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 2011

Newborn deaths account for 41 % of child mortality

New Delhi | August 31, 2011

Increased global focus on maternal and child health too often overlooks newborn deaths, which account for 41 per cent of child deaths, according to a new study published in the medical journal PLoS Medicine. India has the greatest number of newborn deaths — more than 9 lakh a year. Just five countries now account for more than half of the world's 3.3 million newborn deaths — India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Democratic Republic of Congo. Each year 3.3 million babies still die in the first four weeks of life — despite the existence of proven, cost-effective interventions that could save these newborns, said the study's co-author, Dr. Joy Lawn of Save the Children's ‘Saving Newborn Lives' programme.

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Assam acts tough against errant doctors

Guwahati | August 24, 2011

Assam government will discharge about 300 doctors under Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) to improve health service delivery in the state. The state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that VRS will offered to those, who often give work a miss or simply do not turn up or those doctors who showed indifference towards the government’s attempt to improve the health service delivery mechanism. The government will divide the government doctors into five categories — doctors staying at the headquarters and regularly attending duty, doctors who do not stay at the headquarters but regularly attend duty, doctors who do not stay at the headquarters and report late for duty, doctors who occasionally /rarely come for duty and doctors who do not attend to work at all.

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Cancer, diabetes, hypertension largest cause of death

New Delhi | August 24, 2011

Lifestyle-related diseases are now killing more Indians than the infectious ones. India’s disease pattern has undergone a major shift over the past decade, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). The latest WHO data paints a worrying picture. At present, out of every 10 deaths in India, eight are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes in urban India. In rural India, six out of every 10 deaths is caused by NCDs. Similar is the trend in the Southeast Asian region. While NCD deaths have seen a 21% jump, infectious diseases deaths have fallen by 17%. The projection is that the South-east Asian region will have the greatest total number of NCD deaths in 2020: 10.4 million.

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Efforts to prevent maternal mortality successful

Salem | August 25, 2011

Tamil Nadu's health care initiative of using NASG (Non Pneumatic Anti Shock Garments) also called life wraps, to reduce Post-Partum Haemorrhage (PPH) deaths – 22 per cent of deaths among mothers of newborns – has started showing some positive results. The initiative aims to bring down MMR below 30 and was introduced in ten districts including Salem about two years ago. According to health experts, after introduction of NASG, maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Salem district is showing a downward trend. “Of 55,000 live births recorded last year in Salem district, 50 to 55 mothers had died and 15 to 20 of them due to PPH, which is preventable. In Salem district it is 0.85 per cent MMR per 1,000 live births during last year. We hope to have a reduced mortality of at least by one-third this year,” a senior doctor in Government Hospital says.

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Just 66 Drug Inspectors in India

New Delhi | August 25, 2011

India has only 66 Inspectors to monitor the quality of pharmaceutical products in the country of over 1.2 billion people — raising questions about the ability of the regulators to maintain quality of medicines. "Three years back, the situation was even worse. We had just 12 Inspectors," Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) Surinder Singh said, reports IANS. He said the government targets to increase the number of Inspectors to nearly 1,000 in five years. "We are in the process to hire new people. The government has already sanctioned 327 posts," Singh said on the sidelines of the fourth medical technology conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.

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SC directs pvt hospitals to treat poor free

New Delhi | August 26, 2011

The Supreme Court asked all private hospitals in Delhi to earmark 25% of their out-patient department capacity and 10% in-patient department capacity for free treatment of poor and directed the Delhi government to discuss with hospitals to evolve a guideline on high-cost health care. When a bench comprising Justices R V Raveedran and A K Patnaik was highly critical of the Delhi government for not holding meaningful discussions with the private hospitals on free treatment of poor patients, Dr R N Das of the directorate of health services stood up and answered each query. He said that of the 40 identified multi-specialty hospitals in Delhi, 27 are extending free treatment to poor as per the Delhi High Court's direction. Three had claimed that they did not get land at concessional rate and hence were not obliged to extend free treatment to poor.

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Docs to spend more time with patients soon

New Delhi | August 27, 2011

The Medical Council of India (MCI) may soon specify how much time doctors should spend with their patients so that the regimen of medicines being prescribed to them is clear. A recent World Medicines Situation 2011 report brought out by the World Health Organization (WHO) - as reported by TOI first - had recently said that doctors, on an average, in developing countries spend less than 60 seconds in prescribing medicines and explaining the regimen to their patients. Consequently, only half of the patients receive any advice on how to take their medicines and about one-third of them don't know how to take drugs immediately on leaving the facility.

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Resource crunch hits HIV/AIDS response: Report

New Delhi | August 28, 2011

'Fight against scourge in Asia and the Pacific is affected' The AIDS epidemic in Asia and the Pacific is at a crossroads due to a resource crunch, according to a new report from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). While the region has seen impressive gains — including a 20 per cent drop in new HIV infections since 2001 and a three-fold increase in access to antiretroviral therapy since 2006 — progress is threatened by inadequate focus on key populations at higher risk of HIV infection and insufficient funding from domestic and international sources. Launched at the 2011 International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP), the report, titled ‘HIV in Asia and the Pacific: Getting to Zero', found that more people than ever before have access to HIV services across the region.

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Two daughters campaign to save the girl child

Gadchiroli | August 28, 2011

Congress, NCP trying to score brownie points off each other. The alarmingly declining child sex ratio in Maharashtra has energised campaigns to save the girl child, with both the Congress party and its ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) trying to score brownie points off each other on the issue. According to Census 2011, the sex ratio in the State is higher in rural areas at 948 females per 1,000 males as compared to urban area where it is 899. In 1991, 2001 and 2011, the child sex ratio in rural areas fell from 953 to 916 to 880 respectively. In the same period, it fell from 934 to 908 to 888 respectively in urban areas.

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Focus on fighting TB through partnership

New Delhi | August 31, 2011

India has the highest number of TB patients in the world. “India is moving towards universal access for quality TB care and has the power to become a global leader in research and innovation as well as in manufacturing of essential anti-TB drugs,” said Indian Council of Medical Research Director-General Vishwa Mohan Katoch. India has the world's fastest growing pharmaceutical industry plus a huge potential to become a global frontrunner in bio-tech, medical and public research. It has the highest number of people with tuberculosis in the world -- two million new cases each year of an approximately nine million worldwide.

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80% of Indians don’t use essential drugs

New Delhi | August 29, 2011

An average Indian suffering from heart attack or stroke is seven times less likely to receive the inexpensive aspirin — the most commonly used anti-platelet drug — and 20 times less likely to receive statins than an average Canadian. In a first-of-its-kind study to quantify use of effective low cost drug treatments for heart disease and stroke scientists have found that four out of five patients from low-income countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan “reported receiving none of these essential drugs”. Presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris and published in the British medical journal Lancet, the study involved 1, 53, 996 adults from 17 countries .

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Young doctors unwilling to serve in rural areas: Azad

New Delhi |August 29, 2011

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed regret that despite offering several incentives young doctors are not willing to serve in rural areas. Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the bill to extend the term of governing body of Medical Council of India by a year, Azad said he was 'disheartened' to see that doctors were not interested in serving in rural areas. The health minister said "at present if a person practices for one year in a rural area he will get 10 percent extra marks, for serving two years, it will be 20 percent and for three years, 30 percent in the entrance exam for post graduate courses".

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Maharashtra to launch RGL Health Scheme next month

Mumbai | August 29, 2011

The Maharashtra government has given the green signal for implementation of the ambitious Rajiv Gandhi Lifesaving Health Scheme, which is expected to benefit over 20 million poor people providing them health insurance. Maharashtra becomes the second state in the country after Andhra Pradesh to implement RGLHS, an official from the Chief Minister's office said. The first phase of RGLHS will be implemented in eight districts — Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban District, Raigad, Nanded, Dhule, Sholapur, Gadchiroli and Amravati — from September.

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Haryana to set up 21 Special Newborn Care Units

Chandigarh | August 29, 2011

In a bid to bring down the mother-infant mortality rate in the state, Haryana government plans to set up a Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) in all 21 districts of the state and a web enabled surveillance system. “Right now SNCUs are operational in only six districts of the state: Gurgaon, Faridabad, Yamuna Nagar, Mewat, Ambala and Kaithal. The state government has taken a decision to open SNCU in general hospital of every district. Number of beds will also be increased in all SNCUs,” National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) Mission Director Rakesh Gupta said. Gupta said that the infant mortality rate of Haryana was 51 per 1000 living children which is above the national average of 50. The state ranks 27th in the country in cases of infant mortality.

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Civil society vigil to check female foeticide

New Delhi | August 28, 2011

Recommending civil society vigil to check female foeticide, a Parliamentary committee has asked the Union Government to ensure that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, is not circumvented to give way to selective abortion in cases of female foeticide. It has also called for synchronisation of this Act with the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PC&PNDT Act), 1994, to check the social evil. It has recommended incorporation of effective checks into the MTP Act so that each case that comes under the Act is thoroughly assessed in the light of facts and circumstances to rule out sex-selective abortion.

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Universal insurance scheme on cards

New Delhi | August 17, 2011

The Planning Commission is framing up a blue print for a universal insurance scheme which will provide a minimum health cover to everyone in the country, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said.
He said, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) is currently available to all BPL families and other additional categories. Ahluwalia said, it is also quite possible that it can be expanded for others. Under RSBY, below poverty line households are provided a health insurance cover, which entitles them to hospitalisation coverage of up to 30,000 rupees. Beneficiaries under RSBY need to pay only 30 rupees as registration fee, while the central and state governments pay the premium to the insurer.

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Andhra launches drive for AIDS vulnerable sections

Hyderabad | August 18, 2011

A special campaign "Mana Suraksha" has been launched in Andhra Pradesh to provide quality health services to populations vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The vulnerable sections include female sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgenders. Launching the campaign, C. Partha Sarathi, project director, Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (APSACS), hoped that it would prove a milestone in mainstreaming the vulnerable population. The campaign aims to mainstream vulnerable populations to enable them to have effective access to Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) prevention services in government hospitals, especially in rural areas.

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Govt planning new mental health care Bill

New Delhi | August 19, 2011

The government is considering a new mental healthcare Bill to replace the old Mental Health Act, 1987, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said. "The Bill aims to provide access to mental healthcare for persons with mental illness and to protect and promote the rights of persons with mental illness during the delivery of mental healthcare," Azad told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
He said epidemiological studies have indicated that the prevalence of mental disorders in the country is six to seven per cent. To address the huge burden of mental disorders, government is targeting 123 districts in 20 states with the aim to reach out to the people suffering from mental disorders.

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Scientists move closer to HIV vaccine, isolate antibodies

New Delhi | August 19, 2011

Scientists have isolated the most powerful broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) against HIV so far — a major step towards finding an effective vaccine against the deadly virus. Capable of fighting a broad spectrum of variants of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, some of the 17 antibodies discovered jointly by The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and The Scripps Research Institute blocked HIV infection of cells as much as 10 to 100 times as potently as the previously discovered bNAbs. These HIV neutralizing antibodies are produced naturally by a minority infected with HIV, but who show no symptoms.

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Dearth of men for contraceptive trials

New Delhi | August 22, 2011

India’s efforts to create an indigenous non-surgical male contraceptive is facing a major hurdle: male volunteers. The final phase of trials, phase-III, before India could unveil to the world a single-dose, safe and reversible contraceptive method for men has failed to recruit even half the number of male subjects it needs for testing RISUG (Reversible Inhibition of Sperm UnderGuidance) over the past two years. At present, the only option for a man is to undergo vasectomy — a surgical procedure or a permanent birth control in which the vasa deferentia is severed and tied to prevent sperm from entering into the seminal stream.

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531 sterilised women become pregnant

At least 531 women have become pregnant despite undergoing permanent birth control operation in Orissa. This was revealed by Health and Family Welfare Minister Prasanna Acharya while replying a question in the Assembly. Though the Government has not taken action against any doctor for fault in conducting the tubectomy surgery, yet it would not hesitate in doing so, the Minister said. As many as 600,369 women underwent family planning operation between 2006-07 to 2010-11 in the State. Out of the 531 women who conceived, 236 were given compensation by different insurance companies under Central government's Family Welfare Insurance Scheme as per a direction of the Supreme Court, Mr. Acharya said.

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West Bengal planning health drink for pregnant women

Kolkata | August 21, 2011

In a bid to provide nutrition to pregnant women from the financially-weaker sections of the society so as to check the number of underweight new-borns, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said here that the State's Health Department was contemplating providing health-drinks to pregnant women when they visited hospitals for check-ups. Ms. Banerjee, who also holds the Health portfolio, pointed out that West Bengal had a high child mortality rate. She said the high rate of underweight new-borns was attributable to the poor health of their mothers.

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Asia-Pacific parliamentarians pledge to work for sexual, reproductive health rights

CHIANG MAI (THAILAND) | August 22, 2011

Parliamentarians from six Asia Pacific countries committed themselves to fostering dialogue and mobilising fellow legislators to accelerate allocation of Official Development Assistance (ODA) for sexual and reproductive health rights-related programmes and ensuring concrete action through high-level advocacy and regular monitoring and review of policy and legislation. A statement of commitment adopted at the Regional Parliamentarians Consultation on Emerging Economies and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights here also agreed to create an oversight mechanism on ODA within respective parliaments.

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Bihar to appoint 34,507 regular nurses

Patna | August 17, 2011

Decks have been cleared for the appointment of 34,507 nurses in the state. The proposal aimed at strengthening medical services in the state has got the seal of the state cabinet. The cabinet okayed the proposal with regard to make regular appointment of nurses on 34,507 posts created through a cabinet decision. These nurses will be posted in the district and block hospitals, Cabinet Secretary Ravi Kant said. The cabinet also okayed a proposal to set up two new polytechnics, one at Jamui and the other at Raghopur in Supaul district. It also gave its go-ahead to the setting up of a central registration unit for commercial tax purposes at Patna. With this, traders residing in any part of the state would get firms registered at Patna

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Centre may trim welfare schemes

New Delhi | August 20, 2011

Pushing for social sector reforms, the Planning Commission agreed to reduce the number of Central government schemes with an aim to focus on quality rather than quantity. The Central government provided over Rs 10,00,000 crore in the 11th five-year-plan for around 185 schemes of which Rs 6,91,000 crore was provided under 13 popular programmes. There has been a view in the plan panel and among state governments that the Centre should reduce the number of schemes and instead, provide “flexi-funds” to different sectors.

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Stigma kills many more

New Delhi | Aug 01, 2011

Health experts say, many more commit suicide, which, are triggered by fear of rejection and ostracism by the society. “The rate of suicide death among HIV patients in India is very high. Due to the efforts by the government and different other agencies working on HIV/ AIDS, the treatment facilities for the infection has definitely improved but there is still the lack of social acceptance. There is no proper rehabilitation plan and quite often, it has been seen that the HIV-positive patients commit suicide either because they are not ready to face the society or they feel that they are going to be a liability on their family,” said Sanjeev Sheel of the Delhi State AIDS Control Society.

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65% new global leprosy cases from India

New Delhi | Aug 06, 2011

India, which has supposed to have eliminated leprosy seven years ago, still records the highest number of fresh cases globally. According to the World Health Organization, 65% of all new cases of leprosy globally are from India. The Union health ministry's latest data shows that between April, 2010, and March, 2011, India recorded 126 , 800 fresh cases of leprosy of which 12, 463 were children under the age of 15. Around 4,000 of these patients had disabilities due to leprosy. The ministry called a meeting of all states to discuss these high numbers. As many as 209 districts still record more than 10 cases per 10,000, which is tremendously high. These districts are mainly in Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Dadar & Nagar Haveli.

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An anti-homosexuality CD surfaces in Bhopal as Ramzan gets under way

Bhopal | Aug 05, 2011
An anti-homosexuality campaign is under way among Muslims in Bhopal. The chief organiser of the campaign, which has blessings of the Madhya Pradesh State Minorities Commission, believes that its message will have the most impact in the holy month of Ramzan. The campaign, purports to be based on the teachings of the Koran. The campaign CD, titled Aaya Rozon ka Mahina, was released by chairman of the state minorities commission, Anwar Mohammed Khan, on July 31, the eve of Ramzan. The hour-long CD has four other songs but devotes nearly 16 minutes to a presentation against homosexuality.

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Truant leprosy patients, infection in kids worrying

New Delhi | Aug 05, 2011

Truant patients are turning out to be a major impediment to leprosy treatment in the Capital. More than half the people being treated free for leprosy under the Delhi state government programme are migrants. This has become a problem, as many leave the treatment mid-way to head back home, thinking that they are cured fully. But the truth is far from it. "People from states such as Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh come to Delhi for treatment because of the stigma attached back home. It is very difficult to trace the migrant patient population as they leave the city as soon as they start seeing positive health results.

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40% of 5-yr-olds are anaemic

New Delhi | Aug 04, 2011

More than 40% children in pre-school age of 0-five years are suffering from anaemia in India. Although the prevalence of anaemia is estimated at 9% in countries with high development, in countries with low development the prevalence is as high as 43%. Anaemia is estimated to contribute to more than 1.15 lakh maternal deaths, and 5.91 lakh prenatal deaths globally per year. Asia and Africa account for more than 85% of the absolute anemia burden in high-risk groups. These are the findings of a paper published in the British medical journal, The Lancet.

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Pregnant women to get transport fare to hospitals

New Delhi | Aug 04, 2011
As part of its effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality, the government has launched a new scheme for providing transport fare, free medicines and other facilities to pregnant women for delivery in hospitals, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said. Replying to a discussion on a Bill on the Jawaharlal Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Research, Pondicherry, the Health Minister said that it was for the state governments to implement the policy. The Minister informed the Rajya Sabha that under the newly-launched scheme of the Health Ministry, pregnant women from poor strata of society will get to and fro transport fare to hospitals, free medicines and also free care for the infants.

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IGNOU, Unicef sensitise scribes on infant deaths

New Delhi | Aug 04, 2011

IGNOU along with Unicef sensitised media personnel on the high infant mortality and low immunisation levels in Madhya Pradesh. A 20-member team comprising national, state and district level media visited Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh and observed the low rate of routine immunisation and high infant mortality in the state, a varsity official said. The journalists visited the state-of-the-art special care newborn units, set-up by the National Rural Health Mision (NRHM) and Unicef, as well as the cold chain vaccine storage units in the district.

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Text messages have 'huge potential' to boost malaria care

London | August 04, 2011

Researchers have indicated that sending text messages to health workers about malaria treatments could be a cost effective way of improving care for African children with malaria. The six-month study involving 119 health workers in Kenya showed texts increased malaria treatments following government guidelines. Researchers said there was "huge potential" to improve care. "The role of the mobile phone in improving health providers' performance, health service management and patient adherence to new medicines across much of Africa has a huge potential," BBC quoted Professor Bob Snow, who headed the research group, as saying. The study was published by The Lancet. (ANI)

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Now, a tracking system for immunisation in India

New Delhi | Aug 03, 2011
In a major stride towards ensuring that children and pregnant women get basic immunisation, the government has a tracking system for vaccination in place, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said. "We have introduced name- and telephone-based tracking of pregnant mothers and children through a web-enabled system. The initiative intends to make sure that all pregnant mothers and children receive full care and complete vaccination," Azad said at a high level ministerial meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the capital.

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Fought HIV well but haven’t won yet: Gates initiative head

In the eight years since the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation launched an HIV prevention initiative in India under its Global Health Program, the country has changed the way it looks at the disease, better checks are in place, and the scare itself has subsided, with 2007 estimates halving the number of infected people to between 2.5 and 3.1 million. The numbers may be encouraging but “it’s way too early to declare a victory”, says Ashok Alexander, director of Avahan, the initiative to reduce the spread of HIV in India. The virus is powerful and capable of coming back, he warns, a signal to the government which is in the process of taking over the various programmes under Avahan.

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HIV-infected, recycled syringes sting Kolkata

Kolkata | Aug 02, 2011

It is wobbly with a crooked needle and a depressed piston. The tip looks blunt, the cap is loose and the tube has a pale exterior. ‘For single use only’, says the instruction printed on the syringe but it looks far from a fresh one, safe enough for use. And it is not the only one which doctors at SSKM Hospital in Kolkata suspect to have been recycled from clinical wastes that are routinely dumped in the hospital backyard. Hundreds of syringes, saline bottles, blood bags, slides and other medical equipment —all recycled — are believed to have infiltrated SSKM through a network that has been active for some years. The result could be disastrous and might have started taking effect already, fear doctors.

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5 children contract polio from vaccine

Mumbai | Aug 07, 2011

From being labelled the world’s lone polio exporter in 2006 to reporting just one positive case till the eight month of this year, the polio scenario has never looked better than this for India. But celebrations are not in offing as the country is now faced with the challenge of fighting the vaccine-derived polio virus rather than the wild virus itself. Simply put, the small quantity of the weakened polio virus present in the oral polio vaccine is the one seemingly causing polio in children now. At least, five children from Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP and MP have been struck by the vaccine derived polio, whereas only one child from West Bengal has tested positive for the wild polio virus.

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Medicines worth 27L go waste in MP

Bhopal | Aug 08, 2011

Bureaucratic indecision has resulted in the wastage of medicines worth Rs 27 lakh. The medicines bought about three years ago were meant for the rural poor undergoing treatment at Madhya Pradesh’s Hoshangabad government hospital. Sources said a huge consignment of medicines, now past their expiry date, is lying in a warehouse in Harda district, about 90km away from Hoshangabad. And there is no knowing how this consignment will be disposed of. Sources in the state health department said there was no co-ordination between the chief medical health offices (CMHO) of the districts.

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Pitch to provide free medicare to all citizens

New Delhi | Aug 08, 2011

Working towards its aim of providing free healthcare to all, the government is planning a national health entitlement card (NHEC) for every citizen that will guarantee access to a package of essential primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare fully funded by the Centre. The proposal, finalized by a high-powered expert panel of the Planning Commission, talks of covering both in-patient and OPD services free of cost with cashless facility. The health package will focus on the most common and high-impact healthcare requirements.

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No succour for Jharkhand’s fluorosis crippled district

Garhwa | August 15, 2011

A nondescript hamlet of 70 Dalit families in Jharkhand’s Garhwa district has in almost every other house a person either crippled or bedridden. Medical prescriptions show they have fluorosis, a disease caused by drinking water with high fluoride content. At least 12 people have died of fluorosis in the last six years, claimed Mohan Ram, a community leader. “Once crippled, a person at most gets Rs 200 per month as handicap allowance,” he said, adding, “the disease threatens to cripple the entire younger generation, but the government isn’t bothered.” Health minister Hemlal Murmu said the health secretary had just finished reviewing water-borne problems in the state. “A report will be released soon. I am yet to go through the findings. I cannot comment on Garhwa specifically at the moment.”

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PM regrets declining sex ratio

New Delhi |August 15, 2011

Expressing regret over the declining sex ratio in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday called for a change in the mindset of society with respect to women and girls. The figures of census 2011 show improvements in most areas. But it is a matter of deep regret that the sex ratio has shown a decline from the level of last census, he said in his Independence Day address. According to the prime minister, it was not only necessary to implement the existing laws effectively but it was essential to change the approach "with which our society views girls and women".

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12th Five Year Plan to focus on health: PM

New Delhi |August 15, 2011
The government will lay emphasis on health in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) and funds will not be a constraint in the areas of education and health, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said. "I have often referred to the 11th Five Year Plan as an education plan. We will lay the same emphasis on health in the 12th plan as we laid on education in the 11th plan. I will propose to the National Development Council that the 12th plan should be specially focused on health," the prime minister said in his Independence Day speech. He promised that funds will not be a constraint in the important areas of education and health.

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TB control, a model public health initiative

Chennai | August 13, 2011

The tuberculosis control programme provides a global model for effective public health action, Thomas R. Frieden, Director, Centres for Disease Control, US, said. In a special address hosted by the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT), Dr. Frieden said apart from the fact that the world was agreed on a regimen for TB, the programme served as a model public health initiative for its advocacy of a rational approach to a public health problem. In terms of addressing the core functions of public health, India and many other countries are only scratching the surface. Dr. Frieden also said it was important that we “do not be asleep at the switch from communicable diseases to Non Communicable Diseases.

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Safe and legal abortion is a woman's right

Mumbai | August 10, 2011

Over 250 activists and groups have protested against the recent suggestions by two MLAs in the Maharashtra Assembly that “female foeticide” be treated as murder. A letter sent to Speaker Dilip Walse Patil, at the initiative of the Forum Against Sex Selection (FASS), a network of 22 organisations and over 16 individuals, expressed concern at the statements made by Pankaja Munde-Palve (BJP) and Jitendra Avhad (NCP) that female “foeticide” be treated as murder and culprits be booked for the offence of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The letter said that first of all abortion should not be referred to as foeticide, which had anti-abortion implications.

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Health survey reveals the best and the worst

New Delhi | August 11, 2011

Six districts have reduced infant mortality rate to 28, which is the UN target to be achieved by 2015. A few districts in the eight empowered action group (EAG) States have excelled by achieving the targets set by the United Nations under the millennium development goals (MDGs). The EAG States are Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Rajasthan. Bokaro and Ranchi (Jharkhand), Bageshwar and Nainital (Uttarakhand) are also close to achieving the goals. Sadly enough, female infants in these districts experience a higher mortality than male infants and mortality in rural areas is worse than those in urban centres.

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Sex ratio better in villages than cities, says survey

New Delhi |August 10, 2011
More and more educated people in cities across the country are opting for sex determination tests compared to people in villages, and urban areas are recording a decline in female birth rate, according to the annual health survey (AHS) released Wednesday. The survey found that sex ratio at birth, under 0-4 years and in all ages in rural areas is better than in urban areas. The sex ratio at birth across nine states ranges between 764 in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand, and 1,030 in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. The survey, released by the health ministry, was carried out in nine states - Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Orissa and Chhattisgarh - during July 2010-March 2011.

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Jharkhand plans healthcare tips for moms-to-be

Ranchi | August 10, 2011

After launching ambulance services to encourage institutional delivery in rural areas, the Jharkhand government is now mulling new strategy to provide healthcare guidance to expectant mothers in rural areas under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The proposed plan, expected to be rolled out from November this year, envisages regular visits of health workers, also known as Sahiya (friends in tribal dialect), to give the would-be mothers vital tips about pregnancy care. The new strategy has been planned in keeping with concerns of institutional deliveries, which is still 40 per cent despite various initiatives, NRHM State Project Director Aradhna Patnaik said.

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Six regional AIIMS to become functional by 2014

New Delhi | August 09, 2011

Work on six state-of- art tertiary care institutions modelled on the lines of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the under-developed and under-served regions of the country was going on in full swing and they will start functioning by 2013-14. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, the government has approved setting up of these six hospitals in Patna, Raipur, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur and Rishikesh under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana. The minister said that residential complex at Jodhpur and Raipur has been completed and work is in progress at remaining sites.

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e-Way to cardiac care for patients in rural areas

Kolkata | August 08, 2011
Heart patients in rural areas can now walk in for tests at their local clinics, which will be connected to a central hospital in a big city via an information technology component, making it possible for immediate analysis by leading experts. In order to provide rural India with basic cardiac health care services, Roche Diagnostics India, the Indian arm of the Fortune 500 healthcare multinational Roche Diagnostics, has come up with an Integrated Cardiovascular Clinical Network (iCCnet) solution, eliminating the need for travelling to metros for treatment. The model uses point-of care testing and IT system to improve the access and delivery of professional cardiac care in the rural areas.

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New cess may be levied to fund healthcare

New Delhi | August 16, 2011
You may soon have to pay more tax since the government is considering a proposal to levy a surcharge to fund its ambitious plan of providing free healthcare to every citizen in the country. The Planning Commission’s expert panel has turned down the proposal for a securities transaction tax, and instead voted for a health surcharge on taxable income. The move, it said, would complement the government’s budgetary allocation and “obviate the need for user charges on the rich”. Though the panel has not recommended how much surcharge should be levied, a 1% levy would yield over Rs 9,000 crore for this fiscal.

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