World Humanitarian Day

 

August 19 is designated as World Humanitarian Day by the United Nations General Assembly as part of a Swedish-sponsored GA Resolution on the Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Assistance of the United Nations. The day commemorates the tragic loss of Vieira de Mello and his 21 colleagues along with all humanitarian personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice while relieving the suffering of victims of humanitarian crises.

The day keeps the spirit of humanitarian efforts alive while offering the rationalist outlook for adopting the notion of an ethical stance to emphasize the value of human beings, individually and collectively. Humanitarianism reflects a democratic and ethical affirmation that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. Humanitarian vision stands for the building of a more humane society.

World Humanitarian Day 2017 campaigns with the theme ‘Not A Target’ and dedicates the day to recognize humanitarian personnel and others who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. It marks the day on which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.

Around the world, conflict is exacting a massive toll on people’s lives. Trapped in wars that are not of their making, millions of civilians are forced to hide or run for their lives. Children are taken out of school, families are displaced from their homes, and communities are torn apart, while the world is not doing enough to stop their suffering. At the same time, health and aid workers – who risk their lives to care for people affected by violence – are increasingly being targeted.

For WHD 2017, humanitarian partners are coming together to reaffirm that civilians caught in conflict are #NotATarget. Through a global online campaign featuring an innovative partnership with Facebook Live, together with events held around the world, voices are being raised to advocate for those most vulnerable in war zones, and demand that world leaders do everything their power to protect civilians in conflict.

This campaign follows on the UN Secretary-General’s report on protection of civilians, which was launched earlier this year. Laying out his ‘path to protection’, the Secretary-General calls for enhanced respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, and protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical workers as well as civilian infrastructure. World Humanitarian Day 19 August, 2017 pays tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

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World Hepatitis Day

 

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Photograph – Courtesy Google

All over the globe today World Hepatitis Day is being observed! July 28th was earmarked back in 2011 to dedicate World Hepatitis Day to bring all countries together to work with single minded devotion on the scourge of viral hepatitis. The thematic issue was taken up to raise awareness for the global burden of this disease as also to influence real change. It is also one of the just four disease-specific global awareness days officially endorsed by the World Health Organization.

The day involves stakeholders that include patient organizations, governments, medical professionals, civil society, industry and the general public to work together in order to boost the global profile of viral hepatitis. Viral hepatitis remains one of the leading causes of death globally. It accounts for nearly 1.34 million deaths per year. This figure tallies to the total HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria deaths! Additionally hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C cause 80% of liver cancer cases in the world.

It is interesting to make note that viral hepatitis is not found in any one location or amongst any given set of people. It is actually truly a global epidemic that affects millions of people without them even being aware. Presently 90% of people living with hepatitis B and 80% living with hepatitis C are not aware of their status! This can result in the real possibility of developing fatal liver disease at some point in their lives and in some cases, unknowingly transmitting the infection to others.

With the availability of effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C, the elimination of viral hepatitis is achievable, but greater awareness and understanding of the disease and the risks is a must, as is access to cheaper diagnostics and treatment. With the recent adoption of the world’s first global hepatitis strategy, we stand at a pivotal moment in time. Besides political commitment, urgent action is needed or deaths will continue to rise and the epidemic will continue to grow.

World Hepatitis Day therefore becomes an opportunity to join together and raise the profile of viral hepatitis among the public. The elimination of viral hepatitis has to be firmly put as a priority agenda. The 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva had 194 governments adopting WHO’s Global Strategy on Viral Hepatitis. This included the goal of eliminating hepatitis B and C in the next 13 years. The community responded by launching NOhep, the first ever global movement to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.

Today we can all commit to and build on the momentum to accelerate progress towards achieving the goal of elimination by 2030. ELIMINATE HEPATITIS is a simple call to action that involves everyone. Regardless of priorities the theme may be easily adapted for local use to achieve elimination, greater awareness, increased diagnosis and key interventions that include universal vaccination, blood and injection safety, harm reduction and treatment. Every activity that addresses viral hepatitis is a step towards eliminating it.

No matter what your plans are to mark WHD, be it a rally or press briefing or testing events, they can all come under the theme of Eliminate Hepatitis. The elimination of viral hepatitis is not just a public health goal – it is an individual goal for millions of men, women and children across the world. Every single person could be affected by viral hepatitis and we all have a part to play to achieve elimination. HERD Medical Foundation stands up to the challenge and will continue to focus on elimination of this deadly killer.

And Miles To Go…

 

HERD Foundation began as a dream in the hearts and minds of a committed young couple who could visualize their common aspirations for the development of a more balanced public and civic life. Their objective remains in place to this day, to transform disadvantaged rural realities into the invigorating idealism of their imagination. The organization continues to pump hope, ambition and ability to circumvent circumstances in order to create a better world.

To this end, both Dr Amol Deshmukh and Dr Suchika Gupta proactively carry on their straightforward agenda to bring relief and succor to the underprivileged rural folk. What they have attempted to do is to keep on encouraging people to build up knowledge, learn to raise their voice on issues that affect them and make social, economical, and environmental equity work for them. This is how the Foundation has been operating from day one through their shared vision.

HERD Foundation’s underlying philosophy remains constant. Good health for all and knowledge for all. It is true, optimal physical health is the real wealth and knowledge through education is the only asset worth having. It is this understanding that is constantly being filtered to our disadvantaged sections. Knowing full well the unfortunate conditions of education, livelihoods and way of life, the Foundation has been motivating them for getting duly empowered.

HERD Foundation facilitates such empowering processes for communities. The leadership helps create hope and vision that imbibes values and inspires the community to achieve what they want. They are keenly nurtured to move ahead in desired directions for their economic and social development. The Foundation thereby empowers community groups to accomplish shared interests and goals.

They are encouraged to articulate their needs to understand what they really require in their lives and then to make moves accordingly. Communities are persuaded to remain in control of local knowledge, gather suitable external knowledge, and engage with suggested means and measures to claim solutions for existing lacunae. Another facet of the work is to focus on constraints in women’s participation. Believing that gender concerns are critical and these have to be supported for inclusive participation on all kinds of social issues, the Foundation works very closely with them. Youth are another segment that is brought into the fold of education, livelihood and participation in civic life.

HERD Foundation works with rural communities at grassroots and also addresses perceptions at urban levels to facilitate understanding of situations existing just outside suburban perimeters. We do this by involving and demonstrating to the wider public about the socio-economic factors that affect us all. We involve public and private agencies to help deliver education, public health, and occupational needs. We look ahead to projects and are all set to take in rural, urban, national, and international perspectives to create a better world around us.

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PAUNI CLINIC UPDATES

To reach Pauni Tribal Clinic one drives down the seventy odd miles on National Highway 44 and in just about an hour and forty minutes you reach your destination. The straight line distance for most of the time may vary in actual travel distance due to curvature of the road.  Driving up northward from Nagpur along the winding wooded landscape allows you to pass through lands rich with biodiversity of the region.

Pauni Clinic is not particularly an imposing medical center and the small clinic works well as a primary care clinic. However because it is situated in the heart of an outlying forest community it becomes a hub for forest people who are drawn to it from all around. It works well for the elderly, the children, the women and the sick adults who get treated for a range of ailments. It’s a reminder of the old-fashioned way of treating people!

As a rural clinical outpost of LMH medical center to which HERD Foundation is affiliated the rural populations who would normally struggle to find medical assistance, find it of immense value for being assisted with healthcare literally at their doorsteps, in a manner of speaking. With a trusted team of medics reaching thrice a week, it has been expanding its services.

HERE are some remarkable events that occurred at Pauni medical outpost that was basically intended to increase access to primary medical care. HERD Foundation remains clear that these remote rural locations must be served. So aside from conducting thrice a week diagnostic treatment services the team of medical professionals also concentrate on health awareness activities. Here are various events that took place in the past year.

  • HIV Awareness Camp at Hiwra Bazar March 28, 2016
  • Pap Smear and Cancer Detection Camp on April 1, 2016
  • ASHA Workers Orientation Camp on April 26, 2016
  • Breast Feeding Week Celebration on August 5, 2016
  • School Health Scabies detection camp in Dahoda on 27 September 2016
  • ASHA Workers Orientation Programme On Scabies at Hiwara Bazar PHC, November 26 2016
  • Detection Of Malnutrition And Health Checkup Camp at Pauni Gram Panchayat on December 7, 2016

Activities are creatively undertaken by joining in with local gatherings so as to have a ready audience. For instance the HIV awareness camp conducted at Hiwra Bazar was clubbed with a get-together of the local Sharda Mahila Mandal. This then became an opportunity for the team to create awareness on the issue. The orientation of government aided ASHA health workers became an occasion to befriend them. It provided us with a foothold for BLS training for them. Similarly the Anganwadi workers too were incentivized for attending trainings.

NKPSIMS and HERD Foundation adopted the Community Initiative for Scabies Control and Elimination for all school children from class 1 to class 12 who were examined in two phases for scabies and other prevailing health conditions. Prompt treatment was administered to them along with free medications for their conditions. Dr Kasturwar, Prof. Community Medicine from NKPSIMS enlightened mothers on proper nutrition informing them that most nutrition supplementation and fortification was to be readily found in foods and ingredients locally available.

Thus apart from diagnosis and treatment of ailments, healthcare education is also an on-going activity conducted by the spirited team of doctors responsible for smooth running of Pauni Clinic.

 

Thus Far And More…

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Dr Amol Deshmukh – Founder HERD Foundation

HERD Foundation began operations in 2006 as a registered non-governmental organization delivering medical care, educational awareness and rural development initiatives. Concurrently it has been undertaking innovative programmes that highlight women’s issues and humanism. The vision is to undertake short term and long term projects that help change societal perceptions for a more balanced public and civic life.

Never since the launch of HERD Foundation have we felt so comfortable than in our position this past year in delivering planned and unplanned programmes for outreach of causes that are dear to us. The Foundation continues working on issues we consider essential for reaching out with our planned objectives. The most important of these is to ensure medical care and health benefits to the poorest communities.

Herein three main areas of intervention that stand out are – regular medical camps, organizing basic life support skill-trainings and ensuring smooth run of the Pauni Tribal Clinic. These were instrumental in upholding the cause of healthcare delivery wherever needed. The committed group of team-members steps up compassionately to give more of themselves, their time – often beyond regular office hours, to continue to make the world a better place for the less fortunate.

With a common desire to invest in life-changing work HERD Foundation works with missionary zeal to reach out to people in the project areas. The organization continues with its tradition of being in the fore front with considered responses to emergent situations. As such we undertake diverse initiatives to undertake activities that range from joining in for the International March Against Monsanto, distribute woolens to the needy, undertake career counseling for students and oversee international pediatric surgery camp.

Aside from direct medical humanitarian aid we also act as change makers in these communities for awareness creation through empowerment efforts across the rural landscape. We address issues like unemployment, gender discrimination, quality education, as also initiating rural sports. We are particularly grateful for the leadership and contributions of Dr Amol Deshmukh in offering a tremendous legacy and a strong base to take the intentions of HERD Foundation forward.

Dr Suchika Gupta Deshmukh as the key figure, who builds upon the founding vision, is adept at translating dreams into reality and to this end guides the in-house team of talented and dedicated staff to deliver key result areas for the organization. HERD Foundation has over this period of time invested in areas that have greatly amplified the organization’s impact. We continue with well-founded plans to reach more people with each passing year.

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Dr Suchika Gupta Deshmukh – Co-founder HERD Foundation

September 21 – World Alzheimer’s Day

Keep your mind active and busy

Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention

World Alzheimer’s Day is observed every year on 21st September. In fact the month of September is known as World Alzheimer’s Month. It is believed that nearly 44 million people worldwide live with the disease. It therefore becomes essential to share information, understand risk factors and comprehend prevention measures. HERD Foundation is spreading awareness and inspiring people to make positive changes in their lives to ward off the onset of Alzheimer’s.

The disease, named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, was detected in 1906, when he noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died of mental illness. Her symptoms had been memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behavior. After her death her brain was investigated to reveal many abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers that are now medically known as amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, respectively.

Alzheimer’s is actually a form of dementia that is largely incurable. People diagnosed with it may really exhibit few symptoms initially but as the disease progresses it gets more debilitating. The plaques and tangles in the brain are essentially two of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease. The third is the loss of connections between nerve cells or neurons in the brain. Although treatment may help manage symptoms there is actually no cure for this devastating disease.

The disease increasingly makes one suffer from loss of cognitive functioning. It impairs thinking, remembering and reasoning and also affects the behavioral abilities to an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. This ranges in severity from mild stages to most severe stage that makes the patient completely dependent on others for basic daily living. Thus this neurological disorder ends in death of brain cells causing memory loss and cognitive decline.

The neurodegenerative dementia happens over a course of time, when the total brain size shrinks and the brain tissue progressively has fewer nerve cells and connections. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually even the ability to carry out simplest tasks. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after age 60. Foods like walnuts, flax seeds, salmon and soybeans are high in omega-3’s that help you keep your brain healthy. Be sure to eat them in moderation.

The disease is equally challenging for the patient as it is for family members. Worse still are stigma and misconceptions surrounding the disease that need to be addressed. People with dementia feel disconnected not only from society but also from their own friends and family. This distancing further creates barriers to progress.  Reports state that 40 percent of people with dementia have experienced being avoided or treated differently because of the diagnosis of the disease.

Here’s how one can reduce risk of developing Alzheimer’s:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Eat a well-balanced diet with plentiful fruit and vegetables
  • Keep your mind active and busy
  • Do regular physical exercise
  • Get plenty of good quality sleep
  • Follow your treatment guidelines if you have a chronic disease, such as diabetes
  • Maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Indulge in memory games, stay organized and be active
  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol
abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers

Amyloid Plaques and Neurofibrillary Tangles


Dulara – Small is Beautiful

Kids Happily Holding Up Health Cards

Dulara ke Dulare

Nestling in the jungles of Pench forest is the small village of Dulara – almost a hamlet, of about 300 families, where the majority population comprises of the adivasis or tribals settled here since times immemorial. Still placidly content to carry on with their pastoral lifestyle with dhan cultivation as a priority in the face of scanty rains; the men folk are worried. So the vibrant lush forest holds no romanticism for them even as the verdant landscape, hued in all shades of green, leaves us completely awed.

What worries us actually is that there is no doctor in the village and the nearest PHC is about 5-6 kilometers at Deolapar – on foot!! So if you can’t make it to the main road from here you are stuck on your charpoy. What was heartening was the fact that a good enough Zilla Parishad school sits right at the entrance of the village. And this became the venue for the HERD Foundation free medical camp on a cloudy Saturday afternoon.

The quiet community was soon abuzz with activity as the bus with doctors, para-medics, nurses, social workers and attendants parked outside the school. One of the central rooms became the consulting room for the six doctors and an outside open area was taken up for the medicine dispensing spot. Registrations of patients were taken up methodically – 226 grown-ups and 40 children. Exactly 26 people were provided with referrals for further treatment in hospitals at Nagpur for their acute conditions like night blindness, surgery cases and more.

Aside from fever and body aches, other ailments included skin, eye, ears, lesions, joint aches, addictions and a few other serious conditions. All the kids lined up for the health camp were measured for height and weight and accorded the routine examinations. Health tonics and needed medicines were dispensed at the provisional counter. People kept coming quickly for the half day camp for which prior intimation had been given to them.

Dr Amol Deshmukh sees his vision – ‘Health for All’ succeed brilliantly through such medical camps even for remote villages like Dulara that are almost hidden inside the jungle – out of view. The success of his mission is evident that the team members conducted the entire proceedings in a very smooth and organized manner, in astoundingly muggy conditions dealing with the patients with care and compassion. The test of his leadership is apparent that everything happens precisely as it should, even if he is not there.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams