here’s to the angels that are our nurses; God bless you richly!


#IND2016 SKAHERU4

EVERY year since 2010 I think deeply about the medical profession. Those thoughts arise because of an experience I underwent in a hospital in Kampala, brought on by the neglect of one medical person and reversed, death to life, by the astuteness of another.
That story in full will be told another day; this story, though, is about my experiences in two hospitals last week, and a resolution to give more to the nursing profession than I, personally, have done in the recent past.
I have always had a soft spot for nurses, courtesy of my upbringing as well as bits of foreign folklore that positioned them as kind, caring, selfless individuals who tend to us during our most painful and uncomfortable times.
This foreign folklore is part of my resolution, since I am going to pay more attention to International Nurses Day – an official United Nations day that falls on May 12 – the anniversary of the world’s most famous nurse, Ms. Florence Nightingale.
As a child I heard a lot about Ms. Nightingale but she was nothing in comparison to my own favourite nurses – three aunts of mine whose dedication to their work sometimes brought tears to my eyes.
Their gentle but firm manner both at home and at work, and their solemn yet jovial attitude even in the most difficult of situations made our more serious childhood illnesses pass like a breeze when we were brought before them – which was rare, because they dealt with a much higher scale of illness and treatment than we normally suffered.
But every time we were at their wards the calls of “Sister Baguma!”, “Sister Muwonge!” and “Sister Byabakama!” were made in such earnest faith that it was obvious even to our young minds that these were serious women with means and influence.
I missed them all sorely last week as I turned up at the Uganda Heart Institute to help with a medical emergency just after midnight. Hours later, I was grateful that there were others – many others – like them.
Such was my fixation the first day that when I recognised a nurse I had in the past known to be among the most efficient at another hospital, walking through the corridors at Mulago, I panicked a little that she had left her duty station and there were likely people there who badly needed her attention and care.
I calmed down on working out that we were now the beneficiaries of her skills, and   listened as the corridor lit up with earnest faithful calls of, “Sister Assiya!”
A day or so later, we were at Nakasero Hospital for some medical tests and my patient, in the waiting area seats, was trying to squirm his way into a comfortable position befitting of his role, when a nurse walking briskly past turned back and declared:
“But that patient is not comfortable!”
Within three minutes, she had identified a free consultation room with an unused bed and laid my patient out there so he could wait for his test results and follow-on treatment in some comfort.
Reading her name off her name tag confirmed that I had never met her before – the name “Sister Abbie” would have resounded; when I bumped into her a few hours later she didn’t really recall the incident – providing care was routine for her, or she had much more important cases under her belt from that morning alone.
The difference her kind intervention made to my patient’s life could probably have bought him a few more months or years – but even the extra hours of comfort he had that morning alone made her an angel in our eyes.
It is for these angels that I will find a small contribution, besides calling your attention to May 12, International Nurses Day. The theme #IND2016 SKAHERU3of the day is ‘Nurses: A force for change – Improving health systems’ resilience’.
In the International Council of Nurses document circulated to nurses worldwide to guide the observance of this year’s International Nurses Day, I found the definition: “Resilience: the capacity to recover from difficulties.”
This made my heart applaud nurses even more because these are people whose basic work environment is fraught with difficulties. They are surrounded by the sick, the wounded, the angry, the anguished, the dirty, the needy, the dying. Every day. All the time.
They are surrounded by people who expect them to be kind, and selfless, and caring, and loving, and attentive, and all-knowing, and patient. They are surrounded by people who themselves are impatient, and unhappy, and angry, and uncertain, and anxious, and distracted, and selfish.
Yet they do their work every day and when they are irritable or flare up in anger we are quick to condemn them. We look past them hoping for ‘the Doctor’, yet they are the ones holding up health systems and holding our sick in their arms the world over.

 

These nurses are our angels right here on earth; let’s treat them that way, each of us doing the little we can to help them help us live easier lives.

there is NO ZIKA in Uganda


Aedes Aegypti
The Aedes Aegypti – from http://www.outbreaknewstoday.com

THIS Zika virus is pissing me off quite a lot.

The damn thing is causing excitement and concern in Brazil and other Latin American countries, and people have contracted its related diseases in the United Kingdom and the United States.
NO ONE in Uganda has contracted the disease.
In the last 70 (SEVENTY) years there have been TWO (2) people who got the Zika disease in Uganda.
But believe it or not, Uganda has entered into the story. You haven’t noticed yet, but there is already at least one travel advisory that affects us – Ugandans.
THIS has pissed me off, of course, because those less discerning than most will immediately assume that we have Zika viruses floating about in the air over here, and will begin to avoid us. Or they’ll come up with some silly extra airport checks for people who have been to Uganda, or have names similar to ours.
There is no predicting what could happen.
The last time a strange, scary disease broke out in West Africa we had sanctions and cancellations in East Africa. There is 7,000 kilometres of very bad road between Sierra Leone and Uganda, but people in the UK still felt that it was worrying enough for the disease to exist THERE, for them to avoid coming HERE. Sierra Leone is closer to the United States than it is to any East African country, but ignoramuses would still be more scared of coming here than going to the US.
(That statement about distances from Sierra Leone might or might not be true – so go and read up on the continent of Africa a little bit, just to be sure. The one about ignoramuses is true.)
But that’s not what is churning bile into my throat.
The casualness around which people – journalists inclusive – are talking about Uganda in this story is infuriating!
It took just a couple of days for people to misread the Wikipedia statement, “The virus was first isolated in April 1947 from a rhesus macaque monkey that had been placed in a cage in the Zika Forest of Uganda, near Lake Victoria, by the scientists of the Yellow Fever Research Institute.”
Personally, like most of you who haven’t just heard about it from the title of this damn blogpost, I first heard of the Zika virus and the Zika forest about two weeks ago – in that order, separated by a couple of days.
On Monday the World Health Organisation declared Zika an “international public health emergency” and by that time Uganda was on maps labelled ‘Areas with current or past evidence of Zika’ (see http://www.nytimes.com – I won’t be supplying the link).
Within these last two weeks we have had journalists and ‘scientists’ (or science officials) make comments that simply fit into the expected narrative but don’t tell us much that is accurate or even useful.
They could have read the Wikipedia article in full, as well as embedded links therein such as this scientific-looking linkhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819875/
before launching into the Zika Forest for their stories, but…
Take this story headlined, “Ugandan forest where Zika hides”, complete with a photograph of an old Uganda Virus Research Institute  (UVRI) signpost in front of a patch of grass in what is clearly NOT a forest <—incomprehensible. The height of laziness is in NOT taking a photograph of even a single TREE for an article ABOUT a forest.
That article states with confidence: “Most local cases of the virus were mild, resulting in a rash, fever, and red eyes. Global health authorities barely took notice until an outbreak on the Micronesian island of Yap in 2007.”
Yap is NOT in Uganda. The Micronesian islands are NOT in Uganda. There are NO LOCAL CASES OF ZIKA that the story cites, but that sentence, by-lined by AFP, is on the internet even though in Yap, according to the Wikipedia article on that outbreak, 73% of the island’s population above the age of 3 (three) had recently (by then) contracted the disease!
Later in the story the AFP states, “Uganda’s health ministry is keen to point out that there have been no known cases of the disease in that country, and that the outbreak in the Americas did not originate in East Africa.”
This is because it is true, though the story indicates that it is just a claim.
Why not, “There have been no known cases of the disease in Uganda (in recent years) and the outbreak in the Americas did not originate in East Africa.”?
The reporter could have done some simple research within the Wikipedia article and benefitted from this sentence: “There are two lineages of Zika virus, the African lineage and the Asian lineage.[19] Phylogenetic studies indicate that the virus spreading in the Americas is most closely related to the Asian strain, which circulated in French Polynesia during the 2013 outbreak.”
But the AFP could not be bothered.
And it even closes the story with, “There is no vaccine against Zika, which has spread to over 24 countries in the Americas.” <—the Americas – it has become like Africa. Would you imagine, reading that phrase, that anyone in the United States has contracted a Zika-related disease? Or that anyone in the United Kingdom has one? You think the AFP story would mention even that most amusing detail of how Brian Foy, a biologist from the Colorado State University, in 2009 returned to the US from a trip to Senegal and sexually transmitted Zika on to her?
Nope.
It doesn’t even mention that SIX (6) cases have been confirmed in the United Kingdom – which detail I have only discovered today! I thought it was three – 3 – until this afternoon of February 2, 2016 when I surfed through various links to get to this one.
See, the text on the discovery of Zika in the UK says things like, “ZIKV does not occur naturally in the UK. However, as of 29 January 2016, a total of 6 cases have been diagnosed in UK travellers.”
Did you notice the use of ‘ZIKV’ there, instead of Zika? That’s deliberate so that you find fewer instances of internet searches linking the word “Zika” to “UK”.
This is from an official government release – and our Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs and Tourism should take a leaf from this and have all public officials comply; take A LOT OF CARE when making statements about matters sensitive.
The United States’ Centre for Disease Control (CDC) announced that, “No locally transmitted Zika cases have been reported in the continental United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers.” <—again, distancing themselves as a country from this disease, and suggesting that “only travellers” (which they mis-spelt) have it.
Meanwhile, it would take me (I am too simple) too long to establish how many travellers to the US have actually been diagnosed with the virus, but I bet they are more than Uganda’s ZERO!
The UK reporting also keeps talking about “UK travellers” so that in your mind the disease is never RESIDENT there.
It is RESIDENT elsewhere. Maybe in the ‘Americas’ or Africa – and the same advisory states that travellers should avoid travel to “areas where any mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya, dengue, malaria and Zika are known to occur”. <— see? It has started already!
But if anyone tries to cancel a booking to Uganda on the basis of this advisory, then please point them to this link from CNN which states with authority that, “the Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, “which are found throughout the U.S. and are known for transmitting dengue fever and chikungunya, may also transmit the virus, the CDC said Friday.”
 
So the UK advisory discourages travel to the United States, as much as it discourages travel to Uganda.
The BBC also sent a team to the Zika Forest – where they also met the same guide, poor Gerald Mukisa, who is now quoted everywhere.
The Associated Press report of the same site states that the Zika Forest “is, now fittingly, a research site for scientists…” even though everywhere else on the internet states that it has been a research site since before 1947! <—but that’s a small point, so ignore it.
Or, maybe just to get into the meat of things, it might not be ‘now fittingly’ – the reason they probably chose the Zika forest as they would any other part of the world to conduct such trials back in the early 1900s, might be the availability of specimen such as the monkey.
The longer version of the AFP report, meanwhile, quoted one Julius Lutwama, 56, described as “Top UVRI scientist” who says: “Zika virus has always been a mild infection. Out of say five or 10 people who are infected, only one or two may actually show some fever that is noticeable.” <— WHAT THE HELL?
The BBC text report on the same subject quoted the very same Dr. Julius Lutwama saying that only two cases of the virus have been confirmed in Uganda in the last seven decades. SEVENTY (70) years.
‘This is because the types of mosquitoes that would transmit the virus to humans don’t often come into contact with the general population, says Dr. Julius Lubwama, a leading virologist at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.’ reads the story.
So is it only two people as the BBC quoted Dr. Lutwama saying, or “out of the five or ten people”, as the AFP quoted the very same Dr. Lutwama?
I called up the Uganda Virus Research Institute and was told that there was only one Dr. Lutwama but was told he was out of the country – hopefully in Geneva attending the emergency meetings that resulted in the WHO declaration. I was given his colleagues number, one Dr. John Kayiwa, but he didn’t answer his phone and I had to post my blog so I went on reading, only to find this in the  BBC article:
“But as Dr. John Kayuma, one of the laboratory managers told me, one of the reasons why there are few recorded cases in Uganda could be because not many people have been tested for it. ‘It is possible that there could be several people, or so many people out there with the Zika virus infection, but because many people do not seek treatment in the hospitals, we could be missing out”‘
They don’t stop there.
“‘And also the surveillance has probably not picked them out. There’s a possibility that there are more cases out there.’”
THAT is the kind of comment that has me shaking my damn head.
(Pause for breath).
And the story ends on the dramatic note of: “In the meantime, Dr. Lutwama and his team say they are keeping an eye on the type of mosquitoes in the country in case any of the ones that are good at spreading the disease enter Uganda.”
THIS is the BBC?
They can’t spell Dr. Kayiwa’s name right – so marks off for that.
But then, do you see how the narrative is being kept alive here? That “it is possible” that people have the disease “but they have not been checked?”  We are to think that people are walking about possibly suffering from Zika but they have not been tested for it so cue music of impending doom and sickness?
Quite simply there is NO story here unless someone finds that damn monkey that was the subject of those tests. While looking for it, though, please take in our thousands of other monkeys and apes, the magnificent wildlife, the great scenery and the extremely pleasant hospitality of Ugandans who are so kind we will smile and say what you most likely want to hear just to make you feel at home – sometimes to our own detriment.
At the back of your mind, please be aware that “it is possible” that very many people out there have a cold, or mild forms of malaria, or even cancer, but they have not sought treatment in hospitals.
Brazil is there with 4,000 cases of babies born with microcephaly (the birth defect that the Zika virus is said to cause), the United States has 30 cases, the UK has six, and we are here saying “see Uganda”?
It is these reports that have me looking a little more seriously at bloggers, or what some people call conspiracy theorists, because those ones appear to put more effort into their work.
Like one Jon Rappoport, who blogged last week: ‘Is the dreaded Zika virus another giant scam?’
Rappoport, unlike our international journalists, goes into the science behind the Zika virus, and the tests that would have to be conducted before certain declarations are made, and then even raises links that answer the question, ‘Why did we not know about this between 2007 and 2016?’ (let alone 1947 till now!). Why is it spreading so fast and frenzied in Brazil and Latin America?, and then (read his blog, by the way, rather than wait for me to reproduce it here) the link to pesticide use in Brazil and so on and so forth.
Then there’s sheezacoldpiece, who posted, ‘The Zika Virus – What They’re Not Saying…’, in which the blogger raises a vaccine that the Brazil government introduced in 2014 and says “The recent outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil is now being linked to genetically modified mosquitoes developed by the British biotech company Oxitec, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”
Leaving the corporate bodies out of it for a while, the blogger raises a point some other people have raised in the comments on Zika – what is the role of science in all this? Even in the 1947 tests, according to this scientific narrative – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2819875/ – tells you that they were not just walking through a forest and noticed a monkey shivering with an attack of the Zika.
There must be some scientist out there who can decipher for us the meaning of the phrase, “was first isolated”; does that not indicate that there was some clinical laboratory work going on that could have involved placing a sample or something into the monkey in order to study its results?
I am clearly not a scientist.
But also, if, as the bloggers suggest, the microcephaly or Zika disease is a result of additional factors beyond just a thirsty band of mosquitoes then our scientists have lots more work to do than monitoring the borders to ensure that these vectors don’t get in.
Reading https://brazilianshrunkenheadbabies.wordpress.com/about/ you will find a lot of blogger-insight (see links at the bottom of that page) that sensibly argues how the use of medicines or pesticides untested for your area or blood type or genetics can create such alarming results.
As for the journalists, we have even more work to do so that we are more convincing than the bloggers and conspiracy theorists; if we can’t even spell a name right when covering such an ‘important’ story, how the hell are we expected to be believed on the science?

the ‘ebola is Africa’ bullshit needs to be stopped BEFORE the disease itself


Earlier today you must have seen this map:

Ebola In Africa

Please share it with anyone and everyone in THE WORLD so that they begin to understand that this continent is not one big tent under which lives this big, close-knit family called Africans.

And kindly go over to people like the professionals who run kidshealth.org and make them replace their entire philosophy with this map.

This evening, while checking on a couple of ideas I had in the middle of handling my four-year old’s feverish cough (NO – she does NOT have Ebola!), I landed on this page (http://kidshealth.org/kid/) and was surprised to see the section titled ‘Ebola’.

Ebola 1

Do you see what they are doing there? This is a website that communicates DIRECTLY to children, with a clear focus on the ones in the United States of America, and their idea of Ebola has it linked to the continent of Africa in our white entirety.

Don’t think, by the way, that the purveyors of this website information are so stupid that they show you a picture of the full human body to depict a headache:

Ebola 5

They understand the idea that the body is made up of different parts, and, presumably, that an ache in the head is called headache and so on and so forth. The idea that the continent of Africa does not have Ebola across the entire landmass, therefore, should be easy for them.

Luckily, on one level, this is not the type of page that a medical researcher will visit for information on Ebola, judging from entries such as:

Ebola 2

But the children who read this, I fear, will be traumatised for life with the thought that these “many people in Africa” are sick.

And one cannot therefore fully blame American children or their ignorant parents for all manner of silly reactions such as:

1. The teacher who had to resign her job because she had returned from a visit to Kenya and parents of her school in Lousville, I-Can’t-Be-Bothered-To-Find-Out-Which-State – which is probably closer to the Ebola case in the United States than Kenya is to any case of Ebola in West Africa this year. (http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/education/2014/11/03/louisville-catholic-teacher-resigns-amidst-ebola-fears/18417299/)

2. The two children from Senegal who were beaten and shouted at for being African and therefore probably having Ebola.  (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/28/us/ebola—-school-beatings/)

And many other stories besides.

Isn’t there a high possibility that these students and their parents had sought some high quality information from the likes of http://kidshealth.org/kid/?

You see, their editorial policy…actually, read it yourself:

Ebola 3

“rigorous”

“extensive review”

“by medical professionals”

Okay, they don’t know geography or communication, obviously, and need help in that field – thus the need for them to refer to the map above.

Ebola 4

Showing them the map above would help them in their ’18-step process’ that has hitherto failed to notice that the VAST MAJORITY OF THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA DOES NOT HAVE EBOLA.

I’ve done my bit, and gone to their ‘Contact Us’ page where, politely, I have suggested: “You should not spread the stereotypical error that Ebola is linked to the entire continent of Africa, as the map you have presented for the disease indicates. Be clear in your communication so that the children of the United States of America don’t grow up associating everyone from Africa with this disease. You might also wish to mention that some people in the United States and also Europe have contracted Ebola…”

I know that on its own this is a weak blow.

So, please, join me, go over and submit your own suggestion?

Please?!

Help the American child to NOT be mis-educated so?

the yellow card of life…and how many years have I got left in me?


This week I consider the reality that I could have only two years left to live.

Do not panic (I haven’t yet); the statistics actually say, according to the World Health Organisation Life Expectancy figures, that Ugandan men are generally expected to live to about 49 (50 for women, which isn’t the issue today). Even better, indexmundi.com has us living up to 54 years – and they are even quoted by the CIA World Factbook! 

But the science around it is so complicated that even after two hours on these websites all I have is the assurance that I have about nine to fifteen years to go instead of the two (2) some chap had confidently declared to be the official figure (on a Saturday night and I couldn’t account for what he had been drinking earlier in the day).

The point is, I stopped a little bit to think about what exactly I would do if I had only a guaranteed two years left to live. Or nine. Or fifteen.

Reading about life expectancy was the equivalent of a life referee holding up a big, bright yellow card, blowing the whistle and announcing: “Two/Nine/Fifteen years like this and you’re out!”

Either way, first I’d prop two massive thumbs up for my parents, because my longevity is really their achievement, in spite of all the neglect I have shown for my own well being; indeed, recently my old man adopted the practice of sending congratulatory birthday wishes to the parents of the birthday boy or girl rather than to the subjects themselves. 

So this week I start taking an ongoing opportunity to thank these two old but youthful people for their hard work over the years, and hoping that their sacrifice and dedication and efforts continue well into the future beyond the calculations of the life expectancy scientists. But I will give them some help along the way.

I would expect that the life expectancy scientists actually factor in stuff like your parenting, giving lower chances of survival to children whose parents are ill-educated, or challenged in other ways.

Speaking of children, I wouldn’t, regardless of what’s left on my life-meter, sit my children down to tell them to use the years left with me to their best advantage – that creates too much anxiety for all involved.

Rather, I’d just take action so that by the time I succumb to statistics, I leave them with as few ‘what-if’s’ as possible. Homework together, impromptu walks, chats and school drop-ins, solutions to all sorts of problems big and small, life lessons at every turn and corner, non-stop invasion of their privacy…the list is long and I am on it. 

But even as I was writing this list I realised that fifteen years is still quite a short time – and I went back to the reliable internet where I found a life expectancy calculator!

Within minutes, I had taken the quiz, clicked a button and apparently I’ll live to…94 years! Image

Immediately, I replaced the WHO and CIA with this website, and began adjusting my list for the next 54 years. Two hours later I gave up: their idea of stress, for instance, does not take into account the harsh irrationality of a certain breed of workers, or Kampala taxi drivers and definitely NOT boda-bodas.

In general, whereas the scenario is easier to contemplate with the highest figures possible, I realised I’m better off trying to tip the odds in my favour.

I presume those statistics take into account the way we live life in Uganda, including stuff like drinking more alcohol than necessary (besides holy communion – in church, that is, administered by an ordained member of the clergy); eating whimsically rather than wisely (my favourite waiters and waitresses, reading this, will now understand why I am ‘lost’); and physical exercise or the lack of it.

So there are life-extending action points there.

In addition, there are tactics such as climbing onto fewer boda bodas, or investing in a solid helmet if I must do so; using seat belts everywhere (sometimes the office chair could do with one); shaking fewer hands of people whose office messengers are likely mates with garbage collectors…that’s another long list. Even otherwise ordinary pursuits such as upcountry travel are now going to be undertaken with the objective in mind to extend my life expectancy just a little bit more. 

And most of all: handling stress! Stress is defined in different ways (my favourite: “pressure you can’t withstand”) and comes from many different corners, so I’m not taking any more. If you’re irrational and stupid with me, I’ll be smiling and moving past you and the two-year or nine-year mark. Or I’ll try to.

Meanwhile, someone needs to create a tool for a Ugandan like me or Lozio Cheptai in Kaberamaido to calculate our life expectancy using real-life indexes that pertain to us, so I’m now seeking health professionals to team up with ICT professionals for this.

We might even win an award – and that uplift to self-esteem might extend our life expectancy figures further!

#EclipseUG – take these solar eclipse viewing tips seriously – they are even from Mulago Hospital!


As we prepare to set off for Pakwach and Masindi to catch the hybrid eclipse (hashtag = #EclipseUG), I am particularly happy that we have had tips, cautions and words of advice from someone at Mulago Hospital rather than an expert from outside Uganda.

I’m not going to crack jokes about how because this is from Mulago Hospital it is more serious than just the usual kb.

Instead, a big round of applause for Opthalmologist Dr. Anne Ampaire Musika of Mulago National Referral Hospital, who compiled the following:

PLS TAKE THESE SERIOUSLY!

COMPILED BY DR. ANNE AMPAIRE MUSIKA (and received through a third-party):

This Sunday 3rd November 2013, there is going to be a hybrid eclipse and everyone is excited.

SOLAR RETINAL DAMAGE/ SOLAR RETINOPATHY
When a person looks repeatedly or for a long time at the Sun without proper protection for the eyes, this photochemical retinal damage may be accompanied by a thermal injury – the high level of visible and near-infrared radiation causes heating that literally cooks the exposed tissue. This thermal injury or photocoagulation destroys the rods and cones, creating a small blind area. The danger to vision is significant because photic retinal injuries occur without any feeling of pain (there are no pain receptors in the retina), and the visual effects do not occur for at least several hours after the damage is done.

WHO IS AT RISK?
Susceptible individuals include children and teenagers, because the lens of the eye filters little short wavelength light before the age of 20 years; people with ocular conditions such as retinal dystrophies or albinism or who have undergone certain forms of cataract surgery; those taking photosensitising medication; and those using alcohol or recreational drugs.

During a solar eclipse more people are at risk. With the sun partially covered, it’s comfortable to stare, and protective reflexes like blinking and pupil contraction are a lot less likely to be in use than on a normal day.

WHEN IS VIEWING THE ECLIPSE SAFE?
The only time that the Sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye is during a total eclipse, when the Moon completely covers the disk of the Sun during the short two minute period of total eclipse, and one should look away the moment the first rays of the sun appear at the edge of the moon.

It is never safe to look at a partial or annular eclipse, or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse, without the proper equipment and techniques

WHAT EQUIPMENT CAN FILTER THESE SUN RAYS?
The commonly used filters include:

1. all colour film

2. black-and-white film that contains no silver

3. photographic negatives with images on them (x-rays and snapshots)

4. smoked glass

5. sunglasses (single or multiple pairs)

6. photographic neutral density filters polarizing filters

These however do not offer adequate protection because most of these transmit high levels of invisible infrared radiation which can cause a thermal retinal burn.

Welders’ glasses and pin-hole cameras are relatively safer though not perfect.

7. The safest devices are solar viewers with aluminized polyester. Most such filters have a thin layer of chromium alloy or aluminum deposited on their surfaces that attenuates both visible and near-infrared radiation

Other suggested locally available filters include:

8. negatives without images (x-rays or black and white films) used as double layers

9. pin holes (made by passing a pin through a hard paper or cardboard)

10. black kaveera (polythene bag)

11. compact discs

12. floppy discs

These may not be entirely safe but are a lot safer than nothing at all.

Viewing the sun through binoculars or telescopes produces the 10-25° temperature rise in the retina required for a thermal burn. By contrast, looking at the sun with the naked eye induces photochemical injury to retinal receptor cells and pigment epithelium, associated with only a 4° rise in retinal temperature.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
This thermal injury or photocoagulation destroys the rods and cones, creating a small blind area.
The danger to vision is significant because photic retinal injuries occur without any feeling of pain (there are no pain receptors in the retina), and the visual effects do not occur for at least several hours after the damage is done

TREATMENT, IN CASE OF A RETINAL BURN?
No treatment has been shown to be effective in solar retinopathy.
The emphasis is therefore on prevention,
Children must be closely supervised.
It is unsafe to look at the sun during the partial phases of a total eclipse, or during a partial eclipse.
Failure to use proper observing methods may result in permanent eye damage or severe visual loss. This can have important adverse effects on career choices and earning potential, since it has been shown that most individuals who sustain eclipse-related eye injuries are children and young adults

Binoculars and telescopes should not be used.

SHARE THESE TIPS AND TREAT THEM VERY, VERY, VERY SERIOUSLY.

VERY SERIOUSLY.