Among the Neglected

Published November 29, 2007 · Estimated reading time: 9 minutes · Share your thoughts
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Article #2, finally– the fruit of our collective effort!
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Among the Neglected
By Marzieh Ghiasi and Hannah Thomas
Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Marzieh Ghiasi and Hannah Thomas explore the chasm between the enormous human cost of Neglected Tropical Diseases and funding for research and drugs

“The parasite gets inside the nose and it completely destroys the face.”

Professor Greg Matleshweski, a parasitology expert, is describing the fate of 12 million people afflicted with Leishmaniasis, a highly prevalent condition in parts of South America. “When you have that kind of affliction you can’t function in society. You are outcasts, really lepers.”

Leishmaniasis is just one of 14 infections known as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Sometimes called the “biblical diseases,” or the “diseases of poverty,” they have persisted for centuries. Along with HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, NTDs pose a huge challenge to global health – but because they almost exclusively affect the world’s poorest, their plight has been neglected in public discussion, investment, and research.


The World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of NTDs includes leprosy, elephantiasis, Chagas disease, cholera, dengue, and sleeping sickness. Categorized as viral, bacterial, or helminthic, they thrive in regions far beyond the tropics.

According to the WHO’s numbers, one billion people are afflicted, 2.7 billion are at risk, and between 500,000 and one million die each year of NTDs. If a 670-person classroom were a microcosm of the world, these diseases would plague 100 people.
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Alberta: Tar sand wasteland

Published November 28, 2007 · Estimated reading time: 4 minutes · One response so far
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My first article in the Daily! Pretty exciting for me… 🙂

Alberta: Tar sand wasteland
By Marzieh Ghiasi
Monday, November 19th, 2007

Author decries rush to exploit Canada’s natural resources

In northern Alberta, an estimated 174-billion barrels of black gold lie trapped in grains of sand, and capitalizing on this dormant cash cow has become a national obsession.

In the recently published Stupid to the Last Drop, award-winning investigative journalist William Marsden critically examines the oil boom in the Alberta tar sands, a sprawling industry that has promised to make Canada the new Saudi Arabia. In his non-linear but fluid style, Marsden argues that, while Albertans may see some marginal gain from this relentless resource exploitation, Canadians stand to lose a lot.

The tar sands are thought to have been made by geological forces which pushed oil up into the limestone and sand landscape. Composed of bitumen – a viscous form of crude oil, silica sand, clay, and water – the tar sands present a unique challenge in resource extraction and are famously expensive to exploit. Just how much are people willing to sacrifice to extract this oil? Marsden contends: everything.

Stupid to the Last Drop begins in 1957 with an American paleontologist, Manley Natland, and his proposition for Alberta’s future: a nine kilo-ton nuclear bomb set 1,300 feet below ground in the Athabasca tar sands to create a giant underground cavern, with enough heat and pressure to force oil into it. In spite of the obvious environmental hazards, including radiation leakage and land collapse, Marsden details the quick acceptance of this proposition. In just two years, the inconspicuously-dubbed “Project Oil Sands” gained support from a major oil company, approval from the U.S. Senate, a nod from the Canadian federal government, and a nuclear-bomb-to-go.
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Coming into intelligence

Published November 01, 2007 · Estimated reading time: 1 minute · Share your thoughts
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Coming Into Intelligence

I understood pain when I was a child,
When black scarves signified Red Baron dash
Or licorice-flavoured savagery
In a no-man’s-land of trash and smashed glass
Where torn, dirty pictures sliced open flesh
And kids stoned slow dummies or spat up bugs.

I understood pain in the sketches of war –
The comic-strip striptease of Hitler’s War:
I smelt Zyklon-B in lilac’s perfume,
Knew cyanide’s almond taste in chocolates,
And bathed in blue crystals like Europe’s Jews –
My bathtub flooding with death every night.

I understood pain; I will not tell lies.
I felt Hiroshima’s heat in black ants
Charred to ash by a magnifying glass.
I saw dismemberment in schoolyard art,
Then, in naked, store-window mannequins,
Then, in bodies mired in bombed My Lai roads.

I understood pain, studied suffering.
I fasted with the bloated innocents
Of Biafra, wept for Kennedy, King.
I confess I did not believe all the blood:
I had been cut only a few times.
Yet, the whole globe oozed a wet, crimson taint.

I understood pain when I was a child,
When my grandfather, choked by gypsum dust,
Felt his heart seize at light, heave him from darkness.
When I was a child, I was wise,
Knew why we suffer the sorrow we do.
Now that I am a man, I know nothing.

– George Elliot Clarke
(Lush Dreams, Blue Exile)

*Photograph source (©DPasschier)

Permanent linkMarzieh Ghiasi