Categories
Healthcare Technology

SMART MATERNITY WEAR TO PROTECT FROM “DIGITAL” RADIATION

The exponential growth of Mobile phones and IoT devices has led to a whole new industry that supports numerous applications ranging from consumer to healthcare to industrial and many more. Despite its usefulness, there are problems that need to be considered.

In November 2018, an FDA nominated study under National Toxicology Program concluded on the hazards of high Radio Frequency exposure (Non-ionising Radiation) from Cell Phones.

The conclusions were :

  • Clear evidence of tumors in the hearts of male rats. The tumors were malignant schwannomas.
  • Some evidence of tumors in the brains of male rats. The tumors were malignant gliomas.
  • Some evidence of tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats. The tumors were benign, malignant, or complex combined pheochromocytoma.

It is generally believed that the FCC has set limits on cell phone radiation and if any devices exceed the limits, it will not reach the market. However, the NTP study showed that harmful effects can be seen even at levels below the SAR limits set by FCC. This is because, the SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) requires the devices being tested at a short distance away from the human dummies and not in contact with human body, which is how people use the phones and keep the phones in their pockets.

A wide variety of scientists, clinicians, and national medical associations have raised significant visibility towards this issue, ranging from European Scientists calling for a moratorium on 5G rollouts, until the effects are better understood, to asking for further scientific information from FCC and FDA chairpersons on the radiation hazards.

Whilst this complex problem gets resolved by future scientific studies and regulatory mechanisms, there could be an extremely simple alternative solution.

DFF with technology from AiQ Smart Clothing, has developed an innovative RF shielding fabric, leveraging its leadership position in the conductive textiles industry. The fabric blends very fine stainless steel fiber (typically about 10 micron in width) with a variety of commercially available yarn using special purpose machines to produce what looks, feels and behaves like regular textiles. It can blend all types of textiles, build different structures and yarn counts just like regular textile. The clothing or other textile form factors such as curtains etc built out of this RF shielding fabric are also machine washable just like any other clothes.

It is capable of blocking upto 99.99% of a 30 dB signal at 2.4 Ghz, making it ideal to create a wall of protection around places on the body which typically host the mobile phones. For pregnant women and small children, one could create complete clothing using the shielding fabric. 

By

Dr. Mohan Kumar R, Co-Founder , Digital Fashion Factory™ and Satya Bhavaraju, VP, Biz Development, AiQ Smart Clothing

                                                                    

                                         

Categories
Public Health

Rural health key to success of National Health Policy 2017

Now, the corner stone of the new National Healthcare Policy is the role being played by rural primary healthcare centers and district hospitals. Most programs under the new policy, including new initiatives like Universal Screening, increasing beds per population of 1000, eradication of measles and increase in spend on healthcare would be dependent on the rural state healthcare set up.

It is also interesting to see that many of these centers are tying up with private not for profit foundations to ensure that healthcare services reach the last mile.  I realize that NGOs are often in the news for the wrong reasons but at the same time there are so many others who are carrying out very critical work in parts of rural India.

Rajasthan continues to lag most other states on healthcare parameters with infant mortality at 41, maternal mortality at 255 and Under 5 mortality at 51. Now, the state is actively working towards ensuring that those at the grassroots of the healthcare infrastructure get all the support they need. It is not surprising that they have started working with independent organizations to maximize effectiveness at the ground-level.

Antara Foundation is one such not for profit organization working closely with the state government in the maternal, child health and nutrition space. Based in Delhi, Antara is currently present in 3 districts in Rajasthan, namely, Jhalawar, Baran and Sikar. Antara’s programs have received funding from Tata Trusts, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and BAJAJ’s CSR arm, in the past. As a young start-up, Antara continues to seek funding to further enhance coverage and impact of programs.

Their flagship program, Akshada, has been on for the last 2 years. In that time, Antara has been working with the triple A’s- Anganwadi workers, ASHA Workers and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) to build capacity and skills. Antara also works on upgrading rural health facilities and skills of staff, especially related to the labor room.

An interesting challenge observed in Rajasthan is the traditional gender inequality when it comes to infant mortality with more deaths among female infants, as opposed to males. This points to broader, deep-rooted social issues in the state, which go hand in hand with primary and preventive care across the world.

The good news is that the State government and health machinery is now working hard to progress on these aspects, concentrating their efforts at the grassroot level.

“We have many state administrators in Rajasthan who are genuinely interested in solving healthcare-related problems in the state”, says Karthik Ram, a representative from Antara. ”They look to us as partners to bring in innovation, new ideas and strong implementation capabilities to the table”. That said, given the prevailing healthcare statistics in Rajasthan, we acknowledge that there is definite scope for improvement.

This improvement is being brought about by leveraging the state network, district hospitals, frontline health workers (AAA), nurse mentors, labour room productivity experts etc., But such an effort is not without its challenges. Recruiting talent is a challenge for Antara, as it is indeed difficult to find high-quality personnel with desired qualifications to work at the district / block level. This does limit speed of scaling.

Distribution of load between health centres also appears to be a systemic challenge due to the gap in referrals from Primary Health Centers (PHCs) to district hospitals. Often the patient is referred too late and without case history, necessitating duplication of effort. Of late we have seen cases of violence against doctors at district hospitals, especially in Maharashtra and some part of the blame may be attributed to this gap in communication between primary healthcare centres and district hospitals.

This is where the partnership with Stanford School of Medicine comes in. Stanford’s Digital Medic platform has offered its online medi-learning platform to train students at the Jhalawar medical college cum district hospital. Similar training is being given to auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) at the rural health sub-centres for maternity care, in addition to training offered by Antara Nurse mentors for improvements in labor room productivity.

Also, there are other cultural challenges while operating in rural India. “Certain tribes in the districts where we work were initially opposed to immunization”, says Karthik, “and there were certain cultural beliefs within those tribes, that made them suspicious of interventions but once front line workers started gaining the trust of the community through their enhanced effectiveness & care, they have become more receptive.”

So, a beginning has been made but looks like there is a long way to go.

 

Categories
Healthcare Delivery

Does India need better patient education ?

Motherhood is perhaps the most challenging phase in a woman’s life – not just because of the of physical changes she experiences, but also due to the wide range of advise she is subject to from family, friends, and the medical practitioners she consults. While advise on motherhood and parenting by friends and family members is often based on that individual’s personal experience (or that of his/her close relative), one would expect that medical practitioners would provide appropriate advise relevant to the patient’s life style, mental and physical health, and monetary compulsions. Sadly, my experience indicates otherwise.