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THE TABOO OF MENSTRUATION IN INDIA- IS THERE AN OUT?

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It's 2019
And millions of Indian women are still subjected to toxic menstrual practices. 

FACTS: 
  1. Only 15 percent of women in India have access to sanitary napkins. The remaining population relies on clothes, rags, leaves, and newspapers as absorbents.
  2. 66% of girls don’t even know about menstruation when they first start their period.
  3. Approximately 23% of adolescent girls drop out of school when they start menstruating and those who don’t usually miss up to 5 days of school every month.


While living a normal life during ‘that time of the month’ is quite normal for women like you and me in urban areas, let’s admit that there’s still some whispering, hushing and hiding. Unfortunately, for women living in rural areas, these days also come along with alienation and shame.
Many rituals in India celebrate first menses and consider it as a gift. However, this very ‘gift’ of being able to reproduce stems unrealistic customs. 

The taboos associated with menstruation in India come as innately as menstruation comes to women. The general silence around the subject adds to the difficulty of the situation. Young girls are not educated about the science behind this biological process and nor are they provided with an environment that allows them to talk freely about their problems. There are still instances where women are not allowed to perform certain tasks and are expected to behave in a certain manner when going through their monthly cycle. The idea of being ‘impure’ during menses is ingrained so deeply in some women that they themselves refrain from performing certain activities.

Over 70 percent of women who face problems related to reproductive health were found to be practicing unhygienic menstrual practices. And even though some of them have access to safer products, they prefer using the same old methods. This entire cycle of silence, taboos, and orthodoxy keep pushing women and young girls towards greater health risks.

However, the picture is not all dark. Women are slowly raising their voices, protesting against ignorant rituals. The mainstream cinema is also portraying these voices. The government is prioritizing female health and hygiene. Be it the removal of taxes that were applicable on sanitary napkins, or making them available at lower or zero costs in the rural parts of the country, efforts are being made to improve the access to better sanitation. And the best part? The younger generation is not accepting things the way they are. Young girls and boys no longer shy away from the topic or shun its importance. They proudly declare that if they were subjected to or have witnessed any kind of differential treatment given to women during their menses, they would make sure that they would never behave the same.


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The Abuse of Blood Donor Dogs

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Why do we need blood donors?: Blood Transfusion
Individuals donate blood that is stored in banks and used when an individual requires a transfusion. Blood transfusion is needed in cases where the patient suffers from severe blood loss, severe infection, liver disease, anemia, and more.

Donor Dogs & their Abuse
Just like humans, dogs also require blood transfusions in certain surgeries or medical conditions, creating the need for donor dogs that can provide canine blood. The procedure of collecting blood from donor dogs is painless and quick. The dog is made comfortable and blood is taken from its jugular vein in a matter of 15 to 30 minutes. The dog is given enough reassurance throughout and treats for positive reinforcement in the end.



But what happens when selling canine blood is turned into exploitative business practice?
Greyhounds are universal blood donors as their blood is compatible with all breeds. There are canine blood “banks” that breed greyhounds and sell their blood to hospitals. Hemopet is rumored to be such a book bank, located in California, USA. They house around 200 greyhounds, most of which are retired racing dogs. Racing dogs are usually euthanized after their career. The organization started as a way to save these canines from being euthanized and providing universal blood to other canines at the same time.

But there have been serious allegations against their care for their dogs. There have been rumors of them mistreating canines by constricting them to small cages for 23 hours at a stretch. Other allegations include drawing blood from unhealthy dogs suffering from anemia, infections and incurable diseases such as lupus. The deprivation of normal life and emotional neglect of these dogs cause them immense distress and are the cause for frequent fights between canines that leave wounds. There are allegations that the staff of Hemopet does not take the right measures to prevent these fights and leave the inflicted wounds untreated, causing infections.

Hemopet has denied these allegations and continue to vouch for their dogs being treated well and kept in safe, habitable and caring environments. But the public is not convinced.

What can you do to help?
First and foremost, we can do our bit by spreading awareness about this case.
SMBT has also gathered a list of petitions you can sign to put a stop to the cruel acts of Hemopet.
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NIPAH VIRUS: WHY IS IT SO DEADLY?

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The state of Kerala is in a state of daze and panic as it faces the outbreak of Nipah virus in some of its districts again. And even though the state government has been quick to respond, there is still time for us to breathe a sigh of relief as it has not been contained completely.  So what is this virus exactly and why is it considered to be so dangerous?

What is Nipah virus?


Named after Kampung Sungai Nipah, the place at which it was said to be originated in Malaysia, 1998, Nipah virus is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans) that is naturally hosted by fruit bats. Fruit bats are considered as a reservoir of diseases as they carry 60 different types of viruses and also cause diseases like Ebola and Zika. Since fruit bats can only be found in warm regions, the outbreak of Nipah is largely restricted to such places like Malaysia, Bangladesh, and India.

How is Nipah virus transmitted?
Nipah Virus can be transmitted to humans via direct contact or via the transmission of body fluids.


Source: Practo


As the chart shows, one can get infected by the Nipah virus by being in direct contact with the bats, eating fruits bitten by bats affected by the same or by eating the animals who have consumed such fruits. It can also spread by being in direct contact with a person infected by the virus.

What are the symptoms of Nipah virus?
NiV can spread inside the human body without any significant symptoms until a period of two weeks. However, some might display symptoms similar to that of influenza (commonly called flu).

Why is Nipah virus this deadly?
NiV is considered to be deadly for two main reasons-
The virus has the ability to develop into fatal encephalitis, which is a condition that can cause inflammation and swelling of the brain. Also, there is no such cure to NiV. No treatment can completely cure one suffering from Nipah virus and the current treatments only involve supportive care.

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Millennials are Shaping the Future of Health Industry

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Gone are the days when one had to leave the comfort of their house and pay a visit to a doctor to get their blood pressure tested. Thanks to technology,in today’s time, a touch is quite literally the only distance between ourselves and countless possibilities. So much so that the blood pressure check-up that you stepped out for can be done in a few seconds through your smart device.



Think about it for yourself, the last time you had a flu or a sprain, did your solution come through a doctor or a google search? In fact, even at times when we feel the need to go to a doctor, we end up searching about them online.  So when did technology and the internet start playing such a huge role in our decision making towards our daily health concerns? Millennials have changed our traditional approaches to everyday problems and our way of dealing with health care especially.

According to a Sales force report evaluating the generational healthcare preferences of Americans, millennials are more likely than older generations to forgo regular visits to a general care physician, likely due to the high cost of healthcare and the fact that many millennials have yet to develop some of the pressing health concerns that affect older age groups. The survey also found that millennials are more interested in using digital health tools than other generations, including an openness to video calling with doctors and accessing health devices through tools like 3D printers. It was also noted in the study that-

76% of millennial Americans value online reviews when choosing a doctor
71% of millennials would like to engage with their health care provider through a mobile app,            according to the same survey

In general, millennials are comfortable using technology to improve their healthcare experience, and they view the web as an important resource when facing a health crisis. From reading online reviews before choosing a doctor to consulting online diagnosis tools, the internet shapes many of the healthcare decisions for people in this age group.
The surge in the usage of search engines and websites that provide us with umpteen amounts of information on various conditions and day to day health related problems, is a result of the fact that millennials see it as a more comfortable way of dealing with problems on the go. Millennials also prefer to contact doctors over video calls and messages over going to meet them physically. This shift from the baby boomers approach to that of the millennials has created an entire new market of online presence of both- information as well as doctors on the internet.

These services are free, convenient, and widely accessible, unlike a trip to the physician, and they can be hugely informative when used appropriately. However what also comes along is the fact that millennials are particularly prone to misusing online diagnosis tools: 37% of millennials reported self-diagnosing health issues they don’t have, compared to 24% of baby boomers and 26% of Gen X-ers. What’s more, 44% of millennials reported worrying about their health after looking up health information online.

Another industry that bloomed out of the nature of the millennials is the industry of health applications. Whether it’s a phone or a watch, every device now offers facilities like calorie or step count, heart rate, blood pressure and the list is endless.

For millennials, wellness is a daily, active pursuit. They’re exercising more, eating smarter and smoking less than previous generations. They’re using apps to track training data, and online information to find the healthiest foods. And this is one space where they’re willing to spend money more on, hence the focus towards building more health focused applications and devices that can be integrated in daily life. According to a recent study, 66% of college students now regularly monitor their calorie intake, while 69% monitor their sugar intake. What’s more, now 50% want as much quantifiable data about their health as possible. This new, heightened interest explains in part why millennials are so attracted to technologies that allow them to access detailed information about their own health.

To quantify it all, mobile health apps are expected to exceed $3Billion in global sales by 2019, there are also over 100,000 apps on Google Play and Apple’s iOS app store, a quantity that’s doubled in just 2.5 years.

Despite the ever-growing market of health apps and devices, evidence that proves the working the effectiveness of health apps themselves seems to lack. The next few decades will witness a collaboration by both e-service providers, health care policy makers, hospitals and specialists to forge new standards within which safe, effective and reputable mobile health technologies can be fostered.

The integration of technology and internet with healthcare is here to stay and will just grow in the times to come. However that being stated it’s important that medical institutions lay down guidelines and also review the apps and devices being widely used today, to ensure that they are credible. 

LUPUS

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What started with stiffness in her wrists, seventeen-year-old Anne Marie started facing several problems from swelling in her joints to severe pains in her body. What followed were numerous appointments with doctors and diagnosis of problems like arthritis, to the possibility of a trapped nerve. Despite ongoing treatments, Anne’s condition followed to worsen, and she started showing different symptoms like abnormal weakness and rosy cheeks. It took over two years and multiple misdiagnosis to conclude that the condition that Anne was suffering from was lupus. 

Lupus also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SEL) is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body's immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. 


In India, over 1 million cases of lupus are recorded each year. Just like Anne, many people suffering from it aren’t able to be correctly diagnosed at the first attempt when symptoms occur due to the mystery that is- Lupus. 

What happens in lupus?
In lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs. Normally our immune systems produce proteins called "antibodies" which protect the body from these invaders.
However in lupus the immune system goes into "autoimmunity" meaning your immune system cannot tell the difference between the foreign invaders and your own body’s healthy tissues. As a result, it creates auto antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue.
These auto-antibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

Symptoms of lupus
No two cases of lupus are exactly alike. Signs and symptoms may come on suddenly or develop slowly, may be mild or severe, and may be temporary or permanent. Most people with lupus have mild disease characterized by episodes — called flares — when signs and symptoms get worse for a while, then improve or even disappear completely for a time.
The signs and symptoms of lupus that you experience will depend on which body systems are affected by the disease. The most common signs and symptoms include:
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
  • Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body
  • Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud's phenomenon)
  • Shortness of breath Chestpain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches, confusion and memory loss
Many of these symptoms occur in other illnesses. In fact, lupus is sometimes called "the great imitator" because its symptoms are often like the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid problems, Lyme disease, and a number of heart, lung, muscle, and bone diseases.

To be sure of what the present matter may be, one should always see the doctor if they face develop an unexplained rash, ongoing fever, persistent aching or fatigue.

Causes of lupus

As the cause of lupus can be unknown in most cases, it’s tricky to link its association with a specific cause. It's likely that lupus results from a combination of one’s genetics and environment.
It appears that people with an inherited predisposition for lupus may develop the disease when they come into contact with something in the environment that can trigger lupus.
Some potential triggers include:

  • Sunlight. Exposure to the sun may bring on lupus skin lesions or trigger an internal response in susceptible people.
  • Infections. Having an infection can initiate lupus or cause a relapse in some people.
  • Medications. Lupus can be triggered by certain types of blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications and antibiotics. People who have drug-induced lupus usually get better when they stop taking the medication. Rarely, symptoms may persist even after the drug is stopped.

Treatment for lupus
Treating lupus is a lifelong process. It requires ongoing planning and communication. Right now, there’s no cure for lupus, but there’s a lot one can do to manage the disease and improve the quality of life.
The goal of any treatment is to ease out symptoms of the disease and provide relief. Changes in diet and lifestyle are recommended to minimize the symptoms. Certain important practices are recommended, such as exercise and meditation to reduce stress, avoid eating certain foods that may trigger immune system attack, regular screenings to keep a check on steroids side effect, etc. Treatment may vary depending on the symptoms, severity of the disease, and affected body part. Learning as much as one can about lupus treatments and approaches will help one work with their doctor to find a treatment plan that’s right for the person.

Lifestyle and home remedies
Taking care of one’s body and taking preventive steps on a daily basis can make a big difference. Simple measures can help one prevent lupus flares and, should they occur, better cope with the signs and symptoms one experiences. Try to:

  • See your doctor regularly. Having regular check-ups instead of only seeing your doctor when your symptoms worsen may help your doctor prevent flare-ups, and can be useful in addressing routine health concerns, such as stress, diet and exercise that can be helpful in preventing lupus complications.
  • Be sun smart. Because ultraviolet light can trigger a flare, wear protective clothing — such as a hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants — and use sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 55 every time you go outside.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise can help keep your bones strong, reduce your risk of heart attack and promote general well-being.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and can worsen the effects of lupus on your heart and blood vessels.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Sometimes you may have dietary restrictions, especially if you have high blood pressure, kidney damage or gastrointestinal problems.
  • Ask your doctor if you need vitamin D and calcium supplements. There is some evidence to suggest that people with lupus may benefit from supplemental vitamin D. A 1,200- to 1,500-milligram calcium supplement taken daily may help keep your bones healthy.

Despite of the fact that lupus affects a large number of people, women in majority, it still remains to be a mystery. Due to the symptoms that overlap with various other diseases, misdiagnosis of lupus can be common. Lupus symptoms infact differ from person to person. As there are different types of this disease, treatment also varies greatly from patient to patient. 
Due to improved diagnosis and disease management in today’s time, most people with the disease will go on to live a normal life span.

Treatment for lupus is widely available in India and one should consult a Rheumatologist if they see any signs or symptoms of the disease.





HIV / AIDS: Why is it so difficult to cure?

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In the three and a half decade since HIV/AIDS was discovered, the virus has killed more than 35 million people with only two of them being completely cured. Over the years, several attempts have been made to completely treat this condition but the success rate has been very low.

So let’s try to understand why humans have been struggling to find a cure for this disease.


Let’s try to understand how HIV affects our body with an example. Think of your body as a computer. This computer will require some sort of cybersecurity system installed in it that protects it from threats like malware and viruses, pretty much similar to the immune systems in our bodies. This cybersecurity system will be built on some code that helps it identify the threats that are harmful to the computer and eliminate them. The T-cells in our immune systems are the codes that form the cybersecurity system, i.e; they guard us against various infections, viruses, and diseases.
However, someday, a virus attacks not just your computer, but the code that forms the blocks of your cybersecurity system. This way, the virus affects the very core of your computer and its security system by impairing their ability to eliminate other threats as well. This is exactly what the Human Immunodeficiency Virus does to your body. It attacks the T-cells in your immune system, leaving it weak and impaired. The virus then uses these T-cells to replicate themselves and increase their numbers in our bodies, all the while destroying the T-cells they used as hosts. Since the immune system of our bodies is compromised, it leaves the patients suffering from HIV more prone to diseases, infections, and allergies. 


Initially, the symptoms of HIV could be a high temperature, cold, rash, etc. that could last for days or weeks. The visual signs of HIV, however, recede and are not very obvious after this period. The virus, nevertheless, keeps growing and destroying the T-cells in our body. When left untreated for over eight to ten years, HIV reaches the advanced stage of AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome). Till this time, most of the T-cells in our bodies are destroyed and do not even have the ability to ward off simple infections like the common cold.

HIV/AIDS has always posed a challenge for medical professionals. Since our T-cells attempt to tackle the virus when it attacks our bodies, it gives the virus more room to attack them and replicate. Also, the virus can write its genetic code in the genome of the infected cells, making it almost impossible to eliminate it completely from a body as the traces of it are stored in the patient’s DNA. This also facilitates easy replication of themselves in the host body. HIV/AIDS still affects millions of people every year and even though, there are preventive measures and ways to inhibit the growth of the virus in our bodies, there is still a long way to go as many of us still do not have the optimal access to treatment.

SMBT Group of Medical Institutes urges you to do your bit for the AIDS crisis. Donate for the cause, practice protected intercourse, get tested every once in a while, and keep spreading the word! For more such informative blogs, keep following us.

Our Team

  • Syed Faizan AliMaster / Computers
  • Syed Faizan AliMaster / Computers
  • Syed Faizan AliMaster / Computers
  • Syed Faizan AliMaster / Computers
  • Syed Faizan AliMaster / Computers
  • Syed Faizan AliMaster / Computers