Indian parliamentarian doubts if tobacco kills! Do not reinvent the wheel

Indian parliamentarian who is chairing the committee which told the government not to implement stronger pictorial graphic health warnings on tobacco packs (and raise the warning size from 40% to 85%) from 1st April 2015, casted doubts whether tobacco causes cancer. India is at risk of reversing the gains made in saving lives from tobacco! He is the same parliamentarian who had raised similar questions in the parliament in 2011 and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India had given him detailed response underlining the alarming magnitude of the tobacco pandemic in the country.

Appeal to unite to form a pro-people political front

An appeal has been issued by many citizens from across the country calling upon sincere and socially-conscious pro-people activists to unite and form a pro-people political front. We are sharing the appeal below. Those of you who may like to endorse this letter, please email your support to: Thanks

When the going gets tough, the tough get going: Islawati

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Photo credit: Rahul D/ CNS
[CNS image library] 42 years old Islawati is the mother of five children. She lives in village Chachikpur with her husband, her parents-in-law and her 3 daughters—the eldest one is married and her son who is studying in Class 10 lives with her sister in Ahmedabad. Islawati comes from a well-off family. Daughter of a printing press owner of Gosaiganj, she spent a happy childhood in the company of her parents and her two brothers and one sister.

Why is counseling important in TB treatment?

Dr Carolyn Kavita Tauro, CNS Correspondent, India
Rohani (name changed) was one of those quieter female TB patients. But they almost all are, including the one who had committed suicide the previous night by jumping out of the hospital ward window. It is difficult, though not impossible, to comprehend what goes behind the calm exterior of patients like Rohani. Another TB patient, Archana (name changed), was just told that she would have to take her TB medications for a period of two years and that she would not be able to see her one-year old baby for at least a year.

TB in pregnant women

Isaac Eranga, CNS Correspondent, Nigeria
There were an estimated 3.3 million new cases of TB and an estimated 510 000 TB deaths among women in 2013, says the WHO Global TB Report 2014. While TB as a women’s health issue has been largely overlooked, it presents one of the major reasons that TB in women should be taken seriously. Gender inequality around the world makes women with TB particularly vulnerable to stigma. In addition, TB poses a variety of deep threats to women’s lives medically, economically, and socially.

Nepalese women with TB face unique challenges

Chhatra Karki, CNS Correspondent, Nepal
TB victimized Pabitra Tamang (name changed), a resident of a village in Dhading, Jawang, in the hilly region of Nepal, ten years ago. After being diagnosed with TB, she was deprived of proper medical treatment due to destitution of her family. To fuel the fire, her family started to torture her mentally instead of arranging for necessary medical treatment. After knowing her TB status, her husband abandoned her to marry another woman. Eventually, she was thrown out from her home by her family.

Need for continued conversations on TB

Diana Wangari, CNS Correspondent, Kenya
(First published in The Star, Kenya) 
On March 24 we marked World TB Day and, as we have come to expect during such celebrations, TB was in the news: There was an article and news brief here and there in the newspapers; there was a mention of the acknowledgement of the day on the radio stations and a segment in the news in the TV stations. More so, there was perhaps, a breakfast meeting held somewhere and at a different location - multiple locations even – and so were events held to mark the World TB Day.

Vietnam's major regional thrust for a malaria-free Asia Pacific by 2030

Vietnam signals greater regional leadership in malaria elimination by hosting health officials and experts to discuss challenges to achieving a malaria-free Asia Pacific by 2030. This week, Vietnam will host Ministry of Health officials from the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN); a group of 17 countries in Asia Pacific who each share the ultimate goal to become malaria-free. Last year at the East Asia Summit meeting in Myanmar, leaders from 18 Asia Pacific countries, including Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, decisively committed to the goal of an Asia-Pacific free of malaria in the next 15 years. With expanded leadership and financing, both Vietnam and other Asia-Pacific nations, may reach that goal even sooner.

Tuberculosis: A rocky road for women’s health

Owen Nyaka, CNS Correspondent, Malawi
“TB needs to be taken seriously as a women’s health issue because it kills more than half a million women a year and makes more than 3 million women sick annually”. This is what Paula I Fujiwara, Scientific Director, and Riitta Dlodlo, Director, Department of Tuberculosis and HIV of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), say in commemorating World TB Day 2015.

What's in a name? Tobacco in any form is deadly!

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service (CNS)

Photo credit
Just as a rose would smell as sweet if called by another name, so also tobacco would spell disease and death no matter in which guise it is consumed. Globalization is changing the face of smoking, especially among the youth, and they are turning to alternative forms of tobacco (often referred to as Alternative Tobacco Products or ATPs) like e-cigarettes, water pipes and now the midwakh, even as cigarette smoking subsides. Presenters at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco Or Health (WCTOH 2015), held in Abu Dhabi, shared valuable information on the ill effects of ATPs and their ever increasing popularity during the last decade globally.

Nepal leading tobacco control in South Asia: Will it spiral domino effect on other nations?

South Asian region has very high levels of tobacco use, and thus not surprisingly, rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and other tobacco related illnesses also rage high. Nepal is in spotlight in the South Asian region by demonstrating high commitment to tobacco control and also acting on the ground! Recognizing Nepal's leadership, the country was awarded the prestigious 'Bloomberg Philanthropies Award for Global Tobacco Control' at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH 2015).

Progress made but work remains on firewalling health policy from tobacco industry

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service (CNS)
Cloe Franko, NATT/ Corporate
Accountability International
Considerable progress has been made in different countries globally in protecting public health policy from tobacco industry interference, but certainly lot more work needs to be done. 2012 World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) Declaration had called upon all governments to establish a national coordinating mechanism of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which is fully firewalled from the tobacco industry. In 2012 we had envisioned that at least 50 governments should adopt comprehensive measures to prevent tobacco industry interference in public health policies in line with FCTC Article 5.3 guidelines.

Hold tobacco industry liable: Turn the cost-benefit ratio upside down

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
WCTOH session on FCTC Art.19:
Neil Collishaw and Cloe Franko
Photo credit: CNS:
Despite loads of credible and scientifically robust evidence that tobacco kills and is a common risk factor for major non-communicable diseases (NCDs), public health programmes have achieved limited success in controlling tobacco epidemic. With over 6 million tobacco-related deaths every year, the world is far from eliminating tobacco deaths. Every tobacco-related death is a tragedy, because it is preventable, had rightly said US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy at the opening of the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH 2015).

Where there is a will there is a way: Teeja Devi

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Photo credit: Rahul D/ CNS
[CNS image library] 55 years old Teeja Devi was born in village Bargadavaan in a family of farm labourers. The youngest of 4 siblings, her father died even before she was born. A father less Teeja had a tough childhood. She grew up amid fields, and from early childhood farming became part of her daily life. Teeja studied till class 5 and then was married in a rural household of a nearby village. Teeja reminiscences--“I was too young when I got married-- perhaps a child bride. I have no recollections of my marriage. The only thing I remember is that I was brought in a bullock cart to my in-laws house”.

Women with TB have the right to live too

Clarity Sibanda, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
Twenty years have passed since the signing of the Beijing Declaration on women but issues such as women and poverty, human rights and health remain unresolved despite them being enunciated in the twelve critical areas of the declaration. TB is a disease killing more than half a million women a year and making more than 3 million women sick annually. It is a blow to note that women suffering from the disease often face unique challenges, including intense stigma and discrimination. They have a more challenging time accessing TB services than men do, and this has a proven negative impact on their already deteriorating health.

Gender dimension of TB: Voices from the field

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS    
TB is the third leading cause of death for women worldwide, with women accounting for 3.3 million (37%) of the total of 9.0 million incident cases and over half a million TB deaths in 2013. Even though the TB bacteria does not distinguish between the sexes while targeting its prey, TB impacts women differently due to a host of social, cultural and economic factors, affecting them severely --whether they themselves are TB patients or are care givers of some TB patient in the family.

From adversity to prosperity

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Photo credit: Rahul D/ CNS
[CNS image library] It is not uncommon to hear about tales of migration from villages to cities in search of greener pastures. But, 22 years ago, a quirk of fate trans-located 42 years old Preeti from the city of Gorakhpur to a village called Bantaaniya. The youngest of 5 siblings—3 sisters and 2 brothers—Preeti grew up in Gorakhpur, a town in east UP, India. She had a comfortable childhood as her father had a government job in the railways.

TB, the silent killer of women

Pretty Chavango, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
TB, an airborne infectious disease, is the third leading cause of death in women worldwide. In 2013, there were 3.3 million new cases of TB among women and 510,000 deaths. Surprisingly, regardless of this impact on women, little attention is paid to the disease as a women's health issue.

When will the good times (achhe din) come for women in India?

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
While stone statues of the female form (Saraswati, Lakshmi, Durga/Kali) are worshipped in temples and religious rituals, a large number of those made of flesh and blood face violence on the streets and in homes, and encounter discrimination throughout their lives that begins at (or even before) birth, and continues during childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

More lung cancer awareness among women needed

Babs Verblackt, CNS Special Correspondent, Belgium
While cancer in women often gets associated with breast cancer, there is an equal threat of lung cancer. In fact, in Europe death rates from lung cancer are expected to exceed those for breast cancer among women for the first time this year (2015). Public awareness remains low and should be improved, lung cancer organisations stress.