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

October 2010

Conditional maternity benefit scheme launched

New Delhi | Oct 23, 2010

To improve maternal and child health, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) — a monetary scheme for pregnant women and lactating mothers — on a pilot basis in 52 districts in this Five-Year Plan. Each pregnant and lactating woman will receive Rs. 4,000 in three instalments between the second trimester of pregnancy until the child is six months old. The scheme, to be implemented through the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme infrastructure and personnel, will cost Rs. 1,000 crore. The scheme will be fully funded by the Centre and Rs. 390 crore and Rs. 610 crore have been allocated for 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively.


Private hospitals must treat poor for free, says HC

New Delhi | Nov 12, 2010

Big private hospitals who got land at concessional rates in the city can’t escape the obligation to provide free treatment to certain percentage of poor patients, the Delhi high court has said. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan came down heavily on private hospitals shirking from extending free treatment to poor patients though it was one of the clause in the lease deed due to which land was given to hospitals at a very cheap price. HC’s comments came on a plea filed by a few prominent city hospitals like Ganga Ram and St Stephen’s claiming that the 2007 landmark verdict of HC approving the free bed scheme wasn’t applicable on them.


Controversy over malaria estimates reveals sickness in health infrastructure

Raipur | Oct 31, 2010

Last week, the medical journal Lancet published the results of a malaria survey undertaken by researchers as part of the Million Deaths Study, an ambitious programme that strives to document the causes of nearly one million deaths in India from the period 1998 to 2014. As per the survey 2,05,000 Indians die of malaria every year as compared to the World Health Organisation estimate of 15,000. These implications have prompted a fierce debate on the methodology behind either estimate. Doctors and malaria researchers in Chhattisgarh believe that the underestimation of malaria mortality figures is indicative of the broader problem in Central India's disease surveillance infrastructure.


Gender issues awareness project making headway in Rajasthan

Jaipur | Oct 31, 2010

Initial reports on the implementation of UNFPA-supported programme on “Strengthening gender response of panchayats in Rajasthan” have indicated a positive trend discernible among the elected representatives and rural population for addressing the key gender issues of maternal health and sex selection. The feedback of first three months from some of the village panchayats in 21 districts, where the project is being executed, was reviewed at a meeting of the programme advisory group here over the weekend. The initiative, accompanied by the transfer of five departments to panchayats recently, was seen as a “landmark endeavour” directly empowering women.


Call for clarity in marriageable age

Puducherry | Oct 31, 2010

The incidence of domestic violence has “unfortunately” not come down even after the implementation of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005. This was largely due to lack of awareness of the issue and owing to some States lagging behind in measures such as appointment of protection officers as stipulated by the law, Chairperson of National Commission for Women (NCW) Girija Vyas has said. She said that contradicting provisions in a number of laws on the minimum eligible age for marriage had led to varied interpretations of these laws by courts in recent child marriage cases. In a bid to bring about clarity on this issue, the NCW has asked the government to consider bringing uniformity in the marriageable age and age of consent for girls, she said.


India moots apex body for communicable diseases

New Delhi | Oct 29, 2010

The Health Ministry has put forward a proposal for converting the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) into an apex body looking after communicable diseases. Health Ministry sources said that a cabinet note has been prepared for consultation with various ministries and the Prime Minister's Office. "The need has been felt to have an apex centre to deal with communicable diseases. We had two major ones, H1N1 and dengue this year, that is why this proposal has been mooted," a Health Ministry official said.


India doubles contribution to population forum

New Delhi | Oct 29, 2010

India has announced doubling of its contribution to the Partners in Population Development (PPD), an intergovernmental initiative for population and reproductive health related programmes. Participating in a meeting of the PPD in Indonesia, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that India will increase its annual contribution toward the alliance from the present US $40,000 to US $80,000. Launched in 1994 ICPD, the PPD is an intergovernmental alliance of 24 countries. It was created for the purpose of expanding and improving collaboration in the fields of reproductive health, population, and development.


New oral vaccine may eradicate polio in 3 years

New Delhi | Oct 27, 2010

A single oral vaccine that protects against two deadly strains of polio — P1 and P3 — could eradicate the crippling disease from the world in the next three years.
Scientific analysis of the vaccine - bivalent oral polio vaccine (BOPV), presently being used in India and Nigeria, two of the world’s poliovirus hotspots, has found that it induced a significantly higher immune response — 30% more than other trivalent or monovalent vaccines. Publishing their findings in the British Medical Journal “The Lancet”, Nigel Crawford and Jim Buttery, researchers at Australia’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said the effectiveness of the new vaccine was already evident in India, which has recorded only 32 cases so far this year as compared to 260 in 2009.


“Lancet's figure on malarial deaths unrealistic”

Bhubaneswar | Oct 24, 2010

Health administrators and researchers termed the revelation about malarial deaths in the State by Lancet, a leading general medical journal, as unrealistic. Lancet has recently published an article on ‘Adult and child malaria mortality in India: a nationally representative mortality survey' which says an estimated 51,000 people die of Malaria in Orissa in a year. The study was based on a random survey done by about 800 field workers who interviewed 1.22 lakh families of people who died in 2001-03. Of the total deaths, Orissa accounts 51,000 annual malaria deaths and it is followed by Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand with 20,000 deaths each and Chhattisgarh with 12,000 deaths.


‘Direct health care by govt best option’

New Delhi | Oct 23, 2010

At a time when public-private partnership is the buzz word for any development project in the country, the organisation that started the ball rolling by first promoting privatisation and then the PPP model, the World Bank, seems to have had a rethink on the issue when it comes to public health, especially in the rural areas. The bank appears to be advocating direct provision of health care by the government as the best option for India. In a recent issue of the publication, The World Bank in India, the Banks health economist Rajeev Ahuja wrote in an article on reform in rural health care that public-private partnerships to deliver rural health services have only been successful where special conditions have prevailed such as strong commitment and leadership on the part of both the public and private partners.


Population stabilisation target date pushed back to 2070

New Delhi | Oct 23, 2010

With the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) continuing at 2.8 per cent, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has pushed back the target date for achieving population stabilisation to 2070 from 2045, stipulated in the National Population Policy (NPP) 2000. It is “extremely difficult” to achieve it by 2045. Drawing the commission's attention to the serious ramifications for the overall development of the country, Mr. Azad said the challenge was to make up for lost time, bring back family planning and population stabilisation into political discourse and speed up the response at all levels.


Malnourished child, born to minors, brings shame to Madhya Pradesh

Indore | Oct 02, 2010

A curious case at Indore's Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital is proving to be a slap in the face for the Madhya Pradesh government, putting to shame all its claims of commitment to the welfare of children, women and tribals. The case involves a severely malnourished child, 8 month-old Aakesh, who is admitted at the 10-bedded special Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) in the Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya paediatric care unit of the hospital. However, the problem does not just stop at that — the parents of the child are both minors. His father Andsi is 15 while his mother Moonglibai, is 13. This case questions all measures taken by the government towards the prevention of child marriage, access to education among tribals, protection of women's rights, and of course, checking severe malnutrition among children.


“Make provision for destitute expecting mothers”

NEW DELHI | Oct 21, 2010

The Delhi High Court issued a series of directives to the Delhi Government for the welfare of destitute pregnant and lactating women in the Capital. A Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan issued the directives while hearing a suo motu petition about the delivery of a baby girl on the street in the Lutyens' Delhi area in August this year by an indigent woman. The Bench asked the Government to demarcate five secure shelter homes exclusively meant for destitute pregnant and lactating women to provide them proper care and save them from the indignity of giving birth to babies on the street.


Expert group on universal health coverage set up

New Delhi | Oct 20, 2010

The Planning Commission has set up a high level 15-member expert group to develop a blueprint and investment plan for meeting the human resource requirements to achieve ‘health for all' by 2020. Chaired by K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, this group is mandated to rework the physical and financial norms needed to ensure quality, universal reach and access to healthcare services, particularly in underserved areas and to indicate the role of private and public service providers. “It will also explore the role of a health insurance system that offers universal access to health services with high subsidy for the poor and a scope for building up additional levels of protection on a payment basis,” Syeda Hamid, a member of the Planning Commission, told The Hindu.


State will have health data resource centre soon

Chennai | Oct 19, 2010

Tamil Nadu will soon have a centralised data resource centre to collect relevant data across all health departments. The HMIS will be able to function as a one-stop shop for all information on health in Tamil Nadu, and as such will be able to influence policy-making in the health sector, according to S. Vijayakumar, project director, Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP). Once it is through, it is likely to be the first such system in the country, Principal Secretary, Health, V.K. Subburaj told The Hindu. He added that two months down the line, the skeleton of the system should be in place. To be implemented as part of the TNHSP, in association with AIDS Prevention and Control Project and the State government, the health data centre would bring about the much-needed interlinking between various health verticals.


Golden girls at CWG, but Jatland holds on to its boys

Chandigarh | Oct 19, 2010

Haryana may be basking in the golden glow of women medal winners at the Commonwealth Games but the average Haryanvi continues to disfavour the girl child, posting the worst gender skew in five years. The sex ratio in Haryana has skidded to its lowest of 834 girls for 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6 years in the past five years. In 2006, it was 857 girls for 1,000 boys as per information accessed by TOI under RTI. The latest figures have been compiled through civil registration system (CRS), up to August 2010. The national projection for 2010 is 932:1000. And this despite the fact that Haryana, where female foeticide is rampant, was the first state in the country to punish a doctor under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act. So far, 23 people have been convicted.


Adult HIV prevalence on the decline in the country: NACO report

New Delhi | Oct 16, 2010

The estimated adult HIV prevalence in the country has declined from 0.45 per cent in 2002 to 0.29 per cent in 2008, the latest official data has shown. Similarly, the estimated number of people living with HIV also declined from 2.73 million to 2.27 million over the same period. However, there is a significant variation in the trends with the data showing that the HIV epidemic has stabilised in the four high-prevalence States of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In a report by NACO on its “Response to the HIV Epidemic in India,” it was suggested that an overall decline in HIV prevalence among ANC clinic attendees had been noted at all-India level and in the high prevalence States of south and northeast.


Health insurance for 5.47 lakh Haryana BPL units

Chandigarh | Oct 12, 2010

With its commitment to provide affordable and quality health care to people, especially those living Below Poverty Line (BPL), the Haryana government has brought 5.47 lakh BPL families under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), a health insurance scheme. “The beneficiaries of the insurance sceme have utilised medical benefits worth Rs 22.16 crore so far. Under the scheme, BPL families are being provided free health care insurance cover up to Rs 30,000 per annum on floater basis up to five members of a family. The scheme has been implemented in the entire state,” a ESI Health Care Department official said.


Andhra initiates to improve healthcare system

Hyderabad | Oct 11, 2010

The Andhra Pradesh government has initiated a number of moves to pep up health care system in the state. Approval of a project called ‘Sushrutha’, which aims to establish 22 state-of-the-art operation theaters (OTs) in Gandhi Hospital and Secunderabad. The project will cost an estimated Rs 25 crore and will be implemented based on a managed services model, which enables organisations transfer management responsibility as a strategic method for improved operations.The government has also approved to establish AP Health & Family Welfare Council to advise the government on policy, strategy and program priorities similar to the National Council.


Punjab to invest Rs 346 Cr on health care

Chandigarh | Oct 06, 2010

In a move which would give an impetus to quality health care services in Punjab, the state government has finalised a plan to invest Rs 346 crore on improving infrastructure, purchasing modern equipment and recruiting more doctors. The project involves building more hospitals of 30 to 100 bed capacity. Besides upgrading various district and sub-divisional hospitals along with community health centres, the government plans to construct 29 community health centres, a district hospital at Nawanshahr and sub-divisional hospitals in Khadoor Sahib, Bholath, Moonak, Tappa and Guddha.


Global Fund gets $12 bn to fight AIDS, TB, malaria

New York | Oct 06, 2010

Governments and corporations committed to provide $11.7 billion to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria from 2011-2013. The fresh resources were pledged to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria during a replenishment and pledging conference held in New York. The amount pledged surpassed the $9.7 billion that the Global Fund received during its previous three-year period to implement health programmes in 144 developing countries. "At a time when so many governments are tightening their belts, these commitments send a powerful message: It shows how seriously world leaders want to do the right thing beyond their borders, too," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the conclusion of the fund's two-day meeting.


NGOs help overcome stigma of HIV infection in Manipur

Imphal | Oct 05, 2010

HIV poses a serious challenge to society as well as government in Manipur. The Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP +) started its education support to children infected and affected with HIV/AIDS in January last year and intends to continue the support until such time that government education schemes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and others incorporate children affected by HIV and AIDS and are effectively implemented in the State,” Deepak, president of MNP said. The MNP + has a tie-up with some local hospitals where these children are generally referred to. With awareness about the programme spreading, many individuals and philanthropic organisations have also started chipping in. Another non-governmental organisation, Catholic Relief Service is providing education support to 210 affected children.