Health


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It was another eventful week in Mutiny, and here is a categorized summary!

  1. Music: Jo began the week with some cool news about the availability of teasers from BlogSwara and followed it up later with the news of the launch of the site.
  2. Science: Cakerfare discussed the idea behind genetically modified malaria resistant mosquitoes in tackling malaria, while Vishal followed the story of the discovery of 3.8 million year old rocks and the relevance of the discovery to geological theories of plate tectonics.
  3. Cricket: While Chacko was optimistic about the chances of the Indian team and did some number juggling, later in the week, Sridhar Kondoji felt that the products endorsed by Indian cricketers need to be boycotted as a mark of protest against the abysmal performance of the team India.
  4. Pseudo-religion: Gentledude admonished Indians for their blind faith in godmen with specific reference to Baba, and followed it by another post on the paradox of Lord Balaji being the second richest god in the world, while half of India is languishing below poverty line.
  5. Education: Polite Indian wonders if corporate punishement is needed at all, and concludes in the negative.
  6. Society: While Nita wrote for the need of sensitivity on the part of all of us in the wake of Sikh community taking exceptions to Sardar jokes, Guru pointed to Andre Beteille’s article which argued caste to be an Indian socio-economic institution.
  7. Justice: SwethaIyer’s confidence in the Indian judicial system is reinforced after the verdict of guilty for the accused in the killing of Manjunath Shanmugam.
  8. Management: Vishal, while narrowing down on the reasons for the dumb decisions that managers make, also identifies five signs that indicate trouble in an organization.
  9. News and Media: While Guru laments the dearth of “real” news, Nita finds that the marriage of Liz and Arun Nair is still the hot selling item on the streets.
  10. Tips: While Jo tips us about the free phone call service Fone Mine, Sridhar Kondoji tells you what to do when the markets are down.
  11. Issues: Guru felt that the Mashelkar committee should be terminated, and (in a follow-up post on brain drain) indicated that brain drain is not that bad after all; and, Jo dedicated a song to the victims of Nandigram.
  12. Interview: Ujj interviewed Vinod George Joseph, the author of Hitchhiker (shortly after his review of the book).

Hope you enjoyed reading mutiny and voicing your opinions on issues as much as we enjoyed our writing and hearing from you.

Hope to see you in these parts of the blogosphere soon, again!

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Malaria is an extremely infectious disease caused by the parasite Plasmodium Falciparun. It is mainly prevalent in tropical areas of the world, such as India and parts of Africa. Female Anopheles mosquitoes are the vehicle for transmission of this disease: male mosquitoes do not feed on blood, and do not contribute to the transmission of Malaria. Until now, antimalarial drugs have been the sole preventative measure for the disease, and there are no vaccines to reduce the risk of malarial infection.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, USA, have genetically engineered a malaria-resistant mosquito that could help prevent the spread of the disease to epidemic proportions. The manipulated mosquitoes drew blood from malaria infected mice, and were more resistant to the parasite than the unaltered mosquitoes. Over repeated trials, the experimenters found that the malaria-resistant mosquitoes remained healthier and a greater percentage of them survived than the control group of mosquitoes, suggesting that over time, the resistant mosquitoes could replace the non-resistant ones. The resistant mosquitoes were administered a much higher dosage of the malaria parasite than they would normally encounter in their natural environment. However, the researchers hope to develop a stable, healthy line of malaria-resistant mosquitoes that they can eventually release into the wild and study in their natural environment. This is an invaluable development in a field where no effective treatments are available.

Background information from Wikipedia.org

Picture from mbl.edu

According to wikipedia,

A brain drain or human capital flight is an emigration of trained and talented individuals (“human capital“) to other nations or jurisdictions, due to conflicts, lack of opportunity, or health hazards where they are living.

And, as is clear from this definition, brain drain is a word with a bad connotation. So, it is no wonder that we hear our politicians, statesmen and intellectuals often mourning brain drain.

For example, here is the President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam on reversing brain drain:

President A P J Abdul Kalam today announced the government would encourage a ”reverse brain drain” to attract some of the brightest and talented children of India and ensure their return to their motherland.

Addressing a joint sitting of Parliament, he appealed to the overseas Indians to engage more actively in India’s development.

The latest issue of Nature brings some good news; in an editorial titled In praise of the “brain drain”,  there are some interesting observations:

There is a clear correlation between emigration and the state of the public health care system, but not the one you might expect. The higher the proportion of an African nation’s nurses and doctors who have moved abroad, the better shape its health care is likely to be in.

These observations are based on a report which is available here. So, the article concludes on a positive note, namely that emigration is a not a zero sum game — very encouraging news indeed!

Here is an article in the Hindu by David Dickson, Director, SciDev.Net about some of the recent developments at World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The article makes some interesting points and observations.

First, the good news:

Last month there was a significant breakthrough in these discussions when various important new principles governing WIPO’s approach were agreed. These included taking into account different levels of development, preserving a balance between costs and benefits in setting new IPR rules, and the importance of preserving the `public domain’ of knowledge.

The second is an observation about TRIPS:

Strong pro-business patent legislation and guidelines — such as those in the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement that countries in or joining the World Trade Organization must accept — were promoted as an essential component of efforts to promote economic development, irrespective of whether countries were rich or poor.

Remember — Mashelkar committee report was about TRIPS compliance.

The third point is how patenting regime is not helping globalisation:

But patent rules have proved to be an Achilles heel of globalisation. A series of widely publicised cases have highlighted the social injustices that accompany globalisation. These range from the appropriation of indigenous knowledge by multinational companies, to the way that patents allow pharmaceutical companies to price essential medicines out of the reach of the poor.

Of course, the article discusses the Novartis case and Mashelkar committee report (without naming it).

Finally, the most important point made by the article is that the very success of the globalisation agenda might depend crucially on how pro-poor the patent regimes are going to be:

With IPR issues rapidly climbing the political agenda in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the top priority for governments and their policymakers should be to seek agreement on a workable, pro-poor treaty. That might go some way to restoring confidence in globalisation in the eyes of an increasingly sceptical public.

One couldn’t agree more. Take a look!

Power cuts are not uncommon in Mumbai anymore, and in fact when the lights go off, lifts in many buildings stop working. No generators for the lifts. That’s what I realised when I visited a friend recently and had to climb almost ten storeys to reach her flat. Well, I do need to reduce my weight but at that time in the afternoon I was feeling least like climbing those flight of stairs. And when I found out that as per the rules of the municipal corporation, a generator was compulsory, I was irritated even further! In fact very few people know that it is mandatory for all high rises to install generators if there are lifts in the building. This requirement is as “per the BMC’s Development Control Rules…and it is the PWD that issues generator certificates to buildings.”
With high rises coming up all over the city, I wonder how many of these actually follow the norms laid down? According to the news report few residents know that generators are compulsory.
And this is not the bad news. The scary part is that consumer groups in Mumbai say that few buildings even follow the safety standards laid down in under the Bombay Lift Act, 1939. The reasons? Well, because there aren’t enough people to check up what the buildings are up to! 😯 Quoting from the news report:

“…there are only about 25 electrical engineers to inspect a total of 40- 45,000 lifts in Mumbai.”

!!!

Elevators are supposed to be checked twice a year by the BMC, but thats impossible given the few engineers they have to do the job.
No wonder there are accidents. Around 20 lift-related complaints every year in Mumbai alone. And these are the ones that are reported.

But why talk just of Mumbai? Could the rest of India be any better where safety norms are concerned?

The situation is not different in other places. A Consumer Education & Research Society (CERC) survey conducted in 2006 showed that 40% of the lifts in Ahmedabad operate without renewing their lift licences. According to the Gujarat Lifts & Escalators Act, a licence has to be renewed once every three years, says K K Bajaj, honorary director at CERC.

Well, that’s the reality. Guidelines and rules are being thrown to the winds. Can you blame me if I am a little relieved that I live on the first floor?

(The photo is for representational purposes only)

What do u do when all you ever had vanishes and you have no one to blame? When you lose the roof above your head, and when you have no means of winning daily bread for your family? When there are thousands of people ready to help you, but you find no help?  No Idea? Ask the Tsunami victims.

 Two years after the tsunami, billions of dollars donated by governments and individuals around the world has still not been spent on reconstruction. Figures say, of the $6.7 billion pledged, $3.5 billion has not been spent. The only people who came knocking to their doors were ‘cash -for-organ’ brokers, eyeing the huge sea of prospective ‘donors’ in front of them. Their targets: anyone with a healthy kidney. tsunami.jpg

According to a recent BBC report, around 150 people of Ernavur, Tamil Nadu, mainly women are said to have undergone the dangerous surgery, in order to pay back debts and to keep the stove burning.The average price of a kidney: Rupees 50,000. An amount very often promised, but not paid.Revathy and Maria are among the large number women who have the same sad story to tell. The Chennai Police are probing into the issue. 

Organ sales are prohibited in India and is a punishable offence, but relatives are allowed to donate to the patient. The sad and shocking part of the story is that some of these operations were carried out in government hospitals. The government, according to an anonymous aid worker, seems to be disregarding this community because it is a marginalised one and feels the government would prefer the coast was used to build hotels. But, the result is: desperate people. 

Homeless, penniless, cheated, in deep pain, helpless and some, short of a kidney, best describes the state of many of the families in the Tsunami struck areas of Tamil Nadu. Its time the government stops shutting its eyes towards the poor if it really wants to improve conditions in India, and make it ‘Shining’ or ‘Incredible!’.

PiyushA blogger has sent me this request to help a little boy, Piyush, fighting with cancer. Piyush’s case is also listed in CPAA website (Cancer Patients Aid Association).

“Piyush, the only child to his middle class parents, will complete his 7th Birthday on January 25, 2007”. Piyush (7 Years) has been diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblast Leukemia, a form of Blood Cancer). The cost of his treatment is projected to be approximately US $ 350,000.

Funds needed: INR 1.25 Crore (only for treatment) + 4 months Accommodation at hospital site + Air fare + Post Transplant care [More info here…]

Funds collected: INR 67 lakhs in Bank Account

Click here to read about how to donate.

IBN Story on this

Note: all donations to CPAA are exempt from Income Tax under Section 80-G of the Income Tax Act (50% tax exemption). You will receive a tax exemption certificate along with receipt for the amount donated.

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