Wednesday, February 28, 2007

UK Sikh Health clinic could provide blueprint

A PIONEERING health support scheme for Leamington's Sikh community is set to be rolled out across the country if it proves successful.

The Apnee Sehat clinic, located at the Sikh Community Centre in Queensway, officially opened for business on Friday (February 16). It has been set up by consultant diabetologist Dr Shirine Boardman - with the help of a £10,000 grant from South Warwickshire Primary Care Trust - and aims to provide the local Asian community with specialist help and advice in managing diabetes-related problems in an environment they feel comfortable with.

The centre is part of a pilot project due to run for one year, during which time researchers from the University of Warwick's Medical School will analyse its effectiveness - with a view to creating permanent clinics across the country in the near future. To date the successful project has been nominated for five national awards by various health service organisations. Project co-ordinator Dr Shirine Boardman said she hoped the unique clinic would dramatically reduce the disproportionately high levels of diabetes, strokes and heart attacks in the south Asian population. "It is very exciting to be able to run a pilot research clinic for diabetes which is tailored to the needs of a community which is disadvantaged by its predisposition to premature diabetes, heart disease, strokes and kidney failure," she said. "Members of the Asian community are six times more likely to get diabetes due to their genetics - but this centre will help promote self-care and will help to empower and keep patients motivated.

Hundreds of local Asian people attended the official launch on Friday, along with councillors, mayors and members of South Warwickshire PCT, which has supported the project from the beginning. Warwick District councillor Balvinder Gill added: "Hospitals are frightening places for this community and signify serious illness. "The community is also shy and they often won’t visit the doctor until it’s too late, not to mention the language problems, which prevent them from expressing their symptoms. "Having this clinic means they will feel relaxed in their own environment."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Global Health Photo Contest

The Global Health Council's Photography Contest is dedicated to drawing attention to health issues that have a global impact and to celebrate this year's conference theme, Partnerships: Working Together for Global Health.

Each year, the Global Health Council holds a photography contest inviting both amateurs and professionals to submit selections of their work which clearly illustrate the theme of the Council’s core issues of women’s health, child health, infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS and emerging health threats.

The Global Health Council recognizes the ability of photography to convey great emotional depth and understanding of issues which are often difficult to discuss, and seeks to highlight the important contributions to understanding and action made by the winner of the award.

The winner's work will be prominently displayed at the conference and will appear in Global Health Council publications with attribution.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera

I've been reading a lot about this new book by English activist Jasvinder Sanghera and it is definitely blog worthy. You might ask how this book is related to health, but you will soon realize that health is integrally linked to the well-being of both our bodies and mind.

In her memoir, Jasvinder discusses the, what seems to be "controversial" issue of forced marriage. (Why it is controversial is unknown to me, when quite clearly we have reached a time in the progression of our culture to realize that the concept of forced marriage is not only unacceptable but also conflicts with the values upheld by the Sikh religion). It is a shame to read about the difficulties the author incurred while trying to stand up for what was the right thing, and it is a further shame that she lost the support of those individuals (namely her sisters) whom she felt inspired to fight for.

Her story is heart-breaking and tragic. I found this statement interesting, "By day I fought for the rights of Asian women," she writes, "and by night I craved acceptance from the very community I rejected." There is no clear consensus as to what to do because coming from a culture that is so integrally tied, women are deeply conflicted. Family and community should not be a weight - and often times, they are.

It usually comes down to a female who has to fight for a right that is so easily provided to her male counterpart. It is therefore usually females who have to suffer through the trials and tribulations of breaking the norm and bringing shame upon their family. Often times, it is these same women who are really striving to live by the values and morals set out by their religion.

Anyway, i am looking forward to reading the book - to be allowed to enter another's experience through their memoir is profound. But i hope this book spurs dialogue around forced marriage and the consequences it has on the well-being of our community. Everyone is affected by it - mothers, fathers, sons, daugheters, sisters, and brothers. Suicide rates and depressions rates have increased (the suicide rate among young South Asian females is three times the national average) and research has shown the long-term and damaging effects of that.