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Asian charity gets mayoral funding

Auckland Mayoress Shan Inglis Len Brown

The youth wing of Shakti Legal Advocacy and Family Social Services has secured a funding of $32,000 from the Auckland Mayoress’ Fund for Youth. The fund makes grants from money raised from the annual Westpac Mayoress’ Charity Gala Ball.

The inaugural ball in November 2011 raised $170,000, and in its first grant today, the fund announced grants of $150,000. The remaining money is retained to grow the fund further.

Auckland Mayoress Shan Inglis Len Brown

With the new funding, Shakti will be able to support 16 – 21-year-old migrant women affected by family violence. This project aims to build self-esteem and help these young women reach their potential through a 12-week programme with the option of on-going mentor support if needed.

Shakti Legal Advocacy & Family Social Services (formerly the Shakti Migrant Resource Centre) has its origins in the Shakti Asian Women’s Support Group founded in 1995 by migrant women. The group set up the Shakti Migrant Resource Centre in the year 2000 with the objective of providing advocacy and settlement service for all migrants. The centre was reconstituted as Shakti Family Settlement & Social Services Inc. under the Shakti Community Council Inc. and has been recently renamed as Shakti Legal Advocacy & Family Social Services to include legal and counseling services. New Services include a Youth Unit.

Mayoress Shan Inglis says she is delighted that the inaugural grants from the independent charitable fund have been made.

“Money is tight for families, businesses and non-for-profit organisations, and it is important we support those out there in the community working so hard to improve the lives and futures of our young people.

An independent research and grants committee, reviewed 94 applications (requesting $2.6 million) to choose the four charities that received the funding. The other recipients of the inaugural grants are:

South Auckland Health Foundation: Kidz First Centre for Youth Health: $42,925 towards equipping the new purpose-designed Youth and Community Development Centre in Papatoetoe with facilities needed to deliver holistic youth healthcare and development services. It will benefit young people aged 12-20.

Te Waipuna Puawai Mercy Oasis: Young Dads’ Support: $30,000 towards connecting 18-24 year-old predominantly Maori and Pacific Island fathers to other dads, and supporting positive life-skills and decision-making for their wellbeing and for their children’s welfare. This ncludes parenting, training and employment skills.

McLaren Park Henderson South Community Initiative: Computer Clubhouse hub West: $37,230 towards supporting West Auckland’s first computer clubhouse. Computer Clubhouse is an international concept of a high-tech hub for young people to develop digital technology skills including ICT, music, digital design, robotics and videography. The project encourages young people to work together and focus on skills that can support future employment or enterprise.

As a mother and grandmother, Mayoress Shan Inglis believes in an Auckland where every child has the best possible start in life and a future to look forward too. New Zealand still has one of the highest rates of preventable illness and death for children in the OECD. More than 2000 young Aucklanders leave school each year without qualifications, and 15-19 year olds are the most over-represented group in unemployment statistics.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says the recipients are examples of the important and innovate work being done in the community for Auckland’s young people.

Health News

Outbreak of whooping cough gets worse

Health officials are urging Aucklanders to vaccinate their babies in light of the massive outbreak of whooping cough (Pertussis) in New Zealand’s largest city. There have been 322 cases of whooping cough reported in Auckland so far this year. This is five times higher than for the same time last year.

Notifications of whooping cough have increased rapidly with a third of this year’s cases in May alone, which shows the scale of the outbreak, says Dr Andrew Lindsay, Medical Officer of Health for Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS).

“Whooping cough is very contagious and can have severe impacts on babies and infants, it is very important to look at how you can protect your family, friends and the people you work with.”

Children under the age of one year, who are the most at risk of severe illness, have accounted for 7% of cases and 62% of hospitalisations nationally. On time vaccination is the best way to protect babies and infants, says the health body.

The free vaccination programme in children starts at six weeks then followed at three months and then at five months of age. Babies will not be protected until they have received all three doses.

“If you are not sure if your child’s vaccinations are up to date – ask your doctor,” says the health body.

Older children and adults can be a source of infection too. Older children should have further vaccinations at age four and 11, and adults living with (or expecting) a new baby should also strongly consider getting the booster.

The vaccinations at age four and 11 are free on the national immunisation schedule. Adults will normally need to pay for their boosters.

“If you have a cough – stay away from babies and infants. If your work brings you into contact with babies, infants or pregnant women then we strongly recommend getting a booster if you have not had one in the last 10 years,” says Dr Lindsay.

Nationally, there have been more than 3,400 cases reported since August 2011 when the current outbreak began.

Health Lifestyle Work Abroad

Women feel unsafe in New Zealand – report

Many women are fearful about the crime culture in New Zealand, are tired of sex, and are resorting to desperate measures to succeed in life.

These are just some of the findings of the 2012 NEXT Report, to be published in the next month’s issue of the NEXT magazine.

The Nielsen survey of 1000 Kiwi women over 15 years of age provides for some concerning findings:

  • Only 5% of Kiwi women believe equality is a complete reality in New Zealand in 2012.
  • One in 20 working women are taking illegal drugs just to get through the day.
  • 37% of Kiwi women who are in a relationship are too tired to have sex.
  • 61% of the female population feel the crime rate is out of control.
  • 74% of New Zealand’s women are positive about their overall quality of life.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Jo Goodhew admits the survey’s findings show there is a need for action in the realm of gender equality. “I know there is still space for improvement,” she says in the NEXT Report. “We do well in New Zealand but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

The minister is “horrified” so many Kiwi women are resorting to drugs just to cope, but Paul Rout, CEO of the Alcohol Drug Association of New Zealand, is not surprised. In the NEXT Report he calls for employers to address the issue. “They should offer assistance with treatment and support rather than just taking a disciplinary approach,” he says.

While the report indicates a high level of contentment between couples in relationships, it seems many are too exhausted for intimacy. Cary Hayward, National Practice Manager of Relationship Services, suggests this is partly down to child rearing. “When people have children, both sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction go down,” he says in the NEXT Report.

Despite official statistics revealing crime rates in New Zealand hit a record low at the end of 2011, NEXT magazine’s research shows widespread fear among the female population about the crime rate. It’s an issue Garth McVicar of the Sensible Sentencing Trust wants to see addressed. “I think we’re justified in being very concerned about the long-term direction of our country and the safety of the next generation,” he says.

However, the survey shows there is plenty of optimism among the nation’s women, with many feeling positive both about their current situation and the future.

NEXT editor Sarah Henry feels the report has raised some crucial issues for women, and believes it provides a fascinating insight into just how complex life is for New Zealand’s female population in 2012. “The ‘girls can do anything’ mantra is fast becoming a case of women can do everything,” Henry says. “However, despite all this pressure we’re determined to achieve success and balance in our lives.”

Editor recommends Health News

Early detection key to surviving bowel cancer – expert

Virinder Kumar Aggarwal and Usha Aggarwal from Auckland

Did you know that more people die because of bowel cancer than in road accidents in New Zealand?

Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in New Zealand. More than 1200 New Zealanders die from bowel cancer each year – one of the highest per-capita mortality rates from this disease in the developed world.

With the second annual Bowel Cancer Awareness Week beginning today (4 June), New Zealand’s Waitemata District Health Board (DHB) is offering free bowel screening to eligible people aged 50-74 to check for early signs of bowel cancer.

Eligible people who live in the Waitemata DHB area will automatically be invited to participate.

The DHB launched the BowelScreening pilot in October 2011, and today about 1400 test kits are sent to eligible people every week.

Virinder Kumar Aggarwal and Usha Aggarwal from Auckland

Virinder Kumar Aggarwal and Usha Aggarwal from Auckland urge the community members to take advantage of bowel screening available.

Waitemata DHB is the only DHB offering this programme in New Zealand, says says Eric Atwood, Senior Communications Advisor  for New Zealand’s Waitemata District Health Board. This four-year pilot is funded by the Ministry of Health.

Indians, or even Asians, represent a tiny proportion of people diagnosed with bowel cancer in New Zealand. Only 9 people of Indian descent were diagnosed of bowel cancer in 2009, compared to 2617 Europeans in 2001, according Ministry of Health figures released to The Global Indian magazine.

However, there is no reason to be complacent. One in two New Zealanders doesn’t know the symptoms of bowel cancer.

“The Indian community is an important part of our promotion efforts.”

Bowel cancer is a curable disease if detected early – there is a greater than 90% chance of long-term survival if it’s caught and treated at an early stage.

“One of the aims of this programme is to help reduce the mortality rate from the disease – and to make the programme as safe, effective and accessible to all participants as possible,” says Eric.

Bowel cancer can be fatal and one of the ways to survive is to “know the symptoms of bowel cancer”, says Mike Hulme-Moir, Colorectal Surgeon and Clinical Director for the Waitemata DHB BowelScreening Programme (BSP).

“Unfortunately, though, bowel cancer may be quite advanced by the time you get symptoms.

“Another way to beat it is to participate in the BowelScreening Programme, if you’re eligible.

Waitemata DHB residents aged 50-74 – more than 137,000 people – will be invited to participate.

“The people of Waitemata have been very receptive to screening, and we are getting good results from the programme so far.”

Since its launch late last year, the BSP has tested more than 7500 returned screening kits and performed more than 300 colonoscopies on screening participants.

For further information on the Waitemata DHB BowelScreening programme, call the Coordination Centre on 0800 924 432.

What are the common signs and symptoms bowel cancer?

  • Change in your bowel habit, for example: diarrhoea alternating with constipation, increased frequency of bowel motions
  • Blood in your bowel motion
  • Gradual weight loss or loss of appetite

These signs and symptoms may be caused by other conditions, but it is important to get them checked out by your doctor.

What can you do to maintain a healthy bowel and prevent bowel cancer?

  • Eat a balanced diet with a variety of different foods – including fruit, vegetables and high-fibre foods
  • Eat small, regular meals – don’t miss any meals
  • Limit the amount of wheat-based, dairy-based, sugary and fatty foods you eat
  • Chew well – break down each mouthful into small pieces
  • Avoid eating large meals and fatty foods before bedtime
  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day (6-8 glasses of water)
  • Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume (2-4 units a day maximum)
  • Don’t smoke – smoking is harmful to the bowel and causes many changes in the digestive system
  • Exercise regularly, but not excessively – 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week is sufficient
Editor recommends Food Health

Why is junk food bad for you

The success of junk food business has drawn a lot of attention to the industry and the food itself. Many denounce junk food due to its ill effect on consumers and the health of the world. Not only is junk food confirmed to be bad for the physical condition owing to high fat and likely health risks, but also its effect on employment. Let us have a look at some of the health issues associated with junk food.


Eating junk food and living a sedentary life paves the way to obesity. Obesity causes other problems such as cholesterol increase, jamming of the arteries, the increased risk of coronary diseases, apart from the general physical uneasiness posed by the additional weight. Junk food is also addictive and hence it is very hard to give up on the oily and greasy foods and fizzy drinks and go for better food options.

Junk food burger obesity

Junk food can cause heart-related health risks


Cholesterol in meat-containing junk food is very dangerous for health. Meat has plenty of cholesterol and hence it paves the way for build up of bad cholesterol. Cholesterol molecules can build up in the arteries and cause thickening or congestion of the arteries. Thickening of the arteries can lead to clogging of blood flow and this has an effect on blood pressure. In case the artery that transports blood to the heart gets clogged, it can cause a heart attack or even complete heart failure when there is a total obstruction of blood flow.

Blood pressure

Most of these quick and expedient meals hold high levels of sodium, which increases and worsens the risks of high blood pressure. Even though the body needs minimum levels of sodium, too much sodium can have a say in high blood pressure. Sodium can also cause the accumulation of fluids in case of people with cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, or kidney disease.

Therefore steady and habitual consumption of junk food can lead to an overall unhealthy condition. So watch vigilantly what you consume, especially at a fast-food restaurant. Even if you are on a high protein diet plan, being aware of the nutritional content is imperative. Also, keep portion sizes small, and keep the high-fat sauces and condiments to a minimum.

Business Health Lifestyle News

Indian hospital provides remote care for rural areas

Nearly 70% of India’s population lives in rural areas, but 80% of its doctors are in urban areas.

Rural patients often travel many kilometres for medical treatment. That is, if they can afford travel and cost of healthcare.

Enter technology.

In a small village – Chitradurga – in Karnataka,  patients visiting one of the rural medical centres will have their vitals checked by the paramedic/nurse at the centre while the doctor at a city hospital provides consultation and diagnosis in real time via a video link.

The government has partnered with technology provider Cisco, so that patients and doctors can meet each other virtually through video without having to commute long distances.

Cisco has implemented similar project in China's Sichuan Province

A significant number of population lives in the rural areas in Karnataka, which is the case with the entire nation too, says local MP, Janardhana Swamy.

“The rural population is unable to access quality healthcare and specialist consultants due to lack of availability and spend precious time traveling to urban centres for their treatment. Cisco’s solution will enable better access to medical treatment for the population of Chitradurga.”

Agrees Vipul Bhansal, District Commissioner,  “We are confident that we will be able to provide affordable healthcare to a larger population using technology. People in the rural areas need easy access to specialists, which is something that can be facilitated with Cisco solutions.”

Cisco hopes that more states realise the value of technology. “While some are in the process to adopt new solution towards making an impactful change, others are starting to do so,” says Cisco’s president for Inclusive Growth, Aravind Sitaraman.

Cisco has also extended this initiative to other urban services like education, and predicts that these services can greatly reduce the urban-rural divide.

Cisco had earlier used its healthcare solution for flood-affected people of Raichur. Leveraging technology and medical services provided by a specialty hospital in Bangalore, 1700 patients received remote consultation.

Global Indians Health Work Abroad

Refugee doctor retires after 38 years

An Auckland doctor, known for his dedicated service to migrants and refugees, has set his stethoscope aside after 38 years of practice.

Dr Nagalingam Rasalingam, 75, and his partner, Freddy Abeysekera have sold their Glen Innes practice, Line Road Medical Centre, to East Tamaki Health Care. The 6000-patient, very low cost access practice, founded in 1974, sold for $125,000, NZ Doctor reported.

Dr Ras, as he is affectionately known, received a Kiwibank local heroes award in 2010 for his longstanding service to ethnic communities.

Initially catering mostly to the white population of New Zealand, the practice now caters to the needs of mostly Asian migrants and refugee patients, the website reported.

“It began offering interpreter services and free care for under sixes long before government-funded schemes for both became available, Dr Ras told the website.

Dr Ras says he made his last house call in the 1970s. He went to see an asthmatic child but did not examine the boy because the child was fast asleep when he arrived. He did not charge the family house call fee of $2, and decided from that moment to stop charging for under sixes and to stop doing house calls.

He encouraged parents to bring their children to see him for early intervention, instead of waiting for a crisis, and hospital admissions dropped, says the NZ Doctor.

Dr Ras recalls a Pacific gentleman who came to see him in the 1980s with a belt fastened around his chest to “stop the pain”.  The incident showed the community’s poor health literacy at that time, Dr Ras says.

He and his practice partner have written to all their patients explaining they are retiring, and have received expressions of regret and bouquets of flowers in response.

Dr Ras plans to work as a researcher in refugee health after he retires from medicine, he told the NZ Doctor. His two children – one a cardiologist, the other a lawyer – are both living in the United States.

Dr Ras' contribution to refugee communities was recognised by a KiwiBank Community Heroes Award in 2010. (Image source: NZ Doctor)

He was felicitated by the Office of Ethnic Affairs in the recently concluded EthnicA conference in Auckland.

Mervin Singham, Director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs, says Dr Ras is a “hero” who is a “shining example of how migrants bring their skills and experience to make a difference to New Zealand.”

“His kindness, wisdom and persistence have had a real impact on the lives of those who most needed his support. He has looked on his professional expertise and his vocation as an opportunity for kindness and to make immense contribution to his community’s well-being.”

Editor recommends Featured Health News

Flu shots safe for pregnant women – expert

As the winter approaches in Australia and New Zealand, health professionals are recommending flu shots for new and expectant mums.

The safety of flu vaccination during pregnancy is well established and should be routine, according to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The College says that vaccination offers benefit to both mothers and infants. Influenza immunisation is estimated to prevent 1 to 2 hospitalisations per 1000 women vaccinated during the second and third trimester.

New Zealand’s National Influenza Specialist Group (NISG) says that the vaccination is free until 31 July  for pregnant women, people aged 65 years and over, and those with ongoing medical conditions.

“Pregnant women are offered free immunisation as studies have shown they are particularly susceptible to more severe outcomes from flu. Additionally, vaccination of pregnant women has been shown to decrease the incidence of influenza in their new-born babies,” says NISG spokesperson Dr Nikki Turner.

Dr Turner says women should also think about immunisation against influenza for children. Immunisation is recommended, but not free, for healthy children.

The 2012 seasonal influenza vaccine includes protection against three types of flu, including the Pandemic H1N1 Influenza 09 (swine flu), which is expected to be still in circulation in New Zealand this season.

“People need to be immunised as soon as possible as it can take up to two weeks to develop immunity after vaccination,” says Dr Turner.

“Although flu is mild-to-moderate for most people, it can lead to serious complications and even, in rare cases, death for others.”

Research in Australia and New Zealand found that pregnant women are seven times more likely to be admitted to intensive care with severe influenza than women who are not pregnant.

The study also found that women more than 20 weeks pregnant were at an even higher risk as they were 13 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care than a woman who is not pregnant.

Health experts believe pregnant women are more affected than others by swine flu because of the changes that occur in a woman’s body when she is pregnant. The developing fetus places stress on a pregnant woman’s respiratory system as well as her other organs as the unborn baby grows, making a woman more vulnerable to developing severe complications from what would normally be a more mild case of the flu.

The influenza vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in pregnant women. No study to date has shown an adverse consequence of inactivated influenza vaccine in pregnant women or their offspring.

Myth: the flu vaccination gave me the flu!

Unlikely, as the flu vaccine does not have active viruses, rather it is made from inactive viruses that stimulate your body’s immune response.

There are a number of viruses that circulate during the flu season and the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the most common strains that are expected to be making the rounds that season, including swine flu.

If you get the flu after having the flu vaccination, unfortunately you have caught a strain of flu that you have not been vaccinated against, or you did not respond completely to the vaccine.

For free health advice in New Zealand, call Healthline 0800 611 116. For advice about influenza immunisation visit or or text FLU to 515.

Editor recommends Health News Work Abroad

New Zealand to increase cigarette export to Australia

While fewer New Zealanders are smokers today than a decade ago, a cigarette manufacturer in New Zealand has attracted criticism for its plan to increase production of cigarettes for exports across the ditch. Imperial Tobacco’s Petone factory near New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington will quadruple  its cigarette production with a two-year upgrade nearing completion. In a country with 6.3% unemployment, the $45 million upgrade will reportedly create 50 new jobs, and enable the company to export 4 billion cigarettes a year to Australia. While the New Zealand facility benefits from an expiring agreement Imperial has with British American Tobacco in Sydney, its an announcement slammed by anti-smoking groups across both sides of the Tasman. “For a city with some of the highest youth smoking rates in New Zealand it is disappointing to see an international tobacco company investing in a two year upgrade to increase its capacity to manufacture cigarettes,” says Dr Jan Pearson of the New Zealand Cancer Society. “Those 4 billion cigarettes will have to be the most unpopular and unwelcome Kiwi import to Australia. “The argument that they are creating 50 extra jobs here doesn’t wash with the Cancer Society. Our answer is every year in New Zealand the loss of 5,000 lives can be attributed to smoking. “The increase in production will supply around 100,000 Australian smokers per year – 20 percent will die a cancer-related death. ‘This flies in the face of the world-wide move to decrease smoking rates, especially amongst young people. “In New Zealand we have a commitment to a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025 and Councils all over the country are playing a major part in creating Smokefree parks, playing fields and other outdoor areas. “The best way tobacco companies can contribute to the economy is to stop selling their products.” Statistics New Zealand figures reveal that the number of cigarettes smoked by New Zealanders has dropped from 6 billion in the 1980s to 2 billion in 2011. Asians have the lowest rates of smoking in the country, while Maori and Pacific ethnic groups are overly-represented in smoking statistics for the 4-million Kiwi population. The cigarette company’s manager for the Petone plant, Michael McInnarney, told New Zealand’s the Dominion Post that staff had worked hard to prove they were capable of dealing with the increased work to get the contract. “And to be blunt, a lot of staff here have been working their arses off to get ourselves to the point where we are seen by the group as capable of taking on the additional production.”

Australians are not impressed, as they forecast the number of smokers to decrease in the coming years, resulting in lower imports of tobacco products.

“As Australians continue to smoke at lower rates and governments here seek to lead the world in reducing the harmful effects of tobacco use, we anticipate tobacco imports to Australia will also decline further, irrespective of country of origin,” says a spokesperson for the Cancer Council Australia.

The country is taking steps to further lower smoking rates in Australia. “We expect cigarettes sold in Australia from December 2012 will by law be in plain packages, reducing their appeal to smokers.”

Health Relationships

NZ women concerned about fertility

Two in three Kiwi women (63%) say they have friends and family who have experienced fertility issues and as many as 93% New Zealand women believe more should be done to promote ways to improve fertility.

In response to an online survey by New Zealand’s Good Health magazine, the women said there should be more promotion around alternatives to IVF (92%) and 36% said they would consider helping infertile couples through egg donation.

The key problems New Zealand women said they encountered while trying to conceive were Endometriosis/Polycystic Ovarian (32%), unexplained infertility (31%), recurrent miscarriage (20%), age (16%), and male fertility issues (16%).

Other key factors which Kiwi women believed influenced infertility, included: weight (60%), lifestyle (52%), genetics (50%), diet and food (49%), and smoking (47%).

The cost of IVF was also a concern with 82% saying IVF was too expensive, 37% said it should be free to people fitting a certain criteria and 31% that it should be partially funded.

Women of all ages shouldn’t take fertility for granted, says Good Health editor Pamela Marker.

“Our survey results, along with a comprehensive report and heartfelt real-life stories, show today’s reality of fertility in New Zealand,” she says.

Health Lifestyle

Campaign to get Asians to enroll for GP services

Members of Auckland’s Asian communities are being encouraged to enrol with a general practitioner (GP).

A new public awareness campaign, Your Local Doctor, hopes to address lower than average enrolment rates among people of Asian descent in Auckland.

Waitemata DHB epidemiologist Dr Lifeng Zhou says studies have consistently shown that people with an ongoing relationship with their GP tend to get diagnosed more quickly, and spend less time in hospital.

“It’s about keeping people healthy and well. When you have a doctor you trust and see regularly, not only does it ensure that you get the right treatment when you are unwell, but your doctor will have a good idea of your overall health, lifestyle and risk factors to watch out for, such as conditions like heart disease that may run in your family.”

Most GPs in New Zealand belong to a Primary Health Organisation (PHO), which aim to deliver healthcare services to people in its community at an affordable cost.

Dr Zhou says enrolment is easy and costs nothing.

“All you need to do is complete a simple registration form. If you enroll, you get benefits including cheaper doctor’s fees and a charge of only $3 for each prescription. In some practices and areas, enrolled children under 6 are even seen free.

“People are also able to access free interpretation services, if required, and the doctor’s practice will include patients who are enrolled for regular check-ups as well as immunisation reminders for their children.

“Most importantly, because your GP knows what’s normal for you, he or she is likely to notice any changes that could indicate health problems.”

The Your Local Doctor campaign will target the Chinese, Korean and Indian communities – Auckland’s three largest Asian ethnic groups – through articles and advertising in ethnic media, a dedicated informational website (, along with posters and leaflets at key community focal points.

In Auckland, the enrollment rate among Asian communities is around 10 per cent lower than the enrolment rate of people of New Zealand European descent.

Dr Zhou says language barriers and a lack of awareness have been cited as the main factors behind the low enrolment rates.

“With immigrants making up the majority of the Asian population in Auckland, the lack of awareness and understanding of the New Zealand health system is understandable. New Zealand’s health system can differ quite significantly from those in Asian countries.

“The Your Local Doctor campaign hopes to raise awareness of how the New Zealand health system works and ultimately, help keep one of the fastest growing population groups in Auckland healthy and well.”

Health Immigration News Relationships

Sleepy Canadian town gets relief for tortured women

When you come to Banff – a small, frozen town i the middle of 7000 sqkm Banff National Park, tourism is the first thing on your mind. It’s a sleepy town of just 7500 people in Canada’s western province of Alberta, caterig to a heavy inflow of keen skiers.

Domestic violence is not something a tourist would naturally think of here. However, a city with men is likely to be a city with some family violence. Banff is no exception to the behaviour of men. But it is certanly indfferent in that it attracts many seasonal workers from a range of nationalities; many are non-Canadians.

While government-funded shelters welcome victims of family violece, they often turn away non-Canadians, as the service tries to prioritise its limited resources resources of its citizens. It costs as much as C$250 to provide shelter to one woman for one night.

“Just imagine how humiliating it would be to arrive at the (government) shelter and … be told you have to go back to your home where you’re not safe,” says Kathryn Williams, the director of programmes and community support for YWCA Banff, in a local newspaper.

Not any more, thanks to a generous C$25000 donation by Calgary Real Estatte Board Charitable Foundation. Now, non-Canadian women will have a shelter to go to, in case they face family violence

It’s a major relief not just for non-citizens, but for most victims of home violence. The government-funded facilities ironically turn away victims if they have used the shelter earlier. The government shelters are able to accommodate women during their first visit to the facility.

As statistics show, most women return tot their abusive partners a few times before gathering courage to leave them for good. The YWCA shelter offer the much-needed shelter to such women, if they have been not accepted by the government facilities, in atrocious weather conditions. The location of this shelter is kept secret to protect the women from their abusive partners.

Such donattions are a God-send for the victims of family violence.

(Vaibhav Gangan is managing editor of The Global Indian magazine and is currently in Banff, Canada.)

About domestic violence in Canada

Domestic violence is the single largest women’s health issue in Canada with more reported cases than heart attack and stroke.

One in four Canadians will be directly affected by domestic violence in their lifetime, and Alberta has the second highest rates of domestic violence.

(Source: YWCA Canada)

Editor recommends Health News

Hepatitis A outbreak: Auckland reports 31 cases

As many as 31  children have been diagnosed with Hepatitis A as public health officials warn that the number may increase.

As these cases are affecting school age children,  the health officials are working with nine schools and affected parents to assess risk and provide advice.

“This is an evolving situation and an increase in cases was expected following the assessment of close contacts,” Dr Shanika Perera, Medical Officer of Health for Auckland Regional Public Health Service says.

The most likely source of the outbreak is one or more importations of infection due to people travelling overseas, says the Health Service.

Hepatitis A is a mild illness, particularly in children. Symptoms in children usually include fever, an upset stomach, and feeling tired and generally unwell. Many children do not show any signs that they have been infected. Very occasionally children develop jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes.

Hepatitis A is excreted from the body through faeces, it can be spread from person-to-person or by swallowing food or water that has been contaminated. The best way to prevent the spread of the infection is careful hand washing with soap and proper drying, especially after using the toilet and before eating.

“The most important way to prevent spread of this disease is to wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, particularly after going to the toilet and before eating.” said Dr Perera.

For advice on hand washing visit the Health Service website

What is Hepatitis A 

Hepatitis A is an infection affecting the liver. Hepatitis A is caused by a virus, which is found in the bowel motions of those with the infection. It can be spread from person-to-person or by swallowing food or water that has been contaminated. Hepatitis A usually causes a mild illness in children who often do not show any symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

It can take a few weeks after coming into contact with Hepatitis A before a person who has caught the infection starts to feel unwell. The time between contact and first symptoms can be 2-7 weeks.

The symptoms of Hepatitis A infection include:

Generally feeling unwell; Tiredness and lack of energy; Loss of appetite; Stomach upsets and pains; Diarrhoea

How do you catch Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is spread by:

Food, water or milk being contaminated

Close personal contact and poor personal hygiene

Eating or drinking things handled by an infected person

How can the spread of Hepatitis A be prevented?

Careful Hand Washing: The best way to prevent the spread of infection is careful hand washing.

Wash hands with soap and dry them well

Wash hands after using the toilet, before preparing food, and before eating anything.

Health News

Smoking bans in Australia coming soon

An upcoming smoking ban in Australia is prompting a New Zealand group to ask similar bans across the ditch.

Under new sweeping changes introduced by Australia’s health minister, Jillian Skinner, diners in New South Wales will not be able to smoke in public dining places across the state.

The new NSW Tobacco Strategy legislation will ban smoking from  not only pub beer gardens, but also from sports grounds, swimming pools, bus and train stops and even in building doorways.

Pubs may have to create designated ‘no food’ areas for smoking or prohibit food from beer gardens so as to prevent diners from inhaling second-hand smoke.

New Zealand Cancer Society’s Smokefree Advisor, Skye Kimura thinks it is only a matter of time before New Zealand introduces similar bans.

"Apart from smoking, I don't think I have any other bad habit,” Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan

“This is a good example for New Zealand to follow and there is evidence that people are in favour of such legislation.”

A recent Cancer Council Victoria survey indicated 70% of the 4500 respondents supported a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas. “We know we have the same support here.”

New Zealand’s Smokefree group is already working with Andrew Brown – a member of the NSW Smokefree outdoor area working group.  “He is in New Zealand now to support our Outdoor Smokefree Forum, and he has been giving us some very good advice.

The Cancer Society wants to pursue this type of legislation to protect children.  “Further restrictions on smoking are crucial because the more children are exposed to adults smoking around them, the more they start to see smoking as normal.”

While overall smoking numbers in New Zealand’s Indian community are lower than the national average,  it is the second-hand smoke (passive smoking) that is concerning to anti-smoking groups.  As many as 26%  of Asian youth have parents who smoke. However, smoking in the home is more common in South-East Asian homes (23%) than Korean (18%), Chinese  (17%) or South-Asian (Indian) homes (6%).

There’s huge disparity in smoking rates among ethnic populations. Sri Lankans have recorded one of the lowest smoking rates in New Zealand – just 4%, compared to a national average of 21% (2009 figures).

At the end of the spectrum are Māori with 45% smokers, followed by Pacific Island peoples at 30%.  Māori and Pacific Island peoples make up 22% of the population yet account for 31% of all smokers in New Zealand.

People who live in the most deprived areas are one and half times more likely to smoke than those in the least deprived areas.

“As a preventative measure, the NZ government implements a range of tobacco control strategies, from legislation for smokefree areas to warning labels on cigarette packets,” says the Cancer Society. “One strategy is to increase the price of tobacco by raising the excise tax on tobacco products.”

Such measures seem to be showing results, as around one in five (18%) youth aged 15–19 years were current smokers, a significant decrease from 22.9% in 2006.

Interestingly, gender statistics separate Asian groups from other groups. Only 4%  of Asian girls (aged 14 -15)  and 8% of Asian boys smoke regularly. This is different from European, Maori and Pacific Island youth where more girls than boys smoke.

Family factors such as non-smoking parents and positive relationships with family protect New Zealand Asian youth from smoking, according to findings of a national survey (2008) by  Wong, Ameratunga, Garrett, Robinson and  Watson , titled “Family influences, acculturation, and the prevalence of tobacco smoking among Asian youth in New Zealand.”

Smoking rates among Asians in New Zealand

Chinese 11% (Female 5  Male 19)
Indian 8% (Female 3 Male 13)
Korean 14% (Female 5 Male 24)
Japanese 14% (Female 10 Male 22)
Cambodian 10% (Female 4 Male  17)
Filipino 9% (Female 5 Male 15)
Sri Lankan 4% (Female 1 Male 7)

Editor recommends Health News

Meet the youngest person to get pacemaker

Fifteen minutes – that’s how old Jaya was when surgeons sliced open her chest to put pacemaker on her walnut-sized heart.

A team of 20 medical staff attended to the 3-pound infant, soon after she was born with a heart beat of 45; a healthy new-born has a heart beat of 120 to 140.

The child, born 9 weeks prematurely, had very grim chances to survive, as she was diagnosed in the womb with a severe heart ailment.

Doctors at Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital had told the Indian parents,  Leanne Maharaj, 26, and Kamneel Maharaj, 31, during prenatal visits that their daughter suffered from congenital heart block, and they would have to induce labour and force the baby to be born as early as possible to correct the ailment before her heart failed, the Associated Press reported.

“The only way to save this baby was to deliver the baby right away and then the pacemaker,” said Dr. Katsuhide Maeda, the surgeon whose steady hand stitched the pacemaker’s electrical leads to Jaya’s walnut-sized heart. Stanford announced details of the operation this week.

The doctors set out  to do a delicate set of calculations and decided on 31 weeks as the delivery date.

“Typically in such cases, a surgeon would connect wires attached to a pacemaker outside the body then perform a second surgery weeks later to install a permanent device,” the media report says.

However, Jaya’s doctor decided to tackle the more difficult challenge of inserting the permanent pacemaker immediately to avoid the second surgery.

The pacemaker should last Jaya about 10 years, the doctor says.

The surgery could encourage other children’s hospitals to undertake similar efforts, says Dr. Michael Artman, the chief pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

“What really distinguishes this is just the fragility of this premature baby and the condition in which this baby was born,” Dr Artman says.

Jaya is now three months’ old and weighs a healthy 8 pounds.

Education Health Lifestyle News

Mayor’s fund open for community grants

Money raised by the inaugural Auckland Mayoress’ Charity Gala Ball will soon be available to groups working with young Aucklanders as applications for grants are now open.

The ball, hosted by Mayor Len Brown and Mayoress Shan Inglis last November, raised $170,000 towards the Mayoress’ Fund for Youth, an independent charitable fund administered within the Auckland Communities Foundation.

The fund will support initiatives that directly benefit the health, well-being, educational opportunities and employment of young people living in Auckland.

New Zealand still has one of the highest rates of preventable illness and death for children in the OECD. More than 2000 young Aucklanders leave school each year without qualifications, and 15-19 year olds are the most over-represented group in unemployment statistics.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown with his wife

As a mother and grandmother, Mayoress Shan Inglis believes in an Auckland where every child has the best possible start in life and a future to look forward to.

“I believe in an Auckland where every child has the best possible start in life and a future full of opportunities,” says Shan Inglis.

Auckland Communities Foundation Chief Executive Mark Bentley says applications will be assessed by the Foundation’s independent Research and Grants Committee.

“Our advisors are experts in their fields and take an evidence-based approach to grant-making; ensuring that grants support initiatives with proven outcomes that address the real needs of young people in Auckland.”

Mayor Len Brown says he and the Mayoress were thrilled with the generosity of their guests and sponsors at the inaugural event. “The money raised from this event will support important initiatives working toward raising confident, healthy and resilient young Aucklanders with good education and career opportunities.”

A percentage of the money raised each year will be held within the fund to ensure long-term support for young Aucklanders.

How to make applications for funding 

Visit the Auckland Communities Foundation website

Fund opens for applications: Now

Applications close: 31 March 2012

Grants announced: 25 May 2012

Health News Study Abroad Work Abroad

Teenagers face racism in New Zealand – study

Teenagers from ethnic and minority groups face many instances of discrimination based on race, a recent study has found.

The survey of more than 9000 randomly selected secondary school students in New Zealand revealed that there were significant ethnic differences in the prevalence of ethnic discrimination.

More than half of the students, selected from a nationally representative cross-sectional sample, who experienced ethnic discrimination were less likely to report good health, or feel safe in their neighbourhood. They were also more likely to report an episode of binge drinking in the previous four weeks.

Experiencing ethnic discrimination has been associated with a range of adverse health outcomes, say the researchers – Sue Crengle, Elizabeth Robinson, Shanthi Ameratunga, Terryann Clark and Deborah Raphael.

Within each ethnic group participants reporting ethnic discrimination were more likely to have adverse outcomes for depression, cigarette smoking, and self-rated school achievement.

Ethnic discrimination is more commonly reported by indigenous and minority group students, the study revealed. Both experiencing and being ‘unsure’ about experiencing ethnic discrimination are associated with a range of adverse health/wellbeing outcomes.

“Our findings highlight the progress yet to be made to ensure that rights to be free from ethnic discrimination are met for young people living in New Zealand.”

Read the full report (PDF).

Health News

Internet may help cancer patients in recovery

Cancer patients face barriers to recovery in sparsely populated countries, and a researcher is looking to the internet to help build online support groups.

A recently published research has identified barriers to physical activity for cancer patients which may slow their path to recovery.

A New Zealand group has recently completed a study in finding out what the barriers were for cancer survivors in terms of participating in physical activity.

Researchers at the Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit, found that concerns about body image or a lack of confidence about what they can safely manage to do, were reported as being issues that might prevent cancer survivors from exercising.

Lindsay Robertson

The researchers, led by Lindsay Robertson, interviewed representatives from the Cancer Society’s Support Services from around New Zealand.

“We know from previous research that regular physical activity is beneficial for the health and wellbeing of cancer survivors,” says Robertson in an interview with The Global Indian magazine.

“As a group, the needs of cancer survivors are very varied; the amount of physical activity someone can do depend on their particular situation.  Because of this, it seems important to tailor exercise programmes for cancer survivors according to their individual needs, but in practice this is difficult to achieve.

“Many organisations such as the Cancer Society, which uses volunteers to support some of its services, only have a limited amount of capacity.

The Cancer Society also finds dispersed population a limiting factor. “In a country, such as New Zealand, which has a small population in relation to its geographical size, delivering physical activity programmes tailored to individual cancer patients’ specific needs is not an easy task, especially in small and rural communities.”

However, Robertson is keen to use Internet to bridge the gap. “Moving forward, research looking at the feasibility of online physical activity support groups could be useful.”

Health News Work Abroad

Orange juice ban in the US likely to cause other health issues

Temporary ban on the import of orange juices in the United States is likely to have a counter-productive effect, according to an industry expert.

Parents worried about the fungicide may actually feed to their children more of it by switching to other juices, such as apple or grape juice, according to former FDA Regulatory Counsel, Benjamin England.

The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ‘test and hold’ policy for foreign orange juices, feared to contain fungicide, will encourage parents and children to consume other juices which are likely to contain more fungicide.

On 11 January 2012, the US FDA temporarily stopped the import of foreign orange juices after the discovery of carbendazim (also known as MBC), a fungicide banned in the United States, in shipments from Brazil.

Under the law, a food cannot contain a pesticide residue unless the residue has an established tolerance level for that specific food. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not established a tolerance level for carbendazim residues in orange juice.

“By testing and holding all orange juice shipments FDA is creating a fear that is unreasonable,”says Benjamin England in a recent interview.

The EPA tolerance for TPM (as found by testing for MBC) in:

Apples 2.0 ppm (parts per Million, not Billion) — 200x the trace concentration limit of MBC in OJ

Apricots 15.0 ppm — 1500x the trace concentration limit of MBC in OJ

Bananas 2.0 ppm — 200x the trace concentration limit of MBC in OJ

Grapes 5.0 ppm — 500x the trace concentration limit of MBC in OJ

“That’s what parents will feed their kids while FDA jams up the U.S. ports of entry with detained, held, rejected containers of orange juice with parts per billion concentrations of MBC,” says England.

Fungicides like carbendazim are used to control fungi or fungal spores in agriculture, reports the Western Farm Press. “Carbendazim is still legal in Brazil, and the European Union allows foods to contain up to 200 parts per billion of the fungicide.

“As recently as 2008, the fungicide was used to kill black fungus on Florida oranges, but recent studies linked it to increased rates of cancers and infertility, causing the FDA to ban use of the chemical in all U.S. food products.”

Health News

India records a polio-free year

Thanks to a sustained eradication campaign, India has completed a year without recording a new case of Polio virus.

India’s last reported case of the sometimes-fatal disease was a two-year-old girl in West Bengal State on 13 January 2011. The record seems even more remarkable against its historic figures – the country known to be at the epicentre of the polio epidemic recorded 42 cases in 2010, and 741 in 2009.

New Zealand has regularly sent parties of Rotarians to India to help local Rotary clubs carry out immunization programmes, part of Rotary’s international End Polio Now campaign.

“Although we have not had any new cases in New Zealand for many years, thanks to mass immunisation campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s, there are still many people alive who remember cases of polio, and there is still polio survivors groups active in New Zealand, “says Howard Tong, Rotary’s regional public image co-ordinator.

Howard Tong, Rotary’s regional public image co-ordinator

“The achievement of a polio-free India for a full year is a significant step towards a polio-free world — an example as to what can be accomplished no matter what problems need to be overcome,” says Robert S. Scott, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee.

Deepak Kapur, chair of the India PolioPlus Committee, also credits the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for its commitment to ending polio. To date, the Indian government has spent more than US$1.2 billion on domestic polio eradication activities.

“Government support is crucial if we are to defeat polio, and we are fortunate that our government is our biggest advocate in this effort,” Kapur says.

“Marching ahead, the goal is to sustain this momentum,” he  says, describing as potentially “decisive” the upcoming immunization rounds this month and in February and March.

Internationally the campaign is backed by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 1988 this campaign has also been backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many other companies and governments.

Worldwide Rotary clubs have raised US$1.2  billion since 1985 to fight polio.

 What is polio?
Poliomyelitis, also known as polio, is a viral disease that can damage the nervous system and cause paralysis. The polio virus enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the stool of an infected person.
Polio is preventable by immunization.