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

December 2010

Health care programme for rural Assam from Jan 26

Guwahati | Dec 21, 2010

Assam will launch an ambitious village health outreach program with an aim to provide better, affordable and efficient healthcare facilities to the people living in rural areas of the state. The state Health Department already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Hyderabad-based Health Management and Research Institute (HMRI) to introduce the new Village Health Outreach Programme in the state. The programme that aspires to take healthcare facilities to the doorsteps of people residing in remote areas of the state will become operational from January 26 next year.

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Treatment Delayed, Pregnant Woman Dies

Ghaziabad | Dec 11, 2010

A nine-month pregnant woman died at government district MMG women's hospital on Friday afternoon after she was allegedly denied admission by hospital officials on Thursday evening, district administration officials said. Twenty-four-year-old Reema Bhardwaj, a resident of the Arthala area of Ghaziabad, died at district MMG women's hospital on Friday. Her husband and family alleged that she was denied admission into the hospital even though her condition was deteriorating on Thursday evening.

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India needs to spend more on healthcare: Robert Yates

New Delhi | Dec 13, 2010

Appreciating the country's commitment towards universalising health coverage for the people, health economist Robert Yates has said the country needs to increase its public spending on health either by health insurance schemes or taxation. “The entire exercise of constituting a high-level expert group on universal health coverage that India has undertaken has been done at an appropriate time when the economy is growing and the country is getting wealthier as a whole. It now needs to think on how to utilise its resources to provide universal healthcare to its people, and the message is strong and clear that public spending on health has to increase,” he told The Hindu during an interaction.

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Jharkhand to upgrade diagnostic labs

Ranchi | Dec 13, 2010

Diagnostic facilities in Jharkhand’s government hospitals will go hi-tech soon.
The State government is contemplating upgrading the pathological testing facilities from primary health centres to premier medical institutions, a senior Health Department official said. And if availability of necessary fund poses any constraint, the department may propose setting up diagnostic centres on the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. To begin with, all sadar hospitals of the State will be equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic centre by the year-end. Sub-division level hospitals, mostly the referral ones, will have the facility next year.

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Public-private partnership needed in healthcare: Azad

New Delhi |Dec 16, 2010

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad reiterated that public-private partnership is needed in the health sector for facilities to reach maximum people but clarified that this would not mean privatisation of the sector. Public-private Partnership in the context of the health sector can be a vital instrument for improving the health of the population. This partnership, however, would not mean privatisation of the health sector, Azad said at a function at the BLK Memorial Hospital in the national capital.

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Govt to extend free HIV care without exceptions

New Delhi | Dec 17, 2010

In a major decision, the Centre agreed to extend crucial second-line anti-retroviral (ART) treatment to all HIV-positive persons shedding its earlier reservations in providing this costly medication regime to those who had been treated in private hospitals. The Centre had serious reservations in taking on HIV positive persons who had been irrationally treated by private hospitals for secondline treatment but it bowed to the SC’s argument that the government could not discriminate in extending medical facilities when the core question was right to life.

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Goa announces new health insurance scheme

Panaji | Dec 17, 2010

Goa has announced a universal health scheme under which every family in Goa will be covered for first and secondary health aid up to Rs 60,000. Under the scheme every family in the state with five members or less, would be covered under the insurance cover scheme. "We will be inviting bids from insurance companies for providing the cover. The tender will be floated soon," Chief Minister Digambar Kamat said. The Chief Minister was, however, unable to spell out the approximate number of families in Goa's 14 lakh population which would not be covered under the scheme, nor was he able to explain the financial implication of the insurance cover scheme.

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Better network can check child marriage

Kolkata | Dec 18, 2010

There is a need for developing a network at the grassroots so that incidents of child marriage can be brought to light and prevented, West Bengal Commission for Women chairperson Malini Bhattacharya said. “Usually incidents of child marriage are not reported to the police. No one wants to get the police involved so even though there is a law, it becomes difficult to enforce it through the official channel,” Ms. Bhattacharya said at a workshop on prevention of child marriage. She said the number of underage girls being forced into marriage in the State was quite high although it is difficult to obtain accurate statistics.

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Bring health sector to centre-stage, demand activists

Jaipur | Dec 20, 2010

Health activists, academicians and medical experts here drew the attention of international health agencies and world leaders to the health risks associated with social ills such as abortion, smoking and alcohol consumption and demanded that the health sector be given priority in the welfare measures of governments. The participants called for bringing the public health issues to the mainstream of planning process and adoption of a “holistic approach” for enabling the poor and downtrodden people in the remote areas to access the health care services.

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Can Maharashtra meet child mortality target by 2011?

Mumbai | Dec 20, 2010

Four years ago, alarmed by the level of child mortality in Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court directed the State government to “ensure that by September 30, 2011, the infant mortality rate due to malnutrition is brought down to almost nil in tribal as well as non-tribal areas.” Just nine months left, the State is nowhere close to meeting this target. According to official estimates, the State's infant mortality rate is 33, just two points down from 35 in 2006, the year when the court issued the order. Whereas, malnutrition affects 40 per cent of Maharashtra's children aged below six.

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PHCs without doctors of no use: High Court

Madurai | Dec 11, 2010

Establishing primary health centres (PHCs) in rural pockets and classifying them as 24- hour maternity hospitals will be of no use unless the government makes sure that doctors/medical officers are available there to attend to emergencies, the Madras High Court has said. Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar made the observation while directing the Director of Primary Health Services to pay compensation of Rs.5 lakh to a brick kiln labourer, whose wife died due to absence of a doctor to treat her at the Saptoor PHC near here after she was delivered of a baby girl on January 1.

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400 doctors to be recruited: Subburaj

Madurai | Dec 10, 2010

The Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department, V.K. Subburaj, said that the 400 doctors would be appointed through direct recruitment to fill long pending vacancies in the State. “Districts such as Ramanathapuram have 50 per cent vacancies in the post of doctors. Other districts such as The Niligiris and Nagapattinam also have high vacancies. We will be recruiting doctors by placing advertisements in newspapers,” he said. Around 30,000 medical personnel, including 7,000 doctors, had been appointed in the last four years, he said.

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WHO endorses new TB test

New Delhi | Dec 10, 2010

The World Health Organisation has endorsed a new and novel rapid test for tuberculosis which is especially relevant in countries most affected by the disease. The test could revolutionise TB care and control by providing an accurate diagnosis for many patients in about 100 minutes, compared to current tests that can take up to three months to have results. WHO's endorsement of the rapid test, a fully automated nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), follows 18 months of rigorous assessment of its field effectiveness in the early diagnosis of TB as well as multidrug-resistant TB and TB complicated by HIV infection, which are more difficult to diagnose.

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Number of polio cases radically down: Azad

New Delhi | Dec 02, 2010

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the new bivalent polio vaccines have brought down the number of polio cases to just 39, from 800 last year. Speaking at a health summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Azad said the vaccine which targets both type 1 and type 3 polio viruses can be a tool to eradicate polio completely. We were able to eradicate the type 2 polio virus, but for type 1 and type 3, when vaccine was given for one, the other type virus became active, making the efforts useless, Azad said.However, the bivalent vaccine was launched by the president in Jan 1 this year, and in a period of 10 months, the number of polio cases has come down to 39 from 800 last year. This may well eradicate polio completely, he said.

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Azad invites private sector to help in health infrastructure

New Delhi |Dec 02, 2010
Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad called for more participation from the private sector in health ministry's project of building hospitals and medical colleges on land owned by the railways. "Over 400 sites (owned by railway ministry) have been identified and handed over to the health ministry. We will work with state governments, and other ministries. But government resources will not be enough and even after taking all, we need help from you (private sector)," Azad said. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the railway and health ministries in February this year to develop health care facilities like diagnostic centres, out-patient centres, in-patient medical treatment facilities, super-speciality hospitals, medical colleges and nursing schools.

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WHO: strengthen health systems to ensure early detection of HIV/AIDS

New Delhi | Dec 02, 2010

Although new HIV infections show a downward trend in countries of the World Health Organisation's South-East Asia Region, particularly India, Thailand, Nepal and Myanmar, HIV/AIDS is still a serious public health problem. Perhaps the most vulnerable group are children with HIV/AIDS, whose number has increased by 46 per cent between 2001 and 2009. Elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is possible by 2015 and WHO is committed to this goal. On World AIDS Day, WHO calls on member-states to focus on strengthening health systems and ensuring early detection and treatment of HIV-affected persons.

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43 special labs coming to test for drug-resistant TB

New Delhi | Dec 02, 2010

India is increasing its diagnostic capability to better detect multi-drug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis — a strain that does not respond to two of the best known first line anti-TB drugs. With a World Health Organization report recently saying, India with 99,000 new cases of MDR TB annually is second only to China (1 lakh cases), the nationwide TB control programme is now setting up 43 specialized labs to only diagnose samples for MDR TB. Around 19 labs are already in place, while the rest are expected to become functional in the next few months. According to director general of India’s TB control programme Dr L S Chauhan, it takes over four to six months to confirm a single drug-resistant case.

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90,000 Bihar kids die in first month of birth

Patna |Dec 05, 2010

About 90,000 children die in Bihar every year within the first month of their birth, state principal health secretary C.K. Mishra said. at the annual national neonatal forum convention and national workshop on newborn health. Most of the causes of neonatal deaths can be prevented and managed by a set of interventions at household, community and health facility levels, he said. According to him, the Comprehensive Newborn Care Initiative (CNCI) developed by the Bihar government with technical support from Unicef and the National Neonatology Forum will be scaled up in all 38 districts across the state over the next three years.

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Family planning in Bhopal gets a Nano boost

Bhopal | Dec 05, 2010

Health workers in Bhopal can now look forward to various prizes for enrolling men in the government's vasectomy programme, including a shiny new Tata Nano car. The winner will be selected amongst the supervisors, anganwadi workers and sahayaks who work as motivators in the government's family planning programme. Bhopal has a target of 24,000 vasectomy for 2010-11, and so far, only 8,000 men have undergone the procedure. In a meeting with health department officials, city collector Nikunj Srivastava urged them to encourage people to go for vasectomy as it is a reliable and safe method.

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Indian team to join Bangkok talks on family planning

New Delhi | Dec 05, 2010

Indian delegates will join consultations on governments' investment in family planning in Asia and the Pacific region at a meeting in Bangkok Dec 8-10, a statement said. The consultation, likely to be attended by delegates from 24 countries, is being jointly organised by the United Nations Population Fund and the International Council on Management of Population Programmes (ICOMP), an official of Malaysia-based ICOMP said in the statement. The consultation will focus on the need for governments and the donors to increase investments in reproductive health, including family planning, for development, the official said.

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Bill to prevent workplace sexual harassment tabled

New Delhi | Dec 08, 2010

The Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, tabled in the Lok Sabha, provides for mandatory setting up of an internal committee by a company or any other institute to probe a written complaint by an aggrieved person or settle the matter through conciliation. The proposed legislation makes it incumbent on the employer to order probe into any complaint and provides for a fine of Rs. 50,000 in case an internal inquiry is not set up by the employer or attempt is made to contravene the provisions of the new law.

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DEVELOPMENT DRIVE - `Malnutrition major challenge for India'

New Delhi | Dec 10, 2010

On his first visit to India, Unicef executive director Anthony Lake expressed concern over malnutrition and lack of quality education in India. Lake said that with 46% children underweight and 38% stunted, India faces its biggest development challenge. Each year, 23 million children die before reaching the age of five in India, accounting for 21% of the world's under-five deaths. India scores in its willingness to accept the problem and discuss solutions. In Vaishali, Lake went to an upper-caste and a scheduled caste village. “The services and infrastructure were not equal in these villages and it was heartbreaking to see the marginalised accept they have less rights.“

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Health care fails to reach migrants

New Delhi | Dec 01, 2010

Few migrants who cross borders in search of work have access to health services, including HIV and AIDS treatment and support, said a new report launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Each year, 200 million migrations take place within India, which has prompted the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to provide information on HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases to migrants. "NACO has identified 200 districts from where the bulk of migrants travel. We’ve started services at the source, destination and transit points in work in 20 districts, which will be stepped up over the next few months," said K Chandramouli, director general, NACO.

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