Sunday, July 8, 2018

Treat Victims of Drugs Humanely.!

Treat Victims of Drugs Humanely.!
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Prof.T K Thomas
Last Tuesday [26th June] was International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. One casually tuned into the lead story at 7 in the morning on Asianet News to find out that drug addiction in Kerala had gone up five times after a majority of bars were closed down in 2016 by the Congress led UDF government. During this period alcohol consumption had declined, the story mentioned. This turned out to be one’s thought for the day. Is alcohol a drug like cannabis, opiates etc? One has studied the problem of drugs and addiction for almost four decades and has learned that alcohol is indeed a drug. It comes in the category depressants [Drugs incidentally are categorized in to seven types on the basis of their effect on those who use them- for example while a depressant slows down, a stimulant speeds up or a hallucinogen disrupts communication within one’s brain and so on.]
Alcohol unlike other drugs is licit or legal and considered socially acceptable. It has since long been part of festivities and celebrations; for governments it is a major source of revenue. But it can lead to addiction which is accepted as a disease. It is considered a family disease as close relations of an addict suffers more than him; he indulges in domestic violence, starves his family, neglects his children to give a few problems.
Alcohol related diseases and alcohol related deaths are a major concern. It was estimated that in 2012 there were 3.3 million deaths in India due to alcohol consumption related diseases. No wonder successive governments have been concerned about this problem. But unfortunately the problem of addiction, first to alcohol and then to other drugs, is only showing an upward swing. Despite ban on alcohol advertisements in all the media especially television channels, surrogate alcohol ads rule the airwaves especially during popular national and international sports events. One sees it during the ongoing football World Cup in Russia or had seen plenty of them during the IPL [Indian ‘Paisa’ nay Premier League]. During the IPL Suneel Vatsyayan, a leading voice in the fight against drug addiction, prevention and alcohol advertisements blogged, ”The ongoing Indian Premier League [IPL] tournament has more liquor ads than one can count. There are ads for Seagram’s Royal Stag, Royal Challenge, Signature, Black &White and why [ASCI] Advertising Standard Council of India turning a blind eye to this charade of surrogate ads that are openly selling liquor and nothing else.
There are ads on air for Royal Challenge, Black & White, Signature and Chivas Regal. All liquor ads for sure, but masquerading as completely different products, mostly nonexistent”.
All concerned authorities seem to have closed their eyes when blatant violation of rules and regulations were adopted by the industry in circumventing the rules to unabashedly promote surrogate alcohol ads. They actually make fun of the intelligence of the average viewer. There appears to be active connivance of the industry, media and regulatory bodies. They succeed in creating an artificial or make belief world of celebrity lifestyle which cajole the young people to accept alcohol as a symbol of success and style. While on the one hand preventive agencies try to persuade and wean away young people from the reality of the danger of excess drinking of alcohol, the reel life of celebrities and the so called successful people portrayed in surrogate alcohol ads invite them to accept alcohol as a sign of success and prosperity.
The real tragedy is that it is often the poorer and the marginalized sections of our society who fall victim to deadly addiction. They tend to believe that alcohol is an antidote for all their problems; it gives them relaxation after a hard day’s work, give them a feeling of well being, good appetite and sleep, ability to forget their worries and so on. Needless to say, these are all false notions and soon they destroy their families and end up in some nondescript de-addiction or rehabilitation center which is a journey out of the frying pan into the fire. Of course there are professionally and scientifically run centers. Having visited a number of centers managed by people who had a drug/alcohol connection one can say that they were some of the worst places. People prefer private centers to government run facilities. It is reported that a Rs.5 crore 100 bed center inaugurated in Punjab in 2015 had just one patient whereas private centers are overflowing with patients. One of the main reasons is that private centers do not insist on the consent of the patients unlike government run centers.
The Indian Express, on the eve of this year’s International Day Against Drugs and Illicit Trafficking had carried a story on what happened to a number of de-addiction centers based on an inspection report on such centers submitted to the Delhi High Court. The front page story actually sums up the plight of the patients in such centers, “Asked to perform sexual favours, subjected to physical and sexual torture, treated as slave, not allowed to contact their families-and death allegedly due to torture or wrong treatment.” On the basis of writ petitions filed on unregulated de-addiction centers the Delhi High Court had asked the Delhi State Legal Services Authority [DSLSA] which submitted the report to the High Court on 1st June. “According to the report the DSLSA in fact had inspected 124 de-addiction centers, out of which 28 were found shut. In the remaining 96 centers the Authority interacted with 2135 inmates -750 said they were detained involuntarily”.
Responding to the report the Bench comprising justices S. Muralidhar and I S Mehta said that such violations of fundamental rights to life, liberty and dignity as enshrined in the constitution are “unconscionable.” The court said, “It is paradoxical too. On the one hand, there is fairly a large population of persons in need of de-addiction and on the other hand, we have several unauthorized and illegally run centers exploiting the situation, charging money and subjecting such persons to inhumane and degrading treatment.’’ The bench has also ordered the Delhi Police to act on the DSLSA report and to proceed in accordance of the law against the centers where such inmates have been subjected to inhumane treatment.
This Delhi High Court order will go a long way in regularizing the de-addiction and treatment centers for hundreds of thousands of drug and alcohol addicts in the country. There is dire need for such facilities. Government facilities are said to be grossly inadequate. Concerned civil society organizations and the voluntary sector need to come in the field with standard of care, qualified health professionals and counselors with residential facilities. Agencies like DSLSA or regulatory bodies need to ensure quality and effective de-addiction/ treatment and rehabilitation centers in all states if the scourge of addiction is to be eliminated. The problem is really serious and a new national policy on alcohol and drugs is required to combat it.
As one was concluding this piece on Monday [2nd July], breaking news from Punjab was flashed on all channels about the press statements followed by a tweet by Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, “My government has decided to recommend death penalty for drug peddling /smuggling. The recommendation is being forwarded to the union government. Since drug peddling is destroying entire generations, it deserves exemplary punishment. I stand by my commitment for a drug free Punjab.’’ His intentions are appreciated notwithstanding the fact that there are provisions for death penalty for repeat offenders even in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act [NDPS] of 1985!
The problem of drug abuse in Punjab in the light of what the CM said on 1st July has to be looked at from another angle and the urgency for such a move. Before and during the state Assembly elections in Punjab the problem of drugs was a major issue. Media reports portrayed Punjab as ravaged by rampant drug trafficking and addiction. The Congress Party that trounced the Akali Dal-BJP coalition had assured that they will rid the state of the drug menace. Ground realities today, after fifteen months of being in power, despite some initiatives are not exactly praiseworthy. In fact The Tribune had come out with a story on 29th June with the headline, “Anger, fear in Punjab as June sees 23 Deaths from Drugs”. There are heart rending stories of parents wailing and mourning the death of their children from villages like Kotakapura and Cheharta. The police and other agencies are concerned and active but the intravenous use of deadly dugs like ‘Cut’ [a new addition to the terminology of adulterated heroin] has pervaded the length and breadth of the state. The authorities are almost helpless. It is indeed tragic that these deaths have taken place during the month of June, the 26th day of which is the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit trafficking.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Alcohol Marketing in India #enoughNCDs

Alcohol Marketing in India: #enoughNCDs 
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Strategy identifies the importance of reducing the impact of marketing, particularly on young people and adolescents, as an important consideration in reducing harmful use of alcohol.It has been observed that alcohol use has escalated as one of the leading risk factors for global burden of disease.  
The Cable Television Network (Regulation) Amendment Bill, in force September 8, 2000, completely prohibits cigarette and alcohol advertisements.  However, it is evident that we are living in a media dark era. The industry circumvents the bans on advertising by surrogate advertising, and the images in alcohol advertising have changed from voluptuous pin-ups (targeting the traditional market of middle-aged male consumers) to depictions of a ‘good life’, aimed clearly at women and youth.
This is also an era of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where the promotion of content by an alcohol brand is still a gray area and many alcohol brands aim at building a community instead of straight off plugging the alcohol.  It’s important that both the media and celebrities take into consideration the impact of the product before they’d decide to endorse or promote it. There are celebrities who do that and who receive much praise, like movie stars Ranbir Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, Singer Shaan, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar who turned down alcohol and tobacco brands. These sportsmen and other celebrities are true role models who put the well being of their fans and society before their own wallets and bank accounts. 

The ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament has more liquor ads than one can count. There are ads for Seagram’s Royal Stag, Royal Challenge, Signature, Black & White and why (ASCI) Advertising Standards Council of India  turning a blind eye to this charade of surrogate ads that are openly selling liquor, and nothing else?
One of the leading liquor brands was recently associated with a five-part web series on four friends trying to launch a startup. With more than 10 million viewers, the show went viral in the startup community, and is currently rated 9.7 on IMDB. By producing the show, the brand avoided surrogate advertising and revolutionized liquor advertising in India. The events sponsored by liquor brands — from music festivals to tasting sessions to sports events — have only grown bigger over the past decade. One of the Vineyards in India reveals they had 250,000 visitors at its different facilities in Nasik last year and they conducted 45,000 tastings at the vineyard. 

Consumption of alcohol in India has expanded at an average of 8.9% annually in the past six years, reaching an estimated $22 billion (1.46 trillion rupees) last year. India is the 3rd largest liquor market in the world, with an overall retail market size of $35 billion per annum. A global study by Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has found that alcohol consumption in India has risen by 55% over a period of 20 years, from 1992 to 2012.With the minimum drinking age varying from 18 to 25 across states, India had approximately 485 million people of legal drinking age in 2013. This is more than the population of the United States and Mexico combined. Another 150 million are predicted to join this group by 2018. 

To address the impact of alcohol use on society, a national policy on alcohol use is needed.  The alcohol policy includes measures by the government to control supply and demand, minimize alcohol-related harm and promote public health.  At present, India does not have a national alcohol policy. However, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has a mandate for Alcohol and Drug Demand Reduction and Prevention Policies. Another central concern that the new drug demand reduction policy must address, I think, is the aggressive push by the global alcohol industry to recruit our children and youth as loyal consumers. Therefore, special measures and programs to prevent underage alcohol use and to reduce overall per-capita alcohol consumption in India is the need of the hour, as Big Alcohol marketing strategies are becoming ever more aggressive and pervasive. Also, alcohol-related harm should be urgently addressed from a child rights perspective. To achieve a healthier society, harmful substances must become much less available – socially, financially, psychologically and physically. 
*Chairperson, Nada India Foundation
  Nada India Foundation

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Knowing ADHD: A therapist can help an young people with hyperactivity

National Acupuncture Detoxification Association of South Africa » Use of Acupressure Magnetic ...Knowing ADHD
THE ASIAN AGE. | KAVI BHANDARI Published : Apr 27, 2018, 12:20 am IST Updated : Apr 27, 2018, 12:20 am IST
Here’s why it’s important to consult a mental health professional when someone starts showing the symptoms of ADHD.
While it is normal to have some inattention or unfocused motor activity, even this slight deviation is unacceptable our society....
.....Some people are hyper all the time. Their attention span is very low and they can’t focus completely. At times they appear naturally high. We talk to psychologists to find out why it happens.....


“In clinical terms, hyperactivity is one of the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), which is a developmental disorder in children having low levels of attention and increased hyperactivity. Children with ADHD are unable to sit patiently or wait in queues. The origin of this disorder may be genetic or exposure to certain substances during pregnancy, which might cause structural changes in the brain and imbalance of certain neurotransmitters. Many people have little knowledge about ADHD and perceive such children to be naughty or notorious and scold them, rather than understanding that their behaviour is not intentional,” says Dr Akshay Kumar, a psychologist.
“In people living with hyper activity, these behaviours occur more often. This interferes with the quality of interaction socially or at a workplace. A professional counsellor or therapist can help an adult with hyperactivity to learn how to organise his or her life with checklists, art therapy and use of reflexologyFamily members, friends and co-workers can play a significant role by accepting his or her limitations a

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

“We young people cannot simply be spectators while somebody else is making decisions for us....

Vindhya Vatsyayan came to the 2nd Global NCD Alliance Forum as a youth delegate, eager to learn how to better represent the voices of those who suffer NCDs in silence. Today she is using the knowledge and inspiration gained there to do just that. Here she shares some of her key reflections.

My father always keeps an eye on what is happening around the world and where he can send his daughter to learn new things, and that's exactly how I ended up attending the Youth Pre-Forum Workshop at the 2nd Global NCD Alliance Forum in Sharjah, UAE. I filled in the application form very meticulously; but honestly, it was quite simple because all I had to do was share my story, experiences and the change I want to see in the world.
"People will forget what you did but will remember how you made them feel." - a person living with NCDs
It was not just focused on my qualifications, but more on why I feel so strongly for a cause and how I plan to bring change. For the first time in my life, I was sharing my grandfather's story of being isolated because of a disease the world knew little about. I grew up listening to the stories of people suffering in silence; and therefore, I wanted to bring these voices to the front. I wanted to attend the Forum to learn how to become the voice of the masses.
The morning I learnt of my selection for the Forum was one of the best days of my life. I was excited to meet people from around the world and learn from them. I wanted to come back fully equipped to bring change at all levels. The 2-day Youth Pre-Forum Workshop taught me how important it is to have a story, a story that people can relate to. It taught me facts about NCDs, and why facts are so important to understand the intensity of the problem, but that stories of people are what resonate most powerfully.
"My husband left me in the hospital when I was diagnosed with diabetes. But now I understand my disease and I am strong." PLWNCDs

The right people at the right time


One of my key learnings from the forum was how to engage the right people at the right time. That once you're clear about your mission it is extremely important to map the key stakeholders, set your priorities, and understand the importance and impact of these key priorities. I heard some excellent examples of successful stakeholder engagement and how, in collaboration, we can create an impact at all levels. The forum gave me a new motto: energise, inspire, agitate and communicate. I learned why my voice and those of other young people are so important. We young people cannot simply be spectators while somebody else is making decisions for us. NCDs do not belong to one group or section of society but can affect anyone and everyone.
"Don't try to control the input of young people - don't ask for their input, then ignore it. When you ask them to be part of something, really engage them, really listen, and really follow through and act on their insights with them." - Cajsa Lindberg
At the Forum, people living with NCDs (PLWNCDs) also participated; they gave me the strength I need to fight back. I met strong leaders who made me realise why it is so important to have complete knowledge about everything related to NCDs. From pitching our idea for change in 60 seconds to learning the cost of NCDs in the coming years, the Forum broadened my horizon in all possible ways. In two days’ time, with tons of brainstorming group activities for setting up three key priorities and the role of youth, we were able to prepare the call to action for youth(link is external).
“We young people cannot simply be spectators while somebody else is making decisions for us.”
The Youth Workshop’s success could be seen in next three days at the 2nd Global NCD Alliance Forum, where extraordinary people from civil society organisations, WHO, national NCD Alliances, PLWNCDs, NGOs, ministries, government officials and we young people deliberated and set the agenda for advocacy for the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs.
We were given a platform to raise our voices. We were an integral part of the discussions around advocacy and key priorities for the UN High-Level Meeting. The role of youth was discussed in every session at the Forum. Time and again it was emphasised that our role should not be limited to creating awareness but should also exist at policy level. We might not have the experience, but we have the eagerness to learn and bring in the change for present and future generations.

Lasting inspiration for a lifelong mission

"Leaders don’t take action on NCDs because they lack knowledge or courage (or both!)." - Dr. Tom Frieden
Vindhya Vatsyayan adds her commitment to the  map
Towards the end of the forum I also made some commitments for my country; to mobilise youth in response to NCDs, to promote the engagement and meaningful involvement of people living with NCDs, and to mobilise and strengthen the civil society in my country. I now have a vision and a mission and am determined to have a time-bound action plan to be heard at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs later in 2018. I learned from each and every person I met at the forum, but there were a few people and their words that will stay with me forever and inspire me to courageously pursue the changes we want to see.

About the Author
Vindhya Vatsyayan (@NadaPehchaan(link is external)) holds a Master’s degree in bioinformatics, and her work at improving global health began by developing a biological database on ‘hospital acquired infections’. She is now an independent public health consultant in the field of multi drug resistant tuberculosis and a health advocate with Nada India Foundation.
https://ncdalliance.org/news-events/blog/youth-as-the-voice-of-the-masses?goal=0_1750ef6b4b-efe835da13-64350817

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Workout 4 well being @ Home || By FitSidd Nada Health advocate

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Nada India’s youth advocate @pre NCD Alliance Forum youth workshop in Sharjah

Vindhya during Pre-conference Youth Workshop with a smile... 
 Nada India at the Second Global NCD Alliance Forum (7-11 December 2017)
On December 7-11, Nada India’s youth advocate Vindhya was at the pre forum youth workshop and the second Global NCD Alliance Forum in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates!
The second Global NCD Alliance Forum was organized by the NCD Alliance (NCDA) in partnership with local host organization, Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP). 350 members of the NCD movement from 68 countries attended the Forum from 9 – 11 December in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. This year, an increased number of youth delegates and people living with NCDs participated in this unique event, which reflected the Forum’s objective to promote the engagement of the next generation and people living with NCDs as central parts of the NCD movement.
Vindhya was among the 22 youth delegates who called on their peers, CSO and government to step up the pace on NCDs. The enthusiasm and engagement of 22 youth delegates was reflected in the Youth Call to Action produced at the Forum, as a time-bound and measurable agenda for the next generation in the lead up to the 2018 UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs.
Experiences shared, lessons learnt, and solutions discussed
The pre Forum Youth workshop developed a network of youth advocates focused on the non- communicable disease global agenda in the lead up to the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs in 2018
The focus was on how to engage the right people at the right time; i.e. mapping the key stakeholders, setting up the priorities and the importance and impact of these key priorities. The youth advocates were exposed to some excellent examples of successful stakeholder engagement and how it made an impact at local, national and global levels.
The key stakeholders identified by the youth advocates involved The Ministry of health, finance, social justice, youth, PLWNCDs, caregivers, WHO, private sector, pharmaceutical companies, Hospitals, NGOs...the list is endless but the one who can influence and is interested will lead. And what are the priorities for NCDs? Finance, awareness, access to health care, risk factors and youth behavior, prevention, youth participation, PLWNCDs and the commercial determinants of health.
The participation of youth and people living with NCDs is extremely important at all levels; we learnt how to develop a comprehensive agenda for young advocates using an integrated and inclusive approach keeping in mind that we need room for all, health for all.
“Jack Fischer from NCD Free told us why is it important to have a story to tell while pitching in for an idea. It is easier to connect when you have a real story equipped with facts to tell. There are more chances that the other person will actually listen to you when you can strike a connection. Find your story (could be yours, of a family member, friend or anyone who you know), equip it with facts and present it with your idea to bring in a social change in no more than 60 seconds. Always remember that the busy world doesn't have more than 60 seconds to listen to you and your story. So go and find your story to change the world.”- Vindhya, Youth Advocate, Nada India
Vindhya on behalf of Nada India also set up some commitments for #India at the Forum:
·         To mobilize youth in NCD response.
·         To promote the engagement and meaning involvement of people living with NCDs.
·         To mobilize and strengthen the civil society on my country.
Key highlights from the Pre Forum Youth Workshop
Priorities for “Youth”
·         Throughout the development of the health related frameworks, young people should be at the forefront in advocating for priorities to improve health and wellbeing.
·         Youth voices can put pressure on decision-makers to recognize and include issues that are often side lined, particularly related to alcohol and substance abuse.
·         Young people can develop grassroots campaigns on the prevention and management of alcoholism and should advocate for policy-level changes.
·         Many of these young people are researchers helping to generate evidence being used to support these changes.
·         As young people, they bring unique experiences and perspectives to health agendas and have a right to negotiate the future health of the communities in which we live.
·         Ahead of next year’s high level meeting, advocates must ensure that the priorities of young people are heard and acted upon at every level and that governments are held accountable to their health commitments.
·         Ensure universal and equitable access to high-quality, affordable, age-appropriate health care.
·         Scale up financing and resources for prevention, management, and treatment of NCDs across the life-course.
·         Raise awareness of children, adolescents, and young people, and sensitize government officials about the risk factors, prevalence, and impact of alcohol as one of the major risk factors.
Agenda Action for Youth
·         Advocacy for the prevention and control of alcoholism and drug abuse needs substantial input from youth as drivers of the next generation of innovative solutions and action for health.
·         Deliver youth-generated messages on awareness and advocacy priorities via social media, blogs, and other communication channels.
·         Measuring progress is essential to ensuring these steps achieve their intended results. We commit to monitoring delivery against these actions, as well as celebrating and learning from successes, and identifying further opportunities to sustain momentum towards next year’s meeting.

“We urge you to continue the conversations you started here. Continue communicating with partners – both old and new. Continue listening to and engaging the voices of the next generation. Continue agitating for change…for health equity…for the sake of every person living with or at risk of NCDs…for the sake of us all. – “Katie Dain, CEO, NCD Alliance

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Treat Victims of Drugs Humanely.!

Prof.T K Thomas 03 Jul, 2018 at 17:07 PM Last Tuesday [26th June] was International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illici...