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6 Pieces Of Tech That Can Help With Mobility 

6 Pieces Of Tech That Can Help With Mobility 

It’s estimated that 17% of people in the Pacific have some sort of disability, which is around 1.7 million people. Many of these disabilities will affect the person’s mobility, whether it’s that they need a wheelchair to move around or they’re blind and feel too afraid to go out at all. Technology is helping to improve mobility, both with pieces of equipment and assistive tools that help people to live more independently.

a Video recorders

Filming yourself or having someone else film you can help you to see where you can improve, which is particularly good for people recovering from illness or an accident and they’re learning to walk or stand from a chair again. Using a camcorder or a smartphone, film your movements, watch the recording, tweak what you’re doing and record again until you have the movement mastered.

Virtual home assistants

Home assistants, like Alexa and Google Home, are becoming more and more common, and they have applications for people with reduced mobility. Using smart light bulbs means voice-controlled home assistants can turn the lights on and off for you if you ask it to. They can also control things like the TV and wake a sleeping computer. This makes everyday tasks a lot easier for people with reduced mobility.

Smart cane

The Dring smart cane is a very simply piece of tech incorporated into a very commonly used walking aid. The cane can detect when the user has fallen and will contact family and friends as soon as it happens. The cane also has a button that can be pressed by the user to alert them. It’s been known for people to fall and stay on the floor for days until someone finally finds them, so this smart cane can help to get them back up, checked over and moving around again.

Gaspard connected mat

WHO statistics suggest that an estimated 8,810 people in Fiji alone require a wheelchair. Whilst wheelchairs can transform lives, they can also lead to back pain, aches and inactivity. Gaspard is a mat for wheelchair users that helps to improve posture, eliminate back pain and increase mobility. It tracks the amount of times you push yourself up in the chair, how much you slouch and connects to your phone to prompt you to reposition and move more often to reduce the chance of back pain, aches and inactivity.

Be My Eyes app

Be My Eyes is designed for blind people and works by connecting volunteers with them from anywhere in the world. You simply go on to the app and ask someone for help with something that you can’t see yourself. Volunteers receive notifications of requests for help, which triggers a video call so that they can be the person’s eyes for them. This can really help blind or visually impaired people feel that they can access the world more confidently as it can remove obstacles that would usually be enough to stop them from going out by themselves.

Stair climbing wheelchair

Currently, many people who live in the Pacific Islands don’t have access to wheelchairs. As technology advances, the hope is that they’ll become cheaper and easily accessed by people who need them to help resolve this. Stair climbing wheelchairs are fairly new, but there are several companies working on different designs for them. Just think of all the places you can’t get to as a wheelchair user, even going upstairs in a friend’s home. A stair climbing wheelchair can really improve where you can go that you haven’t been able to before.

Tech is improving the lives of people with poor mobility, whether it’s devices that physically help you to move around or assistive tools to make the world friendlier and more accessible. It’s also developing quickly and becoming cheaper, so you can expect lots of new tech to help with everyday life.

The Rise of Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis

The Rise of Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) should be a thing of the past, something only our elders feared and died of. However, TB is still one of the top ten causes of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about a third of the world’s population is infected with the organism that causes TB - mycobacterium tuberculosis. Nonetheless, only 10% of those infected will go on to develop TB, with the majority of cases likely to occur within two years. Over the course of a year, those with active TB can go onto infect 10-15 other people with the disease, and without treatment, 45% of patients with TB will die. The financial impact of TB is also significant, with the Global TB Caucus estimating that deaths from TB over the next 15 years will cost the global economy nearly US$1 trillion.

Tuberculosis in the Pacific

Rates of TB are higher in Pacific Island Countries compared to the rest of the world. In 2017 there were 1.8 million cases of TB within the Western Pacific region, one of the highest rates globally. The remote and sparse nature of the Pacific Islands present challenges for ensuring universal access to quality TB care, especially those in vulnerable and high-risk populations. While the common forms of TB can be treated using antibiotics, this can be complicated due to the combinations of antibiotics and length of treatment. This can result in patient non-compliance and the emergence of Multidrug-Resistant TB (MDR-TB). MDR-TB is becoming a global public health crisis and a health security threat, due to its scale impact and relative political neglect. In 2017, the WHO estimates that there were 558,000 new cases of TB that were resistant to the antibiotic rifampicin, the most effective first-line drug in treating the disease. Furthermore, 82% of these cases had MDR-TB. The majority of MDR-TB global burden occurs in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically impacting those who are poor and vulnerable the hardest. This evolving form of TB is harder to diagnose, more expensive to treat, and difficult to cure compared to common forms of the disease. 

Bridging the skills gap

There are limited options for healthcare professionals in the Pacific region to further their education regarding TB. POLHN has developed an online TB essentials Training course to assist doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to advance their education and fill their knowledge gaps. POLHN provides a large range of free courses online with certificates for health workers. With World TB Day coming up on 24 March, the time is now to commit to learning more about TB and helping build awareness about the global epidemic of the disease.