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Air pollution cuts growth of working memory in kids

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air-pollution

London, Oct 8: Exposure to air pollution on the way to school can have damaging effects on growth of children’s working memory, suggests new research.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, found an association between a reduction in working memory and exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — fine inhalable particles that have diameters of 2.5 micrometres or less — and black carbon — a pollutant directly related to traffic — during the walking commute to and from school.

The findings of an earlier study had shown that 20 per cent of a child’s daily dose of black carbon is inhaled during urban commutes.

“The results of earlier toxicological and experimental studies have shown that these short exposures to very high concentrations of pollutants can have a disproportionately high impact on health” said first author of the study Mar Alvarez-Pedrerol, researcher at Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain.

“The detrimental effects may be particularly marked in children because of their smaller lung capacity and higher respiratory rate,” she added.

The study was carried out in Barcelona and enrolled over 1,200 children aged from 7 to 10, from 39 schools, all of whom walked to school on a daily basis.

The children’s working memory and attention capacity was assessed several times during the 12-month study.

Their exposure to air pollution over the same period was calculated on the basis of estimated levels on the shortest walking route to their school.

Statistical analysis of the findings revealed that exposure to PM2.5 and black carbon was associated with a reduction in the growth of working memory.

An interquartile range increase in PM 2.5 and black carbon levels was associated with a decline of 4.6 per cent and 3.9 per cent, respectively, in expected annual growth of working memory, the study said.

The interquartile range (IQR) is a measure of variability based on dividing a data set into quartiles.

“The fact that children who walk to school may be more exposed to pollution does not mean that children who commute by car or on public transport are not also exposed to high levels,” said Jordi Sunyer, head of ISGlobal’s Child Health Programme. and co-author of the study.

“The solution is the same for everyone: reduce the use of private vehicles for the school run and create less polluted and safer home-to-school routes,” Alvarez-Pedrerol said.

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Health

Regulation of healthcare needed to check corruption: Salman Khurshid

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Salman Khurshid

New Delhi, July 12 : Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Thursday said a strong regulatory system is needed to check widespread corruption in the Indian healthcare sector where 25 per cent of the money spent on health is lost due to fraud.

“What you need really is a profound regulatory system. Regulation is itself something that can go wrong but if we have a good clear regulatory system it will help,” he said at the launch of book “Healers or Predators? Healthcare Corruption in India”.

Khurshid said private hospitals who get land from the government are obliged to provide 30 per cent of their beds to the poor for free but these obligations are hardly met. Patients with no real ailment and hence no expenditure are admitted to account for the 30 per cent.

The former Union Law Minister also said even the judges are not familiar with what constitutes a medical malpractice.

“We could have a death because of cardiac attack as the patient was put through tests that were not advisable and all that the hospital says is pay and we will release the body. How many cases have you heard where sanctions have been imposed on such malpractice?”

The book, which highlights corruption in India’s healthcare and medical system, is a compilation of various reports written by medical doctors on the various crises plaguing the sector and edited by Samiran Nundy, Keshav Desiraju and Sanjay Nagral.

BMJ Group Non-executive Director David Berger, who first highlighted deep-rooted but widely accepted corruption in Indian healthcare, said he was struck by the lack of trust between doctors and patients that destroys the healing relationship.

BMJ, a subsidiary of the British Medical Association, is a provider of journals, clinical decision support, events and medical education.

“The solutions are upstream, not downstream. Ranting about individual doctors being corrupt is no use. As a start, the Medical Council of India (MCI) needs to be reformed or replaced by an effective system of professional regulation where doctors are held to account,” Berger said.

Gastrointestinal surgeon and writer Nundy said there is wide asymmetry of information — doctors know everything and the patients know nothing. Patients look at doctors as god or near god and it is terrible to betray that trust, he said.

He said the Indian health system is the second most corrupt sector after police, as per a report by Transparency International. As part of solution, the country needs to first accept the National Medical Commission Bill, he said.

Other panelists at the book launch expressed deep concern over the Modi government’s flagship healthcare protection scheme, popularly called Modicare, because of the lack of basic regulation of the private sector, which accounts for 70 per cent of the country’s hospitals. The government will be heavily dependent on the private sector for the success of Ayushman Bharat.

However, NITI Ayog Member Health Vinod Paul, who believes self-regulation is essential, believes in the power of technology and analytics to raise a red flag at the possible points of corruption, and then “match it with a deterrent in terms of penalties and prosecution”.

“I think in a transparent, information technology driven system using analytics and artificial intelligence gives us an additional, very powerful tool which the developed nations have used to avert cases of corruption,” he said.

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India heading for comprehensive healthcare crisis: Amartya Sen

The Medical Council of India (MCI), which aims to provide quality medical care to all Indians through promotion and maintenance of excellence in medical education, Sen blames the organisation for not only failing to perform its duties but also for its designated role of looking after medical colleges.

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Amartya Sen

India spends just a little over one per cent of its GDP on healthcare and this is leading the country into “a comprehensive healthcare crisis”, according to Nobel laureate and noted economist Amartya Sen, who has called for greater allocation on healthcare in India and highlighted what he calls “three general failures” in the country’s healthcare segment.

“The fact that India allocates only a little over 1 per cent of its gross domestic product on public healthcare contrasts sharply, for example, with nearly three times as much by China. We reap as we sow, and cannot expect to get what other countries achieve by allocating much more resources — as a proportion of their respective levels of the gross national product– to healthcare,” Sen writes in his elaborate foreword to “Healers or Predators? Healthcare Corruption in India”, which will be launched here on Thursday.

Sen, a recipient of the Bharat Ratna in 1999, further claims that the entire organisation of Indian healthcare has become “deeply flawed”, leading the country into “a comprehensive healthcare crisis”.

“Despite being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India ranks among the poorest achievers of good health. The shortfall of India’s health achievements compared with those of, say, China or Thailand is large and has been growing larger. Even within South Asia, Bangladesh and Nepal have overtaken India in health accomplishment, including in life expectancy.

“If India’s bad record in healthcare is not much discussed in the Indian press, this neglect does not indicate the presence of a tolerable level of healthcare in India, but reflects instead the narrow reach of the Indian news media, with its traditional neglect of elementary education and healthcare,” writes the 84-year-old economist.

Sen has extensively written on welfare economics and social justice and in the given book, he also highlights the plight of patients suffering at the hands of “private caregivers”.

He says private clinics “will not budge” without “the promise of payment”. Noting that even though some public services are offered freely, Sen highlights that many critically important services are denied unless the patient can cough up demanded sums, which can be “unaffordable” for many underprivileged Indians.

Taking a dig at the Medical Council of India (MCI), which aims to provide quality medical care to all Indians through promotion and maintenance of excellence in medical education, Sen blames the organisation for not only failing to perform its duties but also for its designated role of looking after medical colleges.

“In particular, in the use of the power — and responsibility — to set up new private medical colleges, there seems to be clear evidence of fairly straightforward corruption,” he claims.

He ends the over 1,500-word foreword to this “splendid, if depressing, book” with what he calls “three general failures” in India’s healthcare segment — “the amazing neglect of primary healthcare compared with health interventions needed at later stages”; “India’s hasty and premature reliance on private healthcare, which goes hand in hand with neglect of public healthcare”; and the deficiancy of “informed public discussion on healthcare” in the country.

Published by Oxford University Press, “Healers or Predators? Healthcare Corruption in India” has been edited by by Samiran Nundy, Keshav Desiraju and Sanjay Nagral.

“This hard-hitting volume”, according to the publisher, “shows a mirror to the society and, more specifically, to those associated with the health sector — on how healers, in many cases, are shifting shape to becoming predators”.

(Saket Suman can be contacted at [email protected])

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Delhi hospital removes 856 stones from man’s kidney

The team explained that for the surgery a temporary tubing was put in the left ureter after removing the stones, to circumvent the ureteric obstruction.

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Kidney Stones Removal

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) Doctors at Fortis Hospital here on Monday said they removed 856 stones from the left kidney of a 45-year-old patient at one go, using minimally invasive surgical techniques.

The patient was brought to the hospital when he noticed blood in his urine. The ultrasound showed the presence of two large stones in his kidney.

“The patient had a history of stones in the left kidney and was first operated in 2007. There were no visible symptoms of kidney stones this time, except for the fact, he started passing blood in urine only two days prior to the operation,” Rajinder Yadav from Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh said in a statement.

“The ultrasound showed the presence of two stones, which were roughly 33 millimetres each in size. As the surgery progressed, 856 stones were found in the left kidney and urinary tract. The surgery was done using minimally invasive techniques, which resulted in less pain and loss of blood,” Yadav explained.

The team explained that for the surgery a temporary tubing was put in the left ureter after removing the stones, to circumvent the ureteric obstruction.

Subsequently, the patient was planned for second stage surgery to correct the obstruction with a minimally invasive procedure — laser endopyelotomy.

The doctors added that the patient was discharged the next day after his successful surgery.

According to the Guinness World Records, an Indian doctor holds the record for removing the highest number of kidney stones from a patient.

The most kidney stones removed from a patient is 172,155. Dr Ashish Rawandale had operated on Dhanraj Wadile at the Institute of Urology, Dhule, Maharastra in 2009, according to the Guinness World Records website.

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