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Medical technology, or MedTech, brings solutions to improve lives using the latest advancements in technology. It is an evolving concept that combines innovative, high technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of things, nanorobotics, big data and even Blockchain to tackle the biggest challenges in medicine over the last decades. Overall, it has developed a more human, inclusive approach that aims to provide health for all.

Medical conditions and healthcare are being transformed by the disruptive and break ground technologies used by health professionals that are changing the lives after a rough diagnose or an accident. The main objective is to give back to the patient a certain level of the original quality of life by improving, replacing or simulating a physical characteristic close to the genuine one, in order to maintain the respective functionality and/or appearance. This aims to restore dignity and contribute to social inclusion. Therefore, here I will list the top 5 most impacting tools, methods and procedures that have been already implemented successfully in patients and have reached a satisfactory progress and rise in their quality of life.

3D printed body parts

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine prints ear, nose and bone scaffolds that can be coated with cells to grow body parts. (Laurie Rubin)

3D printing started to gain awareness in the past years, as engineers and designers started using this tool to create the unthinkable. This technology has been around for two decades; fortunately, the price has come down in recent years and more people have been able to make use of it. Consequently, we’ve started to be able to really tap into its vast potential.  

One really exciting application of 3D printing is the generation of body parts. The level of detail that this technology can produce often overcomes traditional methods results, offering patients a superior fit or design, and they can often be produced at an impressively low cost.

Virtual Reality for Medical experience and education

Dr. Shafi Ahmed wears a VR headset as he operates on a fictional patient as part of the Virtual Surgeon program his company designed.

On April 14, 2016, the British doctor Shafi Ahmed performed the world’s first operation broadcasted around the world via virtual reality.

The entire operation, which lasted approximately three hours, was live-streamed on Medical Realities website for people without a VR headset. For those who have one, they could download the “VR in OR” app to get immersed in the 360-degree surgery room, right beside Ahmed as he removed cancerous tissue from a male patient’s bowel.

The surgery began at 1 p.m. local time at the Royal London Hospital. Thanks to a partnership between Barts Health and the 360-degree video company Mativision, the broadcast will serve as a training tool for up-and-coming surgeons and other medical professionals. Rather than endure an expensive flight to a hospital for on-site education, students can tune into VR and still see firsthand how it’s done.

Food Scanners

Food scanners

A food scanner is designed to tell how many grams of sugar a fruit contains, or what the alcohol percentage of a drink is. Even though this is one of the most recent inventions that still needs adjustments in its different brands, it has been a powerful tool for people with gluten intolerance and diabetes to overcome fears at the time of eating and choosing food.

Food scanners will need to progress similarly to wearable health trackers – move from raw data to automated analysis and smart suggestions to the user.

Nanorobotics

Nanorobotics

Surgical nanorobots are introduced into the human body through vascular systems and other cavities. They act as semi-autonomous on-site surgeon inside the human body and are programmed or directed by a human surgeon. The programmed surgical nanorobot performs various functions like searching for pathogens, and then diagnose and correct lesions by nano-manipulation synchronized by an onboard computer while conserving and contacting the supervisory surgeon through coded ultrasound signals. Nowadays, the earlier forms of cellular nano-surgery are being explored.

 

Prosthetic parts

Printed skin made as face prosthesis

One of the bigger advancements in MedTech that have promoted social inclusion is all kinds of prosthesis either for humans or animals. Prosthesis comprehends a large diversity of technologies that contribute to the final result. 3D printing is used to recreate physical appearance as AI to recreate motion and dexterity.

The skin is technically the largest organ in the human body and thanks to 3D printing, it is possible to replicate it if needed. This can actually be done by taking a sample of DNA and growing stem cells to create a material to ‘print’ with. In the past, in order to perform a skin transplant, one would have to remove a patch from another part of the patient’s body. It might be a painful process and creates an additional unnecessary wound. It is officially possible to 3D-Print skin and transfer it onto patients but within a few years, will be even possible to have the capability to Scan and 3D-Print directly over the wound with just one machine.

With these MedTech solutions, healthcare is rapidly advancing not only to expand the variety of options to patients but to restore and improve the confidence and quality life conditions of them. A human being needs to feel useful in society to contribute and participate by its own means of them. That is why MedTech plays a fundamental role in integrating every individual as a needed and valuable member in the society.

Written by Sueyfer de la Torre

SIGEF 2018, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum organized by Horyou, will include a special panel on MedTech. SIGEF2018 will take place in Singapore, on 12th and 13th September.

A new member of Horyou platform, the Haiti Cholera Research Funding Foundation (HCRFF) invests in education and awareness to prevent health issues in developing countries

Pierrette Cazeau

Despite being born in Haiti, Pierrette Cazeau grew up in New York and Florida, in the US, and thus was never aware of the country’s challenges until she first visited it as a grown up-woman. She was struck by the challenges faced by its population on a daily basis – lack of health infrastructure, corruption, abuse, poverty and hunger. That changed her life as she decided to devote her time and efforts to build a Foundation and use education to prevent such disasters as the 2010 cholera outbreak.

«You can’t predict natural disasters or climate change effects, but you can educate people to prevent and reduce poverty. Without education, you just open the door to the negative effects of the unpredictable», says Pierrette, founder of HCRFF. The NGO was created in 2013 and has since developed many projects to support and empower communities facing health and social problems. «We’ve seen so many victimized people sitting quietly, and that escalates anger and hate». Economic and social problems, she believes, are part of a cycle that comprises disruption, refugee crisis and racism.

Syphilis Project

Focusing on education, the foundation organizes workshops for students coming from challenging backgrounds. In addition to preparing them for work via professional education, and providing them with food, HCRFF also raises awareness of topics like HIV prevention (PrEP and PEP), sexual abuse and other sensitive topics that are critical for the new generations. The NGO also helps Haitians to get access to health care in the US by providing them with transportation, shelter, advocacy and even translation services whenever needed. It also supports pregnant Haitian women left behind by UN peacekeeping soldiers.

The next step is to expand the Foundation services to other countries including Ghana, in Africa, where it intends to start an education campaign on HIV and other STDs. «We need more sponsors as we never charge anything for the services we provide to the communities», says Pierrette. For the last three years, the NGO has been funded by partners, but new sources of financial support are needed. One of the plans is to organize a Marathon for People Living with HIV and raise funds for the cause of education for prevention. «One thing I’ve learned from my father is that education can’t be taken from you. It stays with you forever. I’m grateful for all the educational opportunities I’ve had and I wish more people keep benefitting from it as well».

Kenneth Bok is a former Goldman Sachs trader and the founder and CEO of Blocks, a Blockchain research platform based in Singapore. A passionate believer in sustainability, ecology and technology, he is Horyou’s Partner and Ambassador to Singapore and the organizer of De/Centralize 2018, the country’s premier conference on Blockchain and decentralization mechanisms for building a better world. One of the questions the event raises is: “Can these technologies help to create a better world?’. Horyou blog has talked with Mr. Bok.

De/centralize takes place in Singapore

– What does decentralization mean for technology, economics and law?

The Blockchain has enabled for distributed computing platforms which store and process information in radically different ways from normal server-client architecture. This has profound consequences in the way digital tokens can be integrated with the internet, how data is stored, and even how contracts are written and executed between parties. Decentralization is still a mysterious word really, but the gist of it is that there are more resilient and alternative structures to the ones we have one. Think about the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica issue. Even if Facebook are doing their best, they are still under the purview of various governments who can shut Facebook down if they choose to do so. This is not so easy with decentralized systems.

– Blockchain is a technology that lies heavily on decentralization. What can we expect from the conference in terms of content and debates about both subjects?

We are hosting some projects that could really change the world. Cosmos and Blockstack for example. I think there is a lot of hype with blockchain, and our goal is to separate the signal from the noise. We have some really world-class VCs such as Tim Draper who is going to give us a keynote, as well as Zooko Wilcox from ZCash giving us a presentation on the latest developments with digital money. We definitely want people to form their own opinions, to question everything and to decide for themselves if Blockchain is more than speculation and hype.

– How can Blockchain help to reach the sustainable development goals, reduce poverty and help to build a better world?

Michael Casey and Paul Vigna’s new book ‘The Truth Machine’ opens wonderfully with a story about the World Food Program’s (WFP) initiatives in Syria. Many of us take for granted that we have a passport, social identities, bank accounts, but this is not the case for refugees and stateless persons. The WFP is using a Blockchain solution to coordinate and track food distribution. Blockchains have tremendous potential to enable people who are unbanked and unidentified to be part of the system and have access to loans, make contracts, have a proper job, and so on.

Kenneth Bok

– How do you see the future of Blockchain technology in 10 years?

AI, Blockchain and IoT will become more integrated and will be truly mind-boggling in their capabilities. We will be able to do science better, make decisions better, become more efficient and effective in whatever we do.

– Could you name some of your top speakers and their business/areas of expertise?

Lasse Clausen from 1kx is one of the smartest token fund managers that I know of.

Adrian Brink from Cosmos: they are building the next generation Blockchain systems that are pushing the boundaries.

Meltem Demirors is a great speaker, thinker, and has worked with the World Economic Forum, MIT Media Lab and Digital Currency Group.

– Singapore is our next Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum – SIGEF 2018 – host city. For years, it has been a technology, Blockchain and sustainability hub. Why, in your opinion, does the city have such a vocation? Should it be a role model for Asia and beyond?

Singapore has had many things in its favor, geography for one, but we have been particularly blessed with good leadership. Mr Lee Kuan Yew was the architect of our country and built a meritocratic system with good law and order, an emphasis on education and racial harmony. We have one of the best healthcare systems in the world and it is extremely safe here. Clearly Singapore’s methods will not work in countries much larger than us, but our methods have been studied and implemented in many places outside of Singapore.

De/Centralize takes place from 5-6 April at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore. The event is an Horyou Media Partner.

Inspired by the ‘invisible beings’ of one of the biggest cities in the world, the photographer Edu Leporo started to depict homeless people and their dogs in São Paulo, Brazil. The photography essays soon became a social project which now, through donations and funding campaigns, provide care for street dogs and their owners. Edu Leporo is our interviewed personality, a member of our platform Horyou and a change maker for good.

Edu Leporo with Angela, Diego and the dog Spike, who live on the streets of São Paulo (Photo: Gu Leporo)

When and why did you start taking pictures?

I started my photographic records of homeless people and their dogs in 2012, in an unpretentious way. Walking through downtown São Paulo, I saw a homeless man sitting with his dog and wondered: what would their reality be like? As a professional photographer, I have always worked in studios and did photographic essays of moms with their pets. But this has awakened an uneasiness in me and pushed me to do something for those who could not have a portrait – that is the people who live on the streets with their companions.

What was your inspiration?

My profession as a photographer of pets and my love for animals made me register the reality of the streets! To record and tell the stories of love, respect and companionship that go unnoticed by the eyes of thousands of people, certainly, inspired me.

In your work, you unite two causes, the animal care and the homeless people. Apart from photography, is there a social project behind these causes?

After I made several records of homeless people with their dogs, I decided to make a photographic exhibition with this material. All on my own. Gradually, I went looking for partners and we also managed to make a book with these records. That was in 2015. Using the images captured on the streets was my choice to shed light on these “invisible” beings. Soon after, in 2016 we started the Social Project for Street People and Their Dogs (in Portuguese, Moradores de Rua e Seus Cães). We started with a few donations, and today we take action every month in the center of São Paulo where we take all the services and donations for dogs, such as: bath, vaccine, vermifuge, beds, guides, collars and food. For the human, toiletries kits, clothes and shoes and we serve a breakfast.

Photo: Edu Leporo

What were the most striking situations you encountered during this project?

On the streets, there are many remarkable and rich stories. But I want to highlight the story of a couple that touched us a lot: Angela and Diego. They have lived for years on the streets with their dogs, Spike and Star. We have recently discovered that she has Leukemia and we feel the need to help her with her treatment. Fortunately, we were able to start a beautiful campaign with support from ZeeDog and raised funds for Angela’s treatment.

What are the next steps?

Our actions consist of 70% donations (individuals and companies) and 30% money, which we use to buy breakfast items, for example. But this cash aid is always lacking. Today, we seek a support / sponsor to meet our needs, ranging from items for breakfast to relief and treatment for some dog. We plan to launch our second book, with photos and street stories, as well as taking the photographic exhibition to all the capitals of Brazil and abroad. Start the project in schools, giving young people the opportunity to engage in the cause. We also want to set up a mobile community laundry, where street people can wash, dry their clothes and their dogs. Our mission is to open our eyes, hearts and minds, feel that we are only in the beginning.

Change Makers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG10 – Reduced Inequalities and #SDG15 – Life on Land.

The Sustainable Development Goal 14 is often overlooked. What many people forget, indeed, is the fact that we live in an ecosystem. The glass of water we drink, the rains and moist that help farmers produce our food, the climate that surrounds us, and even the air that we breathe, it’s all ultimately connected and regulated by the oceans.

Photo: UNDP

The SDG 14 aims to preserve life under water in order to guarantee life above water – seas and oceans are being constantly threatened by climate change, overfishing and pollution; and we face their consequences on a daily basis. The acidification of oceans, apart from causing the extinction of creatures like corals and shelled molluscs, also affects all the food chain, including fishes and seafood that in many countries are the main sources of protein.

According to UNDP, 16% of the 63 large marine ecosystems are at high risk. This is due to eutrophication, a name given by an excessive amount of nutrients in water and dense plant growth, which causes the death of marine species. The most vulnerable areas are the Gulf of Mexico, Western Europe, Southern and Eastern Asia.

The solution lies in government policies and commitments, as marine protected areas must be created and well-managed, with strategies to combat overfishing and incentive small-scale and sustainable fisheries. But we can do more! Many projects are engaged with the protection of the oceans and sea life and we, as consumers, have the power to influence companies and people to respect and protect life under water.

On the Horyou platform, organizations like Maradentro, based in Brazil, take a scientific approach to raise awareness about the risks that marine life is facing. Our community is always highlighting the issue in our blog and through discussions on our platform. You can also be part of this conversation!

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps protect life below water in your region or anywhere in the world. You can also show your support by participating in #HoryouLightChallenge! Be the change, be Horyou!

Below the water, there is another planet we seldom think about. As I am writing this, it is established that the water world counts more than 228,000 species, while experts estimate that between 500,000 and 2 million more sea organisms are still unknown. They form an ecosystem that is integrated into ours – many other living creatures depend on marine life, and that includes us, humans.

Desierto Liquido was screened in CCCB in Barcelona

In many countries, fish and seafood are the main sources of protein. Yet the vigor of the fish industry is currently under serious threat. From Fiji to Mauritania, the fishing industry has indeed become a precarious if unfair trade with fishermen experiencing increasingly harder working conditions as they must face competition from monster multinational fishing boats, and take account of the overexploitation of fish stocks.

The issue of marine life preservation and the struggle of small fishermen in Africa and Europe to make ends meet was shown last Tuesday in «Desierto Liquido» (Liquid Desert), a documentary that was screened at the Contemporary Culture Center of Barcelona. Directors Alba Azaola and Daniel Carrasco, both former Greenpeace activists, who, on site, were able to see first-hand the current state of the marine life, offered a clear picture of overfishing, poverty and lack of opportunities that the fishermen in developing countries are faced with and that are causing social unrest, forced immigration and ultimately deaths, not to mention conflicts between small communities and big multinationals.

With this documentary, the directors objective is to spread the word about the situation in the seas. «It is an under covered topic that most people don’t want to think about», said Daniel Carrasco. Having already won 4 prizes in as many movie festivals, they would like their documentary to be screened in as many theatres as possible, and plan to turn it into an educational project. «We have had support from teachers and we are trying to get a partnership with governments. From this documentary we are developing related projects like Blue Hope Tuna (a film about the Bluefin tuna)», he added.

After the screening, a panel which included the directors, as well as Lydia Chaparro, an activist and marine biologist, Gustavo Duch, coordinator of the magazine Soberania Alimentaria and Daouda Dieye, a Senegalese national whose fishing family has been heavily impacted by overfishing. Daouda’s speech indeed added a human touch to the issue – all men in his family are fishermen and face the crisis on a daily basis. «The spend weeks at sea, risking their lives and competing with big fishing boats that operate illegally, while the authorities overlook the situation», he stated. “Many migrants from African origin”, he said, “are actually eco-refugees, fleeing poverty that is caused by the lack of opportunities”.

«Liquid desert» makes a call to fish consumers to be more conscious when choosing what to eat. In some countries, regulations require origin guarantee stamps and seals that show where the fishes come from, and the fishing method used. «There are hundreds of fish types in the sea, but people still buy the same ten or twelve types, which aggravates the problem of endangered species», said Lydia Chaparro. «The power of change is in our hands», she added.

The trailer can be seen here (in Spanish)

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good that connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. In this article, Horyou highlights the challenges of the SDG 14 – Life Below Water.

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