealthProm and designer Peter Muckle developed the inflatable donkey saddle to ease the burden on women about to give birth in remote areas of Afghanistan.
The lack of suitable transport in mountainous areas leads many pregnant women to opt against heading to health centers in favor of giving birth at home, raising the risks for both mother and child should complications arise.
Read more. [Image: Screenshot HealthProm]
Check out our downloadable and printable short e-book containing Pulitzer Center grantee Joanne Silberner’s reporting on cancer in the developing world and her notes from the field. Read it on your browser or on your Kindle. Big thanks to PRI’s The World for such great infographics, video and radio reports.
Mefloquine belongs to a class of drugs known to be neurotoxic which is associated with permanent brain injury. It remains licensed for use, but I think the latest warnings by the FDA will spell the demise of mefloquine among most travelers.
FDA Issues its Strongest Warning on Anti-Malaria Drug Lariam
The anti-malaria drug has been used for years by the military and by international travelers. Mefloquine, sold as Lariam in the US, must now carry a “black box” warning on its label because of the drug’s serious neurological and psychiatric side effects.
Dr. Remington Nevin, a former Army epidemologist who’s done extensive research on the drug’s side-effects–including depression, anxiety, nightmares, paranoia, delusions and hallucinations–helped persuade the FDA to issue the warning.
Army psychiatrist Dr. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie write in Time in June, 2013:
New evidence has surfaced that Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales may have been on mefloquine during his March, 2012, rampage that killed 16 Afghan civilians.
…My colleague and co-author of a paper on the subject of mefloquine and forensic psychiatry, Dr. Remington Nevin, recently obtained a so-called “adverse event report.” That’s a document describing a negative side-effect to a medication. This particular document details a “medically confirmed” event of homicide by a Soldier taking mefloquine.
These warnings make it clear that the drug can permanently injure the brain, and that mefloquine brain injury needs to be considered alongside TBI and PTSD as a signature injury of deployment. The military has known of mefloquine’s neurotoxicity for over a decade, but denied that troops could suffer from it long-term.
Shannon at youngglobalcitizen wrote in 2011:
"Feelings of great fear experienced on suddenly waking in the night."…Sal and I share a large bed in a tiny room. We always sleep with the mosquito net surrounding us and a fan humming above our heads when the electricity works. At 3:30 AM Sal suddenly awoke shouting at the top of his lungs and thrashing violently all over the bed. I tried to calm him by saying his name and grabbing at his shoulders, but in his sleep the fear was insistent. The episode lasted for 15 long seconds. Afterward his heart was pounding and he was sweating but he couldn’t remember screaming. Personally I’ve never seen such a powerful display of fear.
This was an extremely odd event for Sal, who is usually positive, easygoing, and adaptable. Our strong guess is that the malaria medication is the culprit. During both this trip and the last trip that I took the pills, I’ve had strange and vivid dreams. Sal also researched our medication and found night terrors as a possible side effect.
Today’s Tumble: How have anti-malarial medications affected you?
Today on the show, we’re looking into the neurological side-effects of mefloquine, an anti-malaria drug sold in the U.S. as Lariam, which has just been the subject of an FDA warning. We’ll be tumbling different stories from our staff about their experiences with anti-malarial medications, and want to know about your experiences as well.
Beirut’s streets are filled with aging cars spewing clouds of toxic fumes in the air. Ben Gilbert reported for The World in 2010 that researchers hope to find out exactly how much damage those exhaust fumes are doing to Lebanese health.