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South Asia

Soumyadeep Bhaumik’s review of South Asian medical papers—February 2016

3 Feb, 16 | by BMJ

soumyadeep bhaumikWe are now officially in a new era of global health—the era of the Sustainable Development Goals. The month of January saw the publication of some papers from South Asia which provides an opportunity to learn from the previous era of Millennium Development Goals. more…

Aeesha NJ Malik: Improving children’s eye health in Pakistan

2 Feb, 16 | by BMJ

aeesha_malik1.5 million children in Pakistan are blind. Many from eye diseases which are preventable and treatable. Often children don’t know they have a vision problem because they assume they see the way everyone around them sees. However childhood visual impairment or blindness has a huge impact—its effects last a lifetime and affect not just the individual, but their family and society. more…

Chris Baker: Child obesity in India? Tell me something I don’t know!

15 Jan, 16 | by BMJ

chris_bakerIn recent years an abundance of observational studies have drawn attention to the rising prevalence of child overweight and obesity in India. A recent meta-analysis of studies in South Asia, including 57 datasets from India, concluded that 14% of children and adolescents were overweight, with the more affluent and those in urban areas being at higher risk. Despite this evidence, the publication of prevalence studies continues apace, confirming existing knowledge but providing little to inform a much needed response.

Tackling child obesity requires more than estimates of the number of children at risk and more than a simplistic appreciation of lifestyle determinants more…

Soumyadeep Bhaumik’s review of South Asian medical papers—January 2016

14 Jan, 16 | by BMJ

soumyadeep bhaumik“Study the past if you would define the future,” said the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, and what better way to start the year than to look back at what happened in the past year in South Asian research as we lay the foundations for 2016.

Last year saw quite a few papers on what has always been an open secret but seldom talked about: institutional ethics committee members in India have a very poor understanding of how ethics committees should function and of medical ethics itself. These studies (here, here, and here) are all based on small sample sizes, but they come from different regions more…

Vithika Pande: Lessons from dais—can we learn from traditional systems?

8 Dec, 15 | by BMJ

Vithika PandeMany attempts have been made recently to better understand the social determinants of health (World Health Organization report “Commission on Social Determinants of Health). However, understanding health from a cultural lens is equally important and it is essential to consider this while designing health policies and programs.

In India there has been a rich and diverse set of healing traditions based on classical knowledge as well as regional folk practices, however, their popularity subsided when modern medicine (popularly known in India as allopathy) rapidly progressed with state patronage. more…

Yogesh Jain: A community based epilepsy programme in India

3 Dec, 15 | by BMJ

yogesh_jainMany non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are diagnosed in outpatient clinics and hospitals when patients present with acute illnesses. After receiving a diagnosis during the healthcare visit, the chronic management of most NCDs needs compliance with treatment and monitoring of disease process. In the absence of good community models, the outcomes of most NCD control programmes can be very poor. Jan Swasthya Sahyog is a non profit organization that runs a community health programme in 70 villages in central India. It has a referral hospital which is accessed by people for their major health needs from over 2500 villages with rural and tribal communities. We have 96 patients with epilepsy in our community programme out of 35 000 indigenous people. Our compliance rates for taking anti-epileptic drugs used to be dismal—at about 40%—even though the drugs were provided free of charge. Myths about the disease and its treatment prevented many more from seeking care. Deaths or major injuries from drowning or falling into fire due to untreated epilepsy were a common occurrence until recently. more…

Kaaren Mathias: The lack of access to anti-epileptic drugs in rural India

3 Dec, 15 | by BMJ

“He says that anti-seizure medications can have serious side effects. That’s why they can’t be stocked in our community health centre,” reports Jeevan, after returning from meeting the medical officer in charge at a nearby community health centre.

“The block medical officer told me that anti-seizure drugs could be dangerous in the hands of MBBS doctors,” says Pooja, who works in another district. “Even though we showed her the WHO mhGAP guidelines about primary care management of epilepsy.” I scratch my head. Essential medicines. They are essential and are still not where they need to be, on the shelves of people with epilepsy, and in the pharmacies of India’s community health centres (CHCs) and primary health centres (PHCs). “We need to tell Padmi’s story,” says Jeevan. more…

Arun Jithendra on reducing tobacco production in India

27 Nov, 15 | by BMJ

India is the third largest tobacco producer and exporter of tobacco globally. Flue Cured Virginia (FCV) tobacco, which is used in the manufacturing of cigarettes, is one of the main varieties of tobacco grown in the country. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are the largest FCV tobacco growing regions. Fifty percent of FCV that is grown is utilized domestically with the rest exported to various countries across the world. FCV that is grown is promoted, marketed, and regulated by the Tobacco Board which was set up under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) who also organize the sale of FCV tobacco through an auction platform in these states. more…

Meena P: A lack of resources for community health nursing in India

25 Nov, 15 | by BMJ

meena_pWith a shortage of doctors, it is the nurses and other allied health professionals who run the show in many of the primary healthcare settings in India. Nurses make up a major proportion of the health workforce. In this context we need more and more nurses who are capable of addressing the diverse healthcare needs of society. There is a shift from hospital based curative care to community based preventive and rehabilitative care, and a greater focus on giving people control over their health. Therefore, we need nurses who are equipped with specialized knowledge and skills in public health to work in community healthcare settings. more…

Bheemaray Manganavar: Managing hypertension and diabetes in resource poor settings

5 Nov, 15 | by BMJ

Bheemaray Manganavar_2015According to the Diabetes Atlas 2006, the number of people with diabetes in India is currently around 40.9 million and is expected to rise to 69.9 million by 2025. Similarly, 118 million people were estimated to have high blood pressure in the year 2000, which is expected to go up to 213 million in 2025.

To address this situation, the Indian government launched the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke (NPCDCS). The programme was piloted in 100 districts (of the 646 districts in India) during 2010-12. more…

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