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On the road with village health workers

By Freny Manecksha

Ankur, a home-based neo-natal care programme based on the acclaimed SEARCH model, is operative in 11 villages of Osmanabad district in Maharashtra. The programme is making a tangible difference to the health of infants and mothers. Freny Manecksha goes on night calls through the twisting lanes of Chauhanwadi with two village health workers

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Marooned by caste...and rising floodwaters

By Naren Karunakaran

In caste-ridden Bihar, in the village of Math-chilaven, it is the Brahmins who are discriminated against by the powerful Yadavs. The Brahmins of Math-chilaven, a village that is entirely cut off during the monsoon months, do not even have a voice in the elections

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Yet another committee, as government drags its feet over soft drinks standards

By Dr Sudhirendar Sharma

The issue of contaminated soft drinks seems to have been pushed on to the backburner with the Pesticide Residues Sub-Committee deciding to set up yet another committee to monitor soft drinks for a year before any attempts are made to decide standards for pesticide contamination

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Why 40,000 pregnant women die in UP every year

By Rashme Sehgal

Uttar Pradesh has a maternal mortality rate of 707 per 100,000. Activists believe that the poor quality of reproductive health services offered by state primary health centres, and the continuing target-based approach to family planning are responsible for this. Our correspondent discovered a trail of botched sterilisations, unsafe abortions, antiquated surgical techniques and hasty cover-ups

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UP's women die in childbirth for want of a four-rupee dai kit

By Rashme Sehgal

Forty thousand women die every year of childbirth and related complications in Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Now, a tussle over where to buy dai kits has stalled their distribution to village midwives, putting more lives at risk

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The sinister targets of Indian health camps

By Sreelatha Menon

At Usayini in Uttar Pradesh, some 'health camps' funded by USAIDS are really places where local midwives are pushed to bring women in for sterilisation. There is absolutely no attempt to provide all-round reproductive health care. This approach flies in the face of India's official policy of target-free family planning

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NIMHANS recommends the Banyan model for mental healthcare

By Lalitha Sridhar

The Banyan model of care for the mentally ill incorporates support, vocational training, rehabilitation and permanent care. NIMHANS, the nodal institution for mental health in India, recommends that the 10-year-old and very successful Banyan model be replicated in other parts of the state

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Orissa's IMR Mission

By Elisa Patnaik

Orissa has the highest infant mortality rate in the country at 97 per 1,000 live births. Approximately 86,000 infants die in the state each year. Poor healthcare facilities for mother and child, malnutrition, malaria and lack of awareness are major contributing factors. Can the state reduce IMR to the targeted 60/1,000 by 2005?

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HIV: The numbers controversy

By Sandhya Srinivasan

Do we have 2 million or 20 million HIV-positive in India? Or is there a plateuing of the epidemic? Speculative and alarmist figures about the number of Indians affected by HIV/AIDS have added to public confusion and affected the programme's credibility. This is the first in a series of articles on the issues and controversies surrounding HIV in India

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DEBATE: Is Electroconvulsive therapy still relevant in psychiatric treatment?

By Chittaranjan Andrade

Presenting two sides of an ongoing public health debate

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Fractured minds, fragmented lives

Exploring the lives of the mentally ill in India

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Food security, not vitamin supplements, is vital for public health

By Sena Desai

A year ago, Unicef's vitamin A campaign in Assam caused the death of 30 children and sent over 1,000 to hospital with vitamin A toxicity. The larger question is whether such mass campaigns to combat malnutrition-related deficiencies in India are still required. Or do we need a more sustainable approach?

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The Handwashing Initiative: selling soap or saving lives?

The World Bank's Handwashing Initiative is based on the conviction that the simple practice of washing hands with soap could reduce deaths from diarrhoea by half. But its intentions are being questioned in Kerala, where people say they need safe drinking water, not multinational soap

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Friends of Melghat

By Huned Contractor

An estimated 5,000 tribal children died of malnutrition in Melghat, Maharashtra, between 1992-97. Since 1997, a group of volunteers has been working with the Korkus in this remote forest region, helping educate them about nutrition, sanitation and preventive health care

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The barber's wife: Sex advisor to child brides

By Pamela Bhagat

In the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, where no family planning campaign has ever penetrated, it is the Naun or barber's wife who accompanies child brides to their husbands' homes at puberty and advises them on family planning and family welfare. This traditional practice does not seem likely to change in the foreseeable future

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Building a new world at Parinche

By Jaya Jose

In 1995, the Foundation for Research in Community Health began training semi-literate village women to diagnose and treat common health disorders. Today, Parinche's tais are not just barefoot healthworkers. They're also scripting an ecological, cultural and educational revolution in their villages

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The economics of TB

By Sandhya Srinivasan

Tuberculosis in developing countries is not just a disease requiring effective medical treatment. It is a disease complicated by complex socio-economic problems such as unemployment, poverty and malnourishment. The story of tuberculosis in India is the story of people with no right to food, employment, shelter or healthcare. No wonder the figures for TB haven't changed all that much in the last few years

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Inequality and poverty cause mental illness

By Keya Acharya

Health experts warn that mental health problems are increasing sharply worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation, depression is set to become the main cause of disability and the second leading health problem by the year 2020. In developing countries, inequality, poverty and gender are significant factors contributing to mental illness

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Women in white: India's widows

Following the recent announcement that the National Human Rights Commission will now coordinate governmental and non-governmental measures to help the widows of Vrindavan and the rest of the country, this article discusses the situation and problems of widows in India, past and present

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Mothers tell the malnutrition story

By Pamela Philipose

The hunger and malnutrition (HUNGaMA) survey underlines the close links between a mother’s physical and educational status and her child’s nutritional status. In the six best-performing rural districts roughly 95% of mothers had been to school, whereas in the worst-performing districts 66.3% of mothers had never been to school

malnutrition hunger nutrition of children

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