A Caring Treatment Conquers All Odds: Story of Shanti

Shanti is a 38 year old semi literate woman of slender means living in Mumbai. She has been living with HIV since the last 5 years and had developed multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Her story is the story of the common person on the street for whom each day’s survival is an ordeal, even when there is no illness. Taking treatment for the double burden of HIV-TB co-infection makes it like the last straw on the camel’s back. Shanti recently spoke about her trials and tribulations to Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) — in whose care she was brought for treatment of MDR-TB around 4 months ago.

Tuberculosis:Ugly scar on beautiful childhood

Jugalkishore is a six year old boy whose impish smile hides the ugly germs of TB that are ravaging his health. He is the third child of Ramdulari - the charming, but uneducated, hapless wife of daily wage earner Shivprasad, who uses excessive alcohol and tobacco, and is also a former TB patient who successfully completed TB treatment.  Jugalkishore, has recently been diagnosed with pulmonary TB and put on a 6 months course of free anti-tuberculosis treatment (ATT) since the last one month, at a DOTS centre. He is just one of the estimated one million children under 14 years of age who will need treatment for tuberculosis this year (approx. 10–15% of 9 million cases estimated by the WHO Global TB Control Report 2011). 

Growing support for Kudankulam anti-nuclear movement in Lucknow

[हिंदी] Growing number of Lucknow citizens came out to demonstrate in Hazratganj in support of ongoing anti-nuclear movement in Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu. Members of All India Power Engineers' Federation (AIPEF), National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Asha Parivar, Lok Rajniti Manch and Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) had also actively participated to vote for no-nuclear and no-carbon energy policy.

Growing support for prisoner Soni Sori

“Arrest Ankit Garg, Release Soni Sori”, “Attn: Ms. President, Mr. Prime Minister, Chattisgarh state, NHRC, Stop Torture of Soni Sori” - These were among the slogans from nearly 20 Karnataka based human rights organizations to the Government of India in support of Soni Sori, a 35 year old adivasi school teacher who has been incarcerated in Chattisgarh police custody since October 2011 despite medical evidence revealing their brutal custodial torture, electrocution, beating, and sexual assault on her, shoving stones into her private parts. Around 100 persons gathered at 6 pm on 24th March 2012 in front of Town Hall in Bangalore to appeal for the immediate transfer of Soni Sori out of Chhattisgarh police custody and her speedy trial. Expressing solidarity with Soni Sori, the people also demanded the arrest of Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police, Dantewada under whose supervision Soni Sori was subject to verbal and sexual assault in jail. They join people across the country in condemning the award of the Police Gallantry medal to Garg on Republic Day, 2012.

Growing protests across India to support anti-nuclear struggle in Koodankulam

[हिंदी] Growing protests across the country have strengthened the call against nuclear power in India. Activists of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) and Lok Rajniti Manch, are organising a protest and fast from 26 March 2012 till 1st April 2012, at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, in solidarity with ongoing fast by activists of the anti-nuclear movement at Idinthakarai, Tamil Nadu against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant. Social activist and Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey is sitting on a seven day fast.

Less than half a per cent Indian villages can be termed clean

World Water Day, 22 March
On the eve of World Water Day Indian government honoured 2,857 villages in 23 states with Nirmal Gram Puraskars [clean village awards]. Nirmal Gram Puraskar is given by the Indian government in acknowledgement of hundred per cent water, sanitation and hygiene coverage in a village. The President of India Ms Pratibha Patil, in a ceremony held in Delhi, awarded these 2,857 villages for their cleanliness achievements. India has more than 600,000 inhabited villages, of which less than half a per cent have qualified to get the award for cleanliness.

TB in Children: Why Zimbabwe Must Act Now

Harare, Zimbabwe – Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in Zimbabwe yet very little is known about the impact of the disease on children. Without a functional healthcare system and research into paediatric TB, Zimbabwe is likely to continue losing its children to this hidden public health problem. Among African nations, Zimbabwe is one of those most heavily affected by TB. The Global Tuberculosis Control Report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks Zimbabwe 17th among 22 countries worldwide with the highest TB burden.

Tobacco Industry Profits By $6,000 For Each Death Caused By Tobacco

During the last decade 4 almost 50 million people have died from tobacco usage, and annual revenues of the global tobacco industry have increased to US $ 35 billion. These and other startling revelations were unveiled in the fourth edition of the Tobacco Atlas which was launched today, (21st March, 2012), a little while ago, at the 15th World Congress on Tobacco OrHealth being held in Singapore.

Plan to develop new vaccines could help stop TB in our children’s lifetimes

The following is a guest blog post by Dr Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, and was published on the Science Speaks Blog on occasion of the newly released document Tuberculosis Vaccines: A Strategic Blueprint for the Next Decade. The new strategy reflects the consensus of members of the TB vaccine research and development community to develop new vaccines that could help stop TB in our children’s lifetimes.

Some 10 million children have been orphaned by the death of a parent from tuberculosis (TB). That number is shocking, but it does not begin to account for the children who must quit school to care for sick parents, or go to work to keep the family fed, or those who catch TB from a parent or another relative, or those who die from TB without ever accessing proper treatment.

New Vaccine Strategy to Advance Solutions for Tuberculosis

Against a backdrop of growing concern about the impact of tuberculosis on children, top scientific experts of the TB vaccine community have come up with a global plan of action for developing safe and effective TB vaccines that are critical to eliminating the disease. A strategic blueprint titled ‘Tuberculosis Vaccines: A Strategic Blueprint for the Next Decade’ was published today (20th March, 2012) in a special issue of the journal, Tuberculosis. It emphasizes that effective vaccines will remain out of reach unless the world scales up efforts to solve the scientific puzzles now hindering their development. Authors have called for researchers, scientists, clinicians, advocates in endemic communities, vaccine manufacturers, and governments around the world to work together on creative new approaches from initial research in the laboratory to clinical trials in the field to global introduction.

A woman's courageous journey through TB treatment

In 2005, Tariro Jack, 27, fell ill with Tuberculosis (TB) during her first year at college. She said that she struggled to cope not only with her own health but also managing people's perceptions. TB is an infectious disease that spreads through the air. The disease mostly affects young adults in their most productive years and 95% of TB deaths are in the developing world. Estimated TB incidence rates are highest in sub-Saharan Africa with over 350 cases per 100,000 population. Among African nations, Zimbabwe is one of those most heavily affected by TB. The deadly combination of TB and HIV epidemics is igniting a silent and uncontrollable epidemic of drug resistant TB that will negate previous national health gains.

"Government should desist from repression of struggle at Kudankulam"

In a press release dated March 19th 2012, the The Kudankulam Antinuclear Struggle Support Group, Keralam said: "As the Tamil Nadu Government has shown the green signal today for the commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear plant, thousands of policemen have been deployed at Kudankulam and they have arrested about 150 activists. It has become clear that the government is using high handed methods to suppress the struggle.

Children and TB: A Hidden Epidemic

Tuberculosis (TB) among children is rarely discussed. Because children, more often than not cannot speak for themselves, not much about how they're affected by the disease ever hits the headlines. This is despite the fact that TB remains among the top ten killers of children worldwide. In spite of this, virtually no public or political attention is paid to TB as a children’s health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 176,000 children died, but the consensus among researchers says that actual figures are higher. In 2009 alone, at least 1 million children became sick with TB.

Blaming poverty and malnutrition for TB is no excuse for complacency

All of us know that there is a pool where TB bacilli that can flourish and can cause TB infection in children. We are the ones who together with our knowledge and experience aim to eliminate the pool, so that no more infections can occur. How does infection take place? Infection is caused by a TB patient excreting Acid Fast Bacilli (AFB) in sputum. While coughing he will disseminate sputum into the air. The smallest particles called the droplet nuclei will remain floating and when inhaled, can pass the mouth/nose/bronchi and bronchioli to end up at the alveoli of the healthy person. The bigger sputum particles will reach the ground and cannot cause infection (unable to form floating droplet nuclei).

Tuberculosis vaccine research gets a boost

Aeras announces the receipt of a grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of up to USD 220 million over five years, placing it at the forefront of a global scientific initiative aimed at developing safe, effective vaccines against tuberculosis, a disease that infects two billion people worldwide. One of the world’s largest not-for-profit biotechs,  Aeras is developing modern vaccines to combat TB against the backdrop of a significant increase in drug-resistant strains. 

No toilets for 53 per cent population of world’s third biggest economy

In India, virtually every second person is defecating in the open, every third person is drinking unsafe water and at least 1,000 children are dying every day due to a preventable disease like diarrhoea. This grim picture of the world’s third fastest growing economy was unveiled through the country’s latest census report on drinking water and sanitation, which the Government of India released this month. Earlier on March 6, the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water and Sanitation (JMP) report, released by UNICEF and WHO, too confirmed that in India 59 per cent of people [626 million] defecate in the open. The report had pointed out that - “India is lagging behind 11 years to meet the Millennium Development Goal target, in which the government has resolved that the statistics of open defecation [base 1990] would be halved by 2015.

Muzzling the messenger?

Syed Mohammad Kazmi, a senior and respected journalist was arrested last week in New Delhi under a baseless suspicion of his connection with the attack on the Israel diplomat that occurred in the capital in February 2012. His knowledge of Persian and work for the Iranian News Agency, IRNA seem to have been among the ridiculous reasons for his incarceration.

Eminent citizens of India have issued this statement in support of Mr. Kazmi and demanded his immediate release. A protest was also organized in Delhi to condemn the high handedness of the government.

Lives before profits: India issues first compulsory license

 In a landmark case, the Indian Patent Office has issued the first-ever compulsory license in India to a generic drug manufacturer. This effectively ends German pharmaceutical company Bayer’s monopoly in India on the drug sorafenib tosylate used to treat kidney and liver cancer. The Patent Office acted on the basis that not only had Bayer failed to price the drug at a level that made it accessible and affordable, it also was unable to ensure that the medicine was available in sufficient and sustainable quantities within India.

India should learn lessons from Japan

Admiral L Ramdas writes... Many Non Government Organizations and civil society groups are for ever struggling against Government and other official agencies, for their violation of ‘Human Rights’ ecological degradation and loss of livelihood of the people, for example in giant Hydro Electric projects, Nuclear power plants and so on. The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has therefore a great opportunity coming its way on March 11- a few days from now- when we will be observing the first anniversary of the disastrous accident and melt down of the Fukushima Nuclear power plant in Japan. 

Power Engineers join hand with NAPM and NBA to support anti-nuclear movement

[हिंदी] The All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF)'s general secretary Shri Shailendra Dubey said that AIPEF will join hands with National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and mobilize over 12 lakh AIPEF members across the country to demand open and unrestricted dialogue on energy issue and push the mandate of no carbon and no nuclear energy in India. 

Tuberculosis Is A Women's Issue Too

Today is March 8, and across the world the International Women's Day is being commemorated. Coincidentally, March is the global tuberculosis (TB) awareness month. The disease, which is caused by a mycobacterium, has a major impact on women's sexual reproductive health and that of their children. For pregnant women living in areas with high TB infection rates, there are increased chances of transmission of TB to a child before, during delivery or after birth. The disease, especially if associated with HIV, also accounts for a high incidence of maternal and infant mortality. Unfortunately, there is little to no attention to women's vulnerability in the current discussion and media blitz of a resurgent TB internationally, and in particular, sub-Saharan Africa.

Polymethyl Methacrylate Replacement Prosthesis: An Alternative For Leg Amputation

The Department of Podiatric Surgery at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Center (AIMS), Kochi, Kerala, India, recently successfully replaced the destroyed foot and ankle bones in a 30-year-old patient with a novel prosthesis using polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). The patient had developed a spinal cord injury, four years ago, due to a fall from height. This caused fracture of his spine which was operated in a hospital near his home town in Kerala. 

TB: The ugly face of an innocent childhood

Location: a typical urban semi slum area (in as much as the houses are not makeshift but permanent brick structures) of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, which boasts of the state of art medical facilities.

Place: A brick walled house in a very narrow by lane, carefully protected from the prying rays of the sun, and just broad enough to let a two wheeler pass through. There is a small open verandah, leading to two dark, dingy and damp rooms, with no access to sunlight, and hardly any ventilation. One of the rooms doubles up as a kitchen, which has a mud stove run on wood fuel. The smoke from the chulha and from the bidis smoked in the house, linger in the closed environment for long.

Control Infection To Prevent TB In Children

At the inaugural lecture of the 42nd Union World Conference on Lung Health, organised by the International Union Against Tuberculosis And Lung Disease (The Union), in October 2011,  Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, showed a poignant video clip of a 14 year old girl who had suffered and died of TB in her poor, smoke ridden home in a Kenyan village last year. The video was a telling but true commentary on the polluted and unhygienic environments that exist in most houses of urban slums and villages of the developing world, making them fertile grounds for TB germs, and exposing their children to this life threatening disease. 

New Ray Of Hope For People Living With Multi Drug Resistant TB

International TB experts and representatives from the TB programmes of 10 francophone African countries are meeting in Cameroon today, the 1st of March, 2012, for a daylong workshop to discuss “Short–course treatment for multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB”. Hosted by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and the Cameroon Ministry of Health, the event will provide a forum for comparing and discussing the results of the WHO-recommended 20 months long treatment regimen for MDR-TB, versus a nine-month regimen.