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The Health Blog

Like the name suggests, this space is dedicated to wellness, health (both mental and physical) and dealing with clinical complications. We wish each of our readers a happy and healthy life.

India's shame: hunger and malnutrition

by Pragya Vats
Tuesday , June 11, 2013 at 13 : 26

India's Prime Minister has often called malnutrition a 'national shame'. Yet nearly half of India's children continue to be malnourished.

Despite its phenomenal economic growth, why is the nation of abundance failing its children?

What better way than children themselves leading the charge to end hunger. Hope the leaders can hear the rising wave of movement against malnutrition.

Dance, freeze and make some noise

To mark the Global Day of Action, hundreds of children participated in a Flash Tide constituting of Flash Mob Dance children breaking out in a dance sequence to garner attention, a Flash Freeze children freezing for few moments with a nutritious fruit and placards to highlight the situation of malnutrition followed by Flash Noise - banging plates and spoons symbolising the hunger and malnutrition...Read more...

Bone marrow donors, step up

by Shubham Pant
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 14 : 35

A few months back, I received an unexpected page from the hospital operator. It was a page from India, not a patient. I took the call and was pleasantly surprised to hear the voice of a friend from high school whom I had not heard from in quite sometime. The news was grim as his infant had been diagnosed with leukemia and he was calling to ask about the possibility of a bone marrow transplant in India and abroad. As I looked more into this, I realised that there were a number of appeals on the Internet from Indians in India and abroad who were organising donor drives to find a match for themselves, a friend or a family member. This has received a lot of press recently with a Stanford psychology professor Nalini Ambady who is looking for a donor for a bone marrow transplant. Nowadays, Indians...Read more...

India's newborns at highest risk

by Pragya Vats
Thursday , May 09, 2013 at 10 : 35

With 3,09,000 children dying on the day they are born in India every year, India has the dubious distinction of recording the most first-day deaths of children. It accounts for 29 per cent of all the first-day deaths globally, the highest for any country, according to the latest 'State of the World's Mothers'.

The world has made unprecedented progress in reducing maternal and child deaths, but not enough when for the most vulnerable of all newborns (0-28 days old). More than one million babies die on the first day of life globally making the first 24 hours the most dangerous time for babies in nearly every country, rich and poor alike.

In the Mothers' Index, a unique ranking of 176 countries, India ranks 142, showing how effective governments are in supporting mothers. It assesses mothers' well-being looking at...Read more...

On children and their right to life

by Deepali Gupta
Tuesday , April 30, 2013 at 11 : 53

For many of us, diarrhoea involves a visit to the doctor, potentially uncomfortable situations, a course of medication and eating khichdi for a few days. Demonstrably, our perception of diarrhoea is directed by minimal awareness, and by having the means to tackle it swiftly.

Regrettably, the repercussions for young children can be devastating. More than 500,000 children die of diarrhoeal disease every year the world over; with almost a fourth of these deaths occurring in India. Diarrhoea is second only to pneumonia as a cause of child deaths in India. Together, these diseases kill nearly one-third of the children who die in India every year. These numbers, appalling as they are, don't take into account psychosocial factors such as suffering, treatment costs and impact on quality of life.

Children have the right to more than mere survival...

Breast cancer: separating myths from facts

by Shubham Pant
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 14 : 59

Internet, Facebook, Twitter: Welcome to the age of information overload. Along with useful information, the Internet is also the source of misinformation and myths. Being a practicing oncologist, I am frequently asked about causes of breast cancer. While there are a number of legitimate risk factors for cancer, the web is overrun with unsubstantiated claims backed by minimal or poor quality research. Here are a few myths I have encountered about breast cancer.

1. Anti-perspirants cause cancer: A friend on Facebook recently forwarded this to me. The post suggested that anti-perspirant use can increase the risk of breast cancer. No studies have shown a link between the two and this theory has been roundly debunked. There was also a suggestion that men get less cancer as their armpit hair absorb the anti-perspirant! The risk of breast cancer is lower in men than women...Read more...

Forget the seven deadly sins: It's time to get your life in order and follow "Life's simple 7" (http://mylifecheck.heart.org/). According to research published in the journal 'Circulation', in addition to improving your heart health, these seven steps recommended by the American Heart Association may end up lowering your cancer risk.

The Seven Steps

1. Physical Activity: At least 30 minutes of physical activity like a brisk walk, minimum of five times per week. Children need up to 60 minutes everyday: so lock up those i-phones, i-pads (basically anything with an 'i' before it) and get them out of the house!

2. Cholesterol: Keep your cholesterol at less than 200 mg/dl.

3. Healthy diet: Stay away from foods high in saturated and trans fat, sodium and...Read more...

Mediterranean diet for a healthy heart

by Shubham Pant
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 18 : 14

Struggling with heart issues? Here's some good news. A recent study published in the 'New England Journal of Medicine' evaluated the possible benefits of a Mediterranean diet on outcomes of people at risk for heart-related complications.

What exactly is a Mediterranean diet?

Though many variations exist, traditionally, a Mediterranean diet emphasises intake of olive oil, fish, low fat dairy (skim milk), whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables and wine (in moderation); while limiting red meats, high fat dairy (whole milk) and sweets.

What was the study?

The researchers followed 7,500 people in Spain who either had type 2 diabetes mellitus or at least three of the following major risk factors for heart disease: smoking, high blood pressure, elevated LDL cholesterol levels (commonly referred to as the 'bad'...Read more...

On cancer patients going in for unnecessary tests

by Shubham Pant
Thursday , March 07, 2013 at 13 : 43

Healthcare costs are spiralling the world over. In order to limit unnecessary tests and procedures on patients, the American Society of Clinical Oncology released a list of tests to better educate cancer patients and physicians to avoid useless expenditure (www.asco.org). These tests are expensive and can cost anywhere from Rs 5000 for a bone scan to Rs 13000 for a CAT scan to as high as Rs 24000 for a PET scan. Hence, it is important that these tests are only performed when indicated.

1. Prostate cancer: It is not recommended to perform routine PET scans (a kind of scan that utilizes glucose uptake to detect sites of cancer spread), CAT scans or bone scans in patients with prostate cancer who have disease diagnosed in early stages and who are at a very low risk of the cancer spreading to other areas...Read more...

The daunting task of providing a modern, equitable and accessible healthcare system to all Indians is the proverbial Holy Grail for health economists and policy enthusiasts alike. The sheer number and range of problems that afflict the country from disease prevalence and their nature to health infrastructure and financing of health services leaves the ordinary reader numb and the expert scratching his or her head.

Over the years, a number of disease-specific national programmes have been initiated by the Union and state governments with variable success. While the near annihilation of Polio and the stemming of a raging HIV epidemic are notable international public health success stories, many other initiatives lie in doldrums with mixed outcomes. The most ambitious of these initiatives, by far, has been the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), which has looked at addressing the twin goals...Read more...

Got Diarrhoea: How about some feces!

by Shubham Pant
Thursday , February 21, 2013 at 13 : 03

Fecal transplantation for treating diarrhoea? Sounds unreal and kind of gross! But that is exactly what researchers from Holland concluded in a study published in the 'New England Journal of Medicine'. This technique was used to treat Clostridium Difficile, a bacteria that can result in severe diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting. This bacterium exists in the gut of healthy individuals along with 'good' bacteria that prevent it from multiplying. However, antibiotics decrease the levels of healthy bacteria in the gut leading to unchecked production of toxins by C Difficile. This is a major cause of infectious diarrhoea in hospitals with a rising incidence due to the rampant use/abuse of antibiotics. The treatment of C Difficile consists of a two to three week course of antibiotics (metronidazole or vancomycin). However, despite intensive treatment, approximately 25 per cent of patients relapse. This in turn,...Read more...

In this blog
Pragya VatsPragya Vats
India's newborns at highest risk

With 3,09,000 children dying on the day they are born in India every year, India has the dubious distinction

Shubham PantShubham Pant
Got Diarrhoea: How about some feces!

Fecal transplantation for treating diarrhoea? Sounds unreal and kind of gross! But that is exactly what researchers

Deepali GuptaDeepali Gupta
On children and their right to life

For many of us, diarrhoea involves a visit to the doctor, potentially uncomfortable situations, a course of medication and

Karan ThakurKaran Thakur
India's healthcare system needs to measure what matters, not what is measurable

The daunting task of providing a modern, equitable and accessible healthcare system to all Indians is the proverbial Holy