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Hooked on disease

By Manipadma Jena

With a Rs 6,750-crore fast food industry growing at 35% annually, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders are rising sharply. How is this slow-motion health disaster to be tackled?


Birth pangs in the lost villages of the Sunderbans

By Saadia Azim

Scores of women living in inaccessible island villages across West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district are finally able to access ante- and postnatal healthcare, and have institutional deliveries at community delivery centres and hospitals


The Binayak effect

Minnie Vaid travels to Bagrumnala, a Khmar tribal village tucked away in the forests of Chhattisgarh, where Binayak Sen is a legend, and where he set up a remarkable model of rural healthcare, working with the community on everything from healthcare to nutrition and education


Sound and fury over the 'New Delhi superbug'

By Rahul Goswami

The Indian government has been quick to rubbish the Lancet study on the NDM-1 bacterium, choosing to see this as a commercial problem that will impact our growing medical tourism industry, rather than as a healthcare problem that could seriously impact a country where antibiotics are overused and where scant attention is paid to infection control in hospitals


Tamil Nadu pioneers easy cervical cancer screening

By B Jayashree

Cervical cancer affects millions in India. It can be effectively treated if diagnosed early. Now, the VIA/VILI kit, which costs only Rs 5 and can be used by any healthcare professional, is being introduced across Tamil Nadu, offering women the possibility of early detection and treatment


Far from safe with institutional deliveries

By Usha Rai

The government’s Janani Suraksha Yojana is pushing pregnant women towards institutional deliveries, but a study finds that the system is not ready to handle them. Women report terrible experiences at public health centres


Deadly dust

Text & Photographs by Chitrangada Choudhury

Though many migrant workers from south Madhya Pradesh have died of the incurable workplace disease called silicosis contracted from inhaling quartz dust in stone crushing factories in Gujarat, the public health system has carried out no comprehensive survey to identify the disease, which is often passed off as tuberculosis, many factories have not installed anti-pollution systems, and the NHRC has been sitting on the case since 2006


Breastfeeding is the key to infant and child survival

By Deepanjali Bhas

Promoting something as simple as breastfeeding can reduce infant mortality by 11.6%. But though India has among the worst infant and child mortality figures in the world, 75% of the nation’s children are not breastfed from birth and over 50% are not exclusively breastfed.


Jharkhand's fluorosis nightmare

By Moushumi Basu

The fluoride level in water taken from a hand pump in Sidekhurd and other villages of Garwa district is more than twice the permissible level of 1 ppm. Acute dental and skeletal disorders plague these villagers, but they know nothing about fluorosis. Government admits that of the 550 fluoride control mechanisms installed, 100 are defunct


Swine flu in Pune: A city under siege

By Anosh Malekar

The last time Pune saw a public health crisis like the present swine flu outbreak was the plague epidemic in 1897. As the city virtually shuts down, Pune’s haphazard growth, precarious infrastructure and complete unpreparedness for a crisis are exposed


The speaking dolls

By Paramita Chaudhuri

India offers just one hospital bed nationally per 15,400 mentally ill patients. The situation in West Bengal is no different. A unique outsider art exhibition of dolls in Kolkata recently helped mentally handicapped individuals from two state-run institutions make dolls that communicate their lives and aspirations to each other and the outside world


India failing adivasi tribes with sickle cell

By Anosh Malekar

With the spotlight on lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension, traditional illnesses like sickle cell disease, which affects tribals all across India, are not receiving the attention they deserve


Miracle care

Rashme Sehgal visits a state-of-the-art sick and newborn care unit in the Guna district hospital in Madhya Pradesh. When set up across 50 districts in MP, this model is expected to reduce the infant mortality rate from 74 to 40 per 1,000


The benefits of sex education and counselling

By Usha Rai

A drop-in sexual-health centre in New Delhi and an adolescence sex education programme for class 10 students in rural and urban Haryana clearly demonstrate the benefits of sexuality education and counseling for youth


Kerala spearheads community-care health revolution

By M Suchitra

A unique home-based palliative and chronic care movement is sweeping through Kerala. Thousands of trained citizens are volunteering two hours a week to take care of the chronically ill in villages and cities. Funding for this community-based scheme that has won WHO recognition comes in cash and kind from citizens, including schoolchildren, bus drivers, labourers and others


Why is the women's movement silent on abortion?

By Anjali Deshpande

The Union Ministry of Health is examining the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act with a view to raising the time limit for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. What would the moral and ethical implications of this move be? And why has the women’s movement in India been strangely silent on these important developments?


Smoking out India

With smoking in offices and private establishments banned from October 2, India is finally recognising that tobacco consumption is a major public health problem. But the ban by itself will not work. We need to reduce accessibility to all tobacco products, including gutkha, by taxing them out of reach and banning their sale in public places, says Deepanjali Bhas


Sexuality education, minus the sex

By Rashme Sehgal

After the furore over the direct nature of India's Adolescence Education Programme last year, NACO has come up with a sexuality education module that dare not mention 'intercourse' or 'safe sex' or even 'condoms'. Over 30 groups working with sexuality have rejected the material


Discrimination is built into our legislation

By Alok Prakash Putul

India passed the Leprosy Act in 1898 to ensure that leprosy patients did not face discrimination. A hundred years on, Indian laws and regulations do just that. Legislation in several states prevents leprosy patients from obtaining a driving licence, travelling in trains, and contesting panchayat elections. And many marriage laws make "contracting leprosy" grounds for divorce


The pain of Roshanara

By Benita Sen

Cancer patient Roshanara's morphine tablets keep her relatively pain-free. Morphine is part of palliative care, which allows terminally ill patients to live a life of dignity, free of pain. Why, then, is it so scarce in India?



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