Health First – Caring for Rural Poor

HERD Foundation regularly organizes health camps in rural areas where it has been proactively working with tribal and rural populations. The objective is not simply providing health services but also creating locales where entire communities are sensitized to the dire importance of staying healthy. Camps draw out sick and infirm men, women, children and elderly in need of medical help. These camps have the benign presence of generous doctors who offer their services wholeheartedly.

The good doctors are instrumental in demonstrating to the associated medical team staffers how health issues may be dealt with rural communities in an empathetic and interactive manner. Camps are usually well attended as a result of pre-publicity that is done to mobilize patients, whose names, and follow-up details are duly registered. The camp activities usually also include sharing information about preventive measures and awareness on issues of health and hygiene.

As a well-known NGO in these parts run by Dr Amol Deshmukh, HERD Foundation recently organized two special, almost-free medical heath check-up camps for tribal people at Pauni in Ramtek Tehsil and for townspeople of Saoner. Held on January 10 and 12 respectively the camps had 180 patients at Pauni and 175 patients at Saoner to benefit from the care provided by the medical team. Each and every patient was given a personal health card; their details recorded and were offered counseling on the need to stay fit.

The health camps were for the benefit of rural and tribal populations living in Saoner town and Pench forest areas. They were intimated about the health camp through distribution of leaflets giving relevant information and by word of mouth publicity. The camps held from 10:00 AM until 02:00 PM extended well over the stipulated time as patients kept arriving steadily. A token fee of Rs 10 at Pauni and Rs 20 at Saoner was charged for offering a range of services.

As patients lined up before meeting the specialist doctors, they were taken care of by a medical team that recorded their history and basic profile – blood pressure, weight, physical examination by stethoscope and so on were all recorded in their health card file. Medicines were also prescribed and provided to patients who were diagnosed and were advised with due follow up to their ailments with HERD Foundation doctors visiting Pauni and Saoner.

The Pauni camp was monitored by Dr Amol Deshmukh and Dr Suchika Gupta Deshmukh – both co-founders of HERD Foundation. Dr Anuprita Bhadage and Dr Hemlata Kashyap, doctors devoted to Pauni Tribal clinic attended to the patients. In time Dr Suchika Gupta also undertook diagnosis and counseling for the benefit of the tribal patients. The range of afflictions included blood pressure, infections, skin disorders, diabetes, asthma, orthopedic injuries, abdominal pain, back pain and seasonal disorders.

The Saoner camp with a focus on orthopedics had the benefit of the presence of Dr Kuldeep Deshpande, orthopedic doctor from Sancheti Hospital, Pune who offered his services in the camp. Along with him Dr Sushma Gupta, Dr Kanchan as general physicians were examining and prescribing treatments to the patients. Dr Suchika Gupta present at the camp keenly observed the activities of the medical camp. Of the total number of 175 patients visiting the Saoner health camp 60% were for orthopedics, 25% for skin ailments and nearly 15% for general and pediatrics.

Dr Amol Deshmukh has been organizing these health camps under the auspices of “Doctor Aaple Daari” or “Doctor At Your Doorstep” consistently over the past three years, benefitting countless poor villagers in the region. HERD Foundation promotes such health camps with the aim to provide healthcare and awareness on fitness by rural populations. Follow ups are important to maintain quality of health camps and they also help to retain the faith of the people on the diligent treatments.

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Importance of Modern Medicine

For all our bonhomie, congeniality and carry-on-living lifestyles, the fact remains that majority of the people around the world are ailing. Statistics as per a new analysis tells us that just one in twenty are healthy in any given year! This new analysis based on the 2013 Global Burden of Disease Study finds that more than 95 per cent of the world’s population is ill. Alarmingly, over a third suffers from more than five chronic illnesses.

These findings while certainly very distressing should be taken with some equanimity. The availability of modern medicines provides health care by offering ease to help people recover and experience wellness again. The importance of medicines cannot be discounted nor disregarded in coping with infection or disease so widely rampant among human beings. The past century has seen modern medicine increasingly provide respite and succor to mankind. Allopathic medicines have truly proved to be a boon for human health.

The very word medicine is derived from the Latin word ‘ ars medicina’ that means ‘the art of healing’. The middle of the 20th century saw real advancement in medical science. Ever since then to this day research and developments have continuously advanced the medicinal field. It is absolutely true that human knowledge has accelerated the study of medicine making it one of the most important areas in safeguarding human health. Modern scientific medical drugs help in properly assisting patients to recover from their sickness.

Modern medicines remain a reliable source for treating human diseases. Alongside, the availability of advanced diagnostic technology has been a value-added facet to medical science. With state of art medical equipment that can probe and gauge disorders in the human body, it is only a matter of time that appropriate medication helps in healing the body. Another wonderful dimension of modern medicine is the way it helps in prevention of diseases. Maladies are prevented by ingesting or injecting proper medicines and inoculations.

Since detection of disease has become so much easier and less time consuming, proper dosage of necessary medicines assist in fighting diseases to offer complete treatment. Doctors now do not have to go by trial and error since human body diagnosis and profiling by modern methods help in identifying the exact ailment or syndrome. With cutting edge tools and technologies available today for detection of diseases, precise medications help in curing a patient quickly, even before the problem can grow bigger.

It is all thanks to medical science that we are treating patients so much more successfully than before. With treatments available for most diseases today, medications offer respite for health issues ranging from physical, mental to psychosomatic. With medicines offering healing opportunity to patients, people feel more secure because they know that the treatments are available. Pharmaceutical companies ensure that medicines and drugs are always available on a large scale and can be provided to people at low costs.

Pharmacology science has actually revolutionized the medical world. Medications now offer cures for common illnesses and also for critical diseases giving better health benefits to people everywhere. Pharmaceutical medicine is the medical scientific discipline concerned with the discovery, development, evaluation, registration, monitoring and medical aspects of marketing of medicines for the benefit of patients and public health.

HERD Pharmacy medical stores salute to this indefatigable spirit of Pharmacology in rendering yeoman service to people in need of modern medicines to reclaim their good health.

Prepare for the Season of Cough & Cold

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The winter season is upon us. Already many of us are walking about with sore throats and runny noses. Despite taking full care to avoid the chills we end up feeling cold, frazzled and feverish. The cold and flu season has finally arrived. And even as we find relief in hot ginger tea or comforting soups we just want to lie down and snuggle up inside warm blankets.

The cold air mixed with dust and other pollutants that keeps circulating outdoors is the main cause of our maladies and the reason why we feel so miserable. It would therefore be good if one takes due care and learns how best to avoid catching infections. Preparing ahead will do us a world of good. If we take steps to reduce risk of being sick we stand a better chance of staying fit. Nobody likes wasting days in bed.

Prevention as they say is better than cure. It is best to primarily avoid getting sick and a flu shot is your best bet at staying healthy. But in case you catch a cold then it may be a good idea to prepare a survival kit well in advance so as to wrestle with the viruses when they attack. It is recommended that maintaining a healthy routine is fundamental to staying fit and well.

Nothing like restful sleep at night for a good 7-8 hours to wake up early morning absolutely refreshed. Findings of a minor study done eight years back suggest that people getting less than seven hours of sleep were three times more likely to catch a cold than those who got at least eight hours. So sleep well and half your winter troubles will take care of themselves.

Colds and flu are spread through droplets in sneezes and coughs which means anyone within a three-foot radius is at risk for contracting it! But flu can also live on hard surfaces for 24 hours. Remember to keep washing your hands all the time as it is still the best method of protection. So every time you come in make sure you wash your hands with water and soap. Also make it a habit to keep all surfaces indoors clean by regular dusting. This will reduce the spread of flu microbes around the household or the workplace. This is crucial especially for people who can’t afford to be sick – moms and caregivers with family responsibilities, and dads and breadwinners who can’t skip their jobs.

The best thing to do is to keep handy a cold and flu survival kit early on. It would be great to put together necessary items sooner than later so that you are well prepared before the season catches you unawares. Colds and coughs are contagious illnesses and you can feel the uneasy signs – itchy throats, watery eyes and moist nasal cavities prior to it hitting you head on. So before the fever breaks get this together so you don’t have to step out when you are really sick.

  • Anti-fever medicines
  • Nasal drops
  • Cold and sinus infection medicines
  • Cough drops or syrup
  • Antiviral treatment remedies

It’s a good idea to have other essential things like a thermometer, paper tissues, cold compresses, or a hot water bottle and so on. Natural honey is great for reducing throat irritation. Keep yourself well hydrated with plentiful fluids – water, herbal teas, juices and soups. When in bed you could always complete your reading so get a good book that will keep your mind away from your sickness. Or you could indulge yourself with binge watching TV. But make sure you sleep well and long at night.

Smog-Apocalypse: Death by Breathing

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It was the London of the 20th century mired in low hanging pollution that infiltrated the foggy city, when the word “smog” was coined for the first time. Today many Indian cities face this lethal condition. And many more will soon face yet more dire consequences if corrective steps are not taken. A known reason for pollution laden air is of course our ever increasing vehicular traffic. Add to this industrial smoke and effluents coming out everywhere. Lace this with construction dust, crop burning smoke and mushrooming thermal power stations. Soon our towns and villages too will be engulfed in this all pervasive smoggy grip.

There was a time when we actually romanticized the morning mist and thought of it as clouds settled on earth! The charming smoky invisible pall was actually cast by water droplets in the air! Sunlight reflecting off this hazy atmosphere was sans pollution. With the land cooling down, air became less able to hold moisture and water condensed in the air. This is the fog that happens in early winter mornings that automatically gets erased when the sun comes out.

There are all kinds of fog. Radiation fog is when temperatures are cold and there are no winds. Valley fog is fog that fills a valley and may last up to days because of the unique topographical layout. Upslope fog happens on hillsides while coastal fog occurs on coastlines. When fog forms ice crystals over surfaces it’s known as freezing fog. But fog turns into nasty haze when pollutants carried by wind currents gather and settle with the fog. This pollution laden hazy fog full of low-lying ozone is what is now commonly known as smog.

Smog is a killer. It makes you cough and burns eyes since it’s made up of ozone. When pollutants like nitrogen oxides react with the sunlight to form ozone then it’s not such a good idea to breathe it. Aside from sore throats and eye irritation it can lead up to chronic asthma. It also severely impacts productivity of agriculture in rural areas. These symptoms are now very common in most Indian towns and cities.

Smog is now a real threat to our social and ecological damage. Air pollution is certainly a very serious issue. In rural areas it is fuel-wood and biomass burning and in urban sites it is adulterated fuel, vehicle emission, traffic congestion and factory smoke that are major sources of pollutants that smog up particulate pollution to gag people. Although India has a low per capita emissions of greenhouse gases but the country as a whole is the third largest polluter after China and USA.

Continued exposure to particulate matter leads to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer and heart attacks. Since 2010 studies have been revealing that outdoor air pollution is the fifth-largest killer in India. Around 620,000 early-deaths occurred from air pollution-related diseases in 2010 itself. According to a WHO study 13 of the 20 most-polluted cities in the world are in India. And the 2016 Environmental Performance Index ranked India 141 out of 180 countries.

There has been vociferous activism mostly by science backed NGOs that spurred action for improvements in air quality testing and monitoring. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was passed in 1981 to regulate air pollution. In 2015 the government together with IIT Kanpur launched the National Air Quality Index. In the last fifteen years India has been working unremittingly on regulatory reforms for improving its air quality. Most Indian cities however continue to violate air quality PM10 targets.

Respirable particulate matter pollution continues to be a key challenge. In May 2014 the World Health Organisation announced New Delhi as the most polluted city in the world. In November 2016, the great smog of Delhi created an environmental event that saw the city and neighboring region covered in dense smog. The present scenario is not much different and once again north India is struck by smoggy conditions with thick haze and air quality remaining at hazardous levels. Aside from the NCR area many more cities are experiencing smog with people literally gasping for breath. Smog-apocalypse or death by breathing is actually a fact now. Click on the link below to check out air pollution in India – Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map:

http://aqicn.org/map/india/#@g/10.5933/91.0986/4z

The Winter Blues

For some of us winters are a sad time. Literally! Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a condition that surfaces when the chill sets in and the sun loses its sheen. It is more commonly known as winter depression, seasonal depression or whimsically the winter blues. The phase is actually a mood disorder for some people who enjoy absolutely normal mental health otherwise. But come winters and they begin to exhibit symptoms of depression.

This distinctive mood disorder recurs like clockwork in colder months for persons affected by the syndrome. They are usually in great condition for the rest of the year. Recognized as a specific disorder, this condition was earlier overlooked due to uncertainty and doubts. But now SAD is identified as a major depressive disorder. People suffering from it exhibit feelings of hopelessness, disinterest and withdrawal from social interaction. Sleep patterns and eating habits get affected making them feel lethargic and agitated.

It is normal for SAD people to over-sleep, over-eat or not eat at all. Waking up in the morning is difficult and they may experience a craving for carbohydrates. However every individual case may be different but insomnia and weight gain or conversely weight loss appears to add to their anxiety. Very often listlessness sweeps down making them averse to activity. The reduction of sunlight also adds to their difficulties to deal with themselves in the cold weather.

Some of us tend to feel low during the winter months but not all of us may be affected by SAD. It is believed that SAD is related to a lack of serotonin that plays its part in the disruptive malady. Serotonin in the brain regulates anxiety, happiness, and mood. Low levels of the chemical are associated with depression-like behavior. Another view is that lack of melatonin production in dim winter light affects the body’s control over the inherent circadian clock resulting in a slowdown or disturbed psyches.

People susceptible to SAD may therefore suffer from personality related afflictions. Correlations have been found between winter depression and personality traits like neuroticism, inability to cope and avoidance of normal living. Winter blues are now clearly associated with these four specific patterns:

  • Depressive episodes occurring at a particular time of year.
  • Remissions or mania/hypomania at the same characteristic time year.
  • Patterns last beyond couple of years with no non-seasonal depressive episodes.
  • Seasonal depressive episodes outnumber other depressive episodes in a lifetime.

Cloud cover contributes to negative effects of SAD. Seasonal mood variations related to light or rather lack of light are effectively rectified by using bright-light therapy. With clear evidence that SAD patients are affected by delay in their circadian rhythm, bright light treatment corrects such conditions. Also, winter blues may not have people feeling terribly depressed but perhaps simply experiencing lack of energy in performing everyday activities. Such blue feelings can be extinguished by exercise and increased outdoor activity.

People need to take advantage of sunny days to improve their mood and energy levels. When the sun is not out then indoor bright-light therapy can be made use of.   Light therapy can also consist of exposure to sunlight by spending more time outside when the sun is out. For more troubled patients antidepressants are effective. Depending on the patient’s condition light treatment or anti-depressants may be used alternately to improve the disorder.

In winters people also suffer from low vitamin D levels as they do not get enough ultraviolet-B on their skin. An alternative to using bright lights is to take vitamin D supplements. However, studies do not show a link between vitamin D levels and depressive symptoms. Physical exercise is effective for containing depression. Patients exposed to exercise along with bright light therapy whether natural or otherwise seem to make quick recovery. So chalk out your winter exercise schedule outdoors or indoors in brightly lit gyms and see your blues disappear.

November 7 – National Cancer Awareness Day

 

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November 7 is observed as National Cancer Awareness Day in India each year. The day is marked out to teach people to combat the disease. With nearly 2.9 million cases of cancer in the country and about 1.1 million new cases reported annually, we have to learn to deal with this feared disease. The sad part is that two-thirds of cancer cases get diagnosed very late when the disease is at an advanced stage. This reduces the patient’s chances of survival. It is for this reason that Cancer Awareness Day becomes important to instill awareness for early detection.

The medical fraternity and allied agencies working for cancer awareness observe the day conscientiously. Cancer refers to the group of diseases that affect the living cells in the human body, and may affect anybody at any age. Causes of the malady may be multi-factorial but the disease may advance with fatality. Tobacco is identified as the single most important risk factor for cancer.

The good news is that it’s well established by now that nearly one-third of cancers are preventable and one-third have the potential to be cured provided they are diagnosed early on. To control the cancer one needs to effectively make use of all knowledge that has been accumulated through successful research over the past couple of decades.

The quality of life of cancer patients who are incurable is maintained by provision of palliative care. However, in India with its financial and urban-rural divides and constraints, along with shortage of manpower, all this creates a dearth of palliative facilities that need to be made widely  available. Save for cancer hospitals at select urban centers, a large segment of the population remains out of the loop of cancer diagnostics, facilities and treatment.

Add to this the fact that lack of awareness has cancer patients arriving at very advanced stages thereby increasing rates of morbidity and mortality. Thus, in comparison to western countries we lag behind in numbers of treated patients. It is largely due to late diagnosis and lack of treatment that cancer remains a dreaded disease.  Even pediatric cancers that are often curable remain sadly defeated since we lack access to quality care and support systems.

Cancer Awareness Day therefore becomes a day to spread the message out loud and clear. Early stage cancer, if detected sooner than later, has remarkable chances of being treated. People and institutions should be taking on the cudgels for drawing attention to this fact and making known developments in the field of cancer treatment. Initially cancer may show no signs and go undetected, but one needs to be watchful for signals that should not be ignored.

Early detection and treatment can alter the course of the disease and improve chances of survival, to even returning back to good health. This is especially important for people who are addicted to tobacco – a known cancer agent. It is said that nearly 3000 people die every single day due to tobacco related cancer deaths. Tobacco addicts are more prone to dying of cancer than non-tobacco users.

Besides tobacco addicts there are other high risk-groups and these include post-menopausal women, women on birth-control pills/hormone therapy, people working in toxic environments, people exposed to second-hand smoke, heavy drinkers and people suffering from disturbed sleep patterns. Cancer tumors grow to press on nerves, penetrate blood vessels and interfere with functioning of organs. They may cause bleeding, be painful and impair bodily functions.

Here are signs of cancer that need to be medically checked out:

  • Lesions that do not heal despite medication.
  • Change in look and feel of existing wart, mole, or sore.
  • Bleeding or watery discharge that is abnormal.
  • Any lump or thickening in any part of the body.
  • Acidity, indigestion, difficulty in swallowing.
  • Chronic fatigue, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Sudden changes in bowel or bladder habits.
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness in the throat.
  • Persistent headaches.
  • Loss of appetite, sudden weight loss.
  • Pain in bones or any other area.
  • Constant or intermittent low fever.
  • Poor immune system, repeated infections.

Early signs may occur to anybody, even those having healthy lifestyles. One has to be watchful, especially high risk groups. Early diagnosis and treatment is a sure way to fight off cancer.

 

 

HERD Pharmacy Medication Tips

 

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Images Courtesy Google

HERD Pharmacy is gradually coming up on the city healthcare scenario as a professional company offering medicines and health products readily accessible for the public. HERD Mart makes available medicines in accordance to prescriptions brought by people so as to make them legally permitted to obtain the same. A large number of health products are sold for which prescriptions are not required. In addition the professional activities of the trained pharmacists include counseling with regard to use of medication.

The art of conversation becomes useful in the dispensing of both prescription drugs and non-prescription healthcare products. It is a great way to glean in new customers especially when we create stores in new locations. It makes for a great pitch to share information and participate in health-promotion programmes like the recent health camp undertaken at Kharbi, our newest medical store. It also helps us maintain links with the public at large in a given area as well as with doctors in the vicinity.

In present times a medical store verily shelves an increasingly wide range of new healthcare products besides medicines. Stores are also equipped with Ayurveda medicines aside from allopathic medicines as also with health boosters, tonics and supplements. Alongside we make available medical devices and analogous medicines to make sure people can get whatever it is that they come looking for.

HERD pharmacists ensure good care to confirm the quality of the products being dispensed besides making sure that all medicines are sold ahead of expiry dates. Also the managers make sure that the quality of all other healthcare products is up to the mark. Prescription drugs that are generally more potent than those sold over-the-counter may have more serious side effects if inappropriately used. Therefore we explain the proper usage and dosage of medications sold by HERD Pharmacy.

Our aim is to make certain that we are able to retain customer loyalty and that they eventually learn to come to only HERD pharmacy to buy their prescriptions. It is for this reason that we make all efforts that they have a single, complete source for all of their needs. Our pharmacists are therefore encouraged to pick up potential interactions with customers and we even make contacts with doctors in the area when needed.

As far as possible we try and inculcate in them to share the same information that any doctor may be giving with regard to particular medications. They are also asked to advice customers of possible reactions and to be aware of reporting the same to their doctor. We also instruct customers about correct dosage, especially for liquid medications that should be ingested using a proper measuring cap or spoon. Customers are also told to store medicines safely, out of reach of children.