Internet for All
Information technology has changed the way we learn about the world around us. As the use of the Internet spreads faster not only has it become easier for professionals and university students to carry out more intense research on practically any topic in the world, it has even opened a new door for children to learn about the wonders of the world and teachers find new ways to help them learn.
Although still fairly limited in Bangladesh, parents who are fortunate enough to own a personal computer with Internet access are introducing the wonders of the Internet to their children. But Internet should in no way be a privilege to the few. Intel Corporation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the education ministry for supplying 1,000 personal computers to schools in the country's 64 districts as part of its plan to introduce information technology based education programme in Bangladesh. It also signed a MoU with other agencies to ensure cost effective Internet connectivity at these schools.
Intel's generous step in trying to bridge the information gap and bringing technology closer to the grassroots level is praiseworthy. If more organisations from inside the country came forward with similar programmes it would be even more helpful for more school children to get out of the conventional method of learning and tap into their creativity.
“Jakkha hole rakkha nai . . . ei kauthar bhitti nai." (Tuberculosis is fatal -- this statement is baseless.) This has been the slogan of awareness-raising campaigns about tuberculosis (TB) in recent years.
One-third of the world's population is infected with TB, with 8 million people developing it and 2 million dying from it every year. Bangladesh ranks fifth in the global list of high TB-burden countries. With 50 percent of its adult population infected, 300,000 new cases detected every year and 70,000 TB deaths occurring annually, TB is one of the leading causes of adult mortality and preventable deaths in the country. Halting and reducing the incidence of tuberculosis and reducing by 50 percent the morbidity (prevalence) and mortality is the sixth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of the United Nations.
From being regarded as vampirism (when the only treatment for victims of the disease seemed to be sucking the blood of their family members to replenish their own loss of blood) to patients being treated as outcasts in society (for infecting others), prevention and treatment of TB has come a long way. Now, the most important message to get through to people is that TB is curable. Awareness-raising campaigns include messages regarding symptoms (three weeks of cough), prevention (covering infectious cough in ashes or underground), and treatment (where it is available, how long medication is needed, etc.). Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) in collaboration with the government's National Tuberculosis Programme even have projects such as Directly Observed Treatment Shortcourse (DOTS), under which volunteer health workers go door-to-door in order to raise awareness, detect patients and treat them, even going to their homes daily and making sure they take their medication. The government has been providing medicine free of cost.
World TB Day was observed last week, with speakers at the various functions organised on the occasion relating TB statistics, including the fact that under the Tuberculosis Control Programme, case detection has increased to 72 percent and treatment success rate is over 93 percent. While a lot of headway has been made, the numbers being infected by and dying from TB are still tragic. Awareness is key -- the knowledge that people do not have to die of TB anymore and that it can be cured with a few months' medication.
Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008