The Daily Dose: Crisis among medical students in India; Why HIIT workouts work.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to churn in India, cracks in the healthcare system are on full display. Among the issues facing the country is how medical students are being used to fill gaps in the system. Per the Associated Press, “There are 541 medical colleges in India with 36,000 post-graduate medical students, and according to doctors’ unions constitute the majority at any government hospitals — they are the bulwark of the India’s COVID-19 response. But for over a year, they have been subjected to mammoth workloads, lack of pay, rampant exposure to the virus and complete academic neglect… In five states that are being hit hardest by the surge, postgraduate doctors have held protests against what they view as administrators’ callous attitude toward students like them, who urged authorities to prepare for a second wave but were ignored.” Healthcare worker protests have popped up around the world in countries including Japan and South Korea.

Reuters has been featuring climate change experts in a series that launched on Earth Day. One recent story recounts the experiences of Kevah Madani, a climatologist who left his position in a London university to return to Iran in order to work as a government advisor. He unwittingly became a pawn between hardliners and moderate factions within the government. According to the article, “Climate science has been politicized in rich nations, too, of course, including the United States and Australia. In Iran, climate change is political, but not in the same way. Iranian officials don’t reject climate change. Instead, they blame the country’s chronic water shortages and desertification on the Western industrial nations that have caused the lion’s share of carbon emissions. Yes, that’s a problem, Madani says, but he also believes it’s a fig leaf. He says his research has found that the government mismanaged water for decades, allowing it to be overused by developers and farmers and diverting it away from its source to cities.” The international war on science continues.

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A paper in Science highlights a pending crisis affecting the planet’s vast trove of undergroud freshwater. “Most of the world’s unfrozen freshwater is invisible to humanity. Ninety-six percent of it is stored beneath the land surface as groundwater in soil and rock layers called aquifers. However, groundwater’s unobtrusive nature belies its critical importance to global water and food security while simultaneously subjecting it to massive overexploitation. Groundwater is the primary water source for billions of people and for nearly half of irrigated agriculture, yet its inconspicuous presence has allowed groundwater to elude effective governance and management in countless regions around the world. Consequently, more than half of the world’s major aquifers are being depleted, some of them at an alarming pace.” In the issue, Jasechko and Perrone show that millions of the wells that are used to pump the disappearing groundwater are at risk of running dry.

High Intensity Interval Training has been around for some time now and it is being practiced everywhere from gyms to living rooms (thanks to smartphone apps). The science behind the effectiveness of HIIT has been lagging, however. Now a recent study appears to have shed some light into why it works. “Building off previous work on single bouts of exercise, researchers at Ghent University in Belgium found that when humans perform long-term training, histamine receptors are activated, improving a variety of cardiometabolic risk factors, from insulin sensitivity to aerobic capacity and blood vessel health.”

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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