World Trauma Day 2017

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Image – Courtesy Google 

Each year October 17 is observed as World Trauma Day. The day reminds us all regarding the rising number of accidents and injuries that cause death and disability across the world and how we may prevent the same. Trauma refers to “any injury caused to the body” physical or mental. Injuries may be due to road accidents, fires, burns, falls, or acts of violence.

Surprisingly in all these causes it is road accidents that remain the number one reason for trauma all over the world. Road accidents often lead to temporary or permanent disability of victims and may even be fatal. It is estimated that every year nearly 5 million people die from injuries across the world.

In our own country statistics reveal that every year about a million people die while 20 million get hospitalized due to serious injuries. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) states that nearly 1, 40,000 people die in road accidents in India on an average in any given year. In reality the numbers may be even more since these would probably be the numbers of reported cases.

The fact is that road accidents keep occurring all the time that also increases the morbidity and mortality rate. It is therefore very important to take all required precautions and steps to contain both accidents and injuries. Since as we all know prevention is always better than cure, people, especially the young ones should be taking care. Authorities should stay alert towards imposing restrictions on speed, wearing of helmets and act responsibly in traffic regulation.

Road accidents are the scourge of modern times. These deaths and disabilities can be prevented if proper training is imparted to the common man on how to handle emergency care in accident cases. For, apart from causing deaths in a largely young population, trauma will, by 2020, be ranked third for causing disabilities among the Indian population. Trauma can therefore be looked upon as an epidemic.

It is for this reason that HERD Foundation has been promoting Basic Life Saving Skills Training and advocating emergency medicine courses for not only medical people but for lay persons as well. If life sustaining help is not provided by first responders within minutes of an accident, then chances are we may be left counting more fatality statistics. We also need to impose strict rules for vehicle drivers to be careful and observe safety and wear helmets.

In line with our role as health care providers, HERD Foundation is committed to saving lives of critical patients. We urge every person working in healthcare sector and even laypersons to gain essential knowledge of life support skills. We know that early recognition and immediate life support intervention saves lives. It has therefore become a life’s mission for us to undertake Life Support Training Skills programme and to make them as widespread as possible.

In most trauma cases where deaths occur before medical help arrives, there is nobody who knows what to do. Precious minutes are lost. It is for this reason that we have undertaken training in basic life-saving skills. If a person is not given help within three minutes of an accident then we can lose a person. Today, on October 17 2017, we once again reiterate our mission and also raise awareness about the World Trauma Day.  Here are some do’s and don’ts to remember and follow to avoid accidents:

Do’s

  • Follow road safety rules carefully.
  • Always fasten seat belts and child care safety seats.
  • Pay attention to warning signs and traffic signals.
  • Always wear a helmet while riding a two-wheeler.
  • Avoid distractions like mobile phones and loud music.
  • Take short breaks in case of long distance driving.
  • Keep children away from electric switches and wires.
  • Carry a first aid safety kit at your home and in your vehicle.
  • Learn basic life support techniques and help the injured.

Don’ts

  • Do not drive when you are tired, sleepy or drunk.
  • Do not drive rashly when in a hurry.
  • In case of a head/spinal injury do not move victim from accident site without professional help.
  • Do not give fluids to any unconscious or semi-conscious traumatized person.

 

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Let There Be Light

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Image – Courtesy Google 

Deepawali, the festival of lights is just round the corner. It ritualistically begins with cleansing. Every household gets busy with this annual cleaning frenzy to rid abodes of months of dust, cobwebs, dirt, grime and filth that go nearly unnoticed, until now. Hidden corners, high ceilings, ceiling fans, shut cupboards, lofts, store rooms, and bathrooms are all cleaned up vigorously. The deep-cleaning spree is to turn our homes come out shining and new!

But while we are so enthusiastic about welcoming the festive season with a home that is spruced up and squeaky clean, should we also not be concerned about keeping our surroundings pollution free too? Should we not pause and question as to why we make use of fire-crackers that will be polluting not only the environment but also our bodies. Should our bodies not need more attention to be kept clean along with our households?

Fire-crackers are synonymous with Diwali celebrations that environmentalists for years have been attempting to warn off. Intelligent people certainly welcome the Supreme Court decision prohibiting sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR. Why don’t other cities follow suit and look forward to a relatively cleaner Diwali. Don’t we all want relief from the annual rise in air pollution levels during Diwali? It is true that in India pollution levels go up much higher than national standards just as soon as the winters begin. It is for this reason alone that there should be comprehensive control on air pollution all over the country.

Pollution after Diwali fireworks affects all parts of the body. Your skin, eyes, nose, heart and even lungs may get affected. Chronic diseases like asthma and other lung related allergies get seriously aggravated after Diwali pollution. Warns Dr. Suchika Gupta, co-founder and Managing Director of HERD Foundation: “There is little doubt that the numbers of patients suffering from respiratory diseases spikes up tremendously after Diwali, not to speak of fire related accidents that get victims rushed to hospitals. It is therefore best to light lamps and celebrate peacefully rather that invite hazardous substances in our bodies and our environment”.

Aside from risk of skin burns or similar suffering that may follow burning firecrackers, the other hazard comes from smog that soon engulfs surrounding areas. It makes breathing difficult. Yet house after house goes berserk lighting up all kinds of fire crackers that aside from profusely littering the streets also affects air quality. Smog filled up with chemicals from fireworks fills up the environment and continues to hit residents particularly during early mornings and late evenings. The concentrations of ultra-fine PM2.5 reach as high as 1,000 ug/m3, nearly 17 times the safe limit of 60 ug/m3.

So even when Diwali is over, the smog continues to affect morning walkers, school-going children, and anyone else who comes in contact with this pollution-laden air. How then does it help anyone to first take part in such hazardous activity, and then get affected by the toxic fumes? Think especially of the damage that occurs to people suffering from chronic respiratory diseases or those having weak immunity?

Anyone experiencing breathlessness, coughing fits, chest tightness or watery eyes after Diwali can be sure that these are after effects of high levels of air pollution. Such people should not be going about outdoors early morning and late evening. Additionally they should invest in a quality face mask. It is true that prolonged exposure to concentrated metal particles may cause serious lung diseases.

India’s Central Pollution Control Board routinely monitors four air pollutants namely sulphur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), suspended particulate matter (SPM) and respirable particulate matter (PM10). Bursting firecrackers during Diwali sends PM2.5 levels soaring. New Delhi, the capital city ranks notoriously high on unhealthy levels of particulate matter pollution. So while the recent judgment is a step in the right direction, other Indian cities ought to follow strict norms too. Unfortunately air quality levels are monitored by the government in only a handful of cities!

HERD Foundation suggests – let there be light this Diwali in your homes and also in your minds! Go for a fire-cracker free Diwali and do yourself, your neigbourhood, and your city a huge favour. We take this opportunity to wish everyone a peaceful and fun-filled Deepawali. May the festive season ahead be one that paves the way for better health, cleaner environment and breathable air.

Images – Courtesy Google

 

International Day of the Girl

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The world observes International Day Of The Girl today on October 11. International Day of the Girl Child or Day of the Girl is an annual event that highlights issues concerning the gender inequality facing young girls. This year’s theme is “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.” The focus is on addressing the needs and challenges that girls face and to ensure that we all promote girls’ empowerment.

Designated by the UN, October 11 is the day that reminds us all to invest in adolescent girls. A united effort in this direction will create a formidable ripple effect to create a better world by 2030. That is the idea. On this International Day of the Girl, all countries join in to highlight the unique challenges and potential of adolescent girls. With nearly 600 million girls aged 10 to 19 in the world today, one can only imagine the limitless individual potential they have to offer.

UN Women rightly feels that focus on girls is disappearing from public awareness and the international development agenda. It is a sad fact that girls all over the world face inequity issues, protection issues, and inability to complete secondary education. Adolescent girls everywhere are uniquely impacted and this ought to be corrected by offering benefits by targeted investments and programmes that address their distinct needs.

There are 1.1 billion girls in the world, and every one of them deserves equal opportunities for a better future. They are a source of energy, power and creativity. They can drive change and help build a better future for all. Yet, most girls face disadvantage and discrimination on a daily basis, and those living through crises suffer even more. Therefore this year pays special attention to the theme – “Empower girls: Before, during and after conflict”.

Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. In humanitarian emergencies, gender-based violence often increases, subjecting girls to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking. Adolescent girls in conflict zones are 90 per cent more likely to be out of school when compared to girls in conflict-free countries, compromising their future prospects for work and financial independence as adults.

Throughout 2017 we have seen growing conflict, instability and inequality, with 128.6 million people this year expected to need humanitarian assistance due to security threats, climate change and poverty. More than three-quarters of those who have become refugees or who are displaced from their homes are women and children. Among these, women and girls are among the most vulnerable in times of crisis.

Displaced and vulnerable women and girls face higher risks of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as damage to their livelihoods; girls are 2.5 times more likely than boys to miss school during disasters; and displaced girls are often married off as children in an effort to ensure their security. Across the world, empowered girls are raising their voices to fight for their rights and protection in all contexts. They are working to end violence against women and girls, to recognize indigenous rights, and to build peaceful and cohesive communities.

Let this day be a pledge to ensure that girls are offered positive options that allow them to grow and develop social and economic skills. Let ngo’s and civil society organizations boost civic engagement and leadership for girls by advocating their social participation and resurgence. Let nations turn adverse situations into opportunities of empowerment for girls and young women.

On this International Day of the Girl Child let us all commit to investing in skills training and education for girls and livelihood activities for young women. We are well aware of the plight of young girls in our own country. Let us not be passive any more but address the issues affecting the girl child and help to rebuild our communities to create a better future for all of us.

Unemployment Today

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Increasing unemployment in India is creating serious threats to social equanimity, if this is not already been disrupted. With reports of Indians featuring on the list of richest men in the world, coupled with the fact that the rich are getting richer and poor are turning poorer in our country, the divide between the haves and the have-nots emerges as a critical social issue. It is time to be wary of fallouts of social disparity and look for ways to create employment opportunities.

Unemployment records in India are kept by Ministry of Labour and Employment of India. Even the UN keeps tabs on this issue and as per the UN Labour Report unemployment is projected to witness marginal increase between 2017 and 2018 signaling stagnation in job creation in India. The United Nations International Labour Organisation released its 2017 World Employment and Social Outlook report early this year. It projects economic growth trends lagging behind employment needs. It also predicts rising unemployment and worsening social inequality throughout 2017.

In the present socio-economic scenario in our country it appears difficult to expect that employment options for the needy will pick up pace, anytime soon – either in what is left of the year or even in coming 2018. As job scarcity rises, what it really represents is a sad stagnation in percentage of people unable to remain gainfully employed. According to the UN report: “Unemployment in India is projected to increase from 17.7 million last year to 17.8 million in 2017 and 18 million next year. In percentage terms, unemployment rate will remain at 3.4 per cent in 2017-18”.

This is a dismal forecast, that in the same report makes projections stating that global unemployment levels and rates were expected to remain high in the short term! So even as the global labour force continues to grow, unemployment for our country shows that more unemployed people will be facing challenges to make a living. This will significantly affect inequality in incomes and wealth creation, thereby creating further disparities.

As we well know that the employment structure of an economy is the normal instrument that may cause changes in inequality, often for the worse. Since the government functions within its administrative and fiscal constraints, targeted programmes for employment generation only marginally impact income redistribution. Income flow on a larger scale can be influenced only when assets are made available along with promotion of new modes of employment opportunities.

In India, unemployed persons are individuals who are without income generating activities and who actively attempt to being gainfully employed. According to the India Skills Report launched in the 3rd CII National Conference on Skill Development only about 3.4% were found employable out of about 1, 00,000 candidates! This report not only captured the real skill levels of the talent pool that was created but also laid out the hiring estimates across major Industry sectors in the country.

It is clear that skills development is an area requiring urgent attention. A general trend seen to be readily acceptable by employers today is that they look for skills rather than qualifications, broadly speaking. Even so, despite having several sectors available – BFSI, BPO/ITES, manufacturing and so on, these do not bring on the expected changes in hiring patterns. Engineering, Hospitality and Travel have emerged as sectors with probable increase in the hiring numbers. What is then clear is that we need to develop a skilled employable pool (based on gender, age-group, identified domain, and so on) to facilitate entry as per industry needs.

HERD Foundation runs projects that help to homogenize society and that builds awareness on the need for economic well-being. Our development plans take on interventions that widen the scope for the poorest and marginalized people. We know for sure that skills development will be conducive for their betterment, besides creating a cadre of skilled workers. We are very keen to transform the existing unemployment scenario by provide employment-oriented education. The development of manpower for employment opportunities is a strategic necessity for accelerating economic growth. We are open to partnerships in this area, and seek hand-holding and support for such initiatives.

World Ozone Day

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September 16 is observed as International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. The ozone layer or ozone shield is a region of Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It contains high concentrations of ozone in relation to other parts of the atmosphere, although still small in relation to other gases in the stratosphere.

This layer in the stratosphere contains relatively high concentration of ozone. The earth’s atmosphere divided into several layers has each layer playing a role. The first region extends to about 10km up from the earth’s surface and is called the troposphere. Ozone depletion occurs when chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons or gases formerly found in aerosol spray cans and refrigerants get released into the atmosphere. CFCs and halons cause chemical reactions breaking down ozone molecules to reduce ozone’s ultraviolet radiation-absorbing capacity.

It is very essential to keep a control on fossil fuels that cause huge amounts of damage to the ozone layer which is depleting quickly. The ozone layer gets depleted by chemicals and air pollution caused by human activities. This is why September 16th is marked out since 1987 after the Montreal Protocol as World Ozone Day. A number of special events such as talks and seminars are held on this day. World Ozone Day is officially been celebrated since 1994 after being established by United Nations General Assembly. The day is mainly intended to spread awareness of the depletion of the Ozone Layer and search for solutions to preserve it.

People from all over the world are made aware of the need to protect the ozone layer. Talks and seminars are held widely by academics and concerned agencies. Celebrated all around the world schools and colleges have educators setting aside the day to instruct students about the Ozone layer. Many educational institutions organize special events and activities to raise awareness on the need to conserve the ozone layer.

September 16 is the designated day as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. This designation had been made on December 19, 1995, in commemoration of the date, in 1987, on which nations signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The closure of the hole in the ozone layer was observed 30 years after the protocol was signed. Due to the nature of the gases responsible for ozone depletion their chemical effects are expected to continue for between 50 to 100 years.

The ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas, protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet. The phase out of controlled uses of ozone depleting substances and the related reductions have not only helped protect the ozone layer for this and future generations, but have also contributed significantly to global efforts to address climate change. Also it has protected human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol. As part of the anniversary celebrations, the Ozone Secretariat has launched a communication campaign ahead of World Ozone Day. The #OzoneHeroes campaign launched on 14 September will seek to celebrate the major accomplishments of the Montreal Protocol in protecting the ozone layer and the climate, to increase public recognition of the success and impact of the Protocol.

Nutrition Awareness Camp for Tribal Populations

 

The Tribal Clinic set up by HERD Foundation at Pauni undertakes regular health awareness programmes as part of its mandated activities to create healthier communities settled here. We systematically take on health camps to popularize preventive measures by organizing health awareness programs on issues related to health and hygiene. While last fortnight we undertook educating about diarrhea, this fortnight focused on nutritional awareness. Our team has been working for past three years in the region and the surrounding villages are familiar with the scheduled programmes of which they are informed in advance.

It is largely women patients who get involved as they are well acquainted with the medical team and they become willing participants in these awareness programmes. Such events teach them to take better care of their children and families. The tribal women are appropriate messengers to carry back the lessons to implement them in their daily lives. It leads them to take informed care of children, aging parents, and community members. These health camps are organized at the Tribal Clinic and last week the nutrition awareness camp drew nearly 60 women to the event.

Information about events gets circulated well in advance and the nutritive recipe competition was publicized to bring in more participants to the health awareness camp. The camp was organized for the benefit of the community women to coincide with the medical team’s health examination scheduled visit to the Tribal Clinic. It is when the team goes out for providing medical assistance thrice a week to this location, that they also plan and conduct activities to ensure inclusive reach for need of health awareness programs for the benefit of the people living here.

On September 8, 2017 the camp was organized with the aim to improve the nutritional status of the populations and especially targeted the tribal families. The food-preparation based nutrition approach was undertaken to create nutrition awareness to enhance consumption of nutritionally rich fruits, vegetables and ingredients. The team members made a comprehensive presentation to promote and emphasize on the importance of dietary variety in order to improve the nutritional quality of their diet and to increase knowledge and education on food preparation.

The team successfully created an environment in which the women became engrossed in learning how to add sufficient variety in their eating habits through locally available, affordable fruits, vegetables and ingredients that would add to their nutritional intake. This kind of participatory nutrition education for the women actually helped in inspiring them to learn new ways for consumption of nutritionally rich food.

Knowledge about alternate food preparation was shared prolifically. The nutrition-rich food competition announced earlier had the women bring in dishes they had prepared. Prizes were given after tasting and judging of dishes. This was done to encourage them to prepare innovative nutritious food in their households that will increase consumption of new recipes. The tribal women felt benefitted in being imparted necessary knowledge and skills to prepare and consume nutrition rich foods that they would add to their diet.

It turned out to be a wonderful effort by the medical team to raise awareness as well as to promote strategies for achieving nutrition security and enhance diversified food habits among these tribal families. These communities after all suffer from micronutrient malnutrition and the team assisted in offering solutions to address the problems. It was a wonderful participatory gathering that taught them to understand the need to learn about importance of nutrition and know of recipes using seasonal vegetables, fruits and condiments.

HERD Foundation hopes the nutrition awareness programme at the community level will promote increased consumption of nutrient rich foods. The health camp attracted the rural poor and disadvantaged women living here. The activities and advice provided by the team were to improve their awareness and skills in cooking to benefit their healthy eating habits. We know the team will be successful in bridging this critical knowledge link to educate home makers – mostly women to take better care of themselves, their children and families.

Snuffing Dissent

freedom of speech (media, control, censorship)Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression. The law states that, “all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression”.

Google-Speak: The following is taken directly from Google in response to queries posted by people there.

“What is the right to freedom of expression?

It is the right to express one’s ideas and opinions freely through speech, writing, and other forms of communication but without deliberately causing harm to others’ character and/or reputation by false or misleading statements. Freedom of press is part of freedom of expression.

What does free expression mean?

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is the right of every individual to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

What is freedom of thought and expression?

Freedom of thought (also called freedom of conscience or ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others’ viewpoints. It is different from and not to be confused with the concept of freedom of speech or expression.

Why is it important to have freedom of speech?

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. It reinforces all other human rights, allowing society to develop and progress. The ability to express our opinion and speak freely is essential to bring about change in society. Free speech is important for many other reasons.

Is the freedom of speech absolute?

That fallacy is the notion that free speech is absolute. It is the belief that freedom of expression does not mean freedom to speak your mind without government interference, but freedom to speak your mind without any interference at all.

Why is the freedom of the press important in a democracy?

Freedom of expression is important for democracy, because it enables the public to participate in making decisions based on the free flow of information and ideas. Without it, people would be unable to make informed decisions.

Why is it important to have a free press in a democracy?

Freedom of expression is crucial for a successful democracy because it lets the public participate in making decisions based on the free flow of information and ideas. Without it, people would be unable to make informed decisions.

What does it mean to have a free press?

A body of book publishers, news media, etc., not controlled or restricted by government censorship in political or ideological matters.

What is the role of the media in a democratic society?

A democracy is a system of government in which all the people of a country can vote to elect their representatives. Media came into existence around the 1780s with the introduction of newspapers, and since then it has matured by leaps and bounds. It is the backbone of a democracy.

What is democracy in the media?

A media democracy focuses on using information technologies to both empower individual citizens and promote democratic ideals through the spread of information. Additionally, the media system itself should be democratic in its own construction shying away from private ownership or intense regulation.

What is the role of the media?

Media of today is playing an outstanding role in creating and shaping of public opinion and strengthening of society. Media is the sword arm of democracy. Media acts as watchdog to protect public interest against malpractice and create public awareness.”

Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders (RWB) is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization promoting and defending freedom of information and freedom of the press. The organization based in Paris, France, has consultant status at the United Nations. RSF has ranked India 136th of 180 countries in world press freedom ratings.

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Journalists pay tributes to recently slain journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead in Bangalore