Published: Wednesday 31 January 2001

Cancer and care

This is in reference to the article 'Agony of the Waiting' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No12; November 15). The real story behind cancer care in this country is the extended suffering caused by doctors who are either unable to tell the patients the truth about their cancer or they continue to treat the disease even when it is incurable. This leads to unnecessary physical, emotional and financial pain.

The reasons behind this are complicated. Doctors are taught to cure at all cost, but in India, 80 per cent of the patients come to the doctor when the cancer is too advanced for a cure. For all these patients, radiation or chemotherapy may be helpful for a period of time but when the disease spreads and no longer responds to these therapies, doctors need to tell the patients the truth.

Palliative care encompasses all the needs of a person faced with terminal cancer. Every oncology department should have palliative care integrated into its cancer care programme.

CanSupport, in collaboration with the pain clinic at Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, runs a home care project where people are cared for in their own homes by their relatives but with the professional support of a palliative care team. This has the benefit of people being able to die at home which is where most people wish to be. It frees up hospital beds and is cheaper than any medical and nursing care that the patients might get outside. ...

Turn vegetarian

I am an avid reader of Down to Earth and would like to draw attention to one aspect that the magazine rarely talks about. It has articles on the environment, on saving the earth and the animals living on it. But rarely do we think about the need to turn into vegetarians. This is the least we can do to save the planet. We can all start contributing to preserving the environment by turning vegetarian.

I was a non-vegetarian a year back but I turned into a vegetarian. My will power, hatred towards cruelty and support from friends helped me turn into a vegetarian. Today I feel much much better, my conscience is clear too. I request you to run a column on vegetarianism and talk about its advantages....

Unhealthy abattoirs

The manner in which animals are slaughtered and abattoirs managed in India creates a most unhealthy environment. People in our country are exposed to hazardous, contagious diseases that are transferred from animals to humans. There are more than 40,000 licensed slaughterhouses and many more illegal slaughterhouses which generate biological waste after slaughtering of animals. Amongst them are blood, semi-liquid and small body parts of animals which are passed untreated into the domestic drains. Each 30 kg of animal slaughtered can generate about 3,300 litre of "slurry" which can pose serious problems by contaminating ground and surface water. Usually, in India, domestic drains empty into the rivers or ponds and thus form the richest source for the growth of various microorganisms.

All this prompts us to advocate vegetarianism. But it may not be possible to advocate total vegetarianism in our country. However, certain practices like slaughtering only healthy animals, washing and cleaning them before slaughtering, proper cleaning, disinfecting and fumigation of the abattoir should be adopted to protect the human population from contracting communicable diseases from the animal products. ...

Rain drain

It is true that none of the cities in our country have good and effective drainage systems. Even our upcoming silicon city, Hyderabad, had roads waterlogged for prolonged periods during the recent floods. The Musi River in Hyderabad, into which flows all the drain water of the city, has been encroached on all sides. The citizens had a nightmarish experience during the rainy season. There is no point in blaming the meteorological department for this. Even if it had given a warning in time the drainage system would not have worked properly. It is like plugging the drain and pouring buckets of water in the bathroom. We must accept that we have not been able to use our traditional knowledge to build effective sewers nor are we able to implement modern systems of drainage. During my recent visit to Toowoomba, a small town of only one lakh people near Brisbane in Australia, I saw that there were foolproof structures for drains to handle such calamities.

We are still very far from such planning and development. It is good that Centre for Science and Environment is building opinions on this....

Pachyderm menace

Residents of Bhubaneswar are living under the perennial fear of wild elephants descending on their locality. More and more people are being trampled to death by elephants. In November, 11 people, including three women and four children, have been killed by elephants from the nearby Chandika sanctuary and Bharatpur reserved forestry. Forest officials and NGOs believe that such incidents are bound to increase as forests are being regularly depleted leaving the pachyderms with no option but to descend on the habitations. The state government has done nothing to restore the fencing of the sacntuaries and the thousands of trees that were uprooted during the supercyclone. ...


The graph 'Balding patches'on page 33 (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 16; January 15) was meant to highlight the loss of forest cover in Chattisgarh, Uttaranchal and Jharkhand according to the State of Forest Report 1997 and 1999. Chattisgarh lost 97,500 hectares (ha) of forests in1997, but gained 25,800 ha in 1999. In Uttaranchal, forest cover rose by 1,700 ha, according to the 1999 assessment, while in Jharkhand, a loss of 3,100 ha and 4,800 ha has been reported in 1997 and 1999 reports, respectively.
The ommission is regretted.

In the article 'Pitching in for a pond' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 16; January 15, 2001) the writer has not been able to differentiate between a talab (pond) and pokhar (farm pond) . Talab is a common property resource, which is constructed either on community pastureland or on the revenue land. Whereas, a pokhar is a privately owned asset constructed on private agricultural field or wasteland. The error is regretted....

Unfortunate people

The article on pollution in cities leading to dreadful, incurable, unaffordable diseases particularly to the weaker section of the society was an eyeopener (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No12; November 15). The pitiable situations in which the patients find themselves warrant sympathy and care. In this context, apart from creating awareness, should we not extend a helping hand to these unfortunate people? The creation of a fund to aid these patients would be welcome and on behalf of your esteemed readers, I personally extend you all cooperation....

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.