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Health

Health facilities in Bhutan need to prioritise radiation safety requirements: Study

by Dechen Tshomo

THIMPU-  Some of the health facilities in Bhutan were found to have radiation leakage, according to a preliminary finding of the radiation survey carried out in 2018.

The survey, carried out in all the health facilities in the country that provide radiology service, found that the leakage was from windows, console room, dark room, main door and primary wall.

MRI, CT Scan, Mammography, USG and X-ray are some of the radiology services that the health centres in the country currently provide.

A programme officer with the Department of Medical Services, Pema Yangzom, said that radiation leakage happened because most of the health facilities did not have a proper lead lining of the doors.

Ten health facilities—Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, Deothang, Pemagatshel, Gedu, Paro, Samtse, Wangdicholing, Yebilaptse hospitals, Nganglam and Sipsoo BHU Is—were found without lead lining.

During the survey, the components assessed were the accessories, the X-ray rooms including the dark rooms, if they are as per the standard layout. It was also assessed if the primary walls were as per the requirement, if the human resources allocation was adequate, and caseload, among others.

About 58 percent of the 31 health facilities were found satisfactory; 13 were found not satisfactory.

It was found that only a few health facilities used the standard room layout for the X-ray room equipment. X-ray rooms in Deothang, Wangdicholing, Trongsa hospitals, and Nganglam and Dorokha BHU I were found to have inadequate room size.

In terms of the darkroom, nine health facilities did not fulfil the standard. “There was a presence of light and we could see radiation leakage in the darkroom,” she said.

One good practice was that all the health facilities have initiated putting radiation safety signs and indications.

However, it was noticed that the staff were not using PPE (personal protective equipment) when carrying out X-ray.

In terms of providing radiology services, the national referral hospital in Thimphu has the highest workload, followed by Phuentsholing hospital, and the regional referral hospitals in Gelephu and Mongar.

During the survey, ultrasonography (USG) requirements in terms of equipment, infrastructure, human resources and caseload were also assessed.

It was found that the ultrasound rooms were small and congested, the rooms did not have attached toilets and washbasins. There was no ventilation in the USG room, which the health officials claim are unhygienic to the patient and the staff.

The rooms did not have air conditioners. Pema Yangzom said that AC is a must in the ultrasound room to maintain the equipment temperature.

In 2015, Blood Safety and Diagnostic programme with the health ministry, in collaboration with Department of Radiology initiated radiation survey in all health facilities having radiology services to assess, detect and indicate the radiation leakage or hazard presence.

“It is also to ensure the safety of the health workers, patients and those working in the facility,” she said.

Radiation survey is carried out every two years.

Of the two impacts of radiation hazards to health, somatic damage happens when the whole body is exposed to radiation. Genetic damage causes genetic diseases due to radiation hazard.

Some of the health impacts due to radiation exposures include cancers, cataract and some kind of skin diseases. It can also be harmful to the fetus at various stages of pregnancies.

Some of the health facilities have very old X-ray machines which frequently breakdown and hampers the services. This is one of the issues highlighted.

Recommendation

The survey recommends that there is a need for the hospital or dzongkhag administration to prioritise radiation safety requirements in the respective hospital or BHU I.

During the planning of new X-ray infrastructure in the health facilities, it is recommended that the radiology programme should be consulted as they have standard X-ray room layout.

Additional staff requirement in hospitals or BHU Is with higher workload needs to be considered.

Except for the referral hospitals, she said that most of the health facilities had only one HR where the person had to handle both ultrasound and X-ray.

The country today has a total of 119 radiology staff, of which 48 are Radio-Sonographer and 39 X-ray Technician. “Even with this we are facing a severe shortage in our country,” she said.

Hospital and dzongkhag administration need to support computers and printers for the ultrasound unit to enable easy reporting and also support the requirements for the ultrasound service in the health facilities.

Currently, most of the ultrasound reports are prepared manually and it was found that in doing so, there is an issue of not being able to read the reports. (Kuenel)

Health

Breakfast for tea champions

  • The popular English breakfast tea is a blend of various black teas
  • Most start with a base of Assam CTC to which complementary black teas are added

Like any good classic, the origins of the popular English Breakfast tea include dubious legends. The story goes that in 1843, an American dealer concocted a blend with a few Chinese black teas and dubbed it the English Breakfast tea, in a clever if far-fetched juxtaposition to the strong and sweet tea drunk in England at the time. According to a second—likelier—story, the tea’s origins are Scottish, dating back to the 1890s, when a Scotsman added the newer Assam and Ceylons to the standard Chinese Keemun. Chinese tea may have been in short supply, so this must have been a case of necessity being the mother of invention. And what set it off on the path to ubiquity was Queen Victoria’s stamp of approval.

Variations of the English Breakfast followed quickly. The Irish Breakfast tea takes the base of the English Breakfast but uses more Assam tea and needs milk and sugar to make it enjoyable. The Scottish Breakfast is a far stronger blend, made with a variety of black teas.

As these teas became popular, every tea brand worth its name began to produce its own blend, each protecting the recipe for it. Breakfast teas are now a genre unto themselves, and connote bold, strong, malty cups, pairing happily with a hearty breakfast, even a full English one, and more accommodating of milk and sugar than most teas.

Breakfast teas have some fundamental attributes: Most start with a base of Assam CTC (abbreviated from crush, tear, curl) tea, to which complementary black teas are added. The choice of tea depends on what the blender wishes to deliver—a rich colour, strong flavours, a marked aroma, some smokiness, a little lightness. The Assam, with its notes of dates and honey, brings the characteristic malty flavour to the cup. The Chinese Keemun is a classic addition and accentuates this maltiness while adding smokiness. On the other hand, the Ceylon black is bold, lending richness, while the Kenyan black tea is chosen because it resembles the Assam, offering body and briskness, a trait that tea connoisseurs seek and appreciate.

To make your own signature Breakfast blend, begin with two teas; it takes practice to add more layers of flavour. Choose a high-grade Assam CTC as a base. Now, choose your second tea: A Nilgiri black tea may bring brightness and aroma, a Darjeeling black balances the strength with lightness (most suited to those who prefer tea without milk), another Assam may emphasize the maltiness or the honey-caramel notes. If you can get your hands on a Keemun or a Kenyan or a Sri Lankan black tea, they come with their own characteristic attributes. Try the ratios to arrive at a balance that works for you—you will then have your signature Breakfast blend.

TEA PICKS

Blended Breakfast teas available from Assamica Agro (Assam+Darjeeling) or estates like Halmari (Assam+Assam) or Teamonk (Assam+Nilgiri).

Aravinda Anantharaman

Health

Rotavirus vaccine to be introduced in Mizoram by July

The vaccination for rotavirus is set to be introduced in the state of Mizoram by July 2019.

Rotavirus, which according to the WHO, is the most common cause of severe diarrhoeal disease in young children throughout the world.

An introductory workshop was held at the Directorate of Health Services, Conference Hall on Monday.

Dr Tushar Rane, chief of Field Office and representative of UNICEF Northeast gave an introduction of the rotavirus vaccine and spoke on how this vaccine has been introduced in other states of India.

The mission director, NHM,Dr Eric Zomawia gave a keynote address where he spoke on the various endeavours and future plans of the Health department while the State Immunization Officer Dr Lalzawmi gave a power-point presentation on the ‘Overview of Universal Immunization programme’.

The rotavirus vaccine is expected to be introduced in the State by June or July 2019 after the completion of state and district level training.

The vaccine will be given in three doses to six week, 10 week and 14 week old infants.

The administration of the vaccine can only be carried out by trained medical experts.

While two states in the Northeast, Assam and Tripura have administered the vaccine, instruction has been received from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India to administer the vaccine in the rest of the north-eastern states.

Rotavirus vaccine will be included in the Routine Immunisation vaccines under the health department of Mizoram.

The virus which is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea is believed to claim the lives of more than 200,000 children each year. More than 80 per cent of children get infected by 5 years of age.

Rotavirus Vaccine

A new milestone towards expanding full immunisation coverage

Diarrhoea caused by Rotavirus is one of the leading causes of severe diarrhoea and death among children less than five years of age. In India, between 80,000 to one lakh children die due to Rotavirus diarrhoea annually while nearly 9 lakh children are admitted to hospital with severe diarrhoea. Another 32.7 lakh children visit the hospital as out patients due to the disease.

The vaccine was being introduced initially in four States — Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha — and would be expanded to the entire country in a phased manner, Mr. Nadda said. “Adding this life-saving vaccine to our immunisation programme will not only improve the health of our children but also reduce hospitalisation and other conditions associated with diarrhoea due to Rotavirus such as malnutrition, delayed physical and mental development among children. Reduced hospitalisation lower the economic burden on the family and the health cost burden on the country,” the Minister added. The Rotavirus vaccine was developed indigenously, under a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Science Technology and the Health Ministry.

The Rotavac is in addition to three new vaccines that have been introduced in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) including Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Measles, Rubella (MR) vaccine, and Adult Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine.

With these new vaccines, India’s UIP will provide free vaccines against 12 life threatening diseases, to 27 million children annually, the largest birth cohort in the world.

Health

What is Kush cannabis and why is it so popular?

by ALEX TRPKOVICH, GREENCAMP.COM

You may have heard Kush being mentioned in many popular hip-hop songs. Time for an education on everything there is to know about the strain.

Hindu Kush—historically grown only in the mountain range of the same name, which mostly runs along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan—is one of the most potent landrace strainsavailable. The Himalayan slopes gave birth to the strain, which over time, brought about many other strains that inherited part of its name—Kush.

What does the slang Kush mean?

In the last decade or so, the word “Kush” has become synonymous with premium cannabis strains; high-quality street cannabis is often called Kush among users. Kush became the go-to term for high-quality cannabis in the U.S., quickly replacing its contemporaries.

What is Kush?

Kush is primarily a cannabis indica strain, which has risen in popularity in the last decade, and played a pivotal role in creating dozens of modern-day hybrid strains. One will rarely see a Kush strain that is a purebred sativa, although this can occur with proper growing conditions, combined with relentless cross-breeding.

Macro view of the Black Lotus Kush bud. ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

When Kush is grown under specific conditions, its unique phenotypes come out in a different light. Kush plants are known to evolve and acclimate in order to survive. Nowadays, Kush is grown all around the world, but its tough Himalayan genetics endured and continue to follow the strain, giving it both durability and potency.

It is most likely true that Kush is a lost strain and that its precise genetics are unknown. That said, the next best thing is available, namely OG Kush, also known as Ocean Grown Kush.

The rise of OG Kush

OG Kush first appeared in California during the 1990s, right around the time Dr. Dre dropped his The Chronic album, which took the cannabis community by storm.

There are two stories that explain the strain’s mysterious genetics. The first is that a breeder claimed to have gotten the seed from a bag of Chemdawg 91 strain, in the Lake Tahoe area in 1996; the second goes that it was brought to California from Florida, by a grower who now operates a company known as Imperial Genetics. He reports the parents of this strain were a male cross of Lemon Thai and Old World Paki Kush, and a female Chemdawg plant.

Unfortunately, OG Kush is a clone-only strain and, at that time, one couldn’t simply plant a seed of this strain. Rather, a cutting from an existing plant is needed.

There is a lot of confusion about the origin of the name, and what OG exactly stands for. Given that it was bred in California, many users thought it meant Original Gangster, or just Original Kush. However, the truth is the grower who first bred OG Kush in California was asked by a consumer if it was mountain-grown, complimenting the quality of his buds. The grower responded with a simple, “This Kush is ocean-grown, bro.” The rest is history.

Quickly after that, cuttings of various OG Kush plants began making the rounds around Los Angeles and the rest of California. Those cuttings made way for new, closely-related strains.

Hindu Kush—historically grown only in the mountain range of the same name, which mostly runs along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan—is one of the most potent landrace strains available. ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

The strains that came from these plants all gained popularity, and developed into Cannabis Cupwinners themselves, including Bubba Kush, West Coast Dog, Larry OG, Tahoe OG Kush, Triple OG, Ghost OG, Diablo OG and so forth.

What does the Kush high feel like?

Kush strains are known to have the utmost relaxing effect, all while making the user giggly and joyous. These traits aren’t common among the different cannabis strains that came from Kush.

Kush strains with strong ties to their indica roots are very hard to come by these days, as the cannabis community moved towards growing highly resistant hybrids. However, those who still grow Kush with a higher indica presence are known to produce flowers with potent cerebral effects that “tranquilize” the user, and these buds are frequently recommended as a way to battle insomnia.

Popular Kush strains

There are 100-plus strains containing the word Kush in their names, and many more that came about by cross-breeding Kush strains with other strains. As previously mentioned, landrace Hindu Kush is known for its resilience and the ability to grow just about anywhere, a useful trait that made Hindu Kush one of the most sought-after strains by growers and breeders.

As it now stands, there are overwhelmingly more hybrid and indica Kush strains than sativa Kush strains. Additionally, most of the Kush strains aren’t pure indicas and sativas, but rather hybrids whose one trait is more dominant than the other.

With that in mind, here are picks of some of the best Kush strains by three separate categories. The most popular indica-dominant Kush strains include Kosher Kush, Bubba Kush, Critical Kush, Afghan Kush, Platinum Kush, Hindu Kush, Super Kush, Sin City Kush, Alien Kush, Purple Kush, Purple OG Kush and Master Kush; the most popular hybrid Kush strains include OG Kush, Pink Kush, Lemon OG Kush, Cali Kush, Royal Kush, Mango Kush, Pineapple Kush, Holy Grail Kush and Big Kush; and the most popular sativa-dominant Kush strains include Mickey Kush, Silver Kush, Quantum Kush and Heisenberg Kush.

What is the best Kush strain?

OG Kush is widely viewed as the best Kush strain because of its legacy. That said, it’s somewhat difficult to classify one strain as the absolute best, mostly because each crop varies in quality and cannabinoid and terpene levels. There are also many variations of a more or less same strain.

Given that OG Kush was originally a clone-only strain, growers named clones of different potency different names. This has produced confusion since, at one point, a person might have smoked the exact same weed from two different growers marketed under two different names.

If the best strain is characterized as “the one with the highest level of THC,” then the Oscar goes to Ghost OG. This strain is, without a doubt, the strongest Kush variety, at least so indicates Washington State I-502 data.

In that testing sample, Ghost OG, which is a cutting from the original OG Kush mother stock, consistently came in at a colossal 28.7 percent THC content. On the same test, OG Kush results came in significantly lower, averaging around 19.4 percent THC content.

In a study conducted by scientists Nick Jikomes and Michael Zoorob, they found OG Kush isn’t topping its competitors, at least as far as THC levels go. In their study, Gorilla Glue #4—now usually known as Original Glue—came in first place with an average of 21 percent THC. The researchers concluded that there’s still a lot of test result manipulation going on and that retailers often display cannabinoid levels much higher than they actually are.

With that in mind, THC levels should not determine which Kush strain is “best”, because the delicate balance of minor cannabinoids and terpenes also plays an important role in the effects of each particular strain. There is much more to a strain than just numbers on a piece of paper.

Greencamp.com is an educational website dedicated to shedding the light on many unexplored sides of medical and recreational cannabis. Aside from informing people of safe cannabis use, Greencamp also provides technology for finding optimal cannabis treatment. You can download their app from Itunes or the Google Play store.

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Environment, Health

South Korean citizens increase consumption of pork to tackle pollution

Whenever dust particles hang thick in the air in South Korea, sales of pork rise.

This quirky correlation in Asia’s fourth-largest economy, where air pollution outstrips industralised peers, stems from an old belief attributed to coal miners, that the slippery pork oil helped cleanse dirt from their throats.

For middle school student Han Dong-jae, eating greasy barbecued pork belly on a smoggy day is a life lesson imbibed from his mother.

“I eat more pork when fine dust is dense like today,” said the 15-year-old as he dug in over a sizzling grill at a barbecue restaurant in Seoul with his mother after school.

“I think it’s somewhat helpful, because pork meat has oil and the oil soothes my throat.”

Scientists say there is no rationale for the belief, but pork sales jumped about a fifth on the year from Feb. 28 to March 5, when pollutants blanketed most areas, data from major retailers E-Mart and Lotte Mart showed.

SOCIAL DISASTER

South Korea faces a battle against unhealthy air, a combination of domestic emissions from coal-fired power plants and cars, and pollutants wafted in from China and North Korea.

Its air quality was the worst among its industrialised peers in 2017, data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) grouping of wealthy nations showed.

South Korea registers 25.1 micrograms per cubic metre of fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres on average each year, just over double the OECD figure of 12.5, but far lower than the world average of 44.2.

The pollution has affected South Korean policy and businesses, driving up shares of companies that make air purifiers and masks.

Legislation this month included a measure designating the problem a “social disaster”, which could unlock emergency funds.

Cho Seog-yeon, an environmental engineering professor at Inha University, called for more study of the exact damage wrought by high levels of concentrated pollutants, adding, “We don’t know now where the damage is done (by air pollution).”

People battle the air pollution by wearing masks and staying indoors. But in a country where 28 percent of all households have a pet, furry companions are a priority too.

Sales of pet masks surged more than five times in early March, said Suh Hyuk-jin, director of pet products maker Dear Dog.

Cho Eun-hye, who lives in the northwestern city of Incheon, bought a mask for her 18-month-old brown Korean Jindo dog, Hari, who needs to be walked two times a day.

“It’s inconvenient, but I think we have to keep living with that,” said the 36-year-old office worker.

Jane Chung

SEOUL (Reuters) – Whenever dust particles hang thick in the air in South Korea, sales of pork rise.

This quirky correlation in Asia’s fourth-largest economy, where air pollution outstrips industralised peers, stems from an old belief attributed to coal miners, that the slippery pork oil helped cleanse dirt from their throats.

For middle school student Han Dong-jae, eating greasy barbecued pork belly on a smoggy day is a life lesson imbibed from his mother.

“I eat more pork when fine dust is dense like today,” said the 15-year-old as he dug in over a sizzling grill at a barbecue restaurant in Seoul with his mother after school.

“I think it’s somewhat helpful, because pork meat has oil and the oil soothes my throat.”

Scientists say there is no rationale for the belief, but pork sales jumped about a fifth on the year from Feb. 28 to March 5, when pollutants blanketed most areas, data from major retailers E-Mart and Lotte Mart showed.Cho Eun-hye (R) and her one-and-a-half-year-old Korean Jindo dog Hari, both wearing masks, go for a walk on a poor air quality day in Incheon, South Korea, March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Hyun Young Yi

SOCIAL DISASTER

South Korea faces a battle against unhealthy air, a combination of domestic emissions from coal-fired power plants and cars, and pollutants wafted in from China and North Korea.

Its air quality was the worst among its industrialised peers in 2017, data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) grouping of wealthy nations showed.

South Korea registers 25.1 micrograms per cubic metre of fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres on average each year, just over double the OECD figure of 12.5, but far lower than the world average of 44.2.

The pollution has affected South Korean policy and businesses, driving up shares of companies that make air purifiers and masks.

Legislation this month included a measure designating the problem a “social disaster”, which could unlock emergency funds.

Cho Seog-yeon, an environmental engineering professor at Inha University, called for more study of the exact damage wrought by high levels of concentrated pollutants, adding, “We don’t know now where the damage is done (by air pollution).”

People battle the air pollution by wearing masks and staying indoors. But in a country where 28 percent of all households have a pet, furry companions are a priority too.Slideshow (8 Images)

Sales of pet masks surged more than five times in early March, said Suh Hyuk-jin, director of pet products maker Dear Dog.

Cho Eun-hye, who lives in the northwestern city of Incheon, bought a mask for her 18-month-old brown Korean Jindo dog, Hari, who needs to be