In an increasingly health-conscious society, people have more and more information about choosing kinds of food and drink which will help them remain healthy. This kind of decision becomes all the more important when people are on the move, or at work, or away from shops or other sources of refreshment, mainly because there’s very little time to decide what you want, and what will do the trick from the relatively limited choice available.
This process becomes even more important when designing vending machines as these are often the very last resort we’ll choose when trying to find food or drink – not because they’re unhealthy, nor because they’re worse than what’s available in supermarkets or shops, but because scientific study shows that we associate vending machines with convenience primarily, quality second, choice third. In other words, when you haven’t time or you’re not in the right place to choose what you’d most like to eat or drink, this is when you go to the vending machine.
So to come back to the question of healthy choices, a number of vending machines – companies are now looking seriously at providing their potential customers with choices that reflect the informed desires of a health-conscious society. Hence while you’ll see just as many Coke machines out there, and just as many machines selling sweets, savoury snacks and other what might be termed ‘unhealthy’ foods and beverages, there are a lot more vending manufacturers conceiving health-conscious machines.
Some are offering products in a machine that sells a combination of healthy and ‘unhealthy’ products. Some are offering stand-alone machines that only vend products promoting a healthy alternative to traditional snacking and drinking. Some of these kinds of products will be low in fat, low in added sugar or salt and wherever possible will not contain E numbers.
Others are offering specific products designed to complement their existing ranges – so that when you come across a vending machine -which you would ordinarily expect to sell standard coffees and teas, you’ll be able to buy lemon tea, which can contain up to 50% of your daily vitamin C – handy for keeping swine flu at bay. Then there are cranberry juice drinks, which are refreshing and packed full of vitamin C and antioxidants. Similiarly, flavoured water with fewer than 10 calories per drink is also becoming a very popular choice among major vending manufacturers. And market leaders in water filtration are coming on board too, offering clean, clear filtered water as a built-in element in vending machines so that you don’t need to double up on drinks fountains. The next step is to make the new, healthy vending culture more energy efficient – the subject of future debate, no doubt…
If you’d like to see some really great coffee vending machines then please have a look at klix.co.uk
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U.S. Army Medical Research Unit - Improving malaria diagnostics, Kisumu, Kenya 05-2010
Image by US Army Africa www.usaraf.army.mil U.S Army Medical Research Unit: Improving malaria diagnosis in Africa, one lab at a time By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa OYUGIS, Kenya – Inside Rachuonyo district hospital, Simba Mobagi peers through his laboratory’s only microscope at a sick woman’s blood sample. The 33-year-old laboratory technologist’s goal – rapidly identifying malaria parasites. Dozens more samples await his eyes. Each represents a patient suffering outside on wooden benches. Mogabi takes little time to ponder his workload. He quickly finds malaria parasites, marks his findings on a pink patient record and moves to the next slide. Much to his surprise, a U.S. Army officer arrives, removes his black beret and sets down a large box. Inside Maj. Eric Wagar’s box is a new microscope – a small gesture within U.S. Army Medical Research Unit-Kenya’s larger efforts to improve malaria diagnostics in Africa. For more than 40 years, USAMRU-K – known locally as the Walter Reed Project – has studied diseases in East Africa through a partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute. Wagar heads USAMRU-K’s Malaria Diagnostics and Control Center of Excellence in Kisumu, a unique establishment begun in 2004 that’s since trained more than 650 laboratory specialist to better their malaria microscopy skills. “Working with the Walter Reed Project is so good for the community, as it benefits the patient,” Mobagi said, who is looking forward to attending the center’s malaria diagnostics course. “Plus, having a new microscope improves our work environment. Work will be easier and we will have better outcomes.” Back in Kisumu, wall maps mark the center’s success, with hundreds of trained lab technicians from more than a dozen countries across the African continent. International students have come from Ireland, the U.S. and Thailand. Many students are sponsored through U.S. government aid programs aimed at reducing disease in Africa or by nongovernmental organizations. Most of the center’s 0,000 annual budget comes from the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative. Other funding is from the U.S. Defense Department, NGOs and pharmaceutical companies. For students to practice malaria identification, five Kenyan lab technicians work tirelessly to create a variety of blood specimens. Slides may show one or more of malaria’s several species – others are free of parasites. The majority of malaria cases are the falciparum species, but many people are co-infected with other species and it’s important for students to recognize that, Wagar said. “At our course, lab students learn skills and habits that increase their ability to accurately detect malaria on blood slides. Yet, when they return to their local laboratories, they face the challenge of changing habits and procedures,” Wagar said. “Changing behavior is hard to do.” In late-April, Wagar accompanied Jew Ochola, 28, the center’s daily operations manager to Oyugis, the district center of Rachuonyo that lies roughly 30 miles south of Kisumu in Kenya’s Nyanza province. “First I do an assessment of the hospital’s lab, what procedures they have, the number of people on staff and the equipment they use,” Ochola said. “By partnering with laboratory managers, we hope to increase standards and improve efficient and effective diagnosis. The goal is to lessen the burden of malaria on the local people.” To mark progress, lab staffs must collect 20 slides each month that show properly handled blood samples. Monthly visits will mark performance improvement. Through quality malaria diagnosis, USAMRU-K is part of a larger public health effort to reduce malaria’s impacts on Kenyan’s lives. Illness means paying for treatment and less wages earned, creating an impact on the economy. “By mitigating a public health burden, people should have more time to grow food and have money for things other than medical care,” Wagar said. “We can’t expect to see change right away, but hopefully things will be a little bit better every month.” Working with the Djibouti-based Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa and other DoD agencies, the center recently offered microscopy courses through U.S. military partnership events in Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania. The effort supports U.S. Army Africa’s strategic engagement goal of increasing capabilities and strengthening capacity with the militaries of African nations, Wagar said. “To date, that includes eight Kenyan military lab techs, 17 from the Tanzania People’s Defense Force and 30 Nigerians,” Wagar said. Accurate diagnosis is also a key factor for military readiness, Wagar said. For example, a Kenyan soldier stationed in Nairobi – where malaria is less prevalent – is susceptible to the disease if posted elsewhere in the country. “Improving malaria diagnosis within African military laboratories sets conditions for healthier troops,” Wagar said. “When forces are healthy, they are more capable to support their government and regional security.” To learn more about U.S. Army Africa visit our official website at www.usaraf.army.mil Official Twitter Feed: www.twitter.com/usarmyafrica Official YouTube video channel: www.youtube.com/usarmyafrica
SEPTEMBER MEADOW, WESTER ROSS, SCOTLAND, UNITED KINGDOM.
Image by Malcolm Mowat's: Quality Scottish Products Filled with as many colours as a Malcolm Mowat’s handmade worsted wool scarf, the meadows of Scotland are a natural wonder that is best seen between June and September. At this time of year the meadows are drawing towards the end of their Summer show, but they are still filled with flowers and seed heads of all shapes and sizes. Until they are cut in early October, they also continue to provide shelter to a host of animals. Scottish meadows come in five main varieties. You get wet meadows, dry meadows, woodland meadows, Highland grassland meadows and coastal meadows. Wet meadows are, unsurprisingly, located on ground that is damp. This ground will sometimes be flooded and can even be sodden for prolonged periods of time. The most recognisable plants are yellow flag iris, knapweed, ox-eye daisy, meadow buttercup and devils-bit scabious. En masse, flag iris in the North West Highlands will attract corncrakes that have become increasingly rare due to modern agricultural methods. They will also attract dragonflies by the dozen and caterpillars will often be seen munching the leaves. Have no fear, though, for if we had no caterpillars we’d have no butterflies. Dry meadows are found where the land is steep and the soil thin. These can thrive in remarkably hostile conditions and they really do put on a magnificent show. Some of the more notable plants contained within them are cowslip, St John’s wort, wild carrot, rock rose and white campion. My personal favourite are the Highland grassland meadows. These can be found wherever acidic soil is present and freely draining. Unlike all other meadows, there is no need for this type to be cut or grazed to ensure healthy plants. Heather, bluebell, harebell, white clover and common dog violet are most easily seen and they often provide a vivid visual contrast with the surrounding bare landscape. People don’t often think of woodland meadows, as such, but they will invariably have a clear picture of what natural woodland plants should be present in undisturbed woods. This is the same thing. The classic combination of foxglove, bluebells, wild garlic, primrose and bugle is deservedly iconic and not a year passes without mesmerising shots of this natural floral miracle being present in our major newspapers. What makes these plants so special is that they are all hardy and that they flourish in areas of low light. Along Scotland’s coastline, coastal meadows stand against all the odds and put on a scarcely believable annual performance. These plants withstand salt, next to no moisture and being sandblasted by gales whipping sand off the beaches. In this light, even the humble sea plantain can hold a special place in anyone’s heart. All these meadows are of great benefit to our wildlife on all levels of the food chain. Ants, eagles, owls, mice, beetles, newts; they all benefit from meadows. It is partly for this reason, then, that we live in a time where the creation, restoration and expansion of meadows is seen to be fashionable. They allow people to connect to the Scottish flora and fauna in a really compressed manner and they also allow the owners to use scythes. Long live the meadow. www.malcolmmowats.com
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