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

February 2010

Huge gaps seen in primary healthcare

New Delhi | Feb 26, 2010

Inadequate health infrastructure, in addition to shortage of trained personnel, has resulted in glaring gaps in health coverage and outreach of services, mainly in rural areas. The Economic Survey says India at present is short by 20,486 sub-centres, 4,477 primary health centres (PHCs) and 2,337 community health centres (CHCs). What’s worse is that basic facilities like proper buildings, hygienic conditions, electricity and water supply were still found absent in many existing health centres with many PHCs and CHCs not providing even the guaranteed services such as in-patient services, operation theatres, labour rooms, pathology tests, X-Ray facilities and emergency care. High absenteeism among personnel manning PHCs and CHCs is also a major bottleneck.

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NCW concern over emergency contraceptive pills

New Delhi | Feb 23, 2010

Concerned over the indiscriminate use of emergency contraceptive pills sold across the country, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has written to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Medical Council of India seeking their opinion in curbing the promotion of these pills. In a statement issued here, the NCW has said that it had been brought to their notice that wide scale advertisement campaign in favour of oral emergency contraceptive pills was being carried out by the pharmaceutical companies.

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Madhya Pradesh child mortality rate is one of the highest in world, says report

Bhopal | Feb 22, 2010

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a human rights organization with a General Consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council, has pointed out conditions of mass deprivation, especially hunger, malnutrition and distress migration, in Madhya Pradesh in its country report on India to the UN Human Rights Council. The report, expressing concern over the right to food situation in India, points out the shocking state of affairs in Madhya Pradesh regarding several human development indicators, especially malnutrition among tribals.

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Promises to keep: ICDS short of funds, 44% children still malnourished

New Delhi | Feb 21, 2010

The world’s biggest children’s nutrition program, called the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) runs in India. Started in 1975, the program was limping along till the Supreme Court ordered its universalisation in 2004. As a result, the government has repeatedly promised that it will extend the program to all 14 lakh habitations in the country. Analysis done by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) shows, that there is a wide gap between the financial allocations currently being made and the need for running such a massive program smoothly. As the government scrambles to meet the Supreme Courts directions, the state of decay and inefficiency is sought to be papered over with gross figures.

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Centre mulls over scheme to provide free sanitary napkins to rural poor

New Delhi | Feb 21, 2010

To boost female health and hygiene in rural India, the Union government is working on a scheme to provide women living below poverty line (BPL) with free sanitary napkins. The scheme, which will eventually supply “highly subsidised” sanitary napkins to women above the poverty line, is likely to be rolled out gradually, in three to six months from now. Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Saturday that the government intended to take care of the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescent girls through a community-led programme for behaviour change by promoting the use of sanitary napkins.

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Judicial colloquium concern over sex ratio

Cuttack | Feb 21, 2010

Speakers at a State-level judicial colloquium here on Saturday expressed concern over the declining number of girls in the country and attributed the same to practice of female foeticide. Calling upon all stakeholders to check the evil practice, the speakers were of the view for sincere implementing the provisions of Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition and sex Selection) Act. Inaugurating the colloquium organized by the Orissa State Legal Services Authority and Orissa High Court Legal Services Committee with collaboration of Orissa health and family welfare department and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), State Governor M C Bhandare said in a knowledge society, a woman should have the same dignity as that of a man.

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‘50% to 80% Indians have no access to essential drugs’

Kolkata | Feb 19, 2010

Nearly 639 million people in the country do not have access to essential medicines even though the pharmaceutical industry is one of the best performing sectors in Indian business and medicines manufactured in India are exported to 200 countries. Stating this here on Thursday, Dr. Amit Sengupta, joint convener of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, one of the organisers of a two-day national workshop that begins here this Friday, regretted that 50 per cent to 80 per cent of the people do not have access to essential medicines.

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AIDS claims over 1,000 lives in UP

Lucknow | Feb 17, 2010

As many as 1,039 people have died of AIDS in Uttar Pradesh in the past one year, Health Minister Anant Kumar Singh informed the State Assembly on Tuesday. He said in a written reply that though there is no separate scheme under State Government consideration for AIDS-afflicted persons, it has adopted the Centre’s programmes to control the disease.

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Over 1Cr health smart cards issued to poor

New Delhi | Jan 20, 2010

India has issued more than one crore smart cards under the health insurance scheme for the poor since the scheme started April 2008. "This is perhaps the largest effort ever to use Information Technology tools in rural areas," Minister for Labour and Employment Mallikarjun Kharge said. Under the scheme, the card is given to a family of five persons providing cover for hospitalisation up to Rs 30,000.

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India, Sweden to boost bilateral ties in healthcare

New Delhi | Jan 22, 2010

Swedish Minister for Elderly Care and Public Health Maria Larsson is coming to India to boost bilateral relations in the field of public health. The five-day programme, will see ministerial bilateral meetings and signing of agreements in the healthcare sector. Indo-Swedish thematic workshops will also be held on anti-biotic resistance, pharmaceuticals, public health, alcohol, adolescent health and public health research, the Swedish embassy in New Delhi said Friday. In addition, round tables will be organised on sustainable and affordable healthcare and seminars on innovating and partnering with technology, the way ahead to accessible healthcare.

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Rs.1,000 cr. allotted for mental health care

New Delhi | Jan 21, 2010

The Centre is taking steps to increase the number of mental health care professionals and make their services available at the primary level. The National Mental Health Programme is being re-strategised for the community-based approach, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said. Stressing on the need for addressing the trauma of the victims of natural and human-made disasters, which often go unnoticed and unattended, Mr. Azad said a sum of Rs.1,000 crore had been allocated for mental health services at the primary care level and integrating it into the general health care.

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NUHM Shelved for now : Wait for cheap medical aid gets longer for urban poor

New Delhi | Feb 12, 2010

The National Urban Health Mission — has been shelved for the time being and will not be launched during the present 11th five-year plan.
Union health secretary K Sujatha Rao said that NUHM would now be launched during the 12th plan. Rao told TOI, “We have so far focused on energizing India’s rural areas with NRHM. Sinve there are just two years left in the 11th plan (2007-2012), NUHM will be launched post-2012 now.” She added, “Over the next two years, we will sharpen NUHM’s execution plan and get its strategy right. Once both NUHM and NRHM run simultaneously, we can call it India’s Unified National Health Mission.”

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Concern over high infant, maternal mortality rate

Bhubaneshwar | Feb 14, 2010

Even as the government projects failed to arrest both infant mortality and maternal mortality rates in the State, Concern Worldwide, a non- governmental, international and humanitarian organisation here on Saturday launched an innovative project titled ‘Give light to their lives with your idea’ to understand the problem. As part of the campaign, Concern Worldwide announced an open competition -- ‘Call for Ideas’ -- to invite people across Orissa to contribute bold ideas for overcoming major maternal and child health challenges that result in unnecessary deaths every year.

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Indian child brides\' kids risk malnutrition more, says study

London | Jan 22, 2010

Babies born to child brides in India have a higher risk of malnutrition than those born to adult mothers, according to research published Friday. The study by researchers from Boston University, published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found that 67 percent of babies born to child brides in India were malnourished, a condition that is linked to child deaths. India has the highest number of under-five deaths in the world, with 2.1 million such children dying in 2006 alone. Such deaths have previously been linked to early motherhood, which can lead to neonatal death, stillbirth, low birthweight of infants, and deaths of children under the age of five years.

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Gender-based discrimination cases come down

New Delhi | Jan 23, 2010

Gender-based disparities have shown a decline in the country in the last decade with the national capital scoring the highest, according to a report by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. There is an overall improvement in the performance on the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) over the decade, both in the all-India score and in the scores achieved by the States and Union Territories, the report titled “Gendering Human Development Indices: Recasting the Gender Development Index and Gender Empowerment Measure for Index” says.

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'Gender discrimination leads to malnutrition in women'

Dhaka | Feb 14, 2010

Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has deplored gender discrimination in healthcare programmes pursued by South Asian nations, saying it leads to malnutrition and chronic diseases among women and children. "Negligence of women's health puts huge impact on children even when they grow up," he said while participating in a dialogue entitled "Indo-Bangladesh Dialogue on Health and Education: Learning from Neighbours" here Saturday. "It leads to high rate of maternal mortality and malnutrition, among women and children," he added.

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More health centres

New Delhi | Feb 13, 2010

In an effort to decongest major hospitals in the city, Delhi government will soon set up primary health centres to offer treatment for common ailments. Health Minister Kiran Walia, speaking after inaugurating two such centres in north-west Delhi, said more such facilities will be set up soon to augment the health infrastructure in the city.

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Funds fail to draw docs to villages: Despite 42,000cr Kept Aside For Rural Medical Care, Rs 10,000cr Lying Unspent

New Delhi | Feb 12, 2010

A look at the progress of a crucial program of the government, the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), indicates that money can’t buy everything. One of the biggest bottlenecks facing policy-makers is that of medical personnel. Recently released data by the ministry of health and family welfare shows a shocking shortfall of doctors, nurses, health assistants, radiographers, pharmacists and other personnel in the rural health delivery structure. This is despite over 82,000 new personnel being appointed under NRHM in the past four years and many villages getting to see a doctor for the first time.

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Government service must for PG doctors

Hyderabad | Feb 11, 2010

In a bid to improve the quality of medical services at all levels, the government has made it compulsory for the doctors to serve in State-run hospitals for one year after completion of their post-graduate degree and diploma courses. Accordingly, doctors who complete PG diploma and degree in 2012 and 2013 from Government and private medical colleges would have to sign a bond and join Government hospitals as senior residents. In case of violation, a penalty of Rs. 15 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh would be imposed. These post graduate doctors would be posted to Community Health Centres, Area hospitals and District hospitals on the basis of merit through counselling, he said. Doctors in non-clinical specialities would be posted in teaching hospitals.

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MCI claims consensus on rural health cadre

New Delhi | Feb 07, 2010

The Medical Council of India claims that there is a broad consensus on its proposal to create a dedicated cadre of rural health care workers. The proposal, which the MCI mooted in consultation with the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, was approved at the end of the two-day workshop of stakeholders. But with a change in the nomenclature of the degree, from Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery to Bachelor of Rural Health Care (BRHC). Mr. Desai said the plan was to start 300 schools to run this course, and preference would be given to districts which did not have medical colleges.

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Bivalent polio vaccine launched in Delhi, UP

New Delhi | Feb 08, 2010

The bivalent polio vaccine campaign was on Sunday launched in two states — Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Children below five years of age were administered the vaccine, capable of simultaneously controlling two strains— P1 and P3—of the polio virus. The Central government has procured 42 million bivalent polio vaccines under the new immunisation campaign, according to a senior Health Ministry official. The bivalent polio vaccine was launched in India on January 9 under the new round of the national polio immunisation campaign. Bihar was the first state to administer the vaccine. Delhi last year reported four polio cases — three P1 and one P3.

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Jharkhand plans to check infant death, population

Ranchi | Feb 08, 2010

Join in the birth control initiatives and get awarded! This is going to be the new mantra of the Government of Jharkhand to put a check over the growing population and infant mortality. In its bid to encourage young couples to adopt population control measures, the Jharkhand will soon tie up with the National Population Stabilisation Fund, widely known as Janshakhya Sthirata Kosh (JSK) to launch its three schemes—Prerna, Santushti and Chiranjeevi—on a public private partnership(PPP) mode. The schemes envisage cash awards upto Rs 19,000 to individuals, whereas institutional initiatives could fetch more than Rs 1.5 lakh.

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Health and Railways Ministries sign MoU

New Delhi | Feb 05, 2010

In a new initiative in the field of providing access to good health care facilities to common people across the country, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Railways signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for development of healthcare infrastructure along the railway network of the country. According to MoU, the Two Ministries will collaborate to develop healthcare facilities both for allopathic and Indian Systems of Medicine viz diagnostic centres, out-patient centres, inpatient medical treatment centres, super specialty hospitals, medical colleges and nursing colleges.

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$1.47mn ADB aid to check HIV along NE India roads

New Delhi | Feb 01, 2010

The northeastern Indian states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland will receive Asian Development Bank (ADB) support to address the social and health issues associated with road improvement. The Cooperation Fund for Fighting HIV and AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, financed by the Government of Sweden and administered by ADB, is providing a US$ 1.47 million technical assistance grant to carry out assessment work and capacity development programs in key agencies to help reduce the incidence of infections in areas earmarked for major road projects.

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President inaugurates anti-leprosy campaign

New Delhi | Jan 31, 2010

President Pratibha Patil inaugurated the Anti-Leprosy Fortnight and Leprosy Seal Campaign at Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Saturday. Speaking on the occasion, the President observed that though a lot work has already gone into eradicating the ailment, much more still remains to be done.The President expressed satisfaction that a lot of people from a cross-section of society and several professions have devoted their time and money to help in this effort which was so close to Mahatma Gandhi’s heart.

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Emergency medical aid now mandatory for hospitals

New Delhi | Jan 29, 2010

The cabinet approved path-breaking legislation making it mandatory for doctors, hospitals and other medical establishments to treat victims of road accidents and other emergencies and not turn away patients on specious pleas, official sources said. The legislation "makes it mandatory to provide, stabilise and treat emergency medical conditions", official sources said of The Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Bill, 2010, that the cabinet cleared at a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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Gender-neutral laws in 4 yrs: Moily

Bangalore | Jan 25, 2010

The government will be working towards making laws gender neutral in the next four years, Union minister of law and justice M Veerappa Moily said while inaugurating a three-day 'Civil Society Summit: Observing that a number of laws were gender-biased, he said “they (laws) should become gender neutral and I assure you in the next four years this will be done.” The minister asked NGOs to act as an interface between the society and the government so that benefits of post-independence progress must reach everyone. He also asked them to come up with “feasible programmes to ensure greater participation of the people” and assured them that they will be implemented.

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Sarpanch promises cash dole for every girl child

Sonipat | Jan 15, 2011

An 86-year-old woman sarpanch has announced financial help of Rs 5,100 for every girl child born to a poor family in her village. She hopes the small step would begin to correct the horribly skewed sex ratio that Haryana villages are notorious for. Sarpanch of Bhateri Devi of Ridua, who’s married to ex-Indian National Army soldier Daya Singh, and has six sons, says even the smallest measure must be taken to correct the worsening gender imbalance. Haryana’s sex ratio is 850 girls for every 1,000 male births.

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