Building feminist movements to stimulate change

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
Grassroots women of the Asia Pacific region have borne the brunt of the unrelenting global desire for increased consumption and accumulation of wealth by a tiny minority. Their aspirations and livelihoods are regularly trampled upon in this new Asian century, prompting thousands of women to be at the forefront of leading movements in their communities for social justice, economic equity and accountability.

Gender Justice to be at the heart of development justice

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
The Asia and the Pacific region contains some of the world’s most powerful economies and the 21st Century is often touted to belong to this region. Yet the region is home to 66% of the world’s poorest poor. Denouncing such stark disparities, the 1st plenary session at the 2nd Asia Pacific Feminist Forum (APFF 2014) currently being held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, focussed upon ‘Feminist Visions—framing strategies, analysis and resistances in the current political, economic and social movement’.

2nd APFF 2014: Creating Waves, Fostering Movements

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
The 2nd Asia Pacific Feminist Forum (2nd APFF 2014), organized by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) kick started in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It has brought together nearly 300 feminists from 30 countries of the five sub-regions of Asia and the Pacific as well as global allies. Activists, lawyers, academics and women human rights defenders working on the multiple struggles of women in this region have gathered to collectively share and strategize to shape movements, and to imagine different social, political and economic structures.

Pak tobacco tax reforms could help half million quit, up taxes by Rs 27.2 billion

[Report is online here] A potentially path-breaking report shows that the introduction of a uniform specific tax accounting for 70% of Pakistan's average cigarette price could lead to half a million smokers quitting, and reduce premature deaths among adult smokers by over 180,000. At the same time more than Rupees 27 billion (USD 277 million) would be generated in new cigarette tax revenues. Pakistan currently has one of the largest populations of tobacco users in the world, with over 22 million adults smoking tobacco.

Growing call for strengthening tobacco control in Uganda

Joseph Elunya, CNS Correspondent, Uganda
[First published in The Continent Observer, Uganda]
Activists in Uganda are calling for increased sensitization of the public on the dangers posed by consumption of tobacco products. The theme of World No Tobacco Day 2014 is ‘Raise taxes on tobacco’. The goal of World No Tobacco Day is to protect people not only from the devastating health consequences due to tobacco, but also from the social, environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Reduce Tobacco Consumption, Save Lives

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
With nearly 35% of India’s adult population (age 15+) consuming some form of tobacco, there are around 275 million people in the country smoking and/or chewing this poison, and an estimated 1 million dying every year from tobacco related diseases. Moreover 27% of the youth (age group 13-15 years) are exposed to second hand smoke at home and 40% are exposed to second hand smoke in public places. Bidis or cheap hand-rolled cigarettes (which outsell cigarettes by a ratio of 8:1), are the most popular tobacco product used in India comprising 48% of the tobacco market. Chewing tobacco comes next at 38% followed by cigarettes at 14%.

Connecting the dots: Tobacco use, diabetes and tuberculosis

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
Tobacco related illness kills nearly 6 million people each year, accounting for 1 in 10 of all deaths globally. More than 5.4 million of these deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. In fact tobacco is a risk factor for 6 of the 8 leading causes of death worldwide. And even as an estimated 1 million Indians die every year from tobacco related diseases, there are around 275 million people in India consuming this poison.

A Tumour In The Spine

Chhatra Karki, CNS Correspondent, Nepal
Photo credit: CNS
A spinal tumour is a cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign) growth within or near the spinal cord. A tumour in these locations can compress nerve roots in the spinal cord and therefore even a noncancerous growth can become incurable unless treated timely. Spinal tumour, although it affects people of all ages, is most common in young and middle aged adults. Secondary or metastatic spinal tumours are seen among elderly. A special credit goes to Sir Victor Horsely from London, who first operated on a spinal tumour (Spinal Meningioma) in 1887.

PICTS accelerating new TB case finding in Myanmar

Lwin Lwin Thant, CNS Correspondent, Myanmar
Photo credit: Lwin Lwin Thant
More than nine million people around the world become ill with tuberculosis each year. About one-third of them fail to get an accurate diagnosis or effective treatment and are more likely to die from this curable disease. We have to reach this missing 3 million by finding and treating people in the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world.

World Asthma Day: Expert recommends tags for asthma patients

Okeoghene Oghenekaro, CNS Correspondent, Nigeria  
(First Published in News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in May 2014) 
Photo credit: CNS
A Pulmonologist, Dr Kingsley Osagie, said that wearing a tag with the inscription ‘I am an asthmatic’ by patients could help save their lives. Osagie, who works with the National Hospital Abuja, told this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in commemoration of the World Asthma Day 2014. World Asthma Day is celebrated globally every year on the first Tuesday of May to improve asthma awareness and care. This year's theme is ‘You can Control Your Asthma’.

Asthma Patients in Uganda Resort to Herbs Over High Cost of Treatment

Joseph Elunya, CNS Correspondent, Uganda 
(First published in The Continent Observer, on 14 May 2014)
Asthma patients, in Uganda, are resorting to traditional herbs, to cut the high cost of treatment. Patients, interviewed, by The Continent Observer, say they prefer using traditional herbs, for treatment because of the high cost of treatment. Some patients, use herbs while others, have resorted to drinking donkey’s milk, as a remedy whenever they get asthma attacks.

Timely treatment controls asthma

Chhatra Karki, CNS Correspondent, Nepal
Asthma is a non-communicable disease (NCD) although of the incurable type. It is, however, possible to keep it under control if proper management and treatment is attempted under appropriate supervision from its initial stage. Experts from all over the world consider some precautions to be observed for its control as globally approximately 300 million odd people (in developed and developing nations) are estimated to be suffering from asthma.

Misconceptions impede Asthma responses

Diana Esther Wangari, CNS Correspondent, Kenya
Photo credit: CNS
(first published in The Star, Kenya)
Mwololo is a ten year old girl from the Turkana tribe, a Semitic community in Kenya. The little manyatta that serves as her home is inhabited by seven other children-her siblings and cousins. Temporary shelters, communal sharing of resources and caring for their herds is the way of life for this small nomadic group. With such fragile societal structures, the uniting factors remain to be their livestock and the healer.

Stigma - a stumbling block in controlling the HIV epidemic

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
(based on inputs from a panel discussion on HIV and stigma held at International Conference on Emerging Frontiers and Challenges in Management and Control of STIs and HIV, organized by National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (Indian Council of Medical Research) and MGM Institute of Health Sciences --Navi Mumbai):

The word stigma implies a mark or tattoo that was cut or burned into the skin of criminals, slaves, and traitors to visibly identify them as blemished or morally polluted persons. They were to be shunned especially in public places. Stigma is a social dichotomy where social perceptions are divided between us and them.

"Modi’s claim of clean Sabarmati river is hollow": Dr Sandeep Pandey

Photo credit: CNS
 Socialist Party (India), which believes in sustainable environment being integral to development justice on lines of ‘Green Parties’ in Western nations, stated that BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is not the first person to talk about cleaning the river Ganga. Arvind Kejriwal had also made similar claims and Rajiv Gandhi had initiated the Ganga Action Plan in 1986.

Seeking honest politics distinguishes AAP from BJP and Congress

Dr Rahul Pandey, CNS Columnist
Photo credit: CNS
In a recent article I wrote that most of the people campaigning for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) come from different social strata but are united by a common desire to seek honest politics.  On reading the article a friend asked me if I believed that everyone in AAP was honest and everyone in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or Congress was corrupt.  My response to him was, of course there were some honest individuals in BJP and Congress and maybe some dishonest ones in AAP, but the difference between the two sets of parties is not only relative but also fundamental.  This is an attempt to understand that difference.

HCV epidemic lurks in Nepal

Chhatra Karki, CNS Correspondent, Nepal
In communities where sharing of injecting equipment drives the HIV epidemic, a parallel epidemic of hepatitis C virus (HCV) often lurks quietly. Though a majority of people have been found to be cautious about Hepatitis B, very few people give Hepatitis C the seriousness it warrants. But the physicians opine that risks posed by Hepatitis C are no less dangerous considering its negative effects on health.

Regular cervical cancer screening, vaccination save lives

Bobby Ramakant, CNS Special Correspondent
Cervical cancer, a preventable cancer, continues to be the second most common cancer among women globally. Scientists and researchers from around the world brainstormed in sessions on cervical cancer management and control at the International Conference on "Emerging Frontiers and Challenges in Management and Control of STIs and HIV" organized by National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and MGM Institute of Health Sciences.

New Study Links Time Spent In Front of TV To High Blood Pressure In Children

Henry Neondo, CNS Correspondent, Kenya and Editor, Africa Science News
A new study reveals that children who spend two hours or more in front of a screen (TV, computer, videogames etc.) have over 2.5 fold increases in their odds of having high blood pressure (BP). Presented at the World Heart Federation’s World Congress of Cardiology today (7th May), this new study measured the relationship between physical inactivity, sedentary behaviours and fitness on blood pressure in 8-10 year-old children at high risk of obesity.

It Is Time To Control Asthma

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist 
This is the sub theme of this year’s (2014) World Asthma Day (WAD), which was first celebrated in 1998 in conjunction with the first World Asthma Meeting in Barcelona. It is an annual event aimed at improving asthma awareness, diagnosis, treatment, and, ultimately, control and is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) on the first Tuesday of May. The main theme of WAD 2014 continues to be 'You Can Control Your Asthma.'

Medics Urge For More Efforts To Combat Rheumatic Heart Disease In Children

Henry Neondo, CNS Correspondent, Kenya
Medics at the World Congress of Cardiology 2014 have urged governments to put in more efforts to reduce Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) among children. RHD, a chronic heart condition caused by acute rheumatic fever (ARF), is the most common acquired heart disease amongst children in developing countries and affects over 15 million people.

Likely impacts of BJP and AAP on the Indian society

Dr Rahul Pandey, CNS Columnist
For about two months I was in Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh campaigning for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Alok Agarwal. Irrespective of what the result in Khandwa will be it appears that almost everywhere Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will make substantial gains, Congress will suffer a lot, and AAP may not get the seats they expected. And irrespective of all these outcomes certain effects of BJP’s imminent success and AAP’s emergence are evident too. Some of these I could sense on the ground in these two months. While one set of effects are worrying, the other set gives us hope. Nevertheless, they give an idea of the things that might come.

After years of neglect, India’s oldest public health programme in spotlight

Bobby Ramakant, CNS Correspondent
India’s first (and oldest) public health programme was on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) since it became an independent republic. But as the years rolled on the programme lost its steam. Only recently it was merged with the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) up to district level and with National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for sub-district programmes.

Translational Research For The Benefit Of Public Health

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
Translational research is scientific research that helps to make findings from basic science useful for improving human health and well-being. It is basically a three steps process: (i) doing laboratory research on a medical issue like cause of a medical condition or a specific treatment (ii) studying the efficacy of positive research findings through clinical trials on human volunteers, and (iii) finally making available the findings to the general population in the form of treatment.

India driving new interest in eHealth tool to fight cardiovascular disease

Henry Neondo, CNS Correspondent and Editor, Africa Science News
Two studies conducted in India, US and Australia and presented at the World Congress of Cardiology 2014, being currently held in Melbourne from 4th to 7th May, showcase new research on best practices in the design and development of healthcare mobile applications, in order to optimize usability and maximize impact in different populations across the world. Around 75% of the world’s inhabitants now have access to a mobile phone. Out of the estimated 6 billion phone subscriptions worldwide, 5 billion are in developing countries-- 900 million of these are in India alone.

Socialist Party strongly opposes government’s decision to double gas prices

Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily has decided in middle of the Lok Sabha elections to double the gas prices immediately after the elections, according to the government notification issued recently. It is important to note that this gas price hike will be effective retrospectively from 1st April 2014. Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta has written a letter to the Election Commission and the Prime Minister asking for nullifying this government notification to double gas prices. "Only Jansatta newspaper has carried this news. Why are other media agencies silent on this issue?" asked Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and national Vice President of Socialist Party (India).

Salt-- A Silent Killer Of Africans

Henry Neondo, CNS Corespondent, Kenya and Editor, Africa Science News
No African food is complete without salt, usually added in cooking and/or at the table when food is served. But a new study released at the World Congress of Cardiology, being held in Melbourne, show that such practices predisposes them to high risk factors of cardiovascular disease (CVD) - hypertension or high blood pressure. The study also reveals that according to research, thousands of lives and millions of dollars could be saved by the implementation of national targets to reduce salt consumption.

Socialist Party (India) calls for expelling UP Mahila Kalyan Nigam Chief

Socialist Party (India) calls for expelling UP Mahila Kalyan Nigam chief Ms Leelawati Kushwaha because of her insensitive remarks towards another woman. Meera Vardhan, President of Socialist Mahila Sabha, said that "we believe a woman of such distorted thoughts on gender justice does not deserve to head UP Mahila Kalyan Nigam. Ms Kushwaha had asked Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati ji to undergo a virginity test as per news reports so that Ms Kushwaha can determine whether to call her Kuanwari or Shrimati. She hads supported similar expression of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav ji which too is indeed shameful and of course anti-women."

Coordinated response for control of STIs is lacking

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist 
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, are known to be primarily transmitted through sexual route which has created a major impact on sexual and reproductive health worldwide. They are caused by viruses, bacteria or parasitic microorganisms that are transmitted through sexual activity with an infected partner. Although some of the STIs are curable but others still do not have any effective preventive or therapeutics available such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV), and herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Experts call to prevent malaria in Nigeria

Okeoghene Oghenekaro, CNS Corespondent, Nigeria
(First published in News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in April 2014) 
Medical experts have urged governments, stakeholders and communities in Nigeria to take proper measures to prevent malaria which has remained ‘a big health challenge’ in the country. The experts made this call in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday, 22nd April, ahead of the World Malaria Day. The day is commemorated on April 25 in recognition of global efforts to control the disease.