Why SNOMED CT? New platform presents a refreshed case for investing in the comprehensive clinical terminology

London, United Kingdom, Dec. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — SNOMED International released today its refreshed SNOMED CT Case for Investment report. Available on a new interactive platform, the Case for Investment presents evidence that SNOMED CT adds measurable value to a broad range of primary and secondary health processes leveraging SNOMED CT encoded data to enable improved patient outcomes. Through the narrative, the report provides accessible and understandable answers to questions such as, "what is SNOMED CT?", "what makes SNOMED CT unique?', "how and where is it in use globally?" and "why invest in SNOMED CT?"

SNOMED CT, the most comprehensive and multilingual clinical healthcare terminology in the world, possesses unique characteristics that differentiate it from other classifications and terminologies. Among these characteristics are SNOMED CT's position as a core reference terminology, its clinically comprehensive 350,000+ concepts supported by a machine–readable semantic network, broad use and mandate in select countries.

Showcasing real world use and outcomes of SNOMED CT is the best way to demonstrate its value, understanding that SNOMED CT must be embedded in a clinical information system, health data & analytics platform or an interoperability solution for it to function. Through the Case for Investment, 10 examples of SNOMED CT use across data entry and integration, clinical information sharing, point of care analytics, population and management analytics and research domains have been featured. Ranging across different countries such as Australia, Canada, China, United Kingdom, United States, continued collection of additional SNOMED CT case studies remains an ongoing priority.

SNOMED International CEO, Don Sweete, commented on the development and outcomes of the Case for Investment. "There has been a tremendous evolution in SNOMED CT over the past 10 years and this report demonstrates the value that it offers healthcare systems and stakeholders worldwide" said Sweete. "With a complement of 41 Members that represent health systems globally, continuously refreshed knowledge and analysis on the nature, utility and value of standards like SNOMED CT can't be overstated. Health system decision–makers need to be equipped with clear knowledge of how their investments in SNOMED CT translate into positive outcomes for the health of their nation's citizens."

In terms of conclusions, the report presents SNOMED CT as a scalable and "fit for purpose" clinical terminology, adhering to international criteria, data quality and suitability requirements. A part of the bigger picture, SNOMED CT is one of many contributing factors to improving patient outcomes, and studies show that the use of SNOMED CT–embedded systems can provide significant qualitative and quantitative patient outcome benefits.

Looking forward, SNOMED CT must also contemplate how it enables the future needs of medicine and research. A healthcare industry that is ever evolving, the future opportunities for SNOMED CT will be driven by new healthcare data sources and new healthcare technologies such as national cohorts, big data and AI, clinical genomics, phenomics and environment, etc.

Experience the breadth of the SNOMED CT Case for Investment through the organization's interactive value platform at value.snomed.org.


High Yield Seeds Could Address Food Shortages and Place Africa on Track to Zero Hunger – Experts

Maize is a critical food security crop in sub-Saharan Africa with more than 40 million hectares of farmlands dedicated to maize farming in at least 32 countries. Credit: Joyce Chimbi

By Joyce Chimbi
Nairobi, Kenya, Dec 16 2021 – Rahab Munene’s shoe selling business crumbled at the height of COVID-19 in 2020. She traded the enterprise for a mobile grocery along the Thika Superhighway, Kiambu County.

“My son and I buy fruits, vegetables and cereals directly from farmers. This worked very well in the beginning because people did not want to leave their homes for fear of coronavirus. Today, food prices are very high, and many households are buying directly from farmers because it is cheaper,” she tells IPS.

“A 90 kg bag of maize is now going for at least $27 – up from $23 a month ago. Our business is no longer breaking even.”

In October 2021, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicated that the cost of food in Kenya showed an unprecedented increase of 10.6 percent compared with the same month in 2020.

UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates a similarly unprecedented increase, by over 60 percent, of acute food insecurity in Africa over the past year.

In Africa, there is a need to overhaul the food systems to include nutritious crops and diets that are climate and severe weather resilient.

“Global food systems present a complex and multi-faceted set of challenges from farm to fork,” the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BDFN) says. Using science and best practice, BCFN has developed a system of placing the Health and Climate Pyramids side-by-side. The Double Pyramid directly illustrates a balanced, healthy, and sustainable diet.

BCFN double pyramid highlights food systems that are both healthy and good for the planet. Credit: BCFN

Faced with food insecurity exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, BCFN has called for sustainable food solutions.

One of these solutions, says Desmond Kipkorir, a Kenyan-based seed systems analyst in East and Southern Africa, ensures that farmers have high-yielding seeds to match the myriad of challenges facing the African farmer.

The 2019 Access to Seeds Index notes that “less than 10 percent of the world’s smallholder farmers have access to improved and quality seeds that can halt and tolerate climate change impacts.”

Kipkorir tells IPS the most recent data shows despite a growing private seed sector to augment public seed sectors and extensive rural agro-dealers, farmers are still unable to access the high-quality seeds they need and on time.

“Seeds systems involve a lot more than the production of seeds. They include all the factors that lead to the timely delivery of produced seeds to farmers at an affordable price. As recent as 2016, up to 90 percent of farmers in Africa relied on informal seed systems,” he says.

He says that uncertified seeds cannot counter the threats posed by climate change and extreme weather, land degradation and reducing farmlands, water and energy constraints, and an ever-growing demand for food in tandem with a growing population.

“Informal seeds systems are outside the control of government agencies. The quality of unregulated and uncertified seeds is too poor to address today’s challenges. Seeds saved from previous harvests, borrowed from neighbours and those bought from local markets are lacking in many aspects,” Chelangat Ochieng from the Ministry of Agriculture tells IPS.

“Uncertified seeds are often available, accessible and affordable to farmers. But they are not adaptable. They lack germination vigour and disease resistance.”

Experts such as Kipkorir warn that the existing yield gap will only widen and, with it, a rise in food prices.

Ochieng says the Agricultural Commodity Price Index stabilized in the third quarter of 2021. All the same, the price index is 14 percent higher than it was in January 2021.

“Maize and wheat prices are 44 percent and 38 percent higher, respectively, than their pre-pandemic, January 2020, levels,” the index indicates.

Confirming challenges facing Munene’s mobile grocer, the index shows high retail prices. Similarly, other indices confirm high food price inflation at the retail level globally.

FAO’s Food Price Index, a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities, released in November 2021, showed the fourth consecutive monthly rise in the value of the food price index.

Prices for cereals and dairy rose significantly, followed by sugar and that the November 2021 index was at its highest level since June 2011.

“Climate change is here with us, and population growth is placing a lot of pressure on available farmland. Governments and the private sector need to strengthen three pillars of food security, quality of seeds, input and good agricultural practices,” Kipkorir tells IPS.

Against this backdrop, the African Seed Access Index, a seed industry research initiative, indicates that national seed systems on the continent are at varying stages of development.

Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia have established mechanisms for seed inspection and that Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania are on track.

Kipkorir says this is a step in the right direction but decries the generally high cost of certified seeds. He urges governments to subsidize seed prices to ensure that farmers plant seeds that can withstand climate, weather risks and crop diseases.

He calls for maize seed subsidies in the region. He warns that even more severe food insecurity looms if farmers do not access quality, high yielding maize seeds.

According to the FAO, maize is a staple and a critical food security crop in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 40 million hectares of farmlands dedicated to maize farming in at least 32 countries in the region.

The African Seed Access Index shows that Western and Central Africa lag behind other regions of Africa in seed company presence and investments in local seed business activities, including seed breeding, production, and processing.

Overall, the Index notes significant progress in Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Other countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Madagascar, are notably lagging because they are characterized by “under-funded government seed agencies, poorly implemented seed regulations and a variety of weak private sector.”


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Cinturion Participates at Expo 2020 Dubai UAE

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Dec. 16, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Cinturion Corp Ltd. a global provider of scalable, subsea and terrestrial capacity–based network solutions spanning India, the Middle East and Europe, is excited to announce their participation at Expo 2020 Dubai, the largest event ever staged in the Middle East. Expo 2020 brings together over 200 participants from around the world with the common goal of supporting advancements in education, technology, and innovations that will shape the future and unlock new opportunities.

On January 13, 2022, Cinturion along with their partner GCCIA (Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority) will participate in a panel discussion session on the topics of global communications networks, the latest communications technologies, and the investment opportunities offered by GCCIA.

GCCIA along with other Telcom specialists will address:

  • The evaluation of connectivity in MENA region over the past years.
  • The potential of terrestrial cable in GCC and the opportunities it brings for the Hyperscale's / Cloud companies as well as large enterprises.
  • The challenges in communication technologies for long terrestrial cable and how to overcome the challenge.

Cinturion will have the opportunity to reveal their TEAS "" Trans Europe Asia System. The most advanced new–build network that will fulfill demand for an open–access system with the lowest latency and most diverse routes between India, the Middle East & Europe. TEAS will provide much needed capacity, speed, and redundancy to companies in the region, particularly new data centers as well as content and cloud service providers.

TEAS network consists of two diverse connections across the Mediterranean Sea, continuing with two diverse paths inter–linking the Middle East, with multiple routes across the Arabian Peninsula, and a route through the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. This first new dual path (subsea and terrestrial) system of its kind will provide geographic routes between Pescara, Italy and Marseille, France and Mumbai, India. TEAS will enable new services with its unique and robust optical capabilities to support modern Data Center deployments, bringing broadband and ultra–low latency access to European, Middle East and Indian markets. When complete, TEAS will offer individual fiber ownership and open a new passage for internet traffic to a broad range of customers.

For information on GCCIA contact Alaa Rahma, Email: arahma@gccia.com.sa
Go to https://www.gccia.com.sa for further information.

For Cinturion and TEAS sales contact Bill Marra, bmarra@cinturiongroup.com. Media contact Lisa Cruise, lcruise@cinturiongroup.com.

Doubling Adaptation Finance can be an Opportunity for the World’s Poorest

Credit: L. Patron/UN University (UNU)

By Victor Bernard and Delia Paul
BANGKOK / MELBOURNE, Dec 16 2021 – Amid several disappointments of the 2021 UN climate conference in Glasgow, one sign of hope was the agreement on financing for adaptation to climate change. Developed countries agreed to double adaptation finance for poorer nations by 2025, from 2019 levels.

This rapid increase—if promises are kept—could mean many different things: infrastructure upgrades in vulnerable coastal zones, tree planting to counter rising temperatures, technology and training for underfunded civil servants, and more.

Adaptation finance has been low in comparison to financing for mitigation efforts, so this outcome from Glasgow is welcome. But if this is to benefit those most in need and protect them from violations, countries and international aid donors must adopt a human rights-based approach to adaptation.

Such an approach is not only about civil and political rights (such as voting rights or freedom of assembly), but also about social, economic and cultural rights to nutritious food, water and sanitation, education, and access to health care, to name just a few that are internationally recognized.

Now, the impacts of climate change gravely threaten governments’ ability to fulfil their commitments.

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Southeast Asia and small island states, are among the world’s most vulnerable to climate impacts. Their coastal cities, long coastlines, and many small islands are features that expose large populations to both fast and slow-onset changes in the global environment.

The low-lying archipelago, Tuvalu, in the Pacific Ocean is reclaiming land as it fights the effects of climate change. Credit: UNDP Tuvalu

Communities forced to relocate due to climate-induced changes, such as sea-level rise, may have a poorer standard of living in their new place. Women in water-scarce regions may spend longer hours than before looking for freshwater sources.

Disasters and extreme weather events are already preventing children from having full access to education. During the pandemic lockdowns, for example, children without access to computers at home could not benefit from online learning.

The promise of financing for adaptation is a huge opportunity to make a difference for the world’s poorest, who are often the most exposed to climate risk. But governments so far have not adopted a systematic approach to integrating human rights in their adaptation planning.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate was the first international environmental treaty to explicitly mention States’ human rights obligations. The Agreement also makes implicit references to rights-related issues such as gender equality, public participation, and access to information.

The recent Glasgow conference finalised the ‘Paris Rulebook’ operationalizing the 2015 Agreement, which features human rights language under its Article 6. The new commitment to double adaptation financing is an opportunity to bring these commitments into practice.

Ahead of the Glasgow climate conference, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the Stockholm Environment Institute jointly investigated the extent to which countries have integrated human rights concerns in their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

NAPs are a country-led process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They are an expression of a country’s intent and strategy for fulfilling their commitments on adaptation.

Our research reviewed 15 NAPs that were available in English, out of the 24 submitted before COP 26. Fiji’s plan explicitly adopted human rights language, while Brazil’s plan strongly articulated the rights to water and the rights of Indigenous peoples. But overall, human rights are generally absent in the NAPs that we reviewed, or are addressed in an unsystematic way.

Intentionally adopting a rights-based process for NAPs means two things.

First, it ensures that adaptation funds do indeed benefit the most vulnerable people and communities through efforts to alleviate the impacts of climate change.

Second, it sets the scene for a truly inclusive and accessible planning process, in which disadvantaged groups are able to have their voices heard and are included in decision making about the future we share.

States are sometimes hesitant to adopt a rights-based approach, viewing this exercise as politically too challenging. But implementing human rights need not be a ‘blame game.’ It is possible to institute adaptation processes that celebrate everyone’s inherent dignity and everyone’s equal and inalienable rights.

Such a process can be helped through the use of tools, guidance, and awareness-raising initiatives. RWI is currently working on guidance for integrating human rights concerns in the NAPs. This will also look beyond NAPs to provide guidance for program implementation, supporting the policy-to-practice process.

At the 2015 climate talks in Paris, countries promised that climate finance would not fall below $100 billion a year. This figure has so far not been met. In 2019 around $79.6 billion in climate finance went to developing countries, and just 25% was for adaptation.

Boosting adaptation finance should mean that the world’s poorest countries have additional resources to do what they urgently need.

Climate change threatens access to resources, and increases the gap between the haves and have-nots in society. NAPs are an opportunity to counter this threat by adopting effective, inclusive and equitable approaches to adaptation.

The promise of Glasgow could help protect human rights in our rapidly-warming world.

Victor Bernard is a Thai citizen and programme officer at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, based in Bangkok. Delia Paul is a Malaysian citizen and human geography researcher at Monash University in Melbourne.


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2021 Revealed the Fragility of Food Systems

The end of this year has revealed the fragility of food systems when faced with sudden disruptions such as those observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. These disruptions have increased the number of people with limited or no access to food in the world. Today, more than 811 million people suffer from hunger, according to recent studies

Different initiatives have sought to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on agrifood systems that affect the world’s most vulnerable people. Credit: FAO

By Mario Lubetkin
ROME, Dec 16 2021 – The end of this year has revealed the fragility of food systems when faced with sudden disruptions such as those observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. These disruptions have increased the number of people with limited or no access to food in the world. Today, more than 811 million people suffer from hunger, according to recent studies.

The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2021 report, published in November by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) states that three billion people cannot afford healthy diets, and another billion could soon join these ranks if the crisis of the pandemic reduces their income by a third.

According to current projections, if an alteration in the transport routes of food products continues as it has been since the start of the pandemic, the cost of food could suffer an increase. This increase would greatly affect 845 million people.

These disruptions would impact on long-term trends in the food system, the welfare of people, their assets, their livelihoods and security, the ability to withstand future disarrays caused by extreme weather events and the heightening of diseases and pests in plants and animals.

Resilience in agrifood systems by governments should be one of the main strategies to respond to current and future challenges, seeking to diversify sources of inputs, production, markets, supply chain and actors, supporting the creation of small and medium-sized companies, cooperatives, consortiums and other groups to maintain diversity in the agrifood value chains

Prior to the pandemic, difficulties in meeting the international community’s commitments and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, especially the eradication of hunger and poverty, were already present. The effects of COVID-19, coupled with climate change, armed conflict and rising food prices, could continue to exacerbate these difficulties.

Global agrifood systems, related to the complex production of agricultural food and non-food products, as well as their storage, processing, transportation, distribution and consumption, produce 11 billion tons of food annually and employ billions of people, either directly or indirectly.

The recent FAO report analyzes whether low-income countries face greater difficulties as a result of impacts of the pandemic than middle-to high-income countries. After analyzing this specific situation in more than 100 countries, the report confirms the trend that low-income countries face greater difficulties; however, middle- and high-income countries are not excluded from these impacts.

Such is the case of middle-income countries like Brazil, where 60% of the value of their exports comes from a single trading partner, which reduces their options if their main counterpart is affected by the disruptions generated by COVID-19.

The same can happen in high-income countries, such as Canada or Australia, if they are exposed to transportation variants due to the long distances required to cover food distribution.

According to recent expert studies, reducing essential connections in the distribution network could cause local transport time to increase by 20% or more, thus increasing food costs and prices for consumers.

Resilience in agrifood systems by governments should be one of the main strategies to respond to current and future challenges, seeking to diversify sources of inputs, production, markets, supply chain and actors, supporting the creation of small and medium-sized companies, cooperatives, consortiums and other groups to maintain diversity in the agrifood value chains.

In addition, the resilience of vulnerable households should be improved to ensure a world without hunger, through greater access to assets, diversified sources of income and social protection programs in the event of a crisis.

Today, family farms represent 90% of all farms in the world. FAO established a technical platform for family farming with the aim of fostering innovation and the exchange of information between regions.

According to the Director-General of FAO, QU Dongyu, when resources and knowledge are shared “innovation is accelerated”, and while “this platform will allow us to think big, it will also facilitate the adoption of concrete measures” which will in turn allow for the conservation of biodiversity. This represents the first step towards rural transformation.

The relationship between agricultural nutrition and climate change is another outstanding component of the shocks that have continued to occur in 2021.

The increase in temperatures and the growing impact of radical atmospheric effects are exponentially affecting agriculture, causing an increase in the prices of raw materials as recorded by recent trends, and consequently aggravating the conditions of hunger and malnutrition.

If this trend continues, by 2050 agrifood production will decline by around 10%, at a time when there would be a strong increase in the world population.

There are also opportunities to reverse these trends related to agriculture, food and the environment, but in order for this to happen, greater investments is needed in this sector.

From precision agriculture and early warning systems, to improving the use of food waste and converting it into clean energy, to using water more efficiently, many practices are already being carried out in different countries. These solutions offer a sense of hope and show that we can reverse the present negative trends. When reflecting on the difficulties of the past year, we should continue to work towards finding concrete solutions instead of just pointing out the difficulties that the future of the agrifood industry faces.


Mario Lubetkin is Assistant Director General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)