We Can't Do It Alone , We Need Your Support

We Can't Do It Alone , We Need Your Support
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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Tapping the Power of Water

The idea of a magic elixir that could fight disease, promote health and even prevent violence sounds like a flight of fancy. But we have this in our hands, and we have a way to make it available to all people on Earth.
Far from being the preserve of a secret elite, this substance is so common that it makes up the vast majority of our bodies and our planet: Water.
Too often underappreciated where it is plentiful and always ignored at our peril, clean water is essential to stopping the needless deaths of children, enabling women to enjoy the greater safety they deserve, and even promoting stability among countries in water-scarce regions. Along with sanitation, water holds the key to sparing suffering and averting death for millions of people. But only if we seize the moment to realize this potential.
That moment comes in just a matter of weeks when world leaders gather at the United Nations for an historic summit to adopt a new global agenda to end poverty and usher in a life of dignity for all.
This ambitious vision, embodied in a comprehensive, universal set of concrete goals, combines the environmental, social and economic aspects of development. The holistic and cross-cutting nature of the agenda is designed to ensure that progress will support the well-being of present and future generations.
In order to solve this development puzzle, leaders had to get the water challenge right, balancing all interests and imperatives. The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are to achieve this, tapping water resources to provide a range of services that underpin poverty reduction, economic growth and environmental sustainability.
Understanding how these work in tandem becomes clear when you consider the millions of children who suffer in deepest need of clean water or sanitation. They may be refugees, forced to flee their homes, or slum-dwellers, living in over-crowded and under-serviced neighborhoods, or the rural poor, located far from modern facilities. Without clean drinking water and proper sanitation, their nutrition is lamentably poor. That leads to stunting, which affects more than 160 million children who suffer irreversible physical and cognitive damage.
billion people are forced by circumstances to defecate in the open -- a situation that leads to a staggering 1.6 million deaths from diarrheal diseases every year. That amounts to some 4,400 people dying every day from causes we could prevent with intention and action.
Improving sanitation and hygiene generates benefits for individuals and society, across sectors. A child with clean water and proper toilet facilities has on average far better health, a longer life and greater success in school and at work. In Mali, community-based interventions to prevent open defecation have cut diarrhea-related deaths by more than half, opening a promising future for children who would otherwise not have lived to see their fifth birthday.
Sustainable Development Goal 6 presents an opportunity to address the entire water cycle: access, quality, efficiency and the integrated management of water resources and related ecosystems. Success will require holding governments to account, strengthening systems and addressing the full life-cycle of people. Children need water at health clinics, girls and young women need private toilets at school, and all people need fair, equitable and universal access.
More is at stake than individual health; international security is at risk. Experts have identified water as the number one global risk in terms of significant negative impact on countries in the coming decade. Water can either be a source of conflict or cooperation. The choice should be obvious
If the task of development seems too difficult, we only have to look back over the past 15 years for inspiration. The Millennium Development Goals, adopted in 2000, constituted the largest antipoverty push in history. That effort resulted in access to improved sources of drinking water for more than 90 percent of the world's population, with roughly two thirds finally having a toilet.
Those left behind are the poorest and most vulnerable, who suffer a grave injustice. When we right that wrong by providing clean drinking water and decent sanitation to all, we will advance health, justice and security around the world.

Picture source:HEEALS


Monday, 7 September 2015

Through successful WASH intervention

Through successful WASH intervention, communities access a new service that improves their quality of life, and also learn about equity and inclusion.
The abysmal state of access to safe water and sanitation facilities in the developing world is currently a major cause for alarm; 580,000 children die every year from preventable diarrheal diseases. This is due largely to the 2.5 billion people around the globe who do not have access to safe sanitation. Not only can an effective WASH intervention save lives, it can also engineer changes in the social fabric of communities that adopt these behavioural changes. This points to a key attribute of a successful WASH intervention – that through these programmes, communities not only access a new service that improves their quality of life, but they also learn from being part of a concrete intervention that emphasises equity and inclusion.
Let me explain how. Safe sanitation is essentially ‘total’. In a community, even one family practising open defecation puts the health of other families at risk. Also, unsafe sanitation practices pollute local potable and drinking water sources in the habitations. Together, this can undo any gains from partial coverage of WASH interventions. This much is now widely accepted by sanitation practitioners around the world. However, there remains a serious challenge when it comes to the implementation of this concept.
When a community is introduced to a WASH-focused behaviour change campaign, there are often variations in the levels of take-up in different families. This could be because of several barriers – financial ability, cultural beliefs, education levels, etc. In response, external agencies have many options. They can focus more on families in their behaviour change campaigns, offer them material and financial support or incentives, or exert peer pressure (which may in some cases become coercive, etc).
However, the best approach – whether facilitated by an external agent or not – is for a community to devise a collective response. The issue should be framed as a collective action problem that requires solving for the creation of a public good. In many instances, communities have come together to support the poorest families – social engineering at its finest. At its best, recognising the needs of every member of a community will lead to a recognition of the challenges that the typically marginalised groups face. It is this recognition that could prompt a rethink of social norms and relationships.
On the other hand, the power of peer pressure can be effective. Where families that are able, but unwilling, to construct a toilet and switch behaviour, the initial take-up from other families has a strong demonstration potential. In societies with caste and class differences, this can be deployed effectively to highlight choices that threaten the public good.
Encouraging the development of shared norms and collective action is also a key aspect of determining the role of subsidies in WASH programmes. As research evidence from Bangladesh shows, subsidies could be effective when targeted at communities, instead of at individuals. Where it is possible to measure progress at the community-level, subsidies can be designed and delivered accordingly. This will encourage communities to take up WASH as they would approach say, the building of a road or a school.
This is no longer just a theory. Increasingly now, various organisations have documented such successes. For example, in multiple NGO-led programmes in eastern India and Bangladesh, local community-based organisations formed initially to tackle sanitation went on to engage in collective livelihoods activities. However, as with any other, this theory too should be put to test – evaluated at different sites and for different approaches. Currently, we are not sufficiently focused on the positive social externalities a WASH intervention could generate, and as a result, are running the risk of restricting ourselves to narrow technocratic approaches. This needs to change.
This brings me to a key message I have for WASH interventions: do not hurry into scaling up. Given the urgency of the problem – about 2.5 billion people do not practice safe sanitation – this might seem completely counter-intuitive. However, there is the real risk that aiming for scale will lead to the perpetration of target-driven hardware interventions which will neither change behaviour, not create social cohesion. It is not unusual for organisations that rush to scale end up compromising on exactly those key design elements that made their pilots a success.
In conclusion, it is important to acknowledge that WASH interventions have the potential to go far beyond basic service delivery. In order to realise these gains, one must follow a very careful sequence of steps designed to promote community ownership and systematically change behaviour. The goal should be to nudge communities towards a public spirit and collective problem solving, so that WASH works as an entry point into communities, creating fertile ground for future interventions.

Picture Source :HEEALS 
source: WSSCC

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'About 18 per cent women in India affected by PCOS'

A recent study revealed that about 18 per cent of women in India, mostly from the East, suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a disorder which causes infertility among women.
Metropolis Healthcare, a multinational chain of pathology laboratories, conducted an inclusive study to observe the trends in the PCOS cases in young women in India.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a prevalent endocrine disorder in women and the leading cause of infertility nowdays.
Metropolis conducted a pan India study on 27,411 samples of testosterone, over a period of 18 months, out of which 4824 (17.60 per cent) women face hormonal associated risk with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
The increasing trend of PCOS is predominantly seen in the child bearing age group of 15 to 30 years.
Among the samples tested east India shows alarming levels of 25.88 per cent women affected by PCOS, followed by 18.62 per cent in north India, which can be largely attributed to lack of awareness among young women and ignorance.
“Undiagnosed PCOS can lead to infertility and in long term can cause several health complications which can be attributed to other factors as well,” Dr. Sonali Kolte, General Manager Medico Marketing, Metropolis Healthcare said.
“Early diagnosis and treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent health-related problems. Today a lot of young women are aware of the condition and seek medical help,” she said.
Ms. Kolte said PCOS is a characteristic amalgamation of cosmetic, gynecological and metabolic symptoms.
“Cosmetic symptoms include facial hair, thinning of the scalp and acne. Gynecological symptoms include irregular or scanty periods which are usually the first red flag in adolescents,” she said.
She added that infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss affect the women in the reproductive age and PCOS in older women can even lead to cancer of the uterus, cardiac disease and type 2 diabetes.
Ms. Kolte said diagnosis of the disease can be done by a testosterone test, along with a host of other tests like blood sugar, insulin, FSH, LH, 17OHP and DHEAS.

Source : The Hindu

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

UN health agency unveils sanitation and hygiene plan towards eradicating tropical diseases by 2020

27 August 2015 – The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that it is strengthening water, sanitation and hygiene services to accelerate progress in eliminating and eradicating neglected tropical diseases by 2020 that affect more than 1 billion of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.
“Millions suffer from devastating WASH [water, sanitation and hygiene] – related tropical diseases – such as soil-transmitted helminthiasis, guinea-worm disease, trachoma and schistosomiasis – all of which affect mainly children” said Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.
“Solutions exist, such as access to safe water, managing human excreta, improving hygiene, and enhancing targeted environmental management. Such improvements not only lead to improved health, but also reduce poverty,” Dr. Neira said in the WHO announcement.
WHO outlined a global plan to better integrate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services with four other public health interventions to accelerate progress in eliminating and eradicating neglected tropical diseases by 2020.
“Targeted water and sanitation interventions are expected to bolster ongoing efforts in tackling 16 out of the 17 neglected tropical diseases, which affect more than 1 billion of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations,” according to WHO.
WHO also said that in 2015 more than 660 million people did not have access to improved water sources, almost 2.5 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation and more than 500,000 million lives are lost each year as a result of neglected tropical diseases.
Besides advocating for basic water, sanitation and hygiene, WHO uses four other key interventions in overcoming the global burden of the neglected tropical diseases. The four strategies are: preventive chemotherapy, innovative and intensified disease management, vector control and veterinary public health services.
The five-year agenda is in line with a World Health Assembly resolution, which calls for the formulation of a new, integrated WHO strategy including a specific focus on promotion of sanitation and hygiene behaviour.

Breastfeeding ,Call for stronger workplace policies for nursing mothers

Breastfeeding ,Call for stronger workplace policies for nursing mothers

In Maderia, Ethiopia, health extension worker Elsebeth Aklilu takes a break from counselling women and their children on best nutrition practices, to breastfeed her own 10-month-old son. Photo: UNICEF/Christine Nesbitt
3 August 2015 – United Nations officials are marking the annual World Breastfeeding Weekby highlighting the vital importance of a practice that gives children the healthiest start in life and the need to strengthen policies to promote nursing with stronger workplace policies.
The theme for this year’s observance, held from 1 to 7 August, is “Women and work – Let’s make it work,” which emphasizes the need for better support systems and policies to enable working mothers to breastfeed.
“We know that breastfeeding helps children to survive and thrive – enabling infants to withstand infections, providing critical nutrients for the early development of their brains and bodies, and strengthening the bond between mothers and their babies. And the benefits of breastfeeding last a lifetime,” said the heads of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Anthony Lake, and the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, in a joint statement.
The statement points out that a recent Lancet study found that infants who were breastfed for at least one year went on to stay in school longer, score higher on intelligence tests and earn more as adults than those who were breastfed for only a month. Despite this growing evidence, only 38 per cent of infants around the world today are breastfed exclusively for even the recommended first six months of life.
What law maker can do 
 What Employers Can Do !

What co worker 
can do !

What trade union can do !

While breastfeeding rates have increased in all regions of the world, global progress has stalled. The World Health Assembly has set a global target of increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates for children less than six months of age to at least 50 per cent by 2025.
“To achieve this ambitious and very important goal, we need to tackle all the barriers to breastfeeding,” said Mr. Lake and Dr. Chan. “Governments should lead the charge by making breastfeeding a policy priority in national development plans, increasing resources for programming that supports breastfeeding, and working with communities and families to promote the full benefits of breastfeeding.”
Also, more must be done to overcome an obstacle that prevents potentially millions of women from breastfeeding: Workplace policies that do not support the right of working mothers to breastfeed their babies on the job.
Today, of the approximately 830 million women workers in the world, the majority do not benefit from workplace policies that support nursing mothers, and this figure does not include women working in informal, seasonal or part-time employment – often the poorest women in poorer countries – who may face even greater barriers to continued breastfeeding. This is not only a loss to working mothers and their babies. It is also a loss to employers.
Working mothers with adequate maternity benefits, including a breastfeeding-supportive workplace, report increased job satisfaction and greater loyalty to their employers. Breastfed children fall sick less often, so their mothers are also less frequently absent from work. These effects in turn contribute to higher productivity – ultimately benefiting businesses and the larger economies to which they contribute.
Recognizing these connections, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) has adopted three Conventions to establish protective measures for pregnant women and new mothers – including the right to continue breastfeeding – and to promote feasible options for women who are outside formal work settings. Globally, 67 countries have ratified at least one of the three maternity protection conventions.
The UN officials stressed that more governments should join the growing movement and take action to implement these important protections.
“We know that breastfeeding improves the lives of millions of children and ultimately benefits families, communities, and societies. Our challenge now is to make breastfeeding work in the workplace, too. Together, we can help working women to breastfeed and reap the benefits for themselves, for their children, and for the health and well-being of future generations.”
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding to begin within one hour after birth until six months of age. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.