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

July 2011

Men deliver babies to claim BPL aid


Udaipur | July 24, 2011
Men in this Rajasthan district can deliver babies. Surprised? This is the claim of ahealth centre. The local health department has unearthed a scam at Gogunda Community Health Centre in Kotda town, where at least 32 men are recorded to have delivered babies, a senior official probing the scam said. The pregnancy assistants of the centre allegedly provided false delivery details to obtain government aid meant for BPL pregnant women under the central scheme, Janani Suraksha Yojana.

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Tormenting wife for childlessness betrays feudal mentality

New Delhi | July 31, 2011

The Supreme Court has decried the tendency of men harassing or taunting their childless wives as if they alone are responsible for their (couples) not begetting a child and sometimes driving the women to suicide. A Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and C. K. Prasad said: “It is natural that everyone wants children, but if a woman does not have a child that does not mean that she should be insulted or harassed. In such a situation, the best course [for a couple] would be to take medical help, and if that fails, to adopt a child.

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Meet calls for introducing Women's Bill in its present form

Hyderabad |July 24, 2011

Even as the Women's Reservation Bill continues to be bogged down with different political parties opposing certain provisions, a round table here adopted a unanimous resolution for the passage of the Bill in the Lok Sabha in its present form. With the Bill, already cleared by the Rajya Sabha, likely to be tabled in the ensuing session of the Lok Sabha, the Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FAPCCI) organised a roundtable on the issue here. Women from various fields, who participated in the discussion, agreed that the only way forward was to first pass the Bill, mooted 15 years ago, without any further delay.

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Setting a wrong example: ‘Vasectomy colony’ faces population explosion

Delhi | July 24, 2011

Conceptualised as a unique initiative to curb rising population, the colony, located near Loni, is today facing a population explosion. Never mind that it was supposed to be a locality of those who underwent vasectomy in exchange for a 50 sq yard plot of land. Residents are hardly bothered about the original idea of birth control that ostensibly created the colony. Instead, it has inadvertently turned into a thriving example of what not to do for population control.

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Cradle baby scheme to be extended

Chennai | July 25, 2011

The ‘cradle baby' scheme, a brainchild of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, will be extended to Cuddalore, Ariyalur, Perambalur, Villupuram and Tiruvannamalai districts as the 2011 census has revealed a fall in the child sex ratio in these districts. Cradle baby centres will be set up at a cost of Rs. 47.45 lakh and each centre will have a superintendent, an assistant nurse, an assistant and other workers. The centres will have adequate stock of milk powder, medicine and clothes. Besides, cradles will be placed at hospitals, primary health centres and children homes to receive girl children.

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No water, power, drugs for deliveries as even Rs 10,000 for centres waylaid

July 25, 2011

It’s a freshly whitewashed pink room of 10 X 8 sq ft, but the paint peels off at the touch of a finger. There is no electricity. There are no medical kits or emergency drugs in sight either. This is the room where a 21-year-old delivered a child after labour pains all night. In the past one year, this room — the “sub-centre” of Mahillo Ashapur — has seen 221 deliveries in all. One of the major aims of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is to promote institutional and safe deliveries in order to bring down infant and maternal mortality rates. Sub-centres like the one at Mahillo Ashapur, just over four hours from Lucknow, are a part of that effort.

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Online prediction of vector-borne disease soon

Chennai | July 25, 2011

Health managers can soon map disease outbreaks anywhere in the State instantaneously and set in motion an emergency response to contain morbidity and mortality using a customised web-based GIS application. The application that helps online prediction and emergency management of vector-borne disease has been developed by a team at the Unit of Environmental Health and Biotechnology, Loyola College, in association with the Directorate of Public Health, under Rs.60-lakh project funded by the Ministry of Communication and IT.

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Treat the poor free of cost, SC to private hospitals

New Delhi | July 26, 2011
The Supreme Court asked private hospitals to treat poor patients referred by “overcrowded“ government hospitals free of cost.
These private hospitals include those which got land at subsidised rates and, as per the agreement, were bound to treat poor patients free of cost. In an interim order, a bench headed by Justice RV Raveendran said the hospitals would submit a scheme within 10 days to the Delhi government that would finalise a report and place it before the court after four weeks.


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No proof of sex-change surgeries on babies in Indore: NCPCR

New Delhi | July 27, 2011

After meeting with doctors, patients and Hindustan Times journalist in Indore, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has come out with its verdict on the newspaper's report on sex-change surgeries on babies: “No such surgeries have been performed.” In an indictment of HT's front page report dated June 26 which claimed that Indore doctors were changing baby girls into boys by the hundreds, the NCPCR team found that such surgeries are not medically possible, either in Indore, or anywhere else.

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Block websites on gender selection: Health to IT

New Delhi | Jul 29 2011

Concerned about the plummeting sex ratio, the Union Health Ministry has now written to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (IT) to block websites relating to gender selection. The Health Ministry also asked the IT Ministry to block the websites promoting advertisements on gender testing techniques. “As the issue of declining child sex ratio is of utmost importance, a policy decision to block the websites that host advertisements /material relating to sex selection needs to be taken,” says the letter.

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Sub-centre not in use, PHC in a mess, crumbling

Kushinagar | Fri Jul 29 2011

A small decrepit building nestled in tall weeds watches over an abandoned compound; its doors rotting and walls consumed by spider webs. Till not very long ago, this three-room building used to be Kudwa Dilip Nagar’s health sub-centre. It still is, officially. Only it no longer serves the purpose it was supposed to: offer services for safe delivery to the village’s women. “The place was used as a delivery centre earlier, but for over one and a half years, it has not been used,” says Sankesar, who lives nearby. The Mother and Child Health section of the local PHC, which stands some hundred yards away, is not functional either.

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Govt nod for 50% women quota in panchayats

New Delhi | Jul 22, 2011

The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for enhancing reservation for women in panchayats from the present 33% to 50% with the provision being applicable to all seats filled through direct election, office of chairpersons and of offices reserved for SC/STs. “The Cabinet approved the proposal for moving an amendment to the Constitution (one hundred and tenth amendment) Bill, 2009 for enhancing reservation for women in panchayats from 1/3 to at least 50%,” I&B minister Ambika Soni said. The provision of reserving half the seats for women in Panchayats will apply to the total number of seats filled by direct election, offices of chairpersons and seats and offices of chairpersons reserved for SCs and STs.

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Polio eradication by 2012 at risk

New Delhi | Jul 21, 2011

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) admitted that the global plan to stop polio transmission by 2012 is “at risk”. Though the progress made by India – one of the four main countries still home to the crippling virus was termed as “exciting” — the persistent transmission of polio worldwide is being called a “global health emergency”. According to IMB, the fight against polio is being hampered by a $590-million funding gap coupled with weak political leadership in some countries and persistent problems in the quality of key polio vaccination campaigns. The IMB said, “India is on track to interrupt polio by end of 2011. While the country is now entering the traditional high season of polio transmission the scale of its response has been immense.”

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UP babus loot 3,700cr rural health funds

Lucknow | July 20, 2011

In Uttar Pradesh, over Rs 3,700 crore of central health funds may have been systematically looted over the past six years. The size of the scam indicates that not only were officials at the level of CMO and above involved, but also this could not have been carried out without the knowledge and support of their masters. A list was circulated to health officials. This was not an official document, but a guideline, and this provided the template for the loot. There were 54 heads under which NRHM funds were coming in. Under each head was mentioned how much the particular department was supposed to ‘save’. And this ranged from 5% to, in some cases, 100%. TOI is in possession of the list. It was understood that all CMOs would ‘save’ as per instructions given in the list and pass the money on to higherups. The average saving is approximately 50%.

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‘Women responsible for foeticide’, repeats AIWC chief, then backtracks

Chandigarh | July 19 2011

A meeting to prepare women for the upcoming Women’s Reservation Bill by the All India Women Congress (AIWC) turned out to be an exercise in woman bashing, ending with a free-for-all between two rival groups. Newly appointed AIWC president Anita Verma set the tone for the day through a press release which said, “Women alone are responsible for female foeticide.” Verma, in the press statement, blamed women for agreeing to abort a female foetus under pressure from husband and in-laws. The statement said it starts with a woman — the mother-in-law is usually the first to ask for sex determination tests and abortion — and ends with a woman who agrees to abort the girl child and becomes a party to the crime.

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TB battle: States told to follow WHO guidelines

New Delhi | July 22 2011

The Union Health Ministry has asked all state tuberculosis (TB) officers to endorse the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), urging countries to ban “unapproved” blood tests to diagnose the disease. In a letter to the officers, consultants and senior regional directors, the Deputy Director General, head, Central TB Division, Dr Ashok Kumar, has asked them to “disseminate this message to all stakeholders involved in TB control in India”. According to the WHO, the use of currently available commercial blood (serological) tests to diagnose active TB often leads to misdiagnosis, mistreatment and potential harm to public health.

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Under pressure, Mayawati govt asks CAG to audit NRHM funds

Lucknow | July 22, 2011

Rattled by Opposition attacks over misuse of funds under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), and increasing scrutiny of its actions by the Allahabad High Court, the UP government has requested the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India to conduct a special financial audit of the programme. Acting on Chief Minister Mayawati’s instructions, Chief Secretary Anoop Mishra wrote to CAG and requested for a special audit.

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Morning-after pill: A medical nightmare?

Delhi | July 23, 2011

The morning after pill, once hailed as a revolution in birth control, is slowly trapping the city’s youth in a vicious cycle of passion, guilt and trauma. The brazen abuse of the over-the-counter (OTC) emergency drug is triggering severe side-effects, and sometimes even failing to prevent pregnancy, forcing girls to suffer the agony of successive abortions. Shockingly, the city’s abortion clinics have a steady inflow of school and college-going girls. Pushed by the government and promoted by pharma firms, emergency contraception was advertised as an option for women since 2002 but made available over the counter since 2005.

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Food security: SC punches holes in Plan panel figures

New Delhi | July 23 2011

Any common man with a little common sense can understand that a person cannot afford to consume 2,400 calories on an average income of Rs 20 or Rs 10 per day, the Supreme Court said raising doubts about the government’s norms for providing food security to vulnerable sections like the Below Poverty Line (BPL) population. Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma said the Planning Commission’s calculation that a person earning a per capita of Rs 20 in urban areas and Rs 10 in rural areas of the country can afford 2,400 calories of food a day is “totally inadequate”.

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55% of children under two don't get comprehensive immunisation

New Delhi | July 23, 2011

Over 55 per cent of children in the age group of 0-2 years do not receive comprehensive immunisation in the country and approximately 2.7 million children under five do not receive any treatment for diarrhoea, a major killer of children. Among 25 developing countries, India has the highest number of children who do not receive even the most basic of health care services, according to new research by Save the Children. It also has the highest number of children under five dying every year.

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Sex tests hit rural India

New Delhi | Jul 16, 2011

Fears on the rampant use of pre-natal sex determination technology in rural areas have been confirmed with census data indicating that child sex ratio (CSR) fell far more sharply in villages than in urban areas in the last decade. According to provision data on population, though the urban CSR is far worse than that in rural areas, the fall in CSR in rural areas is around four times than that in urban areas. Rural India still has a better CSR (ratio of girls to boys under the age of six years) of 919 than urban India’s 902. However, between 2001 and 2011, rural India’s CSR fell by 15 points as opposed to urban India’s fourpoint decline, and the gap between the two has narrowed.

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SC doubtful of sops to women pregnant from child marriages

New Delhi | July 22, 2011

The Supreme Court appeared doubtful about pressing the government to give cash “incentives” under a centrally sponsored scheme to poor women pregnant from child marriages, saying this may be seen as encouraging” the social crime. “If Government of India gives incentives, will it not mean that it is encouraging child marriages.... We cannot give approval to child marriages,” a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and DeepakVerma observed. The observation came after senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for NGO, PUCL, raised objections to how the Janani Surakha Yojana (JSY), a safe motherhood intervention scheme under the National Rural Health Mission which covers pregnant women belonging to households below the poverty line, restricts cash assistance to only women aged above 19

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Up orders probe into NRHM scam

Lucknow | July 12, 2011

The UP government ordered probe into multi-crore national rural health mission (NRHM) scam. Seven panels under the chairmanship of senior IAS officers have been set up to investigate the alleged bungling of fund. The committees would scan the expenditure of the fund in the financial year 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.

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NHRC notice to govt over woman giving birth in open

New Delhi | July 13, 2011

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), issued a notice to the Delhi government, asking it to submit a report on the incident of a woman delivering a baby in front of a hospital after being denied admission. The human rights watchdog has summoned Delhi's chief secretary and health secretary and sought detailed reports from them within two weeks.

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India has reaffirmed its commitment to produce the drugs for free treatments of HIV patients

New Delhi | July 07, 2011

India will not compromise on drug licensing norms and continue to produce generic drugs for free treatment to HIV positive patients, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said. "The government reaffirms its full commitment to ensure that quality generic medicines, including antiretroviral drugs, are seamlessly available," Sharma said at a meeting with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe. With over 2.5 million HIV positive people in the country, the pharmaceutical industry produces more than 85 per cent of the first-line antiretroviral (ART) drugs used to treat people living with HIV.

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Maternal mortality rate dips

New Delhi | July 08, 2011

The risk of death among pregnant women or maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the country has come down to 212 per lakh live births between 2007 and 2009 as compared to 254 per lakh live births between 2004 and 2006. The registrar general of India states the decline has been significant in empowered action group states and Assam from 375 to 308. Among the southern states, the decline has been from 149 to 127. The empowered states are Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Rajasthan and UP.

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Child marriages continue unabated in Namakkal

Namakkal | July 8, 2011

Child marriage continues to be a scourge of Namakkal district. Five child marriages were performed in less than a month at Jambumadai hamlet near Erumapatty in the district. A revenue official, who has been entrusted with the responsibility of stopping child marriages, told The Hindu that a 15-year-old girl of Ponkurichi village in Rasipuram Taluk was married to a 32-year-old man of A.Natamangalam village in Namakkal taluk. District Collector J. Kumaragurubaran said “a circular is underway to marriage halls and temples covered under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) to verify the age of the bride and the groom – as mentioned in government certificates – before permitting them for the wedding”.

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Medical insurance scheme to give universal coverage

Thiruvananthapuram | July 10, 2011

The Rajiv Arogyasri comprehensive medical insurance scheme, announced by Finance Minister K.M. Mani in the alteration memorandum read out in the Assembly, will cover the entire population of the State. Under the scheme, treatment up to Rs.2 lakh would be free in government and private hospitals. As many as 32 lakh families below the poverty line and 20 lakh of those above the poverty line with an annual income of less than Rs.2.5 lakh need not pay any premium to join the scheme. However, those with an annual income of over Rs.2.5 lakh and employees of the government and quasi-government institutions should pay premium. The Minister set apart Rs.25 crore for the preliminary expenditure for the scheme.

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Gigantic inequalities in access to healthcare: Amartya Sen

Kolkata | July 10, 2011

There are gigantic inequalities in access to healthcare, which are also a contributor to poor health, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said at a Kolkata ceremony on Saturday. Professor Sen also referred to the work done by human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen among tribals in India as an indicator of the vast inequalities present. He was responding to a question on the mushrooming of advanced medical facilities in our cities even as the healthcare in villages is found wanting. “I am not one of those who argue that one must not allow highly expensive and good hospitals to come up. The political reasoning is from the other end, namely, what can we do for those who are most underserved in terms of medical benefits,” he said.

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Ambulance services for expectant mothers to ensure safe deliveries

New Delhi | July 12, 2011

To ensure safe institutional deliveries, Delhi government is working on providing ambulance services to pregnant women to reach hospitals. Not just free transportation, the woman and her newborn would also be provided free medicines, treatment and blood, if required. Delhi health minister Ashok Kumar Walia said the government is soon going to implement the Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana and pregnant women would get these facilities under the same scheme from August this year.

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Website, helpline to help curb sex discrimination

Mumbai | July 12, 2011

To discourage the conducting of sex determination tests, the Maharashtra government launched a website and a helpline through which complaints and tip-offs about illegal ultrasound tests may be recorded anonymously. The helpline is functional and the website will be accessible to the public from August 1. People can seek information about the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act and report illegal activity in any of the sonography centres across the State.

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Benefits enhanced in new health insurance scheme

Chennai | July 12, 2011

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announced a new health insurance scheme, significantly enhancing benefits to patients, compared to the Chief Minister's Insurance Scheme of the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government. A number of amendments have been made, upping the total health insurance cover for a family to Rs. 4 lakh for four years. In the yet-to-be-named scheme, each family gets cover of Rs. 1 lakh per annum for four years. In the case of certain diseases, this could go up to Rs. 1.50 lakh, Ms. Jayalalithaa said in a statement.

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Running short, Himachal borrows condoms from Punjab

Shimla |July 13, 2011
For six months, Himachal Pradesh has had no condom in its stocks meant for free distribution among AIDS high-risk groups and for ensuring birth control. So, it is borrowing some from Punjab for the time being. Officials in the Himachal AIDS Control Society say the state is facing a scarcity of nearly 30 lakh condoms. They said the state has not received its annual share of condoms - usually 35-40 lakh - from the central pool this year.Health Minister Rajeev Bindal said the state has not received its quota from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) for the past six months.

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Campaign to educate journos on immunization

New Delhi |July 01, 2011

In an effort to improve the media's reporting on immunization and spread awareness, Unicef and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) have launched a drive to educate grassroots level media professionals on the subject. In a statement, Unicef said: "Under the partnership with Unicef, IGNOU will provide its robust video-conferencing facilities to reach out to national, state and district media in strategic and interactive workshops on routine immunization." The initiative was inaugurated simultaneously in Delhi, Bhopal and Jabalpur using the video-conferencing studios of IGNOU, it added.

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TB: A bane of the well-heeled too

New Delhi | July 03, 2011

Across India, doctors report an increasing number of TB patients from the middle class and the upper middle class — belying the stereotypical image of TB being a poor man’s disease. “TB affects people across all socioeconomic strata in India. No group is exempt,” points out Dr Madhukar Pai of the Montrealbased Mc Gill University, who also co-chairs the Stop TB Partnership Group of the WHO. However, logically TB is the commonest infection among HIV / AIDS patients and HIV is common among affluent sections of society also.

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Provide pensions to HIV patients, says Himachal

Shimla |July 04, 2011

Himachal Pradesh asked the central government to provide pensions to people suffering from HIV/AIDS. The central government should start a pension scheme for HIV/AIDS patients, said an official statement quoting state Health Minister Rajeev Bindal. Responding to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's suggestion, he said the state government would consider providing employment to AIDS patients under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act). Twelve patients have been provided employment in the government sector, Bindal said.

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AIDS control programmes reduced infections by 50 pct in last 10 years in India

New Delhi | July 04, 2011
HIV/AIDS infections have been reduced by 50 percent in the last ten years in India, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Addressing a conference here, Singh said mortality rates of HIV infected had declined. "Our AIDS control programme has been successful in being able to reduce new HIV/AIDS infections by 50 percent in the last ten years. Mortality rates amongst those infected with HIV have declined," said Singh. The government is about to formulate a strategy to the disease, taking into account the positive role-played by local civic bodies.

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Government to drop treatment clause from HIV/AIDS bill

New Delhi | July 04, 2011

In a setback to those rallying for a legislation that seeks to protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government is planning to remove from the proposed bill the chapter of medical treatment. "The minister stated the government would be removing the chapter on treatment from the bill. The chapter mandates the government to provide free of cost treatment to people living with HIV as well as free preventive services to protect people from contracting HIV," a member of the delegation said in a statement.

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FOOT IN MOUTH Another scandalous remark after population control advice


New Delhi | July 05, 2011

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has made another controversial statement, this time calling homosexuality “unnatural sex“. Azad's latest statement came at the National Convention of Zila Parishad Chairpersons and Mayors on HIV & AIDS, which was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. The minister was speaking about reaching out to people in “high-risk“ categories for HIV infection, including female sex workers, injecting-drug users, migrants and men who have sex with men.

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Jharkhand rolls out healthcare plans for mothers

Ranchi | July 05, 2011

Moved by the concerns of mother mortality rate (MMR), the Jharkhand government has launched three ambitious projects—mother-child protection (MCP) card, mother-child tracking system (MCTS) and Mata Wahan—to ensure prompt and proper medicare to the expecting mothers in the State. Backed by the Unicef, the projects would be jointly executed by the State Health and Family Welfare Department and the Social Welfare Department.

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India has to play a critical role in HIV prevention

New Delhi | July 05, 2011

Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, asks India to reduce its dependence on external funding. The world can achieve the vision of ‘zero new HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections, zero instance of stigma and discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths' if India plays a critical role in bringing about this transformation, domestically and on the world stage, Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS (a joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS) has said.

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Private hospitals are not costly hotels, fumes SC

New Delhi | July 06, 2011

Criticizing the city’s big private hospitals for their steep charges, the Supreme Court said that they were acting like star hotels and had not kept their promise to treat the poor — 25% outdoor and 10% indoor — free of cost. “You got the land at a very cheap rate from the government because of this promise. If you admit a poor patient but ask him to pay for everything, it is not free treatment,” said a bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik as it gave the hospitals two weeks to prepare a comprehensive plan to give effective free treatment.

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Gender-sensitive judicial system is need of the hour

New Delhi | July 07, 2011

If a comprehensive justice system were in place, social, economic and political rights for women would fall in place, said Lakshmi Puri, assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director of UN Women. In Delhi, to launch the Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice 2011-2012, Puri said despite widespread poverty, illiteracy and lack of awareness of legal rights among women, India was on the right track as far as judicial empowerment of women is concerned. Legislation to end violence against women in both public and private spaces and the creation of a protection force for women are some of the positive responses from the government.

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Delhi to strengthen rules against female foeticide: Dikshit

New Delhi | July 11, 2011

Expressing concern over the growing gender imbalance, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said that her government will make the rules more stringent to punish those involved in female foetcide. Terming the skewed sex ratio an offshoot of female foeticide, Dikshit said: "The government is planning to impose a heavy fine and strict punishment for such incidents. It is essential to save girl child at any cost. The society will have to intensify campaign so that the ratio of girls and boys could be made even."

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Bengal government issued notice on children's deaths

New Delhi |July 01, 2011

The West Bengal government was issued notice by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over the reported deaths of 17 infants in a state-run hospital in Kolkata in a span of two days. "Taking cognizance of the matter, the commission in its proceedings July 1, 2011 has observed that paediatric care is one of the cardinal requirements of infant health and any negligence of duty by public servants or doctors is detrimental to the Right to Health of the concerned," the statement said.

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