Thursday October 19, 2017

WHO certifies India as Yaws, Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus free

A few decades back India witnessed 1-2 lakh neonatal tetanus cases annually, which have been now reduced to one per 1,000 live births

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A community health worker prepares a vaccine. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • WHO declares India as Yaws free, a chronic disfiguring and debilitating childhood infectious disease
  • The disease occurs mainly in poor communities in warm, humid, tropical areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America
  • About three-quarters of people affected are children under 15 years of age

Sept 10, 2016: Yaws is a chronic disfiguring and debilitating childhood infectious disease which spreads through the direct contact with the skin of an infected person but now India has the distinction of being the first country to be officially acknowledged as yaws free. A few decades back India witnessed 1-2 lakh neonatal tetanus cases annually, which have been now reduced to one per 1,000 live births.

Neonatal tetanus is a form of generalized tetanus that occurs in newborn. It usually occurs through infection of the unhealed umbilical stump, particularly when the stump is cut with a non-sterile instrument. Neonatal tetanus mostly occurred in developing countries, particularly those with the least developed health infrastructure.

This disease primarily affects tribal population living in remote hilly areas having difficult terrain. It is responsible not only for misery among the affected people but also contributes significantly to the economic strain of the already impoverished segments of our society.

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The disease begins with a round hard swelling of the skin, 2 to 5 centimeters in diameter. The center may break open and form an ulcer. The initial skin lesion typically heals after 3 to 6 months. After weeks to years, joints and bones may become painful, fatigue may develop and new skin lesions may appear. The skin of the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet may become thick and break open. After five years or more large areas of skin may die leaving scars.

In India, literature on yaws is rather scarce. Reports suggest, that yaws to be non-existent in India till 1887 and the first cases were first noticed among tea plantation laborers in Assam. From Assam, yaws later got spread to the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and other areas.

The disease was reported from the communities living in hilly and forested areas in the tribal inhabited districts in states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat are other states.

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In the 1950s,a mass campaign launched with assistance from WHO and UNICEF resulted in marked reduction of yaws cases in India and disease prevalence was brought down from 14.0 per cent to below 0.1 per cent in many areas. Following this dramatic decline in disease transmission, active anti-yaws activities were abandoned in the majority of the States. In 1977, yaws resurgence occurred in Madhya Pradesh.

In 1981, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Delhi undertook a rapid survey to assess the situation; data indicated that transmission of yaws continued to occur in some areas of the country. In addition, a new focus was suspected in Dang district of Gujarat. In 1985, NICD collected information using mailed questionnaire method from various districts of five states (Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu).

The data suggested that problem of yaws continued to linger on in India albeit at a low level. In 1995, NICD prepared a project document on Yaws Eradication Programme in India, which was approved by Government of India for initiating the programme in Koraput district (undivided) of Orissa and was then expanded to cover all the yaws-endemic states of the country. The disease was finally declared as eliminated on 19th Sept 2006.

Both yaws and maternal and neonatal tetanus eliminations were achieved using the existing health system and health workforce. Sustained political commitment and clear policies, unified strategies, close supervision and monitoring the frontline workers; and invaluable support of partners, particularly for Maternal and neonatal Tetanus- were the key factors that have helped to achieve the target.

Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO South-East Asia Regional Office said, India has achieved this milestone because of education and early treatment of vulnerable population. The achievements will not only improve the health of marginalized communities but will also enhance their socio-economic status and contribute to India’s wider development.

– prepared by Aakash Mandyal of NewsGram with inputs from various sources.

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WHO Releases New Guidelines to Fight Global Childhood Obesity

India ranks second in the number of obese children in the world with China taking the first spot

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OBESITY
Obesity exposes an individual to multiple health problems. VOA

New Delhi, October 12, 2017:  In 2016, an Official data in had revealed that over 41 million children below the age of 5 were affected by obesity. Without due attention and efficient treatment, they are likely to remain obese throughout their lives, with an increased risk of developing a host of diseases and physical and psychological consequences like anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even premature death.

In view of an escalating number of people constantly coming under the ambush of obesity, and with childhood obesity becoming a cause of worry globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines on October 4, emphasizing the growing importance of healthcare experts and professionals, underlining their positive role in helping kids and teenagers fight the global menace.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is defined as ‘excess adipose tissue’. In other words, it is a body-weight disorder involving excessive body fat that exposes an individual to multiple health problems.  In case a person’s body-weight is nearly 20 per cent higher than it should be, he is considered obese.

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Excessive body fat that exposes an individual to multiple health problems. Pixabay

There are different ways to calculate excess adipose tissue, the most common one being the Body Mass Index.

Index :

Overweight – BMI greater than or equal to 25

Obesity – BMI greater than or equal to 30

Global Data

According to data obtained by WHO, one half of all overweight children or obese children lived in Asia, and one-quarter of the total obese children lived in Africa.

According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in June, India ranks second in the number of obese children in the world with China taking the first spot.

The global menace continues to rise rapidly in low and middle-income countries.

Also Read: Obesity leads to 13 types of Cancer, including that of Pancreas and Esophagus: Study

WHO Guidelines

The new report released by WHO on October 4 is titled ‘Assessing and Managing Children at Primary Healthcare Facilities to Prevent Overweight and Obesity in the Context of the Double Burden of Malnutrition’.

The report provides guidelines and updates for the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI). The guidelines attempt to confine the spread of childhood obesity from expanding further, and prescribe undertaking proper assessment of dietary habits along with weight and height measurements. It also recommends dieting and proper counseling by healthcare experts.

Recommendations by WHO

  • WHO has recommended that primary healthcare facilities should be made available to all children below the age of 5 years and infants. These should include measurement of both weight and height of the children to determine their weight-for height and nutritional status as previously defined by WHO child growth standards.
  • For children and infants identified as overweight, healthcare experts should provide counseling to parents and caregivers on nutrition and physical activity, which includes creating awareness about healthy practices like exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months and continuing the practice until 2 years or more.
  • WHO also prescribes that an appropriate management plan should be devised to counter the menace in obese children. This can be developed by a trained health worker at primary healthcare facilities, or local hospitals.

Healthy Eating Tips to Fight Obesity

Here are a few healthy eating tips that will not only help you maintain a healthy weight but will also prove be be beneficial for your metabolism, physical strength and general well-being,

  • Refrain from unnecessary indulgences or random snacking and encourage healthy snacking choices like popcorns, yogurt, fruits, etc.
  • Reduce your sugar intake to less than 10 per cent of the total calories for an individual with normal weight.

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Obese and binge eating junk food? Red Flag! Pixabay

  • Consume a gracious serving of seasonal vegetables and fruits everyday that are rich in soluble and insoluble fibres, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • Make healthy food selections- include whole grain products, avoid excessive use of oil and salt and refrain from processed or packaged food.
  • A balanced diet must be complimented with regular exercise to counter unnecessary weight gain

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

 

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.