To fix unhealthy diets: activism before ‘an apple a day’

Marty_Logan_blog_health_environment_070419Kudos to CBC News reporter Kelly Crowe for this article about a recent global health study on the deadly impact of unhealthy eating, in which she goes beyond simply presenting the newest numbers to discuss the ‘why’.

The news itself is shocking: in 2017  poor diets worldwide caused 11 million deaths, concludes the report, published in The Lancet journal. Eating too much salt and not enough whole grains and fruits were the major culprits.

Obstacles to healthy eating

But what Crowe also highlights are those factors that are beyond the control of individuals and are known as ‘environmental determinants of health’. These range from absent or misleading labels on food packages to prominent placement of junk food in supermarkets to the unaffordability of the fruits, vegetables and other healthy food that we’re supposed to be eating more of to prevent those 11 million deaths. Continue reading

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New mothers get rice, rupees & a rooster!

Bhojpur doo-to-door health campaign

Officials from Arun Rural Municipality in Nepal’s Bhojpur district give a rooster to a new mother on 29 March 2019. The programme to support new mothers started in January.  Photo: The Himalayan Times

Time for me to walk my talk.

 

Following up on my last post about not dwelling on the negative in Nepal, I’m highlighting a very small but positive development. Municipal officials in Bhojpur district in the country’s east started a programme in January to visit new mothers.

Continue reading

To the Nepal media: it’s no accident!

Marty_Logan_blog_traffic_accidents_Nepal

This has bothered me for a long time, and just Tweeting about it to my *massive* following (@martydlogan) hasn’t had any impact to date, so I’m writing this post. To be clear, I’m not doing this to ‘make fun’ of anyone’s English. In fact, I don’t think this is a case of using words unintentionally but that the words chosen reflect a cultural trait (the power of ‘fate’ in Nepal) but I’ll leave that research to interested experts.

The daily media in Nepal* continually reports about “ill-fated” road accidents, or that a vehicle “met with an accident”. The connotation is that the crash was inevitable or, in the second phrase, that the accident itself was actually the actor in the incident. This is rubbish, and I hope this style of writing will change soon because I believe that reporting the real causes of the carnage on Nepal’s roads would be one positive step in reducing it. Continue reading

Canada has best quality of life globally* (note asterik)

Marty_Logan_blog_Quality_of_life_(c) CBC

A warning sign posted at Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario, Canada, in 2016. Photo: Jody Porter/CBC

You live in Canada. You:

  • Have been unable to drink the water coming out of your tap without first boiling it, for 25 years in the case of one community (1);
  • Are preparing to leave your home on short notice as community leaders consider an evacuation because mould growing in houses is causing skin rashes and respiratory ailments in rising numbers of residents. There is reportedly a list of 100 children waiting to see a doctor (2);
  • Have for decades complained about deformed fish being caught in nearby rivers and lakes after a paper mill routinely dumped mercury in the waters in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, kids whose mothers ate fish from those waters are four times more likely to have learning disabilities (3);
  • Hope that your community – including your teenage daughter – will not be the next one caught up in a wave of youth suicide. For indigenous people up to the age of 44, suicide is the leading cause of death (4).

Continue reading

Noncommunicable diseases in rural Nepal

Bayalpata_Hospital_screenshot_NCD_Alliance_videoFor a year now I’ve been working for the Noncommunicable Disease Alliance, known as NCD Alliance. One of the more creative things I’ve done in that time is produce a series of short videos on NCDs in rural Nepal, specifically in the district of Achham, in Nepal’s Far-West region.

NCDs refer to various non-contagious diseases, including cancers, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung diseases, as well as mental health issues. Not surprisingly when you look at that list, NCDs are responsible for more deaths each year than any other cause. Continue reading

Rural hospital an affordable model?

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Bayalpata Hospital Community Health Worker Bhajan Kunwar checks the blood pressure of Namsara Tamrakar at her home in Chandika village, Achham district, Nepal, Feb. 2018.

Below is the article I wrote for Nepali Times after visiting Bayalpata Hospital in Nepal’s Achham district. Achham is often described as “remote” but we drove there easily in 9 hours from a main city, paved roads all the way, and jolted by fewer potholes than you’ll suffer driving in Kathmandu.

Though it appears long for the Times, the article leaves out a lot that I would have liked to say about Bayalpata. Continue reading

Achham rising

Sanfebagar_Airport_construction_SMI travelled to Nepal’s far-western district of Achham last week. Our main aim was to visit Bayalpata Hospital, a community-focused institution run by a US-based NGO called Possible, which is undergoing an impressive expansion.

More on that later. For now, here’s my small article about the revival of the airport in the town of Sanfbagar, near the hospital. From Nepali Times:

Marty Logan in Achham
Achham district, which is connected to the rest of the country through an arduous 8 hour journey from the Tarai, will soon revive its airfield in Sanfebagar.

Work to blacktop the runway, following a Maoist attack in February 2002, is ongoing, and the facility is expected to be ready before the rainy season. However, there are conflicting views about whether the airport will succeed. Continue reading