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Category: Health

Sri Lanka on its way to combat HIV/AIDS and other dieases

Millennium Development Goal

Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

Target 6.A:
Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

Target 6.B:
Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it

Target 6.C:
Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases


Sri Lanka is among those few countries in the region which has a low-level HIV epidemic. According to the Millennium Development Goal country report 2008-09, a cumulative total of 1,029 persons have been detected with HIV infection, and 266 persons with AIDS. More than 60 percent of the reported HIV infections in 2006 were in the Western province.

An awareness survey was done in some districts of Sri Lanka to know that how much people are aware of the harmful effects and the way to overcome this epidemic disease.

According to a Survey done for Condom users, among married women using contraception, following points were reveled-

  • The condoms were accepted as a reliable contraceptive method and have been used increasingly among married couples and the percentage using them has doubled within the twenty year interval spanned by 1987 and 2007. On the average, 5.7 percent of married women using contraception have used condoms in 2006-07
  • Marginal differences are observed between the urban & rural sectors, but the contrast           is quite significant between the estate sector and the other areas, the preference for           condoms has being three times higher among urban and rural couples as against those in             the states.

However, the country is still vulnerable to the development of concentrated HIV epidemic due to the high-risk behavioral patterns and networks. And only about one-third of the population aged 15-24 years possesses comprehensive knowledge about HIV infection.

An official report shows that the deadly HIV is commonly spread in a people of age group 15-49 years and almost 80 percent lies in the group of 25-49 out of which 44 percent are women.

There is also different level of awareness against HIV in different districts of Sri Lanka among people. Only one person out of every three persons in this vulnerable age group has been able to reach the minimum standard required. It is observed that knowledge about HIV/AIDS is comparatively lower in the estate sector, among men as against women, and among teens (15-18years) as against the older age group of (18-24years). Awareness about the disease shows a positive correlation with the educational level of the individual.


Even though spread of malaria occurs in most parts of the country, the overall malaria situation in Sri Lanka is improving significantly. Morbidity levels due to Malaria have seen a sharp downward trend since 1990, and it is no longer considered as a life threatening disease in Sri Lanka. Outbreaks of the infection in epidemic proportions have not been reported in the recent past. However, the disease has not been wiped out still in the endemic areas in the dry zone and conflict affected Northern and Eastern provinces.

Awareness among the people has helped to minimize the spread of Malaria in different districts of Sri Lanka. The widespread of knowledge of using bednet as a preventive method against malaria has significantly risen in all the districts of Sri Lanka. According to a survey an average of 62 percent of children below five years of age claims to sleep under a bednet. This practice also has some differences in rural and urban regions, The practice of using a bednet to protect pre-school children from the mosquito menace is highest among rural households (67%), followed by urban dwellings (53%).

Another serious health concern in Sri Lanka is spreading of Tuberculosis which is almost 8000 new cases every year and recent figures shows an increasing trends of the diseases over the year.

The overall incidence rate of TB stood at 42 per 100,000 population in 2006. It is much higher in Kandy, Vavuniya, Colombo and Kalutara districts .The risk of getting infected with TB appears to rise with age, with the lowest incidence rate reported for children under 14 years and the highest incidence rate for elders over 55 years of age.

Directly observed treatment short course (DOTS) was implemented initially in one district of Sri Lanka and later in whole island. The rise in the number of new cases was subsequently lowered by the implementation of DOTS in almost twenty two districts. A figure says that almost 83.3% TB cases in 2006 were cured in eleven districts out of twenty two districts where it was implemented.

So in all, we can say that Sri Lanka is on its track to achieve Millennium Development Goal of Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases.




Maldives has done a commendable job in reducing child mortality rate over the last ten years. The less than five mortality rate was 48 per 1000 live births in 1990. Thus, Maldives needs to bring the child mortality rate down to 16 per 1,000 live births by 2015. By the end of 2005, the reported child mortality rate decreased to the required target of 16 per 1000 live births.  However, child mortality increased to 18 per 1000 live births in 2006 and it is not yet advisable to conclude that Maldives has fully achieved MDG 4.

In the last five years the child mortality rates have been fluctuating. In the year 2004 there was an increased child mortality compared to 2003, while 2006 again showed a slight increase from 2005. In 2004, 21 percent of the under five mortality that year was due to the tsunami.

It is also noted that there is almost no difference between the rural population and the urban (Malé) population as well as between the sexes. It is highly likely that goal will be met for both the urban and rural populations.

The main contributory factor for such achievement in reducing child mortality is the reduction in infant mortality. The infant mortality rate which stood at 34 per 1,000 live births in 1990 has been reduced to 16 per 1,000 live births by the year 2006. What is important is that, this trend has continued for both the rural and urban populations as well as the sexes. Though the figures do not indicate a vast difference.  Infant mortality was reduced primarily through the reduction of neonatal mortality.  the gap between child mortality and infant mortality as well as infant mortality and neonatal mortality is gradually decreasing .

CLOSE TO UNIVERSAL VACCINATION FOR Expanded Programme on Immumunization (EPI)


The Maldives have maintained close to universal vaccination for EPI vaccines over the years and has one of the highest vaccine coverage within the South Asia region. Interestingly and importantly, the country has attained self procurement of all EPI vaccines thus further strengthening the immunization programme.

According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted in year 2001, it was shown that the Maldives has achieved close to universal coverage for vaccines in the EPI programme. For measles, the total coverage stands at 92.4 percent with 91.7 percent coverage for males and 93.2 percent coverage for females. The full immunisation coverage stands at 85.4 percent for the country.



Independent estimates of infant mortality made from past censuses show a much higher rate than the vital registrations system (VRS). Though indirect estimations tend to over report whereas direct estimations usually have some under reporting. The VRS though is the only source of data available to show a time trend in mortality patterns.

Many interventions to improve the VRS system have been made in the last few years and a number of new control measures have been put in place. As can be seen from Census data, the estimations of Infant Mortality Rate are much higher during 1990 and 1995 than the routine reporting.


The strategies implemented by the health sector have worked efficiently within the last 15 years to bring the progress in reducing child mortality.

  1.  Data discrepancies.
  2. An extensive independent assessment of the vital registrations system is needed to further improve and enhance the system. Maintenance of the current high rate of vaccination and introduction of new vaccines into the EPI programme is necessary to sustain the low rate of child mortality.

3. Monitoring and surveillance of Expanded Programme on Immumunization target diseases has to be maintained and strengthened further.

4. Furthermore, independent external reviews should be undertaken to assess the EPI programme.

5. Prevention and appropriate management of emerging diseases such as dengue is also critical to reduce child mortality.

6. Intervention to improve neonatal care at all levels of the health service is required to address the current challenge in reducing neonatal mortality. However, since such interventions require modern medical equipment and specialised nursing and other paramedic care, the challenge really lies in the feasibility of such interventions.


Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR may have reduced significantly from around 500 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 69 per 100,000 live births in 2006, reliable data are available starting year 1997 when maternal death audits were introduced in the Maldives. Hence, 1997 is taken as the baseline year for this target. Given that the reported MMR for 1997 is 258.73 per 100,000 live births, and by 2006 it has reduced to 69 per 100,000, the target for reducing maternal mortality is in process. Based on the 1997 baseline, the target for reduction in MMR is 64.5 per 100,000 live births. The Health Master Plan 2006 to 2015 sets targets to reduce the absolute number of maternal deaths per year. Proportion of births attended by skilled personnel is an indicator where the baseline data is not available. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MoH 2001) presents some reliable baseline statistics for this indicator. In 2001, 48 percent of the deliveries were conducted by doctors and 22 percent by nurses. 







Health is Wealth so DO NOT SMOKE!

Health is Wealth so DO NOT SMOKE!

We all know smoking is injurious to health but we still smoke. Consumption of tobacco causes health problems like cancer.  But despite of all this smoking is on an increase in our country. Cigarettes comprise of 19% of tobacco while bidis 53% of tobacco.  The smoking ban act passed by the government states that no one is allowed to smoke in public places including public transportation and public offices etc. As per the rules, smoking is banned in shopping malls, cinema halls, public and private work place, hotels, banquet halls, canteen, coffee house, pubs, bars, airport lounge, railway stations.

Smoking causes respiratory problems too. Despite of all these rules or norms we still find people smoking at these places? Why is it so? There is a ban on smoking cigarettes chewing tobacco but yet all we find all these packets found in all the shops and public places like bus stands, railway station etc.

And so I decided to interview few people to find out their views on The Smoking Ban Act  and the reason for smoking.

 Me: What is your name, your age and what do you do?

He: I am Kevin Rosario, 30 years of age, and I am a driver.

Me: So Kevin do you smoke and if yes why?

He: Yes I do smoke. I cannot pass my day without smoking. I am used to smoking since I was young and now it’s difficult for me to quit.

Me: I hope you know that smoking is injurious to health and it causes respiratory diseases, despite of  it why do you still continue smoking?

He: Oh yes I do know smoking is injurious to health but like I told you I am habituated to it and though I try avoiding it sometimes it becomes impossible.

Me: So do you know about the smoking ban act which says that no one is allowed to smoke in public places? And have you been ever caught smoking in public places?

He: I smoke wherever I feel like and whenever I feel like and I have never been caught for it.  I have seen many people smoking in public places.

Me: Thank you Kevin for your precious time.

He: Your most welcome.

The next person I interviewed was Aaron Dias

 Me: What is your name, your age and what do you do?

He: My name is Aaron Dias, I am 20 years old and I am a student.

Me: So Aaron, do you smoke and if yes how regularly and why?

He: Yes. I do smoke.  But I am not a regular smoker.

Me: I hope you know that smoking is injurious to health and it causes respiratory diseases, despite of that why do you still continue smoking?

He: Yes I do know smoking is injurious to heath. But I don’t smoke regularly it’s just when I am around with my friends.

Me: So have you been caught smoking at public places and do you smoke outside your college?

He: No I have never been caught smoking though I smoke outside college sometimes.

Me: Thank you Aaron for your precious time.

He: You are most welcome.

 Despite of The Smoking ban Act, we find people smoking in public places. Hardly anyone is seen following the law. Across all interviews I found people saying that everybody smokes in public places and yet no one is caught so why should they fear. Its high time people realise that the law is made for our benefit and that we should not depend on what others say or do rather think about our own health as our lives our God’s gift to us!




It turns out that dark chocolate reduces body mass, prevents blood clots, may prevent cancer, and even helps in math! Read to know more..

Now here is something which is hard not to be ecstatic about!
Researches published in the prestigious ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ and ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’, have examined the effects of dark chocolate on various heart health properties.
Researchers from San Diego State University conducted a small controlled study illustrating that eating dark chocolate has positive effects in lowering blood sugar levels and “bad” cholesterol levels and increasing “good” cholesterol levels- all of which could have positive effects on heart health.
For the 15-day period study; researchers had 31 people eat either 50 grams of regular dark chocolate (70% cocoa), dark chocolate (70% cocoa) that has been overheated, or white chocolate (0% cocoa). The study participants ate their assigned chocolate while their blood glucose, circulating lipids, blood pressure and blood flow were all measured before and after the study.
The following is what I could conclude from the study:

Is dark chocolate really healthy?

Dark chocolate contains a lot more cocoa than other forms of chocolate.
Many people are not aware that chocolate comes from plants, which means it contains many health benefits. These benefits are due to ‘flavonoids’ which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants serve as scavengers in the body that destroy most of the dangerous free radicals and other destructive molecules that lead to many heart diseases. Antioxidants are present even in tea, fruits, vegetables; but dark chocolate is one of the highest and powerful antioxidants called flavonoids and catechins.

Heart Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:

Just a small bar of dark chocolate every day can help keep the heart and cardiovascular system running well. Heart health benefits of dark chocolate are:

  • Lowers blood pressure: Studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure. This is due to the flavonoids present in them, which helps relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels: Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent. It helps keep the cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels and reduces the risk of blood clots.
  • Reduces the risk of heart attacks: by preventing blood clots. Also, blood platelets clump together more slowly in chocolate eaters, study says.

Dark chocolate, apart from being tasty and healthy heart-friendly; also has been proven to:

  •   Stimulate ‘endorphine’ secretion, which gives a feeling of pleasure;
  •   Have anti-depressant properties as it contains ‘serotonin’.


  • It protects against blood inflammation.
  • It may prevent cancer: Cocoa contains a compound called ‘pentameric procyanidin’ or ‘pentamer’, which disrupts cancer cells’ ability to spread.
  • It reduces the risk of diabetes: It was found that eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity, which reduces the risk of diabetes.
  • It is good for your skin: Remember that acne infomercial from the 90s which said that chocolates cause pimples? Well not only does it not cause breakouts, it’s actually good for your skin! Flavonoids found in dark chocolate protect women’s skin from the sun’s UV rays, according to German scientists. But that doesn’t mean you can skip the sunscreen.
  • It can control coughs:  Fed up of having bitter cough syrups for getting relief from cough? No problem! Presenting, the most delicious way to kick your cough- dark chocolate. One of the sweet’s chemical components, theobromine, seems to reduce the activity of the ‘vagus nerve’, the part of the brain that triggers coughing fits.
  • It strengthens your brain: Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University found that dark chocolate shields cells in your brain, and accordingly protects it from damage caused by stroke. This is due to Epicatechin, a compound found in chocolate.
  • It makes you live longer: Harvard researchers found that eating chocolate actually adds two years to your life expectancy! Jeanne Louise Calment lived to the age of 122—the oldest anyone has ever lived. She ate two and a half pounds of dark chocolate per week.

Interestingly enough, there also have been studies which claim that dark chocolate helps you with math! British psychologists found that ‘flavanols’ (a class of flavonoids, which are found in dark chocolate) helped people with their mental math. Study subjects had an easier time counting backwards from a randomly-generated number between 800 and 999 after drinking a cup of hot chocolate than they did without the cocoa.
“The findings suggest students who binge on chocolate when revising for exams may gain a real benefit from doing so,” the British Telegraph reported.

But while the researchers found a positive effect of eating the dark chocolate in the study, they cautioned that chocolate is also high in saturated fat and calories, and must therefore be eaten in moderation.
So here are some tips to keep in mind in order to avail these health benefits:

  • Purchase chocolates that have at least 70% cocoa (see the package).
  • Balance the Calories: This information doesn’t mean that you should eat a pound of chocolate a day. Chocolate is still a high-calorie, high-fat food. One bar of dark chocolate has around 400 calories. If you eat half a bar of chocolate a day, you must balance those 200 calories by eating less of something else or by exercising; to keep your total intake of calories the same.

So, next time you have a craving and want to grab a bar of chocolate; go ahead and indulge yourself in the sinful taste of yum dark chocolate without thinking twice about your health and body weight! Remember-you don’t just buy a dark chocolate, you EARN it! That’s because you’re worth it! 😉

–Sakshi Raina
TYBMM Journalism
Sophia College

The Yoga Institute-Keeping Mumbai healthy, since 1918

The Yoga Institute, Mumbai

The Yoga Institute, located in Santacruz (E), is perhaps the most peaceful space in Mumbai city. Located at 2 minutes from the Santacruz railway station, the space is away from all the city chaos. Founded in 1918, it is the oldest Yoga Institute in the world, standing strong amidst all the gyms and health clubs mushrooming all over the city.

Founded by Shri. Yogendraji, the institute today is run by his son Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra and daughter-in-law Smt. Hansaji. Smt. Hansaji is also the President of the International Board of Yoga. The Yoga Institute was founded in the home of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji in Versova. Only in 1948, 30 years after it was founded did The Yoga Institute form its permanent base in Santacruz. Shri. Yogendraji founded the first Yoga centre abroad in 1919 in the United States of America. Today, the Yoga Centre has institutes established in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, South America, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Germany and Austria.

The institute, till date, has improved the lives of tens of thousands by the means of Yoga and meditation. Apart from teaching Yoga, the institute organizes guest lectures, camps, workshops, health checkups, book readings, publishes a monthly magazine (named YOGA) etc. all priced at extremely nominal rates. The institute offers separate courses for people of different age groups; separate workshops for children and senior citizens, women, pregnant women, corporates, diabetics, patients of respiratory disorders, joint pain, menopause, obesity etc. The institute offers a course in teachers training and also an on campus residential course. These courses are a favorite among students. Students from all over the world take up these courses and spread, across the world, the benefits of Yoga.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of the institute lies in its simplicity and its non commercial approach. The institute offers the students an extremely competent and friendly staff and a beautiful premises. The Yoga Institute building and the beautifully maintained garden around it make it a perfect place to relax, rejuvenate and freshen up. The institute attracts students from all over the world. Hostel facilities are provided to these students at an extremely reasonable rate.

At any point of time, all year round, one can see innumerable students from across the world studying Yoga, meditation, The Yogic Lifestyle and The Vedanta. Italian resident Stefano Notarbartolo, also a Yoga teacher in Italy quoted, “I have been there three months in 2010. Best experience ever, I highly recommend it to anyone willing to learn real Yoga and not just acrobatics.” For all its students, the institute is like a second home. On entering the institute premises, one will see the students all over the premises: walking, reading, interacting with each other and sharing experiences. The institute offers all its students’ facilities like a Yoga museum and a library with a rich collection of books and articles related to Yoga and good health; probably the only one in Mumbai. With facilities like these, all over the premises, the institute encourages its students to spend more time in the premises. Also optional meals are offered to the students. These meals are hygienic, nutritious, healthy, low in oil and spice and yet unbelievably delicious. The institute endorses a healthy, peaceful lifestyle. It encourages socialization, knowledge and a better living.

The institute uses social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word, not just about Yoga, but also about spirituality, Karma and positivity. Many students who have learned Yoga at the institute or have attended their lectures and camps or for that matter, even visited the place have publicized it using social media or the word of mouth. I just did my bit. 🙂


Photograph courtesy:

Stefano Notarbartolo quote courtesy:


-Shruti Shenoy