Health News update is a weekly news collation of health news which is shared on the Repro health list serve and archived on this website.

Health News

September 2009

Govt to launch annual health survey in 9 states

New Delhi | Sept 14, 2009
The Government of India is going to launch an annual health survey in 284 districts in nine states across the country to assess the impact of schemes under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The project would be carried out jointly by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Registrar General of India (RGI) and Ministry of Home Affairs. The nine states in which this survey would be conducted include Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattishgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Assam.

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Tourist guards to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS

Puducherry | Sept 19, 2009
The Pondicherry AIDS Control Society (PACS) has roped in tourist guards and employees of the Tourism Department for spreading awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention. A workshop on HIV/AIDS was conducted for the first of three batches of tourist guards, employees of the department and those of hotels run by the department on Friday. Forty persons attended it.

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The price one pays for being HIV positive


Anchetty (Krishnagiri) | Sept 19, 2009
A kattai panchayat in Sesurajapuram village in Krishnagiri district assumed “extra constitutional powers” and fined a woman recently. Her supposed sin: she is HIV infected. Santhana Mary, whose husband, a victim of the dreaded disease, died one-and-a-half years ago, lives with her aged parents in the village with two daughters (fortunately not infected by the disease).

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Gender equality mission sought

New Delhi | Sept 18, 2009

To address and tackle issues of gender equality it is important to set up a national gender equality mission and a women’s international centre, said Streeshakti founder-secretary Rekha Mody at a seminar here. Addressing the seminar, “A Call for Gender Equality”, organised by Streeshakti--The Parallel Force, The Little Magazine and Women’s Feature Service, Ms. Mody spoke about the problems generally experienced by women in rural areas.

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Indian pharma to be involved in $150 mn global vaccine venture

London | Sept 18, 2009

Indian generic drug companies will be the first to be called to collaborate with a $150 million joint venture between the US pharmaceutical giant Merck and British medical charity Wellcome Trust to develop and produce new vaccines in India. The new company, MSD Wellcome Trust Hilleman Laboratories, will have 60 staff who will develop cheap vaccines for neglected diseases that are common in developing countries. These vaccines - new as well as improved versions of existing ones - will be marketed around the world. Importantly, the company will develop vaccines that do not need to be refrigerated.

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More mobile healthcare units soon


Bhubaneshwar | Sept 17, 2009
As healthcare facilities were eluding a vast population in the backward regions till date, the State government said that more number of mobile healthcare units would be deployed in Kalahandi and Kandhamal districts. According to an official release issued by the Health and Family Welfare Department, seven more mobile healthcare units would be put to work in Kandhamal and three more in Kalahandi district.

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Maharashtra has largest no. of HIV+ kids

Mumbai | Sept 17, 2009

Maharashtra has the largest number of HIV-positive children in the country with fresh cases increasing 10-fold in the last three years. Data released by the health and family welfare ministry shows 11,938 new cases were registered between November 2006 and May 2009, or 22% of India’s HIV-positive children. But government officials insist there is no need for alarm. They attribute the dramatic rise in cases to better medical infrastructure for detecting HIV.

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New initiatives of the health ministry

New Delhi |Sept 17, 2009

The union health ministry Thursday made a number of major announcements with the aim of providing quality healthcare to all in the country. The following are some of the steps –

· Doctors to get more payment for rural postings.

· 10 weightage points for each year of service in rural areas, which will help during admission to post-graduate studies.

· Navjaat Shishu Suraksha Yojna with the focus on care of the newborn.

· Government to make general doctors multi-skilled to meet the shortage of pediatricians and reduce neonatal deaths.

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Big pharma pays billions in fines for bribing docs


New Delhi | Sept 16, 2009

In what seems to be a case of giving the fox the job of guarding the henhouse, the government has decided to curb the practice of bribing doctors for promoting drugs by allowing pharmaceutical companies to self-regulate rather than have a legislation to tackle the menace. This is despite the fact that more than a quarter of the members of the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) — an association mainly of multinationals which is estimated to account for 70% of the drug market in India — are subsidiaries of companies that have been penalized in the US for illegally promoting various drugs through inducements for doctors.

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Indian vaccine for swine flu to be ready by March


Hyderabad | Sept 16, 2009
An Indian vaccine against the pandemic strain of swine flu will be ready for use by March next with the authorities planning to fast-track clinical trials in accordance with international protocols. It was proposed to combine the different phases of clinical trials from safety to immunogenicity in the fast-track mode to make the vaccine available in March next as otherwise it would be ready only by the end of 2010, Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Vishwa Mohan Katoch said.

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Fake medicines seized

Bhubaneshwar | Sept 16, 2009

The seizure of fake medicines in Bolangir district has shattered the tall claims of the government that it was taking all possible measures to check manufacturing and sell of fake drugs in the State. As many 39 varieties of spurious medicines were allegedly seized from the possession of a quack in Bolangir during a special raid by the officials of the Health and Family Department on Monday.

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A new programme for newborn care


Jaipur | Sept 16, 2009
Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad launched “Navjaat Shishu Suraksha Karyakram” to address important interventions of care at birth as a national initiative to reduce neonatal deaths. The nation-wide programme will provide basic institutional newborn care and resuscitation to the infants. The interventions covered in the proposed programme include prevention of hypothermia, prevention of infection, early initiation of breast-feeding and basic newborn resuscitation.

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Here, caste decides docs’ food


Patna | Sept 14, 2009

Rajput ‘paratha’, Bhumihar ‘poori’, Brahmin ‘kachauri’, Yadav ‘chapati’. Ever heard of these cuisines? These are allegedly served at Sri Krishna Medical College & Hospital (SKMCH), Muzaffarpur, to the medicos. Here a ‘thali’ is identified with the caste of the customer. When this practice was shown on various news channels, the state government reacted. “Caste polarisation on the dining table is unacceptable,” health minister Nand Kishore Yadav said. “This practice has been going on for long and if it’s wrong... we’re also responsible for this,” an SKMCH doctor said.

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Govt spending on healthcare inadequate: Minister

New Delhi | Sept 15, 2009

Admitting that the government expenditure on healthcare has been less than desired; Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said under funding by the public sector over the years has made it expensive and less accessible.
However, the government was trying to increase the health care expenditure, the Minister said. "Years of prolonged under-funding of the public health system and dependence on the private sector has pushed the cost of healthcare and also affected access," Azad said while addressing a conference organised by the industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.

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For better health care


Jaipur | Sept 14, 2009
Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad would flag off a Grameen Swasthya Chetana Yatra here to provide health care facilities to the people residing in remote areas and generate awareness on health-related issues. Rajasthan will organise health care camps in each panchayat across the State during the month-long campaign. The participants in the Yatra would show street plays, conduct exhibitions and film shows and organise rallies at the venues of the camps.

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Competent doctors: A big issue in Jharkhand

Ranchi | Sept 15, 2009

Jharkhand is finding it tough to attract competent doctors to work on a contract basis with the state government. While it needs as many as 3,000 doctors, only 375 candidates turned up for an exam conducted to fill 800 posts and many of them secured less than 20 per cent marks, officials said. The state government came out with an advertisement to appoint 800 doctors on contract basis but only 439 candidates applied. The written examination took place on September 12 and only 375 doctors appeared for the test.

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Open colleges at district hospitals, Azad to private sector

New Delhi |Sept 14, 2009

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Monday invited the private sector to set up medical colleges along with government district hospitals in backward, hilly and northeastern states of India - a reformative step that private players termed as "music to ears". "We will soon allow the private sector to set up medical colleges along with our district hospitals in backward states, hilly areas and the northeastern region," Azad said here at a healthcare meet organised by industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

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India to have national patient safety policy: Azad

India to have national patient safety policy: Azad
New Delhi |Sept 14, 2009

India will soon have a National Patient Safety Policy to provide patients with a safer healthcare environment, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said at the launch of the national initiative for patient safety, jointly organised by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the India Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN). Noting that the country has many national programmes to control and eradicate various diseases but nothing on patient safety, he said: We are proposing to put in place a National Patient Safety Policy.

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Additional weightage for doctors with rural service

New Delhi | Sept 19, 2009

An additional weightage of 10 per cent for each year of rural service will be given to doctors applying for post-graduate entrance examinations from the next academic year. Announcing this here, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said this weightage will be subject to a maximum of 30 per cent for three years, though a doctor could serve in rural areas for as many years as he chose to after completing the internship .

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India still accounts for 21% of under-five deaths

New Delhi | Sept 12, 2009

First the good news — 10,000 fewer children are now dying every day before reaching their fifth birthday compared to 1990. The bad news — India alone accounts for 21% of the under-five mortality of the globe. In fact, half of the deaths occurred in India, Nigeria, Congo, Pakistan and China. According to a new Unicef study, published in ‘Lancet’ on Friday, there has been a 28% decline in the under-five mortality rate since 1990. In absolute numbers, this means that under-five child deaths in 2008 declined to 8.8 million from 12.5 million in 1990.

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WHO charts out youths' death pattern

GENEVA | Sept 11, 2009

The first study of global patterns of death among people aged between 10-24 years of age has found that road traffic accidents, complications during pregnancy and child birth, suicide, violence, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) are the major causes of mortality. Most causes of death of young people are preventable and treatable. The study supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that 2.6 million young people are dying each year, with 97 per cent of these deaths taking place in low and middle income countries.

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AIDS patients may get cheaper transport for treatment

New Delhi |Sept 07, 2009

Indian Railways have agreed to examine a proposal to provide 75 percent concession to HIV/AIDS patients for their rail journeys for medical treatment while various states have agreed to provide free transport to them for the purpose, the Supreme Court was informed by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) during the adjudication of a public interest lawsuit, seeking various types of medical and other helps for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs).

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Himachal to start 12 centres for ayurveda

Shimla |Sept 08, 2009

Himachal Pradesh plans to promote ayurveda by setting up 12 'panchkarma' centres in the state by December-end, Health Minister Rajeev Bindal said. To promote the ancient Indian art of healing through ayurveda, the government would set up 12 panchkarma centres in the state. These nature-cure centres would start working by end of this year," he said. The hill state is following the Kerala pattern to popularise the concept of nature cure.

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Daily soaps are fine, but highlight health issues too: Unicef

New Delhi |Sept 09, 2009

There are a few serials highlighting women's issues, one on child marriageand lots of family dramas. Now producers should touch upon topics related to health like hygiene, AIDS awareness and immunisation, says the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), which has launched a series called "Kyunki...Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai" on Doordarshan(DD). Unicef, meanwhile, says it is open to helping a producer or channel if they wish to work around any of these social issues.

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Nutritious support to HIV/AIDS-affected

Karur | Sept 09, 2009

A new initiative to provide free access to nutritious support to the people living with HIV/AIDS in Karur district has been launched at the Anti Retroviral Therapy Centre. The Karur Collector’s ART Welfare Trust has been formed exclusively for providing financial support to the programme that would benefit over 2,800 clients currently registered with the ART Centre functioning from the Government Hospital here. The aim of the initiative is to inculcate the habit of nutritious dietary intake among the people living with HIV/AIDS.

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Wealth gap blurs India's economic competitiveness

London | Sept 08, 2009

Indiamoved a place up in a global index of economic competitiveness published on Tuesday but the authors said its success was blighted by a wealth gap and underachievement in primary education and health. India boasts well functioning institutions (54th), bustling financial markets (16th), and a sound banking sector (25th) supported by a vast domestic market (4th largest in PPP terms). But on health and primary education India ranks a woeful 101st, on macro-economic stability 96th and on infrastructure 76th.

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Sex determination: Two nursing homes face action

New Delhi | Sept 09, 2009

Here’s a fragment of the story behind Delhi’s missing girls. The city government is all set to initiate prosecution against two Malviya Nagar nursing homes for alleged violation of the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act 1994 (PNDT Act). While A V Healthcare Centre is facing charges of the form F — that needs to be filled before every ultrasound — not being in order, Vardaan Hospital, in addition to Form F irregularities was found to have an unregistered USG machine. The findings came in course of a visit of the national monitoring team which inspects hospitals once in two-three years.

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State doubles institutional delivery rate

Bhubaneshwar | Sept 09, 2009

Making a huge stride in reproductive and child health programme, Orissa has doubled the institutional delivery rate in last one decade from abysmally low IDR of 35 per cent in 1998 –99 to 71 per cent in 2008-09. IDR is considered critical to keep Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) down. As per NRHM, the IDR has gone up from 62 per cent in 2007-08 to 70.28 per cent in 2008-09. While 14 districts have achieved institutional delivery percentage above 60, nine districts show an achievement between 40 and 60 percent.

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Modify pill advertisements: Drug Controller

New Delhi | Sept 09, 2009

The Drug Controller of India has asked manufacturers of the Emergency Contraception (EC) pill to modify their advertisements that have suddenly burst on the television channels. Medical practitioners, while appreciating the “positive impact” of the ads in generating awareness, suggested that they carry a word of caution about the “emergency use.” They stressed that the EC pill was not a protection against reproductive tract infections, sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Also, it was not to be used as an abortion pill. At the same time, they did not want television ads to “stigmatise” abortion.

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Taking the pulse of India’s health

New Delhi | Sept 09, 2009

Explaining the aim behind “Taking the Pulse of India’s Health,” World Care Council (South Asia) regional coordinator Celina Menezes said: “All are consumers of public health programmes. Communities of people who are sick and suffering should have a say within the health set-up. “It is important to give people a stake in the process as well.” The Hindu, World Care Council, India Business Alliance and Public Health Foundation of India are partners in the initiative which aims at mobilising people on health issues.

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Health Survey to check villagers' health, flagship scheme's impact

New Delhi | Sept 11, 2009

A survey will be taken up in nine states to assess the health of rural population since the launch of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The annual health survey will be carried out in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattishgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Assam by the health ministry, the home ministry and the Registrar General of India (RGI). The decision was taken Thursday at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and was announced by Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

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World's oldest surviving medicine system gets government's ok

New Delhi |Sept 10, 2009

The world's oldest surviving system of medicine called "Sowa-Rigpa" -popular in the country's Himalayan region and said to be taught by Gautam Buddha himself - got official approval from the Indian government Thursday. The decision to approve it as part of the Indian medicine system was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and later announced by Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

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Health department starts sensitisation programmes for local bodies, schools

Puducherry | Sept 11, 2009

Focussing on containment of A(H1N1) influenza in Puducherry, the Health Department has started to sensitise elected representatives of local bodies and heads of schools on their role in controlling the flu. After training medical officers, paramedical personnel and rapid response teams, the department has kick-started programmes for members of municipalities and commune panchayats. On Wednesday, elected representatives of the Puducherry and Oulgaret municipalities attended the session. This was followed by a session for commune panchayat members on Thursday.

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Bihar's junior doctors call off strike

Patna | September 01, 2009

Junior doctors in Bihar ended their five-day strike after getting an assurance from the Bihar government of a hike in stipend, but not before claiming lives of 38 patients in the state. The association agreed to withdraw its agitation following an assurance from the government to address their demands as soon as possible. The JDA's decision to call off the strike came after its meeting with the state Health Minister Nand Kishore Yadav.

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Quest for TB vaccine continues

Puducherry | September 01, 2009

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB), the causative agent of TB in human beings, was discovered more than 100 years ago, but there is no vaccine for this disease yet, Professor, Centre for Biotechnology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Santosh K. Kar said. “In spite of tremendous efforts worldwide, we are far from synthesising a vaccine… Effective drugs are available but the organism causing TB has become resistant to them. Therefore, combined drug therapy is used to treat patients. This will continue to happen till an effective vaccine is developed,” he said.

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Bring cholera patients to hospital, get award: Orissa

Bhubaneswar |September 03, 2009

In order to control diarrhoea and other water borne diseases in the state's Kalahandi district, the Orissa government has announced that it will give cash awards to those who bring patients to hospitals. The district administration will give Rs.200 and new clothes to those who bring patients to hospitals and Rs.200 to the patients when they are discharged. The cash award has been announced by state Health Minister Prasanna Acharya in order to bring reluctant patients to hospital and curb water borne diseases.

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Malaria spreads in Orissa's Gajapati district

Gajapati (Orissa) | September 04, 2009

Malaria scare is on an all time high in Orissa's Gajapati district as at least 15 tribals have succumbed to the deadly disease in the past one-month and around 300 people are being treated at ill-equipped primary health care centres.Being one of the tribal dominated and poverty stricken districts of the state, Gajapati is deprived of basic amenities and medical facilities, following which the region has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the situation is further complicated by the unhygienic life-style of many poor families.

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Situation in government hospitals change for better

Bhubaneshwar | September 05, 2009

Stinking premises, torn and dirty bed-sheets and substandard food in government hospitals may become things of past with the State government contemplating to outsource most of the services in health centres to ensure quality. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of workshop on “Equity, accountability and quality in National Rural Health Mission” held here on Friday, G. Mathivathanan, NRHM mission director of Orissa, said various services in 32 district headquarter hospitals would be outsourced from private firms in the first phase.

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Former Jharkhand health secretary in CBI net

New Delhi/Ranchi | September 01, 2009

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against Jharkhand's Secretary of institutional finance Pradeep Kumar for his alleged involvement in a health department scam. Kumar, the former Jharkhand health secretary has been named in the case for fraudulently and dishonestly purchasing medicines, medical equipment and appliances worth Rs 130 crore for hospitals from 19 suppliers.

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