Thirty years of HIV epidemic in India: From despair to hope

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Photo credit: CNS:
It is almost 30 years since the first case of HIV infection was detected in India in Chennai in 1986. In a recent webinar organized by Citizen News Service (CNS), Dr R R Gangakhedkar, Director-in-charge, National AIDS Research Institute, Pune (Indian Council of Medical Research), presented a vivid picture of India’s tumultuous journey in its fight against this dreaded disease.

Climate change puts 3 million Malawians at risk of starvation

Madalitso Kateta, CNS Correspondent, Malawi
Photo credit: Alina Saba
Millions of Malawians risk starvation unless concerted measures are taken to revert the effects of the food crisis, that is worsening in many parts of Southern Malawi. While the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) estimated that 2.83 million people will experience acute food insecurity during the 2015-16 lean season, I found that in three Southern Malawi Districts of Balaka, Neno and Chikhwawa the hunger situation has reached its worst point with people now surviving on wild tubers and unripe mangoes, as the country is also experiencing one of its worst economic situations.

How to celebrate festivals with steep price-rise?

"One of the election promises of Narendra Modi was to put a cap on price-rise. But exact opposite is happening in reality. For instance, within past 4 months the cost of 'arhar dal' has doubled up from Rs 100 to Rs 200 per kg. Common people of India who earn their livelihood on daily basis are struggling to meet their ends and earn enough to bear the cost of dal (a major source of protein) in daily diet of their family! It is a sordid reminder that half of our children are malnourished. With inability to feed protein-rich dal, there is a big risk of these malnourished children slipping into hunger and severely malnourished category" said Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and Vice President of Socialist Party (India).

[Call to register] Webinar for media: Can we avert the looming TB-diabetes co-epidemic?

[Webinar recording] We welcome you to register for an exclusive media webinar on why it is so critically important for public health and social justice to avert the looming tuberculosis (TB) and diabetes co-epidemic. Get connected with noted experts from lead agencies such as the Central TB Division of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India and International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) who will present and respond to questions live!

We must focus on maternal health to achieve global goals

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
The XXI World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics, recently held in Vancouver, Canada, saw the release of two sets of important guidelines aimed at improving maternal health, decreasing the incidence of maternal, fetal and neonatal morbidity and reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) globally. These comprehensive guidelines, created collaboratively with international experts in GDM and maternal nutrition, and launched by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), provide recommendations to improve the diagnosis and care of women with GDM and to improve adolescent, preconception and maternal nutrition.

Whither sexual and reproductive health services for marginalized groups

Avantika Chaturvedi, CNS Correspondent, India
Photo credit: CNS:
Sex is still a taboo word in Indian society and that is why the sexual health of the individual is ignored even in the normal population. When mainstream society is largely unaware about its sexual and reproductive health (SRH), then one shudders to think of the situation in the marginalized populations of sex workers, injecting drug users (IDUs), men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgenders (TG). Amongst these, MSMs and TGs are more disadvantaged in accessing SRH services because of their different sexual orientation.

Heart healthy environments: A call for action

Dr Amitava Acharyya, CNS Correspondent, India
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the world’s number one killer. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that CVDs accounted for 31% of all global deaths in 2012, killing 17.5 million people. Of these deaths attributable to CVDs, more than 75% took place in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Detection of diabetes & hypertension: Break the ‘rule of half’ and ‘premature deaths’

Dr Balu Mote, CNS Correspondent, India
Photo credit: CNS:
India today is facing a ‘triple burden’ of diseases-- communicable diseases, coupled with maternal-child health diseases that are some time termed as diseases of poverty; diseases like swine flu and dengue that are termed as emerging and re-emerging diseases; and lastly the upcoming burden of non communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes that are called diseases of changed life style and behaviour.

[Register] Webinar for media: 30 years of HIV in India: What does latest WHO HIV guideline mean for India?

[Webinar recording] It is almost 30 years since first HIV case was diagnosed in India. The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its latest guideline on when to begin antiretroviral therapy (ART)- what does it mean for us in India? We welcome you to register for an exclusive media webinar which will provide an opportunity to have direct interface with those who have been involved with HIV treatment since very early on.

2030 Agenda: Development for whom?

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
The world is agog with excitement at the recent adoption by the 70th UN General Assembly, of the new framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, composed of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, hails these goals as “A blueprint for a better future…. to transform the world. We must leave no-one behind."

[Young Voices] How superstitions impact our health, education and society

World Piles Day: Early detection and evidence-based care is a public health imperative

To mark World Piles Day on 20th November 2015, a free camp was held in C-block crossing Indira Nagar where Professor (Dr) Rama Kant led a team of experts to provide free consultation, examination and some medications to patients of piles, fissure and fistula. Former head of surgery department of KGMU Prof Rama Kant said: “Early diagnosis of piles and other ano-rectal problems, and provision of standardized and evidence-based management and care is a public health imperative. Due to stigma and shame related to ano-rectal problems, patients often delay seeking care, which not only aggravates the problem but also puts them at heightened risk of developing other complications.”

TPP: Trading people for profit

Mark Moreno Pascual, CNS Correspondent
The recently concluded Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will expand corporate profits at the expense of peoples rights. A new addition to the growing number of free trade agreements (FTAs) took centre stage last Monday as the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries announced the conclusion of a mammoth trade deal that covers more than 40% of the global economy.

Standard guidelines for piles management must be adopted by all healthcare workers

Prof Rama Kant in operation theatre
(CNS file photo)
[Webinar recording] Despite more than half of our population over the age of 50 dealing with piles or haemorrhoids, the levels of available standard care for its management is appalling. "We need to ensure all healthcare workers across medical disciplines are following evidence-based standards for correct and early diagnosis and proper management of piles. Every surgeon or physician has her or his own way of addressing this problem. This absence of standards in piles care must get attention" said Professor (Dr) Rama Kant, former head of Surgery department, King George's Medical University (KGMU) and founder-Director of Piles To Smiles Clinic.

Call to kick polluters out of climate talks

[हिंदी] Activists have appealed to Indian government to take urgent and meaningful action on climate change next week in Germany. The action is part of a global day of action in several countries calling for a more just and sustainable energy system and for policymakers to end the undue influence and obstruction of climate policy by transnational fossil fuel corporations. "Every day we feel the effects of climate change - a crisis we did little to create. Today, the people of India are saying 'enough is enough!' " said Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and Vice President of Socialist Party (India).

Translating Global Goals into local actions to fight NCDs

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
Photo credit: CNS:
A few days before José Luis Castro,
 Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) took over the dual responsibility of the Chair of the steering committee of the NCD Alliance, he spoke at a webinar hosted by CNS (Citizen News Service) in the lead up to the World Heart Day. A few days later, he inspired us once again by his thoughtful remarks delivered to the NCD Alliance, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, while assuming his new charge.

Strong public health measure in UP: Sale of loose cigarettes can attract prison term

Rahul Dwivedi, CNS
[हिंदी] The government of Uttar Pradesh in India has made a bold and evidence-backed move ahead in favour of public health by banning sale of loose cigarettes and making it a penal offense. According to a news, "manufacturing and sale of loose cigarettes would invite a fine and a prison sentence, according to the orders issued by principal secretary (health) Arvind Kumar. The state cabinet approved the move last week and with Governor Ram Naik signing an ordinance, the health department issued orders to the effect late on Tuesday."

Bihar elections: Social inequities and corruption are major obstacles in Obra

Deeply entrenched inequities in our society is one of the major concerns for Neeraj Kumar, Socialist Party (India)'s election candidate from Obra Vidhan Sabha constituency (220), Aurangabad district, Bihar (election symbol: battery torch). It is because of systemic inequities and corruption that is not letting the benefits of government's welfare programmes reach majority of those in need. Corruption is rampant from village level to the highest levels of governance, and until we uproot corruption from our system, it is difficult to imagine a just and social order, believes Neeraj.

Somebody who never went to college helps children of brick kiln workers enter college

Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and CNS Columnist
Mahesh Pandey
There may be many examples like Super 30 of Patna where children of daily wage earners are being trained to make it to elite higher educational institutions of India. These centres are mostly run by very qualified people. But in Kanpur Mahesh Pandey, who completed his Intermediate education and dropped out of a polytechnic in Ballia, Bachelor of 40 years of age, is helping children of brick kiln workers complete their school education and enter institutions of higher learning.

Dialogues for justice, public interest and the common good: CPDE side event at the UN Summit

Shobha Shukla, Citizen News Service - CNS
A day after 193 member states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) together with grassroots activists, faith-based groups and NGOs organized a side event at the margins of the UN summit to discuss pressing issues affecting the marginalized and frontline communities in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.

Bihar elections: Will Kutumba vote for equitable access to water?

Farmers and local people in Kutumba Vidhan Sabha constituency (Aurangabad district, Bihar) do not get enough water to meet their irrigation and other agriculture-related and domestic water needs. With barely 2 hours of electricity supply daily it is not feasible to use boring pumps to draw groundwater to meet farming needs. About six months ago this severe water crisis forced farmers and a local activist Ganesh Paswan to stage a demonstration and indefinite fast. When administration made a promise to build a water canal up to Kutumba then this fast ended after 3 days. But no action has been taken since then by local administration to fulfill their promise of a water canal.

CVD: The silent but avoidable killer

Catherine Mwauyakufa, CNS Correspondent, Zimbabwe
Photo credit: CNS
In Zimbabwe sudden death is still treated with suspicion and fingers are pointed that someone has been bewitched. How else can someone, who has been fit as a fiddle, go to bed and fail to rise up the next morning? Visits to sangomas (witch doctors) and some self-proclaimed prophets bring in more confusion as in most such instances of cardiac arrest no post mortem is done. Hence the belief that the deceased was bewitched. A common phenomena in my country is paralytic stroke. A visit to even a primary health care facility can confirm if one has high blood pressure. Yet there are many cases, where even educated people have refused to be placed on hypertension medication, since it would have to be taken for life.

'Not building super-highways, but reactivating non-functional rail-links is priority'

Reactivating rail-link which is lying non-functional since several years is a bigger priority for local people than building major super highways in Bihpur, said Gautam Kumar Pritam, Socialist Party (India)'s candidate from Bihpur Vidhan Sabha (Bihar). He questions the kind of development model governments are pursuing where priorities of majority of the rural poor hardly ever get due attention, but priorities of the rich and mighty, override!

Let us beat the blues of the heart

Dr Richa Sharma, CNS Correspondent, India
The number of sudden demises of visibly healthy individuals, with no relevant medical history, due to cardiac arrests or heart failures has reportedly escalated in recent times. Cardio vascular diseases, or CVDs as they are more commonly called, seem to have penetrated all layers of society affecting one and all. They are no longer associated with just the supposedly rich, urban, and/or older class of citizens.

Awaiting the last heartbeat

Photo credit: CNS
Alice Tembe, CNS Correspondent, Swaziland
“I need to enjoy the last days of my life now, and live like as if today is my last day on earth. Life is too short.” These were the words of 35 years old Mr. Brown (name changed) face down, with tears flowing on his cheeks, when Dr. Dlamini had explained that his heart was operating at 25%. Unfortunately in most cardiovascular disease patients, the complications of cardio health are discovered by accident. In low and middle income countries, like the Kingdom of Swaziland, routine medical check-ups are a luxury for a majority of people.

[Focus] Only the people save the people ('Solo el pueblo salva el pueblo')