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Saturday, March 31, 2012


There have been cases of swine flu in Mumbai and Pune recently, but fret not. We suggest a few simple precautionary measures that can help you keep germs at bay

Quite similar to the seasonal flu that we're so familiar with, swine flu spreads fast and swiftly by touch. Swine flu or A/ H1N1 is a new strain of flu virus, a disease with symptoms identical to the seasonal flu. If you handle a person infected with swine flu, there's a high chance of acquiring the virus unless you properly sanitize your hands. 
    Children, who tend to touch their eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands frequently, are at huge risk of contracting the virus. One of the best ways of protecting oneself from infection is by washing hands regularly with soap and water or using a sanitizer to eliminate the chance of contracting infections transmitted through contact. 
Swine flu spreads in humans through similar routes of a seasonal flu virus. Like, if an infected person coughs or sneezes and virus-carrying droplets fly into the air and infect others through the eyes, nose or mouth. Or if an infected person sneezes in cupped palms but doesn't wash hands afterwards, they would start spreading the virus to surfaces and people they go on to touch. Or, if someone touches a contaminated surface (like a doorknob an elevator button or bus-door handle) and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth. Once the swine flu virus is on your child's hands, they may accidentally 
spread it to other people, objects and surfaces by being an innocuous carrier even if they don't get sick themselves. 
On of the most simple ways to avoid contracting swine flu is by exercising basic hygiene. For starters, advise your child to cover their mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing with a clean tissue and throw the tissue safely in the bin. If they don't have a tissue, instruct them to use their hands but wash them thoroughly with soap straight away, especially after being in crowded public places and around food; wash their hands well with plenty of soap and dry them with a clean towel; clean their hands when contaminated; don't let them touch their eyes, nose and mouth; don't let them shake hands or get too close to someone who seems unwell. If they feel ill, ensure that they stay at home and call your doctor for advice. 
Organisations like the Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation strongly recommend people, especially children, wash their hands with soap and water thoroughly or disinfect for at least 20 seconds to help prevent infection from swine flu. To protect against direct contact (for example, shaking hands with an infected person who 
has touched his/her mouth or nose) and indirect contact (for example, touching a doorknob handled by an infected person) with the flu virus, washing hands regularly with soap and water can help. 
An infected child could land up being contagious for a day before feeling sick and upto seven days later. Mothers need to instruct their children to disinfect their hands with soap and water or by a sanitizer after returning from school as being out in crowded public places, shaking hands with people exhibiting flu-like symptoms, coughing or sneezing, handling animals and going to the toilet can be harmful. Also, mothers need to exercise the same caution before preparing, serving or eating food, especially meat. 
The risk of contracting a disease, especially swine flu at this point of time, is heightened when children come in contact with people and objects outside their home. 
    In situations where there may be no access to water and soap when we need it the most, it's important to carry and use an effective hand sanitizer proven to protect from swine flu. 
    The Lifebuoy Hand Sanitizer effectively disrupts bacteria's cell membrane and virus' outer coat, thereby killing bacteria and inactivating viruses on your child's infected hands. 
    It has also been proven to instantly kill 99.99 per cent germs without water and soap 
    And, it has been proven to kill H1N1 virus 
As a mother, one is really worried about their child picking up swine flu from school and outdoor spaces.What are the best measures to prevent swine flu? To put to rest this dilemma that most mothers face, experts advise that keeping your children indoors is not recommended. It is important to remember that 
although not trivial, the swine influenza symptoms are generally mild, (although the infection can be severe in a small minority of cases). Most children recover fully a few days after contracting the disease. For these reasons, experts recommend the mother and the child continue with their normal daily activities, unless they develop symptoms of flu. 
    But many mothers may resort to antibiotics. Is this the right solution? Experts say that antibiotics are drugs which can only be used to treat bacterial infections and have no effect on viral infections like influenza. Antibiotics should not be used to prevent infection. 
    There are a number of things you can do in your everyday life to reduce the risks of spreading the flu virus within your family including avoiding contact with anyone that becomes infected, disposing of tissues immediately and washing your hands often with handwash and water (or use an alcohol gel sanitizer 
if you are in a location without access to soap and water) to help protect you and your family from invisible germs. 
    Therefore, it is vital to maintain cleanliness at all times and practicing proper hand hygiene is the easiest way to help reduce such infections.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Save up to 20% on power bills this summer Use High Power Consuming Gadgets Early Morning Or Late In The Evening

 You can save up to 20% on monthly bills if you use certain high power-consuming gadgets late in the evening and early morning, or minimize their use during summer, power experts have said. The advice has come ahead of Earth Hour, when citizens switch off lights on March 31 this year between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm to save power and reduce eco-hazardous carbon emissions. 
A power expert closely associated with the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (Merc) said in the preferential tariff system, burning of lower number of units can lead to lower bills. "Offices and corporates should take collective decisions. If corporates go in for storage devices for ACs, which can generate cool air at night and use it throughout the next day, and similarly if public 
    bodies like the BMC and housing societies shift the time for use of water pumps from day to late night, there will be a major relief in terms of money and environment," he said. 
Air-conditioners should be used less during peak hours and should not be set below 26 degrees Celsius 
TV sets, music systems, computers and mobile or laptop chargers should not be used much during peak hours and switched off from the mains after use 
Water pumps, mixers and grinders should be used late at night, which can help prepare for next day's routine 
Use staircases, as single use of lift for up/down movement can save power that can light up 150 bulbs for almost an hour At commercial places, ACs which can store cool air by generating it early in the day and later release it throughout the afternoon, will be highly beneficial 
Water heaters or geysers should be avoided during peak hours by minimizing the use of hot water to negligible levels 
Washing machines can be used late at night, as with ironing of clothes

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The American Red Cross and Edison International Launch Safety and Emergency Preparedness Partnership

EIX Donates $1.5 Million toward Three-Year Prepare SoCal Campaign

LOS ANGELES & ROSEMEAD, Calif., Mar 29, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The American Red Cross and Edison International EIX +0.19%  today launched Prepare SoCal, a three-year public awareness campaign to help individuals and communities prepare for life-threatening disasters.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles CEO Paul Schulz, actress and Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet member Jamie Lee Curtis, and Edison International's Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Janet Clayton joined in announcing the partnership. Every $1 invested in preparedness saves more than $4 in post-disaster response costs. Most Southern Californians acknowledge being unprepared for emergencies.

Founding partner Edison International's $1.5 million contribution will enable Prepare SoCal to train up to 250,000 volunteers in first aid and CPR, along with 70,000 general volunteers to serve in American Red Cross shelters. Project goals include creating spaces in shelters to serve a half-million people and gearing up to serve 4 million meals a day. Among these trained American Red Cross volunteers would be hundreds of employees of Edison International and its subsidiaries, Southern California Edison and Edison Mission Group.

"We are grateful to Edison International for this essential support for preparedness, the most critical step in a community's ability to recover from a disaster," said Schulz. "With support from many individuals, organizations, businesses and government agencies, the goal of Prepare SoCal is to create more resilient communities that are better-equipped to help each other prevent, prepare for and respond to life-threatening disasters."

Edison International's gift came from shareholder funds and is not reflected in customer rates. In partnership with several local and regional California chapters of the American Red Cross, the company is sponsoring public preparedness training sessions and is distributing preparedness kits at dozens of community, school and public events. Programs and materials will be provided in several languages, with specific materials and events targeted at low-income and ethnic communities that traditionally are less prepared for emergencies.

"Our longtime collaboration with the American Red Cross is a complementary partnership that combines our respective resources, talents and deep concerns about keeping our communities safe," said Clayton, Edison International's senior vice president, corporate communications. "We don't have control over natural disasters, but we can control our response to them and we can always be prepared."

Prepare SoCal includes a multimedia public education campaign, the www.preparesocal.org website and social media outreach. Add @PrepareSoCal to your Twitter feed, and like www.facebook.com/preparesocal on Facebook for news and crucial safety information.

About Edison International's Community Investment Program

Edison International EIX +0.19%  , through its subsidiaries, is a generator and distributor of electric power and an investor in infrastructure and energy assets, including renewable energy. Headquartered in Rosemead, Calif., Edison International is the parent company of Southern California Edison, one of the nation's largest electric utilities, and Edison Mission Group, a competitive power generation business.

Edison International brings its 126-year reputation for stewardship and integrity to its Community Investment program, comprising corporate and employee philanthropy of nearly $20 million annually, along with scholarships, matching gifts and employee volunteerism.

About American Red Cross Los Angeles Region

A volunteer-led humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Serving more than 85 cities in the Los Angeles region, the Red Cross provides relief for victims of house and apartment fires, earthquakes, floods, hazardous material spills, transportation accidents, explosions and other natural or man-made disasters -- 24 hours a day. Last year, the chapter trained more than 150,000 people in vital life-saving skills, including CPR and first aid. For more information, please visit www.RedCrossLA.org .

SOURCE: Edison International

Army chief fires another letter salvo Forwards TMC MP Missive To CBI For Probe On Lt Gen Suhag

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will seek the defence ministry's nod to probe Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who is alleged to have been involved in corruption as the head of the Special Frontier Force (SFF), officials said here on Thursday. CBI sources also said "we have asked Cabinet the secretariat to give details of probe, if conducted" in the matter. 
    The CBI is examining a letter written by Trinamool MP Ambica Banerjee, alleging corruption by Lt Gen Suhag in procurements for the SFF, officials said. The MP's written complaint was forwarded to the CBI by army chief Gen V K Singh, along with a covering letter, seeking a probe into the allegations. 
    Banerjee's allegations, made last May, pertain to the period when Lt Gen Suhag was the SFF's inspector general. He currently commands the Dimapur-based 3 Corps and is in line, after Lt Gen Bikram Singh, to be the army chief. 
    Banerjee has alleged that kickbacks were paid in the deals relating to supply of crucial equipment for SFF, ranging from night vision devices and communication systems to parachutes, sources said. The MP has named a number of senior army officers who have allegedly received kickbacks in these deals, they claimed. CBI sources said the agency will also write to the MoD as the matter relates to procurements for SFF, a secret force working with the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), India's external intelligence agency that falls under the Cabinet secretariat. SFF is also known as 'Establishment-22' and was raised after 1962. 
    Meanwhile, CBI officials on Thursday said they have been unsuccessfully trying to contact Gen V K Singh for the past 2-3 days. The agency is likely to talk to Gen Singh about Banerjee's letter on Friday, when it takes a formal complaint from him on the Rs 14 crore bribery allegations in the Tatra truck purchase. Sources told TOI it will register a case by this weekend after taking a formal complaint from Gen Singh.

The CBI may now probe Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag after the army chief forwarded Trinamool MP Ambica Banerjee's letter alleging that the Lt Gen, as the head of the Special Frontier Force, was involved in a procurement scam

AN ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN? A manhole near the JJ flyover has been lying open for the past two days

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

25% cancer deaths in Maha, UP

Of 5.35L Fatalities In 2011, State Accounted For 50,989

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra together accounted for 25% of all cancer deaths in India past year. 
    Delhi recorded lowest cancer mortalities — less than 9,000. West Bengal recorded the fourth highest cancer deaths (40,199), followed by Tamil Nadu (39,127). India recorded over half a million deaths due to cancer in 2011 — 5.35 lakh as against 5.14 lakh (2009) and 5.24 lakh (2010). UP recorded 89,224 deaths due to cancer, while Maharashtra saw 50,989 fatalities. 
    Bihar reported 43,864 cancer deaths. Similarly, Andhra Pradesh saw 37,144 deaths, Rajasthan (30,976), Madhya Pradesh (27,214) and Gujarat (26,588). 
    The Union health ministry says there are 28 lakh cancer cases at any given point of time in India, with 10 lakh new cases being reported annually. World Health Organization says, the estimated cancer deaths in India are projected to increase to seven lakh by 2015. 
    Cancers account for 14% of the overall non-communicable diseases (NCDs) mortality in India. Also, they account for about of 3.3% of the disease burden in the country, and about 9% of all deaths. 
    "Cancer has become one of the 10 leading causes of death in India. Around 40% of cancer cases are due to tobacco use," said a Planning Commission paper for the 12th Five Year Plan on NCDs. 
    Over 70% of cancer cases in India are diagnosed during the advanced stages of the disease, resulting in poor survival and high mortality rates. Cancer is curable if detected early. The results of treatment in stage I and II (early stage) are about 80%. 
India recorded 5.35 lakh cancer deaths in 2011 Bihar recorded the third highest deaths (43,864) followed by West Bengal (40,199) & TN (39,127) Union health ministry says there are 28 lakh cancer cases at any given point of time in India 
10 lakh new cases being reported annually across the country 
WHO says the estimated cancer deaths in India are projected to increase to 7 lakh by 2015 
Over 70% of cancer cases in India are diagnosed at the advanced stage of the disease

H1N1 infects three more in city

Five Cases Reported So Far, Three From Single Family In Mulund
The BMC on Tuesday reported three new swine flu cases. The H1N1 influenza virus has resurfaced in the city after almost a year, infecting five people so far this time around; three of the patients are from one family in Mulund. 
    The new patients, who, according to the BMC, tested positive for H1N1 last week, are a man aged 57 from Bandra, one aged 53 from Elphinstone Road and a man aged 37, who is a member of the Mulund family. The earlier patients are the 37-yearold man's son aged six and mother aged 57. 
    The family has no recent travel history, indicating that the three members contacted the virus in the city. After the family's case was reported, the BMC screened around 150 families in Mulund for H1N1 symptoms. But no more positive cases were found, said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar. 
    The Bandra and Elphinstone Road men, who are friends, have a travel history involving Alibaug. The civic body's executive health officer Dr Anil Bandivadekar said all patients were stable. "They have been put on antiviral drugs and are responding well." 
    A worrying observation by the BMC is that the Mulund man and his mother's cases are asymptomatic, meaning they did not show any classic symptoms of the infection. The infection in them was detected when the man insisted on getting tested. "But this is not surprising," said Dr Abhay Chaudhary, director, Haffkine Research Institute. "H1N1 is more like a seasonal flu now. The more we test people, the more positive cases 
would come. But they 
may be having subclinical infection and not suffering from it." 
    Super Religare Laboratories (SRL), one of the labs accredited to carry out H1N1 testing, has found H1N1 to be the predominant influenza virus in circulation. Out of the 39 samples tested for influenza in the city, five have tested for H1N1 and only one for influenza type A. (Influenza virus types A and B are commonly in circulation and regarded seasonal. H1N1 is a subtype of type A.) In Pune, in a sample size of 325, 68 tested positive for H1N1 and 32 for influenza type A. In light of the fresh cases in Mumbai, surveillance has been intensified, said Mhaiskar. "All hospital outpatient departments and dispensaries have been told to be vigilant." 
She said private laboratories have been told to intimate the civic body about all positive cases they detect. Apparently, the state's epidemiology cell was in the dark about the new cases in Mumbai till they were reported in the media. Bandivadekar, however, said that since the patients were not in a 'serious condition', intimation was not the priority. 
    Meanwhile, Mhaiskar said there was nothing to panic about. But Haffkine's Chaudhary suggested vaccination f o r h e a l t h - c a re wo rke r s as their immune systems might not be geared for viral attacks. WHO SHOULD GO FOR TESTING? 
Category C patients 
SYMPTOMS | Mild fever (below 100°F), cough, throat irritation, body ache, headache, diarrhoea and vomiting 
SWAB COLLECTION | Not recommended 
TREATMENT | Regular drugs. No oseltamivir (anti-viral drug marketed under the trade name Tamiflu). Reassessment of patient after 24 hours 
Category B patients 
SYMPTOMS | Category C symptoms, high fever (above 100°F), severe sore throat, running nose, etc 
SWAB COLLECTION | Only of patients with associated illnesses (comorbid conditions) like diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, etc 
TREATMENT | Oseltamivir 
Category A patients 
SYMPTOMS | High fever, runny nose, breathlessness, chest pain, haemoptysis (coughing blood), hypotension (low BP), bluish discolouration of nails, irritation and drowsiness in children 
SWAB COLLECTION | All patients 
TREATMENT | Oseltamivir

Monday, March 26, 2012

State has only 36 inspectors FOR 86,000 ELEVATORS

Rights Activists Say Law Governing Lifts In Maharashtra Needs Update To Fix Responsibility For Accidents

The lift mishap that occurred in Goregaon (West) on Sunday, injuring 10 people, has once again brought the spotlight on safety concerns over elevators in the city and the state. Given that the public works department (PWD) has only 36 inspectors for over 86,000 lifts in Maharashtra, experts cite the lack of regular inspection as the main reason for frequent elevator accidents. 
    Activists feel the Bombay Lift Act, 1939 and the Bombay Lift Rules, 1958 governing elevators are obsolete. Activist Mohammed Afzal, along with others, filed a PIL in 2010 on the inadequate number of PWD inspectors and on the need to prevent accidents. The PIL said there were 86,154 lifts in the state as of 2010 and about 5,000 were added every year. 
    Last year, the Bombay high court asked the PWD to display the number of lifts inspected every six months on its website from April 1, 2012 and quarterly inspection figures from 2013. An affidavit filed by S T Valekar, chief engineer (electrical), PWD, stated that in 2010 there were 16 inspectors in the department, who were required to carry out 157,100 inspections a year. Each inspector was, therefore, expected to carry out 9,818 inspections. The affidavit stated that the strength of the department had been increased to 36 as against a sanctioned strength of 62. 
    "Therefore, lifts remain uninspected and accidents happen at regular intervals, resulting in physical injuries, sometimes grievous and sometimes fatal," said Afzal. 
    The problem, according to activists, lies in the fact that it is not possible to fix responsibility in the case of a mishap. According to them, the state must update the law regulating the construction, installation, maintenance and safe operation of lifts. 
    "The managing committee of the housing society/office complex concerned and the lift maintenance contractor get away by blaming each other. The terribly short-staffed and poorly trained lifts department of the PWD is unable to cope with the situation," Afzal said. "Most lift inspections are only on paper." 
    After the PIL was filed, the state set up a committee of experts on lift safety. The committee's main recommendation was to outsource inspection, which faced stiff opposition from the lifts department. 

Usually, a sixpassenger lift is supported by three 13-mm cables. If the capacity of the lift is greater, either the number of cables or their strength is more

On an average, the speed of a lift is 0.64 metres per second

A lift is usually supported by an 8-mm speed governor cable in the shaft. One of the pulleys of this cable is in the lift machine room and the other in the ground floor pit

In case one or all three cables snap, the governor rope is adjusted in a way that the speed is brought under control. A metal jaw guide catches hold of the rail and the lift comes to an immediate halt

After the lift stops, often in the middle of two floors, the pulley needs to be manually released from the machine room and the lift rescued

1. Ten people in an elevator are headed for a housewarming party on the seventh floor of Chamunda Towers, Goregaon (West). The time is around 1pm on Sunday 2. As the elevator reaches the fifth floor, its occupants hear a loud noise 3. The next moment the lift starts a free fall down the shaft. The fall is probably arrested by springs at the base of the shaft, but the impact is enough to give the elevator's occupants stress or compression fractures. These fractures are caused when bodies hit the ground at high speed, causing bones, especially leg and spinal, to come under severe stress 4. The police have said the lift could have crashed because of overloading. A conclusive report by the public works department is awaited

Sunday, March 25, 2012

‘First 1000 steps’ march gains support

Konkana Sen Sharma flags off The Times of India and Nestlé initiative

There has been a profound change in Konkana Sen Sharma's life since she became a mother about a year back. Obviously, now her life revolves around little Haroon, but most importantly she has got educated about the mother and child's nutrition and diet plan. No wonder the dusky actress decided to participate in the campaign aiming to highlight the importance of nutrition during the critical window of 1000 days — from the time of conception till the baby is two-years-old. 
    The 'first 1000 days' — a joint initiative of The Times of India and Nestlé kicked off on March 21, and further, on March 24, many Mumbaikars joined hands to participate in the march. Konkana — the face of the campaign — flagged off the march on Saturday (March 24) morning from the NCPA to the Air India building at Nariman Point. Other celebrities who extended their support included, Member of Parliament Priya Dutt, filmmaker Amole Gupte, actors Tara Sharma 
and Parvin Dabas, and Minister for Health and Family Welfare Suresh Shetty. 
    "Earlier I had no idea nor was I interested, but now I am concerned if Haroon has had curd, is he having enough milk, chicken? Now I know how long-reaching the effects of nutrition are in the first two years of a child's life which is why I thought it was a great cause and was happy to participate in this initiative," said Konkana. 
    The malnutrition issue will soon be taken up to the national level, assured Priya Dutt. "Awareness is a must. Not only the rural areas, a huge percentage of children living in urban centres are also malnourished. A recent UNICEF report says that 60 per cent of the one lakh children living in the slums in urban areas lack essential nutrients which is alarming," said Priya. "Realisation seems to have dawned on people. It is not just idle talk. The issue will certainly go down to the grassroot level. We have to see to it that nutrition begins with the mother and ends with the child," summed up filmmaker Amole Gupte.

Konkana Sen Sharma flags off the 'first 1000 steps' march. Others who were present: (left to right) Minister for Health and Family Welfare Suresh Shetty, MP Priya Dutt, actors Tara Sharma and Parvin Dabas, and filmmaker Amole Gupte

'First 1000 steps' march gains support
Konkana Sen Sharma flags off The Times of India and Nestlé initiative
Seema Sinha 

There has been a profound change in Konkana Sen Sharma's life since she became a mother about a year back. Obviously, now her life revolves around little Haroon, but most importantly she has got educated about the mother and child's nutrition and diet plan. No wonder the dusky actress decided to participate in the campaign aiming to highlight the importance of nutrition during the critical window of 1000 days — from the time of conception till the baby is two-years-old. 
    The 'first 1000 days' — a joint initiative of The Times of India and Nestlé kicked off on March 21, and further, on March 24, many Mumbaikars joined hands to participate in the march. Konkana — the face of the campaign — flagged off the march on Saturday (March 24) morning from the NCPA to the Air India building at Nariman Point. Other celebrities who extended their support included, Member of Parliament Priya Dutt, filmmaker Amole Gupte, actors Tara Sharma 
and Parvin Dabas, and Minister for Health and Family Welfare Suresh Shetty. 
    "Earlier I had no idea nor was I interested, but now I am concerned if Haroon has had curd, is he having enough milk, chicken? Now I know how long-reaching the effects of nutrition are in the first two years of a child's life which is why I thought it was a great cause and was happy to participate in this initiative," said Konkana. 
    The malnutrition issue will soon be taken up to the national level, assured Priya Dutt. "Awareness is a must. Not only the rural areas, a huge percentage of children living in urban centres are also malnourished. A recent UNICEF report says that 60 per cent of the one lakh children living in the slums in urban areas lack essential nutrients which is alarming," said Priya. "Realisation seems to have dawned on people. It is not just idle talk. The issue will certainly go down to the grassroot level. We have to see to it that nutrition begins with the mother and ends with the child," summed up filmmaker Amole Gupte.

Konkana Sen Sharma flags off the 'first 1000 steps' march. Others who were present: (left to right) Minister for Health and Family Welfare Suresh Shetty, MP Priya Dutt, actors Tara Sharma and Parvin Dabas, and filmmaker Amole Gupte

10 injured as lift crashes Cops Suspect Elevator Gave Way Due To Overloading

Mumbai: Ten people escaped with minor injuries after an elevator in a residential building in Goregaon came crashing down from the fifth to the ground floor, apparently due to overloading. 
    The incident occurred at the new Chamunda Towers in Goregaon (West) around 1pm on Sunday. Most of the victims had gone to attend a housewarming party on the seventh floor. One of the guests, Darshan Gill, said they were headed for the seventh floor but as they reached the fifth floor, the lift suddenly went spiralling down. "We were going up when suddenly we heard a loud noise, as if something snapped. The next thing we knew was that the lift was speeding downwards," said Gill, who was with his two sons and a granddaughter. He have sustained three minor fractures. "Thankfully, my sons and grandchild escaped unhurt." 
    All the victims were taken to Surana Hospital in Malad where five were discharged after being administered first aid. The rest, who sustained minor fractures, have been hospitalized but would be discharged by Monday. Vice-president of the hospital Afzal Sheikh said, "The impact of the fall led to some suffering compression fractures." 
    BMC engineers visited the building for an inspection. The police said the lift could have crashed because of overloading though they were yet to draw a conclusion. "Quite a few people entered the lift on the ground floor. Some more people got in on the second floor. This seems to be one of the factors behind the fall," said a resident who was in the lift at the time of the incident. 
    "We are trying to verify the exact reason behind the crash. Engineers will conduct an inspection and send a report to us before we can come to a conclusion," said an officer from the Goregaon (West) police station.

CLOSE SHAVE: After the elevator in Chamunda Towers (left) in Goregaon collapsed, those in the lift sustained minor injuries

Friday, March 23, 2012

New form of TB gives docs sleepless nights

Mumbai: Fifteen-yearold Vina's diagnostic report looks dismal. The lab report shows that the tuberculosis (TB) bacillus in her lungs is sensitive only to two drugs and resistant to eight others. 

    "The world may debate whether to call her TB an extremely, extensively 
or a totally drug-resistant form but the fact is how does one treat a child with only two drugs?'' says Ghatkopar-based Dr Amol Manerkar, who is treating Vina. "For all practical 
purposes,'' he adds, "the child's disease is totally resistant to drugs.'' 
    In the last two months, Mumbai has gained in terms of government attention (a special TB progra
mme), money (the city's TB budget may increase 6 times) and infrastructure (new labs, machines), but the ground reality is grim, say doctors on World TB Day. 
WHO sticks to its stand 
The World Health Organization, in a special meeting in Geneva, said it was too early to dub the new, severely drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis as totally-drug resistant TB. P 6 
Another H1N1 case in city 
The the grandmother city's first H1 of N1 a case Mulund in nine boy, months, is also suffering from the flu. Meanwhile, a one-year-old became Pune's eighth victim in 10 days. P 2 
TB patients' woes worsen due to expensive drugs 
Victim Can Infect 10 Others In A Year: Docs 

Mumbai: Incidence of the new form of highly drug-resistant TB is growing across the city. Areas with a high population density-—such as Ghatkopar and Kurla—are particularly vulnerable. 
    Vina (name changed), who lives in Ramabai Colony in Ghatkopar (E), is only one of the three patients whom Dr Amol Manerkar diagnosed with severely drug-resistant TB in the Ghatkopar-Kurla belt in March. One of these new patients is only sensitive to 

one drug. TB is treated with a combination of drugs. "How can I ask this patient from a modest background to buy this one drug which is not only expensive but cannot guarantee a cure if taken alone,'' asks the doctor. 
    Mumbai's special TB programme had proposed that patients going to private doctors would also be able to access the government's free drugs. But private doctors say this partnership has not yet started. "I sent two of my patients who have severe drug resistance to government hospitals as they are too poor to afford to buy medicines privately. But they haven't been given any sec
ond-line drugs as the government is waiting to test them all over again,'' complains a doctor from Dadar. 
    In January, Hinduja Hospital had revealed that 12 of its patients had totally
drug-resistant TB (TDRTB). A central team visited Mumbai thereafter and said that it would be premature to label the cases as TDR-TB. However, the Union government gave the green signal for a pilot project in Mumbai to recognize each of the 24 civic wards as a TB district with special staff and infrastructure.
    The BMC has diagnosed 683 patients with drug-resistant TB. "As per our protocol, 347 of these patients are in category IV treatment and eight others in Category V treatment,'' says Dr Mini Khetrapal, who is Mumbai's first TB control officer. 
    She is hopeful. "We have increased the capacity in Sewri TB Hospital to treat drug-resistant TB from 44 to 90 beds. Within a couple of months, all these drug-resistant patients will be covered,'' she says, adding that medicines have already been given to all to ensure that their disease doesn't 
spread to others. 
    Soon, the BMC will kickstart an initiative of door-to-door surveillance in 10 wards that include Ghatkopar and Kurla. 
    "TB is a disease that spreads easily due to overcrowding. The government needs to strengthen its surveillance process to ensure that the disease doesn't spread,'' says a senior doctor at a south Mumbai hospital. 
    Dr Manerkar points out to hubs such as Thakar Baba colony in Kurla where people work in small, overcrowded shoemakingunits."If oneperson has drug-resistant TB, the airborne disease can spread to many others. After all, each TB patient can infect 10 others in a year,'' he says. 

In mid-90s, multidrug resistant TB was first reported In 2006, extensively drugs-resistant TB (XDR) emerged In 2008, two cases were reported from Italy that had resistance to both first and second-line treatments In 2009, 15 TB patients in Iran were reported to be resistant to all anti-TB drugs tested, prompting researchers to coin new terms "extremely drug resistant" (XXDR-TB) and "totally drugresistant TB" (TDR-TB). In January 2012, four patients in India were described as having "totally drug-resistant" tuberculosis. Media subsequently reported a further eight such cases. In March, WHO said insufficient evidence to use term TDR-TB As per WHO nomenclature, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is TB that is resistant to both of the main first line drugs, isoniazid and rifampicin WHO says extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is MDR-TB with additional resistance to any of the injectables (amikacin, kanamycin or capreomycin), plus resistance to any fluoroquinolones 

WHO has given three technical reasons for its decision not to use the label of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis 
Drug susceptibility testing (DST), key to defining new levels of drug resistance, lacks accuracy for several drugs used to treat multi drug-resistant (MDR) and extensively 
    drug-resistant (XDR)-TB 
Insufficient correlation of DST results with clinical response to treatment for several drugs used to treat XDR-TB 3Newdrugs are undergoing clinical trials and could prove effective against drugresistant strains

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cheap jewellery can be toxic!


Experts have detected alarming levels of harmful chemicals in the composition of low-priced jewellery items targeted at youngsters, which may have dangerous health implications. A non-profit environmental safety organisation found lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury and arsenic among other highly toxic chemicals, in jewellery items. The health issues linked to these substances in past tests on animals and humans comprise acute allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer. 

    Of the 99 pieces tested Using X-ray fluorescence, 25 per cent contained levels of lead which exceeded the limit of lead permitted in the manufacturing of children's products. "It ends up in the jewellery because it's cheap, it's easy to melt, it makes nice heavy pieces of jewellery and in fact we've found in a lot of the pieces we've tested that are 95 per cent lead by weight, that the alloy composition is almost identical to what you'd find in lead acid car batteries," the report said. 
    Additionally, 10 per cent of the items contained known carcinogen cadmium, most likely because there have been no restrictions on its use. The biggest concern is that children put the necklace pendants and rings in their mouths, chipping and wearing away the thin protective coating. Over time, the levels of cadmium or lead to which a child could be exposed this way is quite dangerous.

BEWARE! Junk items contain harmful chemicals

Chemicals in toys, tin cans fuel obesity

Chemicals that mimic or interfere with the effect of hormones could be fuelling the obesity epidemic, warns a health study. The chemicals, found in mobile phone cases and tin cans, shampoos and shower curtains, may also help trigger diabetes, researchers have concluded. The report called for prompt action to reduce exposure, particularly among pregnant women and those planning to start a family. Some experts described the report as alarming, but others said the key to good health is in what we eat and drink. 

    Spanish and South Korean researchers went through over 240 studies on obesity, pollution and type 2 diabetes. They concluded that the evidence that chemicals can lead to weight gain in animals is compelling. They added that the link between environmental chemicals and diabetes in people was first made more than 15 years ago and the volume and strength of evidence has been particularly persuasive since 2006.

CAUTION! Minimise the use of such items

Fifa’s safety guidelines never followed

Bangalore: The third death on the football field in Bangalore in the last eight years clearly shows that organizers of football tournaments have not taken any of the safety guidelines seriously. The absence of any kind of emergency medical help at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Wednesday once again proved that the no one cares for players' safety. 

    "The player (Venkatesh) was brought dead and there were no signs of life," said Dr Ajit Benedict Royan of Hosmat hospital which is located in the neighbouring compound of the football stadium. 
    After Cristiano Junior's death at the Sree Kanteerava stadium during the Federation Cup final there was lot of talk about the need of emergency medical care at the venue but Venkatesh's death proves that nothing has really changed. 
    "Fifa's guidelines are clear on the need to have an ambulance, paramedics and defibrillators before the start of any match. Sadly we give zero importance to medical care. In most of the tournaments hardly any money is set apart for ensuring medical facilities. The latest death 
is another sad instance and I hope now at least our officials will learn a lesson," leading sports medicine practitioner Dr PSM Chandran told TOI. 
    Some of the players who watched the death of Venkatesh said the player was not fit for action. "He vomited be
fore the start of the match and even the few minutes he played he could hardly run. Finally he came near the line and collapsed," a player said. 
    If this version is true then it is a clear violation of the Fifa guidelines on players' health. "There are viruses that usually cause only a cold but sometimes an acute inflammation of the heart muscle occurs, particularly with intense exercise. That is why you must never train or play when you have a cold with fever or aching joints. The "above-collar" rule says that any symptoms below your neck are a strict 'NO' to exercise. That means a run
ning nose is OK, but a productive cough is not," it says. 
AIFF may hold emergency meeting: Meanwhile, All India Football Federation secretary Kushal Das told TOI that the death of the player is a serious incident and the AIFF may even call an emergency committee meeting to discuss the matter. 
    "I am told that a player died after he collapsed while he was warming up. I didn't know that it happened during the match," Das said. 
    The top official said he was still awaiting more details from the state body before taking any action. 

Sanjib Dutta – 1993 Kannur, Kerala Cristiano Junior – 2004 BangaloreAllebi Djwrey – 2008 Bangalore

Dust haze sees pollution levels INCREASE BY 500%

Suspended Particulate Matter Rises From 200 To 1,200 Units Per Cubic MetreHosps See Increase In Patients With Breathlessness

Mumbaikars woke up on Wednesday to a thick layer of dust that had enveloped the city reducing visibility levels to six times lower than normal and increasing pollution levels by nearly 500%. But the dusty haze, as the MET has called this phenomenon—it was more pronounced in north India—is not benign, and doctors spent the better part of the day fielding calls from citizens who complained of breathlessness. Because of the haze, suspended particulate matter (SPM) levels rose from 200 units per cubic meter to 1,200 units, reported the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). Dr Ajay Deshpande, joint director of MPCB, described the SPM levels as "a historic rise", never before witnessed in the city. 

    Though weather officials say the haze is a temporary 24-hour phenomenon, the particulate matter will take a longer time to dissipate, and doctors have advised patients susceptible to respiratory ailments to take extra precautions (See box). 
    "The sun was pale. The journey from home to office felt like I was travelling through a large construction site. By the time I reached office, I could feel the dirt on me," said Amey Bashisht, who resides in Dahisar and works at Churchgate. Commuters said they could barely see the train approaching the platform. 
    MET officials in Mumbai blamed the haze on a sandstorm in Rajasthan. "There was a sandstorm in Rajasthan as the temperatures rose very high. The dry winds displaced the sand particles there. Northerly winds carried forward the storm southward towards Mumbai," said V K Rajeev, director of weather forecast at Indian Meteorological Department, Mumbai. 
    But many meteorologists are attributing the haze across the country to the dust storms in the Middle East. Agencies like NASA released satellite images of a giant dust plume across the Arabian Sea from the Middle East to India on Tuesday, March 20, which affected many parts 
of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, UP and Rajasthan. "A dust haze was brought to the northern parts of India from Saudi Arabia by south westerly winds. It's a global phenomenon and India is also being affected. In Punjab and Rajasthan, visibility was 1km," said Ajit Tyagi, former director general of IMD. 
    Senior weather officials said the haze was due to a dust plume and was not a dust 
storm. Tyagi said: "A dust storm is a local phenomenon caused by winds blowing near the ground. What we are witnessing is a haze, which has been carried over miles across countries." 
    The high pollution levels spelt trouble for those who already suffer from asthma, sinusitis or rhinitis. Anjali Pujari (32) was one of 
many Mumbaikars who had problems breathing. Pujari, who already suffers from asthma, found her symptoms aggravated by noon. "When I went to the doctor's clinic, it was full of people with chest problems," she said. Doctors reported a sharp rise in the number of patients complaining of respiratory problems. Dr Ashok Mahasur, chest physician at Hinduja Hospital said: "Most were senior citizens who complained of breathlessness. There were also a few students, who were brought in after their exam or had to leave their paper mid-way because of bouts of coughing." A senior KEM doctor said: "It is a temporary problem. Patients need not fear." 
    Inputs from Chittaranjan Tembhekar 
People suffering from chronic respiratory ailments like asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, bronchitis, etc are more susceptible to the sudden rise in suspended particulate matter 
    Long bouts of coughing 

Stay indoors early morning when there is more pollen in the air Keep your doors and windows shut if your house is near a construction site Close your window and use air-conditioners to prevent dust from entering your home Travel by train to avoid pollution from vehicles Wear a mask and use gloves while cleaning Consult your doctor if wheezing and breathlessness persist 

South-westerly air currents, on Tuesday, carried the dust from Saudi Arabia to many parts of northern India 
By Wednesday morning, dust/haze was carried to Mumbai by northerly winds 
MET department says a sandstorm in 
Rajasthan is responsible for the haze 
Pollution levels increased six-fold from 200 units of suspended particulate matter to 1,200 units per cubic meter 
Visibility was reduced to 1,200 km. Normal visibility is 6,000 km 
Visibility was as low 1km in parts of Punjab and Rajasthan 

MET officials say the haze will dissipate by today

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

BMC EXPANDS fight against TB with new schemes

Will Launch Many Initiatives, Including A Door-To-Door Detection Project, To Mark World TB Day On Saturday

The civic body has begun intensifying the tuberculosis-control programme it launched in January. It announced on Tuesday an allocation of Rs 6 crore budget for the upgradation of the Sewri TB Hospital and has in the pipeline a number of new initiatives, including a door-to-door detection project and an early detection centre in Dharavi. In addition, it is instructing private hospitals to report all drugresistant TB cases to it. 

    The rollout of new programmes will begin on World TB Day (March 24) with a pilot project called 'Intensified Case Finding', wherein health officials will go door-to-door in 10 high-risk wards to search for people with TB symptoms. "It will take about six weeks to gather data and analyse it," said Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner (health). Based on the findings, the BMC will "decide how to further control the disease at the grassroots level". It may also extend the project to all 24 civic wards. 
    For the pilot, the corporation has drawn up a list of particularly vulnerable pockets in the 10 high-risk wards on the basis of case detection rate and the rate at which patients abandon treatment. Among these pockets, Mumbai's TB officer Dr Mini Khetarpal said, are slums, where "the population density and the transmission rates are high". 
    "We are looking to identify patients quickly and decrease transmission," Khetarpal said. Those with TB symptoms will be referred to the nearest microscopy centre for testing. And cases found positive 
will be included in the 
Revised National TB 
Control Programme. 
    Apart from 
the pilot, the 
BMC will inaugurate on 
March 24 a 

system called GeneXpert at the Dharavi outreach centre of Sion Hospital. The system can detect drug-resistant TB within hours instead of the usual three months. It will also ask a few private hospitals to report multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) to it just as private labs have been for the last two months. 
    "With the help of lab reports, we have been able to trace about 50% of MDR-TB cases. About 40% of MDR-TB patients were found to be living outside the city. We now plan to ask about seven private hospitals with chest medicine departments to report drug-resistant cases to us," said Mhaiskar. 
    The BMC on Tuesday allocated Rs 6 crore for the upgradation of the Sewri TB Hospital. Apart from providing it a TB lab, work on which has already started, the civic body is looking to fill all vacancies there in the next three months. 
    The overall thrust of the TB control programme, the BMC said, is to spread awareness. With the cost of medication per year running as high as Rs 2 lakh in some drug-resistant cases, patients should not discontinue the treatment for want of finances. "It is important that patients be made aware and be included in the governmentrun programme. Which is why, we are planning a continuous awareness campaign for the next one year," said Mhaiskar. 

A central TB officer has been appointed for Mumbai and a TB officer has been appointed for each of its 24 wards The Sewri TB Hospital has been upgraded and 46 beds added to it to treat MDR-TB (multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis) patients The hospital's operation theatre, which had been lying unused for five years, is back up. Three MDR-TB patients have already undergone surgery there Private labs have started reporting MDR-TB cases to the BMC Half of all MDR-TB patients in the city have been tracked and are being tested for XDR-TB (extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis) 

A number of programmes will be launched on March 24: 
The BMC will run a pilot project called 'Intensified Case Finding' in 10 wards, wherein health officials will go door-to-door to identify high-risk patients and give guidance on treatment Private hospitals will have to report MDR-TB cases to the BMC A system for early detection of drug-resistant TB called GeneXpert will be set up at the Dharavi outreach centre A lab to test MDR- and XDR-TB patients will be set up in the Sewri TB Hospital by the end of this year The hospital will start a 24X7 outpatient department

Monday, March 19, 2012

Open spaces: BMC likely to double funds

Mumbai: The civic body is likely to almost double the allocation for protection and development of open spaces to Rs 250 crore, said standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale on the eve of the 2012-13 budget's presentation. In the last budget, the BMC had set aside Rs 138 crore for green cover, gardens and playgrounds and beaches. 

    Apart from this, the municipal corporation is likely to hike water taxes by 20% to 30%. If approved, dwellers of residential complexes will have to pay Rs 4.50 for 1,000 litres of water instead of the current Rs 3.50; residents of chawls will have to shell out Rs 3.50 instead of Rs 2.25; and hotels will to pay Rs 30 instead of Rs 25.

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