[Focus] People's participation and food sovereignty central to development justice



Dams and development: Corporate interests and Manipur's struggle for justice

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Jiten Yumnam, Manipur
[CNS Video] In the Northeastern part of India lies the state of Manipur – characterized by its lush terrain, flowing rivers, and diverse flora and fauna – a fertile ground for large-scale corporate-backed ‘development projects’ that exacerbate human rights violations and unbridled exploitation of natural resources. While in New York for the UN Summit for the Adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, Jiten Yumnam, a journalist and senior development justice activist from Manipur, India, shared his concerns with Citizen News Service (CNS), about the severe impacts of unbridled exploitation of the environment and natural resources in North East India through the building of mega dams.

[Focus] Each of the 'Global Goals' is essentially a human right!


Irony of inequality and Ogoni peoples struggle for life and land

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Akpobari Celestine, Nigeria
[CNS Video] Even as the 193-Member United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on Friday the 26th of September 2015, Akpobari Celestine, an Ogoni born human rights activist, National Coordinator of Ogoni Solidarity Forum Nigeria and a member of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) Post-MDG Working Group, echoed concerns of deepening inequality and the consequences of unrestricted business behaviour in his country in a conversation with Citizen News Service (CNS) in New York during the UN Summit for the Adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Social movement is an imperative to end tobacco game!

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
This was made amply clear during a two day workshop on 'Enforcement and Monitoring of Pictorial Health Warning’ held recently in Bali. Organized by International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), in collaboration with School of Public Health, Udayana University, it provided a platform for countries in the South East Asia Region to share their experiences in the field of tobacco control with a view to enhancing capacity for enforcement and monitoring of pictorial health warnings.

Join hands to make the dream of smoke-free society, a reality!

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Recently tobacco control representatives from 6 countries-- Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Nepal - met in Bali, Indonesia, to take part in a workshop on 'Enforcement and Monitoring of Pictorial Health Warnings' organized by International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), in collaboration with School of Public Health, Udayana University. The two day meet exposed the participants to a rich, cross-functional environment for sharing experiences with others working in tobacco control, with a view to improve approaches to planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of pictorial health warnings (PHW).

[Focus] Beware of development aid 'with strings attached' to meet 2030 Global Goals!



'Two steps back and one step forward' moment for UP's VAT on tobacco products?

[हिंदी] Uttar Pradesh state government had raised VAT on tobacco products to 50% in July 2012, but then reduced it to 25%. Now VAT has been increased to 40% on tobacco products: "Is it 'two step back and one step forward' moment for UP when alarmingly high number of tobacco-related cancer cases in Tata Memorial Hospital come from our state?" questioned Rahul Dwivedi, Director of Vote For Health campaign of Asha Parivar.

Despite crippling challenges, Nepal makes major strides in tobacco control

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
So said Mr Shanta Bahadur Shrestha, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal, in a recent interview given to CNS (Citizen News Service), during a workshop on 'Enforcement and Monitoring of Pictorial Health Warnings’ organized by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), in collaboration with School of Public Health, Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia.

Antibiotic use is driving antibiotic resistance...

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
 ... So suggests the new data released today by the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) via its ResistanceMap, an interactive online tool that allows users to track the latest global trends in drug resistance in 39 countries, and antibiotic use in 69 countries. CDDEP also issued the first-ever report on The State of the World's Antibiotics, 2015, that looks at the current state of global antibiotic use and documents alarming rates of bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotics that can lead to life-threatening infections across the world.

Tackling the burden of TB-HIV co-infection

Lwin Lwin Thant, CNS Correspondent, Myanmar
Photo credit: CNS
The deadly combination of infections by Mycobacterium TB and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) appear as a dual epidemic concern in Myanmar. HIV/AIDS cases are reported from large urban areas. Key populations at high risk of HIV are female sex workers and their clients, men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs. Unprotected sex with female sex workers, among men who have sex with men, and among injecting drug users, is also reported to be highly risk as far as contracting HIV is concerned. In Myanmar, HIV related deaths reached their highest point at 19,000 in 2005, but have since decreased as access to anti-retroviral therapies (ART) in the public and NGO sectors of Myanmar increased after 2005. 

Tackling the burden of HIV and TB: When to initiate ART?

Dr Balu Mote, CNS Correspondent, India
Photo credit: CNS: citizen-news.org
TB is one of the world’s ancient and deadliest diseases with a current estimated burden of 9.0 million people infected with it globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2014, 1.5 million people died of TB, of which 360000 were people living with HIV (PLHIV). Though the burden of TB is decreasing slowly, the deaths attributed to this curable disease are not acceptable. The burden of HIV among TB patients and burden of TB among HIV patients is not uncommon, even as efforts for preventing mortality due to TB and/or HIV go on.

Low resource countries are at higher risk of TB-HIV deaths

Pretty Chavango, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
Photo Credit: CNS: citizen-news.org
It is expected that in high HIV-TB burden countries— like Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Swaziland— an earlier start of anti retroviral therapy (ART) for people living with HIV (PLHIV) will lead to a reduction in the burden of TB, both new cases and previously treated cases. Despite the fact that TB and HIV/AIDS are now major killers in Zimbabwe and other countries of sub saharan Africa, many people on the continent are unaware of their TB or HIV/AIDS status until they fall sick, further complicating an already deadly situation.

Tobacco and TB on a collision course

Clarity Sibanda, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
Photo credit: CNS
Tobacco smoking is taking a toll on the lives of many people the world over--not only is it threatening their health but their livelihoods as well, since the money meant for their development is diverted to purchasing cigarettes. Hence anti-smoking strategies are needed since the disease is a modifiable risk factor common to both TB and HIV. “Smoking is more prevalent among people with TB or HIV and is associated with TB infection, TB disease, and poorer outcomes for TB treatment. People living with HIV are at a greater risk from tobacco-related diseases and smoking may also inhibit the effectiveness of life-saving antiretroviral therapies.

Scrub Typhus: A neglected, but important, tropical disease in Lucknow and eastern Uttar Pradesh

Dr Raghav Gattani, CNS Medical Correspondent
CNS image library 9/2013/Myanmar
[Scrub typhus is a neglected, but important, tropical disease (NTD), which puts one-third of the world’s population at risk. Read this important article] Working in a tertiary care centre in Lucknow, we observed an increasing number of cases diagnosed with Scrub Typhus, from February, 2015 to August, 2015, a lesser known potentially fatal infection.

[Young Voices] Do not neglect sex education for the young!



Differently right

Avantika Chaturvedi, CNS Correspondent, India 
Photo credit: CNS
 Being different does not mean one is wrong, it simply means one is different from the rest of the crowd. But our society works on the principle of coloring everyone with the same color and dissolving one’s unique identity. The question arises, what if one does not want to do so? Well, then the person is labeled as a social outcast. Men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender populations have been the victims of this ostracization for many years, because our society has failed to accept these differently right people as part of our society. This population has been treated as public outcasts and has become the target of social humiliation, verbal and physical assault, preventing them from accessing basic health services, and leaving them in a state of prostration.

[Register] Webinar for media: World Heart Day 2015

[Webinar recording] We welcome you to register for an exclusive media webinar, in lead up to the World Heart Day 2015. Get connected with a senior cardiologist as well as noted experts from lead agencies such as the NCD Alliance, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and the World Health Federation who will present and respond to questions live!

Save lives: Test and treat HIV infection

Catherine Mwauyakufa, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
Photo credit: CNS: citizen-news.org
In Zimbabwe HIV-TB co-infection is a major health challenge that needs urgent resolve. Dr Owen Mugurungi, Director of the AIDS and TB Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, while speaking to journalists in Kadoma, reiterated the need for TB screening for all HIV positive patients. “We encourage that all people who test positive for HIV, should get screened for TB too. There is a high probability that the people with compromised immunity also have TB, which is an opportunistic infection. We are not saying all people living with HIV (PLHIV) have TB, but the chances are 70% that they do.

Groundbreaking Studies: There is hope still for TB-HIV co-infection care

Alice Tembe, CNS Correspondent, Swaziland
Photo credit: CNS: citizen-news.org
“The road to new discoveries has been long, painful and yet filled with hope for our children born with HIV”, says Mrs. Mthethwa (name changed), a 43 year old caregiver in a peri-urban township in Swaziland. She was diagnosed with HIV 13 years ago and in her own words, ‘has stared at death in the face and was saved by the introduction of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for free by the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland’. She has since changed two different sets of Antiretrovirals (ARVs) to respond to HIV related complications with opportunistic infections including TB.

TB-HIV: Can we initiate early ART in patients?

Dr Richa Sharma, CNS Correspondent, India
Photo credit: CNS: citizen-news.org
History is witness to the slow response that was meted out to the gradual rise of TB-HIV co-infection worldwide. It came to be knows as a ‘syndemic’ which refers to the convergence of two or more diseases that act synergistically to magnify the burden of disease. Globally, the figures stand at a whopping 36.9 million HIV affected patients at the end of 2014.

Fight against TB in Papua New Guinea: 'Embarrassment of riches' moment?

Dr Paison Dakulala, PNG
Photo credit: CNS: citizen-news.org
[CNS Video] A country like Papua New Guinea (PNG) with 20% projected economic growth rate, still has half of its population at or below the poverty line, and epidemics like TB, are setting off alarm bells - year after year! "Papua New Guinea is a land of the unexpected! 800 languages, overcrowded households, serious environment challenges - are just some issues that make TB control even more complex. 26% of all new TB patients, are children" said Dr Paison Dakulala, Deputy Secretary to Department of Health, Papua New Guinea.

Evidence should inform policy: Should we offer antiretroviral therapy soon after HIV diagnosis?

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
There are over 1 million new TB cases in people living with HIV (PLHIV) and 320,000 HIV/TB deaths every year. Moreover HIV increases the risk of getting TB manifold - PLHIV have an annual 5%-15% risk of acquiring TB infection as against is 5%-15% lifetime risk in HIV negative persons. Challenges to concurrent HIV and TB therapy - like pill burden, overlapping drug toxicities, pharmacokinetic of drug-drug interactions, increased risk of immune restoration disease - have led to debates on when to initiate ART in patients with newly diagnosed HIV infection and TB. However, results of a few important studies produce strong evidence to improve treatment outcomes for PLHIV as well as to protect them from co-infections like TB.

Integrating tobacco control in lung health services: Synergistic health outcomes!

Dr Tara Singh Bam, The Union
Photo credit: CNS: citizen-news.org
[CNS Video] Despite strong evidence associating tobacco use with lung diseases, specific lung health programmes are yet to get fully integrated with tobacco control services. "When we provide tobacco cessation services in TB clinics we also reduce the risk of TB, asthma, cancers, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and other lung health diseases attributed to tobacco use significantly - not just for that person but also for those adversely impacted by her or his secondhand smoke! This is also a way to link health promotion from an individual to family and then to wider community" said Dr Tara Singh Bam, Technical Advisor (Tobacco Control) at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).

Wake up call on asthma in children: New data must drive well-coordinated action!

Dr Steve Graham
(Photo credit: CNS: citizen-news.org)
If we listen to asthma experts and look at evidence, one reality becomes starkly clear: we have neglected asthma in children for far too long! "I think we have 'gone to sleep a bit' on asthma in resource-limited settings. The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and partners had done studies on asthma (called ISAAC studies), but  there is nothing really ever been done since" said Dr Steve Graham, Professor, Department of International Child Health, University of Melbourne, and senior child health consultant at the The Union.

TB-Diabetes is a formidable challenge in Asia Pacific

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
TB is the top infectious disease killer that infected 9 million people, killing 1.5 million of them, in 2013. The Asia Pacific region carries 56% of this global TB burden, accounting for 5 million TB cases, and more than half a million TB related deaths in 2013. According to the Diabetes Atlas 2014, diabetes affects 387 million people worldwide out of which 213 million are in the Asia Pacific region. in 2014, diabetes killed 4.9 million people worldwide out of which 3 million (60%) were in the Asia Pacific Region.

Ignoring basic TB control fuels drug-resistance: Call for shorter, effective therapies!

Dr Mario Raviglione, WHO
Drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) besides being a brewing public health emergency, is also a sordid reminder of what happens when most effective drugs, become ineffective - and - alarming number of people die of diseases which were much simpler to prevent, treat and cure in the past. "480,000 people developed multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) in 2013, with 210,000 associated deaths. India, China, Russia, Pakistan and Ukraine have 60% of all MDR-TB cases in the world. Former USSR countries have highest percentage of new TB cases with MDR-TB" said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Global TB Programme, who was speaking at the 5th Asia Pacific Region Conference on Lung Health in Sydney, Australia.

[Focus] Fighting TB and diabetes in the Pacific Islands

Pacific approach to deal with the dual burden of TB-diabetes

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Dr Richard Brostrom
[CNS video] Many of the 22 countries that comprise the Pacific Islands region have very high rates of type-2 diabetes (upto 37% prevalence in adults) and high rates of TB as well (upto 343 cases per 100000). In fact 7 of the world’s top 10 countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes are in the Pacific Islands region: Tokelau, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Cook island, Nauru, Micronesia and Kiribati. Similarly, some countries also have very high TB rates. It is no wonder then that the problem of TB-diabetes co-morbidity afflicts this region as well.

[Focus] Fight against TB gains momentum in Viet Nam

[Focus] Why TB-Diabetes & TB-HIV collaborative activities are important?



Fight against TB gains momentum in Viet Nam: "Today's best can be made better tomorrow"

[CNS video] Viet Nam is not only a high burden country for tuberculosis (TB) but also for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) as well as HIV. Despite challenges, Viet Nam has made significant progress in fighting TB country-wide. For instance, the treatment success rate for MDR-TB hovers around 48% for most of the world, but Viet Nam is among the five countries where treatment success rate for MDR-TB has touched 70%. Despite progress, formidable challenges remain.

Young Voices: Menstrual hygiene will improve girls' school attendance & health

[Focus] Fight against malaria in Papua New Guinea: A long way to go for elimination!



Universal access to services and social protection is the mantra to end TB

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
So said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Global Tuberculosis Programme, in an interview given to Citizen News Service (CNS) at the ongoing 5th Asia Pacific Region Conference on Lung Health of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). TB is indeed the top infectious disease killer!