|HEALTH TRIBUNE||Wednesday, January 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
Hepatitis B is preventable
AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH
HOMOEOPATHIC TIPS BY DR VIKAS SHARMA
The numbers bomb is ticking fast
WORLD Population Day has been observed since 1987 when, on 11 July that year, the world population crossed five billion. The alarm then was over the rapidly increasing numbers. The number of years taken to add the next billion to the world population has been declining from 14 to 13 to 12 when the world touched the six billion mark in 1999.
Like all ideas that evolve, there has been a change in the thinking on population issues. When World Population Day began to be observed, the thought on population was primarily concerned with numbers. Increasing numbers were looked at with fright, as if a swarm of people growing at an unregulated pace would one day overwhelm the planet, consume its resources, lay it bare and bring it to its destruction. World Population Day owed its origin to this growing fear.
It was this fear that formed the central idea of the population programmes that were operational then. These programmes did not look at human development as the need of the hour, but instead looked at women whose fertility needed to be controlled. The word "control" best represented the situation. That is why the programme was focused only on sterilisation and targets and not other health needs of people. In pursuance of their rigid agenda, the health service providers used incentives and disincentives to meet their targets. But after the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, the world view was transformed and human development came before population stabilisation. Incentives and disincentives are representative of the old, alarmist thinking on population.
Let us try and discover what is at the bottom of an incentive or a disincentive. It is not the genuine welfare of the people, but a motive of the State. We still refer to the Emergency as the nadir of democracy in India. Yet, when a disincentives such as the two-child norm are imposed on the people, which will make a person with more than two children ineligible for election to a panchayat, not many voices of protest are heard. It is my purpose to illustrate before you some of the consequences of stringent measures and disincentives, and to urge you to play a role in changing mindsets that still perceive population issues as nothing else but numbers. If we adopt stringent and punitive measures in our determination to stabilise population, we will once again bring back the damages of the 1970s to the present family welfare programmes.
Disincentives, including political disincentives, on the surface may reflect the Government's commitment to population stabilisation, but a deeper analysis would show that disincentives such as the ones operational in a few States and proposed in some others, ultimately affect the poorest of the poor and further power imbalances in society. Contrary to popular belief, they do not lead to lowering the fertility rate in a sustainable manner. Consider a typical victim of the two-child norm a poor, uneducated woman or man who neither has the means nor the information to limit her or his family size. Let me ask you: "Have awareness and education, health facilities and contraception facilities reached every village and town of the country? Are families safe from infant mortality and can they safely have one or two children and expect them to stay alive? Have we met our unmet needs for contraceptives fully? Do families have enough survival assurance and adequate incomes so that they don't want extra hands to get in more money? Not yet, I am sure all of you would say. So, are disincentives justified?"
Consider women in this situation. How many women in India can control their own fertility, can say it loudly and clearly to their husbands and in-laws that they don't want to have another child? Not many. How can you penalise further a woman who isn't part of the decision-making process in the first place? This is how political disincentives will prevent empowerment, and force people to remain "numbers", without letting them traverse the passage that will make them "people" who control their own lives.
In Uttar Pradesh, a girl who gets married before the age of 18 will not be eligible for a Government job! It is a classic example of penalising the victim! She was not consulted when the decision to marry her off was made. She was denied access to equal education, to health, that is if she was allowed to be born at all! The State will only add to her disadvantaged position.
We must remember that the effects of political disincentives are far-reaching.
Hepatitis B is preventable
HEPATITIS means the inflammation of the liver and the most common cause of it is the infection with hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B is one of the major diseases of mankind and is a serious global public health problem. It is preventable with safe and effective vaccines. It is the most serious type of viral hepatitis and many years later develops into the cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
So it is the first vaccine against major human cancer.
The IMA is organising a "hepatitis vaccination drive" in the city in association with Shanta Biotechnics Pvt. Ltd. Nearly 100 clinics and nursing homes are participating in the massive vaccination camp. The vaccination drive will continue from January 31 to February 4. On January 30, 100 doses of vaccine will be given free at the IMA complex, Sector 35B, between 11 am and 1 pm on the first-come, first-served basis.
In India, 50 million people are suffering from hepatitis B. Only 15 % of our one billion population has been vaccinated against it.
The country has not included hepatitis B vaccination in its national immunisation programmes. Because of this neglect, two lakh Indians are dying every year because of hepatitis B.
Immunisation is the only way to prevent hepatitis B.
The hepatitis B vaccine is now easily available and indigenously manufactured. The vaccine has very little local side effect like pain at the site of the injection, and fever. The vaccine is given at the intervals of 0, 1 and six months, the dose being half for children less than 10 years. It has to be injected intramuscularly in the arms rather than in the buttocks where the response is much less.
This vaccine in the body produces an antibody response which protects an individual soon after the first dose is administered in almost 90 % of situations.
In the general population, the response after these injection of the vaccine is nearly 100 %. For the vaccine to be protective, there has to be a specific titre of more than 100 international units. The response is excellent in the recipients less than 40 years of age except in those with increasing age, smoking and obesity. A weak immune system is also bad. Such persons need to be tested for vaccine response and more injections, with a double dose, are recommended. (Next week: Prof Y. Chawla of the PGI on the need for hetatitis vaccination.)
AYURVEDA & TOTAL HEALTH
USED in most of the Indian homes and famous for its peculiar odour, hing (English-asafoetida; botanically-Ferula narthrex) is a resin of a plant which grows in the higher ranges of Kashmir, parts of Afghanistan and Iran. Ancient texts describe it as hingu and several centuries of its constant use have bestowed upon it the peculiarity of a tempting spice and trusted medicine.
Hing is bitter and pungent in taste and light, sharp, unctuous and hot in effect. While aggravating pitta, it pacifies vata and kapha. Its chemical composition consists of gum, ash and a volatile oil. Hing also contains protein, fibre and minerals which include a substantial amount of calcium and traces of iron.
Ayurvedic texts have categorised hing as deepniya and sanjna-sthapaka (an appetiser and a restorer of consciousness). It is reputed as a drug which expels wind from the stomach and counteracts spasmodic disorders. Hing also acts as a stimulant on the nervous and respiratory systems. It is an expectorant, a killer of intestinal worms and an emmenagogue (that promotes the menstrual discharge).
Hing is used mainly in kapha-and-vata-caused diseases. It is a drug of choice in gas trouble, distention of the abdomen and colic. As a respiratory stimulant and expectorant it is given in chronically dry and productive cough whereas as a nervine stimulant ayurvedic texts recommend its use in a number of ailments like hysteria, paralysis, convulsions and syncope. Here are a few tips for gaining its medicinal benefits.
* Taking two times a day with warm water half a teaspoonful of hing, crushed ajwain and vidang (all in equal parts) abates flatulent dyspepsia. The same combination is a simple and effective remedy for intestinal worm problems.
Hing is very useful for women, especially after childbirth, as it helps in digestion and relieves one of gas and distension.
* Taking 250 mg of hing mixed in one teaspoonful each of betel juice and honey works well in respiratory disorders like asthama, bronchitis and cough.
* Hing is a known antidote of opium and counteracts its effect if given in the same quantity to the patient. In hysterical fits, the patient is made to inhale hing besides being given various other medicines which include it as an essential ingredient.
* Taking before meals 2 gm of the famous Hingashtak churna with warm water helps in digesting heavy and fried food. Similarly, Rajaprivartini Vati, which also contains hing, is a drug of choice for treating painful and scant menstruation.
Caution: As a spice, hing is an essential ingredient in preparations like pickles, soups, vegetables and pulses. Raw hing is nauseous and unsafe. Therefore, before its medicinal and other routine uses, it should be fried in desi ghee. Hing should also be used with care in patients suffering from severe acidity, haemorrhagic disorders, piles and hypertension.
Nowadays, it is difficult to obtain unadulterated hing as wheat floor and gum of keekar tree are mixed into it. Spurious and adulterated hing sinks and settles if put in a glass of water whereas pure hing, without leaving sediments, slowly but completely dissolves into water, turning it into a milky liquid. Pure hing also gets burnt when put close to a flame. (Next week: Nagarmotha: the detoxifying herb).
HOMOEOPATHIC TIPS BY DR
HOMOEOPATHIC medicines Nux Vomica, Aesculus, Aloes, Hamemelis and Sulphur are very effective in the treatment of piles.
Hahnemann (the founder of homoeopathy), writing about Nux, tells us that there are just a few medicines of which symptoms are so similar to those of the common ailments that these are very frequently found useful. These he terms as Polychrests drugs of many uses. Nux is a leading homoeopathic polychrest. Even for a skilled homoeopath, Nux is a popular prescription.
After years of neglect, when the ailing digestive system starts showing its symptoms, it usually expresses itself with the feeling of unsatisfactory stools. Bowels are cleared in not less than two or three attempts. This is a common kind of constipation and is usually found in conjunction with piles. Piles, when associated with such bowel movements, need Nux Vomica. Nux, as a rule, cures both. It acts best when taken at night. Dosage: Nux Vomica 200 one dose at night, every alternate day, for a period of two weeks.
Aesculus is more often indicated in blind piles (non-bleeding). The rectum feels full, sore with burning and itching sensation as if it is full of small sticks, with pain shooting to the back. Dosage: 30 c four times a day until substantial relief starts. Aloes Socotrina can be used for piles that protrude like a bunch of grapes, and painful, hot and are relieved by cold water. If indicated, 30 c potency can be used four times a day. Bleeding piles are common and are a feature of internal piles. Hamemelis 30 c can be taken four times a day to control the bleeding.
The use of Sulphur requires a special mention in the treatment of chronic piles but should be used only under the guidance of professional homoeopath.
Best and healthy things in life
Mrs Prem Mehra-Mishra, former
Nursing Superintendent, the PGI, Chandigarh. (Written at a Surgical