Lal Jan, an ASHA worker in Hapatnard Gogaldar village in Anantnag district, has helped out with at least 500 deliveries since she was appointed to the health department.
In 2005, Lal Jan (45) was appointed to the health department as an ASHA worker before her appointment. She has helped out with at least 250 deliveries at their homes. Lal Jan’s mother, Zaina Begam, was also doing this job and has helped out with at least 700 deliveries at their homes in normal delivery when there were no health facilities in their area.
Speaking to the reporter, Lal Jan said, “I have learnt from my mother. My mother was very well known in the area for helping pregnant ladies with home delivery.” Her mother died 30 years ago.
Lal Jan has had experience in deliveries for the last 30 years. She goes from house to house raising awareness about family planning.
In 2007, Lal Jan got an appreciation award from the office of block medical officer Bijbehara for her motivation to a number of beneficiaries for family planning and female sterilisation during the years 2007-2008 and 2009. Her performance, character, and conduct remained satisfactory for the said period, she said.
According to her, in the Hapatnard area and nearby villages, at least 300 women have done sterilisation and taken procedures after the birth of their 3rd and 4th children; some of them have their 6th and 7th children.
The Hapatnard village, which is located on the foothills of the Khovripora block, is about 35 km from the district headquarters in Anantnag.
In 2008, a PHC was established in the village, which was functional in 2018. Before the functionality of the PHC, the patients of the area either visited sub-district hospitals or MCCH hospitals in Anantnag.
The PHC of Hapatnard village caters to about seven thousand people in eight villages that are around the hospital. The hospital lacks basic facilities, including X-ray and diagnostic testing facilities, forcing patients to visit the See Sub District Hospital or MCCH Hospital Anantnag.
Due to the non-availability of a gynaecologist, pregnancy care has also been hit badly, and women in the area face severe hardships.
According to official data in Anantnag District, more women than men were opting for sterilisation in Anantnag District. Official data provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Anantnag reveals that from 2019 to date, 1369 women were operated upon for various permanent birth control methods, including laparoscopic sterilisation and mini-laparotomy, while only one man opted for permanent sterilisation in the period.
The same is true for spontaneous miscarriages in District Anantnag, where at least 3144 cases have been reported since 2019.
However, the only maternity and child care hospital in Anantnag district, which serves the entire south Kashmir region as well as Chenab and Pir Panjal Valley of Kashmir, has also provided data to this reporter, revealing that 913 women have been operated on in hospitals for permanent birth control methods through laparoscopic sterilisation and mini-laparotomy since 2019.
The hospital is presently housed in an old, worn and unsafe building in the congested Sherbagh locality of the old town in the Anantnag district.
The 40-bed hospital gets an average of 40,000 patients in the outpatient department (OPD) and about 7,000 indoor patients every month.
According to official sources, the ratio will be high in South Kashmir as most of the patients prefer to do sterilisation and miscarriages in private hospitals.
While talking to the reporter, Dr. Nawaz, HOD Gynecology in MCCH hospital Anantnag, while talking to the reporter, said that female sterilisation is the most preferred family planning choice here in south Kashmir›s Anantnag district.
The department witnesses hundreds of women undergoing sterilisation procedures for permanent birth control each year. Misconceptions and lack of awareness are the main factors in the urban as well as rural population›s poor uptake of family planning services in the Anantnag district. Other responsible factors include cultural and religious beliefs. He added that men generally don›t undergo vasectomy for sterilisation because they believe that it affects their manhood.
Anaemia is another problem in the country. According to a study conducted by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at GMC Anantnag, almost 83% of pregnant and lactating women in South Kashmir were anaemic due to poor nutrition.
Anaemia can lead to multiple complications during pregnancy, labour, and the postpartum period, which include foetal growth restriction, abruption of the placenta, cardiac failure, and even death of mother and baby, Nawaz says. Women don›t take the recommended iron and folic acid supplements in adolescence and pregnancy. Short birth intervals and multiparity further add to the problem.
ASHA workers and primary care physicians should be involved in rural areas to address the issue. Another issue that is under-addressed in this part of the world is the emotional and mental well-being of pregnant women. Poor social support, bad pregnancy experiences and outcomes in the past are some of the few responsible reasons.
There are a number of women in hospitals in south Kashmir who suffer from mental health issues during their pregnancies, especially those expecting moms who have had a negative experience in the past.
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PREVENTION: HOW TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY AT AGE 40
An individual becomes more concerned about their health as they reach a certain age. As the most vital organ of the body, the heart requires extreme care as its chances of developing cardiac diseases increase with age.
Among older people, heart disease is the leading cause of morbidity. To reduce the risk of CVD in middle age, it is recommended to maintain or increase physical activity. Dr AnbuPandian, Medical Advisor, Agatsa, shared some tips to keep the heart healthy at 40 with us.
The most effective way to prevent heart disease at 40 is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. If you work nine hours in an office job, take short breaks every two hours. Taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking short distances instead of using a vehicle or public transportation. Exercise, meditate, swim, play basketball, dance, and do yoga—whatever you love.
Physical exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on heart health in comparison to sedentary lifestyles in various studies. A great quality of life is dependent on a healthy heart. Maintaining a regular exercise routine will keep the heart healthy for years to come.
Regular Heart Health Check-ups
A heart health check-up is essential at every stage of life, but becomes especially crucial after age 40. There are several factors that determine how often a person should get a check-up, including smoking, alcohol consumption, heart disease in the family, being overweight, and diabetes. Blood sugar and cholesterol levels should also be monitored closely. Heart diseases can be better treated if they are detected early. Once a person crosses the age of 40, a yearly checkup is mandatory. The physician may recommend more frequent check-ups if heart disease is detected.
As age increases, metabolism tends to decrease by 5 % every decade after 40. Hormonal imbalance and bone density are two other significant changes that the body registers while getting old. Increase the intake of fruits rich in Vitamin C. All citrus fruits, for that matter, have a bonus heart-healthy benefit. The best diet for preventing cardiac disease is one that is full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils. Individuals who follow their dietary pattern have a 31% lower risk of heart disease than those who consume junk food.
Remote Monitoring Machines
Remote monitoring machines have been around for years but have gained significant prominence recently, thus resulting in high demand. Such devices are used on a daily basis to monitor diseases such as heart attacks, hypertension, and diabetes. These devices are very portable, user-friendly and capture patients’ health parameters via cables and sensors. These devices are cost-effective for patients because they reduce medical care costs and provide more timely intervention for chronic conditions. No one can slow down the ageing process. However, with proper care, one can be more fit, look younger, and lead a more energetic and active life. Life doesn’t end, but begins afresh again at 40!
The author is a Medical Advisor at Agatsa.
Why heart attacks are on the rise among women
Even though heart ailments are on the rise among women, a lack of awareness has prevented many from getting timely treatment and diagnosis of the disease.
Heart diseases are no longer a “men’s problem” and women too are equally prone to them. According to a recent report published by the National Family Health Survey, it was found that the overall prevalence of undiagnosed hypertension in women of the age group 15–49 years is 18.69% in India, which busts the myths that heat conditions are most prevalent among men.
Several other international studies have also indicated that heart ailments are now a leading cause of death among women, resulting in ten times more fatalities than breast cancer. Even though heart ailments are on the rise among women, a lack of awareness has prevented many from getting timely treatment and diagnosis of the disease.
Why are heart diseases going undetected in women? While ensuring the well-being of their loved ones, women in India tend to ignore their own needs and often neglect their health. For instance, if a woman has mild chest pain, she would rather ignore the symptoms and focus on managing the work/household chores rather than visiting a doctor. The patriarchal setup of our society also expects women to keep the well-being of others at the forefront rather than taking care of themselves, which results in late diagnosis and is one of the primary causes of increasing heart ailments among women in the country.
As the symptoms of a heart attack are different in both men and women, many women often don’t know if they have already suffered one or two heart attacks in the past until eventually, they visit a doctor. While in men, a heart attack usually results in extreme and sudden chest pain and breaking out in cold sweats, whereas in women, the symptoms are usually mild and heart attacks can be frequent and smaller. The symptoms in women can range from jaw pain to fatigue to pain in the neck and back to sweating or just heartburn, indicating the need for them to undergo regular health check-ups and take proactive measures to ensure overall well-being.
Which age group is most susceptible to heart attacks and what are the major concerns?
Women of the age group 45–55 years are at a high risk of experiencing a heart attack due to low levels of estrogen post menopause, work and family-related stress, loneliness, and lack of physical activity. More women in this age group may go undiagnosed and have atypical symptoms compared to men.
The second most affected age group is 60 years of age, where the biological deterioration makes both men and women more susceptible to heart attacks. High cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and diabetes are also some of the main concerns that make women more prone to cardiovascular diseases.
How can women take care of themselves and keep heart attacks at bay?
There are several steps that women can take to prevent heart ailments, such as:
- Educate yourself and increase awareness about the risk factors that can lead to blockages.
- Avoid smoking or the use of tobacco.
- Engage in physical activities like yoga, dancing, running, and walking for 30–45 minutes every day to maintain heart health and overcome obesity.
- Avoid junk food, aerated drinks and adopt a balanced diet. Healthy heart diets that include complex carbohydrates, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and less sugar, salt, and fat can have a positive impact on heart health.
Lastly, it is important to note that gender has nothing to do with heart attacks, and the condition affects both men and women equally. However, adopting a healthy lifestyle and undergoing regular health checkups can help you get the gift of good health.
The author is a Senior Consultant at Interventional
Cardiology, Aster CMI
HEALTHY LIFESTYLE: Role of nutraceuticals in heart health
The never-ending work of the heart and the constant workload necessitate healthy dietary patterns and lifestyles.
The growing evidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in both developing and developed nations over the last 20 years has made CVDs a global healthcare priority. As per the WHO, heart attacks and strokes account for 85% of all CVD deaths. It is responsible for an estimated 31% of all deaths worldwide, with 17.9 million deaths yearly. More than 75% of all cardiovascular events occur in low- and middle-income countries. CVDs are the leading cause of death worldwide, with more people dying from them each year than from any other cause.
Role of diet in the maintenance of a healthy heart:
The never-ending work of the heart and the constant workload necessitate healthy dietary patterns and lifestyles. One of the most important factors that can be changed to promote heart health is diet. An unhealthy diet high in saturated fat and carbohydrates is linked to abnormal blood lipid levels, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Nutraceuticals in heart health:
Nutraceuticals refer to substances that are either food or a component of nutrition that help in the prevention, protection, and/or treatment of chronic diseases. Nutraceuticals can maintain health, slow the progression of lifelong or chronic diseases, and slow aging. Nutraceuticals are considered superior to chemical medicines due to their lack of side effects and ease of access.
• Omega-3 fatty acids: They possess a beneficial effect on the heart as it helps in reducing the risk and advancement of cardiovascular disease. Clinical studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids lower serum triglyceride levels, increase fatty acid degradation, and clear plasma triglycerides. They also help to lower systolic and diastolic pressure in hypertension patients. Foods which are rich in omega-3-fatty acids are flax seed, mackerel, salmon fish, cod fish, etc.
• Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): Clinical data revealed that a high dose of CoQ10 helps maintain a healthy heart by reducing lipoprotein oxidation and forming atherosclerotic lesions. Foods such as oily fish (salmon, tuna), grape seed, soyabean, avocado, broccoli, peanuts, and soybeans contain a high amount of CoQ10 in them.
• Carotenoids: Carotenoids such as lycopene can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis by prohibiting endothelial dysfunction and lowering LDL levels. Tomato, red cabbage, beet root, papaya, and watermelon are good sources of carotenoids.
• Polyphenols: Polyphenols present in fruits and vegetables improve lipid metabolism, reduce blood pressure and delay the progression of heart diseases. Almonds, cherries, berries, black olives, cloves contain a high concentration of polyphenols.
• Use of micronutrients: Supplementation with micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, magnesium, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E exerts a protective effect on the heart by reducing endothelial cell damage, production of nitric oxide, and inhibiting LDL-c oxidation.
Due to the modern lifestyle, it is imperative to maintain a healthy heart. Regular consumption of nutraceuticals will help to prevent cardiovascular diseases and help to follow a healthy lifestyle.
The author is MD, Clinical Pharmacologist and
Nutra-ceutical Physician, Founder and CEO IntelliMed Healthcare Suctions.
Kashmiri ASHA worker serves as inspiration by donating blood 28 times
A 32-year-old woman named Bilqees Ara, an ASHA worker, has donated blood 28 times since 2012. She has served as an inspiration to others across the nation.
Bilqees, who is from the Handwara Tehsil in the Kupwara area of North Kashmir, stated that she understands the “importance of blood”.
She said that by donating a pint of blood, she not only saves a precious life but an entire family.
She began donating blood in 2012 and has since given 28 pints.
She expressed her gratitude and pride at being the saviour of so many patients in the Kashmir valley.
I’ve seen people cry helplessly as they try to get blood to save their loved ones, but I’m proud of myself because I’ve arranged blood for them as well. “I felt an inner joy after that,” she said.
In Kashmir, she is known as the “Blood Woman of Kashmir”.
She is a registered blood donor. Whenever a need arises, the officials at the Blood Bank at Handwara hospital call her and, within the shortest span of time, she makes herself available to donate blood.
Women should come forward and do this as there is nothing to be afraid of. This is to be done for society, she said. She also said that she wondered who else would do it if she refused.
If a person has blood and courage, why can’t he give it to someone else in a time of need? She asked.
Covid facilities to reduce in Delhi amid drop in cases
The Delhi government has closed 11 Covid care facilities because to a consistent reduction in cases. Two Covid Care Centers are operational at Ambedkar Nagar Hospital, which has 50 beds, and Balak Ram Hospital, which has 25 beds, according to a government report. Only five admissions were registered at Ambedkar Nagar Hospital over the past three months, while there were none at Balak Ram Hospital.
The number of patients has steadily decreased at the remaining CCCs as well, according to reports.
According to officials, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Thursday decided to scale back the medical staff and infrastructure that had been deployed for COVID management in a planned manner. The health department will now formulate an action plan in response to this decision.
“The deven CCCs were closed and dismantled by Delhi government and one by the Centre and three others with total 4000 bed capacity- Radha Saomi Satsang ,Chattarpur, Sawan Kirpal, Burari , and Sant Nirankari, Burari- were closed but not yet dismantled”, officials said.
We Women Want: Focus on menstrual health
This week on We Women Want, we talk about menstrual health and awareness with Madan Mohit Bharadwaj, founder of She Wings, an organisation that works to end period poverty by working with rural women, teens, the homeless, and low-income people. We also had She Wings employees Savita and Mamta, as well as Gurvani, Chief Communication Officer, and Shubhendra Rajawat, Chief Planning Officer of She Wings, to tell us stories from the ground.
A former journalist, Madan founded She Wings once he realised the lack of awareness and also the lack of basics such as sanitary pads amongst low-income women. The foundation is doing a lot of good work in that they not only distribute pads amongst the poor but also educate women on the basics of menstrual hygiene. She Wings volunteers and workers also spend time with the men folk trying to deal with the biases and social taboos against menstruation.
As Madan said, it is a natural cleansing process and not something to be shunned and ostracised. He also recalled how a woman died due to a septic infection from a rusted hook while she was using an old blouse as a sanitary pad. That is when he realised the dire emergency of the situation for something as basic as menstrual hygiene and sanitary pads.
Both the audience in the studio and the entire team at We Women Want were very appreciative of the work that the She Wings team is doing, and indeed, it is efforts such as these that should be applauded and celebrated on the show. The show was moderated by NewsX Senior Executive Editor, Priya Sahgal, and will be on air this weekend on the channel.
Catch fresh episodes of “We Women Want” every Saturday at 7:30 PM on NewsX. The programme will also be streamed live on major OTT platforms-Dailyhunt, Zee5, MX Player, ShemarooMe, Watcho, Mzaalo, Jio TV, Tata Play, and PayTm livestreams.
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