Tag: Health

Global Hunger Index : 15.3 % India undernourished; New Delhi says, calculating methodology unscientific

images By Harchand Ram*

 

Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”. The FOA is a specialized agency of the united nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Recently, the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 released the GHI scores with the ranks for the 116 countries. The GHI scores are categorized as low, moderate, serious, alarming, and extremely alarming. The GHI scores on a 100-point scale, 0 is the best score which indicates no hunger, and 100 is the worst. The report stated that “the fight against hunger is dangerously off track. Based on current GHI projections, the world as a whole and 47 countries, in particular, will fail to achieve a low level of hunger by 2030”. The GHI 2021 also highlighted that food security is under attacks on multiple fronts e.g. worsening conflict, weather extremes associated with global climate change, and the economic and health challenges linked with the Covid-19 pandemic all lead to hunger. India ranks 101st out of 116 countries with 27.5 scores which is in the serious category. And, this score was 38.8 in the year 2000 and 28.8 in the year 2012. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels. GHI scores include three dimensions (and its four indicators) namely: Inadequate Food Supply (undernourishment), Child Mortality (Under-five mortality rate), and Child Undernutrition (wasting and stunting) with one-third weights each dimension. Inadequate food supply dimension: Undernourishment is associated with inadequate food supply, which is an important indicator of hunger and food insecurity. It measures among the entire population, both children and adults.

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Indian Govt. calls GHI India ranking as ‘shocking’

India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development in a statement on 15 Oct 2021 says: “It is shocking to find that the Global Hunger Report 2021 has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO estimate on proportion of undernourished population, which is found to be devoid of ground reality and facts and suffers from serious methodological issues. The publishing agencies of the Global Hunger Report, Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, have not done their due diligence before releasing the report. The methodology used by FAO is unscientific. They have based their assessment on the results of a ‘four question’ opinion poll, which was conducted telephonically by Gallup. The scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and Height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on Gallup poll based on pure telephonic estimate of the population. The report completely disregards Government’s massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the covid period, verifiable data on which are available. The opinion poll does not have a single question on whether the respondent received any food support from the Government or other sources. The representativeness of even this opinion poll is doubtful for India and other countries.

READ INDIA’s FULL STATEMENT HERE.

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This indicator is also used as a lead indicator for international hunger targets, including the SDGs. The index shows that 15.3% of the population in India is undernourished. And, globally the prevalence of undernourishment is increasing. Child mortality dimension: Death is the most serious consequence of hunger, and children are the most vulnerable. Child mortality is measured as the proportion of children dying before the age of five (in %). In India, 3.4 % of children die before their fifth birthday. The under-five mortality rate indicator has improved slightly from the year 2000 (9.5%) and year 2012 (5.2%). But the WHO study shows that reproductive, maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services are critical for the beneficial, and breakdown of such services predicted to increase the child mortality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Child nutrition dimension: Child’s nutrition status measured from the wasting and stunting. The GHI 2021 also mentions that 17.3 % of children under five are wasted and 34.7 % of children under five are stunted. The stunting indicator refers to the percentage of children under-five years old who suffer from stunting which is low height-for-age. The wasting indicators refer to the percentage of children under-five years old who suffer from wasting which is low weight-for-height. The GHI 2021 stated that factors such as poverty, inequality, unsustainable food system, inadequate safety nets, lack of investment in agriculture and rural development, and poor governance leads to stalling and even being reversed the progress in the fight against hunger. Also, the hunger situation is playing out in the world as a whole, in global regions, and individual countries. — *Senior Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi Source- counterview.net, October 16, 2021.

Forthcoming book explodes Western myth: Personal qualities are biologically inherited

HMI-Blog-You-Can-Change-Your-DNA

By counterview.in

Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director, The Bioscience Resource Project, New York, has said in an email alert via JanVikalp that his forthcoming book about genetics and genetic determinism, provisionally titled “The Myth of The Master Molecule: DNA and the Social Order” criticises the notion that personal qualities are biologically inherited:

The contention of the book is that the key organising principle of Western thought is the seemingly innocuous and seemingly simple idea that our personal qualities are biologically inherited. That is, our character derives from our ancestors rather than being an always-adapting product of our own experiences, decisions, and education. The book makes the case, first, that genetic determinism is a scientific fallacy.
Organisms are self-organised systems and therefore are not genetically determined. Second, the explanation for the myth, which predates Mesopotamian cities of 6,000 years ago, is its utility. Genetic determinism rationalises political systems based on genetic privilege. The result of the emergence of genetic determinism was the dismantling of ancient cultures based on inclusiveness, cohesion, and egalitarianism and their transformation into rigid structures of authoritarian domination based on separation and division: into families, classes, races, nations, sexes (i.e. patriarchy), and species.
The final proposition of the book is that propagating the myth was the chief aim of Zoroastrianism and the subsequent Abrahamic religions which pioneered the development of a reproductively active male as a supreme being (a Father). Since the 1850s, this myth-making role has been appropriated by science. By recognizing how the founding myth of Western civilization is being re-told in the language of science we can start to dismantle and replace it with a more humane and scientific understanding of the world.

Reaction by Paul Carline:

The subject of genetic determinism is certainly important.
However, I had imagined that the devastating results of the Human Genome Project had actually put an end to the dogma of genetic determinism – because it was shown that genes do not control anything of a higher order, but merely code for proteins. Director of the privately funded HGP research team, Craig Venter, remarked that the results told us nothing more about what it means to be human.
The research-grant-led ’scientific’ response was to say that the attention of the research must now be redirected to ‘proteomics’. But it is clear that the love affair with the idea of some kind of ‘master molecules’ controlling not only our physical makeup, but even our beliefs, hopes and fears – and especially our health – has not been abandoned, but rather intensified, with the toxic mRNA pseudo-vaccines being the latest progeny.

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The corrupted science which now dominates research continues to deny the reality that the (arche)typical forms of living organisms are not shaped from within i.e. in ‘encoded’ genes, but are the result of invisible – but detectable – formative forces from ‘outside’, potentially from the entire cosmos. In a wiser age Paracelsus wrote that the forms of things are in the”astral light” i.e. the light from the stars (including the planets and comets).

Dr. Latham will almost certainly not agree with me on that – but at least we are in agreement that genetic determinism is a fallacy!

I am, however, left wondering what Dr. Latham means precisely when he states that “organisms are self-organised systems”. For the overwhelming majority of living organisms, it can hardly be said that they possess a “self” that consciously organises their development and form. Of course it is a problem for biology which is forced by its own belief system ultimately to see living beings merely as complex machines.

I recently reviewed a new book by an American biologist and naturalist who came to the same conclusion: that living beings are just the sum of their internal and external “activity” – they are just living beings ‘doing their own thing’. I do not find that very profound.

A couple of small but important points: Christianity is not an ‘Abrahamic’ religion, despite the centuries of corruption of the truth and the disastrous adoption of the Old Testament and the Mosaic Law which relate exclusively to Judaism. The idea that the Christian supreme being is based on the model of a “reproductively active male” is to my mind simply laughable. Christian theology is totally free of the older descriptions of sexually active gods and goddesses.

Christian teaching actually refers to a trinity of supreme beings (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), where – according to the evangelist John – it is the ’Son’ i.e. the Christ who initiated the creation of the world. Even Genesis refers to multiple spiritual beings – the plural Elohim – as the active agents in cosmogenesis.

Jonathan Latham’s reply:

Just a correction, I dont know what definition of ‘consciously’ you use (and I dont normally use the word at all and dont in the blurb) but indeed all organisms are self-organising, even down to the tiniest virus. That is the history of evolution, which began with self-organising among the relatively speaking very simple initial set of molecules (long before DNA existed); and the definition of consciousness that I would choose to use would apply to them, it is simply the perception of and response to the environment.

In humans with large brains, we focus on the mental aspects but these perceptions and responses but are merely narrow aspects of a larger bodily whole consciousness that is closer to the consciousness of bacteria. But in general, consciousness is not a useful word as commonly used because the people who use it generally refuse to define it and the reason they refuse is that any rigorous definition would have to roughly follow my logic and so deny genetic determine and this is highly problematic since they are ideologically and a priori committed to it.

You are conflating sexually active with reproductive. Older and non-Christian ideas of gods did sometimes emphasize their sexuality, but all the references to “Our father” eg in the central “lords prayer” make it clear, to me at least, that paternity is central to Christianity: Jesus appearing as God’s son is another example. He could just have appeared, but no, was a male offspring.

New WHO global Air Quality Guidelines aim to save millions of lives from air pollution

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WHO DG launches the WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines. Photo grab- WHO

By SAT News Desk

Melbourne/Copenhagen & Geneva, 22 September 2021: Along with climate change, air pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats to human health. Air pollution and climate change are also well connected. Concerned about this escalating situation, the new WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) released today provide clear evidence of the damage air pollution inflicts on human health, at even lower concentrations than previously understood.

The WHO guidelines are not legally binding, AQGs are an evidence-informed tool for policymakers to guide legislation and policies, in order to reduce levels of air pollutants and decrease the burden of disease that results from exposure to air pollution worldwide. Their development has adhered to a rigorously defined methodology, implemented by a guideline development group. It was based on evidence obtained from six systematic reviews that considered more than 500 papers. The development of these global AQGs was overseen by a steering group led by the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health.

The guidelines recommend new air quality levels to protect the health of populations, by reducing levels of key air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change.

Since WHO’s last 2005 global update, there has been a marked increase of evidence that shows how air pollution affects different aspects of health. For that reason, and after a systematic review of the accumulated evidence, WHO has adjusted almost all the AQGs levels downwards, warning that exceeding the new air quality guideline levels is associated with significant risks to health. At the same time, however, adhering to them could save millions of lives.

Every year, exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths and result in the loss of millions more healthy years of life. In children, this could include reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections, and aggravated asthma. In adults, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributable to outdoor air pollution, and evidence is also emerging of other effects such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions. This puts the burden of disease attributable to air pollution on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking.

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ITO, New Delhi. Photo- ANI, 21 Sept 2021.

Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats to human health, alongside climate change. Improving air quality can enhance climate change mitigation efforts, while reducing emissions will, in turn, improve air quality. By striving to achieve these guideline levels, countries will be both protecting health as well as mitigating global climate change.

WHO’s new guidelines recommend air quality levels for 6 pollutants, where evidence has advanced the most on health effects from exposure. When action is taken on these so-called classical pollutants – particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) sulfur dioxide (SO2), and carbon monoxide (CO), it also has an impact on other damaging pollutants.

The health risks associated with particulate matter equal to or smaller than 10 and 2.5 microns (μm) in diameter (PM10 and PM2.5, respectively) are of particular public health relevance. Both PM2.5 and PM10 are capable of penetrating deep into the lungs but PM2.5 can even enter the bloodstream, primarily resulting in cardiovascular and respiratory impacts, and also affecting other organs. PM is primarily generated by fuel combustion in different sectors, including transport, energy, households, industry, and agriculture.

In 2013, outdoor air pollution and particulate matter were classified as carcinogenic by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The guidelines also highlight good practices for the management of certain types of particulate matter (for example, black carbon/elemental carbon, ultrafine particles, particles originating from sand and dust storms) for which there is currently insufficient quantitative evidence to set air quality guideline levels. They are applicable to both outdoor and indoor environments globally and cover all settings.

“Air pollution is a threat to health in all countries, but it hits people in low- and middle-income countries the hardest,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “WHO’s new Air Quality Guidelines are an evidence-based and practical tool for improving the quality of the air on which all life depends. I urge all countries and all those fighting to protect our environment to put them to use to reduce suffering and save lives.”

An unequal burden of disease

Disparities in air pollution exposure are increasing worldwide, particularly as low- and middle-income countries are experiencing growing levels of air pollution because of large-scale urbanization and economic development that has largely relied on the burning of fossil fuels.
“Annually, WHO estimates that millions of deaths are caused by the effects of air pollution, mainly from noncommunicable diseases. Clean air should be a fundamental human right and a necessary condition for healthy and productive societies.

However, despite some improvements in air quality over the past three decades, millions of people continue to die prematurely, often affecting the most vulnerable and marginalized populations,” said WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge. “We know the magnitude of the problem and we know how to solve it. These updated guidelines give policy-makers solid evidence and the necessary tool to tackle this long-term health burden.”

Global assessments of ambient air pollution alone suggest hundreds of millions of healthy life years of life lost, with the greatest attributable disease burden seen in low and middle-income countries. The more exposed to air pollution they are, the greater the health impact, particularly on individuals with chronic conditions (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease), as well as older people, children, and pregnant women.

In 2019, more than 90% of the global population lived in areas where concentrations exceeded the 2005 WHO air quality guideline for long-term exposure to PM2.5. Countries with strong policy-driven improvements in air quality have often seen a marked reduction in air pollution, whereas declines over the past 30 years were less noticeable in regions with already good air quality.

The road to achieving recommended air quality guideline levels

The goal of the guideline is for all countries to achieve recommended air quality levels. Conscious that this will be a difficult task for many countries and regions struggling with high air pollution levels, WHO has proposed interim targets to facilitate stepwise improvement in air quality and thus gradual, but meaningful, health benefits for the population.

Almost 80% of deaths related to PM2.5 could be avoided in the world if the current air pollution levels were reduced to those proposed in the updated guideline, according to a rapid scenario analysis performed by WHO. At the same time, the achievement of interim targets would result in reducing the burden of disease, of which the greatest benefit would be observed in countries with high concentrations of fine particulates (PM2.5) and large populations.

8 pharma billionaires increase wealth by $32 billion, ‘enough’ to vaccinate all in India

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Cyrus Poonwalla, Pankaj Patel

At least nine people have become new billionaires since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, thanks to the excessive profits pharmaceutical corporations with monopolies on Covid vaccines are making, the People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA), a global alliance advocating its available free of charge to all people in all countries, has revealed ahead of the G20 leaders Global Health Summit.
A movement of health, humanitarian, and human rights organizations, past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders, and economists, which also advocates that Covid-19 vaccines should be manufactured rapidly and at scale free of intellectual property protections, PVA said, key members of the G20, who meet on Thursday, UK and Germany, “are blocking moves to boost supply” of the vaccines “to devastate lives in countries like India and Nepal, where only a tiny fraction of the population has been vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, PVA said in a statement, the nine new billionaires have amassed “net wealth of $19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times”, adding, “These countries have received only 0.2 percent of the global supply of vaccines, because of the massive shortfall in available doses, despite being home to 10 percent of the world’s population.”
“In addition”, it said, “Eight existing billionaires – who have extensive portfolios in the Covid-19 vaccine pharma corporations – have seen their combined wealth increase by $32.2 billion, enough to fully vaccinate everyone in India.”
Two of the eight are from India: Cyrus Poonawalla, founder, Serum Institute of India, whose wealth increased from $ 8.20 billion to $ 12.70 billion in a year; and Pankaj Patel of Cadila Healthcare, whose wealth increased from $ 2.90 billion to $ 5.00 billion in a year. Patel’s controls listed company “manufactures drugs to treat Covid-19 such as Remdesivir from Gilead, and its Covid-19 vaccine, ZyCoV-D, is undergoing clinical trials”, said PVA.
Campaigners from the People’s Vaccine Alliance – whose members include Global Justice Now, Oxfam, and UNAIDS – reached this conclusion on the basis of an analysis of Forbes Rich List data to highlight the massive wealth being generated for a handful of people from vaccines that were largely public-funded.
Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager, said: “What a testament to our collective failure to control this cruel disease that we quickly create new vaccine billionaires but totally fail to vaccinate the billions who desperately need to feel safe.”
She added, “These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines. These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity. We need to urgently end these monopolies so that we can scale up vaccine production, drive down prices and vaccinate the world.”
According to PVA, “Vaccine billionaires are being created as stocks in pharmaceutical firms rise rapidly in expectation of huge profits from the Covid-19 vaccines over which these firms have monopoly control”, warning, “These monopolies allow pharmaceutical corporations total control over the supply and price of vaccines, pushing up their profits while making it harder for poor countries, in particular, to secure the stocks they need.”

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The PVA statement comes even as, earlier this month, US-backed proposals by South Africa and India at the World Trade Organisation to temporarily break up these monopolies and lift the patents on Covid-19 vaccines. This move has the support of over 100 developing countries, and in recent days countries like Spain have also declared their support, as has the Pope and over 100 world leaders and Nobel laureates.
“Despite this, other rich nations, including UK and Germany, are still blocking the proposal, putting the interest of pharmaceutical companies over what’s best for the world. Italy, who are hosting the G20 Global Health Summit tomorrow, are continuing to sit on the fence on the issue, as are Canada and France”, it said.
Heidi Chow, Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager at Global Justice Now, said: “As thousands of people die each day in India, it is utterly repugnant that the UK, Germany and others want to put the interests of the billionaire owners of Big Pharma ahead of the desperate needs of millions.
Chow added, “The highly effective vaccines we have are thanks to massive amounts of taxpayers’ money so it can’t be fair that private individuals are cashing in while hundreds of millions face second and third waves completely unprotected. It is a sad indictment of the loyalties of some current governments that a handful of people working for pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to become billionaires off the back of publicly-funded efforts to end the pandemic.”
Topping the list of new billionaires who have cashed in on the success of Covid vaccines are the CEOs of Moderna and BioNTech, each with wealth over $4 billion or more. The list includes two of Moderna’s founding investors and the company’s chair as well as the CEO of a company with a deal to manufacture and package the Moderna vaccine.
“This is despite the fact the vast majority of funding for the Moderna vaccine was paid for by taxpayers. The final three new vaccine billionaires are all co-founders of the Chinese vaccine company CanSino Biologics”, the statement said.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said: “While the companies making massive profits from COVID vaccines are refusing to share their science and technology with others in order to increase the global vaccine supply, the world continues to face the very real risk of mutations that could render the vaccines we have ineffective and put everyone at risk all over again.”
She added, “The pandemic has come at a terrible human cost, so it is obscene that profits continue to come before saving lives.”

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Figures for vaccinating all poorest countries are analyzed by PVA based on countries defined as ‘Low Income’, for which the population is 775,710,612 (according to UN Population 2020). The average vaccine cost, $19, is based on the average mid-range cost per course of vaccination of the 5 leading vaccine producers.
“However”, it said, “The prices should be far lower and the $19 is for illustration purposes and is in no way an endorsement of these unacceptably high prices. The wealth of the new billionaires could vaccine all low-Income countries 1.3 times.”
For instance, it said, “The population of India (according to UN Population 2020) is 1.38 billion and the increase in wealth of the 8 existing billionaires could vaccine everyone in India 1.2 times. All figures based on a two-dose regimen (click here for vaccine doses in low-income countries data).

Source- counterview.net,May 20, 2021

Amnesty Australia writes to Marise Payne about India’s COVID-19 crisis

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Photos-AI & ANI.

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 28 April 2021: Amnesty International Australia has expressed concern over the human rights situation in India due to the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to Hon. Senator Marise Payne, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Amnesty’s National Director Sam Klintworth says,” My thoughts and condolences are with the many dead, and their families. Australia has an important role to play in helping our neighbour and ally protect its citizen’s right to health.”

“The right to health is the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and is enshrined in article 12(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which India is a signatory. The UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights has stated that health is a fundamental human right indispensable for the exercise of other human rights. Every human being is entitled to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health conducive to living a life in dignity, ” Mr. Sam says.

The letter also raises the issue of about 10,000 stranded Australians in India, urging the government to find a way to bring these people home as soon as possible.

The issue of ‘freedom of expression is also raised in the letter. Mr. Sam says, ” I am also concerned about a statement from India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology which confirmed that it ordered Twitter, Facebook and others to take down roughly 100
social media posts. A spokesperson from Twitter confirmed the order to block content while Facebook is yet to comment on the issue. Twitter did not specify which content it had taken down but media reports suggest the tweets were criticizing the governments’ response to the crisis and included posts by politicians and other public figures.”

(The Indian High Commission, Canberra has been contacted for a response and an answer is awaited)

READ FULL LETTER BELOW

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Letter source- Amnesty International, Australia