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Friday, 30 May 2014

No Toilet at home leads to gang rape & murder in U.P. village

Relatives of two teenaged cousins who were hanged after being allegedly gang-raped in Badaun district on Wednesday.- pHOTO: PTI
Relatives of two teenaged cousins who were hanged after being allegedly gang-raped in Badaun district on Wednesday.- pHOTO: PTI
BADAUN (UTTAR PRADESH): In a crime that is rapidly gathering casteist and political overtones, two teenage girls from a backward community were raped and murdered allegedly by three brothers of the Yadav community in the village of Katra under Ushait police outpost in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh.
The girls, who were cousins, had left their house together at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and walked toward the nearby open field as there was no toilet at home. Their bodies were found hanging from a tree 250 metres away from their home at about 4 a.m. on Wednesday after neighbours and relatives began a frantic search.
“We have arrested one of the brothers, Pappu Yadav, and a hunt is on for the other two,” DIG Bareilly R.K.S. Rathore told The-Hindu . The State Government on Thursday suspended three policemen, including constable Sarvesh who has been detained for interrogation. The Katra Saadatganj police outpost in-charge, Ram Vilas and head constable, Chatrapal, are the other policemen suspended.
The IG (Special Task Force) Ashish Gupta said the autopsy on the two girls confirmed the cause of death as “ante mortem hanging”. It was also “indicative of rape”.
Although the parents informed the police immediately after the girls failed to return, the policemen asked them not to worry. The villagers immediately fanned out in all directions to trace the girls. After the bodies were found before daybreak in a mangrove, they informed the police, who however made no effort to come to the crime scene.
Only when irate villagers gathered and sought action against the killers and the police chowki staff did the policemen reach the spot. The villagers, however, did not allow the policemen to lower the bodies, but relented after local politicians BSP MLA from Jalalabad Neeraj Maurya, Bhagwan Singh Shakya of the Maurya Samaj and Brijpal Shakya of the Congress pacified them. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav justified the suspension of three police officials charged with laxity. (Additional reporting by Atiq Khan in Lucknow)

Source : The Hindu

Monday, 26 May 2014

Maternal death rates fall but chronic diseases increase pregnancy risk

6 May 2014 – Rates of maternal deaths are down, according to United Nations figuresreleased today, but pre-existing medical conditions heighten the risk of death for pregnant women and require continued investment in quality care during pregnancy and childbirth.
An estimated 289,000 women died in 2013 from complications in pregnancy and childbirth, down from 523,000 in 1990, according to the UN World Health Organization’s (WHO) Trends in maternal mortality estimates 1990 to 2013. The figure represents a decrease of 45 per cent.
Among its findings, the report shows that 11 countries that had high levels of maternal mortality in 1990 have reached the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of a 75 per cent reduction. These include Bhutan, Cambodia, Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Nepal, Romania, Rwanda, and Timor-Leste.
“A 15-year-old girl living in sub-Saharan Africa faces about a 1 in 40 risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth during her lifetime,” said Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
A girl of the same age living in Europe has a lifetime risk of 1 in 3,300 – underscoring how uneven progress has been around the world.”
Meanwhile, more than one in four maternal deaths are caused by pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV, malaria and obesity, whose health impacts can all be aggravated by pregnancy, according to a second WHO 
According to the UN agency’s study of more than 60,000 maternal deaths in 115 countries, pre-existing medical conditions exacerbated by pregnancy caused 28 per cent of the deaths. This is similar to the proportion of deaths during pregnancy and childbirth from severe bleeding.
This second report, Global causes of maternal death: a WHO systematic analysis, was published today inThe Lancet Global Health.
“Together, the two reports highlight the need to invest in proven solutions, such as quality care for all women during pregnancy and childbirth, and particular care for pregnant women with existing medical conditions,” said Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for WHO’s Family, Women’s and Children’s Health.
Marleen Temmerman, Director of WHO’s Reproductive Health and Research, and co-author of the study, added that the figures show an increased burden from noncommunicable diseases on women.

Source: UN News Center 

Too many people still lack basic drinking water and sanitation

A child carrying water at the Tomping civilian protection site, 6 May 2014. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

8 May 2014 – Despite a narrowing disparity in access to cleaner water and better sanitation between rural and urban areas, sharp inequalities still persist around the world, says a new United Nations report.
According to the 2014 Joint Monitoring Report on global progress against the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on water and sanitation, more than half of the global population lives in cities, and urban areas are still better supplied with improved water and sanitation than rural ones. But this gap is decreasing.
The report, produced by the World Health Organization (WHOand the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), notes that in 1990, more than 76 per cent of people living in urban areas had access to improved sanitation, as opposed to only 28 per cent in rural ones. By 2012, 80 per cent of urban dwellers and 47 per cent of rural ones had access to better sanitation.
In 1990, 95 per cent of people in urban areas could drink improved water, compared with 62 per cent of people in rural ones. By 2012, 96 per cent of people living in towns and 82 per cent of those in rural areas had access to improved water.
Despite this progress, sharp geographic, socio-cultural, and economic inequalities in access to improved drinking water and sanitation facilities still persist around the world.
“The vast majority of those without improved sanitation are poorer people living in rural areas. Progress on rural sanitation – where it has occurred – has primarily benefitted richer people, increasing inequalities,” said Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.
“Too many people still lack a basic level of drinking water and sanitation,” added Dr. Neira. “The challenge now is to take concrete steps to accelerate access to disadvantaged groups. An essential first step is to track better who, when and how people access improved sanitation and drinking water, so we can focus on those who don’t yet have access to these basic facilities.”
In addition to the disparities between urban and rural areas, there are often also striking differences in access within towns and cities. People living in low-income, informal or illegal settlements or on the outskirts of cities or small towns are less likely to have access to an improved water supply or better sanitation.
“When we fail to provide equal access to improved water sources and sanitation we are failing the poorest and the most vulnerable children and their families,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. “If we hope to see children healthier and better educated, there must be more equitable and fairer access to improved water and sanitation.”
Poor sanitation and contaminated water are linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid. In addition, inadequate or absent water and sanitation services in health care facilities put already vulnerable patients at additional risk of infection and disease.
Overall, since 1990, almost 2 billion people globally have gained access to improved sanitation, and 2.3 billion have gained access to drinking water from improved sources. Some 1.6 billion of these people have piped water connections in their homes or compounds.

Source: UN News Center 

Future global development agenda must include targets for improved health – UN official

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (at podium), addresses the 67th World Health Assembly. Photo: WHO/V. Martin
19 May 2014 – Health must be a part of any future global development agenda, a senior United Nations official underscored today as she outlined a host of issues afflicting millions around the world and which impact on efforts to reduce poverty and advance overall well-being.
“Better health is a good way to track the world’s true progress in poverty elimination, inclusive growth and equity,” Director-General Margaret Chan said as the World Health Organization (WHO) opened its annual assembly in Geneva.
According to a WHO report released last week, substantial progress has been made on many health-related goals ahead of the 2015 target date for achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
These include halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of drinking water, as well as progress in reducing child mortality, improving nutrition and combating HIV.
“For the post-2015 agenda, I see many signs of a desire to aim even higher, with ambitious yet feasible goals. Many more end-games are already on the table,” Dr. Chan said, noting the need to end preventable maternal, neonatal and childhood deaths, eliminate a large number of the neglected tropical diseases, and halt the tuberculosis epidemic.
“We have at our disposal a host of strategies for pursuing ever higher goals,” she added, while also noting that health benefits from WHO’s ability to tap the world’s best expertise.
Outlining the main health challenges facing the world today, the Director-General cited the renewed spread of the polio virus, which is due to several factors including civil unrest, poor immunization coverage and  the targeted killing of health workers.
“Two years ago, polio was on its knees, thanks to committed political leadership, better strategies and tools, and the dedication of millions of polio workers,” she stated.
“The factors responsible for this setback are largely beyond the control of the health sector. They are only some of several dangers for health in a world shaped by some universal and ominous trends.”
Among other issues, Dr. Chan highlighted the effects of air pollution, which is the world’s largest single environmental health risk; the growing prevalence of obesity, especially among children, and diet-related non-communicable diseases; and the global cancer crisis, in which the number of new cases has reached an all-time high and is projected to rise.
“Parts of the world are quite literally eating themselves to death. Other parts starve. Hunger and under-nutrition remain an extremely stubborn problem… At the other extreme, we see no good evidence that the prevalence of obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases is receding anywhere. Highly processed foods and beverages loaded with sugar are ubiquitous, convenient and cheap. Childhood obesity is a growing problem with especially high costs.”
The 2014 World Cancer Report, issued by WHO, provoked considerable alarm, noting among other things that developing countries now account for some 70 per cent of all cancer deaths. Many of these people die without treatment, not even pain relief.
“No country anywhere, no matter how rich, can treat its way out of the cancer crisis. A much greater commitment to prevent is needed,” Dr. Chan emphasized. “The same is true for heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. In some middle-income countries, diabetes treatment alone is now absorbing nearly half of the entire health budget.”
“All of these trends,” she stated, “are certain to increase the world’s inequalities even more. They define the tremendous job that lies ahead for public health. They also shape expectations for the performance of WHO, and the support countries, and the international community, will need from this organization.”

Source: UN News Center 

UN urges end to ‘global social injustice’ of obstetric fistula

Two women in Mauritania who had operations for obstetric fistula. Photo: IRIN/Manon Riviere
23 May 2014 – United Nations officials today called for eradicating the global social injustice of obstetric fistula, a consequence of childbirth that affects an estimated two million women and girls in developing countries but is entirely preventable with access to quality medical care.
“This International Day to End Obstetric Fistula is an 
 to sound the alarm on this tragedy so that we may galvanize action to end it. Progress is possible,” Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon said in his message to mark the occasion.
Observed annually on 23 May, the Day aims to raise awareness about, generate new support for and speed up efforts to end an injury that harms women physically, socially and economically.
Most women who develop fistula, a hole in the birth canal usually caused by prolonged, obstructed labour, remain untreated for their entire lives, and the condition can easily recur in women and girls whose fistula has been surgically treated but who receive little or no medical follow-up and then become pregnant again.
“It is an appalling fact that in our world of modern medical advances, nearly 800 women still die from pregnancy-related complications each day, and for every woman who dies, almost 20 more are injured or disabled with severe or life-shattering, long-term conditions such as obstetric fistula,” said Mr. Ban.
The Secretary-General said that addressing obstetric fistula is more than a matter of health. “It is a human rights imperative,” he stated, adding that, if left untreated, the condition can contribute to social isolation and depression and lead to chronic medical problems.
Over the past dozen years, some 47,000 women and girls have received surgical treatment supported by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which leads the global Campaign to End Fistula.
“Fistula is fully preventable when all women and girls have access to high-quality, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, especially family planning, maternal health care and emergency obstetric care,” said Mr. Ban, who called for joint efforts to eliminate this “global social injustice.”
The theme of this year’s Day is “Tracking Fistula – Transforming Lives” and reflects an important step forward in eradicating this preventable condition.
“To treat fistula and provide women with follow-up medical care, we need to know more about how many women and girls are in need of services and also where they live,” UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin said in a statement.
“In most instances, stigma forces women living with the condition to remain hidden and isolates them from families and communities. By systematically registering and tracking each woman and girl who has or had an obstetric fistula, we can make enormous strides in improving their well-being and increasing the chances of their babies’ survival in subsequent pregnancies.”
Dr. Osotimehin said that eliminating the health crisis of obstetric fistula requires scaling up countries’ capacities to provide access to equitable, high-quality sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning and maternity care, especially comprehensive emergency obstetric care.
“Tracking and treating all fistula cases is crucial, but it is also necessary for countries to take steps to prevent fistulas by addressing underlying medical and socio-economic causes, eliminating gender-based social and economic inequities, preventing child marriage and early childbearing and promoting education, especially for girls,” he added.
Despite the progress made, the Executive Director said that far more support and momentum are needed to enable the Campaign to expand its reach to all corners of the world where women suffering from fistula remain isolated and often unaware that treatment is available or even possible.
“The time has come to put an end to obstetric fistula and address the circumstances that perpetuate it, including poverty, lack of access to health care, child marriage and early childbearing.
“We have the resources and know-how. What we need now is the political will to elevate the status of women and girls, rectify inequalities and protect the human rights of every woman and girl, so that fistula may never again undermine a person’s health, well-being, dignity and ability to participate in and contribute to their communities.”

Source: UN News Center 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Menstruating woman denied toilet, 'inhuman' railways fined

MUMBAI: A consumer forum has held Western Railway guilty of deficiency in service for not providing free and accessible toilets for women commuters. The forum directed WR to pay Rs 25,000 in compensation to an advocate, who was humiliated and abused following her request to use the railway staff toilet at Dadar station after she started menstruating on a local train in 2007. 

Calling the behaviour of railway staff "inhuman", the South Mumbai District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum said on Saturday that because of a non-functional toilet on a footbridge, the advocate suffered discomfort and mental agony. 

The complainant, S Rajan (name changed), was on a train from Mulund to Malad on January 3, 2007. She told the court that at 10.30 am, she had to switch trains at Dadar. While the train approached the station, she started menstruating. After alighting, she desperately began to look for a toilet and was told that there was one near the booking office counter on the footbridge. But the toilet was locked and despite several attempts by her, none of the railway staff at the station could give her any answers about the key. 

Unable to wait any longer, she requested the staff if she could use the facility provided to them. But she was rudely told to meet the station master. Despite pleading that she was unable to move due to her situation, the staff told her they were afraid she would plant a bomb in their toilet. 

She alleged that she was also physically abused by cleaners at the behest of other staff. She said the chief booking supervisor arrived at the scene 35 minutes later and seeing her crying, finally allowed her to use the toilet. 

In her complaint, filed on December 26, 2008, Rajan stated that she was mentally, psychologically and physically affected because of the behaviour of railway staff on duty at the time. She said she had not regained her confidence, self-esteem and self-respect. 

In its reply, the railways attributed Rajan's untimely menstruation to a gynaecological problem. It further claimed that she could have availed of the toilet facility at Dadar Terminus or a BMC toilet just outside the station. It also said that the footbridge toilet was locked due to security reasons. It said the staff concerned had been reprimanded and action taken against them. 

The consumer forum observed that by tendering an apology for the incident through the divisional railway manager (commercial), Mumbai Central, it can be held that the railways had admitted to deficiency in service as alleged by the complainant.

Source :