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

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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

On The Importance of Being Positive

be positive

“I truly believe that everything we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.”

Marla Gibbs

It’s that time of the year again when everyone’s all excited about the advent of a brand new year. However, of late everything has been going down a suck vortex. As if the tragedy of an aircraft disappearing in midflight only to resurface in an ocean with floating bodies and debris was not enough, here comes more awful news of people dying in a stampede while celebrating New Years. Really!!! The world is getting too much for us.

Whither goes’ sanity. How do we deal with such heartbreaking failure that in hindsight could well be due to man-made errors? It’s really time somebody put a handle on error-free lives. Which is why systems, processes, methodologies, procedures, operations, actions, activities, tasks, undertakings, proceedings follow set protocols, conventions, formalities, customs, rules of conduct, rituals, code of behaviour, accepted propriety, civilities should be followed to the tee.

Someone has to ensure the punctilio of imposing the-done-thing. The norm, if you will, has to be followed without question. It will save us all from tremendous backlash. But all too often the person in-charge for imposing rules is looked upon with exasperation. He could very well be the leader, boss, top-man, chief, principal, director, president, chief executive, manager, administrator, master, patron – call him what you will.

Often we tend to look upon this person as a controller – which he actually is. After all it is his job. Maybe, one should see his role in its entirety and as one that safeguards your own back. If only the chain of command would have been followed. If only propriety would have been observed. We would have seen one tragedy, less. One dark night of turmoil, less. Are we not tired of tragedies? Are we not in need of positively taking on the right stance?

Let us then all affirm on this first day of a brand new year. Be positive in doing just what needs to be done. Everything else can wait. Follow the steps. It is really important you follow instructions while paying attention to details. Follow instructions, listen carefully, and execute skillfully. These are important abilities you will need to get through life. One should always take rightful steps to know what you are supposed to do. The world would be in complete chaos if no one ever followed instructions. This is why rules and laws are made, so our world can run smoothly and become a better place. You need to reinforce this lesson only in a positive frame of mind.

On this note let us move on to a growing need to govern your lives with positive self-regulation. HERD FOUNDATION wishes everyone a very positive New Year. Good cheer for 2015!

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” — Elbert Hubbard

Be Positive

Be Positive

Status of Eyecare Health in India

Stand Alone Eye Clinics - Need of the Hour

Stand Alone Eye Clinics – Need of the Hour

Our country is the second most populous in the world, having 23.5% of the world’s blind population. The prevalence of blindness and visual impairment remains a major problem. Cataract, corneal opacities, glaucoma and posterior segment conditions are key reasons for blindness. These conditions can be treated only by skilled eye doctors in a hospital setting. We need to establish evidence for occurrence of eye problems by conducting baseline surveys to understand precise prevalence of specific conditions.

A national program for control of blindness was started in 1976 in India. Unfortunately it has not been possible to generate enough information for all of the country. However detailed information has been gathered in certain areas through research studies by concerned eyecare agencies. All such studies have shown that prevalence of cataract as the most common cause of blindness. Up until quite recently prevention of blindness was therefore largely cataract-focused.

Of late now ophthalmologists are being trained to increase emphasis on focusing on other critical causes of blindness like refractive errors, childhood blindness, corneal blindness and glaucoma. An ophthalmic workforce and infrastructure survey was undertaken to provide a valid evidence base for human resource and infrastructure requirements for elimination of avoidable blindness. This was the first time that such an extensive survey has been undertaken.

The study was conducted by Ophthalmology Cell, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India from April 2002 to March 2003. Pre-tested questionnaires were administered to all district-level blindness officials and ophthalmology training institutions and supplementary data sources were used too. Data analysis and projections of existing ophthalmologists and dedicated eye beds were made for the entire country using the mean, median and range for each individual state.

The study ascertained that more than half the eye care facilities were located in the private sector. Sixty-nine per cent of the ophthalmologists were employed in the private and non-governmental sectors. 71.5% of all dedicated eye beds were managed by these two sectors. Five states -Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu had half the practicing ophthalmologists in India. There was a wide disparity in access to ophthalmologists and dedicated eye beds across the country.

In order to meet these requirements India will have to work hard to achieve the goals of Vision 2020. Some states and certain regions will be needing special attention. Instead of an across-the-board increase in ophthalmologists and eye beds, regions which are deficient will need to be prioritized and concerted action initiated to achieve an equitable distribution of available resources.

Shockingly, as per this study an estimated 9031 ophthalmologists worked in eye care facilities in our country. Of these 69% (6235) worked in the private sector and 31% (2796) worked in government sector. This clearly shows the disparity in availability of ophthalmologists. We need to increase the efficiency of eye care system in India by increasing the availability of ophthalmologists. Also we need to generate more eye doctors and eye specialists. It is only appropriately skilled ophthalmologists and trained technical staff that can respond to eyecare health in India.

Preventable Child Blindess

Preventable Child Blindness

Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage

                             Universal Health Coverage

On December 12, 2012, a unanimously passed United Nations resolution marked the day for Universal Health Coverage. It has now been two years since the endorsement for universal health coverage, that has since become the pillar for sustainable development and global security. The goal of Universal Health Coverage is to ensure that all people obtain health services they need without financial hardship.This requires a strong, efficient and well-run health system.

Such a system of financing health services includes access to essential medicines, technologies, along with a cadre of well-trained and motivated health workers. India’s efforts in these directions had already begun since 2005 with the advent of the National Rural Health Mission, launched to offer accessible, affordable and quality health care to rural populations. The intent was to cater to the most vulnerable sections. The focus of the Mission is to reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio, Infant Mortality Ratio and Total Fertility Rate.

The United Nations in India supports the Government of India to move forward towards Universal Health Coverage. For this purpose it provides evidence, technical and policy advice on effective interventions as well as mechanisms to monitor all progress. The WHO Country Office in India works in conjunction with ten leading world organizations for the purpose. These are Department for International Development (DFID), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), International Labour Organization (ILO), UNAIDS, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United States Aid for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank.

All these organizations work together to promote better support and commitment to Universal Health Coverage in India. Both the NRHM and the recently launched National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) are now included under the National Health Mission (NHM). Although some progress is made in bits and spurts, especially after formation of NHM there remain widespread challenges that need to be tackled. Some home truths emerge, that need to be taken cognizance of:

  • Inadequacy of availability of health care services (both public and private sectors).
  • Questionable quality of healthcare services (both in public and private sector).
  • Regulatory standards for public /private hospitals are inadequately defined and remain ineffectively enforced.
  • Affordability of health care remains a serious handicap, more so for majority of impoverished populations.
  • Most people incur heavy expenses for medical services purchased from the private sector.
  • The total expenditure on health care (both public and private together) is 3.7 per cent of the GDP.

The first-ever Universal Health Coverage Day was observed in New Delhi to mark the two-year anniversary. The high-level event convened by the Public Health Foundation of India and World Health Organization, was supported by Rockefeller Foundation and Oxfam India as part of a coalition having over 500 health and development organizations. They are all attempting to accelerate reforms that ensure health services be provided to all citizens. The quality of health services, medicines and diagnostics will hopefully be improved, thereby facilitating efficacy of National Health Assurance Mission. For doing this successfully the entire medical fraternity at all levels needs to pitch in to make a go with combined efforts.

Health For All

                                       Health For All

Sushruta – Medical Pioneer of Ancient India

Sushruta – Medical Pioneer of Ancient India

Sushruta – Medical Pioneer of Ancient India

Sushruta is considered one of the earliest surgeons in recorded history and has been the first individual to describe plastic surgery in his famous ancient treatise ‘Sushruta Samhita’. He is said to have lived nearly 150 years before Hippocrates, and his renowned compendium written in 600 B.C. spells out surgical procedures in minutest detail. He is also credited to be the first surgeon to perform plastic surgery!

Many believe plastic surgery to be a new specialty. However its origins are ascertained to have existed over 4000 years back in India. The Vedas compiled in Sanskrit language between 3000 and 1000 B.C. comprise of the oldest sacred books of the Hindu religion. Of the four Vedas – ‘Sushruta Samhita’ is a part of Atharvaveda. The treatise describes ancient Indian tradition of surgery and remains a most brilliant compilation in Indian medical literature.

The treatise contains detailed descriptions of teachings and practice elucidated by this great ancient surgeon said to have been practicing in Varanasi. It also provides surgical knowledge that is of relevance to this day. As a pioneer in the field of surgery, Sushruta expounds prolifically on the healing arts that were grounded on physiology and medicine. He studied human anatomy with the help of dead bodies! Much as in medical colleges today.

The Samhita specifically describes methods for selecting and preserving dead bodies to be studied. Cadavers of elderly or severely diseased were not taken up for purposes of study. Bodies needed to be perfectly clean and were preserved with barks. They were placed in cages, hidden carefully in the river for currents to soften them. After seven days they were retrieved, cleaned with brushes for inner and outer body parts to be seen clearly.

Over 1100 diseases are mentioned in this ancient tome including 26 types of fevers, 8 kinds of jaundice and 20 different urinary disorders. There are 760 plants inclusive of roots, bark, juice, resin, flowers etc. that are described in detail for treatments. These also include common household remedies like cinnamon, sesame, peppers, cardamom, ginger and more. Additionally the treatise offers descriptions of 101 instruments used in surgery.

Sushruta’s greatest contributions were in the fields of plastic surgery and removal of cataracts. In a time when cutting of nose or ears was a common punishment, restoration of these parts and even limbs lost in wars was a common medical practice. There are detailed and accurate step-by-step descriptions of such operations. Strikingly these are the very steps followed by modern surgeons doing plastic surgery even today.

Serious procedures were undertaken like drawing fetuses out of wombs, repairing damaged rectums and removing stones from bladders. Surgical techniques included incisions, probing, extraction of foreign bodies, cauterization, tooth extraction, excisions, draining abscess, draining hydrocele, removal of prostate gland, urethral stricture dilatation, hernia surgery, management of haemorrhoids, fistulae, intestinal obstruction, perforated intestines, and accidental perforation of abdomen. Students were given knowledge of relevant branches of medicine to attain proficiency in allied subjects.

Sushruta Samhita remains an important text on medicine that is also a foundational text for Ayurveda. This seminal text was translated to Arabic as Kitab-i-Susrud in the 8th century. The Arabic translation was received in Europe by the end of the medieval period when Renaissance Italy became familiar with the techniques of Sushruta Samhita. Among other translations since then, more recently in 1999, P. V. Sharma undertook an English translation of this ancient Indian medical treatise.

First Surgeon Performing Plastic Surgery!

First Surgeon Performing Plastic Surgery!