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

April 2010

Assam opens Rs 300 mn rural health care project

Guwahati | April 28, 2010

The Government of Assam on Tuesday launched a Rs 300 million project offering nutritious meals and compensation for wage-loss to indoor patients, besides post-natal care to the mother, in an initiative that is expected to revolutionise the region's rural healthcare sector. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi launched the two initiatives — Morom (Assamese for Love) and Mamta (Care), seen as yet another step forward in bolstering rural healthcare facilities in the state after Assam last week won the best performing state award for implementation of the National Rural Health Mission.

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Need to integrate health care and nutrition


Jaipur | April 28, 2010

The “Pilani recommendations” released at the end of a three-day international conference on women's empowerment at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) in Pilani over the weekend called for delivery of an integrated package of health and nutrition to women with a “robust political will” to ensure both maternal and child survival. Gender experts, researchers and policy-makers from 18 developing countries took part in the global round-table, organised by the Women Studies and Societal Development Unit of BITS and the Centre for Science and Technology of the Non-Aligned and Other Developing Countries, New Delhi, with the support of UNICEF-Rajasthan.

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TB haunts impoverished tribal settlements

Mysore | April 27, 2010

Despite numerous special schemes and financial allocations, tribal communities in Hunsur taluk lead a life of poverty, marked by severe malnutrition. In Bettada haadi in the taluk, tribal residents grapple with appalling health conditions. Eight people in 28 families have tuberculosis, five have died in the past six years, and many others are malnourished and anaemic. They live in dilapidated houses that lack sanitation. Defunct borewells, broken pipes and non-functional streetlights are common sights.
Despite substantial allocations by the Centre under the Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP), nothing has changed here.

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More grain for more poor under food Act

New Delhi | April 23, 2010

Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s intervention on the Food Security Act seems to have done the trick. The government has now agreed to provide 35kg of foodgrain every month to roughly 8.5 crore families living below the poverty line. The empowered group of ministers (EGoM), headed by Pranab Mukherjee, will meet on Friday and besides this will also consider providing 11.7kg of rice to those living above the poverty line. Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia met the expenditure and food secretary on Thursday in order to finalise the panel’s recommendations to the EGoM.

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Health Mission makes good progress in Puducherry


Puducherry | April 21, 2010

At the end of five years, the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has made considerable progress in terms of improving infrastructure, healthcare delivery and health indicators in the Union Territory. Under NRHM, the Puducherry State Health Mission (PSHM) has made good progress from 2005 to 2010 in the Union Territory, according to Mission Director, PSHM Vijaya Balakandan.Under this ambitious programme of the Central government, Rs. 20 lakh each has been granted to all district hospitals and Community Health Centres (CHC) for upgrading facilities.

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One health centre soon for every 50,000 population

New Delhi | April 20, 2010

The Delhi Cabinet on Monday gave its nod for introduction of Public Health Standards for Primary Urban Health Centres (PUHC) in the Capital. As per the plan, for every 50,000 population, one such health care unit would be identified, strengthened and upgraded to a PUHC. After the meeting, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit informed the media that the public health standards for PUHCs have been approved to improve availability and access to quality health care for all citizens and in particular the poor and vulnerable sections of the population. While one unit would be upgraded for every 50,000 population, the figure would actually vary between 35,000 and 75,000 depending on the density of population in a given area. The PUHCs will provide the curative, preventive and promotive health care, basic lab services and referral services to the patients and there would be mandatory involvement of the community in managing and monitoring the health facility for ensuring its optimal performance.

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Population stabilisation scheme soon: Azad

New Delhi | April 13, 2010

The government is planning a comprehensive scheme to stabilise the population in coordination with the States — but the plan does not involve legislation, according to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Speaking at a function to mark five years of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Mr. Azad said that while the government was making all efforts to improve healthcare, the time had come to give priority to stabilising the population. The aim is to encourage the voluntary adoption of family planning measures, either by stopping child marriage, delaying the first child after marriage or spacing births.

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India plans extension of health mission scheme

New Delhi | April 13, 2010

NRHM — the flagship central government scheme for better healthcare in rural India— is likely to get an eight year extension from its current target year of 2012. "The scheme has just completed five years and I think it will take not less than 15 years to bring a certain degree of desired outcome," Health Secretary K Sujatha Rao said. "You know how vast India is. We have achieved certain goals but there is a lot of ground to be covered. If you go to the rural areas you will see the situation. Why far, go to Bundelkhand (in Uttar Pradesh) to see the amount of work needed to be done," she said.

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75 percent health mission funds not utilised in Himachal

Shimla |April 14, 2010
The Himachal Pradesh government has failed to utilize 75 percent of funds allocated under the NRHM in the last four years due to non-existence of 24-hour healthcare facilities, the Comptroller Auditor General of India (CAG) has said. Seventy five percent of the Rs.119.85 crore received from the central government in 2005-2009 under the NRHM remain unspent so far. Acute shortage of manpower in all the health institutions has adversely affected the availability of healthcare services. The overall performance of the NHRM was not very satisfactory. "The review underscored glaring gaps in planning, implementation and monitoring activities," it said.

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‘No link between growth, better life’ : Massive Improvement In Edu, Health Has Had Little To Do With Globalization

Delhi | April 15, 2010

Economic growth seems to have little to do with human development. On the other hand, the empowerment of women may have a lot more to do with an entire country’s development than previously believed. Economists George Gray Molina and Mark Purser for the UNDP analysed data from 1970 to 2005 for 111 countries to reach these conclusions. The Human Development Index (HDI), inspired by Amartya Sen’s capability approach, is recommended by some development thinkers as giving a fuller understanding of a country’s development than mere money indicators, like GDP growth rate.

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‘Rajasthan must adopt new health care policy'

Jaipur | April 15, 2010

Prof. V. S. Vyas, noted economist and Rajasthan Planning Board Deputy Chairman, said that the desert State should adopt a new policy for providing “both incentives and disincentives” in the health care delivery system to meet the challenges for extending facilities to the far-off areas. Addressing a workshop on “Health concerns and way forward”, Prof. Vyas observed that while significant progress had been made in all indicators in the field of education, the targets in the health care sector were yet to be achieved.

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Female infanticide tells on sex ratio in Punjab

Patiala | April 16, 2010

Rampant female foeticide continues to push the sex ratio of Punjab against females; unfortunately, the evil is more prevalent among the educated, the rich and the urban bred. The 2006 National Family Health Survey shows that prosperity does little to curb the evil as Punjab's overall sex ratio at birth (considered a more accurate indicator of female foeticide) was 776 against 793 in 2001. In urban areas, it goes further down to 761:1,000.

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NRHM completes five years, best performing States to be honoured


New Delhi | April 12, 2010

As the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) completes five years on Monday, a mid-term review of the programme claims that it has unleashed a lot of positive synergies and the government should make all efforts to further deepen such processes of community health in a manner that every household is able to seek its entitlement to care. The NRHM is very much on the right track and it only needs to further put pressure for better governance and for larger civil society involvement at all levels through public hearings and community monitoring, the review suggests.

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Govt ready with a draft law to protect HIV/AIDS patients

New Delhi | April 12, 2010

United Nations convention to protect the rights of HIV/AIDS patients, a new draft law proposes to define non-consensual sex by an infected husband with his wife as sexual assault. The draft law makes it mandatory for the governments to provide free medical care and insurance cover to HIV/AIDS patients. The much delayed draft legislation, likely to be considered by the Union cabinet soon, also contains stringent provisions to check discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients and prescribes a maximum jail term of two years for those found guilty of spreading hatred.

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New year-long campaign to promote safe motherhood

New Delhi| April 11, 2010

To mark National Safe Motherhood Day, White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, India, launched a year-long campaign in the Capital to seek stronger commitment among various stakeholders to play an active role in promoting safe motherhood. On Sunday, the White Ribbon Alliance in association with Jamia Hamdard University will collaborate with young people including students and volunteers to highlight the issue. It will urge students, alumni and academicians to play their part in making motherhood safer.

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30,000 artisan families covered under health insurance scheme

Bhubaneswar | April 11, 2010

Development Commissioner- Handicrafts under the Ministry of Textiles in association with ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company has provided comprehensive health insurance to 30,000 artisan families in Orissa last fiscal under the Rajiv Gandhi Shilpi Swasthya Bima Yojana (RGSSBY). The RGSSBY, the first ever ‘cashless' health insurance initiative for artisans in India, aimed at providing health insurance cover to a family of four, including self and any three dependents, against hospitalization expenses up to Rs.15,000 including Rs.7,500 for treatment in outpatient department, said ICICI Lombard GIC in a statement.

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Groups write to Azad on HPV vaccine trial

New Delhi | April 09, 2010

Close to 70 civil society groups, public health organisations, medical professionals, human rights organisations, women's groups and individuals have voiced their opposition to the nature of the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination ‘projects' carried out in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat by PATH International, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the respective State governments. They urged the Union government to come up with a national policy on this kind of medical “experimentation” and a pro-people vaccine policy based on public health needs.

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Indian systems of medicine to be mainstreamed

New Delhi | April 09, 2010

The government is making all efforts to mainstream Indian systems of medicine — Ayush (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy) — through quality control and holistic medical education, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare S Gandhiselvan said. "The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is the main vehicle to achieve the goal. The NRHM seeks to open up local health tradition and mainstream Ayush including the manpower and drugs and to strengthen the public health system,"

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Access problems make healthcare a challenge in northeast

New Delhi |April 06, 2010
A difficult geographical terrain and inaccessibility makes reaching across to the common man in the northeast with healthcare services a difficult task, a member of the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) has said. The inaccessibility of certain geographical areas in the northeast makes the task of extending both hospital and community based services difficult, the NHRC newsletter quoted panel member P.C. Sharma as saying at a mental healthcare meet in Assam. Sharma stressed the importance of conducting a survey on the prevalence of mental illness in the region to effectively tackle the issue.

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Haryana to spend Rs.15 bn on health infrastructure

Chandigarh |April 06, 2010
On the eve of the World Health Day, the Haryana government announced a Rs.15 billion (Rs.1,500 crore) plan to add new health infrastructure and upgrade nine hospitals. Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said here that hospitals were being upgraded at Bhiwani, Rohtak, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Sonepat, Panipat, Karnal, Panchkula and Hisar as per the Indian public health standards. "The buildings of these hospitals are being renovated. The hospitals will be equipped with latest medical instruments like endoscopes, echo machines, laproscopes and ventilators," Hooda said.

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Tracking hunger - Govt wants fix on poor count

New Delhi | April 06, 2010

Ministers hold meeting to redraft food bill -Taking the first step towards fixing the shortcomings of the proposed food security bill, the UPA government's empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on Monday asked the Planning Commission to decide precisely how many poor people there were in India -- those who would be the largest beneficiaries of the landmark law. The draft legislation was recalled last week after the Congress leadership found it wanting in some respects. Simultaneously, it has asked the food ministry to study how 22 other countries enacted and put into practice similar food-for-all laws.

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Will food bill help these children?

Allahabad/New Delhi | April 05, 2010

As country's top ministers meet today to redraft a bill that hopes to guarantee food for all, HT travels to east Uttar Pradesh to find children surviving on mud. Poor children in Ganne, a village 45 km east of Allahabad, one of Uttar Pradesh's biggest commercial centres, are eating silica-laced mud to quell their hunger pangs. Headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) will meet to consider upping the official family entitlement to subsidised food from 25 to 35 kg, from 25 to 35 kg, bringing the homeless into official safety nets, and perhaps redrawing the poverty line -- less than 300 million are officially poor today.

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Government scheme to cover critical illnesses

New Delhi |April 05, 2010

The city government is all set to introduce a healthcare insurance scheme called Apka Swasthya Bima Trust (ASBT) that will cover critical illnesses. The scheme will be implemented from July 2010. According to Delhi health minister Kiran Walia, the process for identifying target population, private partners and sources for funding the scheme has already been initiated. The new scheme will address the need for tertiary and superspecialty healthcare. Initially, BPL and other vulnerable sections of society will be covered under the scheme. Later it may be expanded to cover all citizens,” said a senior health officer involved with the project.

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Child mortality among tribals exceeds national average

Bhubaneswar | April 04, 2010

Orissa figures among four tribal-dominated States among India where child mortality among tribal population has exceeded the national tribal child mortality average. According to a World Bank's Policy Research Working Paper on “Child Mortality among Adivasis in India”, STs make up 8 to 9 per cent of the population, but account for about 14 per cent of all under-five deaths, and 23 per cent of deaths in the 1-4 age-group in rural areas.

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Delhi govt gets Rs 200-cr boost

New Delhi | April 03, 2010

With an additional Rs 200 crore allotted to it by the union health ministry, the Delhi government is now work- ing on upgrading its primary health care centres (PHC) and nursing homes in the Capital. “We had requested the ministry for funds to upgrade the existing infrastructure, and I'm glad we have got them,“ said Kiran Walia, Delhi health minister. With Rs. 1,242 crore allocated to the health department in this year's state budget, Delhi government plans to set up three 200-bedded hospitals at Vikaspuri, Burari and Ambedkar Nagar. The government also has seven smaller hospitals in the pipeline.

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Assam scripts history with Right to Health Bill

Guwahati | April 01, 2010

Assam has made it mandatory for all government and private hospitals and health centres, including nursing homes, to provide free health care services to a patient seeking emergency treatment. With the passage of the Assam Public Health Bill, 2010 by the Assam Asembly on Wednesday, Assam has become the first state in the country to enact a legislation seeking to ensure right to health for everyone in the state.

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