No longer business as usual: Out of the box solutions needed to end TB

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS 
In May 2014, the World Health Assembly approved the WHO's new post-2015 global TB strategy and targets for tuberculosis, which aims to achieve the targets for 2035-- 95% decline in TB deaths and 90% decline in TB incidence rate compared with 2015--less than 10 TB cases per 100, 000 population, and the elimination of catastrophic costs for TB-affected households. It is a 20 years approach but also includes the expectation to have by 2025 new revolutionary tools like shorter and better regimens for TB and MDR-TB.

VIP visits proving catastrophic for this slum

Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and CNS Columnist
[Video of burning slum] Some 160 families live in a slum opposite the ‘Bhavishya Nidhi Bhawan’ office in Vibhuti Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow. The consist of mostly a scheduled caste community which makes stone items and a muslim community which makes traditional Indian percussion instrument ‘dholak’. In 2009 the Governor was supposed to come and inaugurate the Human Rights Commission office located nearby. So that the poor did not come in the way of Governor, the slum was bulldozed by Lucknow Development Authority. When the Governor’s office came to know about this they felt it would be too embarrassing for the Governor to go and inaugurate the Human Rights Commission after such a human rights violation act had taken place. The Governor never came.

Cerebral Abscess can damage Brain Functions

Chhatra Karki, CNS Correspondent, Nepal
Are you suffering from an ear-abscess? Be careful if you have not undergone treatment for a long time. Delay in treatment can cause the pus from the abscess to spread all over the head and result in a cerebral abscess. Heart problems can further compound the risks.

The torment of common citizens

Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and CNS Columnist
Shanti devi is a stone cutter belonging to scheduled caste community. She lives in a village called Meerpur Sudihamau of Barabanki district. She was visiting her brother Gabbar in Lucknow in June 2014 with her entire family. Gabbar lives in a slum opposite Bhavishya Nidhi Bhawan and Seema Shashastra Bal campus in Vibhuti Khand, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow. On the night of 3rd-4th June, 2014 at 1 am her husband Vinod went out to urinate by the side of road. A speeding car came and hit him. It dragged his for a while and then fled the scene of accident. Vinod was taken to KGMU Trauma centre but could not be saved.

Transforming Women’s Lives Through Radio and TV

Swapna Majumdar, CNS Special Correspondent
Photo Credit: Swapna Majumdar
In 2008, in De Mugogo, an impoverished village in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), voices of women were heard for the first time on a community radio-- Radio Bubusa FM was the first community radio set up by women in DRC’s South Kivu province. The radio station, exclusively for rural women, shared information on health, violence against women, HIV/AIDS, and food security with a community that had never before listened to a radio.

Towards tobacco control…Better Late Than Never

Photo Credit: Carolyn Kavita
Carolyn Kavita Tauro, CNS Correspondent, India
For those who have been fighting for tobacco control, Wednesday the 15th of October was a step ahead when the Health Minister of India announced that, come 1st April 2015, graphic and text warnings (which reflect the adverse effects of smoking and are meant to act as a deterrent to the buyers) will cover up to 85% of space on both sides of cigarette packs and other tobacco products. 60% space will be devoted to pictorial warnings while 25% will be covered by textual warnings. 

Diabetes And TB: Double Trouble

Chhatra Karki, CNS Correspondent, Nepal
TB has established its strong foothold as an epidemic, especially in the low and middle income countries, and diabetes is adding fuel to the fire. World Health Organization (WHO)  identifies about 8.6 million cases of TB annually. At the same time, around 382 million people in the world live with diabetes. This cannot be good!

WHO cautions: "Do not let fox guard chickens"

[Audio podcast] This the first time ever when global tobacco treaty negotiations are taking place in Russian Federation. While sharing an internal tobacco industry document that is now in public domain, Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said: “One record shows that there was an internal discussion whether the [tobacco] industry should consider children as part of its market. I remember very well one reply which I would like to quote: ‘they have got lips, we want them’. They [tobacco industries] just want market share, they could not care less whether they are killing children or not.”

Strong tobacco taxation policy adopted despite industry interference

Allies of tobacco industry had tried to persuade government delegations before the global tobacco treaty negotiations began in Moscow earlier this week. But governments who have ratified the global tobacco treaty voted for public health and not corporate interests. Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said at the opening of Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC): “In a brazen move, the tobacco industry brought its agenda and its voice here to the heart of tobacco control. [On Sunday 12th October,] at the International Tax and Investment Centre, whose board of directors include several tobacco companies, had convened parties and observers to discuss tobacco tax and price policies without fully disclosing their vested interests.”

Tuberculosis and Diabetes -Lessons From The Past

Alice Tembe, CNS Correspondent, Swaziland
As the world mobilizes for the world’s largest global conference on lung health issues in Barcelona –the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health organized by The International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) from October 28 through November 1, 2014, it is essential to learn from our past as new research evidence surfaces. Since the advent of HIV in the 1980s and 1990s, TB was seen as a number one opportunistic infection accounting for the highest number of deaths among people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Swaziland, noted by the then Executive Director of the National Emergency Response Council on HIV-AIDS, Dr Von Vissel.

Programmatic Management of MDR-TB by Private Health Sector in the Philippines

Nenet Ortega, CNS Correspondent, Philippines
Several Asian countries, including Philippines, come in the bracket of 22 high TB burden countries in the world. The Department of Health of Philippines, implements the National Tuberculosis Control Programme (NTP) through its health offices and units of 81 provinces and 1,634 municipal and city governments.  Direct services are provided mainly at the primary health centres that utilize the Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) strategy to treat TB.

Will diabetes add the last straw on the burdened back of TB?

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
According to a new Series about TB and diabetes, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, the rapid increase in rates of type-2 diabetes, especially in low- and middle-income countries where TB is endemic, could thwart global efforts to control and eliminate TB. Currently there are 8.6 million cases of TB annually and the worldwide population of people living with diabetes is 382 million.

Do doctors engage patients? Consumers central to evidence-informed healthcare

Shobha Shukla and Bobby Ramakant, CNS
Dr Kay Dickersin,
Director US Cochrane Center
Who decides the questions health scientists research upon to find reliable answers? Do the patients decide or other consumers, or the doctors, or the policy makers, or other stakeholders make a call? How important is the consumer voice in decision-making on the research tables? "There is one famous example, when doctors and patients of rheumatoid arthritis came together. Doctors had assumed pain to be a major research outcome that patients were interested in. When they engaged the patients in their discussions doctors were very surprised because what was most important to the patients is that they felt tired all the time. It had not occurred to doctors that feeling tired is something they should be studying. It is very important that people interact and we learn a lot about what we have not been measuring because of the assumptions" said Dr Kay Dickersin, Director, Center for Clinical Trials, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the US Cochrane Center.

Evidence shows we can prevent obesity in children: E Waters, Anne Anderson Awardee 2014

Shobha Shukla and Bobby Ramakant, CNS
Prof Elizabeth Waters
Anne Anderson Awardee 2014
Researchers have demonstrated that childhood obesity prevention programmes have a positive health impact on body mass index (BMI - a measure of body fat based upon height and weight). So policies and practices should take this evidence into consideration to nip alarming rates of childhood obesity. Professor Elizabeth Waters, Jack Brockhoff Chair of Public Health in University of Melbourne, did this game-changing systematic review on childhood obesity prevention with her colleagues, which is the most downloaded review in The Cochrane Library. Prof Waters was also awarded the prestigious Anne Anderson Award for 2014 at 22nd Cochrane Colloquium in Hyderabad, India.