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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Global threat: 60% of deaths caused by chronic diseases

New Delhi: Three out of every five deaths in 2008 were caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. What's worse, deaths caused by these diseases are expected to increase by 15% in the next decade — from 36 million in 2008 to 44 million in 2020. In 2030, it will cross the 50 million mark.
    The region projected to have the greatest total number of NCD deaths in 2020 is South-East Asia — 10.4 million deaths. These stats are bound to bother India since 80% of these deaths occurred and will occur in low and middle income countries, according to the first global status report on NCDs launched on Wednesday by the World Health Organization.

    Calling it "an impending disaster for many countries — a disaster for health, for society and national economies", WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said "Chronic NCDs deliver a two-punch blow to development. They cause billions of dollars in losses of national income, and they push millions of people below the poverty line, each and every year."
    According to the report, of the 57 million global deaths in 2008, 36 million, or 63%, were due to NCDs. Each year, NCDs are estimated to cause more than 9 million deaths before the age of 60 years. Over 80% of cardiovascular and diabetes deaths, almost 90% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and more than two thirds of all
cancer deaths occur in lowand middle-income countries.
    NCDs also kill at a younger age in countries like India where 29% of NCD deaths occur among people under the
age of 60, compared to 13% in high-income countries.
    CVDs, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes account for around 80% of all NCD deaths, and share four common risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and poor diets.
    Dr Ala Alwan, WHO's assistant director-general for NCDs said "about 30% of people dying from NCDs are aged under 60 years and are in their most productive period of life.
These premature deaths are largely preventable."
    "Poverty contributes to NCDs and NCDs contribute to poverty. Around 29 million of the overall deaths in 2008 were due to NCDs in low and middle income countries, dispelling the myth that such conditions are mainly a problem of affluent societies. Without action, the NCD epidemic is projected to kill 52 million people annually by 2030," Dr Alwan added.

Killers On The Prowl

Tobacco | 6m die from tobacco use each year. By 2020, this number will increase to 7.5m, accounting for 10% of all deaths. Smoking causes 71% cases of lung cancer, 42% of chronic respiratory disease and 10% of cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases |
Account for most NCD deaths, or 17m people annually, followed by cancer (7.6m), respiratory disease (4.2m), and diabetes (1.3m)

Physical activity |
Approximately 3.2m people die each year due to physical inactivity. People who are insufficiently physically active have a 30% increased risk of all-cause mortality

Alcohol | 2.5m die each year from use of alcohol, accounting for 3.8% of all deaths in the world. More than half of these deaths occur from NCDs including cancers, cardiovascular disease and liver cirrhosis

Blood pressure |
Raised blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.5m deaths, about 12.8% of all deaths

Diet | Adequate consumption of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk for cardiovascular diseases, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer. Most populations consume much higher levels of salt than recommended by WHO

Overweight and obesity | At least 2.8m people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Risks of heart disease, strokes and diabetes increase steadily with increasing body mass index (BMI)

Cholesterol |
Raised cholesterol causes 2.6m deaths annually

Cancer-associated infections | 2m cancer cases per year, 18% of the global cancer burden, are attributable to a few specific chronic infections


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Of 1.38L Positive Cases In Maharashtra In 2010-11, Nearly 55% Came From The City

Mumbai's ignominious reputation as the state's malaria capital got cemented further as new figures revealed that the city registered nearly 55% of Maharashtra's 1.38 lakh positive cases in 2010-11, pushing it into the league of the country's worst affected states.
    Nearly 80,000 cases in Greater Mumbai tested positive for malaria between April 2010 and March 2011, according to statistics recently compiled by the Maharashtra government. This was roughly six times the number recorded in secondworst Gadchiroli.

    Many cite a better reporting system as the cause of the steady surge in Mumbai's malaria cases. While there were 27,417 positive instances in 2008-09, it rose to 48,341 by 2009-2010. Between April 2010 and February this year, over 13 lakh samples had been examined here for malaria, of which 75,860—or 5.5%—tested positive.
    In the last three months alone, according to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the city recorded over 12,000 malaria cases and eight deaths.
    The surge has been the single biggest factor in making Maharashtra the country's fourth worst malaria-afflicted state behind Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Ex
perts blame unplanned expansion for the problem in Maharashtra, where positive cases rose from 56,852 in 2006-07 to 1.38 lakh in 2010-11.
    The picture looks direr when fatalities are considered. Malaria claimed 190 lives in Maharashtra in 2010, which was only marginally less than the 214 recorded deaths in worst ranked Orissa. Here too, Mumbai played a major role. Of the 190 deaths, 129 occurred in the city.
    Dr Ashish Dhariwal, the director of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), said that Mumbai has become a bigger cause for concern than Gadchiroli and Raigad, which have reported several cases of resistance to basic malarial drugs.
    "Construction work has played havoc with Mumbai's malaria scenario. We have asked the state and the civic corporation to work together," Dhariwal said.
    A three-member team
from the NVBDCP recently visited Mumbai to study the BMC's preparation for the rains this year. The centre has promised to help the civic body by giving it grantin-aid and commodity assistance. "We will help them procure insecticides and mosquito nets laced with insecticides besides making our experts available to them," said Dhariwal.
    The corporation, however, sounded sceptical of Dhariwal's claims. A source in the BMC said that the centre used to help procure insecticides and provide medicines for malaria treatment, "all those grants stopped three years ago".
    BMC's executive health officer Dr G T Ambe too said that the corporation was on its own. "Most of the expenses on procurement of oil, mosquito nets and drugs are borne by the corporation, though we do get technical know-how from NVBDCP," Ambe said.

Deadly strain losing sting over time

Mumbai: The gradual decline in cases of plasmodium falciparum malaria, considered the deadliest strain of the disease, in Mumbai has confounded many experts, particularly because the strain is taking an increasing toll in the rest of the country.
    Comparative figures compiled by the state's public health department show that the percentage of p falciparum cases among all malaria numbers dropped in Mumbai from 20.20% in 2007-08 to 19.57% in '08-09. After a brief rise in '09-10 to 21.10%, the share again fell to 16.3% in '10-11.
    Experts call the decline insignificant, the more so because p vivax malaria, which was rarely known to kill, has been become deadlier in the city.
    Meanwhile, according to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme
(NVBDCP), p falciparum numbers have gradually increased in India from 39% in 1995 to 52.12% in 2010, showing the parasite's new dominance.
    "This only means that p vivax, which is widely seen in Asian countries, is no longer the dominant strain in parts of India. Instead, it is p falciparum. This could probably explain why the number of reported malaria deaths in India has been more than 1,000 a year," said
Dr R S Sharma, an urban malaria expert at NVBDCP. He added that Mumbai was "fortunate" to have low falciparum incidence.
    "Once p falciparum cases come down further, it should not be very difficult to curb deaths in Mumbai," said Sharma, who was a part of the special team that recently visited the city to study the BMC's preparations for the monsoon. He explained that incomplete treatment and resistance to basic malarial drugs, which has never been found in Mumbai, are contributing to the rise in falciparum cases across parts of India.
    Dr Khusrav Bhajan, a critical care intensivist at P D Hinduja Hospital, said that a fall in falciparum cases might not be of much relevance since p vivax is gaining in potency. "Vivax is more or less behaving like falciparum. This transition has happened over the last few years."

Monday, April 18, 2011

First aid kits, attendants on all school buses from now

State issues a comprehensive must-have list for school buses; autorickshaws cannot carry more than four students

First aid kits, fire extinguishers, a speed limit of 40 kmph... these are some of the rules that will make your child's school bus ride a lot safe beginning the academic season in June. It took the State two years to finalise the guidelines for school buses.
    Issued recently, the guidelines say all school buses should be painted yellow. The buses should not be older than eight years, and 15 years for those running on CNG. Regular checks will ensure the drivers carry vehicle permission documents, safety and no-pollution certificates and firefighting equipment.
    The State had promised guidelines for school vehicles after five children died and 21 others were injured when a school bus caught fire in Airoli, Navi Mumbai in 2009. Investigations revealed the vehicle flouted many norms, and a fuel leak sparked the fire. The vehicle owner, driver and an attendant were booked for negligence.

    The State has now ruled that school buses must have details of students using the service, their address and contact numbers, and blood group details. Drivers should have at least five years of experience handling heavy vehicles, and all buses should have on board a male and a female attendant.
    To ensure students are not troubled while getting off the vehicles, the State has directed the Regional
Transport Authority (RTA) to provide school buses parking lots and stoppages in consultation with the schools. Drivers failing to park at designated spots will be penalised, and children in kindergarten will be taken back to the playgroup if their guardians fail to pick them up at the stop.
    Regarding vehicle specifications, all buses should be made of steel. The front and rear mirrors are a must along with hand rails along the steps, and overhead containers to keep the bags. Vehicles will be fitted with speed and sound monitoring devices.
    A district-level committee headed by the Police Commissioner and aided by a civic official not below the rank of deputy commissioner, a general manager of the city transport unit, and a deputy RTO will ensure buses follow the norms.
    Every school will have a committee as well, headed by the principal, a representative from the parentsteachers association, a policeman from the area, an RTO inspector, a civic body official and a representative of the vehicle owner will interact with the State-appointed panel to make the home-school-home commute smoother.
    Autorickshaws ferrying children to schools are not banned, but they cannot carry more than four students, the State ruled.

» Carry first aid kits » Have at least two fire extinguishers » Be painted yellow » Be less than eight years old, and 15 in case of those running on CNG » Carry documents, including safety and no-pollution certificates » Have details of students including their address and contact numbers, and blood group details » Drivers should have at least five years of experience handling heavy vehicles » All buses should have on board a male and a female attendant » Not travel above 40 kmph » Have Overhead containers for bags

A school bus that had caught fire on Aug 20, 2009 on the Sion-Panvel highway


Sunday, April 10, 2011

No more fire dept nod to glass facade buildings

The silvery-hazy buildings with square-mirrored façades are on the fire department's radar. The Mumbai Fire Brigade has said it will not give the fire safety nod to upcoming glass façade buildings. The department plans to include this condition in the revised Fire Act as such buildings pose a huge safety risk and difficulty in fighting a fire in such buildings.
    On Friday afternoon, a fire broke out in a six-storeyed glass façade building in Kalina. The firemen said it was difficult to fight the blaze due to the building's mural structure as smoke clouded the interior in the absence of any blowers.
    "We have been raising this issue but environmentalists have supported it saying such buildings are environment-friendly as they allowed natural light to steam into the building," said Chief Fire Officer Uday Tatkare. "Such buildings have no outlet for smoke to filter out. People trapped inside suffocate and such situations cause a stampede as emer
gency exit signage is not visible."
    During last week's blaze, firemen were left with the sole option of breaking down the toughened glass exterior, resulting in loss of time.
    As per norms, if a building with glass façade needs to have foolproof fire resistant system. This comprises
water drenchers at every 10 mt of height.
    "The drenchers create water curtains if the sensors detect fire or smoke," said a senior fire official.
    Fire officials say that developers claim that these buildings are equipped with modern fire-fighting systems but they lack outlets for smoke. "Very few buildings sport a system to exhaust smoke automatically," said the official.
Sandeep Goswami, energy efficient building design and renewable energy consultant said that most glass facade buildings must be designed correctly to suit environmental factors and there should be judicious use of glass.
    Presently very few buildings have been designed correctly, so they are doing more damage to the environment in the form of heat island effect, bird hits and bad indoor air quality.
    "Since India is a hot country, naturally glass boxes would heat up more and thus require more energy to air-condition the building," said Goswami.

The Diamond Square building, with a glass facade, on University Road at Kalina caught fire on Friday

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Over 40,000 pledge support on Facebook

NEW DELHI: The public movement against corruption initiated by Gandhian leader Anna Hazare has become a rage among netizens. The Facebook page created by the group has registered over 40,000 followers in one day, while more than seven lakh people from across the country have pledged support to the cause through mobile phone registration. According to activist Arvind Kejriwal, a leading campaigner for the movement against corruption, the response from youngsters in particular is enormous.

"The social media is abuzz with our movement against corruption. Thousands of people from across the country are contacting us through Facebook and Twitter. In at least 400 cities, youngsters are continuously joining in to help us with the logistics ," said Kejriwal. He said on Wednesday, students from several Delhi colleges and universities among others joined the agitation. "In the US, Australia and several other countries, Indians are joining in, to support the public movement against corruption ," Kejriwal added.

On the Facebook page, minute by minute updates on Anna's messages, support to the cause from different sections of the society and government's response to the same are posted. "It is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of India - a freedom struggle for freedom from corruption," posted one Asha Singh on Facebook.

Anna Hazare told Times City that the positive response and active participation by so many youngsters is incredible. "It will help us make the country clean of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. When I see the young faces and go through the messages of support posted by them through different social networking sites and other communication media, it really heartens me. It fills me with more energy and enthusiasm to carry on the crusade against corruption," he said.

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan and cricketer Kapil Dev have also pledged support to the cause. Khan wrote to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, requesting him to agree to the legitimate demand of Anna. "I am one of over a billion citizens of this country, who is affected by and most concerned about corruption...I request you to pay heed to the voice of Anna Hazare in appreciation for what he is fighting for," reads the letter. The actor said he went through the Internet to read about the Jan Lokpal Bill and agrees with its recommendations.

Monday, April 4, 2011

‘Glaciers melting 100 times faster than at any time in 350 yrs’

London: The world's glaciers are melting up to 100 times faster than any time during the last 350 years.
    The findings, based on a study of Patagonia, South America,haveworrying implications for millions of people who rely on the slow moving bodies of ice for fresh water. The quantity of ice lost from the 270 Patagonian glaciers is equivalent to filling Windermere in the Lake district more than 1,700 times, the journal Nature Geoscience reports.
    The researchers,ledby Neil Glasser of Aberystwyth University, Britain, analysed the rocky debris left by glaciers on the sides of mountains to work
out how big they once were — and how much ice has vanished, according to the Daily Mail. Since the Little Ice Age ended in Patagonia in the middle of the17thcentury,the270 glaciersthat nowcover an area of at least 0.4 square miles have lost 145 cubic miles of ice.
    Because water is denser than ice, that is equivalent to
about 130 cubic miles of water. "The glaciershavelost a lotless ice up until 30 years ago than had been thought," said Glasser. "The real killer is that in the last 30 years the rate of loss has gone up 100 times abovethe long term average.It'sscary."
    The professor said the South American glaciers were at a similar latitude in
thesouthernhemisphere asthe Alps are in the northern hemisphere. Glaciers everywhere in the world are retreating and couldbelosing ice more quickly than many experts realise. IANS



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