Campaigning for Cervical Cancer Awareness

Dr Suchika Gupta, Managing Director, HERD Foundation takes charge as campaign partner for ‘Chance to Change’, an awareness and early detection program for cervical cancer undertaken by Alexis Hospital. HERD Foundation partners for this much-needed initiative to draw attention to the need to detect cervical cancer which is curable in early stages. Dr Suchika Gupta, well known as an avant garde professional in the medical fraternity, takes up the issue with alacrity.

It is definitely a significant step to encourage women, especially in rural areas, to shed their fear and understand that early detection is important in controlling the disease. The task is to convince women of the necessity to build up their awareness of cervical cancer. HERD Foundations wants to ensure this through the partnership campaign to stop the disease from going malignant. This is why it is important to encourage women to go in for examination and check-ups starting with the simple first procedure – a Pap smear.

Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cause of cancer and deaths from cancer in women. It is the second-most common cause of female-specific cancer after breast cancer. The median age at diagnosis is 48! Although less common than endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer, the rates of new cases is increasing. Even so cervical cancer deaths are decreasing due to widespread Pap smear screenings.

It is important to inform women that this is a manageable disease if detected early on. Cervical cancer is one of the few types of cancer that can be prevented or detected early on. In some of the more common forms of cancers prevalent in Vidarbha like oral cancer and breast cancer, it is cervical cancer that is affecting women patients in the region as per the registry data collected by RST Regional Cancer Hospital.

Cervical Cancer affects the cervix or the lower part of uterus. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus or womb, and is connected to the upper vagina.  It is the structure that dilates during childbirth to allow the baby to come out of the birth canal. This is the area where cervical cells are most likely to become cancerous. Cervical cancer develops when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix begin to multiply out of control and form pre-cancerous lesions. If not successfully treated at an early stage, cervical cancer is capable of spreading through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system to parts of the body away from the uterus.

Any abnormal bleeding, unusually heavy bleeding, unusual heavy discharge, pelvic pain, pain during urination or bleeding between regular menstrual periods, after sexual intercourse, douching, or even a pelvic examination could be signs of the problem. One therefore would need to consult a doctor.  As we all know prevention is better than cure. Prevention is very important for this cancer and early detection more so.

HERD Foundation is therefore taking part in this program so that we can pitch in to lay more stress on the public education aspect of cervical cancer awareness and treatment. Regular medical care allows doctors to evaluate risks of developing cervical cancer. A routine Pap smear screening may help detect cervical cancer in its earliest, most curable stage. The goal of cervical cancer treatment is to permanently cure the cancer to bring about complete remission of the disease. HERD Foundation wishes all women – urban and rural, to stay healthy and cancer-free.

IMG_4363

 

Move Your Body

Nobody Wants To Be A Couch Potato

Nobody Wants To Be A Couch Potato

Chances are that you are reading this blog sitting in front of the computer or lying down with a tablet. Do you ever wonder how much time in the day you spent just simply sitting put. If you recall you probably sat your way to work, came up and sat on the office chair all day long and sat back to travel home, where you may have thrown yourself on a sofa or a bed to unwind.

Many of us are real couch potatoes without realizing it. This term was actually satirically created in the 1970s for comic characters depicting sedentary lifestyles by watching television all the time. As more and more of us turn into couch potatoes with modern day devices we carry around 24X7, we are actually living that very same inactive existence of turning in-tuning in-vegetating out!

With online-everything-facility we do banking, shopping and even socializing, all on the internet. The LED screen stops us from moving about and we do not know anymore the fun and benefits of regular errands. The most important invention of our times makes us its prisoner and this sitting disease goes on to create very bad lifestyles. We get up dim-eyed everyday to plonk back on beds at night ready for another deskbound day.

It will not be long before we begin to pay the price of sitting around all the time. Physical inactivity is already raising risks of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and of course obesity – the mother of all diseases. We seem to have completely forgotten that human beings are genetically engineered to move about. Lack of physical movement results in disastrous consequences for the human body.

Lack of exercise causes muscle atrophy bringing on shrinking and weakening of muscles. This apart from increasing chances of physical injury adds risks to the body’s immune defenses being reduced. It is clear staying put is an invitation to diseases. The sad part is that we are all well aware of the consequences of leading sedentary lifestyles but yet do not pay heed to getting active for achieving good health. An inactive routine and lack of physical activity contributes for multiple diseases.

It is a fact that sitting-put may cause premature death. The risk is decidedly higher for those of us who sit still more than 5 hours every day. This in itself is a known risk, free of the fact that one could be doing exercises or have good BMI. Further people who sit still more than 4 hours per day have a 40 percent higher risk than those that sit fewer than 4 hours. Lack of physical activity is then one of the leading causes of preventable death – worldwide.

Sitting-put May Cause Premature Death

Sitting-put May Cause Premature Death

Human Body Donation

Body Donation

Body Donation

For some of us making an offering of our own dead body for the good of society is an opportune way to give back to humanity. Nowadays many more people are choosing to donate their bodies to medical study and research. This is usually because donors or their family members have had the benefits of life saving medical technology or procedures through organ transplantation. However this may not be the only reason as many others simply opt for altruistic reasons for donating bodies.

Body donation has the person giving away the entire body after natural death for purposes of medical research and education. It is true the need for bodies for medical study is always there and research on them can continue to save lives. Body donation is a choice one exercises while alive, and one may or may not discuss even within the family. All you need do is contact concerned authorities and fill out the necessary paperwork to give your body to medical institutes.

It is usually medical colleges that accept dead human bodies for donation that are required for teaching students. It is a useful gesture that helps students understand human bodies and is also essential for reasons of advancing knowledge of medical sciences. Medical colleges make use of bodies to teach anatomy to medical students. They may cover the cost of cremation or burial once the cadaver serves its medical purpose or they may return the body back to the family for ritualistic interment.

Any person who wishes to donate a body has to make certain prior arrangements with local medical colleges and complete formalities before death. This usually involves filling out consent forms and completing requisite information therein. It is at this time that the person is also provided with the relevant details of processes and procedures that will take place after expiry.

Every country has its own rules and regulations with regard to accepting body donations. In United Kingdom body donation is governed under the Human Tissue Authority Act, 2004 that gives licenses for the purpose and inspects medical establishments accepting bodies. In the United States body donation is not regulated through licensure and inspection by the federal government. But the American States are subject to their own legislation of tissue donation under the donor’s legal right to choose body donation under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. In India after various amendments to Odisha Anatomy Act, some states have legalized voluntary body donation. People in India can donate their body after death by signing a pledge form along with two accompanying witness signatures.

Decisions regarding body donations are influenced by your sense of social awareness, cultural attitudes and your thinking about body donation. A number of donors are influenced by a sense of altruism and by their wish to assist in the advancement of medical knowledge as also to be useful after death. Also one may be driven by need to help future generations, be useful for medical field or simply to avoid funeral ceremonies.

Steps for Body Donation after death:

  • Contact medical facilities that accept whole body donation.
  • Fill out registration and consent forms to donate your body.
  • Keep a wallet card that notifies people of the intention to donate the body.
  • Complete transport arrangements with the facility of your choice.
  • Inform your doctor and immediate family members about the intention.
  • You may determine what you want for your body after it has been studied.
  • Make alternative arrangements. Some bodies not suitable for medical study in case of major operation done to them are returned to families.
  • Think about what you want done if your body is unable to donate itself to science.
  • You can cancel your decision any time by notifying the medical college in writing.
"Even in death do we serve life":

“Even in death do we serve life”:

Employment Opportunities for Our Youth

Despite the brouhaha about ‘acche din’ or good days as they say, it remains a hard fact that the youth of our country continue to confront challenges for getting suitable job placements after graduating from their studies. Creating a platform for availability of jobs that suits the employer base and that readily absorbs a growing number of young people entering the work force, is now part of HERD Foundations inherent activities. The Employment Fair is a regular feature, adding value to our education component.

We start off each year to understand and estimate availability of productive jobs in our vicinity. Alongside we explore the spectrum of disciplines that will respond to such openings. With final year students ready to walk out of portals of educational institutions in March each year, such an enterprise becomes all the more meaningful. With due preparation we remain focused on the employment scenario in formal/informal, private/public and urban/rural sectors for jobs that become source of income for the needy.

The Foundation pays special attention to low income families comprising majority of the population. We see good impact of efforts in the employment sector to positively influence growth and expansion of opportunities for more applicants who are able to secure suitable and better paying jobs. This then becomes a reason for much satisfaction and one that complements our work on poverty mitigation. We encourage young people to open up to ever widening choices. In a region beset with challenges for employment, the youth are actually provided due hand-holding and support to seek every possibility.

Vidarbha has not escaped the youth employment crisis and in fact in rural areas the situation is really quite grim. Unemployment rate for young male graduates in rural region is particularly high. The whole point of provision of education here appears to be in a morass if employment avenues are not in sight. In fact we are keen to start vocational education in these parts so that we can then offer them increased chances to find jobs as also to facilitate self-employment. This will be beneficial in the long-term too.

As an advocate for youth HERD Foundation is attempting to ensure that candidates commit themselves completely to this endeavor. We make certain that they make full use of the opportunity to participate effectively in their own best interests. We address the match between prospective companies and qualified students that opens up ways to reduce long-term youth unemployment. The attempt is also to train candidates to become fully equipped in following through with the demands of employers. For this we organize measures like extended training programmes to enable better access to jobs.

Employment Opportunities for Youth

Employment Opportunities for Youth

The Significance of Uttarayana

Uttarayana

Uttarayana – Tilting of Earth vis-a-vis Sun’s Reach    

One of the oldest expositions in astronomy is our very own Surya Siddhanta that lays down rules with regard to the motions of celestial bodies. The treatise informs about actual positions of luminaries in the sky, giving their locations along with calculations of solar eclipses and solstices. One may be surprised to learn that it also gives information on the lengths of the Earth’s diameter and circumference!

Surya Siddhanta or the Sun Treatise defines Uttarayana as the period between the Makara Sankranti occurring around January 14 and Karka Sankranti that falls around July 16. Uttara meaning North and Ayana meaning movement indicates the northward movement of the Sun on its celestial course. This is then the period that is celebrated all across our country as an auspicious time.

Today, we are at the threshold of Uttarayana when the Sun’s movement in relation to Earth shifts from its southern run to its northward progression. Spiritually inclined people readily identify this transition as a phase positively affecting their consciousness levels, facilitating them to thrive inwardly. The first half of Uttarayana until the equinox in March is a period that is more amenable to such awakening.

The human body is of course a cosmos in itself. All that occurs in the external realm manifests in subtle ways in the human body too. For many of us such transitions go unnoticed. But conscientious human beings can sense alignment to such movements that positively affect their bodies and bodily functions. Especially yogis and sensitized beings keep themselves attuned to such cosmic movements.

Makara Sankranti then is a festival that celebrates our oneness with the universe. It reminds us that we are part and parcel of the cosmos and that our human life is in conjunction with celestial movements of time and space. It may be likened to an enlightening phase bringing on universal fulfillment creating significant impacts on human system functioning. Yogic practices continue to teach people the significant relevance on human bodies as also attainment of spiritual processes.

Even as we might begin to fathom at celestial and spiritual connotations of this day, it is remarkable that it is celebrated with such gusto throughout the length and breadth of our country. Literally the first festival of the New Year, it pre-empts harsh winters coming to an end, is the harbinger of harvest and symbolizes joyous rites and rituals. It is a day best lived by children spending time flying kites – a tradition of our times.

Oneness with Nature

Oneness with Nature

 

 

Employment Scenario and Development

Training for Competitive Job

Training for Competitive Jobs

HERD Foundation is concerned with regard to drift in development trends in the face of continuing employment crisis that obstructs efforts to mitigate poverty. With a view to improve the standard of living and enhance prosperity, especially for youth just stepping out into the real world, the Foundation organizes yearly Employment Fairs to open up avenues for candidates keen on getting placement as per their qualification.

For professional students walking out of colleges it is a huge opportunity to interact directly with companies that offer openings in various areas. Candidates from both urban and rural areas look up to this event with great hope and satisfaction. Bringing well known companies to their doorstep, so to say, the uncertainty and insecurity in the wake of a just-completed education is a very welcome opportunity.

The acquiring of jobs is a sure shot way to increase standards of living. It helps address our attempts to mitigate poverty. Our past experiences tell us that many families escape poverty simply because one family member is able to secure a job and thereby initiate a source of income for the family. Therefore HERD Foundation works on improving the employment scenario as this is central to our development agenda.

Securing jobs and successfully inducting newly passed out students to a line of work of their choice,   does transform their lives. A steady source of income improves living standards and pulls people out of their penury. With appropriate training for being successful in getting placement we prepare them to be efficient and more productive in their jobs. Also, we bring about social cohesion when we gather candidates from various social backgrounds to jointly take on opportunities coming their way.

Provision of jobs can really alter lives for the better and provide wider benefits. For instance, besides taking care of the basic needs of a family, women candidates may actually change the way households spend money by focusing on spending on education and health areas. It is heartening to note that more and more women of working age are participating in our Employment Fair. We also feel gratified by the inclusion of rural candidates for whom competing with city students for jobs is a challenge in itself.

HERD Foundation realizes that just provision of jobs may not be enough. With plentiful rural poor involved with farming or self-employment in areas like vegetable selling, sewing and other such occupations we foresee the need to find ways to augment incomes especially in the rural sector. In this the role of development of new skills in line with locally available opportunities for increasing earnings will play an essential role for a more productive scenario.

Job Aspirants at Employment Fair 2014

Job Aspirants at Employment Fair 2014

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

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