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Poor air quality in India’s capital triggers health concerns

by admin   |   Posted on Monday, 12 November 2018 10:08 AM

 

New Delhi in smog | REUTERS

Pollution levels in New Delhi, the capital of India, are over 50 times more than the allowed limits, raising people’s concerns over health especially for children.

Four-year-old Avyan suffers from severe wheezing and chest infections, which often leading to multiple hospitalizations. Although he is under the protection of air purifiers and anti-pollution masks, his mother still worries about his health condition because the pollution in the city shows no sign of improving.

“Whenever I put a mask on him for doing the nebulizer, every time some part of me inside me cries. Because once I am pumping him with all those strong medicines, just to manage those symptoms, the other is his body really needs that to survive in this environment. So we would want him to have a very nice happy healthy childhood, but it’s sad that we are not able to give him that, just because we’re in a place which has so much of pollution,” said Anchal Garg Karanth, mother of Avyan.

Recent studies have shown that one in every three children in Delhi has impaired lung function according to the Center of Science and Environment. Doctors also say newborn babies in Delhi take in gulps of polluted air equivalent to smoking 25 cigarettes on the first day of their lives.

According to the World Health Organization, over 100,000 children died below the age of five due to the air pollution in India in 2016, which is the record high in the world. Children are particularly vulnerable to bad air because they breathe more rapidly than adults and absorb twice as many pollutants.

“If you are not oxygenating very well, your cognitive function in terms of behavior, intelligence, has a major impact, especially if it happens in the younger years because that is when the neurological system is really developing. Other than that, any chronic lung issue can impact the cardiovascular system as well,” said Anupama Gupta, a pediatrician.

Delhi’s smog is said to be a toxic mix of vehicular pollution, construction dust, and fumes from crops burnt by farmers in neighboring states. This year, the Delhi government banned all construction, digging and excavation work when the pollution levels started rising. The government might also act by taking private cars off of Delhi’s roads if pollution levels deteriorate further.

“In emergency response, you are not really solving the problem, but what you are doing is you are stopping from adding more where the situation is already very bad. But the more fundamental solution will come when you are doing a round-the-year plan and with stringent implementation of that plan,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhary, an environmentalist.

The Indian government is currently working on a national clean air plan and has suggested it aims to reduce air pollution by 30 percent in the next five years. — Reuters

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WHO promotes ‘Salt Awareness Week’: 5g of salt a day is OK

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, 6 March 2019 12:59 PM

A cook sprinkles salt on fries at a cafe in the Frietmuseum in Bruges September 27, 2011. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016 agreed to reduce by 30% the global population’s intake of salt (sodium) by 2025.

In observance of the ‘Salt Awareness Week’ from March 4 to 10, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) joins the international community in efforts to campaign salt-intake reduction in view of the risks that high salt intake may cause to human health.

WHO recommends just under a teaspoon or less than 5 grams of salt intake a day for adults while children are recommended to have less or adjusted amount based on their energy requirements.

The WHO recommends iodized or “fortified” with iodine, “essential for healthy brain development in the fetus and young child and optimizing people’s mental function in general”.

However, in many countries, salt comes in different, ‘unrecognizable’ forms.

According to a UK-based expert group World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), “salty sauces such as soy sauce are big contributors of salt to diets worldwide”.

Packaged food or ready meals and food served in restaurants, food chains and cafeterias are actually loaded with salt.

Health and wellness experts say that though salt is an essential part of our diet, it should come in small amounts as eating too much salt can have huge health impacts.

High sodium intake raises blood pressure that leads to stroke and heart diseases, the two biggest causes of death and disability worldwide, according to WHO.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that more than 170,000 individuals die each year from heart diseases, specifically hypertension.

A study from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health added that too much salt intake may develop urinary tract infection (UTI); kidney stones; bone mineral loss in women; and hypercalciuria or increased calcium in the urine which may lead renal failure; and other disabilities.

PH’s Internet-based ‘Salt Calculator’

In 2015, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute – Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) together with Unilever Philippines launched an Internet-based tool that measures one’s salt intake.

The web-based tool presents main food sources of salt in Filipino diets and reveals an individual’s salt intake based on the result of the Sodium Intake Level Test provided.

The ‘salt calculator’ can be accessed through FNRI-DOST’s website www.i.fnri.dost.gov.ph.

Read product labels for salt content: Green is healthy

In Northern Ireland, the country’s Public Health Agency (PHA) issued high salt intake warning to remind the public of the dangers of eating too much salt.

Caroline Bloomfield, health and social well being improvement senior manager at PHA noted the importance of tasting the food first to know if adding salt is necessary than automatically adding salt to the food.

The agency also advises consumers to read product labels before buying any ready-to-eat food items.

These labels have indicators of the nutritional value a portion of food accounts for and will guide consumers if the product has high, medium or low amount of salt.

Red means high; amber means medium; and green means low which imply that the more greens you buy, the healthier are your choices.

Meanwhile, there are products that do not use the color codes but the amount of salt is indicated by grams.

A product is high in salt if it contains more than 1.5g of salt per 100g.

The product has medium amount if the salt content is between 0.3g and 1.5g while 0.3g of salt or less per 100g is considered low.

The WHO recommends discipline in eating and watch the salt content in food that we eat.

To date, WHO-member states are bound to adhere with the “Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health” which calls on governments to take action to support healthy diets and physical activity at local, regional and global level. – Marje Pelayo

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Indians gather at border with Pakistan to welcome downed pilot

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, 1 March 2019 09:11 PM

Indian Soldiers and civilians await at border with Pakistan for the return of downed Pilot Abhinandan | Photo grabbed from a Reuters video

(REUTERS) — Indians eagerly waited for the return of a captured pilot by Islamabad on Friday (March 1), with some who have been staking out the Wagah border with Pakistan vowing to stay there until the arrival of their “hero”.

The pilot, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan, became the human face of the flare-up over the contested region of Kashmir following the release of videos showing him being captured and later held in custody.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said the pilot would be released on Friday, even as his military reported that four Pakistani civilians had been killed by India firing across the disputed border in Kashmir.

The United States, China, European Union and other powers have urged restraint from the two nations, as tensions escalated following a suicide car bombing that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14.

The Muslim-majority Himalayan region has been at the heart of more than 70 years of animosity, since the partition of the British colony of India into the separate countries of Muslim Pakistan and majority Hindu India.

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DFA urges Filipinos to be vigilant amid tensions between India, Pakistan

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, 1 March 2019 01:16 AM

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday urged Filipinos in India and Pakistan to be vigilant amid soaring tensions between the two countries.

In an advisory, the department advised Filipinos in the said countries to take necessary precautions and to avoid travelling to the Kashmir region.

DFA said there are approximately 1,780 Filipinos in Pakistan and 1,167 others in India, based on government data.

India and Pakistan have been reported to have shot down each other’s fighter jets on Wednesday as the international community called for restraint.

Pakistan even captured an Indian pilot a day after Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistan for the first time since a 1971 war.

The two countries have been trading blows since at least 40 Indian paramilitary police died in a February 14 suicide car bombing led by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir. But the tensions escalated dramatically when India launched an airstrike on Tuesday on an alleged militant training base.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has expressed hope that India and Pakistan will exercise restraint even as it closely monitors the situation in Kashmir in the wake of rising tensions between the two countries,” the department said in a statement.

The DFA noted that although there are no Filipinos residing in Kashmir, all seven Filipino military observers serving with the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) are safe.

Filipinos in Pakistan who may find themselves in emergency situations may call the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad at +92 333 524 4762 for assistance while those in India may wish to call the Philippines Embassy in New Delhi at (+91) 99 1079 7014. – Robie de Guzman

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