healthcare

In the news: Call for personalised cancer care, the WHO backs taxes on sugar drinks and more

A wrap of the big health news of the week.

New approach to cancer care

Cancer specialists have called for personalised and evidence-based treatments for the various forms of the disease rather than a generic approach. Oncologists from 15 countries at a conference in New Delhi last week noted that rates of incidence of different cancers varied among countries and populations. Personalisation could allow cancer treatments to be less aggressive and need to be more precise, they said.

According to news reports, Nancy Lee of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York pointed out that head-neck cancer is more common in India than in the US where there is greater lung cancer and other cancer incidence. The annual incidence of head and neck cancers worldwide is more than 550,000 cases, while in India, out of the 11 lakh incidences a year of cancer overall, between 2.5 lakh and 3 lakh cases are of head and neck cancer.

Trials that Lee’s team, has conducted have shown that tumour mutations were also different in different cases, which again points towards the need for personalized treatments.

Professor of head-neck surgery and otorhinolaryngology at the AIIMS and the organising chairman of the conference, Alok Thakar, detailed a change in stratety in cancer treatment in which a tumour board assesses how a patient is to be treated based on multi-disciplinary planning. Thakar also stressed that it was important to improve quality of life of the patient along with ensuring his or her survival. He said that it is essential for cancer treatment to work like a team sport in which radiation, medical and surgical oncologists work together.

Cheaper insulin, hepatitis B injections?

Researchers at the Institute of Microbial Technology in Chandigarh have developed technology to produce protein-based medicines like insulin, the clot buster streptokinase and the hepatitis B vaccine. The work that has been the first of its kind in India is expected to bring the cost of these medicines by three or four times.


India is largely dependent on imported and patented technology for these three medical products among others But India has the second largest burden of diabetes and hepatitis patients in the world after China. India has 66 million diabetics and 40 million hepatitis B patients.

The researchers worked on finding a new expression vector for the protein-based medicine to replace the vector in use which is patented and so adds to the cost of the vaccine. The present cost of hepatitis B vaccine in India ranges between Rs 45 at the Serum Institute and Rs 250 per paediatric dose of 10 microgram in 0.5ml, the Times of India reported. The cost of adult dose of 20 microgram is nearly double. For insulin, the price varies from Rs 140 to Rs 325 per injection.

Institute of Microbial Technology team says that their technology, once scaled up can bring the cost of the hepatitis B vaccine to around Re 1 per dose, while the lowest production cost reported for the existing vaccine is Rs 4 per dose.

WHO recommends sugar taxes

On October 11 the World Health Organisation recommended that countries tax sugary drinks to counter an overwhelming global addiction to them leading to epidemics of obesity and diabetes, to say nothing of tooth decay. In its report “Fiscal policies for Diet and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, the WHO said that a 20% increase in the retail price of sugary drinks would result in proportional reductions in their consumption.

The director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development Dr. Francesco Branca said that nutritionally, people don’t need any sugar in their diet and that sugar intake must be kept below 10% of a person’s total energy needs. Another cut by 5% would result in additional health benefits, said Branca.

In India the health ministry has been contemplating the regulation of advertising, and increasing the tax on both junk food and sweetened beverages, according to media reports. Speaking to The Hindu, the chairman of the National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation, Anoop Misra, said WHO’s recommendation could not have come at a better time and is particularly suited to India where sweet and sugar intake is high.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Modern home design trends that are radically changing living spaces in India

From structure to finishes, modern homes embody lifestyle.

Homes in India are evolving to become works of art as home owners look to express their taste and lifestyle through design. It’s no surprise that global home design platform Houzz saw over a million visitors every month from India, even before their services were locally available. Architects and homeowners are spending enormous time and effort over structural elements as well as interior features, to create beautiful and comfortable living spaces.

Here’s a look at the top trends that are altering and enhancing home spaces in India.

Cantilevers. A cantilever is a rigid structural element like a beam or slab that protrudes horizontally out of the main structure of a building. The cantilevered structure almost seems to float on air. While small balconies of such type have existed for eons, construction technology has now enabled large cantilevers, that can even become large rooms. A cantilever allows for glass facades on multiple sides, bringing in more sunlight and garden views. It works wonderfully to enhance spectacular views especially in hill or seaside homes. The space below the cantilever can be transformed to a semi-covered garden, porch or a sit-out deck. Cantilevers also help conserve ground space, for lawns or backyards, while enabling more built-up area. Cantilevers need to be designed and constructed carefully else the structure could be unstable and lead to floor vibrations.

Butterfly roofs. Roofs don’t need to be flat - in fact roof design can completely alter the size and feel of the space inside. A butterfly roof is a dramatic roof arrangement shaped, as the name suggests, like a butterfly. It is an inverted version of the typical sloping roof - two roof surfaces slope downwards from opposing edges to join around the middle in the shape of a mild V. This creates more height inside the house and allows for high windows which let in more light. On the inside, the sloping ceiling can be covered in wood, aluminium or metal to make it look stylish. The butterfly roof is less common and is sure to add uniqueness to your home. Leading Indian architecture firms, Sameep Padora’s sP+a and Khosla Associates, have used this style to craft some stunning homes and commercial projects. The Butterfly roof was first used by Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who later designed the city of Chandigarh, in his design of the Maison Errazuriz, a vacation house in Chile in 1930.

Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Skylights. Designing a home to allow natural light in is always preferred. However, spaces, surrounding environment and privacy issues don’t always allow for large enough windows. Skylights are essentially windows in the roof, though they can take a variety of forms. A well-positioned skylight can fill a room with natural light and make a huge difference to small rooms as well as large living areas. However, skylights must be intelligently designed to suit the climate and the room. Skylights facing north, if on a sloping roof, will bring in soft light, while a skylight on a flat roof will bring in sharp glare in the afternoons. In the Indian climate, a skylight will definitely reduce the need for artificial lighting but could also increase the need for air-conditioning during the warm months. Apart from this cleaning a skylight requires some effort. Nevertheless, a skylight is a very stylish addition to a home, and one that has huge practical value.

Staircases. Staircases are no longer just functional. In modern houses, staircases are being designed as aesthetic elements in themselves, sometimes even taking the centre-stage. While the form and material depend significantly on practical considerations, there are several trendy options. Floating staircases are hugely popular in modern, minimalist homes and add lightness to a normally heavy structure. Materials like glass, wood, metal and even coloured acrylic are being used in staircases. Additionally, spaces under staircases are being creatively used for storage or home accents.

Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Exposed Brick Walls. Brickwork is traditionally covered with plaster and painted. However, ‘exposed’ bricks, that is un-plastered masonry, is becoming popular in homes, restaurants and cafes. It adds a rustic and earthy feel. Exposed brick surfaces can be used in home interiors, on select walls or throughout, as well as exteriors. Exposed bricks need to be treated to be moisture proof. They are also prone to gathering dust and mould, making regular cleaning a must.

Cement work. Don’t underestimate cement and concrete when it comes to design potential. Exposed concrete interiors, like exposed brick, are becoming very popular. The design philosophy is ‘Less is more’ - the structure is simplistic and pops of colour are added through furniture and soft furnishings.

Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)

When building your home, it is important to use strong and durable materials. A value-added premium product with high compressive strength, Birla Gold cement is used to make tough, impermeable concrete that sets quickly, lasts long and minimises cracking. Its durability will ensure that your dream home always looks new and the steel structure inside remains protected. Birla Gold offers variants that are optimised for different needs. The unique hydraulic binding properties of the Birla Gold Premium cement variant prevent seepage, making it resistant to even corrosive water, especially important for houses in coastal cities. The Birla Gold Royal cement variant provides very high strength and is perfect for the foundation. As the video below says, with the different varieties of cement that Birla Gold offers, you can build the home of your dreams.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Birla Gold Premium Cement and not by the Scroll editorial team.