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Tuning into good health

Times of India - mobile edition

Celebrities have lent their voices to short messages promoting a healthy lifestyle that will be available as caller tunes in an initiative by WHO.

Hindustan Times

WHO spreading health awareness through caller tunes

Hindustan Times

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a health awareness project through a medium of caller tunes.

Health awareness initiative 'Donate Your Caller Tune For a Cause' launched

Indian express

It is an initiative where celebrities have lent their voice for delivering health messages

Film stars to promote health awareness through caller tunes

Business Standard

The next time you call a friend, don't be surprised if you hear Amitabh Bachchan talking about controlling blood.

Tuned into well-being

The Hindu

Your mobile caller tune will now dispense preventive tips to tackle lifestyle diseases, courtesy a countrywide awareness campaign by WHO

Celebrities lend their voices to caller tunes on health issues

Dainik Jagran

Next time you call a friend, you may be pleasantly surprised to hear Amitabh Bachchan telling you how to control blood pressure or John Abraham, giving tips on how to avoid obesity.


The Pioneer

You can soon have a caller tune featuring the voice of your favourite Bollywood actor giving away a health tip.

Celebs lend their voices to spread health awareness

Deccan Herald

Conventional dial tones and popular music tracks will now make way for short crisp bits of advice by celebrities on how to avoid non-communicable diseases.





Donate your caller tune for a cause

Not your money. Not your clothes. Not your time or attention. We want something that you don’t even use.

Your caller tune can help spread awareness about some of the biggest issues we face today. It can educate those who are unaware of health risks. It can remind those who tend to forget. It can inspire others to join the movement. It can change the way we deal with health issues, one call at a time. Just as you download caller tunes, donate your caller tune instead and make a difference.

  • This initiative is limited to certain operators and specific cities, initially.
  • The details of operators and cities where this service is available are given on our website.
  • This information shall get updated from time to time.
  • The content has been recorded by various artists specifically for this activity.
  • Basic service subscription charges would be Rs. 30 per month. This could vary for some circles and operators. For Idea subscribers in Madhya Pradesh circle, the monthly fee will be Rs. 36 per month. There will be no charges for clip activation.

World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations’ specialized agency for Health. It is an inter-governmental organization and works in collaboration with its member states usually through the Ministries of Health. The World Health Organization is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

India became a party to the WHO Constitution on 12 January 1948. The first session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia was held on 4-5 October 1948 in the office of the Indian Minister of Health. It was inaugurated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India and was addressed by the WHO Director-General, Dr Brock Chisholm. India is a Member State of the WHO South East Asia Region.

Dr Nata Menabde is the WHO Representative to India.

The WHO Country Office for India is headquartered in Delhi with country-wide presence. The WHO Country Office for India’s areas of work are enshrined in its new Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS) 2012-2017.

WHO is staffed by health professionals, other experts and support staff working at headquarters in Geneva, six regional offices and country offices. In carrying out its activities and fulfilling its objectives, WHO's secretariat focuses its work on the following six core functions:

  • Providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
  • Shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
  • Setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
  • Articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
  • Providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity; and
  • Monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.


Contact Us

Contact us

Office of the WHO Representative to India

Room 531-537, Á Wing

Nirman Bhavan, Maulana Azad Road

New Delhi 110 011

Tel: +91 11 42595600

Fax: +91-11-23062450

Email: piaindia@searo.who.int

Cell Number
Please click here to check the list of available service providers

List of available service providers

1) Airtel - All circles

2) BSNL - Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhandand, Kerala, Kolkata, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.

3) Tata Docomo - Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and UP West.

4) Uninor - UP East, UP West and Bihar.

5) Idea - All Circles

6) Vodafone - All Circles

7) MTNL - Mumbai


mobile number here

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Airtel users – After entering your mobile number, you will receive an SMS. Kindly confirm your donation by replying to this SMS.


John Abraham


I think obesity can be beaten. Say no to smoking, drinking, junk food. Say yes to walking, running, dancing. And remember, this won’t happen overnight, so be patient. Don’t give up!

R Madhavan


Whenever you get a chance, please get your blood sugar tested. To find out if you might have diabetes.

If you do, there is no reason to worry, there are medicines for it. And if you don’t, it’s another reason for you to celebrate.

Jaya Bachchan

Breast Cancer

I want every Indian woman to join me in the fight against breast cancer. I want them to check their breasts for lumps and discharges. Not once or twice, but regularly. Because if detected early, breast cancer is curable.

Cervical Cancer

I am worried for every woman in the country. That’s why I want them to get checked for not just breast cancer but also cervical cancer. Because, when women will stay safe, the nation will stay safe.

Amitabh Bachchan

High Blood Pressure

Do you know why High Blood Pressure is called the 'Silent Killer'? Because most people do not realise that they have it. So, the next time you visit your doctor, get your blood pressure also checked.

Cyrus Broacha


I have realised that stress is a big issue. The best way to de-stress is, each time you are stressed, go for walks, watch movies, listen to music. Do everything to be happy!

Shankar Mahadevan


I want you to listen carefully. Listen to your body. If you feel sudden weakness in your face, palm, legs especially on one side of your body you may be having a stroke, it can be fatal so don’t ignore the signs, visit your doctor immediately!

Parineeti Chopra

Cardiovascular diseases

Every person in this world believes that nothing can go wrong with them and they forget that health is the most important thing. I want to tell you something about the heart. In a year, you devote 300 days to your office. Devote time to your heart, to get it checked. And trust me, it will be the best day you will ever give yourself.

Ranveer Singh


I have just one advice for everyone. And that is to remain fit! It’s extremely simple, all you have to do is go for a walk, exercise a bit, just a little. If you have a choice between the stairs and the lift, choose the stairs. Make a little bit of an effort, take a step, believe me, you will feel good.


Anti Tobacco

You know everything that you need to know. Now all you have to do is quit that stupid butt!

Akshay Kumar

Unhealthy Food

If I could ask one thing of you, it would be to eat fruits and vegetables daily and reduce the quantity of sugar, salt and oil in your meal. I know it’s difficult, but if you want to remain healthy, you will have to be a little disciplined.

Breast Cancer
What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. This leads to an increased concentration of glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia). The glucose gets accumulated in the various cells of our body.

The types of diabetes are:

  • Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent or childhood-onset diabetes) is characterized by a lack of insulin production
  • Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes) is caused by the body's ineffective use of insulin. It often results from excess body weight and physical inactivity

Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia that is first recognized during pregnancy.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and is required for the further breaking down of glucose into simpler units within our body. Thereafter, these units flow through our blood vessels to different parts of our body, where they are taken up by different organs.

Causes/Risk factors

The causes for onset of diabetes vary depending on the genetic makeup, family history, ethnicity, health and environmental factors. Different types of diabetes have different causes.

Type 1 diabetes
  • It is caused by the immune system destroying the cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin. Consequently, the body does not have enough insulin to function normally.
  • This can be triggered by viral or bacterial infection; chemical toxins within food; and unidentified components causing autoimmune reaction.
  • The damage to the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas can be reversed if the infection dies down and the insulin producing cells are able to regenerate.
  • However, in many cases the damage to these cells is permanent and cannot be reversed. The person has to live as a diabetic patient and needs to be given insulin as regular medication.
  • In very rare cases, insulin-producing calls may be absent from birth. Therefore, the body does not produce insulin at all or in quantities less than normal. This hampers the growth of these children. These children need special care throughout their lives.
Type 2 diabetes
  • It is usually due to a combination of causes including a family history of type 2 diabetes; obesity; sedentary lifestyle; increasing age; unhealthy diet etc.
Gestational diabetes
  • There are many factors that contribute to gestational diabetes. These include family history of gestational diabetes, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, large baby etc.
  • During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to sustain pregnancy. These hormones make the cells of our body more resistant to insulin. It is, therefore, essential to monitor blood glucose levels during pregnancy.
  • Those with history of gestational diabetes should keep track of blood sugar levels and take adequate measures if the blood glucose level still remains high, even after delivery.
Signs and symptoms
  • Diabetes causes increased frequency of micturition (passage of urine), unusually increased thirst, increased hunger, loss of body weight, extreme fatigue etc. and the person becomes susceptible to repeated infections.
  • Since most of the people do not go for regular diabetes screening, it goes undiagnosed.

Over a period of time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Further, it may cause:

  • Reduced blood flow, pain, tingling and numbness in the feet
  • Foot ulcers, infection and eventual need for limb amputation
  • Diabetic retinopathy, which is an important cause of blindness, and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina
  • Kidney failure

It may also increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Since diabetes often goes undiagnosed, it is very important to be aware of the symptoms and signs related to diabetes and also its complications. The patients should be trained in taking care of themselves especially feet ulcers.


Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. These include:

  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. If overweight, extra effort needs to be taken to reduce weight
  • Being physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days
  • Eating a healthy diet of between three and five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and reducing the intake of sugar and saturated fats
  • Avoiding tobacco use – it increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases

Early diagnosis can be accomplished through relatively inexpensive blood testing.

Treatment of diabetes involves lowering blood glucose and other known risk factors that damage blood vessels.

Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications.

Cost saving interventions for management of diabetes :

  • Moderate blood glucose control:
    • People with type 1 diabetes require insulin
    • People with type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral medication, but may also require insulin
  • Blood pressure control
  • Foot care

Cost saving interventions for prevention and control of diabetes related complication:

  • Screening and treatment for retinopathy (which causes blindness)
  • Blood lipid control (to regulate cholesterol levels)
  • Screening for early signs of diabetes-kidney disease

These measures should be supported by a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco and alcohol use.

Risks of diabetes in children

Presently, the number of diabetes cases is rising around the world and studies show that children are at an increasing risk of developing the disease. Diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves - causing chronic problems and early death. The global rise of childhood obesity and physical inactivity is widely believed to play a crucial role. Healthy eating and lifestyle habits are a strong defence against the disease.

Further information

For further details, please visit



What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of deaths worldwide. It is caused by disorders of the heart and blood vessels, and includes coronary heart disease (heart attacks), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), raised blood pressure (hypertension), peripheral artery disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure.

Causes/Risk factors

The major causes of cardiovascular disease are:

  • Tobacco use
  • Physical inactivity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Harmful use of alcohol

Stress in life can cause people to adopt unhealthy habits like consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and poor eating habits. These are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Heart attacks and strokes are caused by the deposits of fatty layers on the inner walls of the blood vessels that supply the heart or brain. These are usually acute and need immediate attention.

Symptoms of heart attack

In many cases there are no symptoms of the underlying disease of the blood vessels.

In some cases, the patient may complain of pain or discomfort in the chest; the pain or discomfort can also be present in the arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back.

In addition, there may be difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, nausea, light-headedness or giddiness, sweating and coldness of hands and feet; and the person becoming pale.

People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

Symptoms of stroke

Within a few minutes of having a stroke, brain cells begin to die and symptoms begin to show up. It is extremely important to know about the symptoms as prompt treatment is crucial to recovery.

Symptoms may be sudden and include:

  • Weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or difficulty in speaking or understanding
  • Problems with vision such as dimness or loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or problems with balance or coordination
  • Problems with movement or walking
  • Sudden severe headache

Heart attacks and strokes may not be cured completely and the person lives with disabilities throughout life. There may be partial or complete weakness of face, one or both sides of the body, loss of memory, speech etc.


Prevention of risk factors, which when taken care of will reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases considerably.

These include:

  • Being physically active
  • Controlling body weight
  • Taking healthy diet with sufficient fruits and vegetables and low in salt, sugar and fats
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Staying away from all forms of tobacco

Conditions like high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity and high stress need special attention.

Certain factors cannot be modified. These include ageing and family history of heart disease. However, by taking care of the risk factors, the chances of getting this disease can be considerably reduced.

Changing one's behavior and, if possible, stressful circumstances may help in coping with the stressful situation, thus reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.


Heart attacks and strokes should be taken as medical emergencies. The patient should be rushed to the hospital and immediate attention is required. The outcome of treatment is dependent on the condition of the patient, the extent of the disease and the treatment available.

Further information

For further details, please visit


What is Cervical cancer ?

The lower part of the uterus in a female is called the cervix. Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the cells of the cervix.

Cancer of the cervix is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. In India, it is the common most cancer amongst women.

Majority of cases of cervical cancer are linked to genital infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract.

Causes/Risk factors

Spread through sexual intercourse, HPV is the greatest risk factor for cervical cancer. The risk of acquiring HPV infection increases many folds if one has multiple sexual partners.

In addition, the risk factors include: other co-existing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis or HIV/AIDS; a weak body immune system; and women using oral contraceptives.

Further, risk factors common to all noncommunicable diseases, including physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, tobacco and alcohol further aggravate the risk of acquiring the disease.

Signs and symptoms

Usually, patients with cervical cancer do not have problems until the cancer is at an advanced stage and has spread.

One should be careful if the following symptoms appear:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods, especially after intercourse, or after menopause
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge, which may be pale, watery, pink, brown, bloody, or foul-smelling
  • Periods become heavier and last longer than usual

Cervical cancer may spread to the surrounding organs namely bladder, intestines, or even to organs like lungs, and liver.


Advanced cervical cancer can cause anemia because of abnormal vaginal bleeding; ongoing pelvic, leg, or back pain, due to spread of the disease to the neighbouring organs like the bladder and intestine; urinary problems because of blockage of a kidney or ureter; leakage of urine or stool into the vagina, and weight loss.


One can reduce the risk of cervical cancer through preventive measures, which include:

  • Practicing safe sex (using condoms) and reducing the risk of HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Cervical cancer screening is the testing for precancer and cancer of women at risk, usually without symptoms. Early detection and treatment of precancerous lesions can prevent the majority of cervical cancers. These tests include 'visual inspection of cervix with acetic acid examination' and 'pap smear'.

Focusing on the health of the adolescents will fetch rich dividends. Few possible interventions include:

  • It is important to improve their nutritional status. Vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene are associated with lower risk of cervical cancer.
  • Promoting physical activity etc. will take care of the under- and over-nutrition issue.
  • Making adolescents aware of ill-effects of alcohol, tobacco and other habit forming substances, and also about early and unprotected sexual activity

Cervical cancer, if detected in its early stages can be successfully treated. Cervical cancer treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, the size and shape of the tumor, the woman's age and general health and whether she has completed her family.

Treatment choices for cervical cancer may be a single therapy or a combination of therapies, such as:

  • Surgery to remove the cancerous part of the uterus. The uterus as a whole or a part is removed. This surgery is called hysterectomy. The type of surgery needed depends on the location and extent of cervical cancer and the desire to have children in future.
  • Chemotherapy uses medicines to kill cancer cells. It is usually the main treatment or used after a hysterectomy. It may also be used along with radiation therapy.
  • Radiation therapy, which uses high-dose x-rays or implants in the vaginal cavity to kill cancer cells. It is used for certain stages of cervical cancer. It is often is used in combination with surgery.
Further information

For further details, please visit


What is fitness?

Fitness is one's ability to do work and perform physical activity. It is also about being in a good physical condition.

Benefits and importance of fitness

Being physically fit, a person is likely to benefit in the following ways:

  • Lowered heart rate and reduced blood pressure; this lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Better immune system
  • Increased levels of good cholesterol and lower levels of bad cholesterol
  • Having perfect body weight through better metabolism rate, which helps in burning more calories
  • Increase in energy levels, stamina, flexibility, muscular strength and bone strength
  • Improved posture, reduced backaches
  • Reduced levels of stress and depression
  • Slowed ageing progress, more active years in life, better quality of life
  • Economic benefits in the form of reduced expenditure on healthcare
Achieving and maintaining fitness

There are simple ways to remain fit including brisk walking, jogging, swimming etc. One can also include recreational and adventurous ways to get/remain fit e.g. dancing, playing sports like badminton or tennis etc. One can exercise while performing the daily routine activities. It could be:

  • Opting for the stairs instead of the lift or elevator
  • Using the bicycle or walking instead of a scooter/bike/car, especially for short distances
  • Doing simple stretching exercises for the neck, shoulders, chest, abdomen, wrists and calves while sitting at the office desk, especially for those who do sedentary work
  • Walking across to a colleague in the office instead of using the phone and being active
  • Being active at home
WHO recommendations on physical activity for health

5–17 years old

For children and young people of this age group, physical activity includes play, games, sports, transportation, recreation, physical education or planned exercise. In order to improve cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, cardiovascular health, body metabolism and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, the following are recommended:

  • Children and young people aged 5–17 years old should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily
  • Physical activity of amounts greater than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits
  • Most of daily physical activity should be aerobic. Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, at least three times per week

18–64 years old

For adults of this age group, physical activity includes recreational or leisure-time physical activity, transportation (e.g. walking or cycling), occupational (i.e. work), household chores, play, games, sports or planned exercise. In order to improve cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness, bone health and reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases and depression, the following are recommended:

  • Adults aged 18–64 years should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity
  • Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration
  • For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on two or more days a week

65 years old and above

For adults of this age group, physical activity includes recreational or leisure-time physical activity, transportation (e.g. walking or cycling), occupational (if the person is still engaged in work), household chores, play, games, sports or planned exercise.

In order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and functional health, and reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases, depression and cognitive decline, the following are recommended:

  • Adults aged 65 years and above should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity
  • Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration
  • For additional health benefits, adults aged 65 years and above should increase their moderate intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity activity
  • Adults of this age group with poor mobility should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups, on 2 or more days a week
  • When adults of this age group cannot do the recommended amounts of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow

Overall, across all the age groups, the benefits of implementing the above recommendations, and of being physically active, outweigh the harms. At the recommended level of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity, musculoskeletal injury rates appear to be uncommon. In a population-based approach, in order to decrease the risks of musculoskeletal injuries, it would be appropriate to encourage a moderate start with gradual progress to higher levels of physical activity.

For further details, please refer to


What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer occurs in the tissues of the breast. The common variety grows in the tubes for passage of milk, from milk producing parts of the breast, called lobules, to the nipple. It may spread from the milk duct or lobule to other tissues in the breast or may remain confined to the same place.

Although majority of breast cancer cases occur in women, male breast cancer can also occur.

Causes/Risk factors

A large part of all breast cancer deaths worldwide are attributable to alcohol use, overweight and obesity, and physical inactivity. A family history of breast cancer increases the risk. Early puberty, late menopause and late age at first childbirth are among the most important risk factors for breast cancer. Oral contraceptive and hormone replacement therapy users are at a higher risk than non-users. The increasing adoption of western life-style in developing countries is an important factor in the increase of breast cancer incidence in these countries.

Signs and symptoms

Early breast cancer may not present with any symptoms. Therefore regular breast examination is very important. As the cancer grows, there may be:

  • A lump in the breast, usually painless, which may be painful or have a prickly sensation in the armpit
  • Change in the size, shape, colour or feel of the breast or nipple
  • Fluid discharge (clear, bloody, yellow, green etc.) from the nipple
  • An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast

Advanced breast cancers can cause bone pain, breast pain or discomfort, skin ulcers, swelling in the armpit (next to the breast with cancer), weight loss etc. Further, it may spread to other organs like liver and lungs, thus affecting these organs.


Some of the simple steps that can be taken to lower the risk of breast cancer include:

  • Adopting healthy lifestyle
  • Being physically active
  • Controlling body weight
  • Taking healthy diet
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Staying away from all forms of tobacco
  • Limiting dose and duration of hormone therapy
  • Avoiding exposure to radiation and environmental pollution

Breast feeding also has some protective role in breast cancer.

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of breast cancer to facilitate early detection. The screening tests commonly used include clinical and self breast exams. Other tests available are mammography, genetic screening, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging etc.

Self-breast exams are extremely easy to carry out. For a step-by-step guide, please visit



Treating and managing breast cancer is dependent on a number of factors. These include the type of breast cancer, stage and patient's capacity to withstand treatment. The treatment options are:

  • Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy to destroy cancerous tissue
  • Surgery to remove cancerous tissue. A lumpectomy removes the breast lump; mastectomy removes all or part of the breast and possible nearby structures. Following surgery, rehabilitation in terms of breast prosthesis plays an important role
  • Hormone therapy, especially after breast cancer surgery to prevent the growth of breast cancer cells
  • Biological therapy, which works by using the body's immune system to destroy cancer cells
Further information

For details, please visit


What is unhealthy food?

Unhealthy food is commonly referred to as food that is low in nutritional value and often high in salt, sugar and fat. High in calories, unhealthy food includes salted snacks, gum, candy, sweet desserts, fried fast food, and sugary carbonated beverages.

How does unhealthy food affect our health?

In today's fast-paced and busy world, fast food provides an easy option. However, it deprives people of the much needed balanced diet, which is essential for their health. As a result, overweight and obesity is very common. This, coupled with physical inactivity due to sedentary life-style, predisposes one to Type 2 diabetes. Further, high fat deposits along the walls of the blood vessels, cause high blood pressure and thereby increase the chances of heart diseases and stroke.

Unhealthy food is low in proteins, vitamins and minerals. It, therefore, affects the immune system, leading to increased susceptibility to infections.

Healthy alternatives for unhealthy food

It is, therefore, advisable to cut down on unhealthy food and go for healthy alternatives:

  • Fruits, vegetables and salads, low in calories, high in vitamins, minerals and fibres, make an easy, yet healthy snack
  • Wholegrain products like oatmeal products are nutritious and filling, thus reducing the temptation of having a unhealthy food snack before the next meal
  • Low fat dairy products are good alternatives to traditional desserts

Water is a good cleanser of the body facilitating the excretion of waste products of metabolism. Adequate amount of water a day (depending upon the weather conditions), replenishes the water reserves in the body. Further, it helps suppress the craving for snacking in between meals and gives one a feeling of fullness.

WHO recommendations on diet
  • Achieve energy balance and a healthy weight
  • Limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and towards the elimination of transfatty acids
  • Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and legumes, whole grains and nuts
  • Limit the intake of sugar
  • Limit salt (sodium) consumption from all sources and ensure that salt is iodized. It is recommended that adults limit their salt intake to < 5 g/day

For further information, please visit


For marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, the recommendations include:

  • Preparing and putting in place, as appropriate, and with all relevant stakeholders, a framework and/or mechanisms for promoting the responsible marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, in order to reduce the impact of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt.
  • Marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children in schools and pre-school establishments is given due importance

For further information, please visit


What is Hypertension or high blood pressure?

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. It is defined as a systolic blood pressure equal to or above 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure equal to or above 90 mm Hg.

Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of the body in blood vessels. With each heart beat, it pumps blood into the blood vessels. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries). Normal adult blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 120 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm Hg.

Health problems caused by high blood pressure

A vast majority of the people are not aware that they suffer from high blood pressure. This is dangerous as high blood pressure causes a lot of health problems. It is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, aneurysms (ballooning of blood vessels) and peripheral arterial disease (affecting blood supply to both upper and lower limbs). It is also a cause of chronic kidney disease.

Prevention and management

Fortunately, one can easily prevent or manage high blood pressure and stay healthy by following some simple lifestyle modifications. The risk of developing high blood pressure can be reduced by:

  • Reducing salt intake
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Avoiding harmful use of alcohol
  • Not consuming tobacco in any form
  • Regular physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Avoiding stress
Signs and symptoms

High blood pressure rarely manifests itself in symptoms. It shows up during thorough screening and most often when seeking medical care for an unrelated problem. Though some percentage of people with high blood pressure may report headaches, lightheadedness, vertigo, tinnitus (buzzing or hissing in the ears), altered vision or fainting episodes, these symptoms are more likely to be associated with anxiety than the high blood pressure itself.

  • High blood pressure is both preventable and treatable
  • Controlling high blood pressure, together with other risk factors, is the main way to prevent heart attack and stroke
  • Early detection is the key; all adults should know their blood pressure
  • For many people, lifestyle changes are sufficient to control blood pressure
  • For others, medication is required
  • Inexpensive medication exists, which is effective when taken as prescribed
  • It is essential that detection and control of high blood pressure (measurement, health advice and treatment) is done primarily focusing on patient compliance
  • Simultaneous reduction of other risk factors that cause heart attacks and strokes, such as diabetes and tobacco use is equally important
  • Civil society has an important role to play in helping to address high blood pressure

Industry can contribute to the solution, for example, by reducing salt in processed food and making essential diagnostics and medicines more affordable.

World Health Day 2013

World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948. Each year a theme is selected for World Health Day that highlights a priority area of public health concern in the world. The theme for 2013 is high blood pressure.

Further information

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What is stress?

WHO defines 'health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity'. It is related to the promotion of well-being. Thus, it calls for good physical health and mental well-being.

Stress is a feeling of strain and pressure due to certain uncomfortable circumstances or situations. It is a normal response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way.

Hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine are secreted, which increase the heart beat, respiration and other vital functions of the body. Repeated stressful situations can cause major damage to health, mood, productivity, relationships etc. The overall quality of life is also adversely affected.

Stress can be due to:

  • Major life changes
  • Work related problems
  • Being highly ambitious
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Adjustment problems in relationship
  • Financial problems
  • Children and family
  • Perfectionism
  • Lack of assertiveness

Work-related stress is very common. It has the potential to negatively affect an individual's psychological and physical health, as well as an organisation's effectiveness. Therefore, it is recognized worldwide as a major challenge to workers' health and the health of their organizations.

Signs and symptoms of stress

The common signs and symptoms of stress include:

  • Disbelief and shock
  • Tension and irritability
  • Anger, fear and anxiety about the future
  • Loss of interest in normal activities and sleep problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nightmares and recurring thoughts about disturbing events in life
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs
  • Sadness and other symptoms of depression
  • Headaches, back pains, and stomach problems
  • Difficulty in concentrating
Health complications of stress

When the stressful situation continues for a long time, prolonged activation of the stress-response system occurs. Subsequently overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt the normal body metabolism.

Stress can cause people to adopt unhealthy habits like consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and poor eating habits. These are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Further the person may complain of sleep problems, gastrointestinal problems, obesity, memory impairment etc.

Managing stress

Stress is a part of life and one cannot avoid it. We need to control it and face it. Here are a few tips for managing stress:

  • Time management - maintain work-life balance
  • Have a positive and optimistic outlook towards life
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Say no to all forms of tobacco
  • Stay healthy – it is your best defense against stress
  • Remain physically active - take a daily walk, go for swimming etc
  • Practice yoga, meditation, pranayama etc
What is tobacco?

Tobacco products are products made entirely or partly of leaf tobacco as raw material. It is processed into many different consumable products, like khaini, bidis, gutka, zarda, cigarettes etc. All contain the highly addictive ingredient, nicotine.

The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. It kills nearly six million people a year of whom more than five million are from direct tobacco use and more than 600 000 are nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco and this accounts for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.

In India, nearly 0.9 million deaths occur every year due to tobacco related diseases. Several others suffer disease and disabilities; the main diseases are cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory diseases. The total economic cost of treating tobacco-attributable burden of just three groups of diseases - cancer; heart disease and lung disease was estimated at Rs. 30 833 crores (7.2 billion USD) in the year 2002-03.

As per the Global Adult Tobacco Survey-India (GATS -2010) conducted in the age group 15 and above, almost 275 million Indian adults, nearly 35% of the adult population (47% male and 20.8% female) consume some form of tobacco. The most prevalent form of tobacco usage is smokeless tobacco with 206 million smokeless tobacco users.

As per the Global Youth Tobacco Survey 2009, 14.6% of 13-15 year old students in India are using tobacco in some form.

Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.

Harmful effects of tobacco products

Given below are some of the major health hazards of tobacco consumption:

  • Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) – It is a major risk factor for CVDs causing hypertension and clogged arteries, eventually leading to heart attack and stroke
  • Cancers – Lung, mouth and nasal cavity, throat, wind pipe, food pipe, stomach, pancreas, kidney, cervical and uterine, breast
  • Lung diseases and breathing difficulties
  • Reproductive functions: Infertility, low weight babies; miscarriage, stillbirths, premature menopause, deformed sperm and low sperm count, leading to infertility; impotence
    • Stomach ulcers
  • Osteoporosis and fractures
    • Cataract and impairment of vision
    • Buerger's Disease – can lead to gangrene and amputation of limbs
    • Hearing loss
    • Tooth decay and loss of tooth
    • Premature wrinkling of skin and discoloration of fingers
Second-hand smoking

Second-hand smoke is the smoke that fills restaurants, offices or other enclosed spaces when people use tobacco products such as cigarettes, bidis and hookahs. Tobacco smoke including secondhand smoke (SHS) contains more than 7000 chemicals: hundreds of these are hazardous, and at least 69 of these are cancer causing substances (carcinogens). There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

Every person should be able to breathe smoke-free air. Smoke-free laws protect the health of non-smokers, are popular, do not harm business and encourage smokers to quit.

Smokeless tobacco consumption

Smokeless tobacco contains about 3095 chemicals; among them 28 are cancers causing substances (carcinogens). Studies have also demonstrated presence of high levels of heavy metals (lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic and nickel) in tobacco products.

Giving up tobacco products

Quitting is the best decision a tobacco user cans take but it is difficult due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine. However, few people understand the specific health risks of tobacco use. Among smokers who are aware of the dangers of tobacco, most want to quit. Counseling and medication can more than double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will succeed.

Quitting for good will be the most rewarding and life changing experience. Please speak to your doctor or visit a facility that offers tobacco cessation services in your area for counseling and guidance for living a tobacco free, healthy life.

There are immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting for all smokers

Beneficial health changes that take place:

  • Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
  • 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
  • 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves and your lung function increases
  • 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease
  • 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker's
  • 5 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting
  • 10 years, your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases
  • 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker's
People of all ages who have already developed smoking-related health problems can still benefit from quitting

Benefits in comparison with those who continued:

  • At about 30: gain almost 10 years of life expectancy
  • At about 40: gain 9 years of life expectancy
  • At about 50: gain 6 years of life expectancy
  • At about 60: gain 3 years of life expectancy
  • After the onset of life-threatening disease: rapid benefit, people who quit smoking after having a heart attack reduce their chances of having another heart attack by 50%

Quitting smoking decreases the excess risk of many diseases related to second-hand smoke in children, such as respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma) and ear infections.

Quitting smoking reduces the chances of impotence, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.

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What is obesity?

Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A crude measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person's weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight. It is a warning sign, which should not be ignored.

Obesity and overweight are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Once considered a problem only in high income countries, obesity and overweight are now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries as well.

Also on the increase is childhood obesity. It is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. In addition to increased future risks, obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and psychological effects.

Health problems caused by obesity

Obesity increases the risk of heart diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, including osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, cancers of the breast, colon, gall bladder, prostate and uterus, gynaecological problems including abnormal menses, infertility, liver and gall bladder diseases including gall stones.

Causes of obesity and overweight

Obesity and overweight is caused by an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization etc.

Changes in dietary and physical activity patterns are often the result of environmental and societal changes associated with development and lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing and education.

Some other causes include ageing, which slows down metabolism; genetics, as it sometimes runs in the family; certain medications; psychological factors like boredom, sadness, anger etc. which lead to binge-eating.

Preventing and managing obesity

Obesity can be prevented or tackled by following few simple steps regarding diet and physical activity/exercise:

  • Avoid processed foods prepared from refined white sugar and refined flour; they also have a high salt and fat content
  • As much as possible, eat whole grain foods, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread
  • Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables a day
  • Avoid food high in fat, salt and sugar content
  • Always eat breakfast
  • Adopt healthy snacking with fruits
  • Closely watch the portion/ sizes of meals and snacks, and how often you are eating
  • Avoid harmful consumption of alcohol
  • Avoid consumption of tobacco in any form
  • Engage in regular physical activity (60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes per week for adults)
The food industry can play a significant role in promoting healthy diet by:
  • Reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods
  • Ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers
  • Practicing responsible marketing, especially those aimed at children and teenagers
  • Ensuring the availability of healthy food choices and supporting regular physical activity practice in the workplace
Facing a double burden of disease

Many low- and middle-income countries are now facing a "double burden" of disease.

  • While they continue to deal with the problems of infectious disease and under-nutrition, they are experiencing a rapid upsurge in noncommunicable disease risk factors such as obesity and overweight, particularly in urban settings
  • It is not uncommon to find under-nutrition and obesity existing side-by-side within the same country, the same community and the same household

Children in low- and middle-income countries are more vulnerable to inadequate pre-natal, infant and young child nutrition. At the same time, they are exposed to high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods, which tend to be lower in cost but also lower in nutrient quality. These dietary patterns in conjunction with lower levels of physical activity result in sharp increases in childhood obesity while under-nutrition issues remain unsolved.

Further information

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What is a stroke?

A stroke is caused by the interruption of the blood supply to the brain, usually when a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot. This cuts off the supply of oxygen and nutrients, causing damage to the brain tissue.

Factors which increase the chances of stroke include high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder), high blood cholesterol, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, and advancing age. Sometimes psychosocial stress and use of certain medications also aggravate the process.

Signs and symptoms

The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness of the face, arm, or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms include sudden onset of:

  • Numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes
  • Difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Fainting or unconsciousness

People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

Effects of a stroke

The outcome of stroke depends on many factors including the extent of brain involvement, treatment given, the age of the person and the capacity of the patient to combat the disease process. The disease may resolve completely and the person could be completely cured. However, in many cases, there can be some residual symptoms like paralysis on either side of the body, loss of muscle movement, problems with vision, memory, speech etc. There can be some change in the behaviour of the person, pain and fatigue or loss of control over bladder and/or bowel movements. There is an immense need for care and rehabilitation for these patients.


Stroke can be prevented to a great extent by making healthy choices and following these simple steps:

Adequate physical activity as outlined below:

  • Children and young people aged 5–17 years old should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. Physical activity of amounts greater than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits.
  • Adults aged 18–64 years should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
  • Adults aged 65 years and above should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.

Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and reduce the use of salt, sugar and fat in your diet.

Maintain a normal body weight; if overweight, lose weight by increasing physical activity and a healthy diet.

Avoid tobacco use in any form and exposure to environmental smoke; quit if into tobacco use.

Reduce stress at home and at work.

Avoid harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs.

Know and control blood pressure, through medication, if required.

Control diabetes; if you are diabetic, take medication as needed.

Treatment and management

Stroke is an emergency. The patient should be given immediate medical attention in a hospital. The worst damage from a stroke often occurs within the initial few hours. The faster one receives treatment, the lesser the damage will be. Advanced medical and surgical treatments are now available, giving many stroke victims hope for optimal recovery. The type of medications and/or surgery depends on various factors including age, health, type of stroke, its location, cause, etc.

Medications that may be used for the treatment of stroke include both short-term and long-term medications.

In some cases, surgical procedures may have to be carried out. Further, for disabilities, physiotherapy etc may be needed.

Further information:

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What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is cancer that starts in the tissues of the breast. There are two main types of breast cancer:

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