Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Negligence costs 24 scholarships

KATHMANDU, April 18 - The failure of Ministry of Health and Population to nominate candidates for scholarship provided by Thai government has resulted in eligible candidates losing the opportunity to pursue studies abroad.
The ministry committed a mistake by publishing the notice on January 9th giving a month's time to apply, but there were hardly two weeks left for the government to nominate candidates. The Thai government's letter asking for nomination of 24 students reached the ministry on 8th January, while the last deadline was 20th January.

But the ministry on January 9 called for applications before February 8 from interested candidates by publishing advertisement in Gorkhapatra giving a month's time.

The Thai government had provided three seats each for Master of Science in Pharmacy Program, Master of Science in Tropical Medicine, Master in Nursing Science in Nursing Administration, Master of Science in Health Economic, Master of Public Health Program in Health System Development and Master of Arts in Health Social Science. Similarly, six seats for Diploma Course in Dermatology were also provided.

The Scholarship Committee selected candidates from among 91 applicants but none of them could go for study because the timeline for nomination was already over. After the ministry collected applications, it was supposed to screen as per the criteria fixed by the committee and select the candidates.

Publication of notice was not mandatory though. The ministry could have selected from within its official process because all the quotas were for staff working under the ministry.

Abortion cases rising due to son preference

Kathmandu, Son preference is deeply rooted in many countries for both cultural and economic reasons. Daughters may be seen as a liability, especially where dowries must be offered to get them married off. Older parents typically rely on sons, and their wives, for support and they prefer sons to perform their last rites or ancestor worship.

Both the cultural and economic reasons have forced the parents, especially of semi-educated and rural background, to opt for a son and they are ready to pay any cost for a male child. ?As a result, the rate of abortion has been growing in Nepal with a possibility of gender imbalance in the next few decades,? said Sarad Aryal, director of Family Planning Association of Nepal, Valley Branch.

Advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla said that abortion after sex selection was a discrimination against women. She said that it was against the right to be born and there were lots of implications such as gender imbalance, forced marriage, girl trafficking, and possibilities of rape.

Talking to The Rising Nepal, she said that abortion after sex selection was high and it would not only hamper population growth ratio but human civilisation in its entirity, Pradhan said.

Life could become harder for many girls if women were outnumbered by men. A growing number of men would be unable to find wives, which may lead to a rise in sexual violence and trafficking of women, she said.

Upendra Prasad Adhikary, under secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said that Nepal Demography and Health Survey in 1996 showed the male female birth ratio at 103:100. By 2006 it was 105: 100, he informed.

?After the legalisation of abortion in the country in 2002, the number of abortion after sex selection has been increasing considerably.?

Although the 2006 NDHS data of birth ratio was globally acceptable, the country would fall into a serious problem like that of India and China if the difference increased, he added.

Dr. Sagun Pyakurel, Medical Officer at the FPAN, Valley Branch said that out of 100 abortion cases, eight to 10 cases would be due to female foetus. ?They do not tell us about the video x-ray and they come only for abortion. Most of them go to private clinic for x-ray and come to us for abortion,? Dr. Pyakurel said.

Prenatal son selection in several Asian countries is likely to have severe social consequences in coming years, according to a new series of studies commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

With family sizes falling, Asians have increasingly used ultrasound or amniocentesis to determine the sex of foetuses and aborted unwanted females. The resulting skewed sex ratios at birth (SRBs) have been noticeable in China for over 15 years, rising to 120 males for every 100 females born in 2005 (the natural ratio is around 105 to 100) and as high as 130 in several provinces. In India, the 2001 census revealed that SRB had risen to 108 nationwide, and to 120 in some northern and western states.

Sex ratios among later births are much higher than for firstborn children, reflecting the greater pressure on women to have a son after bearing only daughters.

Up to now, there has been scant research on the likelihood that SRBs will increase in Nepal which has social conditions and values similar to those in parts of India. At UNFPA?s initiative, research teams organised focus groups and interviewed officials and health providers. They found pervasive son preference and acceptance of the notion that couples without sons might choose to avoid bearing daughters. They also learned that those who wanted to could easily do so.

The team in southern Nepal, for instance, found that most people knew they could find ultrasound clinics and abortion providers in India willing to flout regulations prohibiting sex selection.

TB still huge in Nepal: Two die every three hours of TB

Experts from the health sector on Wednesday said that there are around 90,000 patients infected with tuberculosis in Nepal and the number increases by 40,000 annually.

In every three hours, two patients die of TB in Nepal. Globally, 1.6 million people die of TB every year. Experts revealed the data at a press conference organised by the Nepal Anti-Tuberculosis Association (NATA) to mark the 54th National Tuberculosis Control Day that is celebrated on Mangsir 13 every year. Madan Kaji Shrestha, the general secretary of the NATA, said the government has adopted a new technology DOTS (Direct Observation Treatment Service) Plus to cure Multi Drug Resistant (MDR) tuberculosis.

He said, "Currently NATA is running 21 DOTS Plus clinics in five development regions, where 350 MDR patients have already been treated free of cost."

He said, "The disease can not be controlled by the government efforts alone and it demands collective effort of all sectors."

Dr Bhawana Shrestha said that MDR TB is a man-made error, which is caused due to the negligence on the part of patients and physicians while treating TB through DOTS. "Insufficient dose of medicine makes DOTS treatment insufficient. In such cases, the DOTS Plus treatment is applied." According to Dr Shrestha, 16 patients have already been cured with the new technology.

She added that new patients with Extensively Drug Resistance (XDR) TB patients are being detected in the world. "Three XDR patients have been detected in Nepal. One has already died and two are undergoing treatment."

It has been estimated that $ 2.15 billion is needed to combat drug-resistant TB globally.
Source: the Himalayn times online.

Sagarmatha/ Everest's Super Fruit

DINGBOCHE–Birds, mice and Chinese herbalists have long understood the health benefits of sea-buckthorn berries, but now farmers in Solu Khumbu are looking to make money from these tart-tasting fruit.

At Dingboche, in the shadow of Ama Dablam, the Khumbu Alpine Conservation Council has been teaching villagers to make a healthy juice from the wild berries, which they can sell to thirsty tourists heading for Everest Base Camp or transport to Kathmandu's cafes and bars for the cocktail crowd. The council has given priority to those villagers, particularly women, who do not own tourist lodges or camp-sites and need an alternative source of income.

The common sea-buckthorn, known locally as akhrilo, grows close to the trekking trails in Sagarmatha National Park, making it easy to collect and process the orange berries. Local farmers have used it to control erosion as it grows well in the thin, dry soils and can survive the icy Himalayan winter. But until recently, few in Nepal had bothered to seek other uses for it.

The juice contains on average about 12 times more vitamin C than orange juice, and research during the past 30 years in other parts of the world has found that oils in the juice and seeds contain high levels of antioxidants which may help prevent cancer and other diseases.

For centuries, Chinese herbalists have used the berry juice, leaves and bark to treat a wide range of ailments, including indigestion, diarrhoea, coughs, ulcers and blood disorders. The fruits are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties and are a rich source of vitamin E, minerals and carotenoids which provide vitamin A. In some countries people use the flowers to soften their skin.

The berries are unpleasant to eat raw because of their very bitter taste, but entrepreneurs in some north-western Himalayan districts, including Manang and Mustang, have found ways to use the plant to make juice, jams and pickles, with funding and technical advice from development agencies. Tourists trekking round Annapurna can find sea-buckthorn juice listed on the menu at lodges along the route.

The common sea-buckthorn grows throughout the high mountain areas of Nepal all the way from Humla in the far north-west to Taplejung in the east.

“The fruit has it has great potential to boost the incomes of farmers who previously depended almost solely on growing potatoes and barley,” says Ang Rita Sherpa of the Mountain Institute. Unusually, the raw juice only freezes at temperatures lower than minus-20 degrees Celsius, so there is no problem with it freezing up in winter.

Beyond Nepal, common sea-buckthorn grows mainly in China, where farmers admire its ability to survive in dry, semi-desert conditions and plant it to help reduce soil erosion.

In Dingboche, after just a few days of training from the conservation council, the farmers have learnt how to add water, sugar and preservative to the raw juice, and cook the mixture to make it both palatable and healthy. All they need now is for some adventurous, thirsty trekkers to stop off on their way to Kala Pattar, and they'll be in business. Cheers!

Buckthorn on the rocks?

Some say sea-buckthorn juice tastes like wild cherries, sour with a hint of sweetness. Others say it tastes like nothing they have had before. Rich in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids, not only can the berries be used for juice but sea-buckthorn oil is valuable for reconstructive surgery and the leaves can be used for tea and herbal remedies.

Every year Bishnu Shrestha of Lotus Land Organic Farm in Bhaktapur brings in 840 bottles of sea-buckthorn juice concentrate from the mountains. He sells them at the organic market in the Summit Hotel and also distributes them to five restaurants and one department store in Kathmandu. “The demand is not that much, and it is only foreigners who buy the juice anyway,” says Shrestha.

The Green Organic Café and Salad Bar in Thamel has been selling sea-buckthorn juice since it opened two years ago. “I have never seen a Nepali order it,” says Krishna Poudel at the café.

The juice that the Lotus Land Organic Farm brings to Kathmandu is processed and packed in recycled beer bottles in Mustang by a community who received training in juice processing from the Danish aid agency, Danida. Each bottle is priced at Rs 175, but Shrestha says there isn’t much profit in the business.

“Porters have to carry the juice from Jomsom to Pokhara and then bring it to Kathmandu," says Shrestha. "The cost of transportation alone comes to more than Rs 70."

The cafe hasn’t tried to experiment with the juice yet, but Poudel says it should. “If we make exotic sea-buckthorn cocktails, we can probably sell more."

Food That gives you a lift: Feel refreshed

Food That Gives You a Lift
Serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies, has a significant effect on mood and appetite. Most of the antidepressant medications prescribed today work by raising serotonin levels in the brain. Some foods are really rich in serotonin, and can raise your spirits.

Some people may be better off using prescription antidepressants, but diet can help mood problems. There are significant links between what we put in our bodies and how we feel emotionally. For example, a diet that’s very rich in tryptophan and tyrosine boost serotonin because they are large chain amino acids that are precursors to serotonin.

Below are foods that may help raise serotonin levels in your brain. However, if you are depressed, anxious or very stressed, make a point of talking with your doctor about how you’re feeling.

High Serotonin Concentration:

Moderate Serotonin Concentration:
-Black Olives
-Honeydew melons

Solar Power

In this recent photo, a man uses a solar dish to boil potatoes in Manang district. As an alternative to firewood, people in this mountainous region of Nepal regularly cook meals on solar panels or dishes. A set of solar panels costs on average three to four thousand rupees.

Source: kantipuronline

Monday, April 21, 2008

Truth about antioxidants

Truth about Antioxidants
They fight deadly “free radicals,” protecting your cells from the ravages of oxidation. They can stave off the ills of aging and lengthen life spans by years -- they may even prevent cancer. They're called antioxidants, and they're potent molecules that lie dormant and unassuming in many foods -- until they’re needed. Here's some information on antioxidants, where to find them and what they can do for you and your health.

What are antioxidants?
To understand antioxidants, you need to know about oxidation. As living, breathing organisms, we need oxygen to live. Unfortunately, some oxygen compounds are highly reactive and can cause the destructive process of oxidation. If you want to know what oxidation looks like, find some rust. It’s one of the most recognizable results of oxidation and it’ll give you a good idea of what the chemical process can do to your body.

Most of the oxygen compounds found in your body are safe and are needed for your survival. Some, known as free radicals, can do real damage. These free radicals can set off chain reactions that tear apart proteins, good fats and even DNA. Free radicals are thought to be one of the causes of cancer and the cause of some of the nastier side effects of aging, like arthritis. Thankfully, your body is smart enough to keep free-radical-fighting compounds around to prevent damage, and aptly enough, they’re called antioxidants. Some might seem exotic to the average Joe: Glutathione and the enzymes catalase, superoxide dismutase and peroxidase. Others are more familiar: Vitamins C and E, to name a couple.

Here are the more commonly known antioxidants:-Vitamin A
-Vitamins B6 and B12
-Vitamin C
-Vitamin E
-Folic Acid
-Polyphenolic antioxidants (resveratrol and flavonoids)
-Carotenoids (lycopene, carotenes)

Functions of Antioxidants:

In theory, antioxidants can prevent or slow cancer, counteract the ravages of aging and make you healthier overall. Early clinical trials with common antioxidants like vitamins C and E showed this to be true. Recent studies, however, have been inconclusive. Some, like the 1993 Chinese Cancer Prevention study, found that a combination of beta-carotene, vitamin E and selenium significantly reduced cancer rates. The 1999 Women's Health Study (WHS) found that vitamin E and beta-carotene had no measurable effect on cancer rates. Bottom line: The jury is still out on the effectiveness of antioxidants, but adding more vitamin C and E to your diet won’t hurt and will probably help your overall health in the long run.

Natural sources of antioxidants:
Thankfully, antioxidants can be found in many places. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources, with berries and beans coming out on top with the most antioxidants per gram. Carrots, green beans, red bell peppers, and broccoli are also great, and mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, despite their lack of colorful compounds. Coffee and tea are also excellent sources.The following list will give you a good idea of which foods harbor which antioxidants and vitamins. Beans and blueberries come out on top, with artichoke hearts and prunes making the top 10.

Vitamin A: Mango, broccoli, carrots, tomato juice, sweet potato, pumpkin, beef liver.

Vitamin C: Spinach, broccoli, snow peas, tomato juice, mango, orange, grapefruit juice, strawberries, red bell peppers.

Vitamin E: Polyunsaturated plant oils, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, avocado, sweet potato, shrimp, cod.

Selenium: Seafood, meats, grains.

Vitamin B6: Bananas, watermelons, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, white rice, chicken breast.

Vitamin B12: Meats, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, shellfish.

Folic Acid: Tomato juice, green beans, broccoli, spinach, lady's finger, lentils, black eyed peas.

If you can’t get your hands on good veggies, you might want to look into supplements to get a dose of antioxidants. Multivitamins contain tons of antioxidants, although scientists dispute how much of the vitamins in supplements are actually absorbed by the body.

How many antioxidant supplements should you consume? Good question. Scientists aren’t really sure how many antioxidants the human body needs for optimal health. They’re also not certain that every body has the same needs. Try to get plenty of antioxidants. With the exception of beta-carotene, which has been linked to increased rates of cancer when consumed in high doses, the compounds are relatively safe.