healthcare

In the news: WHO sounds the alarm on a gonorrhea superbug that is hard to treat and more

A wrap of health news over the past week.

New gonorrhea superbug

Antibiotic resistance has given rise to untreatable strains of gonorrhea and at least three people worldwide have been infected by such gonorrhea “superbugs”, the World Health Organisation said on Friday. Calling the situation “very, very serious”, the WHO has said that it is only a matter of time before even last-resort antibiotics start failing to treat the sexually transmitted disease.

“Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug,” said Teodora Wi, a human reproduction specialist at the Geneva-based U.N. health agency, speaking to news agencies about the imminent health crisis. “Every time you introduce a new type of antibiotic to treat it, this bug develops resistance to it.”

The WHO estimates that 78 million people are infected with gonorrhoea every year. The disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae and can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. A gonorrhea infection also increases the risk of getting HIV.

The WHO’s Global Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme, which monitors drug-resistant gonorrhea, found widespread resistance of the bacterium to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin during 2009 to 2014 with 97% of countries that reported data having drug-resistant strains. Eighty one percent of countries reported resistance to azithromycin. The emergence of resistance to what is now used as last-resort treatment – the extended-spectrum cephalosporins or ESCs (ESCs) – was 66%.

While India does not have a very high burden of gonorrhea, there is a large and growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

WHO officials have said that global control of gonorrhea will require new tools and systems for better prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Specifically, they have called for the development of new antibiotics and a vaccine to prevent gonorrhea. In the meantime, they advocate safe sexual practices and the use of condoms to contain the spread of the disease.

Kerala nurses’ strike

Five associations of healthcare providers in Kerala have asked nurses to hold off on their strike planned for July 11 saying that the strike would force private hospitals to discharge patients sooner than is advisable and refrain from admitting new patients. Private hospitals provide about 70% of healthcare services Kerala. Kerala has also been in the grips of a fever epidemic with a large number of swine flu and dengue cases being reported in the state

The joint statement was made by the Association of Healthcare Providers of India-Kerala, the Kerala Private Hospital Association, the Association of Advanced Speciality Healthcare Institutions, Qualified Private Medical Practitioners Association and Catholic Healthcare Association Of India, which together represent most of the private hospitals in the state.

The plea from the associations comes after 10 days of protest by nurses across the state demanding better wages. Nurses associations have held relay protests in five districts including Kannur, Thrissur, Ernakulam and Thiruvanthapuram.

The hospital associations claimed that most of the hospitals in the state complied with the statutory norms on wages and that they were sympathetic towards the need for a reasonable wage revision for the nurses. “All hospital associations have been actively collaborating with the state government/industrial relations committee to arrive at the revised minimum wages,” the statement said.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.