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

August 2010

Sickle cell anaemia plagues Chhattisgarh

Raipur | Aug 31, 2010

Chhattisgarh has sought financial assistance from the central government to battle sickle cell anaemia that has gripped the 18-20 per cent of the state's 20.08 million population, officials said. The state government briefed Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in New Delhi about the disease that has attained alarming proportions, a senior Health official said. Sickle cell anaemia is a disorder of the blood caused by inherited abnormal haemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells. More than 50 per cent of affected children die before the age of five while many others lose their lives in the prime of their youth. "The number of sickle cell anemia patients is drastically rising in the state, mainly in certain communities, and despite state government's best efforts the situation is alarming," the official said.


India announces audit of maternal deaths

New Delhi | Aug 30, 2010

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that an audit of maternal deaths will be conducted soon in all states. "This year, we have taken another new initiative on a national level and that is the introduction of maternal death audits at the community as well as the facility level," he said. "Some states have already started doing it, while others are in advanced stages of preparation," Azad said, pointing out that availability of accurate data on maternal mortality was a major concern for policy makers. Addressing an international conference which will deliberate on achievements and drawbacks in the field of combating maternal mortality, the minister described effective implementation of the existing schemes as the main problem.


UAE opens global health mission for poor kids

Abu Dhabi | Aug 25, 2010

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched a campaign to provide free health-care facilities to at least one million poor children in several countries including India and Pakistan. One million poor ill children will be given a new lease of life under the mission launched in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and President of the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA). Team leader of the Emirates Global Humanitarian Mobile Hospital (Elaj) Khadem Al Darie said, "The mission is to promote the culture of giving and social volunteering through activation of local and international programmes with the aim of easing suffering of poor patients".


All doctors must register with state medical councils

New Delhi |August 17, 2010

Tightening its reins over medical practitioners, the Medical Council of India (MCI) asked doctors to register with the state councils wherever they are practising. If the state does not have a council, they must register with the Medical Council of India," MCI board of governors' chief S.K. Sarin said. The MCI chief said a unanimous decision on this was taken in a meeting of the state medical councils and MCI last week. "There are 24 active state medical councils. Though they are not under MCI, we are working in consultation with everyone, he said.


Notice to Chandigarh official after pregnant woman denied treatment

New Delhi |August 13, 2010

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notice to Chandigarh Health Secretary Ram Niwas over reports of a woman giving birth while in a queue at a government hospital in the city after being refused treatment. The rights panel has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report alleging that the woman gave birth while standing in a queue at a government hospital here July 21, an official statement said. "Allegedly, the hospital authorities refused to admit her without the reports of certain tests. Even after the delivery, she was not given proper medical care and, as a result, the child died immediately after the birth," it said. The commission in its proceedings in the matter observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise the serious issue of violation of human rights. It has sought a report in the matter within four weeks.


HIV/AIDS health centre inaugurated in Jamia

New Delhi |August 13, 2010

A health centre was inaugurated at the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) university to create awareness among students of HIV/AIDS."Such a centre would not only be able to provide clinical services to students on campus but will also disseminate information pertaining to health and hold awareness programmes," said Faizi O. Hashmi, the project director of the Delhi State Aids Control Society. The 'Youth Friendly Health Centre' was inaugurated by Delhi Minister of Health and Family Welfare Kiran Walia Thursday on the occasion of International Youth Day.


Over 3 lakh Indian patients get free HIV treatment

New Delhi |August13, 2010

India is providing over three lakh patients free HIV treatment at 281 centres spread across the country, parliament. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said that the government is already providing free first line treatment to HIV patients since April 2004. "At present, a total of 335,232 patients are receiving free ART (antiretroviral therapy) at 281 centres as on June 2010," he said. While 312,451 adults are getting this therapy, about 20,302 children are on ART, he added.


Bill soon to regulate medical education

New Delhi |August 13, 2010

The government is preparing a bill to regulate and coordinate medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and paramedical education in the country. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the government proposed to bringing reforms in the health sector, especially in coordinating all aspects of medical education. He said the government is considering the setting up of an overarching regulatory body called the National Council for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) that will coordinate all aspects of medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and paramedical education.


India faces manpower shortage in mental institutes

New Delhi |August 13, 2010

India faces a shortage of psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatrist nurses in mental institutes. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Health Minister Ghualam Nabi Azad said that under the National Mental Health Programme, they have approved a total budget outlay of Rs.408 crore for the 11th Five Year Plan. Agreeing that there is shortage of manpower in mental institutes in the country, Azad said as against the estimated requirement of 11,500 psychiatrists, 17,250 clinical psychologists and 23,000 psychiatric social workers and 3,000 psychiatrist nurses, there are only 3,000 psychiatrists, 500 clinical psychologists, 400 psychiatric social workers and 900 psychiatrist nurses.


TB cases down in India

New Delhi |August 13, 2010

The incidence of tuberculosis (TB) is showing a declining trend as a result of the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP). "The estimated incidences of all cases per lakh population has come down from 184 per lakh population in 2001 to 168 per lakh in 2007," Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. Over 12,700 microscopy centres and over four lakh treatment centres have been set up across the country under the RNTCP, based on WHO recommendations. "Since its inception, nearly 12 million TB patients have been put on treatment by RNTCP resulting in saving more than two million additional lives," Trivedi said. A detection rate of 70 percent and treatment success rate of 85 percent has been achieved in line with the targets of TB control, he said.


Now, a cheap and organic drug treatment for malaria

Washington | August 17, 2010

Researchers are testing a new drug for malaria - one that is made from simple organic molecules and will be cheaper to mass-produce. Traditionally, an extract of a Chinese herb, artemisinin, is commonly used in malaria treatment. The new drug, created by the Liverpool team, is chemically similar to artemisinin. However, it can be taken orally and is more potent than naturally derived artemisinin. Compared to artemisinin, the new drug is chemically more stable in the body, owing to its organic composition. The stability makes it last longer, reducing the chance of the parasite reappearing.


Chhattisgarh's infant mortality rate goes down

Raipur |August 17, 2010

Chhattisgarh, which has a vast population that has no access to health facilities, has improved its infant and maternal mortality rates. The state government's initiatives to reach all areas of the state's 18 districts have started showing results as now the latest figures say the state's infant mortality rate has declined to 57 from 95 infants per 1,000,". An official of the Directorate of Health Services said that maternal mortality rate has also come down to 33 from 47 per 1,000, and significantly the institutional delivery has risen to 42 percent from the earlier figure of just 14 percent.


No registry on sex workers, but HIV infection down

New Delhi |August 17, 2010

It is difficult to maintain a registry on sex workers as they move from one place to another but the government has been able to reach out to them and HIV infection among them has gone down, the Rajya Sabha was told. In a written reply to the upper house, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said despite not maintaining a registry, they have been able to reach out to the community. Asked whether a registry for sex workers in India exists, Trivedi said that "the dynamics of sex workers operations keeps on changing". "Sex workers move from one place to another and assume different names which makes it difficult to keep a registry," he said.


Indian doctors to provide free services in China

Beijing | August 17, 2010 11:05:24

Indian and Chinese doctors formed a team here to exchange data on health care and to offer free medical services in the rural areas of both countries. The team comprises five ENT doctors each from China and India. It will start a week-long visit to northern Hebei province. The Chinese doctors will visit India in December. Both countries have set up their first joint medical team after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited China in 2008.


Orissa to set up 561 newborn care centres

Bhubaneswar | August 18, 2010

Orissa has decided to set up 561 newborn care centres across the state to check infant mortality. These centres would be created in the existing government hospitals and health centres, Health and Family Welfare Department Director NK Mishra said. The infant mortality rate prevailing in Orissa is 69 per thousand live births — the highest in the country — against the national average of 53. The centres, to be set up by the end of this year, will provide immediate care to the babies after their birth, he said.


Ensuring safe motherhood for all

New Delhi | August 20, 2010

“Stories of Mothers Saved”, a multimedia campaign by the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA), was launched on Thursday. An eight-minute film showcasing stories of women who did not die needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth in India was screened as part of the campaign which is supported by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The film features stories of women from different parts of rural India who survived childbirth due to “key action” taken by other women, their own families, health workers, their community, political leaders or others.


Health Ministry sends team to probe vaccination deaths

New Delhi | August 23, 2010

The Centre has sent a two-member team to Lucknow to probe the deaths of four infants after they were administered anti-measles vaccination at an immunisation camp in the Mohanlal Ganj area. “Most stringent action will be taken against those found guilty,” Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said. The deaths took place on Saturday, following which the immunisation drive was suspended by the Uttar Pradesh government and a departmental enquiry ordered. The Central team will ascertain whether the vaccines were spurious, expired or whether there were procedural lapses, either while administering the shots or in maintaining the cold chain.


RTI Act not applicable to HPV vaccine project

New Delhi | August 09, 2010

Information on the demonstration project and licensing of two vaccines to prevent cervical cancer has been exempted from public disclosure under Section 8 of the Right to Information Act, 2005. This is the reply received in response to an RTI application, submitted to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, seeking information on the status and basis of approval granted to Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) Corp. and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to import, sell and market Gardasil and Cervarix in India, and the status, design and intent of the trials conducted by MSD and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).


Keeping vaccine labs shut for 2 years cost Rs. 116 crore.

Delhi| August 10, 2010

The Government of India has incurred a loss of more than Rs. 116 crore by keeping three public sector vaccine labs closed for 2 years, government audits and RTI applications have revealed. While the government had to spend an additional Rs. 40 crore to purchase BCG, DPT and TT vaccines from private labs, other expenses including payment of salaries without income amounted to more than 76 crore.


Female foeticide issue to be included in MBBS curriculum

Bhubaneswar | August 04, 2010

With sex selection emerging as the foremost reasons behind declining sex ratio, the government has decided to rope in ‘doctors of tomorrow' to arrest the trend. It has been decided to introduce the subject of Pre-conception and Pre- natal Diagnostic Techniques in the course curriculum of MBBS degree in the State from this year, said Health and Family Welfare Secretary Anu Garg.. Identifying doctors' community as important stakeholder in tackling sex selection menace, the Health and Family Welfare department has already oriented students of six medical colleges (three government and three private) about PC-PNDT.


Doctors urged to take up rural postings

Puducherry | August 01, 2010

There is an acute shortage of doctors and healthcare facilities in rural areas and young doctors should devote some years of their professional lives to working in rural areas by responding positively to the call of the government to take up rural postings, said Mayil Vahanan Natrajan, Vice-Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R Medical University. He was addressing students of the Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) during the graduation day function held here.


Medical ethics violation to be made punishable offence

New Delhi | August 01, 2010

With the number of incidents related to violation of medical ethics increasing, particularly those involving clinical trials by foreign pharmaceutical companies, the Centre has now decided to bring such cases within the purview of law. The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry is in the process of amending the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to make violation of medical ethics an offence punishable under law.


Insurance cover for all BPL families

Shimla | August 02, 2010

The Himachal Pradesh government is giving a wide insurance cover to the entire population of BPL families under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna. More than 80 per cent families have already been covered under it in the first quarter of this year. The scheme envisages providing financial assistance of Rs.30,000 for undertaking treatment at recognised health institutions in the State, including Ayurvedic health institutions. For this, they don't have to give any premium. For achieving this feat, the State has recently won the National Award for ‘Best Enrolment Rate State'.


Bihar to e-Track pregnant women

Patna | August 02, 2010

In a bid to minimise maternal and infant mortality in the state, the Bihar government has decided to create a database of each pregnant woman and newborn babies at village level to track their health conditions and provide prenatal and postpartum care to mothers. The data base would offer unique named-based searches on mother and children. The data will include date of vaccination and expected date of delivery of pregnant woman. If the family of the expecting mother has any cell phone, they would be informed through SMS. In all 80,797 anganwadi sevikas across the state have been involved to make the campaign a success.


Rajya Sabha passes bill on uniformity in healthcare

New Delhi |August 03, 2010

A bill seeking uniformity in healthcare delivery by making registration of all clinical establishments mandatory was passed by the Rajya Sabha. Replying to the debate on the bill, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the registration of clinics across the country will pave the way for regulation and standardization of healthcare. "Registration of the clinical establishment is the focus of the bill. It will provide data about the number and standard of clinics to the center," Azad said, adding: "Registration will be the key to regulation".


For the sake of girl child and green cover

Jaipur | August 03, 2010

The twin objectives of improving the gender ratio and expanding the green cover across the country were highlighted at a function at the historic dargah in Ajmer marking the initiation of a new movement of Nanhi Chhaan Foundation. The issues were linked to the larger causes of women's empowerment and environment protection. The Nanhi Chhaan Foundation has connected the twin issues as “respecting motherhood”. According to Foundation chairperson Harpal Singh, the girl child is mother to mankind and trees are Mother Earth's greatest gift to the planet


HIV Widow, children forced to flee home

Delhi | Aug 03, 2010

Exactly a year after parents in Hasegaon of latur district withdrew their children from a school which had eight HIV-positive orphans, the state’s
hinterland has thrown up another tale of stigmatisation. Social activists say that the villagers of Longhe near Kolhapur reportedly subjected a HIV-positive widow and her children to such discrimination that the three were forced to flee to Mumbai. The widow was asked to keep away from her work as an anganwadi worker even as her six-year old daughter also HIV positive was denied admission in Longhe village’s only school.


Absenteeism rampant in Tonk PHCs

Jaipur | August 01, 2010

On an average more than one third of the health services personnel was observed missing during duty hours in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in Tonk district of Rajasthan according to a study. Absenteeism was as high as 36 per cent among doctors while in five categories of health service providers it was found to be 27 per cent on an average. The study, conducted by CUTS International in partnership with Transparency and Accountability Programme (TAP) of the Results for Development (R4D), based in Washington DC, also found 69 per cent of respondents (citizens) complaining of either not getting any medicines or getting only a few.


A large number of pharma firms have sold majority of their shares to multinational companies which will make essential medicines

New Delhi | August 05, 2010

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health has asked the government to pay attention to the selling out of major Indian Pharma companies to multinationals, whose increasing hold over the drug market it says will make essential medicines costlier.The committee in its report presented to the Rajya Sabha noted that a large number of pharma companies have sold majority of their shares to multinational companies. "Promoters of some Indian pharma companies like Piramal Healthcare, Ranbaxy, Shantha Biotech and Dabur Pharma have already sold their controlling shares to US, Japanese and German MNCs," the report said.


Consequences serious unless North checks population: Azad

Delhi | Aug 05, 2010

Bringing the uneasy issue of population control back under the spotlight, the government on Wednesday warned that unless the North reins in the shooting numbers, the country would face a terrible scarcity in the coming decades. Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told the Lok Sabha that by 2026 India’s population would go up by another 37 crore if the states of UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan failed to control their birth rates. He said while rest of the country had already conformed to guidelines by lowering population growth rate, the erring six states continued to frustrate future plans.


67 per cent minor girls get married in Bihar: Minister

Patna | August 05, 2010

Every year, nearly 67 per cent of girls below 18 years of age get married in Bihar, making the State a hot spot of child marriages, State Minister for Social Welfare Damodar Rawat said. “Child marriages are a gross injustice to children as they proves devastating for their life,” he told a workshop on ‘Prevention of Child Marriages' organised by the Women Development Corporation of Bihar and UNICEF. “It is the need of the hour to prevent such marriages,” he said, adding that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, was not being enforced properly.


Sexual discrimination reconsidered

Washington | August 06, 2010
A new study has revealed that gender harassment with no sexual advances is also harmful to women's physical and emotional health. Gender harassment leads to negative personal and professional outcomes too and, as such, is a serious form of sex discrimination. In their view, there is a case for interpreting existing legislation as including gender harassment, so that it is recognized as a legitimate and serious form of sex-based discrimination in the workplace. They said that nine out of ten harassed women had experienced gender harassment primarily in the absence of sexual advances in the workplace.


Polio cases drop by 76 percent

New Delhi |August 06, 2010

The number of polio cases has reduced drastically in India, with only seven cases reported till July 30 this year - a drop of 76 percent. The number of Wild Polio Virus Type-1 cases by July 30 in the country in 2010 is only 7 compared to 30 cases during the same period in 2009, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in a written reply to Lok Sabha. The best results have been seen in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which reported 13 cases each last year between January to July, but have not reported a single case so far.


Shortage forces curbs on use of HIV testing kits

Bangalore | August 06, 2010

Following the shortage of rapid HIV testing kits, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has asked all the State AIDS Control Societies to use the available kits judiciously. The organisation has asked the project directors of the societies to even curtail testing of “pre-operative cases” as the available stocks will last only till September. Pre-operative cases are those who are about to be operated on for a variety of reasons.The State requires nearly 4,000 kits a month to run its 565 testing centres. Subsequently, Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) officials said they had procured some kits and more would arrive soon.


Acute shortage of doctors, paramedics in rural areas: Posts of 7243 healthcare workers, 1701 assistants lying vacant

Delhi | August 7, 2010

The shortage of doctors and paramedical staff for the country’s poor and downtrodden is assuming alarming proportions. According to the latest data on rural health statistics, a huge number of posts sanctioned for medical staff in primary and community health centres have been lying vacant. Consider the case of primary health centres. The vacancies stack up to 5224 doctors, 7243 health care workers and 1701 health assistants respectively. The situation is equally grim for community health centres.


‘Hospitals not liable for medical negligence'

New Delhi | August 08, 2010

The Delhi High Court has held that hospitals are not liable for medical negligence. It is the doctors who treat patients who are liable. However, hospitals can be held liable if they fail to provide the basic infrastructure which results in harm to patients. Justice S. N. Dhingra gave this ruling while dismissing an order against Indraprastha Medical Corporation Limited passed by a lower court here holding it guilty of medical negligence in a case in which the patient had died due to wrong treatment given by a team of doctors at Apollo Hospital here.


Concern over declining child sex ratio

Bhubaneswar | August 01, 2010

Medical practitioners here pledged to play active role in taking their colleges who would practise sex selection to task while expressing concerns over declining child sex ratio in the State. Orissa branch of Indian Medical Association (IMA) in association with the State government and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organised a workshop to sensitise doctors in the drive of sex selection elimination and strengthening implementation of PC-PNDT Act in the State. Addressing the conference, National Vice-President of IMA, Vijay C. Punjabi said the association had adopted four-pronged approach to nail the black sheep indulged in sex selection.