Too heavy a burden? Onus of farm labour on women may be contributing to malnourishment in India, says study

It's 5 a.m. in a remote village in Koraput district of Odisha. Sima Paroja joins other Paroja women as they walk towards their fields. Like other summer days, today's schedule looks frantic; they have their tasks lined up—transplant paddy, harvest millet and pluck vegetables. The fields look lush green with nutrition-packed crops—rice, maize, pulses, millet and vegetables. A perfectly-balanced, nutritious diet, if cooked! However, here is the irony—these women are famished, and all that is push
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The sorry tale of snakebites in India

Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii), a venomous snake responsible for half the deaths due to snakebites in India [Image credits: Chandranuj/ CC BY-SA 4.0] On a day in June 2020, a father and his two sons finished their dinner and fell asleep in their hut in a remote village in Madhya Pradesh. Little did they know that it would be their last night, for a venomous snake was lurking inside. Come morning, the villagers discovered the three dead due to snakebites. Although an antivenom, given on time,

Wading through an ‘infodemic’ amidst the pandemic

In February, when the news of the first few confirmed cases of coronavirus in India came to light, we as a nation warmed up to the ‘Wuhan virus’, now at our doorstep. The mainstream media rushed to report on emerging new cases and debated if our infrastructure could handle this epidemic. Social media was abuzz with guidelines and ‘pro-tips’ on what and what not to do, nevermind the accuracy. Phones rang non-stop; every conversation revolved around the new infection in town, and the caller tune w

About 4 in 5 adolescents in the world not physically active enough, finds WHO study

India, with 3 in 4 kids not exercising enough, still fares better than most countries. Do you recollect your childhood days playing gully cricket or doing some household chores? Well, time to thank those days. Studies have shown that an active lifestyle, adopted early on in life, improves the health of the heart, muscles and bones, and helps maintain a healthy weight in the future. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity

The planet-friendly EAT-Lancet diet is not pocket-friendly for South Asia

We live in a nutritionally-imbalanced world. It is estimated that about 2 billion people in the world are either obese or overweight and around the same number suffer from some nutrition deficiency. Poor diet has been blamed for one in five deaths globally, highlighting the need for us to ‘fix’ what we eat. Even after 23,000 years of practising agriculture, our food production has not been able to address our nutrition woes and has also deteriorated the health of the planet. Agriculture accounts

On the edge: Bats in northeast India found to carry filoviruses that could spread to humans

Sometime in the middle of October each year, the Bomrr clan in Nagaland rush to the caves in Mimi village. With a good stock of burning firewood, men and women are ready for the bat harvest festival—an annual ritual where anywhere between 7,000 to 25,000 bats are suffocated or smashed to their deaths. These bats, the clan believes, have medicinal properties and can cure diseases like diarrhoea and body ache, and increase vigour. Now, a new study has shown that these bats, rather than being a cur

Healthcare on the backburner in Bengaluru’s slums

In the heart of the bustling ‘silicon city’ lies one of Bengaluru’s biggest slums, called Devarajeevanahalli. The streets here are lined with temporary shacks facing open sewers and are vulnerable to the slightest fury of the rains. Most houses have one room that serves as the area to sleep, cook and bathe. According to the official numbers, about 2,500 should call this unsightly neighbourhood their home; about 50,000 do so in reality. Overcrowded, poor and hotbeds of diseases—most of India’s s

Whodunnit? A watchlist of bats that can spread Nipah in India

Researchers use a data-driven approach to identify bat species that could be carriers of the Nipah virus in Kerala. On May 2, 2018, Kerala recorded its first case of the Nipah outbreak—a near-fatal viral disease caused by the Nipah virus. Characterised by symptoms that include fever, headache, drowsiness and mental confusion, the illness claimed 16 lives. Bats, known to be the carriers of the virus, had passed the virus to humans. Although studies initially pointed at insectivorous bats as the

In spite of subsidies, haemodialysis costs push families to financial distress, finds study

For many in countries like the USA, where healthcare costs are prohibitive, India is emerging as an attractive destination to get the necessary treatment as it has some of the world’s cheapest hospitals. Yet, for Indians, most of these are still out of reach, and an estimated 37 million people slip into poverty each year, after paying the hospital bills out of their pockets. With chronic diseases like diabetes on the rise in India, many are admitted to hospitals and undergo expensive procedures,

Could oral vaccines be the answer to India’s rabies problem?

Most Indian cities have a ‘dog problem’—multiplying numbers of free-ranging dogs found scavenging for food in garbage dumps. An obvious consequence of such dumping is the spread of diseases from dogs to humans. Rabies, a preventable viral infection of mammals that spreads to one another through the bite of a rabid animal, is one of them. India witnesses about 20,800 human deaths due to rabies each year—more than a third of global deaths—costing the country USD 2.3 billion. Mass vaccination of do

Watch what you eat: 1 in 5 deaths due to poor diet, reveals study

A global study finds that diets high in sodium and low in whole grains and fruits result in most deaths. “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food”, said Hippocrates of Kos, one of the first people to recognise that diseases have natural rather than supernatural causes, hinting at the need to eat food that keeps us healthy and strong. Over time, his advice seems to have been forgotten as we have continued to fill our plates with unhealthy, processed, salted or sweetened foods. Now, a new

Asia’s tobacco epidemic on the rise, says study

Researchers study the trends in smoking in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India. An estimated 7 million people in the world lose their lives every year due to smoking tobacco, and these numbers are only rising. By 2030, scientists believe that this number could hit 8.3 million and if the trend continues unabated, by the end of the century, the world will lose a billion lives. Most of these deaths would be in low- and middle-income countries that are witnessing rapid socioecono

India’s C-Section Conundrum: Too many or too few? It’s both!

A grapevine in India’s maternity scene is that cesarean births have become rampant in recent years and vaginal delivery is almost a miracle. Although natural, doctors advice against vaginal birth in cases where pregnancy-related complications could endanger the lives of the mother and the baby. Instead, a surgical procedure, called C-section or cesarean section, is performed where the uterus is cut open to deliver the baby. Undergoing this procedure means a lengthy hospital stay and skyrocketing

Majority of deaths among children aged 5–14 years in India preventable, says study

Although the mortality rate among children in the age group of 5–14 years is lower than those below five years of age, an estimated one million kids in this age group still die around the world. In a recent study, researchers from Canada, Brazil, China, Mexico, India and Switzerland have tried to uncover the reasons behind this alarming statistic by analysing the causes of deaths in these children from India, China, Brazil, and Mexico. These countries have an estimated 40% of kids aged 5-14 year

Study on adolescent well-being paints a grim picture for India

Today’s world has more adolescents—children in the age group of 10-24 years—than ever in history. Of the 1.8 billion adolescents, a third of them, or 622 million, live in India and China. With this fraction of people growing up to be future citizens, are we doing enough to have their needs met? No, says a worldwide study on adolescent health and well-being, published in The Lancet. The study is the "first comprehensive and integrated overview of recent global shifts in adolescent health at a gl

Study reveals gaping gaps in the availability of diagnostics test in India’s primary health centres

Diabetes, a chronic condition, is the fastest growing disease in India, affecting about 49% of our population. Yet, one may not be able to get a simple glycated haemoglobin A1c test, which tells you the average level of blood sugar over 2-3 months, done in a primary health care centre, reveals a new study. Conducted by researchers from the McGill University, Canada, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, University of York, UK, FIND, Switzerland and the Manipal Academy of Higher Educatio