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Maharashtra villages show how to beat Zika

At a time when the world is reeling under an outbreak of Zika virus, some villages in Nanded district of Maharashtra have successfully drowned out the mosquito buzz with underground soak pits that suck in waste water.

The four-foot-deep pits dug behind every house in the villages are making the usually overflowing open drains redundant, thus depriving mosquitoes of their breeding grounds. The project has roots in a decade-long successful experiment in Tembhurni village in Himayat Nagartaluka.

Adopting the Gandhian principle of shramdaan (voluntary contribution for a cause), sarpanch Pralhad Patil carried out construction of soak pits behind every house. When they began, Patil recalls, government funds were hard to come by . Villagers then decided to pool funds.

The pits are covered with a cement pipe that has four equi distant holes at the top. A layer of sand and fine gravel is spread under and around the pipe to allow the water to percolate slowly into the ground.

"Within a year of all houses getting the new soak pits, the village became free of mosquitoes,'' says Patil, who gave up a career in engineering in the 1980s to carry out sustainable development in his village.

Source:The Times of India

Kosi Basin to be better warned on floods

It's an area prone to annual devastating floods but little empirical data about it was available to anticipate potential disasters and maintain resilient livelihoods for the millions of people inhabiting the area. Now a Kathmandu-based international organisation dedicated to environmentally-sound mountain development strategies has set up an information system to tackle the threat.

"We have created a platform known as the Kosi Basin Information System (KBIS) that integrates data on climate change, land use, sedimentation, and water-based livelihoods to help individuals understand the changes happening in the basin," Shahriar Wahid, Project Coordinator for the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), said.

He said the platform also provides a 48-hour flood warning, using data collected from satellite technology and national weather agencies. Last monsoon, for the first time, Nepal's Department of Hydrology and Meteorology used the regional flood outlook to issue a flood warning, added Wahid, who was here for a two-day knowledge forum workshop.

The project's partners from Nepal, India and China have been working for the past two years to generate knowledge and help communities in the basin prepare for disasters and maintain resilient livelihoods.

Fresh hope as Melghat gets adopted

Bringing fresh hope for children of states' undernourished and long-neglected Melghat region, Britannia Nutrition Foundation (BNF) has adopted the tribal belt as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative for the year 2016-17.

The BNF has reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government to implement a three-phase project in collaboration with the government's Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme.

In the first phase of the programme, Anganwadi workers in Melghat will be provided with hard copies of formats to record legacy data of children aged below five years. This legacy data will comprise children's birthweight and latest recorded weight. All this data will then be uploaded with the help of a specially designed software.

In next three months, experts will analyse the data and work on the nutritional requirements of each child living in the region, before launching further efforts to improve their lot in the next phases.


Sania-Hingis Juggernaut continues

Women's world No 1 doubles pair Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis continued their otherworldly run and overcame the Czech duo Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká in staright sets to win the Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena last month.

The top seeds fought past the seventh seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (1) 6-3 in the women's doubles final that lasted just under two hours. It was their third consecutive Grand Slam title for Sania and Martina, having won the Wimbledon and US Open in the 2015 season.

In an incredible feat, Sania and Martina have now extended their unbeaten run to 36 matches, winning eight titles in a row. They won five straight titles in 2015, starting from the US Open and before the Australian Open now.


Potential treatment for sudden cardiac death

Scientists at a US university have developed a possible treatment to prevent hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a common cause of sudden death in young athletes, using a study conducted by researchers more than 15 years ago.

"This may offer a generalised approach to solving hypertrophic cardiomyopathy," wrote Warshaw, professor and chair of molecular physiology and biophysics at the University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine, in a column in the February 5 issue of the journal Science. "I think it's extremely promising," he added.

Using mice bred with the mutation, the team of scientists who found a way to address this problem tested a small molecule inhibitor that dials back the myosin motor's power generation to a more normal level. The mice got the drug containing the molecule as early as eight weeks old, and amazingly it prevented the HCM from surfacing.

"When they gave the drug to a young mouse with the mutation, the mouse's heart developed normally," Warshaw said. As HCM runs in families, an infant who tests positive for the genetic mutation could receive the treatment and stave off the disease, Warshaw said.

Development of a human drug, however, would require much more extensive testing and many remaining questions to be answered, he added.

Source: IANS

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