Ten key interventions needed to reduce under-five mortality due to pneumonia by 2030

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Health systems in countries like India should make concerted efforts

New Delhi, 10th November 2018: A recent report has found that, which looked at progress in fighting pneumonia and diarrhea in 15 countries with the greatest number of deaths from these illnesses, has revealed startling details. It has indicated that health systems are falling woefully short of ensuring that the most vulnerable children have access to prevention and treatment services for these diseases. India continues to have the highest burden of pneumonia and diarrhea child deaths in the world.

Ten key interventions including breastfeeding, vaccination, access to care, use of antibiotics, oral rehydration solution (ORS), and zinc supplementation have been termed as the cornerstones. These can protect against, prevent, and treat pneumonia and diarrhea. It will further help achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births by 2030.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Pneumonia can range in seriousness from mild to life-threatening. It is most serious for infants and young children, people older than age 65, and people with health problems or weakened immune systems. Many germs can cause pneumonia. The most common are bacteria and viruses in the air we breathe. The body usually prevents these germs from infecting your lungs. However, sometimes these can overpower the immune system, even if a person’s general health is good. The most common type is community-acquired pneumonia which occurs outside of hospitals or other health care facilities. The other forms of pneumonia are hospital-acquired pneumonia, healthcare acquired pneumonia, and aspiration pneumonia.”

Pneumonia claims more lives in children around the world than any other infectious disease. A majority of those who die are from low and middle-income countries. If this continues, the disease is likely to claim 22,587 lives 2030.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “While most cases of pneumonia can be treated at home, babies, children, and people with severe pneumonia may need to be admitted to hospital for treatment. Pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics, even if viral pneumonia is suspected as there may be a degree of bacterial infection as well. The type of antibiotic used and the way it is given will be determined by the severity and cause of the pneumonia.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • There are vaccines that can prevent some types of pneumonia and the flu. The vaccination guidelines have changed over time and should be reviewed with the doctor even if one has received a pneumonia vaccine earlier. Doctors recommend a different pneumonia vaccine for children younger than age 2 and for children ages 2 to 5 years who are at particular risk of pneumococcal disease.
  • Practice good hygiene to protect yourself against respiratory infections that may lead to pneumonia. Wash your hands regularly or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t smoke as it can damage the natural defense of the lungs against respiratory infections.
  • Keep the immune system strong by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet.

HCFI invites e-posters on solutions to indoor air pollution from school students

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off
  • The inter-school competition is open for students till 12th November 2018
  • Winner will be announced on Children’s Day and receive cash prize of INR 11,000

New Delhi, 09 November 2018: The Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) is organizing an inter-school e-poster competition inviting entries that depict solutions to the problem of indoor air pollution. The last date for sending in the e-posters is 12th November 2018.

Winners will be announced on 14th November 2018, which also marks Children’s Day in India. The best e-posters from each school will be uploaded on HCFI’s Facebook page. The entry with the maximum number of likes will be declared the winner and receive a cash prize of INR 11,000.

Indoor air pollution has emerged as a silent killer in India. According to statistics, it is the second largest killer causing about 1.3 million deaths in the country each year. This competition is part of HCFI’s campaign against this issue, which was flagged off ahead of the 25th Perfect Health Mela held in October 2018.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Educating and creating awareness among children is one of the first steps towards building a healthier future for the country. Children often come up with ideas and solutions that elders may not have thought of and this competition is a way to channel their thoughts towards the pertinent issue of indoor air pollution. We look forward to receiving some great entries and perhaps even find ways to implement them in the long run. The problem of indoor air pollution is a tricky one to solve. However, with concerted efforts, it is possible to come with up with solutions.”

Some side effects of exposure to indoor pollution include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Apart from this, it can also cause heart diseases and cancer in the long term.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Most people spend 85% of their life indoors — inside homes or offices, commercial or industrial buildings or schools and colleges. With the increasing incidence of respiratory illnesses in the country, it is imperative to be aware of the health hazards of indoor air pollution. The change must begin at the personal level.”

School students can mail their entries to hcfi.1986@gmail.com. For more information, they can contact Mr Yogesh Pant at 9350072209.

Some tips from HCFI

  • Control moisture at home or in offices
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens
  • Clean home appliances properly and control dust
  • Keep carpets clean and dry. Wash pillows, blankets and bedding regularly at 60-degree Celsius
  • Prefer wood, tile or linoleum flooring rather than fitted textile carpeting
  • Vacuum cleaning or wet mopping must be preferred
  • Open your windows open when cleaning, painting and installing new carpet
  • Never burn charcoal indoors and do not keep burning heaters in closed rooms. Completely forbid smoking inside the house.
  • Avoid dust-collecting textiles and furniture
  • Avoid strong perfumes, aftershaves, deodorants and fragrant flowers inside the house

Timely counselling can help detect genetic disorders before birth

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Pre-nuptial genetic screening should be made mandatory

New Delhi, 5th November 2018: A person who marries a total stranger with no relation to their community has a 1% risk of babies being born with a genetic disorder. However, marrying within one’s own community, inside the same genetic pool, can increase the risk by 6% to 7%, indicate statistics. Given that there is low level of awareness about this, particularly in the rural belt of India, it becomes imperative to educate people on genetic health. Early genetic counselling can help identify and tackle various genetic disorders at an early stage.

Endogamy and consanguineous marriage practices are still prevalent in India and increase the risk of children born with genetic disorders. Genetic screening and counselling can help people make informed decisions, be it a pregnant mother or soon-to-be married partners.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Hundreds of children are born with birth defects every day in India, which lead to disability and death. Genetic disorders are a very serious health issue in our country. There is an urgent need to work towards making available informed choices to parents to reduce the number of children being born with disability. A genetic testing is a must in cases where: either partner has a hereditary disorder, there is a history of genetic disorder in the family, a history of multiple pregnancy losses, or there are congenital anomalies detected in children. Just like the matching of horoscopes before marriage, it is time that pre-nuptial genetic screening or testing and counselling is also made mandatory. This will help avert many issues later during pregnancy and childbirth.”

In genetic counselling, unlike psychological counselling, parents and their families are informed about inheritance pattern and the risk of their recurrence. It guides the parents through testing and management options.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Prenatal Genetic Testing, which is primarily non-invasive, helps in identifying three types of trisomies: Trisomy 21 is the anomaly behind Down’s Syndrome; Trisomy 13, which leads to Patau Syndrome; and Trisomy 18, which causes Edward Syndrome. With the alarming number of children being born with genetic abnormalities, it is about time that India embraces NGS routine genetic testing. It is a comprehensive test and can detect all types of genetic mutations and is accurate, fast and cost-effective at the same time.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Be aware of the products you use in your home and on your skin.  For example, cleaning products with harsh chemicals.
  • Eat healthy and include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. They contain fibre and substances that can help in flushing toxins out of your system.
  • Take steps to combat stress as this lowers your immune system function.  Exercise, sleep well, and meditate. You can also opt for yoga to get rid of stress.
  • Sleep well as it reduces cortisol produced by the body during stress.  It also balances leptin, which determines how much food we eat.  If our leptin is off balance, most likely the body will feel that it never gets enough food, which leads to overeating.

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