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Archive for the ‘Rising cost of healthcare in India’ Category

Health and Human Rights Day

Every year since 1948, people worldwide have been observing Human Rights Day on 10 December. Having kick-started with the declaration that all human beings are born with equal rights & fundamental freedoms, this initiative of WHO has taught us to claim what is ours- Right to health.

“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being…” ~ World Health Organization

What makes your average Indian woman hesitate to grab this right? As women we are guilty of putting our health in the last strung of the priority-ladder. Setting aside the deep-seated conditioning, it is high time we accept that taking charge of one’s health & life doesn’t dilute womanliness in any way. And yes, it is time to scrutinize our mechanical compliance so that health becomes atleast one of the top 5 priority.

“Fish did not discover water. Infact because they are completely immersed in it, they live unaware of its existence. Similarly when a conduct is normalized by a dominant cultural environment it becomes invisible.” ~ Marshall McLuhen

Lets explore some common trends that violate women’s Right to good nutrition & eventually Right to health by women themselves.

  • Eating last: It is common, particularly in middle class homes, for women to eat after everybody else had their meals. A double-edged sword attitude it is.

Whys it bad: Not only do they eat much late after repeated growl-alarms from their stomachs, there may not be enough food (especially side dishes) left. A major nutritional compromise! On the other hand when too much is left over, guilty of wasting, they tend to wipe the vessel clean.

How to rectify: Make your mealtimes a family time!

  • Eating old food: Another common trend is eating old refrigerated food even when fresh food is available. Again, due to the guilt of wasting food!

Whys it bad: Eating fresh means better nourishment! The longer it takes you to eat that roti sabzi, the faster its nutrients escape from it.

How to rectify: That’s quite straightforward. Eat fresh i.e. eat food atleast within 3 hours of preparation.

  • Never opting for their personal favourite food: Post marriage, woman not only change their surname but also eating habits, albeit unconsciously, but also their favourite food cooked in a way they have liked since small.

Whys it bad: Changes in food habits & late-nights after wedding will result in deficiency of your metabolizing and energy-giving Vitamin B stores.

How to rectify: Make it a point to eat your favourite dish atleast once a week.

Simple funda is, if you take complete responsibility for your family’s overall well-being, you need to be healthy. It is your right to health & you owe it your body!

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When Anxiety and Phobias steers over the edge…

Women today are leading a multi-tasking life that involves a fine balance between household and hectic job demands. Consequentially, they are more often diagnosed for anxiety disorders as compared to men. And it is more than occasional jitters, self-consciousness or shyness during job interviews or when expected to give a speech.

PHOBIA is basically an irrational & uncontrolled fear towards an object, person or situation. Have you noticed anyone trembling with fear if they so much as see a spider at the other end of the room? Or no matter how you much you reassure, does your kid refuse to go for a giant wheel ride in Melas? Are you one of those who feels giddy at the mere thought of crossing a busy road? These are a few common phobias and if left untreated, then the phobia can affect the person’s day-to-day life and activities also.

Being judged poorly by faceless mass of ‘others’ is a scary prospect. We all encounter mild forms of SOCIAL PHOBIA from time to time. Yes, even practiced public speakers! So its nothing to be ashamed of, and of course there are ways to enhance your social skills. Once you identify where this phobia stems from, which is your deep fear of embarrassing yourself (will they make fun of me?), you can figure out a way to take the bull by its horns.

For many of us, coping with traumatic events can be very stressful. Recovering from an accident, coping with illness/loss of a loved one, major relationship setbacks etc have a way of haunting us in the form of flashbacks, nightmares, and dizziness. If you feel as if you can never get over what has happened and hopeless about moving on, you may be suffering from POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER. If you know someone with a traumatic past, how did you help him/her?

Did you know? An occasional & mild dose of fear, anxiety & doubt help us to make decisions, solve issues and even grow as an individual. But only when they do not occur often or last long. For instance, you must have heard amusing stories about women who check their door lock, gas knobs & light switches multiple times, sometimes even in the middle of the night. This is OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER for you.

Do you know people with the anxiety symptoms or phobias mentioned above? Please share the anecdotes of your experiences with those people here…

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Pledge to Welcome a Healthy Heart on World Heart Day

Did you know! Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s largest killers, claiming 17.3 million lives a year. Risk factors for heart disease and stroke include raised blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, smoking, inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables, overweight, obesity and physical inactivity. In partnership with WHO, the World Heart Federation focus onOne World, One Home, One Heart” (source courtesy: WHO – World Health Organisation)

Just as a healthy mind is an indication of a healthy body, in the same way, a healthy heart is an indication of a healthy lifestyle and routine. When you eat healthy, exercise daily, stay away from health enemies like smoking and alcohol drinking, etc., then this is the route to a happy living with a healthy heart.

Is Your Heart Healthy?

You will be amazed to know that women are at equal risk to heart problems as men. But, you can avoid the risk of developing the heart disease by following inculcating a few daily habits. For this you first need to know the risk factors that cause the disease. Now, there are two types of these risk factors; one type consists of those factors that can be changed and other type includes the ones that you cannot change. But, the good news is that, most of the heart problem risk factors can be changed.

The chief factors causing heart problem are as follows:

  • Tobacco Smoking.
  • Obesity.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High levels of cholesterol in your blood.
  • Physical inactiveness or sedentary life style.
  • High blood sugar i.e. diabetes.

What can you possibly do to avoid heart problem completely?

The earlier you start to improve your heart-health; the better will be your chances to have a healthy heart. You can immediately inculcate the following habits in your daily life:

  • Have a healthy diet plan including mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains or cereals, fish, and pulses.
  • Avoid having a large quantity of saturated fats, instead switch to vegetable oils.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Incorporate some physical activity in your daily routine like using stairs instead of lift or brisk walking.
  • Prevent diabetes by limiting your sugar intake.
Is your lifestyle in accord with a heart healthy living?
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Why Women Require Flexible Work Arrangements?

Aching of the back-bone of the ‘back-bone of society’, the women, is a common phenomenon. But the worst hit arena is that of the working women. Imagining a daily schedule of a work-to-home mum explains how hard it is for a lady to cope with her responsibilities. Switching roles from being a mother taking care of her children, a wife looking after her spouse, a daughter attending to her parents, and being a professional leaves little time and attention for her own personal health.

Women know too well about being a bouncy tennis ball being whacked from home to office and vice versa. And it blurs away the personal front out in the ‘no-attention’ cloud, welcoming the mist of ailments into her body, which can turn chronic if remain unattended on a prolonged basis.

Most working women tend to face problems managing their daily schedules. Some common needs of working women start right from pregnancy, which will become even more demanding with the arrival of a child.

Common problems of a working woman:

  • Lack of adequate rest & sleep with multiple stressors at office & home.
  • Need for multitasking with no me-time.
  • No time for breastfeeding.
  • Uncertainty of getting maternity leave.
  • Culpability of leaving the child alone.

However, all this does not mean that women should completely give up their career after childbirth, but this surely calls for a proper time-management.

Flexible Work Arrangements Can Be Helpful

A good way to help women cater to their needs is to make their work arrangements flexible. A flexibility brought into the working schedules can help them manage, both office and home with efficiency. A discussion with the HR about negotiation in terms of salary for reduced work effort. Is shifting your house to nearby office location possible for you?

Flexible working hours help a woman decide upon her daily priorities and to take time out for herself too. Getting a little time-off for doing yoga and meditation will be immensely helpful in rejuvenating the expected compromised health during pregnancy.

Are you compromising on your own health? Are you feeling stressed out with hectic work schedule? Is your work schedule flexible enough to allow you to breast-feed your newborn?


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Are you at risk to trigger anemia?

Anemia is basically a decrease in number of red blood cells or presence of less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. The condition includes reduced oxygen binding of hemoglobin in the blood. The condition is prevalent in India – some studies suggest that Indian women are prone to anemia and even the urban, educated women are susceptible to anemia. The condition may be severe, long lasting, and life threatening based upon hemoglobin levels in the blood with specific medical causes and traits, some of these include Iron-deficiency anemia, Folic acid deficiency anemia, Pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency), Aplastic anemia, Sickle cell anemia, Polycythemia vera and Trauma related anemia (mainly injured in a motor accidents). Nevertheless, it can be traced back to the food habit of Indian society.

The statistics are shocking. A National Health Survey revealed that more than half the pregnant women in India are anemic. What is worse is that the percentage has increased from the 1990s. The National Family Health Survey dated 2005-06 (released recently) places India at 58.7% of anemic pregnant women as opposed to 49.7% in 1998-99. When the pattern in married women was studied, the trend was the same, but urban India women fared better than its rural counterpart at 50.9% as against 57.4% respectively.

Scientists are doing their bit. Scientists at the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhavnagar in Gujarat have developed double fortified salt, which they believe will be a boon for those suffering from iron deficiency or anemia. But the key to beat anemia is a good diet.

Some simple dietary steps would help prevent or cure most forms of anemia:

  • Consume adequate quantity of protein; include cheese, milk, eggs, fish or any substitute of meat products.
  • Eat foods rich in iron like green leafy vegetables, plantain, lotus stem, puffed rice, whole grain cereals.
  • Consume food rich in vitamin B complex, particularly B6 like whole grain cereals, parboiled rice, liver, milk etc.
  • Include citrus fruits such as amla, guava, green pepper, orange and lemon in your diet.
  • Include liver oil, fortified vegetable oil, sea foods for Vitamin E.
  • Ensure intake of foods rich in folic acid like pulses, green leafy vegetables, legumes and eggs.

As the typical Indian diet may not be ‘complete’ consult your doctor for supplements and fortified foods. If you have symptoms like feeling dizzy, fatigued, shortness of breath, weakness – it may be anemia. When was your last general health checkup or blood test done? Being aware about anemia is the first step to prevent it.

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Stroke’s No Joke; How can you help?

Surprisingly and distressingly, stroke statistics in women are mounting. Changes in lifestyle like odd shifts, high pressure jobs, changed diets with more of processed foods on your plate… all these have brought the modern woman into the purview of various lifestyle diseases including stroke, which is the deadliest of all for it attacks the brain.

You’ll be astounded if you know how easy it is to read the signs of stroke. Thousands of deaths and cases of disability can be avoided if the symptoms are recognized & treated immediately. Yes, even you can prevent one. A stroke is a crisis that calls for urgent medical attention. Stroke happens when brain cells deprived of oxygen, leading to irreparable harm within 3 hrs. Nevertheless, it can be stopped if you can get up the blood circulation again. Hence identifying the symptoms of stroke and calling for an ambulance is vital. The sooner he/she gets hospitalized, the better their chances of a speedy recovery.

9 in 10 strokes can be picked up by the F.A.S.T technique, affirm the doctors. Quick action can put a stop to more brain damage and help the patient to recover completely. It is a fact that much of the consequences like death, paralysis, memory loss & speech problems are due to delayed treatment.

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International Men’s Health Week advocates women to make moves of wisdom for the men in their lives

A British study has established that 1 in 3 men tend to neglect bad health in the hope that the ailment will ‘disappear’ over time. This tendency is even glorified as a masculine thing.

As a woman, you must be too familiar with this attitude. Plenty of you are sure to have stories of dragging their spouses for health checks because you alone know how vulnerable men are making themselves by refusing to act on indications of ill health. The rationale of International Men’s Health Week is to increase and reinforce the understanding of preventable health issues and promote early detection and cure of illnesses among men and boys.

Are you aware of top men’s health terrors and their triggers? Well, the list is not shocking and includes commonly referred to diseases such as stroke, heart attack, diabetes, cancer, injuries, AIDS, prostate cancer etc. Triggers to emotional and physical conditions can range from the simplest thing as stress to ignorance towards mild symptoms, sedentary lifestyle, alcoholism, smoking, engaging in casual sex and work pressure.

Prevention is a priority not an option. When was the last time men in your household had a checkup? Skipping checkups is not a way to save cash. What if it leads to something severe simply because they had skipped a medical? Yes, they always insist that they feel fine, but the call for yearly health checks still stands. Some illnesses and conditions don’t even have symptoms, making you more likely to miss an early diagnosis and treatment.

We urge you to keep up with the numbers for BP, sugar level, cholesterol, body mass index, or anything else of the men in your family and keep them informed. Consult a doctor on the kind of tests they should take and how often. The rat race of modern times gives men hardly any time to think, let alone worry about their health. Unfortunately, most men consider it natural being tired and oversleeping on weekends. Can you ensure this is followed in your house?

An urge to sleep throughout the day, recurrent headaches, nervousness, exhaustion, anxiety etc are not signs of a healthy body. In fact, the body is screaming – ‘HELP!!!’ through these symptoms. How do you intend to educate them on this? It is time for men to chuck the traditional linkage of health and masculinity and ASK for & GET help when needed! Do you agree?

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