International Thank-You Day – January 11

International Thank You Day

International Thank You Day

HERD Foundation takes the opportunity to thank everyone on the occasion of International Thank-You Day celebrated on January 11. Belated as it may be, this singular day is marked out to thank someone for something special. And so we take this moment to thank all people, supporters and volunteers who helped us on in this great journey. We share our deepest thanks with each one of us who really deserve to be acknowledged for hand-holding and cheering us on in the fulfillment of our dreams.

This special day matters to us, as often enough in our busy routine and rigors of daily living we may forget the niceties of life. Sometimes we do not really even have the time to say these two beautiful short words “Thank You”. May be this is why the day was assigned and set aside so that we appreciate the parts played by everyone around us and who is important to us in the fulfillment of our endeavors.

The International Thank You day is a great opportunity to start of the New Year on a new note by thanking everyone. Just as the holiday season is getting over and once again we delve back into work and business, along comes this day reminding us all that something essential needs to be done. January 11 as International Thank You Day starts us on by showing appreciation to people who make our lives better.

We do believe that all of us have plentiful people to thank something for.  Perhaps it is a day that helps each one of us cultivate goodwill by expressing our gratitude. This special day may add just that much more meaning and fun by conveying and celebrating the quintessential importance of  International Thank You Day! So go ahead and say your own thank-you messages. We usually miss the opportunity to express our gratitude to friends and colleagues – let us thank each other for our countless blessings. Let us all ingrain gratitude.



Vive-la-Liberté – Long Live Freedom

Free Speech

Free Speech

Although reacting to the Paris massacre is not in our line of work, but we are not outside world events. The tragedy has brought on mixed reactions from all across, ever since the murder of people associated with the weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo. The world is decrying the horrific act by terrorists in the name of religion and most of people are floundering with regard to Freedom of Expression.

Looking back we are well aware that free speech has a long history, predating today’s world. It is a concept that had gained acceptance from times of ancient Athens, from where in fact the genesis of democratic traditions had emerged in the late 6th – early 5th century BC. The Roman Republic had incorporated the values of freedom of speech and freedom of religion back then.

In fact the notion of freedom of speech is to be found in early human rights documents of England too that had granted freedom of speech through the Bill of Rights in 1689, still effective to this day. In 1789 France also affirmed freedom of speech through The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted during the French Revolution.

Acceptance of free speech iterates the idea of free communication of ideas and opinions and remains one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen accordingly may speak, write, and print with freedom as long as it does not abuse the freedom of another. However, often one gets carried away overlooking freedom of another to spell out home truths. In such times remember the words – “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Penned by one the most famous of French men, François-Marie Arouet, better known by his pen name Voltaire, it is time to remember his advocacy for freedom of expression. Voltaire was outspoken despite threats under strict censorship laws of his time. But his satirical wit continued to criticize intolerance, and dogma. This courageous writer continued fighting for civil rights while denouncing hypocrisies and injustices of the Ancien Regime of France.

Let us then encourage a more tolerant viewpoint and remember that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It is a right that includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. In conclusion we can do well to remember George Orwell’s words – “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.”

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Nosebleeds in Elderly are Serious

Nosebleeds are Serious

Nosebleeds are Serious

Nasal hemorrhage or nosebleeds are called epistaxis in medical terms. Positioned in the middle of the face a nose is full of blood vessels making people susceptible to nosebleeds. Although nosebleed may not be a cause for alarm in youngsters, but nosebleeds in the elderly can be life threatening. Ruptured blood vessels can cause the nose to bleed profusely.

Nosebleeds occur in old people taking anti-coagulants or blood-thinning medications like aspirin. If a patient is taking anti-coagulants, has high blood pressure or blood-clotting disorder then the bleeding will be harder to stop and may last up to twenty minutes. There are two types of nosebleeds – Anterior and Posterior.

Anterior nosebleeds originate from the lower nasal septum and occur mostly in children. The wall between the nostrils contain delicate blood vessels that receive blood from the carotid arteries, two principal arteries in the front of the neck that supply blood to the head and neck. A slight knock or bump causes these vessels to bleed that may be treated at home.

Posterior nosebleeds originate further back and higher up the nose where artery branches supply blood to the nose, which is why it is heavier. Posterior nosebleeds are very serious and require immediate medical attention. They are more common in the elderly. Causes of posterior nosebleeds are high blood pressure, calcium deficiency, cold dry climate, atherosclerosis or daily aspirin use. Such nosebleeds can be dangerous and the older the patient, the more serious is the nosebleed.

One has to be given immediate medical attention. A nosebleed can be really frightening both to the onlooker and to the one it occurs to. Most nosebleeds look much worse than they really are. Help the patient to sit down and lean slightly forward. Keeping the head above the heart slows the bleeding. Leaning forward stops the blood from going down the throat into the stomach.

The usual remedy in a hospital is to either pack the nose or cauterize the bleeding vessel. Cauterization uses a special solution or an electrical or heating device to burn the vessel to stop bleeding. The doctor numbs the nose before the procedure. Packing the nose with special gauze or inflatable latex balloon makes sure enough pressure is placed on the vessel to make it stop bleeding.

After-care is essential and the patient must avoid blowing nose after a nosebleed. Use a humidifier in cold dry climates. If one is prescribed anticoagulants (blood-thinning medications) discuss concerns with physician. To prevent recurring nosebleeds avoid exerting or straining and avoid causes of occurrence.

Consult an Expert

Consult an Expert

Healthwise & Moneywise – Go for Organic Produce

Organic Soil

                Allowing Soil to Replenish itself

India, an agricultural economy since times immemorial has had farmers undertaking organic farming from ancient times. It is not really a new-fangled approach as is being made out to be. What it really involves is cultivating crops in a way that does not harm the soil. The use of natural manure is advocated to keep the soil alive and allow it to replenish itself for subsequent use.

It was in the wake of the Green Revolution in agriculture that the advent of modern pesticides for inorganic farming became the norm. Chemical insecticides are used primarily because they ensure healthy crops every time as also sustained produce. Realizing the feat of pesticides, agronomy the world over has come to rely heavily on them, that subsequently launched the mushrooming pesticide industry.

What was taken up with such grand intentions has in a space of half a century, backfired on us, woefully. Inorganic fertilizers or synthetic fertilizers are a big time manufacturing plus as they do not decompose before usage and are readily absorbed by plants. These compounds are not entirely composed of the nutrients needed by the plants though. They also contain salts and other elements that are not absorbed by plants. They are in fact left behind in the soil that builds up in time to create hazards.

When overtime such compounds are found in large amounts in the soil they can alter the chemistry of the soil. The soil actually becomes less ideal for cultivation. Although methods like neutralizing the soil and so on are undertaken to allow soil to revert back to its original state, but that does not really happen.  In fact, actually toxic compounds leech into the ground, seeping into groundwater. That’s double the jeopardy!

On the contrary organic manure made of wastes like crop remnants, farm, animal and aquatic wastes or other biological materials are better off for cultivation. They allow beneficial microbes called bio-fertilizers to be released as nutrients into the crops that benefit much more. Aside from being eco- friendly they help in restoring a pollution free environment.

This is why organic farming is encouraged so as to avoid or minimize use of synthetic pesticides. The promotion of crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste and biological nutrients is considered effective for the long run for cultivation. Organic farming offers unique soil management to enhance agro-ecosystem health. This is accomplished by using on-farm agronomic, biological manure.

The increase in population should be all the more reason to stabilize agricultural production in a sustained way. While earlier food production was accelerated to feed an escalating population through the Green Revolution, we now need to go back to using organic inputs since to sustain the very soil that should be conserved for future generations.

With sizeable thrusts given to organic farming, we are witnessing positive outcomes. Organic produce now commands premium pricing and more farmers are getting into it to cater to a growing demand to accrue benefits. It really is a win-win situation for both producer and consumer. As ill effects of inorganic farm produce becoming clearer organic produce is being sought, creating its own niche market.

Organic Produce at a Premium

                  Organic Produce at a Premium

Consanguinity and Sickle Cell Disorders (SCD)

Sickle Cell Disorders

Sickle Cell Disorders

Central India, home to some of our remaining jungles is inhabited by tribal people. Their healthcare is a matter of concern for HERD Foundation which is making inroads in this direction. We are especially concerned about rampant anemia among these populations. What is more worrisome is that debilitating conditions get worse due to prevalence of Sickle Cell Disorders (SCD) in communities settled here.

These problems are severe in tribal children that makes it essential to ascertain how ubiquitous the disorders are, as well as to gain understanding about their nutritional status. In the course of our work in these parts we know SCD is omnipresent and that anemic conditions are severe, especially in the case of girls. Studies reveal that among children, about 40% females and 27% males are anemic. Many findings suggest high prevalence of anemia in tribal populations.

We know full well that sickle cell anemia has no available cure. What can be done is only manage the symptoms and treat patients for improving on anemic conditions. Complications of the disease are found in both children and adults. Sickle cell anemia varies from person to person. Some people who have the disease suffer from chronic pain or constant fatigue.  Proper care and treatment are needed to improve the quality of life and facilitate reasonable health.

SCD is a genetic disease that one is actually born into. This hereditary disease is a death knell for people who are forced to bear with it until their imminent death that often comes early. People live up to forties, fifties or sometimes longer. Sickle cell anemia is a type of anemia in which blood has lower than normal number of red blood cells. The condition can occur even if red blood cells do not contain enough hemoglobin.

In sickle cell anemia, the abnormal sickle cells usually die after only about 10 to 20 days. The bone marrow cannot make new red blood cells fast enough to replace the dying ones. The lifelong disease is inherited by two genes of sickle hemoglobin—one from each parent. People who inherit a sickle hemoglobin gene from one parent and a normal gene from the other parent have a condition called sickle cell trait. This occurs through mutation (abnormal change) in the gene that instructs the body to produce hemoglobin.

Sickle cell gene is inherited or passed on between family members and is commonly passed on through defective genes from both parents. This can be diagnosed through a blood test. Actually it is consanguinity or marriages within families, a common occurrence in these communities that causes the genetic disorder. Pre-marital counseling on consanguinity is therefore very important for these consanguineous populations to break the pattern.

SCD Hot Spots - Prevalence in India

SCD Hot Spots – Prevalence in India

World Braille Day

World Braille Day

World Braille Day

Most countries observe World Braille Day on January 4, being the birthday of its inventor Louis Braille. This day recognizes his significant contribution that has been assisting blind people to be able to read and write. Several organizations celebrate the day to create awareness about the challenges faced by visually impaired people. Many schools also mark the day to share its history for the benefit of students.

Braille is a code using bumps and indentation on surfaces that represent letters. They are recognized by touch and Louis Braille, blinded in an accident when he was only 3 years of age, invented it. Up until his discovery the Haüy system that had embossed Latin letters on thick paper or leather was used. But it was a complicated system requiring rigorous training and could only be read and not written.

This encouraged Braille when he was only 15, to invent the Braille code. Today we have several different versions of Braille. Since it is basically a code, all languages and even subjects like mathematics, music and computer programming can be read and written in Braille! This has been critically instrumental in the lives of millions of blind people to study and access literature.

It has been 200 years now since blind people have been facilitated to read and write using Braille.  This tactile alphabet system has letters, numbers and symbols for most languages in the world.  For blind students Braille is the key to attaining knowledge, literacy and employment. The world owes it to the young French man enrolled in the Royal Institution for Blind Youth, Paris who so wanted to read books just like other children, that he created a tactile alphabet to enable him easily to read and write!

The Marrakesh Treaty, an international copyright agreement ratified by 20 countries allows Braille books to be produced without copyright permission. The Treaty allows libraries for the blind to share accessible versions of books across borders without copyright permission. Till date the Marrakesh Treaty has been signed by 81 countries. The World Blind Union a global organization effective in 190 countries represents over 285 million blind or partially sighted people worldwide.

HERD Foundation encourages everyone to understand the importance of human right for all people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled, to be able to access and facilitate access to published works. The organization remembers and recognizes Louis Braille for his simple yet effective invention that made it possible for blind people throughout the world to read and write.

January 4 - World Braille Day

January 4 – World Braille Day

Vision Impairment & Correctable Disabilities

Magnitude of The Problem

Magnitude of The Problem

HERD Foundation works periodically through affiliated medical institutes for correction of disabilities. In the past we have done far-reaching work on lip-cleft surgical repair interventions. We are now keen on working on vision impairment for teaching communities to maintain eye health. We look ahead to embrace the challenges in this connection that hopefully will serve in servicing people with vision disabilities.

We reinforce positive attitudes to look on persons with visual impairments to be included for these services. In the hope of creating user friendly approaches for people with visual impairments we have been ruminating to understand that very many visual disabilities are correctable conditions. This would mean we could promote an inclusive world in which all persons with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.

HERD Foundation visualizes doing this in three ways. We are working on partnerships that support medical care for vision disabilities and for prevention of conditions lead to impairments. We will improve access to healthcare, education and rehabilitation services for people in need of vision care. We want to be part of efforts that mainstream visual disability in all aspects and to empower persons with these disabilities.

It is on humanitarian grounds that HERD Foundation wishes to take an active role in the communities through their inclusion for such development projects, and to involve them in all such initiatives that will benefit them. Disabilities can thus be addressed by good Samaritans to benefit people facing barriers in finding solutions to their vision related health problems.

Our hope is to assist disadvantaged people suffering from impairments. It is really essential to help such people as they do not know that they can be treated and rediscover the full potential of their limitations. This means that HERD Foundation will offer support and play a role in breaking down prejudice towards people with disabilities.

Imagine a situation where a person with correctable visual impairment is further disabled by the attitudes of others around him. Such people can be readily treated rather than facing isolation, mistreatment and maybe even ridicule. HERD Foundation seeks to improve access to eye care, eye-care education and rehabilitation services for persons with visual impairments. We want to mainstream this disability in all aspects of empowerment for the afflicted persons.

Facts about Visual Impairment:

  • Worldwide, 285 million people are visually impaired due to various cases; 39 million of them are blind.
  • 121 million are visually impaired because of uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism). Almost all of them could have normal vision restored with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
  • 90% of visually impaired people live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • 51% of all blindness is due to age-related cataract, the leading cause of blindness. (Statistics taken from World Health Organization website)
Visual Impairment

Visual Impairment