Dhaka, Jan 22 (AP/UNB) -This is not a new trend. The rankings have changed little over the last quarter century. What’s causing residents of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana and other southern states to live such short lives, while experiencing higher rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease?
As a researcher who’s worked on state health promotion in Hawaii and Texas, it’s clear to me that there are a variety of factors behind people’s poor health in southern states – and none will be an easy fix.
People in southern states die earlier from a variety of chronic conditions than people in the rest of the U.S. Infectious diseases including whooping cough, salmonella and chlamydia are high across the south, particularly in Louisiana and the Carolinas.
According to America’s Health Rankings, an annual report by the nonprofit United Health Foundation, someone living in Kentucky is 55 percent more likely to die from cancer than a person living in Utah. A resident of Mississippi is 85 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than someone living in Minnesota. If you live in West Virginia, you are more than twice as likely to have diabetes as someone living in Colorado.
Overall, premature death occurs almost twice as often in many of the southern states compared to Minnesota and California.
A July study found a 20-year difference in life expectancy by county, with most of the counties with lower life expectancy located in the Southeast. The life expectancy gap is also growing year to year.
Health behaviors also contribute quite strongly to the development of chronic diseases.
People living in many areas in the south are twice as likely to be smokers and be sedentary than people living in Utah. Every southern state except Florida has an adult obesity rate higher than 30 percent. This lack of fitness has led to the highest rates of injury in the Army basic training across the region.
Poor lifestyle behaviors don’t explain everything, though. For example, West Virginia and Kentucky have very high rates of drug overdose deaths related to the opioid epidemic. However, rates in many southern states – including Mississippi, Georgia and Arkansas – are lower than the rest of the country.
What is causing these poor health outcomes? As a public health researcher, I look to the physical and social conditions in which people live, including education levels, access to health care, air and water quality, housing, culture and many other factors. These can be the root causes of health and illness.
All of these states are relatively poor, with Kentucky, Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas and Mississippi having the lowest household median incomes in the county. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Idaho, for example, is ranked 40th in household income and 14th in health.
Education is often viewed as an important indicator of health – but Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri are all in the top 10 for high school graduation rates.
Air pollution – which is linked to heart attacks, bronchitis and asthma – falls somewhere in the middle for most southern states. Violent crime tends to be higher, with the exception of Mississippi.
Of the 26 states have comprehensive statewide indoor air smoking bans, none are in the South.
According to Walkscore, a site that calculates the walkability of cities, nine of the least walkable cities in the U.S. are in the South. Only one, Miami, is in the top 10.
Limited access to care
It can be hard to find a health care provider in the South. Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi all fall in the bottom 10 for the number of primary care physicians per capita. Mental health providers and dentists are also in short supply across the South. In fact, Alabama only has 85 mental health care providers per 100,000 people. Compare that to 547 per 100,000 in Massachusetts.
Lack of routine health care can lead to an increase in preventable hospitalizations. For instance, a diabetic who is routinely seen by a physician can avoid more serious complications that lead to hospitalizations. Infant mortality and low birth weight babies are prevalent across the region.
Funding for public health differs across the region, with West Virginia providing more per capita than any other state and Missouri spending a fifth of that. The uninsured population is also a mix, with Kentucky and West Virginia having low rates and Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma having some of the highest.
In the end, the data is clear: Americans living in the southern United States live shorter, sicker lives. The region needs a comprehensive strategy to improve health.
At Texas A&M, we’ve banded together with 13 universities in the Southeastern Conference to discuss ideas that can reach communities outside the universities.
One of our initial ideas is to leverage the mass gatherings around football games to promote positive health activities. The largely rural makeup of these states along with attendance at football games exceeding 78,000 people per game provides a unique southern strategy to change health in these states.
However, no single intervention will change several decades of poor health.
Dhaka, Jan 20 (UNB) - Rubaiyat Hossain's second feature film 'Under Construction' was premiered Sunday to inaugurate the 'Through Her Eyes' series on the premises of the Goethe Institut’s Bangladesh chapter .
The initiative is a joint venture of Goethe Institut Bangladesh and International Film Initiative of Bangladesh (IFIB), showcasing works of female filmmakers and giving people an opportunity to enjoy them. The series will consist of films directed by women screened at the auditorium of the Goethe Institut in Dhanmandi.
There will be one film screened every month, always at 5PM on the third Sunday, as it was for ‘Under Construction’ today. Originally released in 2015, it is a tale of three women at different stages of life, and belonging to different classes in society. Starring Shahana Ghosh, Rahul Bose and Rikita Nandini, the film was critically acclaimed and got several awards on the international festival circuit.
In what promises to add an extra dimension to the experience of going to the cinema throughout the series, after the end credits rolled the director herself graced the stage for a Q&A session where she discussed several aspects of the movie and her career.
"I did not choose the profession of filmmaking, it chose me," said Rubaiyat discussing her entry into the field. She said shooting a film gives her the most happiness.
"As a filmmaker I considered myself a mediocre one," she added at one stage.
She also discussed her future projects, one namely 'Made in Bangladesh', is the story of a female RMG worker focusing on the positive changes brought about by them in Bangladesh. One can certainly sense an underlying feminist ethos in her body of work.
Her ideological leanings gain further exposure during the interactive session as she expresses her interest in making a 'class trilogy'.
IFIB founding president Samia Zaman and Director of Goethe-Institut Bangladesh Kirsten Hackenbroch were both present throughout.
Dhaka, Jan 18 (UNB) - ‘Through Her Eyes’ is an initiative which showcases works of Bangladeshi women filmmakers. Goethe-Institut, Bangladesh is co-hosting the event. Its Director Kirsten Hackenbroch spoke to UNB about various aspects of the event and how it can benefit Bangladeshi women filmmakers.
What are the objectives of ‘Through Her Eyes’ initiative?
The Goethe-Institut and the International Film Initiative of Bangladesh want to promote Bangladeshi women filmmakers with ‘Through Her Eyes’.
There are a few female filmmakers who have become internationally successful. However, looking at both Bangladesh and the global perspectives, we see that women filmmakers still face disadvantages and find it more difficult to join the international independent film community [but they] continue to produce films.
So, we really want to create a platform where young, aspiring and talented filmmakers from Bangladesh can ask questions to those who have already gone through the international stage, can reflect on their possession, on their career perspectives and enter into discourse with the larger group of society.
You are helping through the process but do they get any financial help from this?
The programme that we are setting up now is not a programme for financial assistance. It’s where young filmmakers have a chance to find a forum or space to discuss, to share their sorrows, and get guidance.
What can evolve from this is that we will understand the needs of the young filmmakers in general and young female filmmakers in particular. [We hope to understand] what kind of support will they need, what sort of seminar, workshop sessions would be helpful, what kind of information is not readily available in Bangladesh. With this series, we hope to understand, and then [we] should be able to react and design the programmes.
Is there any mission statement for Goethe-Institut? Why Goethe-Institut is doing that? Is there any story behind that?
Yes, certainly. First of all, the Goethe-Institut is a cultural and language institute. We are supporting cultural activists’ ideas, especially from the independent artists, around the world to pursue entering into global dialogues and to pursue the work that they can [produce] and support them as much as we can.
We organised a Berlinale spotlight in September 2018, particularly for films. The Berlinale International Film Festival came to Bangladesh with two delegates. We organised the Berlinate spotlight together with DocLab and the IFIB (International Film Initiative of Bangladesh).
Three Bangladeshi films are going to Berlinale. How is their prospective?
It’s a huge success. There have been films from Bangladesh and filmmakers going to Berlinale but not in big numbers. So, I see it as somewhat connected also to the Berlinale spotlight. [It’s a] chance for Bangladeshi filmmakers to engage with people from Berlinale to understand what kind of programme they offer and now it’s a huge success to see that three filmmakers in one year are going to Berlinale.
I am very happy to see that. And I hope that through the work that we are doing, through the programme ‘Through Her Eyes’, [we’ll] have a stable flow of Bangladeshi independent filmmakers going to represent their projects at film festivals such as the Berlinale also the Doc Club, the doc light click Documentary Film Festival in July.
Is there any long-term plan or future plan with the current initiative?
The future plan is to really see from the discussions that we will have at Goethe-Institut what the young filmmakers need in order to continue or for more sustained engagement in the independent film industry. [We’ll come up with] workshops or seminars or we could bring experts from Germany to work with the young filmmakers here in Bangladesh.
What do you expect from this event?
What I expect is that the forum we offer will lead to a greater network among young filmmakers, so that especially those who are new in the profession don’t feel intimidated by, for example, the dealings with international festivals which can be quite a headache.
So, we really hope that this sharing between seniors and juniors, between more experienced and less experienced filmmakers will create an atmosphere of helping each other, of being available for each other, of being mentors to the younger generation.
Obviously, the programme is very much an offer to the film community and I would be very glad if the film community itself takes charge of the programme and really explains or expresses their wishes on how the programme should continue in future, what particular discussion they would need in order to be able to improve or make the work they are doing more sustainable. So, [the expectation is] to understand the talented filmmakers’ perspective.
I think there are brilliant Bangladeshi independent films. It’s more about a chance to have more people to tell their stories and to have more people who are really talented to get the support they need to tell the stories.
I invite everyone to join us on Sunday to the discussion space that we offer and to really make this their own space.
Dhaka, Jan 18 (UNB) - Directing and producing works remain a challenge for women filmmakers in Bangladesh, much like anywhere else.
Although women have been involved in this region’s film industry from the beginning, they still face many challenges on their way to become directors, noted Samia Zaman, the founding president of International Film Initiative of Bangladesh (IFIB).
Samia’s IFIB and the Goethe-Institut have come up with an initiative – ‘Through Her Eyes’ – to showcase works of female filmmakers and give people an opportunity to enjoy them.
“At present, we have a very few female filmmakers here,” she said. “But it’s assuring that we got some new female filmmakers who are making films, documentary and short films. Thus, we felt the need to showcase their works.”
Goethe-Institut Bangladesh Director Kirsten Hackenbroch said their goal is to promote Bangladeshi women filmmakers. “It’s where young filmmakers have a chance to find a forum or space to discuss, to share their sorrows, and get guidance,” she said.
Hackenbroch said they want to create a platform where young, aspiring and talented filmmakers from Bangladesh can ask questions to those who have already gone through the international stage, can reflect on their possession, on their career perspectives and enter into discourse with the larger group of society.
“We hope this sharing between seniors and juniors, between more experienced and less experienced filmmakers will create an atmosphere of helping each other, of being available for each other, of being mentors to the younger generation,” she said.
Samia Zaman said Rubaiyat Hossain’s ‘Under Construction’ would be the first film to be screened as part of the ‘Through Her Eyes’ series on Sunday.
“The movie has received international recognition, including at the Dhaka International Film Festival. We hope film enthusiasts will join us to enjoy films at 5pm of third Sunday of every month at the Goethe-Institut,” she said.
Dhaka, Jan 17 (UNB) - Nearly everyone will experience some form of back pain in his or her lifetime. The low back is the area behind the belly from the rib cage to the pelvis and is also called the lumbar region.
Back pain is a major cause of missed work and poor physical movement. Most commonly, mechanical tissue and soft-tissue injuries are the cause of low back pain. Some lower back pain can also be the result of certain diseases.
Yoga is a naturopathy that can offer relief from pain and provide a great preventative care for the future. Here are five yoga poses to cure lower back pain and relieve that dull ache.
A twist to the spine relieves the stiffness from the entire back.
Lie on your back, bring your arms to a T-shape on the floor or mat. Bring your knees towards your chest. Slowly lower both knees to the left, keeping the neck neutral. Try to keep shoulders on the floor and palms facing downwards. Stay anywhere between 1-2 minutes and keep breathing normally. Repeat the process on the other side. Straighten your legs and rest for 30 seconds.
This gentle backbend stretches your abdomen, chest and shoulders and strengthens your spine. It also helps to relieve stress and fatigue.
Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders and fingers facing forward. Draw your arms in tightly to your chest. Do not allow your elbows to go out to the side.
Inhale and push your hands to slowly lift your head, shoulder, and chest. You can lift partway, halfway or all the way up – depending on your flexibility. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes while breathing normally. Now, exhale and release your chest, shoulders and head. Bring your arms by your side and rest for 30 seconds.
This pose strengthens the muscles of the spine and the buttocks and improves blood circulation in back area.
Lie on your stomach with chin on the floor, put your legs together and arms to the side of the hip with your palms on the floor. Now inhale. Use the back and leg muscles to lift the right leg as high as possible keeping the toes pointing backwards. Make sure that your hip stays on the ground and the pelvis remains in a neutral position.
Stay in this posture for 30 second to 1 minute and breathe normally. Try to keep the shoulders broad. Exhale and lower your right leg. Inhale and repeat the same process with your left leg. Take rest for 30 seconds.
This pose improves the strength and flexibility of the back muscle, stretches the front of the body, improves stamina and makes a strong core.
Lie on your stomach, keeping arms under the hips and chin on the floor. Lengthen your lower back by gently pressing your pubic bone into the floor.
Inhale, lift your head, chest and legs off the floor, firming your shoulders blades onto your back and opening your heart, to come up as high as possible. Only abdominal area will touch the floor at this point.
Breathe normally and stay in this posture for 1-2 minutes. Exhale, drop your chest, head and legs and rest for 30 seconds.
This pose helps to stretch the hips, thighs and lower back while reducing stress and fatigue.
Begin by sitting on your heels and then slowly bend forward. Bring down your chest to your thighs and let your forehead touch the floor. Keep your hands on the ground. Stay in this position for 1-2 minutes while breathing normally.
(Saldin Yogi is a registered Yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance, USA. To learn more about him, please visit www.saldinyoga.com)