Expanding urban tree cover can reduce asthma hospitalization

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People living in polluted urban areas are far less likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma when there are lots of trees in their neighborhood, suggests a new study published in the journal Environment International.

The study which evaluated more than 650,000 serious asthma attacks over a period of 15 years found that green space and gardens were associated with reductions in asthma hospitalization when pollutant exposures were lower but had no significant association when pollutant exposures were higher.

In contrast, tree density (an extra 300 trees per square km) was associated with fewer emergency asthma hospitalizations- 50 fewer emergency asthma cases per 100,000 residents over the study period in a typical urban area with a high level of background air pollution – 15 µg of PM 2.5 per cubic meter, or a nitrogen dioxide concentration around 33 µg per cubic meter.

Planting trees does not simply improve the esthetics of any city. More importantly, planting trees also helps the environment as trees improve the air quality. Air pollution is not only a major environmental hazard but also a major health hazard, in particular from cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

The prevailing high pollution levels should be a matter of concern for us and each one of us should do our bit to help reduce air pollution. Expanding tree cover in areas of high pollution in cities, as suggested in this study, can improve respiratory health.

Each one of us can do something every day to prevent or at least help control the air pollution levels and keep the environment healthy. Planting trees is one way of doing so. It is also an economical way to curb the growing problem of air pollution.

We need to plant more trees to save our environment.

Adequate care to the mother and newborn can prevent infant mortality

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Adequate care to the mother and newborn can prevent infant mortality

Quality care for small and sick newborns around the time of birth may help prevent about 80% of newborn deaths

New Delhi, 19 November 2017: About 70 of every 1000 newborn babies in India die during the first year of life. The first 4 weeks of life or the neonatal period are the most crucial for a newborn as two-thirds of all newborn deaths occur during the first week of life. In India, the period from 15th to 21st November is marked as the New Born Care Week with the aim of generating awareness and suggesting measures to improve the health of new born and increase child survival rates.

Infections, lack of oxygen to fetus in the womb and new born baby, premature deliveries, delivery complications, and birth defects are some of the factors that can cause newborn deaths. As per the IMA, it is important to raise awareness about the need for adequate and exclusive care for the expectant mother before delivery; and for both the mother and the new born after delivery to improve the chances of survival.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, “There is a need for skilled care during birth and postnatal checkups, both of which are essential for the well-being of the mother and the newborn. A newborn requires thermal and cord care, and immediate breastfeeding. The postnatal period is the time following delivery until six weeks after birth, and health checks during this time – especially the first two days after delivery – are absolutely essential. Postnatal care can help in checking for and averting any danger signs such as insufficient feeding, fast breathing (a breathing rate of more than 60 per minute), severe chest in drawing, lethargy, fever, low body temperature, or jaundice. This is also the time when mothers are advised on how to identify and respond to these symptoms, as well as the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and immunization.”

Proven high-impact interventions and quality care for small and sick newborns around the time of birth may help in preventing about 80% of newborn deaths. Proper and timely vaccinations are very important.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “India has seen a significant decline of 8% in the number of infant deaths this year compared to that in the year 2016. This has largely been the result of countrywide efforts to expand health services coverage, including reproductive, maternal and newborn health services. However, there is a still a long way to go in terms of expanding the reach of such efforts into the remote areas and ensuring access to postnatal healthcare to mothers and newborns there.”

The following points are a must to remember after childbirth.

  • Wash your hands with soap or use a hand sanitizer before handling the baby.
  • Be careful to support the baby’s head and neck.
  • Start breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
  • Ensure that the baby is exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months.
  • Child should be fed on demand or at least 8 times in 24 hours.
  • Avoid feeding honey, water or things other than breast milk in lieu of a ritual as it can be a source of infection to a baby.
  • Give the baby a sponge bath until the umbilical cord falls off and the navel heals completely (1-4 weeks).
  • Kangaroo Mother Care especially for low birth weight infants, wherein the baby is held in a special way stuck with the chest to provide skin to skin contact with the mother along with exclusive and frequent breastfeeding

WMA European Region Meeting on End-of-Life Questions

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On Thursday and Friday, 16-17 November 2017, medical professionals, legal authorities, experts in palliative care and medical ethics, theological scholars and philosophers from over 30 countries gathered in the Aula Vecchia del Sinodo in the Vatican for the World Medical Association European Region Meeting on End-of-Life Questions.

Hosted by the World Medical Association (WMA), the German Medical Association (GMA) and the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV), this two-day event provided a platform for debating the different policies and perspectives on end-of-life issues in Europe, for exploring patient rights, treatment limitations, and palliative care, and for better understanding public opinion on these complex topics.

On the first day, the Congress was introduced by a meaningful and rich message from His Holiness Pope Francis, read by Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for promoting integral human development. In his words, Pope Francis developed a deep reflection about the frailty of life and the need to support it with good practices.

Opening remarks were also delivered by WMA President Dr Yoshitake Yokokura, GMA President Prof. Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery and PAV President Archbishop Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia. The program continued with a look at three different perspectives on end-of-life questions by Professor Montgomery, Dr René Héman, Chairman of the Royal Dutch Medical Association, and Dr. Yvonne Gilli, Board Member of the Swiss Medical Association.

The subsequent session highlighted insights on end-of-life questions from different religious and theological backgrounds.

Rounding out the first day of programming was a session focused on examining legal aspects of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, which included a contribution from Prof. Dr. Volker Lipp, Professor of Civil Law, Civil Procedure, Medical Law and Comparative Law at Georg-August-Universität. This was followed by an overview of the Council of Europe’s Guide on the decision-making process regarding medical treatment in end-of-life situations as illustrated by Dr. Laurence Lwoff, Head of the Bioethics Unit of the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Directorate, and a series of presentations, including a talk by Prof. Dr. Leonid Eidelman, President of the Israeli Medical Association, exploring various aspects of compassionate use and conscientious objection.

Day two of the conference opened with an ethical debate surrounding the question of whether there is a right to determine one’s own death, after which Dr. Anne de la Tour, President of the French Society of Palliative Care, shared her expertise on treatment limitations and end-stage decisions about sedation.

Representing the patient’s perspective was Dr. Marco Greco, President of the European Patients’ Forum, who delivered a presentation on public opinions of key end-of-life issues.

The final day closed with a plenary panel discussion featuring six speakers from Switzerland, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, representing an extensive range of opinions and policy viewpoints.

The in-depth discussions held over the course of the two-day conference were intended to contribute to an overarching debate on end-of-life issues recently initiated by the WMA’s Medical Ethics Committee. To capture the global scale of this debate, the WMA set out to co-organize a series of regional meetings on nearly every continent. Previous meetings have been held in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. The WMA African Region Meeting on this subject will take place in early 2018 in Nigeria.

(Source: WMA, November 17, 2017)

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