The fight against malaria must begin at an individual level

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The T3 initiative of WHO must be followed by every country

New Delhi, 27 April 2019: A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has pointed out that while a formulation of about 24% DEET provided complete protection for over 300 minutes against mosquitoes, botanical repellents were able to protect for only about 20 minutes. The ones that work are lavender oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, eucalyptus oil, cedar oil, geranium oil.

The Anopheles mosquito that is known to be the transmitter of malaria is active at night, so a net is advisable. Insecticide-treated nets are available for better protection. Even if there is a hole or a small gap between the bed and net, the mosquito will not enter, claims the WHO’s book on insecticide-treated nets.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “There is still a long road ahead before the goal of elimination of malaria throughout the country by 2030 is achieved. Malaria is entirely a preventable disease. It is also treatable provided it is diagnosed and treated in time. The symptoms of malaria are non-specific and can be variable. So, it may be mistaken for other diseases such as viral infections, typhoid and the diagnosis of malaria may be missed as a result. It is important to remember here that malaria is not a clinical diagnosis; the diagnosis has to be confirmed by microscopy or a rapid diagnostic test (RDT). The ‘T3’ initiative of the WHO Global Malaria Program supports malaria-endemic countries in their efforts to achieve universal coverage with diagnostic testing and antimalarial treatment, as well as in strengthening their malaria surveillance systems.

After several years of steady declines, annual cases of the mosquito-borne disease have levelled off, according to the UN health agency’s 2018 malaria report. Malaria infects over 200 million people a year and killed 435,000 in 2017, mostly in Africa.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “T3 stands for Test. Treat. Track: every suspected malaria case should be tested; every confirmed case should be treated with a quality-assured antimalarial medicine; and the disease should be tracked through a timely and accurate surveillance system.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Malaria mosquitoes grow in fresh water collected in the house. It is therefore important to not let water stagnate in your house and the surrounding areas. Mosquito cycle takes 7-12 days to complete. So, if any utensil or container that stores water is cleaned properly once in a week, there are no chances of mosquito breeding.
  • Mosquitoes can lay eggs in money plant pots or in water tanks on the terrace if they are not properly covered. If the water pots for birds kept on terraces are not cleaned every week, then mosquitoes can lay eggs in them.
  • Using mosquito nets/repellents in the night may not prevent malaria because these mosquitoes bite during the day time.
  • Malaria mosquitoes do not make a sound. Therefore, mosquitoes that do not produce a sound do not cause diseases.
  • Wearing full sleeves shirt and trousers can prevent mosquito bites. Mosquito repellent can be helpful during the day.

Excessive use of multiple digital devices can cause weight gain in the longer term

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It is imperative to take a social media holiday at frequent intervals

New Delhi, 5 April 2019: A recent study has found that people who switch between digital services tend to gain weight. It has revealed that media multitasking is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lack of self-control, which may result in weight gain. When media multitaskers saw pictures of food, researchers observed increased activity in the part of the brain dealing with food temptation. The findings indicate that there could be links between media multitasking, a risk for obesity, brain-based measures for self-control and exposure to real-world food cues.

Up till now the debate has been whether mobile radiations can cause brain cancer or not. But recently, a new spectrum of diseases related to use of mobile phones has come to the notice of medical profession and it is anticipated that 10 years from now they will take an epidemic shape.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “In this digital era, the key to good health should be moderation – moderate use of technology. A lot of us have become slaves to devices that were really meant to free us and give us more time to experience life and be with people. Unless precautionary measures are taken at the earliest, this addiction can prove detrimental to one’s health in the longer term. We live in an age where mobile phones have penetrated our lives and actual human interaction is almost non-existent. Although technology has made life easier for everyone, there is a severe limitation of actual human empathetic interactions. We have begun to place more importance on what others think of us and how they perceive us. All of this can lead to anxiety and depression in the longer term.”

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Apart from obesity, there are several other health issues posed by the overuse of smartphones and social media. There is a need to measure the use of these devices in our daily lives and focus on health.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Electronic curfew means not using any electronic gadgets 30 minutes before sleep.
  • Facebook holiday: Take a Facebook holiday for 7 days every three months.
  • Social media fast: Avoid use of social media once in a week for the entire day.
  • Use your mobile phone only when mobile.
  • Do not use computer for more than three hours in a day.
  • Limit your mobile talk time to more than two hours in a day.
  • Do not recharge your mobile battery more than once in a day.

Mobile can also be a source of infection in the hospital setup; therefore, it is disinfected every day.

Prevention before antibiotic use should be practiced; say no to irrational use

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Many bacteria have already developed resistance to wonder drugs

New Delhi, 29 March 2019: The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections is seen more likely in populations with a high prevalence of AIDS-immunocompromised people, reveals new research. People with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to opportunistic bacterial infections and are therefore frequently prescribed antibiotics to prevent or treat these infections. The study’s findings will help public health policymakers to combat the rising risk of drug-resistant infections in AIDS-affected communities.

A report published by the New Delhi-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) in November 2017 says that over 70% of Acinetobacterbaumannii bacteria and 50% of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria are resistant to broad-spectrum antibiotics like third generation cephalosporin. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are those that are effective against a wide range of disease-causing bacteria.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Many bacteria have developed resistance to the so-called ‘wonder drugs’ reducing their effectiveness. The emergence of resistance to antibiotics was perhaps a development ‘waiting to happen’ given their indiscriminate use since they were first discovered. With no new antibiotics in the pipeline, a ‘pre-antibiotic era’ looms ahead, where many common infections might no longer have a cure and, once again, become a threat to human life. When prescribed for conditions that may not require antibiotic treatment at all, they can cause various side effects including disturbance to attention span, disorientation, agitation, nervousness, memory impairment, and delirium. Misuse and overuse of antibiotics have made once easily treatable bacterial infections harder and often impossible to cure. This phenomenon is on the rise due to their inappropriate use in human medicine.”

Schedule H1 drugs, along with Schedule H and Schedule X drugs, are restricted drugs and cannot be sold to just anybody OTC. A valid prescription from a doctor of modern system of medicine is required before they can be dispensed to the patients.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Improving and adhering to diagnostic tests for various diseases will help curb the inappropriate use of antibiotics, which compromises measures to control antimicrobial resistance. The imminent need of the hour is to address this issue.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Practice rational use of drugs antibiotics
  • Use when needed and according to guidelines
  • Avoid broad spectrum antibiotics without appropriate diagnosis
  • Prevent infections with the use of vaccination and by improving basic hygiene including hand hygiene and infection control techniques and sanitation in health care settings as well as in the community

·     Farmers and food industry must stop using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance.

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