Saturday November 18, 2017

Most stillborn cases witnessed in India

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Nagapura(Karnataka): India has the world’s most stillborn babies. A large number of mothers suffer this unfortunate fate. All the love, hopes and dreams they create in the nine months span are shattered when their baby is born dead.

Her pale, yellow eyes stood out against her dusky skin, and the grief was visible on the face of the young woman from a tribe of traditional honey gatherers living on the edge of south Karnataka’s Nagarhole National Park.

Shanta (she uses only one name) recounted how her baby, a boy, was born dead. When she felt labour pains, she travelled by autorickshaw 20 km to the nearest district hospital at Hunsur, where they told her the baby had died in her womb, two days ago. Shanta –in her mid-20s – was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a condition that endangers the baby if the mother is not diagnosed and treated.

Such deaths are common in Nagapura, whose women report more than 50 deaths over a decade, although there are no records. A bony woman called Ambika, also in her mid-20s, saw her baby born dead – a stillbirth in medical parlance – as a midwife and her mother-in-law attended to her.

When Bhavna Niranjankumar, a doctor with Mysore’s Public Health Research Institute of India (PHRII), an NGO, asked Ambika why she didn’t go to the hospital for the delivery, she replied, “It happened very quickly.”

Ambika and Shanta are Jenu Korubas (literally, honey shepherds). Like Ambika, most women of the tribe give birth at home. Their dead-at-birth babies are part of the 592,000 stillborns in India, the largest of any country in 2015, according to research published last month by the Lancet a global medical journal.

A stillbirth is a “baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks’ gestation”, according to the World Health Organisation.

Worldwide, the rate of stillbirths decreased to 18.4 per 1,000 births in 2015 from 24.7 in 2000. In India, the stillbirth rate fell from 33.3 to 23 over the same period, the same as Uganda, Ghana and Mozambique, all poorer countries.

The global average annual rate of reduction of stillbirths at two percent is slower than either maternal (three percent) or post-neonatal mortality of children younger than five years (4.5 percent). In India too, the annual rate of reduction for maternal (5.7 percent) and neo-natal mortality (4.6 percent) was better than that of stillbirths (2.4 percent)

Among the risk factors. lack of timely and quality antenatal monitoring and care; non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes; nutritional factors, such as maternal anemia; biomedical factors, such as congenital abnormalities, infections, and lifestyle; environmental factors, such as drinking and smoking; and social determinants, including poverty, transportation and general living conditions.

Disadvantaged women are twice at risk of having stillbirths, the Lancet study said, a factor evident in Nagapura and across India.

Among the reasons that make Jenu Koruba women shy away from organised healthcare is – they complained – the discrimination they feel at health clinics, both government and NGO. They are made to wait for hours, and physicians often refuse to touch them, they said.

“When I went to the district hospital for the 20-week scan, no one attended to me,” Shanta told IndiaSpend. “I waited for more than two hours, no one called me and so I came back without getting a scan.”

For a people without public transportation, travelling to a hospital 20 km away is not easy, and to make the journey, they rely on husbands, who are often away at work in the neighbouring hill district of Kodagu, where they work as daily wage labourers on coffee plantations.

Most people in Nagapura are illiterate, unaware of health needs – yet, Shanta made the journey to Hunsur – and many of them, having earlier lived inside forests, rely on traditional medicine.

Over the last few years, NGOS, such as PHRII, and government workers have run health camps for pregnant and post-natal women and infants, handing out information on maternal and child health and have encouraged tribal women to be regularly checked at primary health centres. They don’t come, though, and when they do, the discrimination does not help.

The women are also highly anaemic, said Niranjankumar, but they do not take the iron supplements given to them. Asked why the women smiled sheepishly. Doctors speculate they are not used to taking tablets.

Stillbirths are reducing across India, but there are still too many.

States that pay attention to maternal health reduce chances of stillbirths

The “Every Newborn Action Plan”, explained in the Lancet study, aims to bring the global stillbirth rate to 12 or lower per 1,000 births by 2030 (India in 2014 adopted the India Newborn Action Plan with the aim to reach a single-digit stillbirth target). That will require empowered women, better healthcare and progress checks.

The dividends are obvious.

Indian states that focused on maternal healthcare also had healthier children, IndiaSpend recently reported. Programmes such as the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), launched in 2005 to ensure safe motherhood, successfully offer cash incentives to encourage institutional deliveries, the rate of which–to all deliveries–increased from 56.7 percent in 2006-07 to 78.5 percent in 2010-11, according to government data.

Karnataka had 94 percent institutional deliveries according to data released recently by the National Family Health Survey. Uttarakhand and Meghalaya were the worst, with 61 percent and 58.4 percent respectively. The rest were home deliveries, most without trained-health-worker supervision and possibly in unhygienic conditions. The reported reasons for home delivery were a convenience, fear of stitches, unavailability of transportation and the inability to afford hospitals.

JSY beneficiaries, since it launched a decade ago, increased from 0.74 million to 10.4 million in 2014-15. But this government review revealed that only 15 percent of JSY institutions were equipped to deal with institutional delivered.(IANS)(image-robynanne.wordpress.com)

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The major Challenge is to make the Youth of the Country Entrepreneurial and not Job Seekers : Venkaiah Naidu

"The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers," Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government's various initiatives.

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Venkaiah Naidu
Venkaiah Naidu. Wikimedia Commons
  • At a time of tepid job growth and continuing income disparities, the major challenge is to make the youth of the country entrepreneurial and not job seekers, Vice President  Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday.

“Disparities continue to remain in India and so there is a need for inclusive growth… there is the need to take care of the suppressed, oppressed and depressed,” Venkaiah Naidu said at the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust’s (BYST) silver jubilee celebrations here with Britain’s Prince Charles as the chief guest.

“The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers,” Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government’s various initiatives to encourage youth enterprises like Startup India, Standup India and the Mudra financing scheme for underprivileged sections.

Modelled on Prince Charles’ Trust for business startups, BYST, founded by Lakshmi Venkatesan, daughter of former President R. Venkatraman, is engaged in building rural entrepreneurship — “grampreneurs” — as also enterprise among under-privileged sections, which includes business mentoring. The current BYST chairman is Bajaj Group chief, Rahul Bajaj.

“Without mentoring, it would be very difficult to set up startups, with all the business, marketing and other vital issues involved in the first two-three years,” Prince Charles said in his address at the International Mentoring Summit organized by BYST to mark its 25 years.

“What amazes me are the sheer number of jobs these young entrepreneurs had created. The aim of such a project should be to create a virtual cycle of creating entrepreneurs who can then invest in the future of business,” Charles said referring to his trust.

BYST was officially launched in 1992 by Prince Charles and expanded its operations to six major regions of India.

Out of these six regions, four — Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad — run the urban programme while two regions — Haryana and Maharashtra — run the rural programme.(IANS)

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India sends Emergency Fuel Supplies to Sri Lanka

According to Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan, Modi assured all assistance from India to Sri Lanka following Siriena's request for emergency fuel supplies and petrol shipments.

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emergency fuel supplies
India is sending additional fuel to Sri Lanka, confirmed PMO onTwitter (representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 9, 2017 : Following reports of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) rejecting a shipment of petrol from Lanka IOC (LIOC), the Sri Lankan subsidiary of Indian Oil, India on Wednesday made emergency fuel supplies to Sri Lanka following a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

“In the telephone conversation with Sri Lankan President @MaithripalaS, PM @narendramodi conveyed that India is sending additional fuel to Sri Lanka and assured India’s continued support for development cooperation,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) tweeted.

According to Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan, Modi assured all assistance from India to Sri Lanka following Siriena’s request for emergency fuel supplies and petrol shipments.

LIOC has made available 3,500 kilo litres of its own stock to CPC, Doordarshan said in a shared tweet.

A ship with an additional 21,000 kilo litres of petrol also left for Sri Lanka and additional petrol is being made available from Kochi refinery in Kerala.

Citing CPC sources, the Sunday Times said an emergency fuel supplies’ shipment that arrived at the Colombo harbour on October 17 had been tested for a second time and rejected on a quality test.

However, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he did not agree that LIOC was responsible for the current fuel shortage in the country and said two oil shipments would be arriving in the country within two day, acording to a report in the Colombo Page.

“Apart from petrol shipment arriving on November 8, another shipment is due from India on November 9, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe informed the parliament on Tuesday responding to a question raised in the parliament regarding the fuel crisis,” the statement said.

It said that Wikremesinghe said a discussion was held with the Indian High Commissioner in this regard and the Indian ship would arrive either November 9 or 10. (IANS)

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Rape Survivors in India Still Face Humiliation with Two-Finger tests and Barriers to Justice says Human Rights Watch

Indian Rape survivors still face barriers in justice and humiliation with two-finger tests, reported the Human Rights Watch

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Rape Survivors
Rape survivors face humiliation during investigation. Pixabay.

New Delhi, Nov 9: Five years after the Nirbhaya gang rape case in Delhi, rape survivors are still facing barriers to getting justice in India, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

Rape survivors in India face significant barriers to obtaining justice and critical support services despite legal and other reforms adopted since the December 16, 2012 gang rape-murder of a 19-year-old physiotherapy intern in the national capital, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’, said the international human rights NGO in an 82-page report “Everyone Blames Me: Barriers to Justice and Support Services for Sexual Assault Survivors in India” released on Wednesday.

The report said women and girls who survived rape and other sexual violence often suffered humiliation at police stations and hospitals.

“Police are frequently unwilling to register complaints, victims and witnesses receive little protection, and medical professionals still compel degrading two finger tests. These obstacles to justice and dignity are compounded by inadequate healthcare, counselling, and legal support for victims during criminal trials of the accused,” an HRW statement said.

“Five years ago, Indians shocked by the brutality of the gang rape in Delhi, called for an end to the silence around sexual violence and demanded criminal justice reforms,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director of HRW.

“Today, there are stronger laws and policies, but much remains to be done to ensure that police, doctors, and courts treat survivors with dignity,” she said.

The HRW said it conducted field research and interviews in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan — selected because of their large number of reported rape cases — as well as Delhi and Mumbai.

The report details 21 cases — 10 cases involving girls under the age of 18.

Rape survivors
Rape survivors feel harassed at police stations and hospitals. Pixabay.

The findings are drawn from more than 65 interviews with victims, their family members, lawyers, human rights activists, doctors, forensic experts, and government and police officials, as well as research by Indian organisations.

“Under the Indian law, police officers who fail to register a complaint of sexual assault face up to two years in prison. However, Human Rights Watch found that police did not always file a First Information Report (FIR), the first step to initiating a police investigation, especially if the victim was from an economically or socially marginalised community.

“In several cases, the police resisted filing the FIR or pressured the victim’s family to ‘settle’ or ‘compromise’, particularly if the accused was from a powerful family or community,” the statement said.

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It said that lack of witness protection law in India makes rape survivors and witnesses vulnerable to pressure that undermines prosecutions.

The human rights body said that some defence lawyers and judges still use language in courtrooms that is “biased and derogatory” toward sexual assault survivors.

“The attempt at shaming the victim is still very much prevalent in the courts,” Rebecca Mammen John, a senior criminal lawyer in Delhi, was quoted in the statement. (IANS)