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India Drops to 102 In The Global Hunger Index 2019, Lowest In South Asia

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 16: Amidst the economic slowdown, there’s yet another jolt for India. In the Global Hunger Index (GHI) released this Tuesday, India stands at a low 102nd spot, eight points below Pakistan and 25 points below Nepal. The index involved a total of 117 countries and categorised them in groups where hunger issues are extremely alarming, alarming, serious, moderate and low.

India is the lowest-ranked nation among the South Asian countries and in fact, way behind other BRICS nations, in the recently released Global Hunger Index.

Moreover, Pakistan, which used to be the only country to rank below India, made it to the 94th spot in the 2019 GHI.

India has been ranked the lowest among its other South Asian counterparts. Other South Asian countries are ranked somewhere between 66 to 94. In fact, even among the BRICS nations, India is ranked the lowest, with South Africa ranked the second-lowest at 59.

A GHI score has been calculated for all the countries on the basis of the proportion of a country’s child population that is undernourished, share of children under five years of age who have insufficient weight for their height or whose height is not commensurate to their age, and the mortality rate of children of under five years of age. For India, the score stands at 30.3. In 2015, India stood at the 93rd rank.

In India, just 9.6 percent of all children between 6 and 23 months of age are fed a minimum acceptable diet.

As per the Global Index Report 2018, India has the highest number of stunted children in the world. According to the report, 46.6 million children in India are stunted which is equivalent to one-third of the world’s stunted children.

18 killed in vaping-linked lung injury in US, over 1000 sick

WASHINGTON, Oct 4: The number of patients suffering from probable lung injury associated with e-cigarette use has surged to more than a thousand, US health authorities said Thursday, while the death toll from the outbreak now stands at 18.

Officials have yet to identify the cause for the outbreak, which dates back to June, and are pursuing multiple lines of investigation.

A report by clinicians in North Carolina last month pointed to the inhalation of fatty substances from aerosolized oils as causing acute lipoid pneumonia, but a new study by the Mayo Clinic published this week found patients’ lungs had been exposed to noxious fumes.

“I think we really have the feeling right now that there may be a lot of different nasty things in e-cigarette or vaping products, and they may cause different harms in the lung,” Anne Schuchat, a senior official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a call with reporters.

There are now 1,080 cases under investigation, a jump of 275 since last week, which the CDC put down to a combination of new patients becoming ill in the past two weeks and recent reporting of previously identified patients.

Among a group of 578 patients interviewed on substances they had used, 78 percent reported using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with or without nicotine products; 37 percent reported exclusive use of THC products, and 17 percent said they had only used nicotine-containing products.

THC is the primary psychoactive substance of marijuana.

About 70 percent of patients are male, and 80 percent are under 35 years old.

E-cigarettes have been available in the US since 2006 and it is not clear whether the outbreak is only happening now -- or if there were cases earlier that were wrongly diagnosed.

Initially conceived as a tobacco cessation device, e-cigarette use has skyrocketed among teens, with preliminary official data for 2019 showing more than a quarter of high school students using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.

They were until recently perceived as a less harmful alternative to smoking because they do not contain the 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes, dozens of which are known to cause cancer.

Only one case has been reported abroad, making the outbreak more mysterious still. Canadian authorities said in September a youth had been hospitalized, but so far no other countries have reported anything similar.

Public and political opinion appears to be hardening, however, with the administration of US President Donald Trump announcing in September it would ban in the coming months flavored e-cigarette products which are particularly attractive to young people.

India has issued an outright ban on all e-cigarette products, as has the US state of Massachusetts.

Despite progress in childbirth safety, one woman or baby dies every 11 seconds

By Deepak Arora

GENEVA, Sept 19: Childbirth survival rates are now a “staggering success” compared with the year 2000, but one pregnant woman - or her child - still dies every 11 seconds from largely preventable causes, UN health experts said on Thursday.

In a joint appeal for all nations to do more to provide better medical care for all, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) outlined several ways to help protect the 2.8 million pregnant women and newborns who die every year.

Their recommendations tackle immediate and underlying problems, such as ensuring that midwives have water to wash their hands and helping teenage girls to stay in school longer, where there is less chance of them getting pregnant.

In addition, communities should have access to cheap medicines, such as oral rehydration salts used to treat diarrhoea, and “ten cent vaccines” to keep tuberculosis at bay, the UN agencies insisted.

Citing 2018 data showing that newborns – babies in their first month - accounted for around half of the 5.3 million deaths among under-fives, WHO and UNICEF also highlighted the need for other structural changes.

These include ensuring that pregnant mothers eat a sufficiently nutritious diet to stave off illnesses linked to malnutrition.

All of these things “can make the difference between life and death”, said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, in a statement accompanying new data showing that in sub-Saharan Africa, women in childbirth are nearly 50 times more likely to die, than in richer regions, and their babies are 10 times more likely to perish in their first month.

According to 2018 figures, one in 13 children in sub-Saharan Africa also died before their fifth birthday, which is 15 times more than in Europe, where the rate is one in 196.

Beyond sub-Saharan Africa, the joint WHO/UNICEF report also expressed concern about high mother and baby mortality rates linked to poverty in Southern Asia.

Taken together, both regions account for around eight in 10 of all maternal and child deaths, highlighting vast inequalities in healthcare worldwide.

Going to Sweden ‘can reduce mother’s chances of dying by 100’

“If I look to my own native country, Sweden (a woman) who travels from the highest mortality regions to the world to Sweden, she reduces her overall mortality rate by 100”, UNICEF’s Chief of Health, Dr Stefan Peterson, told journalists in Geneva.

Under global healthcare targets agreed by the international community in 2015 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda, Goal 3.2 calls for fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.

“The world will fall short of this target by more than one million lives if the current pace of progress continues”, the agencies warned.

Another SDG target (3.2) urges countries to reduce deaths of babies in their first month of life, to at least 12 per 1,000 live births, and to bring down mortality among under-fives, to at least 25 per 1,000 live births.

In 2018, 121 countries had already achieved this under-five mortality rate, according to WHO, while among the remaining 74 States, 53 will need to accelerate progress to reach the SDG target on child survival by 2030.


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World not delivering quality maternal health care to poorest mothers: UNICEF



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