Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Recommendations of National Conference on Air, Noise, Water, solid waste and Plastic waste during Commonwealth games in 2010


1. Public information
The Conference is duly informed of the overall planning and certain micro-planning exercises conducted by various organizations belonging to Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Delhi Development Authority, the Government of National Capital Territory and the Central Government. Much of the information was not known to most of the participants. It is recommended that a vigorous campaign be made by a designated coordinating agency to inform the general public through various media so as to generate confidence in the public that care for environment is part of the efforts being made to hold a successful and green Commonwealth Games at Delhi.
2. Air quality management
The Olympics held in China in 2008 owe part of the success to certain bold decisions, such as closing down polluting industries one month before the event. Likewise, a large number of public offices were closed one week before the Olympics. The strong democracy that we are may not accept such arrangement. However, potential polluters need to be identified and sternly warned to keep pollution under control failing which immediate action to shut them down would be taken. Such units may be in Delhi or near its border in Sahibabad, Ghaziabad and Faridabad. In any case, coal-based thermal power stations of Delhi and near its border will need to be shut down two weeks before the Games are held. The diesel generating sets, which number more than 2 lakh in Delhi, can remain out of operation if uninterrupted power supply is assured. It is recommended that a close scrutiny be made as to which polluting industrial units should be so warned and which thermal power stations should be shut down. It may also be assessed as to which offices can be closed for four weeks without significant interruption in public service. The manpower thus made idle may be utilized for assisting in the organizing the Games. Uninterrupted power supply should be arranged for Delhi for the period of the Games. It is further recommended that as a mitigative measure, greenery should be increased near the sporting arena.
3. Air quality monitoring
Delhi is noted by the World Health Organisation among the major cities that have poor environmental conditions. While poor quality of water can be countered by bottled drinking water, there is no such alternative to poor quality of air. Athletes are particularly sensitive to air quality because heavy breathing during running and other exercise sports can cause serious injury to their pulmonary and cardiovascular systems. It is therefore recommended that air quality is monitored regularly and accurately right from now to get baseline data, obtain actual trend of results of measures implemented to improve air quality and predict with confidence the anticipated air quality during October 2010, when the Commonwealth Games will be held.
4. Prediction of air quality
In the last decade, introduction of CNG-run public transport vehicles, manufacture of fuel-efficient automobile engines and production of lead-free petrol and low-sulphur diesel did cause a remarkable improvement of air quality of Delhi. The advantage is wearing out on account of a phenomenal increase in the number of automobiles on the road in spite of the recently established Delhi Metro system and an improved fleet of buses. Traffic jams are becoming more frequent and more intense with time. Emission of certain pollutants, such as ozone and fine particulate matter, has tended to increase with the aforesaid changes in fuel and engines. In the euphoria of gains noticed earlier, the new threats are overlooked. While data on concentration of ozone is scanty, a lot of data is available on the precursors of ozone, which are the hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen and sunlight. It is recommended that careful observations need to be made to assess the concentration of ozone and fine particulate matter and to relate such observations to the doze-effect on health of the affected population. In particular, it is recommended that concentration of ground level ozone is observed and estimated by modelling, and its trend be analysed to provide authentic information for the athletes who can be at threat if it rises above a certain level.
5. River quality
River Yamuna will be viewed by a large number of athletes, visitors, journalists and commentators during the Commonwealth Games. The view is appalling. The adverse publicity of the care given to this major water body, which is included among the holy rivers according to faith of the majority of population of the country, will reflect adversely on the responsiveness and effectiveness of our administration. By now several authorities have conceded that hardly anything is possible to upgrade the river water quality to an acceptable level. This myth can be blown away with the application of bio-remediation, i.e., by dosing selected bacteria into a body of water, which quickly multiply, decompose organic pollutants and mitigate odour. Thus, the drains of Delhi can be made to clean the Yamuna. It is recommended that bioremediation be applied on the tributary drains, the river and poorly performing sewage treatment plants in Delhi.
6. Solid wastes management
Packaging and containers are likely to be discarded in large quantities during the Commonwealth Games. To regard them as wastes is to increase the burden of their handling and disposal. To regard them as resource is an approach to get wealth and energy from waste. Biodegradable packaging is technically possible. Most of the containers have the possibility of reuse by segregating them according to the possibility of their reuse. It is, therefore, recommended that bio-degradable packaging is prescribed for certain items carefully selected for the purpose and arrangements are made to segregate the containers according to the potential of their reuse.
7. Household garbage disposal
The sweepings from the dwellings and kitchen wastes make an excellent combination to be treated by vermiculture process at the household level. Residents that have small garden or large enough terraces can adopt this technique to produce and utilise compost from the wastes generated in their own homes and thereby significantly reduce the quantity of garbage that need to be handled and disposed of by a municipal service. It is recommended that domestic vermiculture units may be vigorously promoted including technical and financial support for the manufacture and use of the bins required in the process.
8. Mock drill
Whatever services and regulatory controls are planned for the duration of the Commonwealth Games should be rehearsed in order that the deficiencies in the plan are noticed and rectified. Such mock drills are also greatly helpful in generating awareness and co-operation of the people and in the assessment of net benefits of the plan. It is recommended that at least two mock drills may be held before the Commonwealth Games to practice and validate planned services and regulatory controls.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Myths about Diabetes and its treatment in a North Indian Population

Background : Myths prevailing about diabetes in the society have become a major hurdle for its proper treatment and control. Aim : To find out about various myths related to diabetes and its treatment in the population. Materials and Methods : A cross sectional study was carried out in a teaching hospital of Delhi in 2008. 124 diabetic patients attending the regular diabetic clinic, 78 people who accompanied these patients and 214 non-diabetic people were included in the study. A pre-tested interview schedule with 48 questions was used to get information about sociodemographic characteristics and myths about diabetes. Data was analyzed by Epi info software version 3.2. Results : The most common myth in the population (22%) was that eating more sugar causes diabetes. Others were: diabetes can only occur in old age, soaking feet in water can help control blood sugar, diabetes is a result of past sins and is cured by spiritual treatment. Myths were significantly more common in females, non-diabetics, less educated group. There was a slightly higher prevalence of myths in Muslim population. 12.1% of diabetics were taking herbal medicines. 15.9% of the diabetics and 26% of non diabetics were unaware that complications could occur if diabetes was uncontrolled. 18.5% of diabetics and 30.1% of non-diabetics were unaware about role of diet and lifestyle measures in control of diabetes. Conclusions : The prevalence of myths about diabetes is high in North Indian population which could be associated with poor early health seeking behavior and poor compliance with treatment.

Author: Mridula Rai, Jugal Kishore. Myths about Diabetes and its treatment in a north Indian Population. International J Diabetes in Developing Countries 2009;29 (3): 129-132