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Lessons Learnt In Health Problems

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Why this book? And why should a reader pick up this book?
The book deals with HIV/AIDS and traces its relentless march over the past three decades, causing untold human suffering and misery worldwide, undermining human development as never seen before. And Asia has been no exception. Since 1981, when it was first recognised in the United States, HIV has already killed 25 million people worldwide. Clearly, it is not just a disease or health issue, it is equally a social, developmental, human rights and even a security issue.
 
The book also covers how HIV/AIDS has affected every section of our society, highlighting the inequalities and vulnerabilities prevailing within it. How over the years, thanks to great progress in research and drug development, it has mellowed down and has turned from being considered a virtual death sentence in early stages of the pandemic, to now a chronic manageable condition.
 
It also serves as an eye opener in terms of how the problem remains highly dynamic and continues to evolve and, importantly, how it has brought a transformation in our approach to tackling health problems — the answer lies in putting health at the centre of national development.
 
What does the book mean to you?
To me, the book is an articulation of my long experience in different parts of the world, having watched the unfolding saga from close quarters. It spans from my having attended the first ever meeting at US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on HIV, back in July, 1981, what at that time was called Kaposi Sarcoma and opportunistic infections affecting young otherwise healthy homosexual men in Los Angeles and New York city, to its rapid spread across the world soon thereafter including Africa and Asia, prompting to it being discussed at the United Nations General Assembly in 2000, the first health topic ever discussed by the UN GA, to now when the pandemic is receding in most regions of the world. This book is an opportunity to document the experiences and lessons learnt, in particular in Asia and to see how these experiences may provide lessons for other health problems.
 
How difficult was it to put the book together?
Not so difficult, actually. As an edited version, I had to request colleagues who like me have been in the forefront of the fight against HIV for many years and they so readily and enthusiastically agreed to share their experiences. I am utterly grateful and indebted to each one of the 57 contributors who have made such an invaluable contribution in this book. I am
sure the book will be extremely useful for those working on and interested in the HIV/AIDS prevention, control and elimination.

When and where do you write?
Whenever the idea strikes, I note it down right away and then follow it through, writing mainly at home, after office hours.
 

Three Decades Of HIV/AIDS In Asia
Edited By Jai P. Narain
Sage Paublications
Pages: 468
Price: Rs 895
Where all did this book take you?
This book primarily deals with the situation in Asia which is the continent hardest hit after Africa. This is also the region which has enormous lessons to share with other regions.
 
These include innovative strategies which have been tried, tested and found effective and feasible such as for elimination of mother to child transmission. Another example is of the pharmaceutical industry which has revolutionized the availability of antiretroviral treatment leading to improved survival of those infected with HIV or with clinical disease not just in Asia but worldwide. In fact, Asia is the region which is making a difference!
 
Can you suggest another title to this book? Also give us a new blurb
Another title therefore would have been “HIV/AIDS In Asia: Making A Difference”. “The book highlights the remarkable developments over the past three decades which have brought about great transformation in HIV/AIDS scene in Asia. Thanks to an unprecedented response, HIV once considered a virtual death sentence is now not only a chronic manageable condition but also a disease amenable both to prevention as well as elimination”

What is your energy drink?
A hot cup of tea. It’s the perfect cure for writer’s block.
 
What makes a book a really good read or a bestseller?
For me, the content is king. Above all, a bestseller must have two things working to its advantage, remaining honest with the subject matter and having the richness of experience to deliver it. It is also important that the book touches the reader at some emotional or intellectual level. How the story is narrated in a simple and logical manner, linking various chapters in one seamless flow, is crucial, as well. Having said that, there is no way to predict how the book will be received, so the writer must have complete faith in his or her work, a commitment to write regularly and, most importantly, a keenness to share his ideas with the world.
 
What are you reading now?
A Wanted Man by Lee Child, the bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers.
 
So, what’s next?
I’m working on a book on noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic lung diseases, which are now the leading cause of death worldwide, including Asia. India, many believe, will be the diabetes capital of the world. In spite of its importance and relevance to the modern world as a health and developmental challenge, neither the
epidemiology, nor the prevention measures and control strategies for these chronic diseases, which incidentally cost very little, have been described in a comprehensive and integrated
manner.
 
I hope this book will fill this gap in the field of noncommunicable diseases or NCDs. A huge burden of disease which is growing exponentially, but is often mired in myths and misconceptions. Like HIV, it is also very much linked with human behaviors, but driven by other factors such as globalization and changing lifestyles, affecting both rich and poor alike.
 
Tragically, the NCDs and the out of pocket expenses associated with their treatment (due to the high cost of medicines) drive many families to poverty from which they cannot escape.
 
Having caught the attention of the UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon, this important matter was discussed by the UN General assembly in September 2011. Critically, the NCDs will test the already overstretched and fragile health systems in the developing countries. Again like HIV, prevention must remain the bedrock of the NCD programmes.
 
(Compiled by Jinoy Jose P)


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