from the world's big
Tom Arnold and Multi-Lateral Institutions
At an earlier stage of his career, he worked for the European Commission on Agricultural Policy and on development programmes, representing the Commission for three years in the Ivory Coast and Malawi. Tom was Chairman of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Committee of Agriculture (1993 – 1998). In 2003, he was appointed to the UN Millennium Project Hunger Task Force (2003 - 2004), established by Kofi Annan to devise a strategy to halve world hunger by 2015.
Tom was a member of the Irish Hunger Task Force (2007 - 2008), which was charged with proposing a strategy through which Ireland could make a distinctive contribution towards ending world hunger. He is a member of the International Food Policy Research Institute’s 2020 Advisory Council and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund’s Advisory Group.
At European level, he is chairman of the European Food Security Group, a network of 40 European NGOs engaged in food and hunger work and is Vice-chair of the Trans Atlantic Food Aid Dialogue – an alliance of American, European and Canadian NGOs working on the reform of international food aid.
Tom was recently appointed to the trust governing the Irish Times, Ireland’s leading newspaper and to the Irish government’s Commission on Taxation.
Tom Arnold is a graduate in Agricultural Economics from University College Dublin and has Masters Degrees from the Catholic University of Louvain and Trinity College Dublin.
Question: Are multi-lateral institutions adequately prepared to confront crises?
Arnold: The food crisis earlier this year brought a number of the institutions to focus on, and I would think maybe raise their game in terms of addressing some of these issues. I mean, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, set up a high-level task force to see how he could make sure that the UN agencies were working together more effectively to tackle the issue of hunger. I think the World Bank under Bob Zoellick has provided some very good leadership. I think the World Food Programme under Josette Sheeran has also provided leadership. But, I mean, I think critical to all of this is how do we find, because no matter how well the international institutions work together, what really matters is can we find ways of working more effectively at the country level, and that principle that, you know, ownership for a country’s development primarily rests with the government and the leaders and the people of developing countries, and that the donors and the NGOs and all the rest of us are there to fit in and to support those efforts. Now, that’s the challenge, and if we’re looking at the whole question of making all of these developing countries, particularly the poorest, more food secure, less food insecure, finding ways of very good collaboration at national level is what needs to happen.
Question: How has the UN changed under Ban Ki-Moon?
Arnold: I think Ban Ki-moon came in following a very successful, in my view, Secretary General in Kofi Annan who had raised the profile of the United Nations over his tenure of ten years. I think Ban Ki-moon’s tenure, and he’s only not yet two years into it, has been characterized by really actually making, focusing in on the right strategic choices. I mean, after nine months of his tenure, he was, he called a substantial meeting on climate change and has, I think, really tried to focus the world, obviously other people are focused as well on that issue, but the United Nations is an important forum to look at that issue. When the food crisis came along in the first half of this year, he set up the high level task force, and I think, again, he’s to be applauded for that. He’s also trying to make progress in very difficult situations like Darfour, but I’m afraid progress hasn’t been very marked there, but I don’t think that’s Ban Ki-moon’s fault. I mean I think this is a very [intractable] problem and one hopes that maybe with a new US administration, maybe some more progress can be made, but even if the new US administration wants to make that progress, it’s not of course guaranteed that, you know, the conditions are there but so, there are some… so, in answer to your overall question, I think he’s done, I think he’s done quite well in his first two years. I think, obviously, getting the United Nations to work as a cohesive force in the world is an amazingly difficult challenge. I think the whole, I think what the new crisis has brought or will bring are way, are maybe asking questions, new questions, about global governance, and I think one of the real challenges, one of the real tasks that needs to be done is bringing some of the emerging nations, the likes of India, South Africa, Brazil, etc., giving them a greater role in how the world is governed and in, you know, facilitating them play a bigger role in this as well. So, I think, you know, over Ban Ki-moon’s term, that’s going to be part of his agenda, and I hope he will be able to deal with that.
The CEO puts his lens to the United Nations.
Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.
- The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
- The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
Photo: Feichen Yang.<p>That's the word from a team in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. Their <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adfm.202003451" target="_blank">new paper</a>, published in the journal,<em> Advanced Functional Materials</em>, details this exciting evolution of this frustrating joint.<br></p><p>Researchers have sought materials strong and versatile enough to repair a knee since at least the seventies. This new hydrogel, comprised of three polymers, might be it. When two of the polymers are stretched, a third keeps the entire structure intact. When pulled 100,000 times, the cartilage held up as well as materials used in bone implants. The team also rubbed the hydrogel against natural cartilage a million times and found it to be as wear-resistant as the real thing. </p><p>The hydrogel has the appearance of Jell-O and is comprised of 60 percent water. Co-author, Feichen Yang, <a href="https://today.duke.edu/2020/06/lab-first-cartilage-mimicking-gel-strong-enough-knees" target="_blank">says</a> this network of polymers is particularly durable: "Only this combination of all three components is both flexible and stiff and therefore strong." </p><p> As with any new material, a lot of testing must be conducted. They don't foresee this hydrogel being implanted into human bodies for at least three years. The next step is to test it out in sheep. </p><p>Still, this is an exciting step forward in the rehabilitation of one of our trickiest joints. Given the potential reward, the wait is worth it. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
- 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
- Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
- Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.
The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.
In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.
That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
70 data points and machine learning
Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash
Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:
"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."
The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.
Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."
Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.
Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.
On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.
Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash
Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."
"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.
The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.