Archive for ‘Health’

17/09/2016

India’s Craze for Ayurveda Is Producing Billionaires – India Real Time – WSJ

A yoga teacher clad in white robes and often seen meditating on the banks of the Ganges is the latest to join the billionaires club in India.

But Acharya Balkrishna is no ordinary yoga teacher. He controls Patanjali Ayurved Ltd., the consumer-products company founded by his guru, Baba Ramdev, and whose Ayurvedic soaps, shampoos and food supplements are increasingly becoming staples in middle-class Indian homes. Indians’ craze for the company’s Ayurvedic formulations has seen Mr. Acharya’s net worth skyrocket to $3.8 billion, according to Hurun’s India Rich List for 2016. That puts him at number 25 in Hurun’s list of richest Indians, ahead of industrialists like Ratan Tata, Adi Godrej and Anand Mahindra.

Such is the demand for Patanjali, which sells creams, cleaners and hair conditioners rooted in Ayurveda, India’s traditional system of medicine, that the world’s biggest consumer-products makers are tweaking their products to compete. India’s traditional system of medicine encourages therapies like yoga and believes everything from the common cold to diabetes can be fixed by certain herbs, foods and oils.

Colgate Palmolive last month launched a toothpaste flavored with basil, clove and lemon. L’Oréal SA in June launched a new range of shampoos infused with eucalyptus, green tea and henna, an Indian herb Patanjali also packs in its shampoo. Unilever PLC recently purchased an Ayurvedic hair-care company.

Mr. Balkrishna is a reclusive figure next to Mr. Ramdev, one of India’s best-known yoga teachers who founded Patanjali in 2006 and has since transformed it into a multi-million dollar consumer goods empire. Mr. Balkrishna controls the business because Mr. Ramdev has sworn off most trappings of wealth.

Messrs. Ramdev and Balkrishna are regularly seen practicing yoga on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar, the Hindu holy city where Patanjali is based and where they run an ashram.

Ayurveda has produced other billionaires, too. The Burman family which runs Dabur India, another consumer-goods maker that draws inspiration from traditional Indian medicine, is 13th on Hurun’s India rich list.

Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, is the richest Indian with a net worth of $24 billion. Dilip Shanghvi, who heads generics-drug maker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, is second with $18 billion in his kitty.

Source: India’s Craze for Ayurveda Is Producing Billionaires – India Real Time – WSJ

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27/07/2016

Why India’s Lack of Toilets Is Hurting Its Children’s Development – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s lack of toilets and poor access to sanitation are holding back its children, causing stunted growth and curbing their development, a new report says.

Is India Winning the Fight Against Childhood Malnutrition?

Why Is Indian Children’s Growth So Stunted? It’s Not Why You ThinkT

he country has more than 48 million under fives with impaired growth, the largest number in the world, the report from London-based international development charity WaterAid said.

India also has 774 million people without access to adequate sanitation, and 76 million without safe water, the report said.

Children who are stunted because of malnutrition tend to be shorter and lag behind their peers cognitively. Poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene cause diarrhea and expose children to other intestinal infections during the crucial first two years of life.

Around 140,000 under-fives die in India every year because of diarrhea and other diseases caused by lack of access to these basic services, the report said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said in the past that he would rather build toilets than temples — setting a goal for every home in the country to have a place to go to the bathroom by 2019. But the program has suffered challenges: some Indians prefer to relieve themselves outdoors.

India is making some progress, however. The report said the percentage of its children who were stunted reduced from 48% in 2006 to 39% in 2014, the year Mr. Modi came to power.

Pakistan, India’s closest neighbor, ranked third with more than 9.8 million children who are stunted, according to the WaterAid study.

Source: Why India’s Lack of Toilets Is Hurting Its Children’s Development – India Real Time – WSJ

21/06/2016

Yoga Takes Over the World on Second International Day of Yoga – India Real Time – WSJ

A year after the first International Day of Yoga was celebrated the world over, yoga enthusiasts were back again Tuesday morning lunging forward, raising and stretching their arms, and slowly inhaling and exhaling.

The day was introduced when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully lobbied the United Nations to dedicate 24 hours to the ancient discipline in September 2013.This year, Mr. Modi joined thousands of people in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh as they pulled their mats out for a massive demonstration. World over, 173 countries will celebrate the discipline Tuesday.

“We are disconnected from ourselves in today’s times. Yoga helps us reconnect with ourselves,” Mr. Modi said, addressing participants at his event.

On Monday, Mr. Modi also released a set of commermorative postal stamps showing the various steps of the “surya namaskar,” or sun salutation.In India’s capital city, President Pranab Mukherjee conducted a Yoga class at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, his residence-cum-office located in the heart of Delhi.

Images of different Yoga postures were displayed at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York in the build up to Yoga Day.

“Practicing yoga can help raise awareness of our role as consumers of the planet’s resources and as individuals with a duty to respect and live in peace with our neighbours,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General.

Source: In Pictures: Yoga Takes Over the World on Second International Day of Yoga – India Real Time – WSJ

16/06/2016

India Is Making Progress on Reducing Malnutrition But Now Has a Diabetes Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

While India has dramatically reduced its rate of child malnutrition, a new report points to the increasing burden of diabetes in the world’s second most populous country.

According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report released Tuesday, India is reducing childhood stunting at double the rate it was a decade ago. Stunting, or low height for age, is caused by insufficient nutrient intake and frequent infections.

“That is highly significant given that India is home to more than one-third of the world’s stunting children,” the study said.

However, the country is facing a new health issue. India has a 9.5% prevalence of diabetes, putting it ahead of the U.K., with 7.8%, and the U.S., with 8.4%, the report showed.

Experts say the high sugar and trans-fat diet Indians consume are a key cause of the growing occurrence of diabetes, which is caused by a deficiency or inability of the body to effectively use insulin. Genetic factors and environmental influences exacerbate the issue.

In April, the WHO said that in India, more men die from diabetes than in any other country. The condition accounted for 2% of all deaths across age groups in India.

As a region, Asia has the highest prevalence of the condition, according to the Global Nutrition Report. Globally, one in 12 people have type 2 diabetes, the report said.“We must stem and tide,” Corinna Hawkes, co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report’s independent expert group said in a statement.

India also has a way to go to reduce stunting. India has the 18th highest prevalence, 38.7% among children under five, of 137 countries included in the Global Nutrition Report. That rate is down from 47.9% recorded a year earlier.

Indian states must set specific targets to help them meet global nutrition goals, while the federal government should devote $6 billion a year to combat nutrition, 13% more than it currently does, the report said.“At current rates of decline, India will achieve the current stunting rates of Ghana or Togo by 2030 and that of China by 2055,” the report said.

Source: India Is Making Progress on Reducing Malnutrition But Now Has a Diabetes Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

16/02/2016

India and China Have Most Deaths From Pollution – China Real Time Report – WSJ

More than half of the 5.5 million deaths related to air pollution in 2013 happened in India and China, according to a new study.

About 1.4 million people in the South Asian nation and 1.6 million in its northern neighbor died of illnesses related to air pollution in 2013, researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada said.

The Indian and Chinese fatalities accounted for 55% of such deaths worldwide, the study said.

Researchers studied risk factors for death and disease around the world and found that air pollution, both indoors and outdoors, was one of the leading contributors to global fatalities.

The inhalation of emissions from power plants, vehicles, the burning of crop stubble before replanting, and wood or open fires in homes are some of the leading causes of deaths from air pollution, the report said.

The number of premature deaths linked to air pollution worldwide will increase over the next two decades unless more aggressive targets are set to curb it, researchers studying India and China’s air said at a meeting Friday in Washington D.C.

A major contributor of poor air quality in India is linked to the burning of wood and cow dung for cooking and keeping warm, particularly in the winter months. These methods are popular among India’s rural and urban poor, who don’t have access to electricity or cleaner fuels.

Household air pollution from cooking with wood “is primarily a problem in rural areas of developing countries of the world,” said Michael Brauer, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, in Canada.

Over the past few months, levels of tiny insidious particles, known as PM 2.5, in the Indian capital New Delhi have often exceeded amounts deemed safe by the United Nations World Health Organization.

Taking their lead from Beijing, Indian authorities in January experimented with restricting cars on roads for two weeks in New Delhi to reduce emission levels. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Thursday the city would revive the restrictions for 15 days, starting April 15.

Scientists said vehicle emissions contribute only 20% to 40% of pollution in Delhi, saying other sources of the particulate matter include the burning of dung, rubbish and leaves and the use of diesel backup generators, which kick in when Delhi’s patchy electricity supply cuts out, as well as emissions from small-scale industries such as brick kilns.

A federal environmental court in New Delhi said Feb. 4 it wanted officials to improve air quality by asking authorities to reduce the number of traditional cremations that use wood to burn bodies, a widespread practice in majority Hindu India.

In China, outdoor air pollution from burning coal was found to be the biggest contributor to poor air quality, causing an estimated 366,000 deaths in the country in 2013. Scientists predict 1.3 million premature deaths will take place in China by 2030 if coal combustion remains unchecked.

“One of the unique things about air pollution is you cannot run, you cannot hide from it. We know that if you improve air quality everybody benefits, so from a health perspective reducing levels of air pollution is actually an incredibly efficient way to improve the health of the entire population,” Mr. Brauer said.

Source: India and China Have Most Deaths From Pollution – China Real Time Report – WSJ

02/08/2015

China to expand medical insurance for major illnesses | Reuters

China will expand medical insurance to cover all critical illnesses for all urban and rural residents by the end of the year, the cabinet said on Sunday, the latest step in a plan to fix a healthcare system that has sparked public discontent.

The State Council said 50 percent of the medical costs will be covered by insurance in a bid to “more effectively reduce the burden of medical expenses”, in a statement posted on the government’s website.

President Xi Jinping‘s government has touted access to affordable healthcare as a key platform of his administration, underscoring the importance of meeting the needs of the nearly 1.4 billion people, many of whom have often complained of large out-of-pocket expenses due to low levels of insurance coverage.

Many people say the cost of serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes can bankrupt households under the current system.

The aim of expanding health insurance was to “effectively alleviate poverty caused by illness” and to build a strong universal healthcare system, the State Council said.

Since 2009, China has spent 3 trillion yuan ($480 billion) on healthcare reform, but the system still struggles with a scarcity of doctors, attacks by patients on medical staff and a fragmented drug distribution and retail market.

Economists say it is crucial for China to improve the quality of its healthcare if it wishes to remake its economy and boost domestic consumption. They say a stronger safety net will encourage Chinese to spend more and save less.

China’s healthcare spending is set to hit $1 trillion by 2020, up from $357 billion in 2011, according to McKinsey & Co, attracting a rapid inflow of money from private insurers, hospital operators and other investors.

via China to expand medical insurance for major illnesses | Reuters.

29/06/2015

India’s Victory Over Polio Has an Unexpected Consequence – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s aggressive eradication of polio established the template for moving a disease from endemic to eliminated and has been lauded by the World Health Organization.

But in the process, a rise in the prevalence of another polio-like condition, acute flaccid paralysis, has been recorded.

Known as AFP, the condition is the sudden onset of muscle weakness or the inability to move limbs, and can be a tell-tale sign of polio, but is also a symptom of other diseases, including transverse myelitis, which causes injury to the spinal cord, Guillain Barre Syndrome, a nerve disorder, and Japanese Encephalitis, a mosquito-borne virus.

Since 1997, children in India who present with AFP are immediately tested for polio to comply with polio-eradication protocol and doing so has been one of the foundation stones for eradication.

Just this month, more than 200 young patients in the country’s most-populous state Uttar Pradesh, suffering from AFP were tested for polio. They didn’t have the virus, the federal Health Ministry said in a statement.

Such surveillance has resulted in a huge rise in reported cases of AFP.

In 2003, when polio was endemic in India, 8,500 cases of AFP were recorded. So far in 2015, a year after India was declared polio free, there have been nearly 18,000 reported instances but none linked to polio.

Often the cause of AFP remains unknown.

via India’s Victory Over Polio Has an Unexpected Consequence – India Real Time – WSJ.

31/03/2015

China aims to double doctor numbers as cure for healthcare woes | Reuters

China will almost double the number of its general doctors by 2020, trim its public sector and improve technology as it seeks to fix a healthcare system plagued by snarling queues and poor rural services, its main administrative authority has said.

People queue at a hospital in Shanghai, September 2, 2014.  REUTERS/Aly Song

China’s fast-growing healthcare market is a magnet for global drug makers, medical device firms and hospital operators, all looking to take a slice of a healthcare bill expected to hit $1 trillion by 2020, according to McKinsey & Co.

“Healthcare resources overall are insufficient, quality is too low, our structures are badly organized and service systems fragmented. Parts of the public hospital system have also become bloated,” China’s State Council said in a five-year roadmap announced late on Monday.

The roadmap, which laid out targets for healthcare officials nationwide between 2015 and 2020, said Beijing wanted to have two general doctors per thousand people by 2020, close to double the number at the end of 2013, as well as increasing the number of nursing and support staff.

China suffers from a scarcity of doctors – partly caused by low salaries – which has created bottlenecks at popular urban hospitals leading to rising tension between medical practitioners and often frustrated patients.

The roadmap said China would also look to use technology such as mobile devices and online “cloud systems” to meet some of the issues, a potential boost to tech firms like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and its healthcare subsidiary Alibaba Health Information Technology Ltd.

China should also have digital databases for electronic health records and patient information covering the entire population to some degree by 2020, it said.

Providing access to affordable healthcare is a key platform for President Xi Jinping‘s government. However, recent probes have turned the spotlight on corruption in the sector, while patients often have large out-of-pocket expenses due to low levels of insurance coverage.

The roadmap said China would push forward the development of grassroots healthcare, a fast-growing business segment, while reining in some large public hospitals in urban centers.

The document also suggested further opening to the private sector, where Chinese and international firms have been taking a growing role in running hospitals.

“The role of public health institutions is too big, with the number of beds accounting for around 90 percent of the total,” the State Council said.

via China aims to double doctor numbers as cure for healthcare woes | Reuters.

28/07/2014

Improving health care: Congratulations! Inoculations! | The Economist

FANS of the China model frequently say that, for all the disadvantages of a one-party state, there are also benefits. Enforcing basic health care is one—and by no means a small one. Last year China’s mortality rate for children under five years old was just one-fifth the rate it was in 1991, down from 61 deaths per 1,000 live births to 12. The maternal mortality rate has also dropped substantially—by 71%—since 1991. In 1992, one in ten Chinese children under five contracted hepatitis B. Today fewer than one in 100 of them carry the disease.

China’s advances have not gone unnoticed. Last month a group of four international bodies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank, said China was one of ten countries to have made exceptional progress in reducing infant and maternal mortality (see chart). Not all of the ten—which included Egypt, Peru, Bangladesh and Vietnam—are one-party states.

China’s improvement lies in two basic, connected areas: better care at birth and countrywide immunisation. Since 2000 the government has offered subsidies to mothers who give birth in hospitals, thereby reducing health dangers from complications—especially the risk of neonatal tetanus. The scheme also brought hard-to-reach people and groups into contact with the health-care system.

From 2001 to 2007, the share of births that took place in hospitals rose by 46%, making it easier to give a hepatitis B vaccine immediately. China now has one of the highest usage rates of the birth dose of the vaccine in the world: 96% of Chinese babies receive it on their first day of life. In 2012 the WHO commended China for a “remarkable” public-health achievement. That year it declared China free of maternal and neonatal tetanus.

Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general, this month said that China’s regulatory system for vaccines had passed the WHO’s evaluation with outstanding results. Dr Chan says she has “full confidence” in the safety of vaccines made in China. Last year the WHO approved one for the first time for use by UNICEF. (That has not dispelled suspicions within China itself, however, about the safety of Chinese vaccines.) China and the WHO claim that about 95% of children are vaccinated for measles, rubella and polio. In 2008 the government added eight new vaccines, including hepatitis A and meningitis, to its national programme. All are administered to children free of charge. Just as important has been the mobilisation of a network of health-care workers, at provincial, county and township levels.

via Improving health care: Congratulations! Inoculations! | The Economist.

17/07/2014

Four of every 10 Asians living with HIV are Indian – U.N. report – India Insight

India has the third-highest number of people living with HIV in the world, with 2.1 million Indians accounting for four of every 10 people infected in Asia, the United Nations said in a report on Wednesday.

People walk near a red ribbon sand sculpture created by Indian sand artist Patnaik on the eve of World AIDS Day in Odisha

The epidemic has killed about 39 million of the 78 million people it has affected worldwide since it began in the 1980s, the U.N. AIDS programme said, adding that the number of people infected with HIV was stabilising around 35 million.

Here are some facts and figures on India from the report:

India accounted for 51 percent of AIDS-related deaths in Asia in 2013 and 8 percent of deaths worldwide.

via India Insight.

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