Health emergencies and role of organized medicine

(published in Bulletin of Epidemiology Foundation of India, April-June 2022 issue)

Dr Suneela Garg, Dr Ishwar Gilada, Dr Sagar Galwankar, Shobha Shukla, Bobby Ramakant

When health emergencies occur it is the doctors and other healthcare providers who are on the frontlines in responding to the humanitarian and public health crises. These frontline responders often know best what the problem is and what effective and pragmatic solutions could help improve responses. Are these healthcare providers engaged to play a key role in shaping effective solutions that work in local contexts? Are different medical specialities who have a crucial role during emergencies and humanitarian crises, coordinating amongst themselves and with government and other agencies who are decision makers for the response?

[podcast] The Hero Lies In You (episode-1): Ms Dorothy Solomon


The Hero Lies In You
- a special CNS series - salutes extraordinary lives of those who inspire us. This episode features Ms Dorothy Solomon who is in conversation with CNS founder and Executive Director Ms Shobha Shukla. Born in 1929, Ms Dorothy Solomon lives by the dictum of her father’s last words spoken to her when she was barely 10 years old: “We want something, and God ordains something else. God’s will prevails. Never get perturbed in life”. She defeated Covid-19, and even at age 92, tatting (making lace by hand) and doing embroidery are part of her daily routine. Listen to more of her (extra)ordinary life.

[video] The Hero Lies In You series (episode 1): Ms Dorothy Solomon

Substantial weight gain as dolutegravir is rolled out in Africa

Study finds women gain more weight; underlines need to watch out for weight-related diseases

Shobha Shukla, Bobby Ramakant

(published in NAM aidsmap on 21 June 2022)

A study analysing data from four African countries found that people living with HIV who switched to a dolutegravir-based antiretroviral regimen had a four-fold increase in average weight gain, compared to the year before the switch.

During the lockdown, community led from the front in ensuring HIV treatment reaches people

"HIV treatment and care could continue during COVID-19, thanks to intense community participation," said Daxa Patel, in an interview given to CNS. Daxa is Secretary General at Gujarat State Network of People living with HIV (GSNP+) and is former President of National Coalition of People Living with HIV (NCPI+) in India.

Call to register for Hindi/Urdu consultation: The Declaration of the Rights of People Affected by TB

Join us on 23rd June 2022, Thursday, at 2:30pm India time for a consultation in Hindi/ Urdu languages with English simultaneous interpretation regarding local promotion of the Declaration of the rights of people affected by tuberculosis (TB).

Inequity and health security: will the poison that blinds, open our eyes too?

"There are poisons that blind you, and poisons that open your eyes" 
had said famous Swedish author August Strindberg. COVID-19 and monkeypox have not only exposed the inequity which poisons our health systems but has also caused avoidable human sufferings, including deaths. Even though inequity has been ailing our health and development model since long, the privileged class has remained numb and blind to it. But COVID-19 has proven that even the rich and powerful cannot remain firewalled from outbreaks of infectious diseases. Is it not high time that we open our eyes and rebuild equitable health and social security for all?

Local leaders unitedly push for One Health approach. Will G20 leaders tango?

[हिंदी] Before G20 leaders and experts meet next week for the second health working group meeting under Indonesian G20 presidency, local leaders from several cities across the Asia Pacific region have unitedly called for implementing One Health approach.

Latest advancements in TB science in spotlight

Important game-changing scientific advancements in preventing and treating TB (TB or tuberculosis, is among the deadliest of infectious diseases globally), were in spotlight at the recently concluded International Conference on Retroviruses and other Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2022).

Far from the promise of endgame, tobacco epidemic continues...

Tobacco industry-propelled epidemic of tobacco-caused diseases and untimely deaths continue to plague human development. Despite significant progress on tobacco control, endgame of tobacco - which is a human rights and social justice imperative - is not yet in sight. The recently released 7th edition of Tobacco Atlas shows that while global smoking prevalence in adults has declined from 22.7% in 2007 to 19.6% in 2019, we still have 1.3 billion tobacco users in the world. The progress on the endgame of tobacco is also threatened by the growing tobacco smoking rates among children aged 13 to 15 years in many countries, and by tobacco industry tactics targeting poorer countries with weak regulatory environments and pushing so-called 'novel' products in previously untapped markets.

Drug-resistant TB: Are we converting scientific breakthroughs into public health gains?

[listen to The Dose Podcast that premiered on 2022 World TB Day] [हिंदी] Undoubtedly, among the most important scientific breakthroughs for the diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) have happened in the past few years. But are we able to convert the scientific breakthroughs into public health gains quickly enough - by diagnosing every person with drug-resistant TB, and treating them with safe and effective medicines?

CROI 2022: Global advocates offer insights and directions on the science and next steps needed

(watch the recording) You are invited to join the CROI Community Liaison Subcommittee, AVAC, and European AIDS Treatment Group for a webinar to debrief this year's Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2022).

[podcast] When COVID-19 lockdown was clamped, HIV communities led from the front to ensure HIV medicines reached them

Listen to another episode of CNS #endAIDS Dialogues featuring noted human rights and HIV activist Daxa Patel, former President of National Coalition of People Living with HIV in India in conversation with CNS head Shobha Shukla at 13th national conference of AIDS Society of India (13th ASICON) in Hyderabad, India.

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, aCast, Podtail, BluBrry, Himalaya, ListenNotes, American Podcasts, CastBox FM, Ivy FM, and other podcast streaming platforms.

[podcast] Community leadership synced with government response to ensure uninterrupted supply of HIV medicines during lockdown


Listen to another episode of CNS #endAIDS Dialogues featuring Padamshree and ASI Lifetime Achievement Awardee 2022 Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar, who was earlier heading epidemiology at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, and also has been a noted HIV scientist and expert at National AIDS Research Institute. He is in conversation with CNS Managing Editor Shobha Shukla at 13th National Conference of AIDS Society of India (13th ASICON).

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, aCast, Podtail, BluBrry, Himalaya, ListenNotes, American Podcasts, CastBox FM, Ivy FM, and other podcast streaming platforms.

[podcast] People living with HIV must stay virally suppressed and manage NCDs to reduce severe COVID risk


Listen to another episode of CNS #endAIDS Dialogues featuring Dr N Kumarasamy, who has been involved with HIV medical care and advancing HIV science since 1994, is Director of Infectious Diseases Medical Centre Voluntary Health Services Hospital, and Secretary General of AIDS Society of India (ASI). He is in conversation with CNS Managing Editor Shobha Shukla at 13th National Conference of AIDS Society of India (13th ASICON). He is also the Scientific Co-Chair of 13th ASICON.

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, aCast, Podtail, BluBrry, Himalaya, ListenNotes, American Podcasts, CastBox FM, Ivy FM, and other podcast streaming platforms.

[video] Did COVID-19 lockdown impacted HIV and healthcare services? Noted rights activist Daxa Patel speaks

[video] People living with HIV must take lifesaving antiretroviral medicines, stay virally suppressed, and manage NCDs to reduce severe COVID risk

[video] #Leadership: During lockdown, it was the people living with HIV who ensured medicines reached them

[podcast] #WomenLead: Generations of women entrepreneurs who run Imperial Sweet House, give hope for gender justice

In old city of Hyderabad, India, one of the legends close to Salarjung Museum and Charminar, in the oldest part of this city (Noor Khan Bazar), is Imperial Sweet House - founded decades ago, and led by generations of women entrepreneurs striving hard and from the core of their hearts to keep the legacy alive! Sweets/ desserts such as Pure Kaju (cashew nut) Kii Jaali, Badam (almond) ki jaali, are among the most iconic ones here!

Listen to Ms Aisha and Ms Nafees - two generations of women who share highlights of their decades long journey and still continuing strong! They are in conversation with CNS founding Managing Editor Shobha Shukla.

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, aCast, Podtail, BluBrry, Himalaya, ListenNotes, American Podcasts, CastBox FM, Ivy FM, and other podcast streaming platforms.

Prevention is better than cure, and is cheaper too!

This is an old adage that signifies the importance of taking precautionary steps to prevent a problem from happening rather than fixing it after it occurs. It is a fundamental principle of healthcare to avoid/reduce occurrence of any disease.

Is our response to health emergencies, missing organized medicine?

When health emergencies occur it is the doctors and other healthcare providers who are on the frontlines in responding to the humanitarian and public health crises. But they along with those impacted are not just part of the ‘problem’ but also key to effective solutions. Along with most affected people, it is the frontline healthcare providers who should be shaping responses to the pandemics and health emergencies.

[podcast] Are we on track to end AIDS in India?

Listen to this Podcast from the 13th National Conference of AIDS Society of India (13th ASICON), Hyderabad, India, held during 3-5 April 2022 on the theme of “Confronting Pandemics with Proficiency, Precision and Persistence.” Experts include UK's HIV expert Dr Jyoti Dhar, ASICON President Dr Ishwar Gilada, ASICON Co-Chair Dr Dilip Mathai, ASICON Scientific Co-Chairs Dr Naval Chandra and Dr Vijay Yeldandi.

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, aCast, Podtail, BluBrry, Himalaya, ListenNotes, American Podcasts, CastBox FM, Ivy FM, and other podcast streaming platforms.

We can #endAIDS now if "undetectable equals untransmittable" becomes a reality for all persons living with HIV

[हिंदी] If every person living with HIV is aware of the positive status, receiving lifesaving and effective antiretroviral therapy, and remains virally suppressed, then not only virus becomes undetectable but also untransmittable (U Equals U). Not only this will ensure optimal quality of life for every person living with HIV but also will help translate the promise of our governments to end AIDS by 2030. We can end AIDS now, said Dr Jyoti Dhar, senior HIV expert from UK, who was speaking at the opening of 13th National Conference of AIDS Society of India (13th ASICON) in Hyderabad.

Are we ready to give it all to #endTB?

[हिंदी] First-ever United Nations High Level Meeting to end TB by 2030 was held four years ago. It culminated in an important political declaration that galvanised accelerated action towards eliminating TB by 2030. With less than a year to deliver on intermediary 2022 promises, progress has been there but dismal. More importantly, latest Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report of the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that COVID-19 gave a major jolt to the efforts to fight the ancient disease forcing to reverse gains that were made in the past decade. 

Preventing disease and strengthening health system are key while we open up economies

[हिंदी] Although some parts of the world are reporting another rise in new COVID-19 infections, many countries are doing away with pandemic-related public health and social measures that were put in place over two years ago. Experts of Organized Medicine Academic Guild of India (OMAG) raised an alarm and called for layered safeguards with "One World One Health" approach while we rebuild a more equitable social and economic order for everyone.

Will Himalayan Indian state eliminate tuberculosis by 2023?

Two years before the pandemic had struck us, the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh in India had declared that it will eliminate tuberculosis (TB) by 2023 - two years before the national #endTB target (2025), and seven years before the global #endTB target (2030). State Chief Minister’s dedicated initiative had further galvanized the efforts towards containing the ancient disease. But are we on track?

Treatment of the world's oldest epidemic: the past, present and future

This article is dedicated to all those who lost their lives to world's most deadly infectious disease - TB - and to those who defeated it
Is it not shocking that an ancient disease that has been with human since long before the recorded history, and is preventable and treatable, still kills around 1.5 million people every year? Molecular analysis of causative microbe of tuberculosis (TB) suggests that the first infections of humans occurred as much as 70,000 years ago. But the actual cause of TB was known only 140 years ago, when on March 24, 1882, Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium - the microbe that causes TB. Even today, TB remains the leading infectious cause of death globally. 1.8 billion people (nearly 25% of the world’s population), harbour Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Every year nearly 10 million people contract the disease and around 1.5 million die from it.

No #HealthForAll without peace: Attack on healthcare facilities is war crime, must stop

[हिंदी] Slogans like 'every life matters' sound so clichéd and hollow when we see the ground reality in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia armed conflict: healthcare workers, healthcare facilities and transport are getting mercilessly attacked causing immediate and long-term damages as well as menacingly threatening the progress made on right to health in the past decades. Former Secretary General of the United Nations had condemned attacks on hospitals as war crimes.

Perils of not knowing our epidemic: Could reducing testing be counter-productive?

Think: Given the enormity with which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives for more than past two years, who will risk being caught in an Ostrich syndrome? But this is what is happening: declining COVID-19 testing in several countries is very alarming, along with sketchy genome sequencing capacity which seriously limits and jeopardizes the ability of health agencies to respond with effective and timely disease control measures.

Writing is on the wall: Pictorial health warnings reduce tobacco use

[हिंदी] More evidence from scientific research is pouring in to show that graphic pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products are very effective in preventing children and youngsters from starting to consume tobacco, and in encouraging existing tobacco users to quit the lethal addiction. This is not only great news for public health and social justice, but is also another serious blow to the tobacco industry that is selling a product that kills one out of every two of its users as per the World Health Organization (WHO) - the United Nations health agency.

Game-changing HIV research offers hope for people with HIV and to end AIDS

Remarkable progress has been made in prevention and treatment of HIV infections since the first AIDS case was diagnosed nearly 41 years ago, thanks to the untiring efforts of scientists, medical professionals, affected communities and activists. Though there is still no cure for HIV yet, it is possible for people living with HIV to have a good quality and length of life if they get diagnosed early on, and receive full spectrum of treatment, care and support.

Pandemic is not over yet by a long shot: Deaths rose every week in 2022

Global health thought leader Dr Tim France rightly tweeted, “Here is the WHO stating explicitly what most people I know are saying to one another privately: Is not it really risky to lift all COVID-19 related measures now, with the virus still circulating in high levels? Clearly, in these global experts’ minds, the answer is an emphatic yes.”

Virtual approaches boost HIV self-testing in India

published in NAM aidsmap, UK

Virtual outreach workers are able to reach key populations in India to promote HIV testing, either with self-testing or at bricks and mortar facilities, researchers reported to the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2022) this week.

Asia Pacific local leaders unite with renewed pledge to end viral hepatitis by 2030

Hepatitis-B is vaccine preventable, reliable tests and treatment is available for those infected, and hepatitis-C can be diagnosed, treated and even cure is a reality now. Then why 3 persons are dying every minute of hepatitis? Over 350 million people are living with hepatitis B and C virus globally. Asia Pacific region is home to more than half of world’s total number of people with Hepatitis B and C virus (about 200 million). That is why, local leaders of 79 cities in several countries of Asia Pacific region have united to power the agenda for stronger integrated action towards ending viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 (a promise enshrined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals).

Gateway to fair elections: Will India do full count of verifiable paper record in elections?

Over 300 intellectuals and thought leaders from across world’s largest democracy - India - have written to the Election Commission demanding full count of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips.

Will UN health agency give green light for using COVID-19 self-tests?

If we get infected with an infectious disease, will we not want to protect our family and others from it? But, unless we know our disease status timely and reliably, how can we help prevent further infection transmission? How will we link up, and benefit from, health and clinical care pathways until we know ourselves that we are infected? When self-tests for COVID-19 are available, there is no excuse not to make them affordable and accessible to everyone without any further delay, so that these easy to use tests can complement the confirmatory RT-PCR tests and other diagnostics for those who need them - and serve as an entry point for health and clinical care pathways.

Is Gandhi's Talisman the guiding light to end vaccine inequity?

In a world with over 7 billion people, more than 10 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered by the end of January 2022. But more than 3 billion people globally have not received even their first vaccine dose yet. Despite having enough of vaccine doses to protect the most at risk from COVID-19, we have failed to vaccinate equitably. Are some more equal than others? Mahatma Gandhi had rightly said that our world has enough for everyone's need but not for any one's greed.

Booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine: To give or not to give?

[हिंदी] With almost 19 million new COVID-19 cases reported, the third week of January 2022 recorded the highest-ever weekly number of new infections so far in the pandemic’s history. This was an increase of 20% more cases than the earlier 'highest-ever record' which was set in the previous week.

No excuse not to end the acute stage of pandemic globally

[हिंदी] Is it not shocking that after more than two years into the pandemic (when we know how to protect ourselves from getting infected, and have had vaccines for more than a year now), by far the highest-ever number of corona virus infections in a single week were reported in the second week of January 2022? This is an unacceptable failure to save lives and unnecessary human suffering.

Failing on the basics: Are we able to #BreakTheChain of infection transmission?

[हिंदी] The year 2022 began on a dismal note, with its first week reporting the highest-ever number of COVID-19 cases in a week globally. Since the pandemic began in December 2019, the reported number of people who contracted the virus has been over 306 million and 5.5 million people have died due to it worldwide. The actual numbers could be much higher, as many infections and deaths are likely to have gone underreported.