The Scope

Video: The war against schistosomiasis and other hard-to-pronounce neglected tropical diseases

Since 2007, international health organisations have been working towards eliminating 10 common neglected tropical diseases.

Dracunculiasis, onchocerciasis, echinococcosis, schistosomiasis – these almost unpronounceable words are names of neglected tropical diseases that affect billions of people. A global collaboration headed by the World Health Organisation has been working for the last 10 years to control these diseases.

One billion people were treated for at least one neglected tropical disease in 2015 alone, the World Health Organisation reported on Wednesday. The organisation is calling the progress over the last 10 years towards eliminating these diseases “record-breaking”.

Neglected tropical diseases are a group of communicable diseases that are found tropical and subtropical regions across 149. These diseases affect more than one billion people, mainly those living in poverty, and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year.

Neglected tropical diseases found in India include dengue, rabies, leprosy, kala azar and filariasis. Large populations across Africa are also affected by neglected tropical diseases.

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While celebrating 10 years of a global collaboration against neglected tropical diseases, the WHO noted its achievements. For instance, only 25 human cases of guinea-worm disease were recorded in 2016, putting eradication of the disease within reach. More than 114 million people received treatment for onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness. Cases of sleeping sickness or African trypanosomiasis have been reduced from 37,000 new cases in 1999 to less than 3,000 cases in 2015. In India, visceral leishmaniasis or kala azar was eliminated in 82% of the sub-districts where the disease was endemic.

This video, partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that supports the WHO’s programme against neglected tropical diseases, why these diseases are neglected and the sustained efforts needed to eliminate them.

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Much of the success in controlling the diseases has been attributed to mass drug distribution with donations of free medicines from pharmaceutical companies. In fact, nine drug companies including Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi have pledged to continue to donate drugs and treatments till the WHO’s elimination targets are met.

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How technology is changing the way Indians work

An extensive survey reveals the forces that are shaping our new workforce 

Shreya Srivastav, 28, a sales professional, logs in from a cafe. After catching up on email, she connects with her colleagues to discuss, exchange notes and crunch numbers coming in from across India and the world. Shreya who works out of the café most of the time, is employed with an MNC and is a ‘remote worker’. At her company headquarters, there are many who defy the stereotype of a big company workforce - the marketing professional who by necessity is a ‘meeting-hopper’ on the office campus or those who have no fixed desks and are often found hobnobbing with their colleagues in the corridors for work. There are also the typical deskbound knowledge workers.

These represent a new breed of professionals in India. Gone are the days when an employee was bound to a desk and the timings of the workplace – the new set of professionals thrive on flexibility which leads to better creativity and productivity as well as work-life balance. There is one common thread to all of them – technology, tailored to their work styles, which delivers on speed and ease of interactions. Several influential industry studies and economists have predicted that digital technologies have been as impactful as the Industrial Revolution in shaping the way people work. India is at the forefront of this change because of the lack of legacy barriers, a fast-growing economy and young workers. Five factors are enabling the birth of this new workforce:

Smart is the way forward

According to the Future Workforce Study conducted by Dell, three in five working Indians surveyed said that they were likely to quit their job if their work technology did not meet their standards. Everyone knows the frustration caused by slow or broken technology – in fact 41% of the working Indians surveyed identified this as the biggest waste of time at work. A ‘Smart workplace’ translates into fast, efficient and anytime-anywhere access to data, applications and other resources. Technology adoption is thus a major factor in an employee’s choice of place of work.

Openness to new technologies

While young professionals want their companies to get the basics right, they are also open to new technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence. The Dell study clearly reflects this trend — 93% of Indians surveyed are willing to use Augmented/Virtual Reality at work and 90% say Artificial Intelligence would make their jobs easier. The use of these technologies is no longer just a novelty project at firms. For example, ThysenKrupp, the elevator manufacturer uses VR to help its maintenance technician visualize an elevator repair job before he reaches the site. In India, startups such as vPhrase and Fluid AI are evolving AI solutions in the field of data processing and predictive analysis.

Desire for flexibility 

A majority of Indians surveyed rate freedom to bring their own devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones etc.) to work very highly. This should not be surprising, personal devices are usually highly customized to an individual’s requirements and help increase their productivity. For example, some may prefer a high-performance system while others may prioritize portability over anything else. Half the working Indians surveyed also feel that the flexibility of work location enhances productivity and enables better work-life balance. Work-life balance is fast emerging as one of the top drivers of workplace happiness for employees and initiatives aimed at it are finding their way to the priority list of business leaders.

Maintaining close collaboration 

While flexible working is here to stay, there is great value in collaborating in person in the office. When people work face to face, they can pick up verbal and body language cues, respond to each other better and build connections. Thus, companies are trying to implement technology that boosts seamless collaboration, even when teams are working remotely. Work place collaboration tools like Slack and Trello help employees keep in touch and manage projects from different locations. The usage of Skype has also become common. Companies like Dell are also working on hi-tech tools such as devices which boost connectivity in the most remote locations and responsive videos screens which make people across geographies feel like they are interacting face to face.

Rise of Data Security 

All these trends involve a massive amount of data being stored and exchanged online. With this comes the inevitable anxiety around data security. Apart from more data being online, security threats have also evolved to become sophisticated cyber-attacks which traditional security systems cannot handle. The Dell study shows that about 74% of those surveyed ranked data security measures as their number one priority. This level of concern about data security has made the new Indian workforce very willing to consider new solutions such as biometric authentication and advanced encryption in work systems.

Technology is at the core of change, whether in the context of an enterprise as a whole, the workforce or the individual employee. Dell, in their study of working professionals, identified five distinct personas — the Remote Workers, the On-The-Go Workers, the Desk-centric Workers, the Corridor Warriors and the Specialized Workers.

Dell has developed a range of laptops in the Dell Latitude series to suit each of these personas and match their requirements in terms of ease, speed and power. To know more about the ‘types of professionals’ and how the Dell Latitude laptops serve each, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Dell and not by the Scroll editorial team.