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Friday, July 28, 2017

Suicidal Thoughts in the Novel Don Quixote - Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2016, pp. 65-69

Suicide and mental illness is a public health problem that is very poorly understood. In the recent years, there have been more efforts made in the Global North to reduce the negative connotations in regards to suicide. United States Congress in 1990 established the Mental Illness Awareness Week, which was a project by the National Alliance of Mental Illness to create awareness and educate people regarding mental illness. However, these views are very science oriented.

The concept of suicide in the last century has been medicalised, where suicide is always linked to mental disorders. This narrative has discouraged fields such as sociology and history’s perspective on suicide. This article looks at fictional material which is also a source of information to understand suicide. This study aims to improve our understanding of suicide by examining the early 17th Century Spanish novel called “Don Quixote” By Miguel Cervantes.

The study translated different accounts of suicide and suicidal thoughts which they categorized and listed under the appropriate heading. The results suggest that there are no complete accounts on suicide however, there are five indirect statements that suggested that suicide was a mean of dealing with stress. From these five accounts, three of them were linked with dealing with a loss of a loved one. There was another account of a person pretending to attempt suicide for manipulative purposes.

This study concludes that in the early 17th century Spain suicide was a way of dealing with stress. This provides evidence that suicide can occur in the absence of a mental disorder.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

THE AGING OF AFRICA: CHALLENGES TO AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT - African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2016, pp. 1-15

Baby Boomers are the children who were born in the mid-1940s to the 1960s. Baby Boomers are now reaching an age where they are retiring and require medical attention. The number of Canadians who are aged 65 and older grew by 14.1 percent between 2006 and 2011 (The Canadian Press, 2012). Not only are the baby boomers getting older they are also living longer. Then one needs to prepare for the demand of medical care and attention that will be required.

In the case of developing countries, African countries have been aiming to have policies around an aging population ever since 1982. Where four major United Nations international policy documented that national policies should focus on the aging population in Africa to ensure that there are no human rights problems in the future.  However, there is very little evidence of these policies on the ground.

Countries in Africa are still battling with issues of political organizations, wars, civil war and post-colonial self-image. Countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have realized the correlations of economic success and human development with rapid population growth, survival of vulnerable population and inevitable increase of median age of the population. Reduction of infant mortality and improving maternal and child health has been a propriety in African countries. As childhood mortality reduces the birth rates in these countries remain high resulting in an increase in population.

Most African people believe that national governments should support for aging society however this is a political process. There needs to be agreement on fair taxes that can distribute the burden of government in supporting the population. One needs to recognize direct and indirect economic contributions.

People in developing nations depend on free services to share the burden of elder care however the developing countries are unprepared to spend on their social sector. Inadequate pensions can force retirees to find houses in urban slums where they depend on others to provide for nutrition and often are malnourished and at risk of health problems.

Douglass (2015) asks the following very important questions in relations to the aging population in Africa: 

1. " How can African governments revisit national priorities (such as Millennial Development Goals) for health, economic development, the growth of the middle class, and public health with increased attention, and investment in, the aging?

2. What should developing African nations do right away? How can the nations initiate and sustain sufficiently sound data collection to be able to plan with precision the near-future needs of an aging society and for the predictable future? What metrics can be trusted to use for planning, program design, health and welfare policy, and manpower needs?

3. How can early detection, health and wellness monitoring, and primary care availability become more focused on the aging populations in order to reduce the need for costly, and largely unavailable, hospitalization?

4. How can home-based chronic disease management and care be established within the labor, financial, and technical resource limitations of developing African nations?

5. Given that in many places the very young are being raised by the oldest members of communities, what is likely to happen when the elderly caregivers are unable to continue in the child-rearing role?

6. How will traditions of family-based care and filial responsibility challenge, or complicate social responses such as long-term care, chronic disease management, transportation and housing for the aging?

7. Should key parties in the stable African nations begin to consider continent-wide responses to aging in society? If so, how will the central issues of food security and justice-based development be financed, organized, and processed as societies change?

8. How can African nations address the inevitable needs of aging populations while also finding ways to reduce ethnic and religious conflicts, and sustain investments in other priorities such as housing, transportation, and education? How will ethnic diversity, gender inequality, geography, religious conflicts, socio-economic disparities, and fragile political stability influence Africa’s ability to prepare for the aging of the population?

9. How will the diaspora of African talent affect Africa’s ability to take care of its own? Are there sufficient numbers of chronic disease specialists for an aging Africa? Are there specialists for the needs of the elderly in housing, transportation, and other essential service areas? "

The Canadian Press (2012) Baby Boomers’ Health Demands Will Pose Challenges, CBCNEWs.Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/baby-boomers-health-demands-will-pose-challenges-1.1151890

Friday, June 30, 2017

The efficacy of Iranian herbal medicines in alleviating hot flashes: A systematic review - Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine, Vol. 14, No. 3, 2016, pp. 155-166

Herbal medicine, the use of plants or herbs to create medicine, is one of the natural ways of treating illness. Traditional medicine has been discouraged by wide pharmaceutical companies. However, many people still use traditional medicine because of its benefits and fewer side effects such as found in scientific medicine. Modern medicines also derived plant compounds as evidence for their pharmaceutical drugs. Plants and natural herbs are useful in curing illness.

Many women in Iran use herbal medicine instead of industrial medicines when the have hot flashes. Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause experienced by women.

Women are recommended to have hormone therapy to alleviate hot flashes however these medicines have side effects such as vaginal bleeding. Therefore, there has been a growing interest in herbal medicine.

The aim of this article was to assess the effectiveness of Iranian herbal medicines in alleviant hot flashes for women. The study uses a systematic review to state that soy, black cohosh, red clover, evening primrose etc, can alleviate the side effects of hot flashes.

This study shows how herbal medicine can alleviate hot flashes. Therefore, herbal medicine can be seen an alternative to industrial pharmaceutical medicines.

Sexual risk behavior among HIV-positive persons in Jamaica - African Health Sciences, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2017, pp. 32-38

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can lead to aids, which till now is a global public health challenge. HIV is a transferred from one person to the other through sexual intercourse, or through needles or syringes. People who are HIV positive risky sexual behaviors can lead to their partners being at risk of HIV transmission. It is very important to stop HIV transmission acts.

More people living in developing countries have HIV/AIDS as compared to developed countries. Due to intersectionality, one can see how most people living under poverty line cannot afford to get an education, they do not get the proper education on safe sex. Furthermore, in many developing countries, such as India, talking about sex to one’s children is taboo. This way the children are not educated on how to have safe sex and they are at more of a risk of getting HIV/AIDS. Also, people suffering from drug addictions end up reusing syringes because they can’t afford new ones.

The case study aims to assess the prevalence of sexual risk behaviors within individuals who are HIV positive in clinical care in North Western Jamaica. This study had a cross-sectional survey done of 33 males and 85 females to assess health care characteristic, the knowledge of HIV and Aids and the attitudes and believes on sexual risk behavior.

The study concludes that the occurrence of unsafe sex is high among sexually active individuals with HIV and AIDS in Jamaica.  Not disclosing their status of being HIV positive can place the partners of this individual at risk. Therefore, promoting safe sexual behaviors is very important. Not only there should be a positive social environment for people who live with HIV/AIDs in Jamaica.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Domestic unintentional injury of 1 to 5-year-old children in a rural area of West Bengal, India: a community-based study - Tanzania Journal of Health Research, Vol. 18, No. 3, 2016, pp. 1-8

After the partition of Pakistan and India in 1947, many refugee populations resided near the railway tracks that run through the southern parts of Calcutta. These populations lived in shanties of Calcutta’s Rail Colony for over 50 years (Chatterjee, 2005, p. 53). The population that resides in these railway colonies, are also known as “squatters”, and are always in a constant threat of eviction by the railway's authority as they have settled a space on the properties illegally (Chatterjee, 2005, p. 54). These colonies are more than just urban slums, they are the only home for marginalized communities. The people residing in shanties are then known as “non-citizens” who are unable to claim equal citizenship, benefits, agency, and power as everyone else.

 One can question what rights and facilities are in place for these marginalized communities. A lot of children living in these squatters are neglected as their caregivers are at work and are at risk of injuries as these colonies are right next to railway tracks. Childhood injuries is a leading public health issue where unintentional injuries are a cause of morbidity and mortality in children. According to the World Health Organization, over 630,000 deaths occur annually in children less than 15 years of age in 2011 as a result of unintentional injuries.

The Case study conducted by Banerjee et, Al.  sheds light on the issues of unintentional injuries in West Bengal, India at singur block, hoodhly district. It looks at why children are in risks of unintentional injuries. Primary caregivers were interviewed and the researchers assessed the household based on a checklist that identified the level of injury hazards. The results show that more than 37.4 % of the children had some type of injury in the last 3 months.

The study recommends that parental supervision and modification of the households can prevent these injuries.

Chatterjee, P. (2004). The Politics of the Governed Reflection on popular politics in most of the world. New York, New York, United States: Columbia University Press.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa: Call for a Paradigm Shift - African Journal of Reproductive Health, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2016, pp. 19-21

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had been a topic of focus in development. The MDGs were 8 goals that all United Nation members agreed to achieve by 2015.  That were committed “to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women (World Health Organization). Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that followed MDGs aim to not “leave no One Behind”. Not only are the SDGs more ambitious in their goals ( 17 goals and 169 targets), the SDGs have been developed with better consultations, where African countries have played a significant role, are transparent and aimed to have a participatory process.

These 17 Goals are: the eradication of poverty, end hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water, life on land, peace, justice and strong institutions and partnerships for the goal.

This commentary suggests that SDG will only bee successful if the succeed in Africa. The analysis suggested that the reform requires these three categories: those who require reform, those who require a revolution and those who require reversal. Reform is required to meet economic growth and strengthening domestic resource mobilization for development. Revolution is where the progress needs to spread in multiples to meet the targets such as eliminating hunger or reducing maternal mortality. The revolution category is being parried with reducing slum population or reducing waste.

Shettima argues that “Achieving gender equality goals will revolutionize the achievement of the other goals and is sin qua, non for the achievement of the other goals and for the general attainment of the values and ideas of SDGS.” She states that many of these targets under gender equality are embedded in cultural and social norms and legislation and policies might be involved to reach these targets. She calls for the implementation of compulsory free and education of women to meet the goal of gender equality.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Risk factors associated with pre-term birth in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: a case-control study - Tanzania Journal of Health Research, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2016, pp. 1-8

Lack of a proper health care system in many developing countries takes a toll on its citizens. There are a lot of disease in developing countries that can be prevented by accessible healthcare. Inadequate health care can affect women, especially when talking about obstetric care. Obstetric care is very crucial and can lead to many complex pregnancies, and infant mortality.

Regular check-ups are important to ensure that the infant is healthy and that the pregnancy is going well. However, with people living in extreme poverty, it is not feasible to get regular checkups. It is important to get checkups as they ensure that the child and the mother are both healthy and don’t have any viruses. However, due to the lack of education on prenatal care, most women do not understand the importance of regular checkups. Therefore, it becomes important to examine the causes of preterm birth.

This article looks at preterm birth, which can be defined as the birth of an infant before the completion of 37 gestation weeks. This is a serious problem in obstetric care. This article looks at how in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania a case-controlled study was conducted to determine the risk factors of preterm births.

This case study was conducted in three municipal hospitals ( Amani, Mwanayamala and Temeke) and 377 women participants with preterm birth cases and term births were asked to participate. Short interviews were conducted to compare these females lifestyles demographics to examine whether cross-cultural factors affect birth.

Results show that certain risk factors are associated with preterm birth that includes multiple pregnancies, untreated vaginal discharge, public prenatal care, untreated unitary tract infection etc.

This study states that is important to have a planner design community-based intervention to tackle the complications of preterm birth.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Risk perception and correlates of alcohol use among out-of-school youth in motor parks in Lagos State, Nigeria - Malawi Medical Journal, Vol. 28, No. 1, 2016, pp. 19-25

Canada, United States, and European countries legalized Alcohol and the trade of alcohol with globalization has resulted in an mass alcohol driven economy. In most developed countries, there are measures in place to ensure that children or teenagers do not consume alcohol due to its risk on their health.  In Canada, the legal age to drink is 19. This is the age at which adolescent are usually in their first year of university, college, or in grade 13. In schools we are taught about alcohol tolerance, and how one should not consume more alcohol than their body can take, or one should not drink alone. There are a lot of health measures in place to ensure people don’t die or have alcohol intoxication. Even with these measures in place, some teenagers push their boundaries and engage in risky behaviours. Now imagine, if these teenagers were not in school and there were no measures placed by the government to ensure that teenagers cannot access alcohol. What will happen?

The study aims to analyze the risks, patterns of use, and the correlation of alcohol with the youth who are out of school, in Motor parks, Lago’s State Nigeria. Since the youth are out of school, they are more vulnerable to miss out an opportunity of learning healthy behaviours regarding the consumption of alcohol.

A cross-sectional study based on interviews was conducted with 380 youth who were out of school.  Results state that the level of alcohol prevalence was 61.1 % and 55.5 % of these youth were current drinkers.  More than half of the current drinkers have a drinking problem and three-quarters of them had experienced at least one episode of alcohol intoxication in the past month. Even though 63.5 % of them wanted to reduce alcohol intake, only 28.9 % received help in reducing drinking.

This study concludes that their needs be a program in place to help youth reduce alcohol intake. As suggested 63.5 % of the youth wanted to reduce their alcohol intake, however, they do not have proper infrastructure or support to reduce their alcohol intake. Thus, their attempts always lead to failure. With the proper help and support, youth can come out of alcoholism.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Air pollution one of the factors of climate change is a pressing issue in the world. Especially in third world countries, with carbon dioxide levels rising in the air, it is hard to breathe, and smog rates in cities such as Bangkok, Delhi are at all times high.

 Living in a developing country, the poor people usually migrate to urban cities to work, and usually end up working odd jobs. Living in slums these people burn biofuels or coal to either keep their house warm, to cook or have light at night. This results in them having heavy contact with indoor pollution. These are results of governments not having proper infrastructure to provide for the poor. Without electricity or gas, these people depend on burning wood, coal, whatever they can.

Similarly, this case study looked at the risks of indoor air pollution in Sub-Saharan Africa. This case study looks at a Rwandan male of the age of 50 years and his tendency of having anthracosis. Anthracosis is a disease that occurs due to the accumulation of coal dust in the lungs tissues, this takes places due to heavy pollution levels in major cities, smoking or in the coal mining sector.

This man was found dead in Kigali by the road side, he was fully clothed, and had no signs of trauma. His autopsy report of this man revises that he had severe chronic anthracnose’s, concluding that indoor air pollution, especially due to the burning of biomass and coal in a closed room is a risk factor for pulmonary diseases such as anthracosis.

This case depicts the morphological consequences of long-term exposure to the pollutants on humans. It concludes that there should be preventative methods to reduce the concentration of pollutants indoors by either using more technically advanced devices or improving ventilation in these rooms so the air could leave the room.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Where do we go in terms of safety and quality of obstetric care in Colombia? - Revista Colombia Médica, Vol. 47, No. 1, 2016, pp. 9-10

The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals consisted of 8 goals that are:

                    1.    to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
                    2.    to achieve universal primary education;
                    3.    to promote gender equality 
                           and empower women;
                    4.    to reduce child mortality;
                    5.    to improve maternal health;
                    6.    to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria,
                          and other diseases;
                    7.    to ensure environmental sustainability; and
                    8.    to develop a global partnership
                           for development.

All 189 UN member states had agreed to achieve these goals by 2015, the aimed to combat poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women (WHO, 2017). After 2015, Sustainable Development Goals followed and aimed to build on MDG on a broader ambitious (WHO, 2017).  

This article looks at the how the MDG goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 % was not met. Even though there was a visible achievement in the indicators of access to the prenatal care.  Extreme Maternal Morbidity (EMM) are serious complications that occur during pregnancy or childbirth which can lead to death. Columbia aimed to prevent maternal death and established the monitoring program of EMM.

The analysis of EMM cases that took place during 2007 to 2012 state that there is an occurrence of delay in obstetric care. This is due to factors such as either inability of recognition of the alarming symptoms by the patients, or the lack of proper medical care. The information regardless can give pointers as to what needs to be improved in the country. This also includes having an influence of education on pregnancy and its side effects on females.

EMM is a great way to analyze the obstetric care in Colombia and give pointers as to what the new model should entail under SDG. These recommendations include that the obstetric care should be based on the needs of pregnant women and not on the traditional (Pyramidal) model. It is stressed to have the model be more comprehensive, multidisciplinary and humanized. Usually, the models created look great on paper, but one seems to forget that these need to implemented and be used by humans, thus care and empathy are important parts of health care.

World Health Organization, (2017) Retrieved from:  

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