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

June 2011

MP’s panel backs rural posting for doctors

New Delhi | June 30 2011

A parliamentary panel has recommended having obligatory village posting for fresh medical graduates to help offer better health care in rural regions of the country. Members of the Parliamentary Consultative group on Health in its report said that this mandatory village posting was a must to battle lack of physicians in rural regions. They also demanded early beginning of Bachelor in Rural Health Care course to fight the crisis of doctors.

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Poor women used as guinea pigs in Andhra

Hyderabad | June 18, 2011
A day after the chilling exposure of clinical trials on poverty-stricken women by a pharma major in Hyderabad, the Andhra Pradesh government raided and sealed the offices of a drug company. Health officials claimed to have recovered enough evidence of the involvement of the company in the clinical trials of breast cancer drugs. ‘‘Company staff admitted some women were tested with drugs which are yet to get permission,’’ said officials. Drug control authorities also seized Axis Lab near Miyapur in Hyderabad where the trials were carried out.

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Centre proposes higher compensation for sterilisation in 20 high focus States

New Delhi | June 18, 2011

Stepping up its family planning services for population stabilisation, the Centre proposes to substantially enhance the compensation for sterilisation in 20 high focus States. It will now be on a par with what is offered under the Janani Suraksha Yojana, in which women are given a monetary incentive for delivery in a health facility to help reduce maternal and infant mortality.

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Himachal child sex ratio improves

Shimla | June 19, 2011

The child sex ratio has improved from 896 in the 2001 Census to 906 in 2011 in Himachal due to steps taken by the State Government and strict implementation of the ban on pre-natal sex determination test, Health Minister Rajiv Bindal said. Addressing a meeting of the State Supervisory Board constituted under the PC-PNDT Act, 1994, Mr. Bindal said procuring sex determination diagnostic and pregnancy termination kits from various internet sites was illegal and the government was considering initiating a process to make it a “punishable and cognizable offence”.

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Sex ratio being manipulated by human interventions

New Delhi | June 21, 2011

In the first such prospective investigation of sex ratio, doctors at Delhi's St. Stephen Hospital known for its maternal and child care services- have noted that evidence from the data of birth from the second children in their hospital indicates that the sex ratio is being manipulated by human interventions. “More mothers with previous girls tend to use traditional medicines for sex selection in their subsequent pregnancies. They seem to rely on this method and so are less likely to use more definitive methods like sex selective abortions,” said Dr. Jacob M. Puliyel of the Department of Neonatology and Paediatrics at St. Stephen Hospital.

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Make healthcare a legal entitlement, says Binayak Sen

New Delhi | June 23, 2011

Human rights activist Binayak Sen called for making healthcare a legal entitlement for all. Speaking at the first meeting of the Steering Committee on Health, constituted by the Planning Commission to advise it on the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17), Dr. Sen said the proposed National Health Act must be enacted to ensure healthcare for all as in the absence of such legislation effective implementation of schemes was not possible. The proposed Act would guarantee the right to comprehensive, quality healthcare at public expense in health institutions to all people.

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Hospitals to have special centres for rape victims

Bhubaneswar | June 24, 2011

As identity revelation is a permanent scar on the psyche of rape victims and their family members for all times to come, the State government has asked heads of all government-run hospitals to set up Specialised Sexual Assaulted Treatment Unit and Rape Counselling Centres. The Health and Family Welfare Department has directed all Chief District Medical Officers and Chief Medical Officers to submit compliance report on establishment of such special centres within a fortnight.

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Now ASHAs to deliver contraceptives at home

New Delhi | June 24, 2011

Focusing on population stabilisation and meeting the unmet demands of contraceptives, the mission steering group (MSG) of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has decided to utilise Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) for delivery of contraceptives at the homes of beneficiaries. For this, ASHAs can charge one rupee for a pack of three condoms, one rupee for an Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) cycle and two rupees for an Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP).

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Domestic workers entitled to health insurance

New Delhi | June 24, 2011

There is good news for 47.50 lakh domestic workers in the country: they will now be entitled to health insurance cover under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY). The extension of the medical insurance scheme, approved by the Union Cabinet here on Thursday, envisages smart card-based cashless health insurance cover of up to Rs. 30,000 annually to below poverty line workers in any empanelled hospital in the country.

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ALARMING FINDINGS - Countering govt's claim, Census data shows drop in number of girls

Delhi | June 24, 2011
Provisional data of Census 2011 has laid bare Delhi government's claims that its 'Ladli' scheme launched in 2008 has fixed the Capital's skewed gender ratio. The data has registered only 866 girls per 1,000 boys for the Capital, far below the national average of 914 girls and the internationally accepted standard ratio of 952 girls per 1,000 boys. Under the scheme, the government deposits R10,000 in the name of a girl at the time of her birth and R5,000 each at the time of admission to Class I, VI, IX, X and XII. An accumulated amount of R1 lakh (approximately) is given to the girl on her 18th birthday or on passing Class 10.

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PMO takes note, hints at new sex surgery law

New Delhi | June 28, 2011
The prime minister's office (PMO) took serious note of the report in HT that exposed scores of surgeries being performed by Indore doctors, promising to convert girls as young as one to five years -apparently with gender ambiguity -into boys. The surgery, known as genitoplasty, is done on the premise or pretext that these children have internal organs that don't match their external genitalia.

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NRHM booty that led to bloodshed

Lucknow | June 27, 2011

The main reason behind the killings of health department officials in Uttar Pradesh is National Rural Health Mission funds and mafia elements eying their share in them. Although it came to light only after two CMOs were killed and Rahul Gandhi filed an RTI application seeking details of the expenditure, NRHM has been a hunting ground since long. For Lucknow, a sum of Rs 30 crore has been earmarked while the Budget for the entire state is Rs 3,300 crore this year. At the district level, about 40% funds are to be spent including paying honorarium for Janani Suraksha Yojana, while another 30% will go into paying salaries of contractual staff.

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126 sonography centres sealed in Maharashtra

Pune | June 28, 2011

The Maharashtra Health Department has sealed 126 sonography outlets and de-recognised 22 pregnancy termination centres across the State for violation of norms. Criminal cases would be filed against doctors who violated PCPNDT [Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques] Act, 1994, said Suresh Gupta, Additional Director of Family Welfare Bureau.

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Beneficiaries to be profiled for govt health projects


New Delhi | June 29, 2011

All vaccination and screening programmes by the health ministry will now be name-based. Health workers will be required to furnish personal details of the beneficiaries – name, full address and telephone number – which will be verified by the ministry through a call centre, said Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on the sidelines of the launch of a campaign to screen diabetes and hypertension in the city’s urban slums.

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Enhancement of Honoraria for Anganwadi Workers and Anganwadi Helpers under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme

New Delhi | June 30, 2011

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today approved the enhancement of Honoraria for Anganwadi Workers to Rs.3000/- from Rs.1500/- per month and for Anganwadi Helpers and Workers of Mini-AWCs to Rs.1500/- from Rs.750/- per month under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme. The estimated additional requirement comes to Rs.3479.83 crore per annum. The Government of India liability which is to the extent of 90% will be an estimated Rs.3131.85 crore

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Punjab to strengthen medical work force

Chandigarh | June 17, 2011

The Punjab government is all set to recruit 1,214 doctors to meet the crunch of doctors in its various dispensaries across the state, especially in rural belt and border areas. “We have decided to hire 1214 doctors in the coming days. They will be posted at dispensaries and at civil hospitals, located especially in rural areas and in border towns,” Punjab Health Minister Satpal Gosain said. Besides this, 2,612 posts of paramedical staff would also be filled in the coming days. After the completion of recruitment process there would be no single dispensary or health center in rural areas, without doctors or required paramedical staff, he claimed.

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India approves Tripura hospital facelift project

Guwahati | June 15, 2011

The Union Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region (DONER) has sanctioned Rs 38.08 crore for upgrading infrastructure and modernisation of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital for Women and Children in Tripura. This will provide needy women and children in Tripura with quality health care facilities. DONER Minister, BK Handique sanctioned the fund for the hospital under Social and Infrastructure Development Fund (SIDF). An official statement quoting Handique said, “Much needed development in health infrastructure in the government sector in the Tripura will get a boost with this action.”

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Fine & jail for sex test offenders

New Delhi | June 02, 2011

All unregistered ultrasound machines and scanners that can detect the sex of an unborn child will be seized and the ‘service provider’ liable for fine and imprisonment. A first-time offender will pay a fine of Rs 10,000 and face a maximum three-year jail term. If the offence is repeated, the guilty person must cough up Rs 50,000 as fine and will be jailed for five years. The Union health ministry amended the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act to enforce these stringent steps. At present, if irregularities are found in any clinic, the service provider can reclaim the machine against a fine.

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Centre launches mother-child health care scheme

Mewat (Haryana) | June 02, 2011

Concerned over the high maternal and infant mortality rate in the country, the Centre launched an ambitious programme to provide free services to pregnant women for deliveries and neo-natal care, if needed, up to a month after birth. The facility will be available to all women in government health institutions in both rural and urban settings, and is expected to benefit over one crore women annually.Launching the Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, a scheme sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from Mewat — a predominantly Muslim area — Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, said the UPA government had always tried to give women their dues, constitutionally and legally.

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Indore doctors flout clinical trial norms, earn in lakhs


Indore | June 04, 2011
Nearly 40 doctors and 18 hospitals in Indore, from both the government and the private sector, are being investigated for malpractices in clinical trials conducted by them. This follows shocking revelations of the details of some of these medical trials. For instance, over 1,100 children have been used in clinical trials from which doctors in a leading government medical college earned lakhs of rupees. In one shocking case, out of the nine subjects of a trial on the possible use of the drug tadalafil in pulmonary hypertension (otherwise used for male erectile dysfunction), seven were women and one was a 17-year-old boy, all from poor families.

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Prevention methods can't cope with current rate of HIV infection

New Delhi | June 05, 2011

For every person put on anti-retroviral drug, two more become HIV-infected. If the present rate of 7,100 new infections continues, the current prevention methods cannot stem the tide of AIDS, according to International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a consortium working on developing prevention vaccine. “The only real hope we have of ending this pandemic is through the deployment of effective biomedical tools to block HIV transmission, such as vaccines,” it said in a statement to mark three decades of detection of HIV infection.

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Rate of new HIV infections down by 50%

New Delhi | June 05, 2011

The rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 50 per cent in India between 2001 and 2009, double the average decline in the world, according to a report released by UNAIDS. “In India, the rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 50 per cent and in South Africa by more than 35 per cent; both countries have the largest number of people living with HIV on their continents,” according to the study entitled ‘AIDS at 30: Nations at the Crossroads.' The report said the global rate of new infections declined by nearly 25 per cent between 2001 and 2009.

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New Rajasthan rules will lead to complete privatisation of healthcare

Jaipur | June 06, 2011

The Rajasthan Jan Swasthya Abhiyan has taken strong exception to a recent notification issued by the State Government revising the fee charged by various categories of government doctors and nursing staff for private practice, and demanded its immediate withdrawal. The Abhiyan said the new rules would lead to complete privatisation of health services. The notification for the Rajasthan Medical Officers and Nursing Staff Fees Rules, 2011, issued by the Finance Department on May 30, has revised the fee charged by professors and senior specialists to Rs. 300 per patient and authorised the nurses to charge Rs. 75 and dais (midwives) Rs. 60, making a phenomenal increase in the charges.

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MCI asked to check selective abortions

New Delhi | June 06, 2011

Concerned at the skewed sex ratio as reflected in the latest Census report, the Centre has asked the Medical Council of India to take cognizance of the practice of illegal sex selection and sex selective abortion. The MCI has been told to ensure that guidelines for accreditation of training and experience for medical practitioners are put in place quickly. The process of regular reviews with 18 States that have the most adverse sex ratios is also under way.

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Azad blames technology, unscrupulous doctors for declining sex ratio

New Delhi | June 07, 2011

Blaming the latest technology and unscrupulous doctors for the declining sex ratio, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the situation was “very alarming,” more so in the Kashmir Valley which had seen the sharpest decline in the female population. Mr. Azad said the government expected an improvement with increased levels of education but, unfortunately, cheap and portable technology of sex detection had worsened the scenario.

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Vaccine prices to be cut

New Delhi | June 08, 2011
Some of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers from the US, UK and India have pledged to slash down prices of their life-saving vaccines. This will help the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation to vaccinate a lot more children across the developing world at a much lower cost besides bridging its yawning $3.8 billion funding gap for its commitments till 2015. In the lead up to its first pledging conference on June 13, India-based firms Serum Institute and Panacea Biotec committed to price reductions on their pentavalent vaccines.

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Jharkhand floats health hotline

Ranchi | June 09, 2011

Troubled by faulty or poor healthcare facilities? Just dial a toll-free number to put things in order. This appears to be the latest strategy for the Jharkhand health department to tone up the healthcare system. Taking a cue from Bihar, the State health department has floated a toll-free number, 1800-3456-524, not just to allow people to have appropriate medical facility but also to help them lodge their grievances. Jharkhand Health Services Director Praveen Chandra said the number was earlier allotted to Mukhya Mantri Janani Suraksha Yojna in June 2010. The same number has also been assigned to get people’s feedback about the other healthcare facilities.

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Let Girls be born – Vision 2021

Jaipur | June 13, 2011

A ‘Vision 2021' strategy devised at a State-level workshop on “Let Girls be Born” here is expected to pave the way for complete elimination of sex selection in Rajasthan.To control the decline in child sex ratio, the strategy laid emphasis on registration of newborn girls as the first identification establishing their value in the society. It called for mobilisation of resources to save unborn girls and linking the drive against sex selection with the implementation of statutory right to education for girls.

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No funds to overhaul ailing health infrastructure: Mamata

Kolkata | June 14, 2011

Admitting her government's inability at present to pump in funds to overhaul the “ailing” health infrastructure in the State owing to a severe financial crunch it finds itself in, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked the medical fraternity on Monday to make optimum use of the available infrastructure and serve patients with a “humane face”. Ms. Banerjee, who also holds the Health portfolio, called for an immediate end to “politicisation of health services that was encouraged during the 34 years of Left Front rule” and to start afresh to restore the health infrastructure in the State.

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Jharkhand mulls social audit of insurance plan

Ranchi | June 14, 2011

Moved by encouraging results of public scrutiny in containing corruption in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) programme, the Jharkhand government is now contemplating social audit of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)—a component of Universal Health Insurance Scheme launched in 2004. The State Labour Department has been asked to draft suitable framework so as to allow public scrutiny of the scheme. Labour Secretary Vishnu Kumar said the entire exercise was intended to minimise the grievances of beneficiaries in getting the benefits of the schemes particularly in rural areas.

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Unicef to help check malnutrition in MP

Bhopal | June 14, 2011

Madhya Pradesh plans to spread awareness about malnutrition — which affects 60 out of 100 children in the state — in co-operation with Unicef. The Woman and Child Development Department has chalked out a special action plan to check malnutrition in the state. According to the 2010 report of the National Rural Health Mission, which works under the central Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, malnutrition among children is the most prevalent in Madhya Pradesh. The national average is 42 out of 100.

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Curbing sonography to end sex ratio slide


New Delhi | June 02, 2011

Misuse of ultrasound machines in India may be curbed soon. A meeting has been called to arrest the nation’s plummeting sex ratio, and may finalize a proposed amendment under the country’s Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PC & PNDT Act). If the amendment comes through, it will allow “gynecologist and obstetricians possessing medical qualifications recognized under the Indian Medical Council Act and medical practitioners with Diplomate of National Board” to use ultrasound machines. Now, apart from a sonologist, imaging specialist and radiologist; anybody with a 6-month training or 1-year experience in sonography or image scanning can use an ultrasound machine.

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