Community Consultation: 2013 WHO Consolidated ARV Guidelines

The global expansion of access to HIV treatment ranks among the great recent achievements in public health. At the end of 2011, an estimated 8 million people in low-and middle-income countries were receiving ART – a 25-fold increase since 2002. Nevertheless, most low- and middle-income countries are yet to achieve ‘Universal Access’ to ART. Reasons for this include lack of awareness of HIV status, high cost of ART, late initiation of ART, human rights issues affecting people living with HIV and key populations and substantial attrition in the ‘test-treat-retain’ continuum. Addressing structural barriers, reducing costs and strengthening the continuum of care is critically important if the full gains of expanded HIV treatment are to be realised.

Preventing an epidemic of drug-resistant tuberculosis in India

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of India's oldest and perhaps most neglected public health challenges. It is a disease caused by bacteria that are spread from person to person through the air. Chronic cough (for more than 2 weeks) and fever are the most important symptoms of TB. When a person with TB coughs, TB bacteria get ejected into the air. They can then get inhaled by another person who can become newly infected. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, lymph nodes, abdomen, or the spine. In most cases, TB is treatable and curable. However, unlike most common infectious diseases that require a few days of antibiotic treatment, TB requires several antibiotics and long-term treatment for cure

Former CIC criticizes Supreme Court judgement

[हिंदी]The just retired Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi is quite agitated about the recent Supreme Court judgement making it necessary for Chief Information Commissioners to have a judicial background and to conduct all hearings in benches consisting of two Commissioners one of whom will have to be a person from judicial background. He put up a spirited argument why a person of judicial background was not necessary for the Information Commission. The task merely involved either taking a decision of either allowing information to be given or not. Some judicial thinking may be required to consider the cases of exemption from the Act. But such cases are rare. In the 20,000 cases that he disposed of, he said, he just encountered two which required some legal interpretation. 

TB and Diabetes Linkage Calls for An Integrated Response

With diabetes largely associated with over-consumption of sugar by many Zimbabweans, it is hardly surprising that its link to tuberculosis (TB) is hardly a public health matter. TB kills more than 3,500 people each day worldwide, leading to approximately 1.4 million deaths every year. One-third of the world's population is currently infected with the causative agent of TB, and 8.8 million new cases of active TB are estimated to occur around the world each year.

Respect The Girl Child For Life, And Not Merely For A Day!

The 23rd of October 2012, is the last day of the Hindu festival of Navratra—the nine days’ regimen of fasting and feasting, which is celebrated in its various nuances—Durga Pooja (worshipping goddess Durga); the rhythmic Garba dancing; the night long singing of bhajans (devi jagran); the Ramlila (enactment of life of god Rama), with the celebrations culminating on the tenth day by immersing the statues of the goddess in the river (from dust unto dust) and burning the effigy of the demon king Ravana (triumph of good over evil). However there is one common thread that links all these different forms of festivities—the feeding of the kanya (girl child) on the seventh, eighth and ninth days.

Link between TB and diabetes in Thailand

Duangkamol Donchaum who writes for CNS has produced an audio podcast on the link between tuberculosis (TB) and diabetes in Thailand and also an article in Thai language. To read the Thai language article, click here or to listen to Thai language podcast, click here

Government of India seeks YouTube videos on need for new TB drugs

The Government of India's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) and Vigyan Prasar have announced an initiative calling for submissions of YouTube videos on the topic: "The need for new tuberculosis (TB) drugs." According to the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), "A shorter [anti-TB] drug regimen would reduce lost work-time and lessen the economic impact of TB on individuals' lives, and in turn help stabilize families, save and enrich the lives of millions of children, and enable a healthier, more productive labor force in many TB-endemic countries."

Online consultation: Lessons from roll-out of MDR-TB services

Citizen News Service (CNS), a partner of the Stop TB Partnership, and the global Stop-TB eForum along with partners are hosting an online consultation to document community perspectives and learn lessons on what worked and what didn’t in rolling out MDR-TB services in different countries/ contexts. These lessons are very important, especially experiences of affected communities, we believe, and must not be missed. These lessons should inform the ongoing and future planned roll-out (and scale up) of MDR-TB services at all levels.
* Please share your experiences and perspectives of what works and what doesn’t work in your local settings where MDR-TB related services are available? 
* What are the key lessons from this experience, that must be taken into account before scaling up the MDR-TB services any further for enhanced public health outcomes?

Top Tuberculosis Scientists Warn of Urgent Need to Develop Effective TB Vaccines

With cases of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) on the rise globally, top TB researchers at a briefing today in London, called for greater focus on the quest for new vaccines—a crucial cost-effective method for addressing the growing threat. The WHO estimates that 9% cases of multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB in fact have extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB for which even fewer drugs are effective, and a recent research published in The Lancet in August suggests that levels of drug-resistant TB are higher than previously appreciated and rates of XDR-TB range from 0.8-15.2% of MDR-TB cases at study sites across the world.

Health Programmes must collaboratively address TB–Diabetes

With growing strong evidence on the dangerous communion between tuberculosis (TB) and diabetes in India, government health programmes must no longer delay implementing TB-diabetes collaborative activities. “Like the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the diabetes epidemic threatens to cause an escalation in TB incidence. China and India constitute 40% of the world’s diabetes population of 400 million people which is likely to go up to half a billion by 2020. If we do not seriously think about the link between TB diabetes my feeling is that it may begin to derail some of the good advances made in India and China on TB control” said Professor (Dr) Anthony D Harries, Senior Advisor, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).

Save Human Lives And Not The Tobacco Industry

Tobacco industry's allied groups lobbied
against global tobacco treaty provisions
Kudos to Justice Amar Saran and Justice Anuraag Kumar of the Allahabad High Court for issuing strong warnings to the Uttar Pradesh government to ban gutkha (paan masala mixed with tobacco), on a public interest litigation filed by the Indian Dental Association, in the light of the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act. The Court also expressed its displeasure over the delay and the frequent change in the stand of the state government on this issue. It was only due to the firm stand taken by the Court that the Uttar Pradesh government has agreed to ban the manufacturing, sale and distribution of gutkha in accordance with the Regulation 2.4.3 of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 notified for implementation from August 5, 2011 by the Government Of India which states: ‘Tobacco and nicotine shall not be used as ingredients in any food products’. The Supreme Court had clarified that ‘since pan masala, gutkha or supari are eaten for taste and nourishment, they are all food within the meaning of Section 2(v) of the Act.’

Beware: All Forms of Tobacco Are Harmful!

The Smokeless Tobacco Association, the All India Kattha Factories Association and the Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Co-operative Ltd have suddenly assumed the responsibility to inform people about the relative merits of gutkha over cigarettes. Their bold and blatant advertisement splashed in prominent newspapers is part of a country-wide campaign in an apparent retaliation to the ban on gutkha (tobacco laced pan masala), currently effective in 14 states of India. It wickedly accuses the 14 states of treating cigarettes to be beneficial for health and. The advertisement questions if it is just and fair to ban gutkha and not cigarettes, and reads that:--(i) one pouch of gutkha contains 0.2gm of tobacco as opposed to 0.63gm of tobacco in one cigarette; (ii) cigarette has 4000 chemicals while smokeless tobacco has 3000 chemical; (iii) cigarette smoke affects the health of non-smokers while gutkha does not; (iv) ban on gutkha will render lakhs of shopkeepers and farmers without a livelihood.

All Is Not Well With Our Minds

October 9, 2012—Just one day before this year's World Menatl Health Day, 56 year old Varsha Bhosle, a political columnist and journalist and singer Asha Bhosle's daughter, shoots herself to death in her flat in Mumbai. She had reportedly made two suicide attempts in the past and was currently undergoing treatment for depression. Incidentally, the latest figures peg India's suicide rate the second highest in the world with 187,000 suicides taking place in 2010.

October, 2012--In Bhopal a 13 year old boy hangs himself to death after a minor squabble with his younger brother over watching a particular cartoon channel on TV. August, 2012-- A 13 year old son of a roadside stall owner in Nagpur commits suicide by hanging from the ceiling fan with his mother’s dupatta, after being scolded by her for neglecting his studies.

The Dangerous Communion of Tuberculosis and Diabetes

In 2011 India had 61.3 million people living with diabetes (17% of the global incidence of 366 million) with 983,000 deaths (20% of the global figure of 4.6 million) attributable to the disease. India also accounts for 21% of the global incidence of tuberculosis (TB) with 1.98 million people developing TB and nearly 300,000 dying of it every year. Diabetes Mellitus is a non curable, non communicable metabolic disease that occurs when either the pancreas fail to produce sufficient insulin, (the hormone that regulates blood sugar), or when the body cannot use the insulin it produces effectively. It can be treated and controlled effectively although, over a period of time, it does increase the risk of heart disease and stroke and can cause kidney failure, blindness and nerve damage.

On a Toilet Trail

Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi – affectionately and respectfully called Bapu or Mahatma - who played a key role in the Indian freedom struggle, had once said “Sanitation is more important than independence.” Paying tributes to Gandhiji on his 143rd birth anniversary, the Indian government has decided to take this message forward by starting a Nirmal Bharat Yatra (Clean India March). This 2000 kilo metres long Yatra is being launched on October 3 from Wardha district in Maharashtra. In the next 56 days it proposes to cover five states which, according to the 2011 census have the lowest sanitation coverage in India, namely Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and lastly Bihar where it would culminate on November 19, which is World Toilet Day.