Existence of civil society is under threat

Dr Ian Hodgson, CNS (Citizen News Service) 
Gandhi ji's Talisman
CNS Image Library: Gandhi Settlement, Durban/ 2018
The increasing repression of civil society was a major theme that emerged during the recently concluded 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam. A range of presentations and discussions confirmed that, in many countries, like Hungary, Russia, Venezuela, and the Philippines, the civil society space for HIV prevention is diminishing with the introduction of new laws and policies that are aimed at minimising access to human rights and jeopardising the health and well-being of key populations.

Where are the nurses in the HIV response?

Dr Ian Hodgson, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, nurses have been at the forefront of the response to this once fatal infection. The nurse is involved at every stage of the trajectory of a person living with HIV—from usually being the first to counsel the newly diagnosed person, to one of the last to be with him/her at the point of death.

Slump in fight against #AIDS can derail progress made so far!

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
[Podcast] “Tremendous progress against AIDS over the past 15 years has inspired a global commitment to end the epidemic by 2030. Out of the total 36.9 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) globally, 21.7 million of them were on antiretroviral therapy (ART) by 2017. But we should also note that 1.8 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2017" said Dr Ishwar Gilada, who was Chairing a session at 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Will approach of 'breaking barriers and building bridges' accelerate progress to #endAIDS?

Dr Prakash Tyagi, CNS (Citizen News Service)
From CNS files: 2 years old photo but even more relevant!
A number of aspects stand out clearly from the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). Firstly, the conference has the largest ever participation of younger people, recognizing the importance of the roles youth play and the contributions they can make in the global efforts of controlling the pandemic within their communities and beyond.

Ending AIDS, the Dutch way

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Alphonsus Stoelinga, Netherlands Ambassador to India
We are all very familiar with the phrase ‘going Dutch’ (meaning each person of a group pays one's own expenses in an outing), but are we also aware of dealing with HIV/AIDS the Dutch way? Perhaps very few of us know that "Amsterdam, which is currently hosting the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) from 23-27th July 2018 - the largest conference for any global health issue in the world - became the first city in the world to overshoot the 90:90:90 target, set by UNAIDS (joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS), in 2017 itself with a continuum progress of 94:90:94,” said Alphonsus Stoelinga, Netherlands Ambassador to India, in an exclusive interview given to CNS (Citizen News Service) on the eve of AIDS 2018.

[Call for application] Be Different: Become a part of Bimla Misra Memorial Health Fellowship Programme 2018-2019

[Click here to apply] CNS team is pleased to announce that we are currently accepting applications for new Fellows for Bimla Misra Memorial Health Fellowship Programme 2018-2019.

Are you willing to be different, and:
  • Be the change you want to see in the world?
  • See things differently, and strive for a better tomorrow?
  • Challenge the status quo, and think and act differently, to make sustainable development a reality for all - where no one is left behind?
  • Focus on issues that matter to people most in need?

Social entrepreneurship: Partnership platforms for sustainable societies

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Dr Marie Lisa Dacanay, President of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, defines social entrepreneurship as ‘a game changing strategy to mainstream social enterprises to help the poor/ marginalized and women at the grassroots become key partners in multi-stakeholder innovation platforms for developing inclusive, sustainable economies; and to partake of the value and wealth created in ways that transform their lives and communities’.

Secondhand smoke is bad for the heart

Dr Amitava Acharyya, CNS Correspondent, India
It has been known for long a time now that active cigarette smoking is an established risk factor for heart diseases. However, a large percentage of us are ignorant of the toxic effects of secondhand smoke—inhalation of cigarette, bidi, hookah smoke or inhalation of smoke produced by burning of coal or wood as fuel for cooking. This second hand smoking or passive smoking too is harmful and can lead to many diseases—like coronary obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, stroke, hypertension, cancer, peripheral vascular disease, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight etc.

Defending the environmental defenders

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Violations of the environmental rights of communities and individuals are on the rise in Asia Pacific and worldwide. Statistics released by Global Witness reveals that in 2017, 197 people were killed (on an average 4 per week) for defending their land and/or natural resources, underscoring the escalating violence in a global economy that is driven by expansion and consumption through corrupt and unjust practices. Extractive industries were one of the deadliest drivers of violence.

Climate justice is integral to development justice

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Climate justice is integral to development justice, as it is essential for building a brave feminist future sans power and wealth inequalities. This is the dream of feminists in the Asia Pacific region, including Misun Woo, who recently took over charge as the Regional Coordinator for APWLD (Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development). A law graduate from New York University School of Law, Misun Woo, is deeply committed to a feminist movement building to dismantle the current patriarchal structures and systems that are violating women’s human rights, deepening inequalities and fuelling conflicts.

Smokeless tobacco under gender lens

Dr Sophia Thomas, CNS Correspondent, India
The first World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) was observed on 31 May 1988, a year after this global campaign was created during the World Health Assembly by the World Health Organization. The objective of WNTD was to encourage all persons worldwide who smoke or chew tobacco to quit for at least 24 hours. Ironically, a simple google search of “World No Tobacco Day” brings up a series of images showing cigarettes being shunned in creative ways. The current theme of WNTD focuses on effects of tobacco on cardiovascular health and is depicted as smoke rising from the blood vessels of the heart. Unfortunately, most of the images, depicting the health hazards of tobacco, fail to showcase the harmful effects of ‘smokeless’ forms of tobacco, which are equally harmful.

[World #NoTobacco Day Webinar] Holding tobacco industry liable will be a game-changer for health and development

[Click here to watch webinar recording] [Listen or download the Podcast] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use has devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences. That is why governments adopted the global tobacco treaty (formally called the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control - FCTC) at the World Health Assembly 15 years back to protect lives from needless miseries and untimely deaths.

[Podcast] Tobacco causes havoc on cardiovascular health

World No Tobacco Day Webinar: Heart disease and tobacco

2018 World No Tobacco Day Webinar: Heart disease and tobacco

[Watch webinar recording] [Download or listen to the podcast] The thematic focus of 2018 World No Tobacco Day is "Tobacco and heart disease." Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) kill more people than any other cause of death worldwide, and tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure contribute to approximately 12% of all heart disease deaths.

Is Zimbabwe on track to combat malaria?

Locadia Mavhudzi, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
At the turn of the millennium, Zimbabwe recorded an estimated 2 million cases of malaria per year, ranking as one of the countries with the highest incidence rate of the disease. The country has since stepped up efforts to eradicate the disease, with over three million insecticide treated mosquito nets having been distributed to households in all of the country’s 47 malaria prone districts.

Yoga can help control asthma symptoms

A research study done under the guidance of Professor (Dr) Surya Kant, Head, Department of Respiratory Medicine, King George’s Medical University (KGMU), in collaboration with Lucknow University, found that 30 minutes of daily practice of yoga, along with standard medical treatment, improves the quality of life of asthma patients, by increasing their antioxidants’ levels, improving their lung functions, symptom scores and reducing the dose of inhaled medications.

Countdown is on: 32 months left to achieve 90:90:90 HIV targets

UP Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh met a high level delegation of AIDS Society of India (national network of HIV medical experts) led by ASI President Dr Ishwar Gilada and Head of Microbiology Department of Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) Professor (Dr) Tapan N Dhole. "Master plan is needed to control HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections in UP" said Dr Ishwar Gilada, who is among the few doctors to begin HIV care when the first case got diagnosed in India in 1986.

Zimbabwe scales up fight against TB

Locadia Mavhudzi, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe remains a country with a high burden of TB. It ranks amongst the world’s top 30 high TB burden countries, with the mining communities and prisons registering a high prevalence rate for this infectious disease. As the country joined the rest of the world to commemorate World TB Day 2018, the government showcased its significant strides towards reducing new TB cases and deaths.

Ending TB is a multisectoral assignment, not a one-person job

Alice Sagwidza-Tembe, CNS Correspondent, Swaziland
The world gathers every year on World TB Day to commemorate and celebrate the milestones achieved so far towards reversing TB trends. There has indeed been a continuous remodeling of consolidated interventions from 1994-2005 focusing on directly observed treatment short course (DOTS), to the Stop TB strategies during 2006-2015, and now for 2016 -2030 focusing on the End TB strategy, noted Dr Mario Raviglione, Director at Global Health Centre with the University of Milan.

Air pollution is an invisible killer: Denial will cost lives!

#WorldHealthDay2018 special
Source: WHO Air Pollution monitor
A senior editor in Thailand is being victimized for putting spotlight on an issue that the World Health Organization (WHO) refers to as "invisible killer" of over 6.5 million people globally every year. Air pollution warrants much more urgency to save lives and help people breathe life, and not inhale deadly disease-causing polluted air.

Bad politics put people at risk of TB, but is TB on the political agenda?

The most hard-hitting message around World Tuberculosis Day 2018 for us was on twitter by Shirin Aliabadi, who tweeted that Dr Richard Horton (Editor in chief of The Lancet) said, politics is, in many ways, the ultimate determinant of our health. Bad decisions made by politicians determine our well-being in so many ways.

Addressing gender inequity to eradicate TB in India

Pritha Roy Choudhury, CNS Correspondent, India
Rajni, the 19 year old  girl who helps us with the domestic chores, suffers from some physical disability. She cannot walk properly. Hailing from a financially challenged family, her father drives a rickshaw while her mother contributes to the household income by ironing clothes. She and her two sisters work as domestic helps.

Voices at People's Forum: Development justice is the lynchpin to #SDGs

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
The Asia-Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development 2018 (more commonly known as the People’s Forum) was organized by civil society, whose secretariat is represented by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) as a coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism: AP-RCEM), in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment).

Migrants trapped in quagmire: Neglected by their own country, mistreated by the host country

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
[Listen or download the podcast] This pretty well sums up the pathetic situation in which many migrants find themselves today. And while immigration refers to people who legally relocate to another country, the word migration can also be used in the context of birds and animals. In the case of human beings, migration is not a choice for most migrants. It is a condition forced upon them by their country of origin, as a result of weak economic conditions, poor social structures, conflict situations, and even environmental disasters.

Mind-energy technique for management of challenging ailments

Dr Ajit Kumar Varma, CNS Columnist
Dr A K Varma
A 55 year old male, suffering from Type 2 diabetes for the last 12 years, presented with pain, swelling and dark necrotic patches over his right leg. He gave a history of minor trauma to the leg about two weeks before admission to this hospital (Aster Medcity, Kochi), for which he was being treated earlier in another hospital. He developed fever with chills, increasing infection of the right leg, and was then transferred to our institute for onward management.

Stopping the allergic march

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
It begins within the first few months of life with skin allergy or dermatitis (eczema) and food allergy in infancy, and as the children grow up, the allergic march may progress to the development of allergic rhinitis (nasal allergy) and/or allergic asthma. So this Allergic March, refers to the natural history or typical progression of allergic diseases that often begin early in life. These allergic conditions could primarily be genetically inherited; however, the conditions or environment in which a child grows up also affects their development.

[Call to register] World TB Day Webinar: Politics of TB in 2018: Multisectoral accountability

[Watch webinar recording] [Listen or download podcast] In lead up to 2018 World TB Day, we invite you to have a direct interface with noted experts on why a multisectoral response is critically important if we are to end TB by 2030.  The theme of World TB Day 2018 - "Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world" - focuses on building commitment to end TB, not only at the political level with heads of State, and ministers of health, but at all levels. All can be leaders of efforts to end TB in their own work or terrain.

Youth must have access to comprehensive sexuality education and SRH services

She stood up to defeat TB

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
The youngest of 3 sisters, Ingrid Schoeman grew up in Pretoria and later started working as a dietician in a government hospital in Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. She especially enjoys working in children’s wards in hospitals as part of her dietician’s job. But the year 2012 nearly shattered her happy and peaceful existence.

A tale with a difference

Shobha Shukla - CNS (Citizen News Service)
This is the story of Razia, a girl from village Bahpur in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh. It has all the ingredients of a fairy tale, but with a difference. Razia might not be a run-of the-mill delicate princess depicted in fairy tales, rather she is the warrior princess of a modern day real story. Razia comes from a very poor Muslim family belonging to the barber community. Abject poverty, an unemployed and visually challenged father; a daily wage-earning mother, striving unsuccessfully to make ends meet—all these were enough to snatch away a carefree childhood from her. 

[Publication] The Leader Lies In You (success stories of women farmers in UP)

[Download or read the complete publication here]

With support from Oxfam India, Citizen News Service (CNS) team led by Managing Editor Shobha Shukla and Special Correspondent Rahul Kumar Dwivedi, documented the journeys and successes of ten such women farmers who have established their identity as women farmers and enhanced economic leadership of women farmers in different regions of UP state such as Purvanchal, Central UP, Pashchim UP, Ruhelkhand and Bundelkhand.

Stop this shaming of menstruation

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
The photograph accompanying this article, was clicked on Chinese New Year (16th February 2018) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is a signpost/ notice written in Thai, English and Chinese (in that order) in a temple, having a statue of Ganesha, situated in the heart of the city in front of Maya Mall. I reproduce the English version:
"1. Women during pregnancy and menstruation are not allowed to visit
2. Non vegetarian food and some fruits such as sapodilla plum, monkey apple, custard apple, langsad (langsart) and longkong are strictly not allowed
3. Please take off your shoes
Thank you for your prompt compliance with this notification."

Reining the galloping march of cancer

Francis Okoye, CNS Correspondent, Nigeria
A webinar organized by Citizen News Service, (CNS) to mark the World Cancer Day 2018, presented an online discourse on how to accelerate progress towards reducing global cancer burden. As we all know, governments across the world have committed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and reducing premature mortality due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by one-third by 2030, is among these targets.

Listening to the unheard voices of India

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
It is a common practice to interview celebrities and share their success stories. But the real grassroots heroines and heroes rarely get heard. So, for a change, let us listen to what our 13 year old Raveena has to say on girls’ education. It is high time our policy makers paid heed to the experiential knowledge of people like Raveena to ensure that all children receive an education, and help achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals, one of which (SDG 4) envisages to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all.

Winning the fight against cancer

Dr P S Sarma, CNS Correspondent, India
A key international awareness day on the global health calendar is World Cancer Day which takes place every year on the 4th of February to unite the world under one banner in its fight against cancer. World Cancer Day was established by the Paris Charter adopted at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium in Paris on February 4, 2000.

Zoonotic TB survivor resolves to make her community TB-free

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Timpiyian Leseni (left), Shobha Shukla, CNS (right)
Dressed in a colourful attire, Timpiyian Leseni from the Maasai tribe of Africa, turned many heads at the first-ever "WHO Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in the Sustainable Development Era: A Multisectoral Response" which was held in Moscow in November 2017. Looking at her, it was impossible to guess that here was a zoonotic extra-pulmonary TB (EPTB) survivor. Here is her inspiring story based upon an exclusive interview Timpiyian gave to Shobha Shukla, Managing Editor of CNS (Citizen News Service):

African Union heeds the voices of girls in distress

Catherine Mwauyakufa, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
Tadiwanashe, 3rd from right, receiving a scholarship in Addis Ababa
Never in her wildest dreams did she ever think that she would fly! Never did she ever think that she would address heads of states and other important delegates in a pre-conference session. Yet, all this became a reality for Tadiwanashe Naghaina, a 19 year old rural girl from Murehwa, Zimbabwe.

Her husband's suspicious nature ruined her life

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Ratnavali’s story bears testimony to the fact that 'doubt is a disease that infects the mind, creating a mistrust of people’s motives and one’s own perceptions.' Her husband’s suspicious nature made her suffer untold miseries for more than 25 years. Ratnavali Vishwakarma, daughter of late Dr Siddhgopal (then a government doctor), hails from Pailani,  Banda, in Uttar Pradesh, India. She got married in 1982 to a teacher in the same village when was just 18 years of age and had passed Class X. Her father-in-law had been in the army and her husband was the youngest of three brothers - all of who were in the teaching profession. Siddhgopal thought that he was marrying his daughter in an educated family. Little did he realise what lay in store for her.

[Call to register for World Cancer Day Webinar] How can we accelerate progress towards reducing global cancer burden?

[Watch webinar recording] [Listen to (or download) the podcast] In the lead up to the World Cancer Day 2018, this webinar will provide an opportunity to have a direct interface with key experts and participate in the online discussion, on reviewing if we are on track to deliver on promises made to prevent avoidable cancers, and avert premature deaths due to cancers. Governments have committed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reducing premature mortality due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by one-third by 2030, is among these targets. What more can we do to accelerate progress towards these goals and targets, and reducing global cancer burden?

Turning sunset years into gold

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
[Watch video interview] [Listen or download podcast] As soon as I set foot inside Care Resort Chiang Mai, for the elderly in northern Thailand, I was immediately struck by its spacious, sylvan and tranquil surroundings. Set in Maerim valley, 20 km away from the Lanna province of Chiang Mai, this retirement facility is owned and managed by 66 years old British businessman Peter Brown and his Thai wife. Opened in 2013, it won the Most Outstanding Care Resort of the world award in 2016. In an exclusive and candid interview with CNS (Citizen News Service), Peter narrated the incident that motivated him to open this care home for the elderly.

Greater action is warranted if we are to walk the talk to #endAIDS and #endTB

(Left to right) Dr Surya Kant, Dr Ishwar Gilada, Dr MLB Bhatt
India has promised to end AIDS by 2030 at the UN General Assembly in 2015 by adopting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Not just internationally, the government of India has also reinforced in National Health Policy (NHP) to end TB by 2025 and AIDS by 2030. "But these promises to end TB and end AIDS must be matched by a stronger response for preventing, diagnosing, treating and caring for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and those affected by TB as well.

Challenges in caring for children with autism: Dr Shivani Sharma Pandey's slides

Dr Shivani Sharma Pandey's slides on challenges with autistic children

[Podcast] Are children with autism on blindsopt in Agenda 2030?

[SDM Health Justice eLearning Session] Children with autism

Universal Health Coverage is integral to achieving the SDGs

Roger Paul Kamugasha, CNS Correspondent, Uganda
In December 2012 the UN passed a landmark resolution endorsing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the same is now at the forefront of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Since then the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified UHC as a top priority for sustainable development and focusing on it as a tool to end TB in the sustainable development era generates a cocktail of strategies. UHC is ultimately a means to promote the human right to health. More than 100 low and middle income countries, home to almost 3/4 of the world’s population, have taken steps to deliver UHC.

'Never say die' says domestic violence survivor

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
"It is because of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, (PWDVA) that today I am living in my house with my children, and my husband has been ousted from it and lives elsewhere in Latghat”, says Sonmati with a twinkle in her 60 years old eyes. Although the scars of 20 long years of suffering are writ all over her body, her spirit is indefatigable.

Adversity brought out the fighter in her

Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
"He would come home drunk and kick the food I served him. I would pick up the morsels from the ground and eat them, not letting them go waste. That would infuriate him still more. I would be thrashed every day and even get thrown out of the house at night, along with my 4 children. I spent many a cold, shivering nights, sitting outside the house, wrapping my sari around my children to keep them warm. Sometimes I would not eat for 2-3 days and just cry. And to top it all, I could still not refuse him sex, else more beatings would ensue. On days when he had no money to buy liquor, he would be in a terrible mood and create a ruckus unless I arranged to get liquor for him", recalls Usha (40 years), who suffered these  indignities and inhuman behaviour at her husband’s hands for 10 long years.

Stigma-a stumbling block in eliminating TB and HIV

Dr Sophia Thomas, CNS Correspondent, India
Tara (name changed) was ill. She was the youngest daughter of my house help. It is not very often that we saw her worried and this made me ask her what was wrong. And wrong it was, as Tara had been diagnosed with TB. The mere name of the disease caused her mother endless worries. Her main cause of concern was that her daughter would soon attain a marriageable age and, given her condition, it would be difficult to find a groom for her.

A self HIV test in time leaves no one behind

Swapna Majumdar, CNS Correspondent, India
Photo credit: Swapna Majumdar
It is easy to miss Hidden Corners, a community based organisation working with men who have sex with men (MSM). Tucked away in a narrow alley in a residential area in Quang Ninh in Halong, Vietnam, the building that houses Hidden Corners has no boards announcing its existence. Yet, this has not hampered their outreach. In fact, it is their low key, word-by-mouth approach that has helped to create a safe environment for the MSM community to come forward and seek services, especially those living with HIV. Considering that there are 11,000 new infections in Vietnam every year and, 30% of the 260,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) are unaware of their status, the work of Hidden Corners has been crucial to reach out to MSMs- one of the most affected key populations.

[SDM Health Justice Lecture Series] Are children with autism on the blindspot in sustainable development agenda?

[Watch recording] [Listen or download podcast] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which begins in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood. While some people with ASD can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require lifelong care and support.

CNS family wishes you a happy new year 2017

[CNS Rewind] Top 10+ Correspondents of 2017

Looking back at over 500 articles written by CNS Correspondents Team in Asian and African countries in 2017, we are compelled to say that each article, and the issue it focussed on, is so very important, even today - thanks to each one of the Correspondents and Fellows. We cannot overemphasize the importance of each of these spotlight articles and critical issues they highlighted.

[CNS Rewind] Top 10 most-watched videos in 2017 on CNS YouTube channel

Looking back at over 150 video-articles produced by CNS Correspondents Team in 2017 (including streaming on YouTube of eLearning sessions), we are compelled to say that each video, and the issue it focussed on, is so very important, even today! We cannot overemphasize the importance of each of these spotlight video-articles and critical issues they highlighted.