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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Women's History Month (India) kicks off

The Indian Wikimedia community is pleased to invite you to participate in Women’s History Month events, 2014. We started off with a pre event Wikipedia workshop at Roshni Nilaya School of Social Work, in Mangalore on the 26th of Feb. We have planned events all through this month.  They aim at creating new articles, expanding the existing stubs and translating English articles to various Indic languages.The schedule includes Wikipedia workshops, online edit-a-thons and wikiparties. You could edit articles, translate them, blog about the events or even be an enthusiast. Visit this page to know more about getting involved.

Real-life Wikipedia workshops will conducted in different parts of India. Two online edit a thons have been planned. The first one on the 8th & 9th of March focuses on women parliamentarians and the second one on the 15th&16th will be looking to expand the work done during the last year events on women scientists from India. Participants of the Women’s History Month events in India are requested to fill up this opt in form to help the organizers evaluate the quantum and quality of the edits made.Centre for Internet and Society (Access to Knowledge) has extended their support to the Women’s History Month events in India this year. 

The Indian events are being conducted as a part of the global event supported by the Wikiwomen’s Collaborative. We look forward to welcoming all participants at this year’s event. Men are invited too :-) 

By Jeph Paul and Netha Hussain


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Miles Away

Disclaimer : This story is a work of fiction. However, all characters, monuments, institutions and places mentioned in this story are real. The author is aware that the thread of this story has resemblance to the incidents mentioned in Chapter 1 of Dan Brown's novel, Inferno. The author believes that she was inspired by the novelist's fast-paced plots that revolve round an intriguing incident described back-and-forth in time. However, there is no content scraping or copyright infringement in this story and any similarity to the writing style of the said author is purely unintentional. 


I woke up from sleep after what seemed like ages. I tried to lift my hands, but I could barely move them. I tried to listen to the voices around me. I heard the beep of the life support devices and the muffled voices of people talking to each other. I tried to make sense of the  voices, but they were incomprehensible. The peculiar sterile smell of the place was strangely familiar.

My head was aching. I felt like I was being pricked by a million needles all over my head. A sharp shooting pain ran down my spine and I felt as if I being electrocuted. My pulse quickened and the machines attached to me started beeping vigorously. I tried to wriggle out, but I couldn't. I felt very heavy. I could only manage to move my body a bit in response to pain.

It now occurred to me that I was in a hospital, probably in the intensive care unit. I tried to think hard, but I couldn't remember how I ended up there. My headache was worse than the worst episodic migraine I've ever had, something terrible must have happened to me. The last thing I remember was examining a patient in my hospital.

I tried to open my eyes, my eyelids gave way despite its heaviness. The room was empty except for me and the medical devices. Looking around, I saw that I was supine on the bed, connected to an intravenous line. A bottle of 5% dextrose hung from the pole of the i.v stand like a hideous fruit on a leafless tree. The side rails of my bed were pulled up. I had fresh bandages on both knees. The tip of my finger was attached to the sensor of the pulse oximeter. I looked up the machine on my right side and found that my oxygen saturation, pulse and heart rates were within normal limits. A crash cart, covered with a green cloth stood at the right corner. An ECG machine with unconnected leads sat on the shelf behind my head. There was a window covered with curtains at the far end of the room.

I had no difficulty in figuring out where I was. I was in Calicut Medical College.

A nurse, dressed in blue scrubs hurriedly entered the room. She pulled the plastic stool from under my bed and sat down. She had a long pointed face, neatly threaded eyebrows and gentle, brown eyes. She wore steel rimmed spectacles. Her hair was neatly tied into a bun. It looked like she was in her mid-thirties. I could say from her demeanor that she was from South Kerala. She smiled at me, studied my face for a while, and picked up the clipboard and pen which was on the head end of my bed.

“How are you feeling?”, she asked in English, with a pronunciation suggesting an Oxford sojourn some time in her past.
“My head hurts badly”, I said. “Besides, I can speak Malayalam”, I added after a while of silence.
She looked mildly surprised. She continued the conversation in Malayalam, in what I thought was a southern accent.
“What is your name?”
“Netha Hussain”, I replied.
She noted down on the clipboard.
“Occupation?”
It was clear that she did not know that I was a medical student. Gone are the days when medicos and nurses knew each other very well.

“I am a writer”, I replied. Apart from being a medical student, I was also a writer. In fact, outside of the hospital, I always introduced myself as a writer. I was mildly agitated because she did not recognize me as a medical student. If the nurse did not know that I was a medical student studying in this college, there was no way I was telling her the same.

She noted down something on the clipboard.

“What day is today?”, she asked, after adjusting her spectacles that stooped beyond the bridge of the nose and was in peril of falling down.

“Tuesday”, I said without a doubt. Tuesday was the out-patient day of my medical unit, when we had to examine patients in the Casualty in the afternoon. I might have had an accident during work or on my way back home, and might have got admitted to the ICU of the same Casualty.

“Do you know where you are?”, when she asked, I knew that she was trying to test if I was oriented in place.
“Calicut Medical College”, I replied confidently. She had finished the questions to test my orientation in time and place. The next question would test if I was oriented in person. I smiled inwardly.

She stood up and reached out to a locker which was on top of the shelf where the ECG machine was kept. She turned the key twice, opened the locker, and took a camera out. I immediately recognized that it was an Olympus SZ-16. She swiped through the controls and turned the screen towards me. Written on the top right of the control button was my name.

“Don’t you touch my camera”, I snapped.

“Sorry. But I want you to identify this man”, she said firmly, pointing to the man in the picture.
It was the picture of a man in his twenties, wearing a t-shirt and grinning widely. I looked carefully. Though I found him strangely familiar, I had no idea who he was. I didn't even know how that picture got into my camera.

“He looks European”, I said. “Probably from eastern Europe”, I added after studying his features.
“So, you do not know him?”

“I guess I don’t”, I replied truthfully.

She then swiped once more and showed the picture of another man. He was taller, and had similar features like the other one. I couldn't recognize him either.

Then, she showed me a third picture. It took me a second to process what I was seeing. Then, my jaw dropped.
 


I was standing between the two men whose photographs the nurse had previously shown me. It was evident from the picture that the men knew me very well. Their t-shirts suggested that they were associated with Mozilla/Firefox. Being a Mozilla volunteer for over a year, I tried to recall who they were, but I did not have a clue. I had clearly lost my memory.

I was getting increasingly confused. I told the nurse that I did not know the context of the photograph. She smiled empathetically and asked me to relax.

She looked up the monitor of the pulse oximeter and scribbled something on the clipboard. Then, she went out to call the doctor.

In around ten minutes, the doctor arrived. He was a white, tall man in blue scrubs. He had a long pointed nose, golden hair and thin lips. There was a stethoscope around his neck. What struck me was that he didn't look Indian at all. I knew that it was possible for foreigners to intern in my hospital, but since when did they start seeing patients in the ICU?

The nurse talked to the doctor in French. She said about me being désorienté and embrouillé.
Disoriented and confused. I knew enough French to make out what she was talking about.
“I am not disoriented”, I shouted at them in English.

The doctor looked at me and gave me a compassionate smile. He sat down on the stool near me and asked me in English if he could examine me. I did not protest.

He took out a pen torch from his pocket and examined my eyes. When he took out another torch, I knew that it was for testing consensual light reflex – so I placed the medial border of my hand on my nose to help him to shield the light. He looked amused at my gesture.

During the course of examination, I cooperated with extreme dexterity. After he examined for wrinkles on my forehead, I took the cue and shut my eyes tightly. Then, I blew my cheek, showed my teeth and grimaced, in that order, without being instructed to do so. I was helping him to test my seventh cranial nerve.
The doctor’s amusement turned to surprise. He asked me if I were a healthcare practitioner. I replied that I was a medical student. He asked many questions during the course of examination, and I knew that he was trying to assess my higher mental functions. He told me that he had to catch up with many patients that day, so he had to be really quick. We ended the examination with me demonstrating dysdodakokinesia and Brudzinski’s sign without waiting for instructions from him.

The doctor told me that except for a few superficial injuries on the arm and one knee, I was normal. It was a case of retrograde amnesia and he said I would recover soon. He told me that I had already started shaping new memories, indicating that it is a good sign. He assured me that he had looked into my CT scan reports, and had found that everything was okay. He left after giving instructions to to the nurse in French. I felt reassured. But I couldn’t yet recall the happenings that led to the hospital admission.  The nurse moved the window screens before she left and I could look outside the room.



The view was stunning. I could see a Gothic-style tower with a square tower body that narrowly pinnacled to an octagonal spire. The metal statue of the archangel Michael was clearly visible through the glass window. Thanks to my high school research on medieval architecture, I knew that I was seeing the 96 metre long tower of the Town Hall. This monument was unique, and has long been the icon of a city and a UNESCO world heritage site. People visiting this city never miss taking pictures of this monument. The tower looked even more stunning in the night light.

I swallowed at the thought of where I was. There is only one place in the world where this monument could be.

Brussels, Belgium. I was over ten thousand kilometres away from Calicut.

I now knew why the doctor spoke French, the native language of most Belgians, and why the nurse described me as disoriented when I recognized the place as Calicut Medical College.
The stark realization made me feel sick. What was I doing here? Did I meet with an accident? How did I end up in Brussels?

I scanned through the pictures on my camera hoping to recall something from my memory. On camera, I saw numerous pictures of people at what seemed like a party. It was evident that I has spent a long time with a bunch of people whose faces I could not recall.



Just then, the nurse opened the door.
“Am I in Brussels?” I asked in Malayalam.
“Good that you started remembering things” she said.
“Ahem, actually, I do not remember anything. I just made an intelligent guess on seeing this tower”, I said, pointing towards the window.

She sat down beside me, and started talking in measured sentences.
“The only thing we know about you was that you met with an accident while you were sightseeing with your friends. Your friends are busy at the hospital administration wing, entering your personal details into the hospital’s database, talking with the police and conversing with the Indian Embassy over phone. Personnel from the Embassy will reach here after 10 am in the morning to talk with you and find out if you need any help”.

“Actually, do you know how I reached Brussels? I only remember examining patients in my college-hospital in India”.

“I have no idea”, she shrugged. “Probably your friends know. They will be allowed to see you in a while. I suggest that you take some rest”.

After checking the i.v lines, she turned to leave. I quickly held her hand, making her look back.

“How, as a Malayali, did you land up here in Brussels?”, my eyes widened with curiosity as I anticipated her reply.

“You might already know that a lot of the nursing workforce worldwide comes from Kerala. I immigrated to Belgium 5 years ago, and I've been working here for the last 3 years. I figured you were from Kerala from your passport and I asked the duty doctor to put me in charge of you”, her eyes narrowed as she smiled.

“In fact, my duty gets over by 12 pm in the night, but I stayed on to ensure that you were alright. Now, that you are stable and conscious, I think I can leave”.

I was speechless for a while. I managed to say a ‘Thank you’ at last.

“There is an Indian nurse in the next shift. I have already called her up and asked her to take good care of you”, she smiled as she spoke. “And by the way, my name is Sheila. I have left my visiting card in your case record. If you have any trouble, don’t hesitate to call me”, she added.

I thanked her again. As soon as she was gone, three men and a woman entered the room. All were in colourful Mozilla outfits. I immediately recognized that they were the people I saw in the pictures.
“Good Lord, I hope you are alright”, the woman exclaimed. I later learnt that her name was Ana-Maria Antolović.

I smiled weakly.
“Sorry”, I said. “I can’t remember your faces, though you all look strangely familiar. I think I met with an accident and I can’t remember a thing. Not even travelling  to Brussels”.

“Big story”, the woman said. “You reached Brussels for the Mozilla Summit. We met you on the first day of the conference and became friends. You were returning to the hotel with us after the closing party of the Summit. As we were walking, an unknown driver speeded his car through the sidewalk and knocked you down. Luckily, you were not badly injured. You immediately fell unconscious, and we called an ambulance to bring you here”.

“The doctor told us that you would recover soon and be able to return to your country in good shape”, she smiled as she placed a bowl of fruits on to the eating board attached to my bed.
“Eat well and be strong”, one of the men said playfully.
“Thanks people, too bad that I can’t remember the time I spent with you”.
“You already have hundreds of pictures of us and the Summit in your camera. You will remember everything in no time”, the other man re-assured.
We had a hearty laugh together.

Sincere thanks to :

 * Ana-Maria Antolović, Dejan Strbad, Saša Teković and Stanić Mihovil from Mozilla Hrvatska, Croatia for letting me use their pictures taken during the Mozilla Summit 2013 in Brussels in October 2013.

* Neethu P.M and her elder sister for cross-checking the consistency of medical facts mentioned in this story.

* Jeph Paul for spending several hours in copy-editing and reviewing this post. 

* Neethu Santhosh, Neethu N.T and Sona Sathian for reading the story from a medical student's perspective and providing me with valuable criticism.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gulag

By Jeph Paul

The first time I came across ‘gulag’ was when I chanced upon it in my seventh grade. I was impatiently prancing up and down in my school’s library trying to find a book that interested me. Not finding any, I decided on a volume of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Turning the pages, this funny sounding word ‘gulag’ caught my attention. I decided to stop and read the blurb that followed it. It said that gulag was a prison system in Soviet Russia. The write up ended with an uprising in one of the penal colonies in the system. It went something like ‘They tore down the wall that separated the men’s quarters from that of the women and for a time led a life of freedom. The inmates got married to each other & led a life of dignity for a while till the tanks sent by the Kremlin crushed them. The penal colonies were wound up shortly after the uprising ’. 

As a twelve year old I didn’t understand how an armed revolt could happen in a penal colony. I had never heard of anything similar in India then. What were they revolting for? Why didn’t they just run away to freedom? There weren’t books on Soviet history in the library and I did not have access to the internet at that time. I gave my curiosity a quick slip that evening and moved on to woo one of my classmates. Questions like who the prisoners were and why they revolted kept coming back to me over the years. With no means to find the answer I’d move on to other things. Besides I was still trying to woo the same person. I would go on to finish school & then my undergrad. Russia too had moved on from its bankruptcy in 1997. After years of ineffective governance and being run by Yeltsin & his coterie dubbed ‘The family’ that robbed the nation, Russia was in the hands of a young and ambitious ex KGB officer called Putin.

After spending 11 months at my first workplace, I decided to move to a new job in a different city. I was staying with my friends from college and one of them was applying to grad school. While helping him out with his Statement of Purpose & his other essays, my old curiosity once again raised its head. But this time I decided to read up on gulag and to get to the bottom of it,besides the girl had moved on which put an end to the other sub plot. Wikipedia did give me a little information, but I wanted more & so I searched around for a good book to read. The recommendations would always start with Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. But after downloading an e-book of the same I realised I would never be able to finish it. It had three large volumes. It’s sheer size put me off ,besides I wasn’t looking for a literary treatment. I was looking for a blow by blow account of what it was & why was it run and finally why was it shut down? I finally decided on Gulag A history by Anne Applebaum. It was a modern text written in English and not a translated work from Russian. I downloaded a copy, pirated of course. But it turned out to be disappointing. Random words and letters were missing throughout the book. I just couldn’t parse it. Out of desperation, I decided to purchase a copy online. That would set me back by Rs. 840 & I would also have to wait for a week and a half since it was an imported copy. I decided to extract my pound of flesh & got my friend to buy me the book in return for my help with his essays. The book was on its way.
The book has 27 chapters divided into three part. At 515 pages and a font size that strains even the healthiest of eyes, it is a formidable read. It goes into the depths of the atrocities committed in the name re-education. It talks about quotas being prepared, listing out the percentage of prisoners to be liquidated. I read about prisoners being made to work on vanity projects like the White Sea canal which served no real maritime purpose and prisoners being given impossible work targets to be achieved in the labour camps.

‘He who has not been there will get his turn. He who has been there will never forget it’
                                                                                          --Soviet proverb about prisons.

The gulag was really a giant prison system run by the Soviet special police which later came to be called the KGB. It was set up soon after the October revolution. It expanded greatly in the 1930’s under Stalin’s rule and began to shrink in the 1950’s after his death. It was never really wound up and continued in one form or the other till the fall of the Soviet Union. It was meant to be a system of re-education camps where people from all walks of life were thrown in. No one was spared - ethnic minorities, POW’s, dissidents or people who had the misfortune of falling out with their colleagues at work were all rounded up and sent to the camps. The reasons were arbitrary & and after a sham trial the person would end up in a camp. Sometimes entire populations were uprooted. At the height of the gulag in the 1930’s, there wasn’t a semblance of a reason, you could be charged for plotting a conspiracy to blowup a bridge that never did exist. People were literally picked up from the street and the next second they were on their way to a camp. During Stalin’s time, the official policy was to use the inmates as bonded labourers & to make the prison system self sustaining through the inmate's labour. You could also get arrested if the camps were running short of labour or if the camps needed specialized skills like engineers. The camp system was present across the breadth of the Soviet Union spanning 12 time zones.
The conditions in the camps were generally inhumane and unbearable. There was never enough food. Food was rationed and many of the inmates starved to death. There were never enough beds or clothes. Theft was rampant, rape and abuse were common. Entire cities were built solely with slave labour. The White Sea Canal was the most celebrated example of this system of labour. Like the Pyramids of Giza, it stands as a testament to human savagery & vanity. Millions of people passed through the system and at least one million of them perished.
I started the book expecting a epic revolt that brought the system down but what I found was a saddening tale of the destruction of the lives of millions of people for no real fault of theirs. There were many revolts, strikes and uprisings in the camps , especially in the coal fields of Kolyma. What came closest to my romanticised revolt was the celebrated uprising in the Ust-Usa camp in Vorkuta during the second world war in 1942. It was led by a free prisoner called Mark Retyunin. Before they were finally put down by the soviet army, they defended themselves for days.
The deaths in the camps are comparable or may even be of greater magnitude than the horror unleashed by the Nazis against the Jews. It is startling to note that, after all the evidence that points to Stalin’s bloody hands, people still look up to him as a strong leader who led the Soviet Union during troubled times. There is a wave in Russia today to glorify him and his acts. The general perception too isn’t different either, Nazis top the chart of absolute evil, but the facts as they are puts the Soviet regime under Stalin in close contention for the top spot too.
This model of labour camps was later replicated in China during Mao’s time and was called laojiao. The Chinese Parliament passed a resolution in December 2013 to wind up these camps after over 60 years of their existence.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Over a cup of coffee

I first saw you on-stage at the public speech contest held at Vythiri when you were a high school student. I was a contestant at the versification contest at one of the off-stage venues, and my contest finished two hours later than expected, so you were half way done when I reached the main stage where you were speaking. The essence of the topic of your extemporatory speech, I later understood, was “Science and Superstitions”.

You were average in height, with slender build and narrow shoulders. You wore steel-rimmed spectacles whose refraction partially concealed the glow in your eyes. You were unconcerned about the heat of the media lights, the height of the podium you were standing on,the echoing of your voice from the huge microphones and the five hundred or more pairs of eyes which were watching you, measuring your every word, expression and movement.

Words seemed to flow from you effortlessly. “Science has reached to a point where the complexities of the Universe could be shredded into mathematical equations. Science has proved it that snakes cannot milk cows, that enchantings cannot cure diseases,that wine cannot be made out of water. Science proves facts beyond doubt. In science, every new breakthrough opens door to many new breakthroughs.”

Silence.  Followed by a huge applause.

Science should be the most powerful tool with which the educated youth should fight superstitions”. 

You paused to let the audience reflect upon the statement.

And we all are here, just in time to revolutionize the world with rational thoughts”. You ended.

You walked away from the stage before the audience could stop the huge applause. And that was the first time I saw you. I’d never forget the way you probed the audience, as if sending a message directly to me. I wanted to give you a handshake. But you happened to be so inaccessible to me at that time that I didn’t even attempt to meet you in person let alone giving a handshake.

On the next day evening, when the prizes were being distributed, I carefully listened to the list of winners to find out if you were one. Your name was announced twice, as the first place holder of the extemporatory speech and debate. A teacher from your school received the prize on your behalf, as you had already departed from Vythiri by then. You were to represent Kerala state in the National Contest to be held during next month.

Your name was Arun Prayag

Long after, I accidentally saw your profile while scrolling through dozens of friend suggestions offered by facebook. I am not someone who likes going through the facebook profiles of random people, but there was something that made me to click on your name impulsively. It was the familiarity associated with your name or it was the gleam in your eyes that made me feel like you are probing my eyes: I am not sure which of these made me look into your profile. I discovered from your profile that you are my senior at college, and suddenly realised that you were the debater I saw at Vythiri four years back. I quickly scanned through the list of current students on the medical college’s website and found that you are now pursuing the compulsory rotating internship at the hospital attached to the medical college. You would have been posted in any of the twenty departments in the hospital, each of which is further broken down into three to six units. It was near impossible to find out where you were, unless I ask for information from one of your batch mates. 

I went through the posts on your facebook wall and found that you were quite active there. You had posted statuses, links and comments about irrational governmental policies, emerging diseases and healthcare tips. You also had also shared anecdotes from your life as an intern. All these sounded very much like you, confirming my suspicion that you were indeed the debater I once looked up with respect. I overcame the urge to send you a friend request, fearing that you might not accept my friendship because you do not know me in person.

In the following days, I looked for you while I passed through the corridor from one ward to another, among the team of doctors that conducted morning rounds around patients lying down on mats in the verandah . You were expected to be the one without the white coat, kneeling down on the floor mat of the patient, wearing the stethoscope round your neck, explaining the details of the patient to the small group of white-coat-wearing senior doctors and jotting down the orders on the case record. You were not to be seen in any group of doctors I saw. You were never to be seen at any of the community events at college which made me think if you had shrunk to medical books the way many of the medicos have done. You were not to be seen at the entrance coaching institute like the many interns who choose to devote their weekends to study for the post-graduate entrance exams. You were not seen in the coffee-station where doctors, medics and nurses hung out after their ward rounds to gossip over a cup of coffee. You seemed to be literally non-existent. Eventually I stopped looking for you and forgot about you altogether. 
 
                                                      ---------------------------------------
 
 It was a particularly busy day in the Outpatient department. In addition to the interns, medical students were also asked to help out the consulting physicians by examining the patients and explaining the findings. Names of people were being called out through the microphone every once in a while. People who were impatiently waiting for their turn had started to encroach into the cubicles of doctors to find out when their turn would arrive. The Outpatient tickets were being stalked on the physician’s desks from time to time by the green-uniformed nursing assistant. It was half past one in the afternoon when the queue in the OP thinned, when medical students were let go. I sighed in relief when I was finally released from work. Being too tired and hungry,  I walked my way to the coffee station anticipating to have some light snack before going to the lecture class which would start in 30 minutes. 

The coffee station had glass-shelves, which displayed fried snacks of various shades of brown and different shapes – round, triangular or doughnut shaped. As it was late in the afternoon, there were not many people hanging out at the coffee-station. I bought a coffee and idli-vada, and sat down on one of the empty seats close to the entrance. After some time, a man sat down on the seat directly opposite to me, despite several other eating tables being vacant. I quickly looked up, and found that it was you.

Netha, right?

Yes”, I replied. I was surprised that you knew my name.

And you are Arun”, I said. You looked amused and all the more surprised to be recognized. You were amazed to learn from me later that I remember you from the high school public speech contest at Vythiri. 

We talked. You told me that you know me from the organization I am volunteering at. That you had also joined the same organization a few months back. That your busy schedule at the hospital is keeping you from spending more time on volunteering. That you have moved from public speaking to digital writing. That you are planning to launch a digital magazine about medicine and health in Malayalam language. That you are reading Albert Camus’s ‘The Stranger’ and is thoroughly enjoying it. That you aspire to become a physician-scientist. That you had won the third place for the debate contest at the National level after winning at Vythiri. That you feel like it has been ages since you made your last public speech. That you are posted at a community health centre in a village close by, which justified your absence from the hospital.

I felt as if you were my acquaintance for a long time, though that was the first time we met. Our talk continued for a long  time even after we finished drinking the coffee. I had to interrupt and wind up our conversation to reach in time for the afternoon lecture class. We parted after promising to keep in touch with each other. 
 
When I checked my facebook account that evening, I found that you had dropped a friend request.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Apollo hospitals : Caring for lives and saving them

Ericana and Eludi. Two cute little babies of four-and-a-half months age. And their mother. From Tanzania, Africa. Now at Apollo Children’s Hospital,Vanagaram.

The mother, hailing from a small village named Kasumulu in Tanzania, has picked up some Tamil by now. Her eyes reflect her greatfullness to the hospital staff for taking care of her babies so well. The babies, lively and smart, have become the stars of the hospital. They have managed to be the apple of the eye of the nurses and doctors. They are now fondly addressed as ‘Ammukkutty’ and ‘Chellakkutty’ by the hospital staff.

These babies are unlike other babies. They are conjoint twins, fixed at the buttocks. Doctors call this condition by the name ‘pyopagus’ (fixed at pelvis). These twins are of importance to the global medical fraternity, because there have only been 30 cases of live born pyopagus twins reported in medical literature. Of these, only four have been males. These cute little boys would be the fifth pyopagus twins to be reported. 


For the mother, it was not an easy task to deliver these babies. She had to go through a difficult pregnancy because she had two babies growing within her. It was however, not known to her or the doctors that the two babies are conjoint.  She was advised a C-section to bring out both babies, because she had had a C-section previously, and a twin pregnancy this time. The operation was performed at a District Hospital. The surgery was difficult because the surgeons had to deliver two babies, attached to each other attached to each other at the back. The babies were immediately referred to Mohimbilli Hospital at the capital city for further management. After traveling for three days in an ambulence, the mother and the babies reached the hospital, but the surgery for separation of the twins was too difficult to perform. 
 
The cute little twins with their mother

That was when Apollo Hopsital pitched in to help. The involvement of Apollo hospital was a turning point in the babies’ lives. Apollo Hospital is closely related to the government of Tanzania by the pioneer project, ‘Save a Child’s Heart Initiative’ (SACHI). The involvement with the Tanzanian government made it easy for Apollo hospitals to take care of the babies and bring them to India for expert management.

  Dr. Edward Keily, the pediatric surgeon from Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, would lead the surgery along with his team of 20 doctors from various specialities. The team includes a neurosurgeon, a pediatric urologist and a plastic surgeon. For Dr. Keily, the expert surgeon who have saved numerous lives in the past and helped many ill children lead a normal life, this surgery would be uneventful. The twins and their mother have put all in their faith in the team of doctors at Apollo. Apollo hospital has cutting end technology and expert hands to ensure that this 16-20 hour long surgery is a success. As a medical student, I am eagerly looking forward to listening the progress and outcome of the surgery because this is one of the rarest of surgeries performed till date. The surgery is scheduled to happen on 16th of December 2013.


In their home village in Tanzania, hundreds of well-wishers are looking forward to this milestone event, wishing the surgeons good luck. The mother of the two is silently praying for the best to happen so that she may bring her babies back home, healthy and separated. Doctors all over the world are updating news from Vanagaram, to know the health status of the babies. Messages are pouring in from every place in the planet, mostly from anonymous senders, wishing the babies a healthy future. 

I wish the Apollo team a successful and uneventful surgery. May the babies be able to live a healthy long life, untroubled by illnesses. May they grow up to become leaders of future. May the mother of the twins have the courage and will to let her children go through the surgery. May this rare surgery meet with success. Here is wishing you all the best!


Disclaimer: This post is written for Apollo Hospitals and Change.org as a part of the promotion of their conjoint twin surgery. The entry received a flipkart voucher of 5000 INR.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Women at Wikimania 2013

Wikimania 2013, the annual conference of the Wikimedia movement, had the participation of more than 60 women. As of July 30, women accounted 20 percent of online registrations for Wikimania 2013. There was a separate track for 'Women in Wikimedia' on Day 2 of the conference. Around 40 women participated in WikiWomen's Luncheon which happened on the same day. 

Organizing team
The Program Committee  of 11 comprised of two women, Katie Filbert and Sarah Stierch. Ellie Young facilitated and supported the organizing team in her capacity as the conference co-ordinator of Wikimedia Foundation. Katie Chan was a member of the scholarship committee of Wikimania 2013. 

Keynote by Sue Gardner
The keynote on the final day of the conference was delivered by Sue Gardner, the Executive Director of Wikimedia Foundation. In response to a question from the press, she replied : "I wish we had solved the (gender gap) problem (in Wikimedia), but didn't."
WikiWomen's Lunch during Wikimania-2013. Sue Gardner,CC-BY-SA.

Wikiwomen's Luncheon
Wikiwomen's Luncheon , the luncheon for women attendees of Wikimania 2013, was held on the second day of the conference. Around 40 women participated in the luncheon. Conversation was facilitated by Sue Gardner. Sue told that the participation in the Wikiwomen's Lunch has rose from 11 in Taipei, 2011 to more than 100 in Washington D.C, 2012.  Gardner observed that when Wikimedia's editor community is dominated by educated males, and expansion is by word-of-mouth, it will not "naturally grow to be as diverse as it otherwise could have been."Sarah Stierch, the Program Evaluation Community Coordinator for the Wikimedia Foundation, shared her experiences about volunteering with the Wikimedia Foundation. Staff members of Wikimedia Deucheland passed information and distributed flyers of their upcoming Diversity Conference , which is scheduled to take place in Berlin in November.

Women speakers
Sue Gardner at Wikimedia 2013. By Lvova [CC-BY-SA-3.0],, via Wikimedia Commons
The pre-conference events facilitated by women were: 
  1. Idea Lab Brainstorm (Siko Bouterse & Heather Walls)
  2. Presentation Clinic (Phoebe Ayers)
  3. Dev Camp (Sumana Harihareswara and others)
The community track for women in Wikimedia featured three talks:
  1. Promoting diversity in the German Wikipedia (Ilona Buchem)
  2. Towards bridging the gender gap in Indian Wikimedia Community (Jadine Lannon & Netha Hussain)
  3. Bridging the gender gap with women scientists
Other talks, panels and workshops by women speakers were:
  1. Open Street Map Workshop (Katie Filbert)
  2. Women and non-conventional education - a study from Indian cultural context  (Kavya Manohar)
  3. Growing the Arabic Wikipedia through the Wikipedia Education Program  (LiAnna Davis)
  4. Encouraging the creation and development of articles about women in Ibero-America (Ivana Lysholm)
  5. The coolest projects of Wikimedia Chapters - be inspired (Nicole Ebber; together with Lodewijk Gelauff) 
Women participants in panel discussions were :
  1. Carmen Alcázar and Monica Mora in Wiki Loves Monuments
  2. Sumana Harihareswara in Transparency and Collaboration in Wikimedia Engineering
(This is an incomplete list. If you know a woman speaker at Wikimania 2013, feel free to tell me to add her name here)

Press

1. "Wikipedia fails to bridge gender gap" (South China Morning Post, 11 August 2013) by Keira Huang
2. "Women contributors still face hurdles at Wikipedia" (The Wall Street Journal, 19 August 2013) by Riva Gold

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to touch lives with ToucHb


 An elderly female member of the family came out of the thatched hut to the courtyard and informed a middle aged man that the 'dai' needs to be called. Immediately on hearing this, the man stepped out of the house, picked up a firewood from the pile, wrapped a piece of cloth on its end, smeared it with kerosene and set it on fire. A fire torch was made. He walked towards the next village aiming to meet the 'dai' living there.The elderly woman watched him till the man vanished in the dark. The fire torch could still be seen as a bright yellow dot in the dark. 

On that full-moon night, the stars were shining brightly. It was while admiring the moon that pregnant Karthika felt pain on her lower abdomen. She held her breath and clenched her teeth, waiting for the pain to ease. She walked into the house with difficulty, and lay down on the bed. But the pain occurred to her intermittently, increasing in intensity each time. She called out to her mother for help. Her mother, an elderly lady, pressed on her abdomen and realized that Karthika is having labour pains. If a 'dai' (a birth attendant) was to be called, she should be payed heavily, besides providing her a meal. If the child was a boy, she had to be gifted a saree in addition to the payment and food. Calling a doctor to attend the delivery was out of question. Karthika's family would have to pay three months' earnings to be able to pay for the doctor in the village. Karthika's mother had attended a few deliveries, so she thought she would attend the birth of her daughter, and not make it expensive by availing a 'dai's service.

Ten hours passed. Karthika was writhing with pain. She screamed loudly. Her cries echoed in the shackle. Then, after it seemed like an eon, Karthika let out another loud wail while her mother, the elderly woman, pulled the baby out of the birth canal. The baby, after being slapped on the back by the lady, let out a cry. The woman smiled with joy.

It was time to look for fresh bleeding. Once bleeding starts, the placenta will begin to separate. The placenta should be pulled out with extreme care. The intact placenta should be separated from the uterus, and the blood should be wiped off. 

Karthika's mother waited, but the placenta showed no signs of separation. She applied gentle force at the end of the cord to pull the placenta out. A part of the placenta, along with the cord, separated out, followed by profuse bleeding. It was then that she decided to inform the menfolk about the bleeding, and to send them to urgently call the 'dhai'.

Women from the neighborhood, who heard about the mishap had flocked into Karthika's house and were eagerly waiting for the dhai to arrive from the next village. 

After what it seemed like two hours, the dhai arrived. Karthika was lying in a pool of blood. Her face was papery-white, and her pulse was hardly palpable.She looked at Karthika's face and found that she is about to bleed to death. All she could try was to apply pressure to her abdomen to stop the arteries from bleeding, but it did not work out. After losing a large volume of blood, Karthika slowly succumbed to death.

Karthika fell victim to postpartum haemorrhage. In India, where medical care is still not affordable or not accessible for the rural folk, postpartum haemorrage is the leading cause of maternal mortality. Most of these deaths are actually preventable with good obstetric care during delivery and routine health checkups during pregnancy.

A leading cause for postpartum hemorrhage among women in India is iron deficiency. More than three-fourth of Indian women are anaemic. Anaemia is augmented during pregnancy in most women because the nutritional demand is high during pregnancy, but the foo intake continues to be poor. A 2011 study by me and my classmates (5th semester M.B.B.S students at Govt. Medical College, Kozhikode) has revealed that anemia among pre-school children in a village in Kerala is as high as 15 percent. 

Myshkin Ingawale and his team have created a machine which they named ToucHb, that can be used to measure the hemoglobin level in the blood. The machine gives quick results, and can be operated by laymen. It is handy and cheap. It is so small that it can be fit into the handbag of the health worker (called ASHA worker in India). No lancets or syringes are required, eliminating the need for pricking the skin as done in conventional hemoglobin estimation. There is no fear of transmission of blood-borne infections, no Universal precautions needed, because no pricking is involved. Watch Myshkin's TED talk powered by Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in 2012 :



ToucHb is a real innovation which uses the principles of spectroscopy to determine the hemoglobin level in the blood. The device could be connected to an Android phone to deliver the test results into an application, and store the data for future use. The machine runs on a battery, which can easily be changed by the ASHA worker using it.

Though having a prick-free hemoglobinometer is an exciting idea, I wonder if it would really be of use in large scale at the public health level. The ASHA needs to be first trained on how to use the device, the training of which will require experts, which I think is going to be difficult. The simplest test for anemia is to look for pallor. I think it would be more cost effective to train the ASHAs to look for pallor in pregnant women, than to supply them with an instrument that runs on a battery. However, pallor is sometimes inconclusive and anemia at the initial stages do not produce pallor. Besides, a lot of subjectivity would creep in while looking for pallor - that which seems like pallor for one would look perfectly normal for another. But under the existing situations where it would be expensive for the government to provide every rural health worker with a ToucHb, examining for pallor seems to be an easier option. Find out how to look for anemia here :




Studies prove that nearly 80% of all women in India become anemic during their pregnancy. The government is providing 100 iron and folic tablets to every pregnant woman in the country, free of cost. There would be no point in using a device to diagnose anemia, when every woman, regardless of her anemia status, is being provided oral iron tablets. A screening device would be useful if only if those tested positive are subjected to an intervention for curing the disease. But in practice, the Government of India is providing free iron tablets to whoever is pregnant, eliminating the need of the screening test.

Now, what if a non-anemic woman takes iron tablets? It would be beneficial for her and her baby because the extra iron will be stored in her body, and at these levels, it does not cause any toxicity. So, I think it would be cost effective to get the iron-folic acid tablets to the ASHAs and train them to look for pallor for determining compliance than to provide them with a machine.

I think the real use of ToucHb is in the peripheral health centres (PHCs) in India. It is not affordable to have an automated hemoglobinometer in the peripheral health centres. It is also not possible to run emergency blood tests and get the results quickly while at a health centre in remote villages. If a machine like ToucHb could be provided to the doctor working in the PHCs, it would be of help to her/him to find out the hemoglobin level with higher accuracy than the clinical tests, and determine the mode of management of the patient. Knowing the degree of anemia is of importance to a doctor because the mode of management of the patient depends on the level of hemoglobin in blood. For those who have mild to moderate anemia, oral iron tablets might suffice. Some might require iron infusions. Those having severe anemia might require a blood transfusion and prompt referral to a higher centre or a tertiary level hospital. The machine will also show the oxygen saturation, which is of no relevance to the ASHA worker, but certainly of use for the doctor to know the health status of the patient. The machine will quickly get the heart rate of the patient, which would help the doctor to diagnose tachy/brady-cardia, and find out the cause for it.

Yes, ToucHb is a marvelous equipment that will democratize healthcare. I wish Myshkin and BioSense all the very best in their future endeavors and hope that they invent more such instruments in future.

Thanks to IndiBlogger and Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012 for inspiring me to write this article.

Tidbits :
1. Did you know that Myshkin has done his research on Wikipedia just like I did?
2. At 3:00 minutes on Myshkin's TEDx video, a syringe pricking the arm is shown. It is not a syringe for collecting blood, but one that is used to test for allergy to substances such as tuberculin. Also read Mantoux test.





Saturday, June 15, 2013

The House of Joy


It was on the afternoon of 8th March 2013 that I received a call from The Cradle Hospital, Calicut informing that I won the award for the second best essay. I was informed that a Woman's Day Celebration Party is happening in The Cradle Hospital that evening. Now, 8th of March is women's day, and I had elaborate plans for the evening on Wikipedia. Nevertheless, I decided that I must go because I had never celebrated any occasion at a hospital, and the prospect of visiting a hospital with world-class facilities cheered me up. Being a medical student, I was always inclined to observe the functioning of hospitals, and now I had the awesome opportunity to meet some nice doctors and see a world-class hospital!

The hospital is conveniently located on the By-Pass connecting the city to the Airport. I was greeted at the reception, and when I told the receptionist that I had come for the Women's Day celebration, I was asked to wait for a while. I was then greeted by Dr. Vani, an alumnus of my medical college. She informed me that the  celebration would begin in a few minutes, and led us to the Cafe. Dr. Vani made a lasting impression on me by speaking about the patient care facilities in the hospital. We also talked about the schedule of medical students and doctors, which both of us thought were very challenging.

The Cafe resembled the one I saw in the U.S. I was confused as to what to order, and finally settled for an ice cream. Afterwards, I paid a visit to the gift shop and found cute dresses and toys made for babies. The staff at the shop was extremely friendly.

I came to meet Ms. Sunitha Manikandan, the first prize winner for the essay. She is a teacher of English in a leading public school in Kozhikode. We discussed for about half an hour about the content of our essays, which were both about the topic : "Gender Agenda: Changing Momentum."

We were then led to the roomy hall on the top floor of the hospital building. The staff of the hospital, the patients and their relatives were all present! I got introduced to Mr. Laxman, the CEO of the hospital. He was kind enough to introduce me to many of the consultant doctors. The celebrations began with a quick introduction from Ms. Abitha, the counselor of the hospital. Later, in a pleasant chat, she told me that she loves her job at 'The Cradle' because she is flexible to do multiple roles, which she thinks brings the best out of her. I and Ms. Sunita were asked to speak a few words. I was overjoyed to be given an opportunity to speak! In my brief talk, I mentioned that "The Cradle is a house of joy because this is where the doctors give gentle care to the patients to help them ease the tension associated with labour and pregnancy, and to get them their precious baby in full health". I was moved by the way the audience appreciated my speech, all thanks to Dr. Vani who encouraged me to speak!

Next, we had the cake-cutting ceremony. I and Ms. Sunita cut the cake which had poetic verses about women written on it, and it was so informal that Ms. Sunita stuffed the first piece of cake into my mouth! The cake was then cut into pieces and distributed to all attendees.
The cake-cutting. Courtesy : The Cradle facebook page


The fun part was when a quiz contest was conducted. The quiz master would ask questions, and those who answered the question correctly would win a prize! All of us had fun finding the answers, and many of us won prizes too!

At the end of the function, I asked Dr. Laxman if it was okay for me to visit the labour suites and operation theaters of the  hospital. He was quite happy to let me visit the hospital facilities. I walked in to one of the labour suites, and found full-fledged facilities! The reclining bed could at once be converted into a labour cot at the pressing of a button on its handrest. The room was beautifully decorated and clean. There was a television set and a couch. The couch was for the mother and husband of the woman in labour. They would sit along with her and give her emotional support. The soothing music, the ambient temperature and the presence of her near and dear ones was intended to make the labour a smooth process.

I had a glimpse of the operation theatres through the glass shield on its door. Needless to say, it was full fledged with all modern equipment. I also had a look at the baby-room and the intensive care unit. I was impressed by the cutting edge technology and the world class facilities offered by The Cradle. You can have a quick tour of the hospital on Youtube here.

The Cradle also conducted a grant celebration on Mother's day, the 11th of May at Calicut Beach. Unfortunately, I could not attend the function, and sent my mother instead. The memorable moments of the event are collected in a collage here :
Memorable moments. Courtesy: The Cradle, Calicut

* Additional images of the event can be found on Flickr here
* My prize-winning essay can be downloaded here.
* You can follow the news from The Cradle Hospital via their facebook page here.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cancer: More than touching lives - Saving them


Breaking news about fateful diagnoses is among the most difficult things I did as a medical student. I often encounter a relative or an acquaintance diagnosed with cancer, who walks into my home with diagnostic reports of various kinds and asks if she can live long enough to witness the birth of a grandchild or the wedding of her son. I am still a medical student and I am therefore not expected to give exact figures of survival rates. So, I manage the situation by entering into a cheerful conversation, boosting their confidence and encouraging them to undergo the procedures suggested to them by their oncologist.

I lost my grandpa to lung cancer - six months after the diagnosis was made - in 2010. He was the happiest man on earth when I got qualified to pursue medicine. He frequently reminded me that my purpose in life should be to alleviate pain. By the time he was diagnosed to have lung cancer, he had reached the terminal stage of the disease and all his doctor could do was to prescribe him Morphine to alleviate his physical pain. It was after his death, during the second year of my medical training, that I decided that I should specialize in oncology. I wanted to become a scientist-physician, conducting clinical research and treating patients at the same time; and work in a world-class hospital that employs cutting-edge technology for fighting cancer.
Early diagnosis is the key.
Public Domain, WM Commons
However, I was worried that I will end up in a dull clinic prescribing medicines for patients. I was afraid that I would want to break bad news to cancer patients frequently. When I shared my concern with Jithin Das, a good friend of mine, he gave me an inspiring reply which I cherish even today:

“20 years from now, you will not be sitting in a consultancy room spending most of the time looking at   CT and PET scan reports. 20 years down the lane you will not be administering chemo agents or radiation hoping that it may work. 20 years down the lane you will be working with robots that will make you feel Cyber-Knife is a kids' toy. 20 years down the lane you will not be writing names of whatever available in the market that may best suit the patients- you will be analyzing combinations of mutations of your patients be ordering custom made drugs will cure them, which in effect is a complete process, you identify the problem, you  create his medicine, you administer it, you cure. You will be creating mutations to fight mutations. You will be using viral agents to cure anti-oncogenes to target and kill malignant neoplasm. You will be having an office that looks like control rooms of space craft in science fiction movies.
Genetics is taking a giant leap now, right now, that will change profession of oncology beyond recognition. A lot more is known about genes and how proto oncos turn into oncogenes. A lot more is known now why anti onco genes fail to fix the issue and how to repair these two. You are into an exciting profession, I swear by thunder.Yes, you will be working most of the days and nights. Something you can’t dispense with. But you sure will be enjoying those days and nights. You will not face uncertainty. You will not have a hard time telling some of your patients what metastasis means and all you can do is to give palliative care. You will be part of the integrated generation of doctors, scientists and engineers who are going to finally beat cancer - this is going to happen after several hundred years of painful research about the unknown”.
 This message brightened up my spirits and made me beam with joy. Indian hospitals employ the most modern techniques of treatment of cancer. Apollo Hospitals, one of the leading healthcare providers of India, has various modalities of treatment for the prevention and cure of various forms of cancer – liver transplants, bone marrow transplants and robotic surgical system to name a few. 
Synonymous to cutting-edge technology
Courtesy : Apollo Hospitals


Surviving cancer is no more a miracle. With precise instruments, cutting-edge technology and skilled physicians, survival rates of patients diagnosed with cancer is going up every year. Yuvraj Singh battled against a mediastinal seminoma for more than an year, and finally emerged victorious. He was quoted saying:
People are aware about my battle with cancer and my resolve to win it, and live a normal life like all. You and We, together, can fight cancer.”
Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple Inc., had a quality life for nearly 10 years after having diagnosed of pancreatic cancer. In fact the best period of his life was during the treatment – he shined both as an innovator and manager during this period and took Apple to heights.
“About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7.30 in the morning and it clearly showed a tumour on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for "prepare to die". It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumour. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now”.
Jobs’s story is an incredible example of how modern healthcare touched his life. He lived like a normal man for a long time before he succumbed to death. Lately, it was Angelina Jolie who revealed that she had undergone a prophylactic mastectomy to reduce the risk of getting cancer. Jolie’s choice is profound because it is so serious, and so well and bravely played against the background of the shallow celebrity culture. Jolie’s decision emphasizes that one is no less a woman without her natural breasts, and that one is not just a sum total of her body parts. I applaud her for the choice she made to go public about the mastectomy and inspire millions of women to get tested for genetic mutations and take preventive measures for the same. For cancer, early detection is the key. Jolie wrote in New York Times thus : 
“Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action. For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices”.
I read Angelina’s article ‘My Medical Choice’  over and over again. May the medical choices of powerful women like Jolie help women and men from all over the world to line up for the pink ribbon revolution and be aware about the diagnostic and treatment facilities for the same. Detailed description about breast cancer and its treatment facilities are included in the website of Apollo hospital here: http://www.apollohospitals.com/breast_cancer.php

I recommend that all the readers of my blog go through this web page  and be aware about options of breast cancer treatment and prevention. As of now, testing for BRCA mutations and getting silicon breast implants like Angelina did would be a costly affair in India, but the modern healthcare system is so rapidly touching our lives that such cutting-edge technologies become affordable for Indians in the near future.
Breast Cancer Awareness, U.S.A
Public Domain, WM Commons

Yesterday, Theo, a good friend of mine, wrote to me via the Gender gap mailing list in the context of Angelina undergoing mastectomy. A relative of his had passed away last year who had breast cancer and the cancer had metastasized after a mastectomy and several rounds of chemo. He wanted to organize all data related to breast cancer on Wikipedia and beef up the existing articles, and wanted help from knowledgeable writers to do this. I had been a writer on Wikipedia for more than three years (my Wikipedia profile can be seen here), and I am glad that I got hooked up with Theo to do something as worthwhile as writing about breast cancer. Theo’s appealing message can be read here. 

During the discussion on this issue, it was pointed out by John V.  that the ‘Getting tested’  section of the article on BRCA mutation is largely first-world centric. He urged the participants from different parts of the world to document how they would tackle the problem involved – where is the nearest place that the test/procedure can be done, and how frequently do they do the test/procedure as that may be a major consideration in whether you would travel further to receive more experienced care. I being one of the very few medical students writing on Wikipedia, and an Indian by nationality found it my obligation to write about this aspect of treatment from an Indian perspective. I shall spend my spare time to research about the advanced diagnostic technologies in India and help the readers of Wikipedia get empowered with medical information. It is essential that we Indians have reliable and updated information about the various cutting-edge technologies for the treatment of cancers. My job would be to make sure that this kind of knowledge is delivered in a click of the mouse.

As Angelina Jolie said, “Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.” 

Let us take control of our lives, empower ourselves with latest diagnostic and treatment modalities, live a life free of cancer and encourage others to do the same.




Thanks to Indiblogger and Apollo Hospitals for inspiring me to write this article. For more information on various cutting-edge technologies available in Apollo Hospitals, go through this link : http://www.apollohospitals.com/cutting-edge.php

I have also written a poem about diagnosing cancer and a semi-fictional story about fighting cancer.