Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Impressions of a Stanford student's visit to Bangalore

H4H was happy to facilitate a visit by Shila Soni to the Department of Community Health at St. John's Medical College, Bangalore. Shila is a Masters student in the Department of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University. Given below are her impressions of her visit:

"While the goal of my visit to St. John's Medical College was to learn about community health in India, I left with the impression that the major challenges in this field are really not so different than those present in the US.

Visiting rural Bangalore, I observed that many individuals did not have access to healthcare due to financial constraints and their separation from major hospitals. Although the living conditions and infrastructure of villages don't always compare to what I've seen back home, many Americans face similar challenges when trying to get appropriate care.

I was also surprised to learn about the disturbing growth of non-communicable "lifestyle" diseases such as obesity in the area. While poorer residents commonly suffer from malnutrition and physical strain, conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are on the rise due to the adoption of sedentary lifestyles by professionals. This came as a shock because I arrived thinking that exotic infectious diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya were the greatest dangers for the population. While such diseases are still formidable threats, non-communicable diseases are also being recognized as key targets for community health interventions.

Furthermore, doctors at St. John's about cited raising awareness about health risks and encouraging behavior change as the most difficult aspects of their work in community health. This definitely hit the point that while innovative approaches may be needed to address health disparities in India, the core problems are quite familiar." .... Shila Soni, (MS-2008) Stanford

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Creation of an Ecosystem

Rajiv, my mentor during my stay at Stanford, is currently visiting Motorola India Research Labs in Bangalore on a temporary posting. He used this opportunity to invite me to make a presentation on our Disease Surveillance project to a group of senior people at Motorola India Research Labs this morning. It was a highly interactive session in which about 15 researchers took part and asked some very interesting questions on my project. Rajiv's objective was to get the local Motorola team interested in supporting our project in some collaborative way. A one-hour session went on for over 2 hours and was then followed by lunch. So I think it was great exposure
for our project. I also got to meet a set of very smart, young people who are excited about the potential applications of mobile technologies to social problems.

Thanks, Rajiv, for arranging this talk. Let us keep networking and propound our ideas in every possible situation. That is how we can create an ecosystem for social entrepreneurship in India.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Follow-up on "Globalisation of Public Health?!?"

Here is a follow-on report on the earlier blog, and to quote from it,

"The agency is focusing only on American citizens, said Julie L. Gerberding, the director of the centers; she said other nations should be contacting their own citizens. The passengers are being advised to have tuberculosis tests immediately, and to have follow-up tests in several weeks."

But ........ if these people do not heed this advice they may be blissfully unaware that they may be infected/infective and may continue to spread the tubercle bacillus and continue to be a global public health threat.

Isha Garg

Friday, June 1, 2007

Globalisation of Public Health?!?

This is a really scary event that occurred when a person with a very difficult to treat type of tuberculosis (XDR-TB or extremely drug resistant tuberculosis) flew on commercial flights without adequate precaution. This reinforces why global Disease Surveillance is an essential tool in Public Health and brings us to the question whether current global disease surveillance practices are truly global? This is something to think about.

Isha Garg

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Millennium development holes

This is the title (please look at the last word of the title carefully) of the editorial published in

Nature 446, 347 (22 March 2007) | doi:10.1038/446347a; Published online 21 March 2007.


The accompanying blurb says, "A lack of data makes it impossible not only to track progress, but also to assess the effectiveness of measures taken".

The editorial talks about, amongst other things, the importance of good and complete data for the evaluation of the progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It also talks about the need for scientific evaluation of the measures undertaken to achieve the MDGs like the effectiveness of bed nets in preventing malaria.

Isha Garg

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Some reflections on a recent news item

While reading the Deccan Herald (published in Bangalore) this morning I came across the following news item:
"India next only to Nigeria in polio cases"

New Delhi,PTI:

According to an official of the National Pulse Polio Programme, out of 111 polio cases being reported globally this year till April 17, 54 cases were from Nigeria, while India registered 31 cases."

This report came the morning after I had read about a study

Eradication versus control for poliomyelitis: An economic analysis" by Kimberly M. Thompson and Radboud J. Duintjer Tebbens. The Lancet 2007 (April 21 issue)"

and was a real coincidence. Thanks, Ken, for sending us the link to this website.

According to the study, the goal should be eradication and not just control of polio and that finally it is the better and more cost-effective option.

See http://www.kidsrisk.harvard.edu/ for further details.

Their study goes to prove that "prevention is cheaper than cure".

Isha Garg

Friday, April 20, 2007

Our objective

Our objective is to see a field data collection solution, using handheld mobile devices such as PDAs, Internet Tablets, Smart-phones etc deployed in the Indian Disease Surveillance Programme as it will provide the following benefits:

  • Improvements in the quality and accuracy of field data
  • Reduction in time required to detect outbreaks through timely transmission of data
  • Reduction in response time
  • Reduction in transaction cost
  • Provide feedback mechanism to the health-worker through short messaging services
  • Ease of data collection and management for longitudinal cohort studies for diseases

Friday, April 13, 2007

What is Disease Surveillance?

Disease surveillance is an important tools of any public health-care programme that serves the following essential purposes
  • For monitoring the progress of ongoing medical interventions for disease reduction
  • For early detection of outbreaks to initiate investigative and control measures in disease control decisions
  • For the evaluation of the efficacy of surveillance initiatives
  • To provide a scientific basis for implementation of an appropriate health-care policy and the allocation of resources in the primary health-care system