Act Now To Turn The Tide Of Diabetes

A new study by the  Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington shows that millions of people worldwide may be at risk of early death from diabetes and related cardiovascular illnesses because of poor diagnosis and ineffective treatment. The study titled " Management of diabetes and associated cardiovascular risk factors in seven countries: a comparison of data from national health examination surveys," published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization's March edition, examines diabetes diagnosis, treatment, and management in 4 developing countries (Colombia, Iran, Mexico, Thailand) and 3 developed countries-- England, Scotland, , and the United States.

Fighting tuberculosis in prisons is a smart choice

Fighting tuberculosis (TB) in prisons is a smarter choice for governments from economic, social justice and public health criteria. In India, the government was asked to cough up INR 300,000 (>USD 6000) as compensation to be paid to the wife of the TB prison inmate who died inside Howrah Jail (source: The Times of India, 22 February 2011). Getting TB disease and dieing of it was not part of prison sentence. Although government tried to shun responsibility in the beginning, the inquiry conducted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) brought forth the truth: there was clear negligence on part of the government to not provide TB treatment and care to this prison inmate. He died later of chronic obstructive pulmonary tuberculosis on 27 February 2007. His family had complained that he was not given proper medicine and was not allowed to consult an expert.

Dialogue on legal barriers obstructing HIV response in Asia-Pacific

Mandeep Dhaliwal - UNDP
In Asia and the Pacific, as well as worldwide, laws and practices continue to often seriously hamper the progress made in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support. Some 150 participants from 22 countries from across the region gathered in Bangkok last week to discuss the issue. "In the Asia-Pacific region, and across the world, there are too many examples of countries with laws, policies and practices that punish, rather than protect, people in need of HIV services. Where the law doesn't advance justice, it stalls progress," said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), who joined the regional dialogue.

Unbiased, independent inquiry must for bomb blasts and communal violence

"Unbiased and independent inquiry must be held in every incident of bomb blasts and communal violence" said Suresh Khairnar who is a noted social activist, and has been working against communalism since Bhagalpur riots 1989. Suresh Khairnar has been part of fact-finding missions in bomb blast incidents like Malegaon 2006, Nanded 2006, Nagpur RSS HQ 2006, Malegaon 2008, Khairlanji 2008 (dalit atrocity), Mecca Masjid (Hyderabad) 2006, Batla House 2008 and over 60 communal riots, is in the city Lucknow.

"True democracy is possible": Panchayati Raj Sammelan

The Panchayati Raj Sammelan brought forth two key issues related to democracy at the community level: firstly, the elected representatives should take decisions in open meetings where common people can participate freely; and secondly, work towards establishing local self-governance as guaranteed under Article 243 of Indian constitution after 73rd and 74th amendment. The Panchayati Raj Sammelan was organized by Lok Rajniti Manch in Lucknow on 20th February 2011 where over two dozen elected representatives from recently held Panchayat elections in UP state and more than hundred political and social activists participated.

Let Different Flowers Bloom In The Garden

Kudos to the nineteen parents  of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, who recently came together in the Supreme Court, to stop the State from criminalising their children. They have joined hands to fight in courts a "sustained attack" by organisations and private persons who insist that their children’s sexuality, if not criminalised, would destroy "family values". Lending them support is film director Shyam Benegal, pitching in as intervener in the Supreme Court in the battle to sustain the 2009 Delhi High Court verdict decriminalising sex between consenting adults of the same sex. 

Local self-governance is guaranteed by Indian constitution

Local self-governance is guaranteed by Indian constitution, said Ravi Kiran Jain, a highly acclaimed senior advocate of UP High Court and also a member of state presidium of Lok Rajniti Manch. Development by the people means a decentralized system of governance where the people genuinely participate in its process - something which was conceived by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments of Article 243 of Indian Constitution in 1993, providing for governance by locally elected representatives at the urban and rural grassroots, said Jain. But it has been literally rendered ineffective on account of the centralized political authority.

Growing support for Lokpal Bill to fight corruption

How will an anti-corruption agency function if it has to take permission for conducting inquiry from those in power? Moreover if the anti-corruption agency is only supposed to advise the government but not given any executive power to take action to check corruption, the plight becomes grimmer. Lokpal Bill proposes to establish a single, autonomous apex body empowered to investigate and prosecute politicians, bureaucrats and judges in a defined time-frame, said noted social activist and Magsaysay Awardee Arvind Kejriwal who was speaking at the Panchayati Raj Sammelan organized by Lok Rajniti Manch in Lucknow.

'Panchayati Raj' is the real democracy

The democratic institution of a panchayat needs to be strengthened. The strength is inherent at the local level, said Dr Ajit Jha from Delhi University who is the member of national presidium of Lok Rajniti Manch. Dr Jha was speaking at the Panchayati Raj Sammelan organized by Lok Rajniti Manch in Lucknow on 20th February 2011. The panchayats should be in the centre of democracy.

Coordinated civil society input is vital for UN Summit on NCDs

Ann Keeling, Chair, NCD Alliance
A civil society movement is growing in lead up to the United Nations (UN) Summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), said the Chairperson of NCD Alliance Ann Keeling, who was speaking at the WHO-wide Planning Meeting for the UN High level Meeting on NCDs in Washington DC, USA (source: youtube video). She is also the CEO of International Diabetes Federation (IDF). The UN Summit on NCDs she referred to, is scheduled to be held in September 2011.

Elected representatives to commit for Local self governance

Elected people's representatives from recent Panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) state of India, will convene around two major issues: explore possibilities of implementing local self-governance as guaranteed by Indian constitution, and commit to take all decisions in open meetings, informed Dr Sandeep Pandey of Lok Rajniti Manch who is also a recepient of Magsaysay Award (2002) for emergent leadership.

Right to education for minority girls needs attention

The cause of the right to education for minority girls was taken up quite effectively at a zonal seminar on "Empowerment of Minority Girls Through Education" at the Department of Education, Karamat Husain Muslim Girls' Post-Graduate College in Lucknow. Organised under the ageis of National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Government of India and Committee On Girls Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India, the seminar was attended by delegates from Uttar Pradesh (UP), Uttarakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and other states of India.

The Unreality Of Our Real Life

Two events, occurring in quick succession in the recent past, have been very disturbing. One is the sounding of death knell by Mark Thompson (director general of British Broadcasting Corporation), of the Hindi radio service of BBC. And the other is an unabashed reality show doing its rounds on a popular FM Radio channel for the selection of the biggest lout of the city of Lucknow. The crunch of funds from the UK Government has forced BBC to discontinue after March, five of the 32 world services language services that it currently operates, including its Hindi bulletins. So paucity of funds has killed a non remunerative but very good quality news service. Perhaps a similar resource crunch and psychological crisis has prompted the FM Radio Channel to find and fund novel, albeit demeaning, programmes to up its popularity and revenue graph.

Mental healthcare for transgender people: An elusive dream?

Although far from optimal, still considerable progress has been made in providing healthcare to transgender people in many parts of the world. Yet their mental health needs remain far from being served. "Mental healthcare problems are so severe and far from easy to overcome. I've spent seven years with therapists and doctors and even after that I've attempted suicide 5 times (4 weeks since last attempt)" said Svanhvit on in response to a CNS article "Mental health of MSM and transgender on blind spot."

Mental health of MSM and Transgender on blind spot

Depression, harassment, relationship problems, loneliness, and social isolation, were among the few pressing mental health concerns that were highlighted during interactions with members from men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) and transgender community. The existing services for MSM and transgender people, firstly, are decimal and not reaching a vast majority of community members, and secondly, they seldom serve their mental health needs optimally.

Breaking the silence against rising violent attacks on women

It was the voice of women in Uttar Pradesh that found an expression at a silent march organised by women's organisations working for women rights in Lucknow on 12 February 2011. Though there was no slogan shouting or chest beating to lament the state of declining law and order in the state when it came to providing protection to women against violence, the message which the marchers wanted to send out to the power corridors was loud enough.

Long walk to freedom

Senior activist Arvind Murti
[Listen to the CNS audio recording/ podcast of Arvind Murti's speech here]
India may be independent for more than past 63 years but a significant number of its citizens would not yet testify that they have had a chance to enjoy the fruits of freedom. "Although India got its political independence on 15 August 1947, the real ownership to its citizenry had come later on 26 January 1950 when its citizens should have taken ownership mantle, but that hasn't happened so far" said Arvind Murti, senior political and social activist of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) who is a core team member of Asha Parivar, and Editor of Sachchi Muchchi (Hindi monthly).

Will you be my Valentine?

Every February, across the world, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this day by ‘carrying our hearts on our sleeves’? The history of Valentine’s Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance, both in the East and the West.

Progress in tuberculosis vaccine research

Collaboration and funding are some of the major requirements for delivering new, more effective and safer vaccines against tuberculosis (TB). This was a much-heard statement during the annual research meeting of the TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI). 'Challenging' would be an understatement when it comes to describing the WHO's latest plan for eliminating tuberculosis. Challenging. But certainly not impossible. In fact, TBVI's research partners, many of whom came together in Switzerland in early February 2011, are carefully optimistic about the past year's advances in vaccine research.

Safe blood donors are a cornerstone of public health

"Safe blood donors are the cornerstone of a safe and adequate supply of blood and blood products" said Dr Dinesh Sharma, honourable Mayor, Lucknow, who was the Chief Guest at the "Blood Drive 2011" organized at Jaipuria Institute of Management in Gomti Nagar, Lucknow. Mayor Dr Sharma inaugurated the Blood Drive 2011.

"The safest blood donors are voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors from low-risk populations" said Professor (Dr) Rama Kant, national President-elect, Association of Surgeons of India (ASI) 2012, who was the Guest of Honour at "Blood Drive 2011".

Wake up call for community engagement in TB programmes

In Andhra Pradesh state of India, a doctor gulped down sleeping pills when pulled up by authorities for not doing field visits to follow up tuberculosis (TB) patients (source: The Times of India). "There was no other medical officer" in the clinic so she couldn't go to field visits and rather attended to her duties within the clinic – argued the doctor.

India's national TB programme (officially called the Revised National TB Control ProgrammeRNTCP) has incorporated the Patients' Charter for TB Care (The Charter) which is also an integral component of the WHO Stop TB Strategy (2006-2015) at the global level.

Diabetes in Zimbabwe: It's Not All About Sugar

GROWING up in Zimbabwe, diabetes (a polygenic disease characterized by abnormally high glucose levels in the blood) was something that the old people always talked about, and the fear of the disease grew over me like a giant baobab. To describe a person with diabetes, the old people would say in local parlance "Ane shuga", which literally means: "He/she has sugar". Essentially, it meant that the affected person has a disease associated with sugar. To my childhood fancy, I thought that the people who were affected with the diabetes ate a lot of sugar only to discover later it was the common understanding.

Local response to fury of Bahraich floods

DM supervising the
hand-pump construction
Just a short stroll through Rewali, Adampur, the mud embankment in Kaiserganj, Bahraich, a small district in the flood prone area of Uttar Pradesh,  gives you an idea of the gravity of the predicament people here face year after year. Yet this year none seem to grumble their grievances about government apathy and inaction in rescue and rehabilitation work. In fact in most embankments the zeal to fight back the raging river shoulder to shoulder with district administration officials is a rare sight to see indeed.

Global meet on HIV research to open in Mumbai

The International Conference on "Emerging Frontiers and Challenges in HIV/AIDS Research" will be held in Mumbai, India during 5-8 February 2011. Organized by the National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and Indian Society for the Study of Reproduction and Fertility (ISSRF), this conference aims to provide an interactive forum to the researchers who have been engaged in addressing the cutting edge researchable issues such as mode and mechanism of HIV infection and transmission; resistance to the pathogen as well as anti-HIV drugs; disease progression; and development of efficacious strategies for HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

In Remembrance Of The Mahatma And Of Mary Ward

30th January happens to be the death anniversary of two great personalities, who were very different from each other and yet had so much in common – Mahatma Gandhi and Mary Ward. One was a devout Hindu who spread the doctrines of truth and ahimsa and helped India to gain freedom from British subjugation. The other was Mary Ward, a Catholic 'woman beyond compare' of England, who worked for the rights of women. 300 years of tumultuous history separated them. One rightly earned the title of 'The Mahatma' and laid the foundations of a free India; while the other was the foundress of the Loreto Order, who had proclaimed 400 years ago that ‘women in time to come will do much’. Both gave up their lives fighting for integrity, justice, peace and freedom.

Remembering Pundit PK Shankhdhar 'Babooji'

My first impressionable memory of Pundit Pradyumna Kishore Shankhdhar, whom we respectfully called 'Babooji', was of him in his UNICEF office. He used to cycle down to the office everyday - which stood starkly in contrast to the world's finest limousines parked in this office, to which he was possibly entitled to use. The attitude to save every penny possible, sacrifice all material comforts and live frugally, and invest all possible resources in order to give a better tomorrow for his family was a mission for Babooji. "It's easier to fill books on philosophy than it is to bring one principle in practice" had said Lev Tolstoi. Babooji lived up to this principle in his life.

Tobacco control is most cost-effective way to prevent cancer

- Special on World Cancer Day: 4 February 2011
Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 84 million people will die of cancer between 2005 and 2015 without intervention. Simple measures to prevent cancer are: no tobacco use; a healthy diet and regular exercise; limited alcohol use; and protection against cancer-causing infections. "Enforcing health policies like the tobacco control legislations in India, can have enormous public health benefits for people" said Professor (Dr) Rama Kant, who is a World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General's Awardee for tobacco control (2005). More than 5 million people die of causes that are attributed to tobacco use, said Prof Rama Kant.

Sixty per cent of people living with HIV in India die due to TB

Sixty per cent of people living with HIV in India are losing their life because of a preventable and curable cause: tuberculosis (TB). India's largest network of people living with HIV (Indian Network of people living with HIV - INP+) held a meeting recently with Cepheid, and Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), the co-developers of a new rapid 100 minute TB diagnostic test (GeneXpert), to push for quick roll-out and better costing. Representatives from India's national TB programme (officially called "Revised National TB Control Programme - RNTCP") also attended the meet. Officials from the Government of India's RNTCP said that RNTCP is planning a multi-site demonstration study for gathering operational evidence for scale up of the new rapid 100 minute TB diagnostic test under programme conditions.

Pilgrimage back to native land and family after 17 years...

"India! My India" is a powerful series of four short-films made by veteran British-Indian filmmaker Yavar Abbas which documents his own experiences when he returned to India after seventeen years of self-imposed exile. Yavar Abbas went to UK after the partition of India into two countries: India and Pakistan in 1947. He refuses to accept the partition - as people connect with each other in a powerful manner across man-made boundaries. Yavar Abbas was a special guest at UGC Academic Staff College (ASC), Lucknow University and his film "India! My India" was screened in January 2011. Professor (Dr) Nishi Pandey, Director of UGC Academic Staff College at Lucknow University welcomed him.

Open patronage to corruption and crime in Hardoi

Award RETURNED to Indian Govt
Noted social activist and Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey has returned the NREGS Employment Awareness Award of Government of India to draw attention to open patronage to corruption and crime in Hardoi, UP. The award carried a citation and an amount of Rs 44,000 which was conferred upon Dr Sandeep Pandey on 2nd February 2009 by Chairperson of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.