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Important Health Information

Index

Immunization 

  •       Immunization is the most important method of preventing many infectious diseases.  For viral diseases, there is no cure, and immunization is the only way of preventing them. It is through universal immunization that the deadly viral disease of smallpox has been completely eradicated all over the world. In the advanced countries, most infectious diseases are fully controlled by immunization.      

  •       The viral diseases for which immunization is commonly available are the following :

    • Polio
    • Measles
    • Mumps
    • Rubella
    • Hepatitis B
  •       Many bacterial diseases also are prevented by immunization. These are as follows:

    • Diphtheria
    • Whooping cough (pertusis)
    • Tetanus
    • Tuberculosis
    • Typhoid
  •      You should invariably ensure immunization of your child against all preventable diseases. Except Typhoid, MMR and Hepatitis B, all other immunization are available in PHCs and government hospitals free of cost. Please avail this facility and ensure the safety and good health of your child.

  •       MMR acts against Mumps, Measles and Rubella, and is necessary for children.  Pregnant women need to be vaccinated against Rubella to prevent birth defects of children. Hepatitis 'B' is a serious form of Jaundice which spreads exactly like AIDS.  Immunization against Hepatitis 'B' is important particularly for children and risk groups.

  •       For most vaccines, it is important to store them at a low temperature, usually between 2C - 4C. From the time of manufacturing the vaccination, at all stages the vaccine should be maintained at this low temperature. This is called 'cold chain'. If this cold chains in not maintained, then the vaccines is useless.

  •       Usually in government hospitals, PHCs and sub-centers, the vaccine available is carefully preserved and cold chain is maintained. Therefore it is reliable and safe.  Vaccines available for sale may or may not be preserved at low temperatures, particularly in summer time. Please ensure that cold chain is maintained and the vaccine is properly preserved before buying it and using it for your child.  Please seek your doctor's advice in case of doubt.

  •       There is no vaccine against diseases like AIDS.  The only way of protecting yourself is by prevention.

  •       Rabies is a disease caused by the bite of infected dog, or wild bats, wolves and other wild animals. The person bitten should invariably be immunized against Rabies after the bite. If you are bitten by a stray dog or any unimmunized dog, you must go to the nearest government hospital and ensure that the full course of immunization is given to you. Rabies is the only disease for which immunization is possible after the infection enters the body. If the immunization is not given, Rabies invariably kills the patient. Every day about 100 children die of Rabies in India. Please keep away from stray dogs, and pressurize the municipality to remove them from the streets.

  •       Immunization is the most inexpensive and safest way of protecting your child and yourself.

Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)

  •       Every year in India about 600,000 persons are affected by RHD. This disease affects the heart valves and requires expensive valve replacement surgery and other treatment. Sometimes, even expensive treatment cannot save the patient.

  •       The best safeguard against RHD is prevention. RHS is caused as a result of the dt.15Aug lr common 'sore throat' caused by a type of bacterial called 'streptococci'. If any child gets a sore throat between the ages of 5 and 15, the child may later develop RHD. Only years later the heart disease will be known. Please ensure that the child gets immediate medical attention for every sore throat and is treated with proper antibiotics without delay. This will prevent the RHD later.

  •       If the child who had sore throat sometime back now has fever, and mild joint pains, please get immediate medical attention. This is called rheumatic fever, and if it is treated at an early stage, you can still prevent or limit the damage to the heart. Rheumatic fever 'licks' the joints, but it bites the heart. Please protect your child in time.

Hygiene

  •       Most of the infectious diseases can be prevented by proper hygienic measures. Many diseases like Typhoid, Hepatitis 'A'(Jaundice), Polio, Gastro-enteritis, Cholera and Dysentery are spread through water. If you drink contaminated water, then the infection enters the body and causes diseases. All these water-borne diseases are spread through contamination of water with fecal matter.

  •      You should take the following precautions to ensure that the water you drink and the food you eat are safe.

    • Treatment by chlorine, filtration, etc is the methods available for water treatment. Remember that all water you drink must be protected. It is not enough to protect yourself most of the time.
    • Please make sure that the children and all those who handle food are careful about their hygiene. After visiting the toilet, they should invariably wash their hands, clean with soap.
    • Before cooking and eating, hands and plates should be washed clean with treated water.
    • Children and those who handle food should not have long finger nails. Dust accumulates in finger nails and carries the infection.
    • While handling water glasses, fingers should never be dipped into them.
    • Food should never be served with hands.
    • It is safe to boil all food and milk before consuming it.

Oral Rehydration

  • Children often suffer from diarrheas (frequent motions) caused by infections. These infections are a result of eating or drinking  contaminated or untreated food, milk, water etc. Infections can also spread by unhealthy habits like sucking thumbs, putting toys in the mouth etc. No matter how much care parents take, it is difficult to prevent these diarrheas.

  • The biggest problem with diarrheas is not the infection itself, but the loss of fluid and body salts through motions. As the body fluids are depleted, sometimes the child goes into dehydration and if untreated, shock and death may result from it.

  • In such cases, more than antibiotics and other medicines, what is required is restoring and maintaining the fluid and electrolyte (salts) balance of the body. The following steps can be taken at home in mild and moderate cases to ensure the child's safety. If the problem is severe, you should seek medical help.

  • Give as much quantity of fluids as the child can take orally without vomiting. The following fluids can be given:
    • Buttermilk

    • Coconut water

    • Rice gruel with salt

    • Lemon-sugar-salt beverage

    • Weak tea etc

  • You can make a home-made solutions as follows:
    • One liter water

    • 8 tea spoons full of sugar (40 gms)

    • One tea spoon full of salt (5 gms)

    • One lemon squeezed (if possible) 

This solution can be given to the child to drink as often as possible. 

  • If diarrhea is prolonged and there is dehydration, the following solution can be prepared and given to the child.
    • Glucose - 20 gms                          

    • Salt - 3.5 gms

    • Trisodium  citrate 2.9 gms, or  Dissolved in 1 liter water sodium bicarbonate-02.5 gm

    • Potassium chloride - 1.5 gms

 This solution should be administered in small sips.

  • Do not give milk to a child with diarrhea. Milk is a rich medium for bacteria to grow and may worsen the problem.
  • The salts with glucose are also available in the market under various trade names. They can be dissolved in water and administered to the child.
  • In severe cases, there must be immediate medical attention. Please make sure that the child gets enough water and salts as explained above until medical help is available.

 Sanitation

  • One of the commonest causes of spread of diseases is open defaecation commonly practised in India. More than 70% people have no proper sanitary facilities. As a result, faceal matter contaminates dust, water, food etc, and causes disease.

  • Proper and safe toilet facilities are necessary for every citizen for the followreasons. 

    • Hygiene and health
    • Dignity of people
    • Convenience
    • Aesthetic reasons
  • A modern, clean and safe toilet need not be expensive. There are simple models available which will cost only about Rs.3000. Night soil is decomposed by bacteria in nature and all it requires is to ensure that there is no contamination. Decomposed night soil in a septic tank is used after a safe period as organic manure. We can use these natural mechanisms and have low cost latrines for every household.

  • Unfortunately, there is no serious effort to provide sanitation to every household. This is because there is not enough public pressure, and most people do not realize that inexpensive scientific methods are available for constructing toilets. We should promote awareness and build a movement for sanitation and for full coverage of all households by safe toilets.

  • The money required for complete coverage of all households with safe toilets is only about 20%f of the State's annual budget. Such a one-time expenditure will solve this huge problem forever. All it needs is public awareness and political will.

  • Andhra Pradesh is spending about Rs.2,000 crores every year. If only a total of Rs.3,000 crores is spent over a few years' time, these problems will be solved forever.

  • Where toilets are available they should be properly used as follows:

    • If sewers are available, the toilets should be properly connected to sewers.
    • Except toilet paper (when used) and water, nothing else should be flushed in toilets. Flushing paper, cotton, sanitary pads, diapers, polythene, cloth etc. will block the sewers and cause overflows.
    • Proper flushing with water and regular cleaning of toilet pans is necessary.
    • Where toilets are connected to septic tanks, you should never use antiseptics like dettol to clean toilets. Decomposition of night soil requires bacterial action, and use of antiseptics kills bacteria. However, soap powder can be used.

 Some common misconceptions

  • On matters of health, there are many common superstitious beliefs which are both     untrue and harmful. Proper and scientific information should be spread about them. Please remember the following tips.

    • Eating pulses (dhals or grams) does not lead to pus formation as is commonly believed. In fact eating pulses is necessary for fighting diseases and healing, since they contain proteins which are important for body building.
    • You should not starve a person suffering from fever. Except in cases like Typhoid and Jaundice, you should always ensure good protein and cereal food during disease and fever. This gives enough energy and nutrition to fight the disease.
    • All natural and cooked foods can be eaten, and there is no need to restrict your diet to certain vegetables at any time.
    • You should always wash a wound with soap and clean water. If necessary, you may apply tincture of iodine. Never put dust or mud or cow dung on a wound. It will cause infections including tetanus.
    • You can, and should, pore cold water on a burn immediately to reduce the damage. Do not apply butter or oil on burns as advised by some old-fashioned remedies.
    • Do not use antibiotics casually without medical advice. Improper or unnecessary or inadequate use of antibiotics can cause the following dangers:
  •       In case of sensitivity, there can be severe and dangerous reactions

  •       Unnecessary use causes needless expense and destroys the useful intestinal flora and weakens the body

  •       Improper or inadequate use leads to development of resistant strains of germs, and damages the patient as well as society. Many diseases that were earlier cured by simple antibiotics have now become deadly because of resistance.

  • You should not use the old fashioned purgatives for children or adults. In the olden  days, children, were often subjected to a monthly dose  of castor oil. Such parties are wholly unnecessary and are often dangerous since violent bowel movements induced by such purgatives may lead to serious diseases.

                     Recommended Immunization

 

            Age                                            Type of Vaccine

            At birth                                         Zero polio drops, BCG

            2 months                                     DPT, OPV1

            3 months                                     DPT, OPV2

            4 months                                     DPT, OPV3

            9 months                                     Measles vaccine

            1st year                                       Hepatitis 'B' - 3 doses (0,                                                                          1,6 months)

            15 months                                   MMR

            15 months                                   DPT, OPV (Booster

            2 years                                        Typhoid 2 doses - one month interval

            5 years                                        DT

            10 years                                      TT

            16 years                                      TT

            Every 5 years after initial               TT

            vaccination

            Pregnant Women                         TT 1st : at Registration

                                                              2nd : 2 months later

 

Immunization Schedule for Unimmunized Children

                       1-5 Years                more than 5 years

1st visit            BCG,DPT,OPV        DT*

2nd visit           DPT, OPV               DT,BCG

                       (4-8 weekls)             (if Mx-ve)

3rd visit            DPT,OPV,Measles

                       (4-8 weeks)

1 year late        DPT, OPV               DT

2-3 years          Typhoid 2doses       Typhoid 2 doses

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