Tuesday December 12, 2017

WHO researching to integrate yoga with universal health care for healthier world

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New Delhi: Thousands of participants performs Yoga during a full dress rehearsal for the International Yoga Day at Rajpath in New Delhi on June 19, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

United Nations: The World Health Organization is researching how to integrate yoga with universal health care needs, according to Nata Menabde, the agency’s executive director at the UN office.

It was a struggle to standardise yoga for use around the world as part of health care systems because of its many different schools of practice, but WHO was working with centres in India and elsewhere to find ways to do this, she told reporters at a briefing here on Sunday’s International Day of Yoga.

Calling yoga the “ancient Vedic gift to the world”, she stressed its ability to bring together body, soul and mind for a holistic approach to health.

Yoga is an ideal medium to deal with lifestyle disorders, she said, citing as an example studies in applying it to deal with cardiovascular diseases in Russia that WHO has seen.

It can also help in coping with stress and treating mental disorders by helping people develop “inner resilience”, Menabde said.

In Goa, yoga was being combined with other therapies to treat mental illness and it was showing results, she said.

She said she saw a growing role for yoga as the world’s proportion of ageing population increases. Ageing becomes healthier because of the ease of practice and the impact on both body and mind.

It has also been shown to help with arthritis and various other illnesses.

India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji said that the International Day of Yoga celebrations on Sunday would connect the UN with the world outside by linking the observances inside headquarter’s open plaza with the mass yoga performances at New York’s Times Square and around the world.

Every year a yoga event is organised at the Times Square on the summer solstice day by the city’s yoga community and the Times Square Alliance. This year it will be a part of the International Day of Yoga and is expected to draw 30,000 people, he said.

The celebrations in 256 cities across 192 cities would touch two billion people, Mukerji. They would take place in even strife-torn places like Syria and the Central African Republic and the only country not able to participate would be Yemen, he said.

Mukerji said yoga assumed a special meaning this year because of the focus on climate change and the international conference in Paris in December.

The General Assembly’s resolution creating yoga day, he said, spoke of its role in “building better individual lifestyles devoid of excesses of all kinds”.

Yoga’s relevance to preserving the environment and combating climate change, Menabde said, is in helping to reflect on what is important and realise the minimalist needs.

This leads one to “be less destructive to the world and to the people around you”, she said.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to give the keynote address at the yoga day UN celebrations.

Asked if Ban would participate in the yoga demonstration, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said he may participate in some fashion.

In his message about the celebrations, Ban said that he had tried the Vrksasana — the tree pose — and “appreciated the simple sense of satisfaction that yoga can bring”. (IANS)

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WHO launches a new global effort to end TB by 2030

The announcement was made in the Global Ministerial Conference in Moscow.

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WHO will start working towards ending Tuberculosis
Dr. Simon Angelo (L) examines Iman Steven suffering from tuberculosis, held by her mother (R) at the hospital of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), June 15, 2016, at the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, South Sudan. VOA

Delegates from 114 countries have agreed to take urgent action to end tuberculosis (TB) by 2030, the WHO said.

The announcement on Friday came as the delegates gathered in Moscow for the first WHO global ministerial conference on ending tuberculosis, Xinhua news agency reported.

The delegates promised to achieve strengthen health systems and improve access to the people regarding TB prevention and care so that no one is left behind.

They also agreed to mobilize sufficient and sustainable financing through increased domestic and international investments to close gaps in implementation and research.

Resources are expected to advance research and development of new tools to diagnose, treat and prevent TB, and to build accountability through a framework to track and review progress on ending TB.

“Today marks a critical landmark in the fight to end TB,” said World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“It signals a long overdue global commitment to stop the death and suffering caused by this ancient killer.”

Though global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 53 million lives since 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 37 per cent, progress in many countries has stalled, global targets are off-track and persistent gaps remain in TB care and prevention, according to the WHO.

As a result, TB still kills more people than any other infectious disease. Due to its antimicrobial resistance, TB is also the leading killer of people with HIV.

Representatives at the meeting, which was attended by over 1,000 participants, also promised to minimize the risk and spread of drug resistance and do more to engage people and communities affected by or at risk of TB. (IANS)

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Goodbye Holy Smoke, Vatican City bans Sale of Cigarettes

The Vatican, a tiny walled city-state surrounded by Rome, is one of the few states to ban smoking.

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sale of cigarettes
The faithful gather in front of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. VOA

Vatican City, November 10, 2017 : Pope Francis has ordered a ban on the sale of cigarettes inside the Vatican from next year because of health concerns, a spokesman said on Thursday.

“The motive is very simple: the Holy See cannot be cooperating with a practice that is clearly harming the health of people,” spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement.

He cited World World Health Organization (WHO) statistics that smoking causes more than seven million deaths worldwide every year.

Cigarettes have been sold at a discounted price to Vatican employees and pensioners.

Vatican employees are allowed to buy five cartons of cigarettes a month. Many Italians ask their non-smoking friends who work in the Vatican to buy cigarettes for them because they cost much less than in Italy, where they are subject to heavy taxes.

Burke acknowledged that the sale of cigarettes has been a source of revenue for the Holy See, adding, “However, no profit can be legitimate if it is costing people their lives.”

The spokesman said the sale of large cigars would continue at least for the time being because the smoke is not inhaled.

The Vatican, a tiny walled city-state surrounded by Rome, is one of the few states to ban smoking. Bhutan, where smoking is deemed bad for one’s karma, banned the sale of tobacco in 2005. (VOA)

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Women can Boost their Working Memory with Hormone Therapy

Benefits of oestrogen therapy in women.

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oestrogen therapy can increase working memory under stress
oestrogen therapy can increase working memory under stress. wikimedia commons

New York, Nov 5: Undergoing a type of hormone replacement therapy — used for menopausal treatment — may help protect as well as improve working memory for some women as they age, according to a new study.

Hormone replacement therapy uses female hormones – oestrogen and progesterone – to treat common symptoms of menopause and ageing.

The findings showed that women taking oestrogen-only therapy had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and performed better on tests of “working memory” following exposure to stress compared to women taking a placebo.

“Our study suggests that oestrogen treatment after menopause protects the memory that is needed for short-term cognitive tasks from the effects of stress,” said lead author Alexandra Ycaza Herrera, a researcher at the University of Southern California – Davis.

To measure the effect of oestrogen therapy on working memory under stress, the team recruited 42 women with an average age of 66.

Half of the postmenopausal women had been on estradiol — a type of oestrogen therapy — for approximately five years, while the others had received a placebo.

The researchers, in the paper published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, collected saliva to measure the women’s levels of cortisol, oestrogen, and progesterone.

They also ran a test of working memory called a “sentence span task”, in which the women were each given a series and then asked whether each sentence made sense. They also were asked to recall the last word of each one.

While women receiving oestrogen therapy had a smaller increase in cortisol and showed no decrease in working memory function, even after being exposed to stressful situation, those taking the placebo experienced a spike in cortisol levels as well as demonstrated a decrease in working memory function.

Previous studies have pointed to potential health risks — the Ahigher risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots — of the treatment.

Thus, Herrera noted that “hormone replacement therapy may not be right for every woman, but women need to be able to have the conversation with their doctors”.(IANS)