Director General’s Desk
Useful drugs often misused
The situation in the country reminds me of Max Mueller’s (German Indologist) words: “…If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts. has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life and has found solutions to some of them which well deserved the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, — I should point to India…”. But, today, in the race for economic growth, we have forgotten our cultural and spiritual heritage. Our public life has become egoistic, self-seeking and materialistic. The world still looks at India to show them the way towards peace and love.
“One of the many grave problems our planet faces is over-population”, writes Al Gore in his book “The Future”. His essential argument is that the world is rapidly spinning out of control – that we have entered a turbulent new age in which technology is running amok, the planet is being pillaged even more rapaciously and governing institutions have been suborned by vested interests obsessed with short-term gains rather than long-term sustainability. (The New Indian Express, 15 April, 2013).
A study of 5350 British men and women published in American Journal of Medicine and quoted in Times of India, April 17, 2013, finds that western style diet leads to cognitive and physical decline. Adherence to fried and sweet foods, processed and red meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products are bad to health.
Hunger haunts all. It is the single biggest solvable problem facing humanity today. Approximately 870 million people globally do not eat enough to be healthy. One in 8 people on the planet goes to bed hungry. Hunger is in the list of world’s top 10 death risks. It kills more people every year than AIDS, Malaria and tuberculosis is combined. War against hunger is going on for decades. Despite that we manage to waste or lose food promptly. About 1.3 billion tonnes of food (1/3 of total produce worth $ 1 trillion) gets wasted or lost every year which is more than 4 times what is needed to feed the world’s hungry. (Times of India, April 12, 2013).
Air pollution kills at least 21 lakh people every year in Asia. Polluted air has become the fifth largest killer in India, says Global Burden of Disease report. (Times of India, 23 February 2013). The rejection of Novartis’ petition – seeking patent to anti-cancer drug Glivec — by the Supreme Court is a landmark verdict for the public health community and the generic drug industry in particular, and for global health. A silent epidemic is sweeping through India. 35 lakh Indians suffer from some form of brain disability every year — 11000 per day, as per a study published in Neurology.(Times of India 24 March, 2013).
Margaret Thatcher, the ‘Iron Lady’ of British Politics died following a stroke. She was 87. The 2010 Nobel Prize winner who was responsible for the birth of the first test tube baby, Louise Brown in 1978, Professor Robert Edward passed away. Shakuntala Devi, 73, who was credited with solving frightfully complicated arithmetic problems with apparent ease and astonishing speed and whose skills stunned the world in the 1970s, and 80s died of heart attack. May their souls rest in peace!
Telugu poet and novelist Dr Ravuri Bharadwaja won the Jnanpith award for 2012. Anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu, the former archbishop of Cape Town, won the 1.7 million Templeton prize for promoting ‘love and forgiveness.’ Udipi Ramachandra Rao has been inducted into the Satellite Hall of Fame in Washington – the first Indian space scientist to receive the honour. Kudos to them!
Few drugs are more effective in reducing inflammation than steroids. They are related to the body’s naturally occurring hormone cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands. Steroids can be injected, inhaled or applied as cream. They are also given as intravenous injection or pills. Low doses taken for relatively short periods produce few side-effects. High doses taken over a long period of time causes mild side-effects such as weight gain, excessive hair growth, and low healing of wounds. Serious side-effects like osteoporosis, bleeding from stomach also occur. The function of adrenal glands also can suffer. Reduction in the dose must be tapered off slowly under doctor’s guidance. With care, steroids can help you live with – and in some cases overcome — a chronic inflammatory disease. Misuse and abuse of steroids lead to undesirable health outcomes. Anabolic steroids are misused by sportspersons to improve performance (doping) as well as recover from injuries
Rev Dr Tomi Thomas, IMS