How incarceration further disadvantages Australia’s Indigenous

By Neena Bhandari

Sydney, 15.02.2021 (IPS): Keenan Mundine grew up in the Aboriginal community social housing called The Block, infamous for poor living conditions, alcohol and drug use, and violence, in Sydney’s Redfern suburb. At the age of about seven, soon after losing his parents to drugs and suicide, he was separated from his siblings and placed in kinship care.

“I felt robbed of my childhood. I didn’t feel safe and it made me struggle with my living conditions and mental health. I couldn’t concentrate at school and got into lot of trouble. I spent sleepless nights contemplating what my situation would be if my parents were still alive. At the age of 14, I ended up on the streets and tried to work my way around it”, Mundine tells IPS.

Today, he is using his own lived experience of navigating the criminal justice system that helped change the trajectory of his life to devise creative and innovative solutions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so they can break free from the cycle of violence, police and prisons.

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© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from neenabhandari.com content is expressly prohibited without the permission of the writer and the media outlet syndicating or publishing the article.

Gender bias stymies women’s progress in STEM

By Neena Bhandari

Sydney, 11.02.2021 (Scidev.Net): While women play a critical role in science and technology, women career scientists still face gender bias, accounting for only 28 percent of engineering graduates and 40 percent of graduates in computer science and informatics, according to UNESCO.

On the sixth UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science today, 11th February, UNESCO has published one of the chapters on gender in science entitled To be Smart the Digital Revolution will Need to be Inclusive from the UNESCO Science Report scheduled for publication in April.

The chapter highlights that women are not benefitting fully from employment opportunities open to highly educated and skilled experts in cutting edge fields, such as artificial intelligence. Also, women founders of start-ups struggle to access finance, and in large tech companies they remain underrepresented in both leadership and technical positions.

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© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from neenabhandari.com content is expressly prohibited without the permission of the writer and the media outlet syndicating or publishing the article.

Novel drug treatment offers hope to XDR-TB patients

By Neena Bhandari

Sydney, 03.02.21 (SciDev.Net): A new three-drug, all-oral, six-month treatment is providing hope to patients in Tajikistan with highly drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis, which until now had limited treatment options and a poor prognosis.

Tajikistan is the first country in Central Asia and second in the world after Ukraine to provide patients with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) access to the novel BPaL regimen treatment under operational research conditions from December 2020. The regimen consists of three drugs –  bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid.

“The BPaL regimen offers the shortest possible treatment course for XDR-TB patients, excludes injectable drugs, it’s easy to use and more affordable. Conventional treatment regimen for patients with XDR-TB consists of 7- 8 antibiotics for a minimum of 18 months, including any of the injectable drugs, which not every patient can tolerate”, says Veriko Mirtskhulava, senior epidemiologist at KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, an international NGO devoted to eliminating TB.

The BPaL regimen, developed by the non-profit organisation TB Alliance, is being implemented in Tajikistan by the National Tuberculosis Program with support from KNCV.

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© Copyright Neena Bhandari. All rights reserved. Republication, copying or using information from neenabhandari.com content is expressly prohibited without the permission of the writer and the media outlet syndicating or publishing the article.