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    Dated : Saturday, February 11, 2017

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Climate change affects all, but women are facing new, more severe challenges


Within India, climate-induced migration of women and girls from states like Assam -- annually ravaged by the floods, leading to loss of life and property -- to bigger cities like Delhi and Mumbai for employment has caught the attention of a child rights NGO. "A number of young girls are promised jobs in cities by the agents, who are actually traffickers. Trafficking cases see a spike especially after a natural disaster," said an activist of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) that is headed by Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi.

Men migrating to bigger towns in search of employment, to support their families back home in the villages, is not uncommon. Climate change, which has caused a spike in natural disasters, has upped this "push" factor, adding to others like poverty and unemployment.

But what about women?

Not only has there been a rise in trafficking of women, but a World Bank study has also found that 14 per cent households in India are now women-headed, mainly because of male migration, creating an additional burden on them.

This feminisation of climate change-induced challenges has, however, not got the attention of government agencies. This is a serious gap that needs to be addressed, says a new study by ActionAid, Climate Action Network-South Asia, and Brot Fuer Die Welt (Bread for the World). The study, Climate Change Knows No Borders, analyses climate-induced migration and the challenges involved in South Asia, including India.

Take the case of 45-year-old Sandhya Kar of a village in Bolangir district in Odisha. Her 17-year-old son had to leave his studies mid-way and join his father who had migrated to Kerala for work after the village was hit by drought last year.

"We have agricultural land -- three acres. But the crop died as the rains did not come on time last year. The ponds in our village dried up. What could we eat? We are not a family of menial labourers; we are farmers, but my son and my husband had to leave home because of this disaster," said Kar, who now lives with her daughter.

As the men in the household left, the additional burden of tending to the agricultural land, over and above the household chores, fell on Kar's shoulders. "My daughter helps me out, even then it's a lot of work," she said.

Rapid feminisation of agriculture as a result of male migration, the study says, has led to women reporting exhaustion, poverty and hunger. "The shortage of available labour can leave fields uncultivated during planting season," the report says.

A 2015 UN Women study on the impact of climate-induced migration on women in Bangladesh found that "in most cases, migrated male family members were unable to or simply unwilling to send money back to their households, leaving the women (to seek) other means of survival during the period of migration".

"A growing trend also has been noted of men who have migrated to cities abandoning their families and not returning," the study says, adding that in the absence of their husbands, women in some Bangladeshi communities reported high levels of harassment, including sexual violence.

The study also points to the vulnerabilities of women and young girls migrating alone across borders from Nepal and Bangladesh to India in search of employment. They take the help of "agents" who turn out to be traffickers, forcing them into brothels in cities.

"While this phenomenon has been happening for years and is widely recognised, the extent to which climate change is contributing to this, and further threatening girls' safety, is not fully understood," the study notes.

Within India, climate-induced migration of women and girls from states like Assam -- annually ravaged by the floods, leading to loss of life and property -- to bigger cities like Delhi and Mumbai for employment has caught the attention of a child rights NGO.

‘‘A number of young girls are promised jobs in cities by the agents, who are actually traffickers. Trafficking cases see a spike especially after a natural disaster," said an activist of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) that is headed by Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi.

On the positive side, the study says that as a result of climate-induced male migration, women are discovering new roles as decision-makers and that they can cope in adversity. Strategies that encourage women to realise their potential and not buckle under negative social pressure may be key to their survival when they are left behind by migration.

‘‘In the face of increased risk of climate-induced disasters, the empowerment and training of women in disaster-preparedness strategies, including early warning systems, search and rescue, emergency response, and relief distribution may be key to their own and their communities' survival," the study suggests, especially in the backdrop of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, where some communities had to rely on their women, children and the elderly to try to dig the survivors free.

Further, the study also recommends research on the impact of high levels of migration on women and communities left behind, apart from developing targeted policies to tackle such challenges. (IANS)


Generic drugs: Safe and effective


It is a patent expired version of branded drugs. A generic medicine contains the same quantity of active substance(s) as the proprietary medicine that originally received marketing authorization (i.e. the reference medicine). It is made with the same active ingredients and is available in the same strength and dosage form as the equivalent brand name product. The nature and quantity of inactive formulation ingredients may differ from the reference medicines should be considered equally safe and clinically equivalent to the reference branded medicine. Some generic medicines have been given a brand name by the manufacturer for marketing reasons; these products are referred to as 'branded generics'. Today, there are generics for about half of all prescription drugs. The federal (FDA) regulates generic drugs and must meet the FDA quality standards.

Usage of generic medicines helps by reducing national health care costs as generic medicines are, overall, much less expensive, generic prescribing allows any suitable generic to be dispensed, reduces the number of items to be stocked in the pharmacy and can potentially reduce delays in supplying medicines to the patient, encouraging research.

Like all medicines, a generic medicine needs to receive a marketing authorization before it can be marketed. This is granted after a regulatory agency such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has evaluated the efficacy, safety and quality of the medicine. An EMA guideline (2010) details the tests required to demonstrate bioequivalence and includes tight equivalence criteria for drugs with a narrow therapeutic index. Generics may contain different salts, esters, ethers, isomers, complexes of derivatives of the active substance, provided that adequate proof of safety and efficacy is supplied by the applicant. Generic medicines are manufactured according to the same quality standards as other medicines. Regulatory authorities periodically inspect the manufacturing site(s) for generics as for all other medicines.

Some common queries regarding generic drugs are:

Are generic drugs always made in the same kind of facilities as brand-name drugs ? is generic drugs made by the same company that makes the brand-name drugs ? If generic drugs and brand-name drugs have the same active ingredients, why do they look differ ? Complexity in naming, Patient confusion and anxiety.

The ongoing introduction of generic versions of widely used expensive medications continues to moderate drug expenditures, and it is the dominate trend in prescription drug expenditures. Generic drugs are widely used as they accounted for 78% of all retail prescriptions dispensed at the end of 2010. For pharmacists and others who manage drug expenditures, cost management pressure is expected to continue. In hospitals and health systems, executives and medical staff leaders expect pharmacists to help ensure cost-effective use of medications. Therefore, it remains essential for pharmacists to understand medication expenditure patterns. And there have to be enhancement of public and professional education regarding use of generic drugs.


Why do people quit gym by February end?


Gym regulars face a "crowd issue" in January. A new year and a new resolution often lead to a new crowd at the gym, and new equipment greets a lot of the new sign-ups too. But less than 10 per cent convert to regular customers, according to a study.

CMS India, a not-for-profit headed by surgeon Ramen Goel, commissioned a three-year-long study to evaluate the dropout rate; and why losing weight is such a challenge for so many people. The organisation spoke to over 1,400 gym dropouts in Mumbai and Delhi.

At an aggregate level, only 10 per cent of new year sign-ups stay on as regular customers over a year. Of the remaining, about 16 per cent say that they thought they would have time, but realised they didn't, while 22.4 per cent of them drop out because they cannot get up early in the morning.

About 10 per cent of the people admit that they hate some exercises that their instructors make them do as part of their routine.

A small number -- about six per cent -- feel that they want to try swimming or yoga or something else instead of the gym. However, the biggest group, a massive 35.6 per cent, say that they are not seeing any difference in their weight and, hence, are losing motivation.

So is lack of willpower not the only reason for the drop-outs after February?

"It's not just the lack of willpower," Goel said.

"Internationally, experts agree that 60 per cent of obesity is due to genetic causes. Those who are attending the gym with the sole objective of losing weight, soon realise that they may need other interventions too, that will take their genetic obesity into account."

Goel added: "Sometimes, obese people also feel that they are being watched constantly in the gym. We need to raise awareness that obesity is a complex condition and not just caused by simply eating too much and moving too little.

‘‘It is a metabolic, chronic and progressive disease with a significant genetic predisposition. Obesity is a disease that needs treatment, just like diabetes, and exercise is a good habit." There are other reasons too for quitting the gym.

Kevin Samuel, Head Fitness Trainer at Fitso, said, "The body gets adapted to the same workouts being done at the same intensity, so the growth of muscles gets slower." A goal also plays a role. "The goal you are working towards is achieved... Say, getting fit for marriage or event or preparing for a marathon. If no new goal is set up, there is nothing to look forward to and thus, no motivation is left to train hard."

So, what can be done to retain them?

"Gamifying the training is the best way to retain interest in gymming. Create group workouts and build friendly competition among group members," said Samuel. He also said that variety is the spice that needs to be added to the "curry of gymming".

‘‘Create some interesting routines and workouts to break the monotony and to work on different sets of muscles for the trainee," he added.

Surender Yadav, owner-trainer, SHAPE Perfect fitness Gym, emphasised that body building is not an overnight show. "One needs to stay focused and regular in order to get the desired results. Now the only way to get them ... with the machines is to get them the right amount of motivation through a gymholic partner. "Right partners not only push you but they also guide you well. At the same time, it's very important to make short-term targets for them as nothing can motivate you more than the joy of achieving a target."  (IANS)

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Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one?s courage.
— Anais Nin
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