Monday, November 23, 2009

Annual staff picnic pics


Friday, November 20, 2009

"AIDS, malaria eclipse the BIGGEST child-killers: Diarrhea & Pneumonia

Sometimes it is difficult to understand the reality difference between what media portrays as epidemic health problems in light of what preventable deaths are occurring in populations lacking similar wealth and power (which generate media volume).


By MARGIE MASON (AP) – 22 hours ago

HANOI, Vietnam — Diarrhea doesn't make headlines. Nor does pneumonia. AIDS and malaria tend to get most of the attention. Yet even though cheap tools could prevent and cure both diseases, they kill an estimated 3.5 million kids under 5 each a year globally — more than HIV and malaria combined.

"They have been neglected, because donor or partnership mechanisms shifted their emphasis to HIV and AIDS and other issues," said Dr. Tesfaye Shiferaw, a UNICEF official in Africa. "These age-old traditional killers remain with us. The ones dying are the children of the poor." Global spending on maternal, newborn and child health was about $3.5 billion in 2006, according to a report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That same year, nearly $9 billion was devoted to HIV and AIDS, according to UNAIDS.

Pneumonia is the biggest killer of children under 5, claiming more then 2 million lives annually or about 20 percent of all child deaths. AIDS, in contrast, accounts for about 2 percent. If identified early, pneumonia can be treated with inexpensive antibiotics. Yet UNICEF and the World Health Organization estimate less than 20 percent of those sickened receive the drugs.

A vaccine has been available since 2000 but has not yet reached many children in developing countries. The GAVI Alliance, a global partnership, hopes to introduce it to 42 countries by 2015.

Diarrheal diseases, such as cholera and rotavirus, kill 1.5 million kids each year, most under 2 years old. The children die from dehydration, weakened immune systems and malnutrition. Often they get sick from drinking dirty water. The worst cholera outbreak to hit Africa in 15 years killed more than 4,000 people in Zimbabwe last year. The country recently reported new cases of the waterborne disease, and more are expected as the rainy season peaks and sewers overflow. Rotavirus, a highly contagious disease spread through contaminated hands and surfaces, is the top cause of severe diarrhea, accounting for more than a half million child deaths a year. A vaccine routinely given to children in the U.S. and Europe is expected to reach 44 poorer countries by 2015 through the GAVI Alliance.

"Every child in the United States gets it, even though they have access to clean water and hygiene," said John Wecker, of the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, a Seattle-based nonprofit that is part of the vaccine alliance. "The only effective way to prevent these deaths is through vaccination." Diarrheal diseases received more attention in the 1980s and 1990s, he said, but interest has waned or been diverted elsewhere, allowing them to creep back. "How did the leading killers end up at the bottom of the global health agenda? I don't know," Wecker said at a recent GAVI meeting in Hanoi. "We've got the tools. We're not looking for the next technological breakthrough. It's here now and it's not being used."

Death can often be prevented by giving children fluid replacement, a simple recipe of salt and sugar mixed with clean water to help ward off dehydration. Yet 60 percent of children with diarrhea never receive the concoction, according to a WHO and UNICEF report released last month. "It is so preventable," said Dr. Richard Cash, a Harvard University expert who helped develop the oral rehydration therapy 40 years ago. "Preventing the deaths is at the very least what we should be striving for."


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The recent slapping incident

“PM 'trying' to make Begum apologize, Civil servants demand Begum's arrest, apology within five days” KATHMANDU, Nov 15: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has said he is working to make Minister of State for Agriculture and Cooperatives Karima Begam apologize for her mistreatment of Parsa Chief District Officer Durga Prasad Bhandari, a high-level government source said. The prime minister said this during a meeting with senior bureaucrats at his residence Sunday who met him to discuss the matter. Nepal Government Employees Organization (NGEO), which is close to the ruling CPN-UML, on Sunday issued a five-day ultimatum to the government to arrest Minister of State for Agriculture and Cooperatives Karima Begum and make her apologize for beating up the chief district officer. The organization submitted memorandums to this effect to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers through the District Administration Offices throughout the country.

A group of government employees led by NGEO-Kathmandu President Ganesh Thapa handed over the memorandum to Kathmandu CDO Bhola Shiwakoti. NGEO has threatened stringent protests if the demand for arrest and apology are not met within the set deadline. Government offices in Parsa that were closed for five days in protest of the minister´s misbehavior opened Sunday. All government offices in Parsa remained closed for five days reopened Sunday keeping in view the plights of the ordinary people seeking government services. The offices were opened after eight different associations of civil servants on Saturday made a decision to this effect.

Last Tuesday, Begam accompanied by about 50 of her supporters had beaten up CDO Durga Prasad Bhandari at his office allegedly for sending an old vehicle to pick her up at the airport. Begum represents the Madhesi People´s Rights Forum. After the minister faced strong criticism from various sides including the government, she changed her statement and accused CDO Bhandari of misbehaving with her and "not doing people´s work".

The District Police Office, Parsa has already issued arrest warrant against Begum and sought support from police in Kathmandu Valley following a formal complaint by Bhandari´s bodyguard. Begum is in Kathmandu but police have not arrested the minister saying it is unaware of such arrest warrant.

Nepal slips in corruption index

Kathmandu, Nepal. November 17. Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption watchdog, said the level of perceived corruption in Nepal worsened in the year 2008. "Malaysia, Nepal, the Maldives and Afghanistan, on the other hand, saw their scores decline, representing worsening levels of perceived corruption," TI said in its annual report released globally on Tuesday. Nepal was ranked at 121 position of the index in 2008 but this position slipped to 143 position in the corruption barometer in 2009, according to TI. Only war-ravaged Afghanistan is behind Nepal in the index among the South Asian countries. Afghanistan ranked at 179 position has highest level of perceived corruption. (Neighbouring India ranked#80)