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Outgoing Delhi L-G seeks CBI probe into AAP appointment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Outgoing Lieutanant-Governor (L-G) of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the appointment of Soumya Jain, daughter of state health minister Satyendar Jain, as advisor to the mission director of the Delhi State Health Mission. Jung alleged that it was a case of “nepotism” saying that she came from an architectural background and had no experience in the health sector.The letter, accessed by DNA, was written to the CBI by the vigilance department of the Delhi government on December 22, the day Jung resigned. It states that the L-G has directed the matter to be referred to CBI for a detailed investigation into the irregularities in the appointment of Soumya Jain.Incidentally, Soumya, 26, was at helm of AAP’s mohalla clinic project in Delhi and was also allegedly given a huge office and staff in the Delhi secretariat.”The selection process in the government cannot be reduced to favouritism and it must offer opportunity to all concerned to apply and compete so as to attract the best talent around. The recruitment process in the government or government owned/controlled bodies must be with the tune with Article 14 of the Constitution,” the letter stated.The development is expected to further escalate confrontation between the Delhi and central governments.Satyendar Jain has defended Soumya’s appointment. When she resigned in July, the health minister had said that her daughter was not being paid any money for the job. He also stated that she had skipped her admission to IIM Indore earlier this year and chosen to work for the Delhi government instead.The letter further states that an “advisor can influence the decision of the government with the consequential bearing on finances and hence the selection process needs to be neutral”.During an inquiry, the L-G’s office found that Soumya’s appointment was in response to her request and not as a result of selection through an open and transparent process. “She offered her services without any financial consideration. The information furnished by the administrative department, however, reveals that an amount of Rs 1.15 lakh was spent on her tour and training,” the preliminary inquiry stated.Soumya had participated in a state-sponsored leadership development programme for senior management in the health sector conducted at IIM-Ahmedabad in June this year. She was the only non-medico who participated in the programme aimed at improving management efficiency in Delhi government hospitals. The rest were all doctors, who head different medical institutions run by the government.The letter also states that the proposal regarding “her appointment is silent about the existence of the post of the advisor to Mission Director at the relevant time”. Soumya was appointed on April 18, 2016, in response to her application dated April 1, 2016. Interestingly, the mission director gave approval on May 10, 2016. She had resigned in mid-July this year after allegations of nepotism in her appointment were levelled against the AAP government.

Search panel reconstituted on orders of PMO for AIIMS director job

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The search-cum-selection committee, tasked with shortlisting names for the AIIMS director’s post, has been reconstituted following orders from the Prime Minister’s Office and it would be headed by the Health Secretary instead of the Union Health Minister.The new five-member panel will be led by Health Secretary C K Mishra as the chairman. The committee will include Principal Scientific Adviser to PM R Chidambaram, Secretary in Department of Health Research Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Jagdish Prasad and Vice Chancellor of the Delhi University Yogesh Tyagi.The PMO last week had ordered reconstitution of the search panel based on DoPT guidelines amid allegations of nepotism against some members of the panel. “We had recommended the names for the search-cum- selection committee which has been approved by the DoPT and the order has come today,” a senior official in the Health Ministry said.Also, antecedents of applicants will be verified thoroughly before finalisation of names, sources in the Union Health Ministry said.As per rules, the search-cum-selection committee selects a name from the list of candidates which is then sent to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister for final approval.It is learnt the move came after some applicants for the AIIMS top job accused some members of the panel of conflict of interest as they have close relationship with a particular candidate. They have also raised the issue of eligibility of promotee professors for the director’s post.Earlier, a search-cum-selection panel under the chairmanship of Health Minister J P Nadda was constituted to select the new Director of AIIMS. “The PMO had ordered the reconstitution of the committee after certain issues concerning members of the panel were raised. Also, DoPT had sought opinion of the PMO regarding AIIMS president J P Nadda chairing the panel,” a source said.According to sources, 53 eminent doctors, including 35 candidates from outside AIIMS, have applied for the post and the screening of applications is complete.The main contenders for the top post include V K Paul, Head of the Department (HOD) of Paediatrics, Randeep Guleria, HOD of Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders and Alka Kriplani, HOD of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.Current AIIMS director M C Mishra is set to retire on January 31 next year.

Drug users increase, as smoking goes down

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Grappling with drug menace, Punjab records decline in smoking cases, as recent results of National Family Health Survey (2015-16) indicate that the percentage of men who consume tobacco has gone down from 33.8 per cent to 19.2 per cent in the last ten years.The survey was carried by International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, which has been appointed as the nodal agency for the survey by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. As many as 19,484 women, 3,027 men from over 16,449 households were interviewed from January 28 to June 20 for the study.The figures offer a glimmer of hope for the state which has been fighting to crack down on the drug problem. The issue was also raised in the Rajya Sabha in August this year, when leaders pointed out the large number of drug-related cases being reported from the state.As per the survey, one third of the male population (33.8 %) were tobacco consumers in 2005-06 when the survey was last carried out, which has gone down to 19.2 per cent in 2016. Among women it has reduced from 0.8 per cent to 0.1 per cent. Out of the total number of men consuming tobacco, 17.1 per cent belonged to urban sections while 20 per cent were from rural section. The studies also indicated that a total of 24.4 per cent men admitted that they tried to stop smoking in last 12 months. In neighbouring Haryana, the prevalence of tobacco use was found to be 35.8 per cent among men.Smoking or tobacco consumption is prohibited in Sikhism, so it’s also associated with an article of faith, due to which public consumption is not that common, say public health experts. But, government health officials highlight that the number has begun to come down in last six years, due to strict implementation of laws governing sale of tobacco.”Punjab had been making serious efforts to tackle the problem of tobacco use,” said Vini Mahajan, Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Punjab. He added, “as per the survey, tobacco in Punjab is the lowest among all the states. This is significant considering the fact that there are 2,200 deaths attributed to tobacco use and 5,500 children/youth that start using tobacco daily in India.”Elaborating on the issue, Dr Rakesh Gupta, Deputy Director, Punjab Health Department said that prevalence of chewable tobacco is more compared to cigarettes or bidis. “It is common among the large section of workforce especially migrant labourers who work on the fields, but with strict implementation of laws and awareness, the number has come down,” he said.Gupta also highlighted that Punjab was the first state where e-cigarettes were banned and other states followed suit. “All districts of Punjab were declared as ‘Tobacco Smoke Free’ (TSF) on the basis of compliance study and Punjab received WHO World No Tobacco Day 2015 award.” said Gupta.Next, the department plans to crack down on sale of loose cigarettes and encourage more people to quit smoking through active sessions in De-addiction centres in hospitals.

Serial testers and cursory checks – India’s flawed generic drug trials business | Reuters

By Zeba Siddiqui
| HYDERABAD

HYDERABAD Vasudeva Prakash left his job as a mechanic in Hyderabad three years ago for what he calls a more lucrative career: taking part in clinical trials on generic drugs.For two years, Prakash participated in trials of drugs being tested to treat HIV/AIDS and other diseases for contract research organizations (CROs) hired by global pharmaceutical companies. The drugs tested at Indian CROs have been key in getting several hundred medicines approved for sale around the world.Yet, Prakash did not follow international guidelines for testing – and the CROs that hired him didn’t require him to. He says that to earn more money he would participate in back-to-back trials on different drugs with gaps of only a few weeks or even a few days, instead of waiting the 90 days that the World Health Organization recommends.Half of more than a dozen volunteers interviewed by Reuters across four cities – Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and New Delhi – also said they waited much less than 90 days between trials. In the past three-to-four years, they said they spent several months at a time in different cities so that they could participate in as many studies as possible.Prakash provided documentation proving he underwent trials with short gaps at Apotex Research Pvt Ltd, owned by Canadian drugmaker Apotex Inc; Lotus Labs, owned by U.S. generics giant Actavis; Ethics Bio Lab, owned since last year by U.S. drugmaker Par Pharmaceutical Inc; and India’s Semler Research Center Pvt Ltd, among others. Ethics Bio and Apotex did not respond to requests for comment. Lotus Labs and Semler said they had systems in place to check for cross-participation by trial volunteers.The guidelines of the WHO, which decides on approvals for drugs sold in several countries dependent on United Nations programs for basic medicines, are not legally-binding for the CROs. While India has guidelines on clinical trials, they don’t specify the length of time participants should take between trials.Still, the serial testing of some volunteers is raising new questions about the level of oversight of India’s generic drug trials industry, after some CROs came under recent international regulatory scrutiny. Last year, the European Medicines Agency banned about 700 medicines across Europe after an investigation revealed data tampering in some trials of generic drugs in India.International medical experts said that undergoing back-to-back trials endangers the health of patients participating. It can also compromise clinical data gathered through these trials, on the basis of which drugmakers seek approval to sell generic medicines around the world.“The time gap between participation in two different trials should be 90 days minimum,” said Stephanie Croft, a lead inspector at the WHO. “When [data] is incomplete or incorrect it could pose a serious risk to patients.”Gyanendra Nath Singh, head of India’s national drug watchdog, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), said that it has been trying to inspect more CROs in the past two years. The watchdog is also considering the introduction of a track-and-trace system through which patients can be tracked across CROs, he told Reuters.“We are emphasizing on good regulatory practices … some reports have shown that the CROs have deviated from (the) system,” said Singh.India’s Health Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

GLOBAL REACH
Several large international drugmakers, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and Mylan NV, rely on CROs in India to carry out tests on cheaper versions of branded drugs. The aim of these so-called “bioequivalence” studies is to gauge whether non-branded drugs are equally safe and effective. The faster the trials are undertaken, the faster the drugs can come to market.In some major markets, such as the United States, being the first to launch a generic guarantees market exclusivity for a period of time, which can reap millions more in sales.International and local regulators have struggled to keep its oversight in line with the growth of an industry that expanded rapidly in the 2000s, as drugmakers shipped clinical trial work to India to save money. The market is estimated to have crossed $1 billion in 2016, according to consultants Frost and Sullivan.Over the past two years, international regulators have suspended or banned medicines tested by four major Indian CROs after finding manipulation of clinical trial data and other violations.Issues found at Indian CROs are “a big problem that is gaining more and more attention from all sorts of agencies,” said Anders Fuglsang, a consultant and former regulator long involved in audits and inspections of CROs around the world on behalf of international regulatory agencies and companies.Last year, the European Union banned about 700 medicines that had been approved based on clinical trial data provided by GVK Biosciences, then India’s largest CRO. European regulators said they found GVK had manipulated data concerning the heart readings of patients taking part in the study. GVK denied any violation, but several large drugmakers that had won drug approvals based on GVK’s data were asked to re-apply for approval with fresh evidence.

Such re-testing is a headache for drugmakers, as it is expensive, and delays lead to a loss in sales, said Nilesh Gupta, managing director of India’s Lupin Ltd, which was one of the companies to be affected by a U.S. ban on trials by Semler earlier this year.GVK, part of the Indian conglomerate GVK Group, has since limited its business interests in the generic drugs testing business, said Shankar Chelluri, a spokesman for the company. Overall, sentiment toward the generic drug trials business is weak, Chelluri said.Another CRO, Quest Life Sciences, was found last year to have manipulated clinical data on certain trials, according to inspection reports from the WHO and the UK’s medicines authority. The Spanish and German regulators had also found problems with Quest’s trials, and the WHO said it found Quest had falsified data on drugs including the antibiotic doxycycline hyclate and HIV/AIDS drugs lamivudine, zidovudine and nevirapine.Quest managing director T.S. Jaishankar said his CRO, which has conducted dozens of generic drug trials for companies including India’s top drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, has since invested heavily in improving its systems and been cleared by all international regulators. In a response to Reuters, a spokeswoman for the European Medicines Agency said they were “closely monitoring” the involvement of Quest in the drug approval applications they receive.India, like other countries, has ethics committees – groups of independent experts – meant to approve the design and conduct of clinical trials. Their stamp of approval is required by foreign regulators considering allowing a generic drug to be sold. However, these committees depend on the CROs for reimbursement in exchange for reviewing trials. Three members of different committees Reuters spoke to said national guidelines did not clearly define their roles and responsibilities.In the wake of trial data manipulation scandals at CROs in the past three years, many large drugmakers including Swiss firm Novartis, have been shifting more critical trials back to the United States and Europe, according to consultants and industry executives.

Novartis is also ramping up its own checks of Indian CROs, said Bodo Lutz, a data integrity officer at the Swiss firm. Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Hyderabad in July, he said: “We can’t rely on the regulators … we’re increasing our own audits.”VOLUNTEERING “LIKE AN ADDICTION”
Prakash, the former mechanic, said he was never asked by CROs, and their ‘agents’ who approached him for studies, about whether he had recently taken part in another trial.”Everybody does it. Once you start getting the money, it’s very hard to quit. It’s like an addiction,” said Prakash.He said after the first study, he began to regularly receive messages on his phone and Facebook, often from agents working on behalf of CROs, informing him about ongoing clinical trials where volunteers were required. Such messages included three key things: the city where the trial was being conducted, the total pay offered, and the “blood loss”, or the amount of blood the volunteer will need to provide.Venkatesh, from the southern city of Tirupathi, described travelling from Chennai to Hyderabad and then to Bangalore and Mangaluru for different trials.”I know of several people who participate in three or four trials in the same month,” said Venkatesh, who stopped volunteering two months ago and has since married. He did not want to be referred to by his full name.Prakash said he was paid 10,000-30,000 rupees ($147-$441) per trial, depending on the duration and type. He stopped participating after his health began to deteriorate last year at age 25.He now works at a call centre earning 20,000 rupees a month, but, despite knowing the risks, entered two more trials recently to raise cash.”I needed some money desperately so I did it, but I won’t do it again,” he said. (Additional reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Martin Howell)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 04:47 IST

Centre launches anti-cancer crusade

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising the Delhi Government for its inability to implement laws on tobacco ban, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of Health and Family Welfare on Monday said that the capital needed to step up its actions for tobacco control.“Sale of tobacco has been banned in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. In Delhi though, the ban on tobacco reflects only on papers,” he said at an event on Monday, where he launched, ‘Cancel Cancer’, a cancer awareness campaign.According to the latest data available with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, between April 2012 to September 2015, at least 13 states, including Delhi, didn’t issue any challan or fine for smoking in public.Speaking at the event held at the Lady Hardinge Medical College, he said, “Tobacco products are easily available at every nook and corner of our country and are being consumed mainly by the youth, specially school-going kids of the middle and poor class.” As part of the campaign on cancer, they aim to raise awareness on the lethal effects of tobacco, how it causes cancer and measures to control it. “Among other things, the campaign aims at educating people against the hazards of tobacco that is the root cause of cancer. The government supports this cause,” Kulaste said.According to a report released in 2013 by the Central Government one in every five person under 21 years of age is addicted to tobacco. The report also mentions that out of 2 crore homeless children in India, 40-70 per cent come in contact with some or the other form of intoxication.The Centre recently issued a complete ban on sale of food products containing tobacco and nicotine across India. These would include Gutka, Paan Masala, Zarda and tobacco-based flavoured mouth fresheners. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed all states to issue strict directions for banning the production, promotion and sale of these food products.

Real empowerment of women possible only through education: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said real empowerment of women would be possible only through education, encouragement of economic self-dependence and provision of opportunities enabling the unfolding of one’s full potential. The President praised the leading role played by the Mahila Dakshata Samiti in women’s empowerment and recalled the contributions of the Samiti’s founding members such as Suman Krishankant, Prof. Pramila Dandavate and Smt. Mridula Sinha, the Governor of Goa.”The only long lasting solution is to create cooperative structures comprising the government and private stake holders as well as civil society. In fact, the developmental goals of health, education, livelihood etc. cannot be achieved by the government alone. Such co-operative structures are relevant for all of them,” President Mukherjee said at the inauguration of the Bansilal Malani College of Nursing established by the Mahila Dakshata Samiti in Hyderabad on Saturday.Speaking on the occasion, the President expressed concern over the deficiencies in the health infrastructure of the country. The President said there is a phenomenal shortage of about 2.4 million nurses in our country and a decrease in the number of nurses from about 1.65 million in 2009 to about 1.56 million in 2015. “This indicated a worry-some trend. At the same time, our infrastructure also comprises of just 1.53 lakh sub-centres, 85000 PHCs and about 5000 Community Health Centres in a nation of 130 crore people living in more than 5000 towns and 6.4 lakh villages. It is essential to look for models wherein all stake-holders participate rather than the government alone,” he added.The President said it is unfortunate that today when average overall literacy in India was 74%, women’s literacy is less than 65%. He said a society which does not empower its women will end up as a loser and called for renewed efforts in this direction.

5 things you need to know about new Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu Girija Vaidyanathan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior IAS officer Girija Vaidyanathan was appointed Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu on Thursday, replacing P Rama Mohana Rao whose residence and office was raided by the Income Tax department on Wednesday. “Dr Girija Vaidyanathan IAS, Additional Chief Secretary/ Commissioner of Land Administration, is transferred and posted as Chief Secretary to Government, vice Dr P Ramamohana Rao,” a Public (Special A) Department order dated December 22 said. Vaidyanathan shall also hold full additional charge of the post of Vigilance Commissioner and Commissioner for Administrative Reforms, previously held by Rao, it said. ​But, who is Girija Vaidyanathan who will be the 45th ​Chief Secretary of the state?1. A PhD holder from Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, ​Girija Vaidyanathan is 1981 batch IAS officer. She started her career as a Sub-Collector in 1983 and is currently the Commissioner of Land Administration.
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu: Girija Vaidyanathan replaces Rama Mohana Rao as Chief Secretary2. She was the principal secretary of the Health and Family Welfare Department in the Government of Tamil Nadu, Mission Director of National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) and has also worked in health, education, agriculture, transportation and state planning departments over her 34 year long career.3. Though she has been closer to DMK, rather than AIADMK, she was the brain behind public health and education projects during Jayalalithaa’s first regime. 4. She was the Mission Director of the State Health Society when Tamil Nadu won the award for best performance among the non-empowered action group States.5. Her father S Venkitaramanan, was the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor from 1990 to 1992.(With PTI inputs)

NEET to be held in eight languages from 2017 onwards

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission in medical colleges will be held in eight languages- Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu- for the academic year 2017-18. Also, the candidate qualifying NEET will be eligible for all India quota and other quotas under the State governments and Institutes irrespective of the medium taken by candidates, subject to other eligibility criteria, the Union Health Ministry said in a statement.In May, Union Health Minister JP Nadda had held a meeting with the Health Ministers and Health Secretaries of 18 states/Union Territories towards implementation of NEET across states. Joint Secretary, Medical Education, AK Singhal said, “The collaborative efforts of Central Health Ministry with the state health ministries have lead to this decision so as to bring parity for the students who have taken the State Board exams.”NEET has replaced AIPMT and has been made mandatory for admissions in all-India medical/dental colleges which means no other state can conduct its separate medical entrance.

10 days after kidney transplant, Sushma Swaraj discharged from AIIMS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was discharged from AIIMS on Monday, 10 days after she underwent a kidney transplant at the premier hospital. Doctors decided to discharge her after all her latest biochemical tests were found normal including kidney function. “Sushma Swaraj has been discharged from Hospital at 7 PM after her postoperative uneventful recovery following kidney transplant operation on December 10,” the AIIMS said in a statement.Union Health Minister JP Nadda, who is President of AIIMS, visited Swaraj before her discharge and expressed satisfaction about her recovery. A team of doctors will continue to review Swaraj’s progress over next several weeks, AIIMS Director MC Misra said expressing happiness over her recovery.64-year-old Swaraj has been advised to restrict visitors for next three months at home and office to minimise the chances of infection. “A team of specialists, which included Transplant Surgeons, Nephrologist, Pulmonologist, Endocrinologist reviewed her on Monday for her post discharge advice regarding medications,” the AIIMS said.It further said necessary detailed advice has been given pertaining to her nutrition and diet, physiotherapy and fluid intake. Nadda also met the team of doctors and nurses who treated Swaraj and congratulated and complimented them for care provided to her. As no suitable donor was available in the immediate family, the transplant was done with the kidney from an unrelated donor and clearance for it was given by the Authorisation Committee of AIIMS.Swaraj has been suffering from diabetes for quite sometime and after it was found that she had renal failure, she was put on maintenance dialysis. On November 16, Swaraj had tweeted that she was in AIIMS because of kidney failure. Swaraj, who has been in and out of the hospital for last few months, was admitted to AIIMS on November 7. After Swaraj made public her health condition on social media, several people offered their kidneys to her.

Tamil Nadu: Opposition parties demand ‘white paper’ on treatment given to Jayalalalithaa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As controversy surrounds over the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalalithaa, opposition DMK and PMK demanded a ‘white paper’ on the medical treatment given to the leader on Thursday as they said “there were apprehensions among the public and party supporters on the matter.”DMK Treasurer and Opposition Leader MK Stalin and PMK founder S Ramadoss made demands in this regard. “The Tamil Nadu government should release a white paper on the treatment given to former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. Since AIIMS doctors had also treated her, the treatment details should be informed to public by the Centre,” Stalin said.He added that neither he nor his party wanted to “politicise” the matter. “Jayalalithaa was not on an ordinary person but the Chief Minister. Even during her hospitalisation, parties including DMK sought publicising of information on her treatment,” he told reporters.Stalin recalled that in the past when former chief ministers like late CN Annadurai and MG Ramachandran, were hospitalised, the then Health ministers in the respective cabinets used to come up with periodic updates on their health status. However, no statement was released by the government or the Tamil Nadu Health minister when Jayalalithaa was hospitalised. Only Apollo Hospitals, where she was admitted, issued medical bulletins, he stated.Expressing grief over the AIADMK leader’s death, Stalin said, “There are various reports about the treatment given to the former chief minister,” and referred to the demand by PMK founder S Ramadoss, who also sought a white paper on the matter. “There are doubts among many people about the death of the (former) chief minister. To completely dispel them, a white paper should be published as demanded by Ramadoss,” he said.Ramadoss, on his part, said there were “apprehensions” among the public and AIADMK workers over the treatment given to Jayalalithaa as well as her death. “To dispel them, the state government should immediately release a white paper detailing the medical treatment given to Jayalalithaa,” he said.

Maternal mortality: A silent killer that claims a life every five minutes in India

The soldier is dying. The farmer is dying. The mother, just a 20-something-year-old girl stretching her pelvis to bring a new life into the world, is also dying. According to Lancet, an independent medical journal, the global maternal mortality rate has come down by nearly half (44 percent) since 1990. In 2015, a total of 45,000 maternal deaths in India along with 58,000 in Nigeria accounted for one-third of the global total.

“It’s like a plane crashing every day. These girls are also martyrs, the system is failing them. A majority of the deaths are avoidable if a set of minimum standards for childbirth, that are practical, effective and universally applicable, are implemented,” said Hema Divakar, former president of FOGSI (The Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India).

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, out of the total 5.29 lakh pregnancy-related deaths recorded world over, 1.36 lakh occur in India; a woman dies every five minutes in child birth or during pregnancy in India. This grim state-of-affairs exists despite the fact that India has come a long way in reducing maternal mortality due to a range of government-led efforts.

Various schemes like the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) have contributed to a large upsurge in institutional deliveries, which stand at more than 80 percent as of today. But despite this phenomenal rise in deliveries at healthcare facilities, it does not reflect in the rate of reduction in maternal and especially neonatal mortality.

The missing link in this anomaly is quality. According to the study conducted to understand the impact of JSY on maternal mortality in Madhya Pradesh (MP), one of India’s largest provinces, the proportion of JSY-supported institutional deliveries rose from 14 percent (2005) to 80 percent (2010). A community-based survey in Delhi revealed a poor quality of a range of maternity care practices across the healthcare spectrum in Delhi and points to a systemic absence of quality of care.

The survey highlighted the overuse of ultrasound, caesarean section, induction, and episiotomy, especially in private facilities, and a deficiency of patient-centred practices (such as counselling and labour support) particularly in public hospitals. For example, while a significantly higher proportion of the deliveries at private facilities were attended by a child specialist, non-ideal norms such as routine shifting of the baby to the nursery and delayed initiation of breastfeeding continued to be widely prevalent. A minority of the babies stayed with the mother in the first hour after birth across the health care spectrum.

An entry level NABH certification will standardise maternal healthcare across the countryAn entry level NABH certification will standardise maternal healthcare across the country

An entry level NABH certification will standardise maternal healthcare across the country. Photo courtesy: Jhpiego

To address this issue of lagging quality care in the private healthcare sector, especially during the critical periods of just before, during and immediately after childbirth, in 2012, Jhpiego (a non-profit health organisation affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University) with support from MSD for Mothers (a 10-year $500 million initiative focused on well-being of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth by MSD, a global healthcare company with a history of 125 years) and in partnership with FOGSI developed a quality assurance model for maternity institutions in the country. The pilot project that recently concluded has started a revolution in the sector.

Here’s why the move was necessary: The nursing staff at Zanana Hospital in Alwar, Rajasthan has recently been oriented on the use of the Safe Childbirth Checklist (SCC). Here, a 20-year-old Mamta arrived at the facility with strong labour pains and a pounding headache. Babita Sen, who was then the nurse on duty, looked for danger signs. Babita checked her urine for protein, which was one of the several steps on the checklist attached to her chart. As Babita suspected, Mamta had an elevated protein level, a symptom of pre-eclampsia that can be fatal for the mother and the child. In the process, two lives were saved.

Similarly, in Bikaner district, Kiran Khatri is known as a one-woman army. She was the only nurse on duty at the Community Health Centre in Bajju when Geeta Sumersingh, from the neighbouring village of Gandhi, came in with labour pains, in the wee hours of the morning. The moment the membrane ruptured, Khatri noticed that there was meconium-stained liquor. She describes how she was listening to the baby’s FHR and found it to be low.

“The moment the baby was delivered, with the help of a mucus extractor the mouth and nose were cleaned. The baby was starting to turn blue and its heart rate was slowing down. We quickly clamped the baby’s cord and put her in the baby warmer. We then used the ambu bag to help the baby breathe,” she recounts, adding that timely orientation helps medical staff tackle with not just new-born resuscitation or pre-eclampsia, but also postpartum haemorrhage.

“Testing the skills of the providers before and after the training showed a remarkable improvement in their knowledge and skills. As a follow up to the training, regular supportive supervision visits have been carried out to assist in institutionalisation of services,” said Bulbul Sood, country director, Jhpiego.

The task at hand is huge, because nearly 26 million deliveries happen each year. India need to build at least 50,000 centres and a healthcare workforce of one million to match up to developed countries. So, collaboration of public and private forces is key. Under this pilot-project, a quality of care framework has been implemented at 146 select private sector facilities spread over 11 cities in Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

The problem will offer customised, on-site support by FOGSI or FOGSI-recommended centres or organisations for improving the quality of care for maternity services, and improving general hospital practices and protocols in line with the NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare) recommendations.

It will also provide certification of quality of services by NABH after assessing adherence of the facilities to its entry level pre-accreditation standards and FOGSI-recommended clinical standards of maternity care.

Up until 2013, a NABH certification was only limited to larger structures like trust-run bodies, multi-specialities and large corporate hospitals that fulfilled its 64 requirements. “By way of accreditation, we want to minimise medical errors and bring about standardisation in a sector that is poorly regulated,” said KK Kalra, who has recently retired as the CEO of NABH.

“Our definition of small healthcare facilities is anything less than 50 beds. By starting an entry-level standardisation, we are looking to bring into the umbrella of quality a majority of the nearly 80,000 medical facilities in the country,” said Kalra, who spearheaded the movement.

Earlier, NABH was focussed on systems and infrastructure, such as whether delivery rooms are fire-safe, or if there’s a new born baby corner or if birth certificates are being issued on time. With the more functional entry-level certification, clinical procedures like the right dosage, monitoring of labour and after care are also stressed upon.

Experts feel that this is a historic and much-needed shift in approach and it’s high time that patients start recognising a seal of quality in healthcare, just like they do while buying gold or consumer durables. Only once that happens will small nursing homes strive harder to earn the prestigious badge of quality, because then it will also affect business.

“It’s more profitable to work hard and acquire a certification because effectiveness of the staff improves,” said Neelima Yadav, who works at the recently-certified Galaxy Hospital in Lucknow. There is an effective distribution of roles especially between nurses, ward aayas and attendants.

While central India lags behind, Divakar reveals that areas like Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Assam also require a lot of attention. FOGSI, a 32,000-strong medical fraternity is tying up with local NGOs to facilitate the shift toward quality across the country.

Parallely, there is the Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust that runs the Merrygold Health Network in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Bihar and has a total of 1,500 facilities. In Kerala, their mobile medical units had reached out to 8,194 mothers during 2013-2014. They have tied up with Asian Research & Training Institute for Skill Transfer (ARTIST) and taken up capacity and quality building in 70 facilities in Rajasthan, in the first phase that started in 2015.

Once these centres attain a degree of quality, in about a year, they will apply for the NABH-FOGSI accreditation.

“It’s high time that basic practices like giving drugs to contract the uterus, a uterine massage and controlled cord-traction become common knowledge because these will minimise the bleeding by 60 to 70 percent,” she explains. The incidents of pregnancy anaemia is over 50 percent and this itself pushes them in a risk category, so they just cannot afford to lose a little bit of extra blood, warn the doctors.

The gap that needs plugging is checking if the drugs are given at the right time and that people are trained in actionable skills. The experts say that the Clinical Establishments Act 2010 cannot be limited to statutes and must be enforced in all states, and must go beyond drug stocks and expiry dates of medicines.

It’s not a question of private vis-à-vis government healthcare anymore, it’s about a basic degree of uniformity; the ‘McDonaldisation’ of healthcare in India is the clarion call of those dedicating their lives toward this cause. Why should any life be lost? To war, to demonetisation, or to the natural desire to create life?

Three decades ago, this exact week, stage and cinema prodigy Smita Patil died of childbirth complications. Whether it’s Smita Patil’s or someone else’s, why should any life be lost to reasons painlessly avoidable?

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 17:41 IST

Delhi govt procures 125 new ventilators after Kejriwal’s Twitter intervention

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi government has procured 125 new ventilators to add to the existing 80 following reports that Ambu-bags, manual hand-held devices which support breathing, were being used to resuscitate patients due to shortage of ventilators at its hospitals. “Procured 125 new ventilators against existing 80. Installation likely in 15 -20 days,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote on Twitter today. Kejriwal had yesterday pulled up Health Minister Satyendar Jain over shortage of ventilators in hospitals who in turn sought to shift the blame to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung accusing the Health Secretary “appointed by him” of not reaching hospital to deal with a case of medical negligence.”Satinder, this is unacceptable (sic),” Kejriwal had tweeted.Later, Jain wrote on Twitter, “There is a death in LNH due to negligence. I requested Sec health to reach Hospital with me. He refused to come saying unavailability of car(sic).”According to sources in the Delhi government’s Health Department, Jain had received information about death of a patient on Saturday in Lok Nayak Hospital allegedly because he was not provided with ventilator support.Jain was going to the hospital to check ground reality. He had also asked the Health Secretary to accompany him but the officer had refused saying his car was not available, they said. Jain blamed the L-G, saying he has appointed the “most incompetent” IAS officer as the health secretary. “Shameful. The L-G has appointed the most incompetent, useless n insensitive IAS officer as health secy(Sic),” Jain tweeted.However, the secretary later reached the spot in an auto, sources said.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Live updates of Cyclone Vardah; Kohli’s men clinch India v/s England series; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Cyclone Vardah Live: Chennai airport services suspended till 9 pm; 2 killed in Tamil Nadu, 8000 evacuatedTwo persons were killed as heavy rains accompanied by high velocity winds pounded the city and coastal districts of north Tamil Nadu ​on Monday due to severe cyclonic storm “Vardah” which began making landfall near Chennai, disrupting land and air transport and throwing normal life out of gear. Follow the live updates here.2. Chennai: Three youths beaten up for not standing during national anthem in theatreLess than a month after the Supreme Court directed cinema halls across the country to play the national anthem in theatres, a youth and two students were allegedly beaten up in a theatre in Chennai for not standing up when the national anthem was being played. Read more here.3. Turkey: ‘Death toll in twin bombing has risen to 44,’ says Health MinisterThe death toll from the Istanbul twin bombings near a major football stadium has risen to 44, Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag said on Monday. The late Saturday attacks saw a car bomb explode outside the home stadium of football giants Besiktas and less than a minute later, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a group of police at a nearby park. Read more here.4. No action initiated to cancel Axis Bank’s licence: RBILast week the bank had suspended 19 officials for their alleged involvement in illegal activity post demonetization. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also arrested two managers of Axis Bank’s Kashmere Gate branch in New Delhi and seized Rs 3.5 crore in cash. Read more here.5. India v/s England: Ashwin takes 6 wickets again as Kohli’s men clinch series with 3-0 leadOff-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked up six wickets in England’s second innings as India cruised to victory in the fourth test at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday to wrap up the five-match series with a game to spare. Read more here.

Sushma Swaraj can help change organ donation law in India

It is indeed heartening to know that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj underwent a successful kidney transplant operation at the All India Institute of Medical sciences (AIIMS) on Saturday (December 10) and that she is recuperating fast. In a few weeks time, she should be able to resume her duty at the South Block to guide our country’s relationship with the larger world.

Swaraj has been one of the most successful ministers of the Narendra Modi government. She has succeeded in enhancing India’s international profile through her astute diplomatic skills, her legendary gift of the gab and her exemplary personal conduct. The manner in which she made the world know about her ailment and treatment (compare that with the absolute secrecy in J Jayalalithaa’s case) has endeared her to her countrymen and women.

However, one would hope that when Swaraj recovers completely from the post-operational rehabilitative process, she would spare a thought to around two lakh men and women across the country who have been waiting for years to get the official nod for a kidney transplant. It is common knowledge hat the denial of permission for a kidney transplant to those who carry little personal or political weight is common and thousands are dying every year due to it.

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. File photo. AFP

Consider the rules for being eligible for a kidney transplant in India. If a near relative of the patient is willing to donate his or her kidney, then there is little problem. Private hospitals would expedite the process as they charge a fortune for the transplant. In the government hospitals, the delay could be due to usual red-tape in convening the mandatory meeting of the authorised committee to consider the requests, to examine the relevant papers and to interview the concerned persons. It depends on the relatives of the patients as to how strongly they can push the official machinery to get it going fast. Those who are familiar with the ways of making the government institutions work get the sanction quickly, but those who just wait for their turn not knowing where and how to push the system suffer a delay.

In all such cases, the permission for the kidney transplant may get delayed, but, usually, not denied. That is the advantage of a near relative offering a kidney for transplant. But then the definition of a near relative is quite specific: one’s parents or children, grandparents or grandchildren, spouse or siblings. If the donor is one of them, then the patient can breathe easy.

But, if any “near relative” of a patient is unavailable, unwilling, or unfit to donate a kidney, then the long arm of the law takes its toll. The law provides that a non-relative donor can be considered only if one is willing to offer a kidney out of “affection and attachment” to the donee, or for a special reason, but never out of consideration of money. Such a provision virtually blacks out the possibility of a kidney patient getting a donor.

How many ordinary patients will get a donor who would offer a vital organ like kidney out of “affection and/or attachment” for a distant relative or a non-relative? Such offers, however, may pour in for big celebrities. It was the same case with Swaraj who is a political celebrity. When she broke the news of her kidney ailment over Twitter, she was flooded with the kidney offers from scores of Indians who admire her for her personal and political standing. As the Indian Express reported, her doctors selected a 40-year old woman — out of a brood of non-relative donor offers — to service the need of the ailing political leader.

Now consider the timeline in Swaraj’s case: She made the announcement of her ailment over social media on 16 November, her kidney transplant happened on 10 December. In a span of fewer than four weeks, the donor was selected, mandatory testings for compatibility of donor-donee organ were carried out, all official permissions kicked in and the transplant was carried out. It must have been a record of sorts in the history of the AIIMS in showing such alacrity in carrying out a transplant of a kidney offered by a non-relative donor.

But then Swaraj deserved every bit of this special treatment, not for her own sake, but for the sake of the country. However, as a senior leader of the ruling party and the government, now it would be her turn to consider the plight of those waiting for a transplant from a non-relative donor. For most of them, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

And that is because the official committee to screen such applications is usually not convinced that a non-relative donor is offering the vital organ just out of affection and attachment, and not out of mercenary considerations. The fact that most of these men and women, who come forward to donate, are from the poorer strata of the society and are mobilised by middlemen to offer a kidney in consideration of a certain sum of money, doesn’t help either.

Not that the kidney patients like it that way; but the law of the land does not give them any other option; they are left with a Hobson’s choice – either adopt the illegal course or embrace an impending death. Many such illegal transplants happen; but if and when they come to light, the harsh law of the land entails that the donor, donee, their relatives, middlemen and the doctors and administrators associated with the illegal transplant go to jail.

It is a harsh law, which is tilted in favour of the powerful who can manage to find a donor, and whose altruistic credentials, the official committee is ready to endorse. It is a law against the non-elite for whom it is virtually impossible to convince the committee about the altruism of the donor. There are examples such as that of a Delhi professor offering a kidney to a stranger in Kerala as was reported in the media, but they are rare; it has something to do with the elevating religious and moral sentiment of the donor.

The draconian law was envisaged with good intentions — to ensure that the poor are not exploited and made to part with vital organs by organised gangs — but then the illegal racket that thrives ensures that some poor people are misled into extortionist tactics, lose their body part and get a little money in return.

Why can’t the government make a law allowing voluntary donation of an organ in exchange for a minimum stipulated amount of money? The donor can bargain for a higher sum too, and the entire money could be deposited in the donor’s bank account before the transplant process kicks in.

With a proper monitoring mechanism in place that would make the system open and transparent; it would create a win-win situation for both the donor and the donee.

Unfortunately, our political establishment often fails to rise to the occasion to offset the acute problems, especially in the health sector that doesn’t promise much political dividend.

However, if Swaraj, who has gone through the trauma behind a kidney ailment, takes the lead to change the law to benefit all, she would win the sincere gratitude of thousands of sufferers and relieve them of their suffering.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 12:44 IST

Fewer rural women opting for private healthcare: Study shows increased access to government hospitals

By Devanik Saha

There was a 24 percent rise in rural women accessing public healthcare between 2004 and 2014, according to a new report by Brookings India, a think tank, significant in a country where half the rural population uses private healthcare, which is four times costlier.

Overall, there was a 6 percent rise in dependence on public healthcare for out-patients and 7 percent for in-patients over the decade ending 2014, said the Brookings report, which analysed National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data over this period.

An in-patient is formally admitted for at least one night to a hospital, while an out-patient visits a hospital, clinic, or associated facility for diagnosis or treatment.

For out-patient care, 74.9 percent of ailing patients (who sought care) exclusively accessed a private facility in 2014, compared to 79.7 percent in 2004. The biggest decrease was seen among rural women, as we said. While 78.2 percent of them sought private care in 2004, 70.4 percent did in 2014.

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Source: Brookings India, based on National Sample Survey Office data

In-patients depend less on the private sector than do out-patients, the data reveal.

The percentage of in-patients seeking public care increased from 42.3 percent in 2004 to 45.4 percent in 2014; the percentage of rural women accessing public care rose from 45.1 percent in 2004 to 56.1 percent in 2014.

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Source: Brookings India, based on National Sample Survey Office data

“The number of people seeking private healthcare, however, might be an underestimation, as NSSO surveyors are instructed to mark all those who went to both government and private facilities as “only going to government facilities,” said the Brookings report.

Indians spend eight times more in a private hospital than a government hospital, according to this analysis of National Health Accounts (NHA) 2013-14 data by The Hindu.

Quality of care biggest constraint for not accessing public hospitals

Despite the decline in exclusive dependence on private care, 29 of every 1,000 Indians pointed to the unsatisfactory quality of healthcare, the most commonly cited reason for not accessing a public hospital.

Long waiting periods at government health services appears to be an increasing bottleneck in seeking public care. In 2004, 6.8 of every 1,000 cited this as a reason for not using a public hospital; it rose to 18.6 in 2014.

Of 930,000 doctors in India, 11.4 percent (106,000) work for the government. This means there is one government doctor for every 11,528 people, according to the National Health Profile 2015, IndiaSpend reported in November 2016.

Public-health centers across India’s rural areas–25,308 in 29 states and seven union territories–are short of more than 3,000 doctors, the scarcity rising 200 percent (or tripling) over 10 years, IndiaSpend reported in February 2016.

More people required medical care over a decade

The number of people not using medical services fell from 15.1 in every 1,000 in 2004 to 12.4 in 2014, which implies an 18 percent increase in Indians seeking some form of healthcare.

There was an increase, however, in the proportion of people not seeking services, as they felt their ailment wasn’t serious enough, and more women than men report not using healthcare due to the same reason–the gender gap has widened over the decade.

More Indian men are likely to be admitted to hospital during the last moments of life than women – 62.5 percent to 37.5 percent, IndiaSpend reported in November 2016. For every 1,000 men whose death is certified by medical professionals, the corresponding figure for women is 600.

The number of people not using healthcare due to financial reasons reduced from four of every 1,000 in 2004 to 0.7 in 2014, said the Brookings report, possibly a result of rising incomes or use of publicly funded health-insurance schemes implemented over the last 10 years by the central and state governments.

About 12 percent of the urban and 13 percent of the rural population got health insurance through the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (National Health Insurance Scheme) or similar plans, IndiaSpend reported in July 2015.

(Saha is an MA Gender and Development student at Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.)

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 13:09 IST

Pharma industry gets ultimatum to employee qualified personnel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To bring the Indian pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry at par with international standards, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will seek only qualified candidates in the workforce. Those already working in the area will receive special training.“With effect from January 1, 2018, no person shall be employed in any pharmaceuticals/bio pharmaceutical manufacturing units unless he has obtained a formal diploma or degree in the relevant area, or has been certified by the Life Sciences Sector Skill Development Council or equivalent organisation in the area in which he has been deployed,” said Dr GN Singh, Drug Controller General of India.The Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) under the Union Health Ministry has written to all the pharmaceutical manufacturing units in the country to take steps for ensuring that persons employed by them are duly trained and certified.“In India, it is a practice to hire employees that are undergraduates (10th and 12th pass), or graduate in general streams (BA, BCom) for different levels in pharmaceutical, life sciences and biotechnology industry. Companies prefer such candidates for various operational and economical reasons. Lack of qualified personnel affects the quality of products from these industries. We want to end this practice,” said Dr Singh.“To improve the quality of pharmaceutical products, it is important that all personnel employed in pharmaceutical manufacturing units undergo certification programmes developed by Life Science Skill Sector Development Council,” he added.The Council has also been tasked with upgrading the skills of persons already employed in the Life Sciences sector in the country.The Council has, after an elaborate exercise and extensive consultations with industry, evolved some modes for certification. These are Post fresh skilling and assessment of eligible youth; and Post assessment under ‘Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)’ for existing workforce in the industry.

Jayalalithaa buried, Panneerselvam named successor to unite AIADMK | Reuters

By Anuradha Nagaraj
| CHENNAI

CHENNAI Masses of grieving supporters wailed, beat their chests and cast flowers on Tuesday as actress-turned-politician Jayaram Jayalalithaa, one of India’s most powerful leaders, was buried on the shorefront in Chennai.(See pictures here)Tens of thousands followed the coffin as it was brought through the streets of the Tamil Nadu capital for burial at a beachside memorial to the late M.G. Ramachandran, another former cinema star who brought her into politics.Thousands of police were deployed to keep supporters from causing havoc or harming themselves in grief as in the past when the state’s longtime chief minister fell ill or faced political turmoil. Giant screens gave the crowds views of the last rites. “She was not only our leader, she was our god,” said Paasarai Jeeva, who said she had camped outside the hospital for a week as the revered leader lay inside dying. Jayalalithaa, widely known as “Amma” or “Mother”, died on Monday following a cardiac arrest the previous day. She was 68.

Her AIADMK party quickly named a loyalist to succeed her as chief minister and keep unity in the regional movement built entirely around the cult of Jayalalithaa. The AIADMK and rival DMK party long dominated Tamil Nadu politics, leaving little room for India’s national parties to operate, but Jayalalithaa’s death has provided an opening for them to try to gain influence.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, head of the northern-based Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), flew to Chennai for the funeral and said her death left a huge void in the state’s politics.

“Definitely there is a vacuum now and there is scope for national political parties like the BJP and the Congress to play a role,” said political commentator S. Murari. State Finance Minister O.P. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new chief minister an hour after her death was announced. Tamil Nadu is an important economic centre in India and a base for auto firms Ford Motor Daimler, Hyundai and Nissan and IT firm Cognizant.Panneerselvam had stood in for Jayalalithaa in the past, but made clear he was not replacing her. He declined to take her place at the head of the cabinet table while she was ill and instead had her picture placed there.

His rise to the top job in Tamil Nadu was aimed at allaying fears of a power struggle in the AIADMK, which Jayalalithaa had ruled with an iron hand. Jayalalithaa’s cult status in Tamil Nadu, which began with her dozens of star performances on the silver screen, was fuelled among the masses by occasional giveaways of laptops, mobile phones and food rations to the poor.As her hearse made its way to the Bay of Bengal shorefront, flanked by party workers clad in traditional white garments, crowds behind the barricades jostled to get a better view of “Amma”. Many scaled the walls of nearby building and parapets to get a better view. (Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 20:17 IST

Jayalalithaa critical: Centre assures assistance to Tamil Nadu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J ayalalithaa’s health condition deteriorating following a cardiac arrest, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Monday assured all possible assistance from the Centre. Rijiju told the media that Tamil Nadu might require additional forces to maintain the law and order situation in the wake of the Chief Minister’s deteriorating health condition.”The practice is that if there is a situation in state and the state finds themselves inadequate to maintain the law and order situation then the Centre is always willing to send extra forces. It is our primary duty to ensure that the state is being helped in all possible way they require. But we cannot intervene on our own,” he added.Meanwhile, Union Health Minister JP Nadda said a team of four top doctors from Delhi’s prestigious AIIMS has been sent to Chennai on the request of Apollo Hospital. Jayalalithaa, 68, had a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening and was put on an extracorporeal membrane heart assist device, a life support system that aids heart and lung functioning.

‘We pray that she regains her health’: Centre dispatches team of AIIMS specialists for Jayalalithaa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Centre on Monday dispatched a team of specialists from the All India Institute of Medical Science to Apollo Hospital in Chennai where Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is undergoing treatment after suffering cardiac arrest on Sunday evening.Four specialists from AIIMS will soon be reaching Apollo Hospital, Health Minister J P Nadda said here.”We are in constant touch with Apollo and Tamil Nadu Government. They had requested a team of doctors from AIIMS. We have sent a team of specialists from AIIMS Dr Khilani, Dr Trikha, Dr Narang and Dr Talwar. We hope that doctors from AIIMS and Apollo will be able to help in her recovery. We pray to God that she regains her health,” Nadda said.The team of AIIMS doctors inlcude pulmonologist Dr GC Khilnani, anaesthetist Dr Anjan Trikha, cardiac surgeon Dr Sachin Talwar and cardiologist Dr Rajiv Narang.Jayalalithaa has been critical after she suffered a cardiac arrest in Apollo Hospital on Sunday where she was admitted over two months ago.Apollo Hospitals, in a tweet late last night, had said doctors were closely monitoring Jayalalithaa’s condition and trying their “very best”.”Our doctors are closely monitoring Hon’ble CM’s condition and they are trying their very best,” Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals, tweeted.68-year-old Jayalalithaa is “critical”, she said in an earlier tweet, adding that AIADMK chief was on extracorporeal membrane heart assist device and being treated by a team of expert doctors and critical care specialists.

Jayalalithaa’s health: Centre dispatches team of Aiims specialists to Apollo Hospital

New Delhi: Centre on Monday dispatched a team of specialists from the All India Institute of Medical Science (Aiims) to Apollo Hospital in Chennai where Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is undergoing treatment after suffering cardiac arrest last evening.

Four specialists from Aiims will soon be reaching Apollo Hospital, Health Minister JP Nadda said here.

File image of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. PTIFile image of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. PTI

File image of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. PTI

“We are in constant touch with Apollo and Tamil Nadu Government. They had requested a team of doctors from AIIMS. We have sent a team of specialists from Aiims Dr Khilani, Dr Trikha, Dr Narang and Dr Talwar. We hope that doctors from AIIMS and Apollo will be able to help in her recovery. We pray to God that she regains her health,” Nadda said.

The team of AIIMS doctors include pulmonologist Dr GC Khilnani, anesthetist Dr Anjan Trikha, cardiac surgeon Dr Sachin Talwar and cardiologist Dr Rajiv Narang.

Jayalalithaa has been critical after she suffered a cardiac arrest in Apollo Hospital on Sunday where she was admitted over two months ago.

Apollo Hospitals, in a tweet late Sunday night, had said doctors were closely monitoring Jayalalithaa’s condition and trying their “very best”.

“Our doctors are closely monitoring Hon’ble CM’s condition and they are trying their very best,” Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals, tweeted.

68-year-old Jayalalithaa is “critical”, she said in an earlier tweet, adding that AIADMK chief was on extracorporeal membrane heart assist device and being treated by a team of expert doctors and critical care specialists.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 11:15 IST

Soon, pay hospital bills via mobile wallet platforms

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Online and mobile transactions would soon become a common mode of payment at government hospitals across the country. The credit goes to demonetization following which the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed all the states to opt for cashless modes of transactions such as mobile wallets like paytm, Mobikwik, Oxygen wallet and PayPal etc.Having shown inability to handle the hassles faced by patients in private and government hospitals, Union Health Ministry has already reached out to Finance Ministry seeking a solution to the problem; meanwhile they are finding ways to ease out the situation.“We had directed all the states to accept old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes till November 24, 2016 as per the direction of Finance Ministry. Following an extension from Finance Ministry, though public hospitals will accept only Rs 500 notes till December 15, 2016, the challenge stands tall. We are aware that public is facing problems but we have to abide by the directives of Finance Ministry,” said Dr Arun K Panda, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.“We cannot device our own directives in this situation. We have already requested the hospitals to accept cheques and demand drafts. We have asked them to use other modes of payments also. Gradually, everything will settle down. We appeal people not to panic,” he said.The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has already started using Paytm and other wallets for transactions in the Out Patient Department (OPD)s. Interestingly, the hospital will have kiosks near OPDs where volunteers will guide and teach patients how to use their mobiles for making payment.“In government hospitals, OPD charges are already minimal. People come to AIIMS from faraway places, it is always better to go for cashless payments due to varied reasons. Mobile technology is being used at its best,” said Dr D K Sharma, Medical Superintendant and Head, Hospital Administration, AIIMS.The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also issued an advisory for hospitals in interest of patients. According to the advisory, all doctors in practice should accept cheques and if facility available credit or debit cards. Most bank account holders have access to ATM cards. All private hospitals and medical stores should consider installing card payment machine and also most big hospitals have banks within their premises. Hospitals should also consider taking available money as advance at admission with an undertaking.Private hospitals have also become in tune to the current situation. “We being a corporate hospital, receive patients that already have health insurance. As far as foreign patients are concerned, embassies are in touch with our relative teams. We already have online banking facilities. There was a minor problem earlier, but now it is running smoothly,” said Dr Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director, Apollo Hospitals.ADVISORY ISSUEDThe Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also issued an advisory for hospitals in interest of patients. According to the advisory, all doctors in practice should accept cheques and if facility available credit or debit cards. Most bank account holders have access to ATM cards.
All private hospitals and medical stores should consider installing card payment machine and also most big hospitals have banks within their premises. Hospitals should also consider taking available money as advance at admission with an undertaking.

Demonetisation decision could worsen the country’s public health crisis

By Devanik Saha and Swagata Yadavar

A spate of deaths due to hospitals refusing to accept invalid currency notes has come to attention after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement invalidating 86% of India’s currency on November 8, 2016.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Unlike government-run hospitals, private hospitals have not been allowed to use defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, potentially affecting 58% of Indians in rural areas who opt for private healthcare (68% in urban areas), according to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data.

In Noida, an infant died after Union Minister Mahesh Sharma’s Kailash Hospital reportedly asked for an advance of Rs 10,000 and then refused to take old currency notes.

An 18-month old baby died in Visakhapatnam as the parents didn’t have money to buy medicines, and a year-old infant in Mainpuri, Uttar Pradesh, died after reportedly being denied treatment by a local private doctor as his parents didn’t have money to pay for his treatment.

Despite multiple requests, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on November 17, 2016, that private hospitals would not accept old notes because that would encourage misuse of old currency.

Patients who had travelled away from their home states were particularly caught unaware by the move and faced a serious shortage of cash.

On a Mumbai footpath, a cancer patient and husband from Jharkhand struggle

IndiaSpend met 52-year-old Mahavir Malhar and his wife from Jharia, Jharkhand, staying on the footpath outside Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital, a leading referral hospital for cancer patients nationwide. A labourer who earned Rs 200 every day before coming to Mumbai to address his wife’s ear cancer, Malhar had no usable cash.

“We do not have cash to buy meals or even tea,” said Malhar. Although treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital is free, and the hospital accepts old notes, staying in Mumbai is expensive for the couple. Since the note ban, their sons, also labourers, have not been able to send them money because of long lines at local banks.

“They are also daily wage earners and standing in a line for the whole day means loss of income,” said Malhar. The couple now depend on the free meals provided by the hospital and charitable trusts.

Indians spend eight times more in a private hospital than in a government institution

As we said, more than half of India’s population depends on private healthcare, despite the fact that private healthcare cost the poorest 20% of Indians more than 15 times their average monthly expenditure, according to this 2014 NSSO survey.

Other markers of India’s dependence on private healthcare:

• Up to 86% of the rural population (717 million people) and 82% of the urban population (309 million people) are without health expenditure support, IndiaSpend reported in July 2015.

• Indians spend eight times more in a private hospital than a government hospital, according to an analysis of National Health Accounts (NHA) 2013-14 data by The Hindu. The report estimated that households spent Rs 8,193 crore in government hospitals, an eighth of the Rs 62,628 crore spent in private hospitals.

• As much as 69% of health expenditure in India is private (out-of-pocket)–the highest proportion in the world–according to NHA data. Out-of-pocket expenditure is the share of expenses that patients pay to the healthcare provider without third-party insurance or government-subsidised treatment.

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• Of 930,000 doctors in the country, only 106,000 work for the government. This means there is one government doctor for every 11,528 people, according to the National Health Profile 2015 report, IndiaSpend reported in November 2016.

• About 81% sanctioned posts of specialist medical professionals in community health centres were lying vacant, according to this 2015 rural health statistics report.

Therefore, the government’s decision to not allow private hospitals to accept old notes will restrict access to healthcare for a significant section of Indians, Scroll reported on November 21, 2016.

Post demonetisation, the Maharashtra government’s toll-free 108 helpline–the 24×7 emergency ambulance services number–is also reporting complaints against private hospitals refusing to accept cheques. The Scroll report talked about angry callers unable to buy medicines or seek treatment due to private hospitals not accepting Rs 500/1,000 notes.

Private hospitals report a fall in patients

Lack of cash is making patients prioritise their cash needs, and health issues tend to be pushed back on family priority lists, reported private practitioners from urban centres.

“There has a been a drop of 25%-30% in patients coming to our private out-patient (OPD) department,” said Manish Motwani, bariatric surgeon at Aastha Healthcare, Mumbai. He attributed the drop to a fall in non-emergency cases.

“There was a 40% drop in my patients in the OPD the next day of demonetisation; now the drop is of 10%-15%, but some of my other colleagues are seeing a drop of 50% in the number of hospitalisations,” said Pradeep Gadge, a Mumbai diabetologist. Many doctors said they were allowing patients known to them to pay later.

There has also been an increase in the number of patients in government hospitals, where treatment is largely free or at nominal charges. “We have seen an increase in the number of patients in our primary healthcare centre since the currency ban,” said Amol Bhusare, medical officer at Pallam, a small town in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region, east of Mumbai. Bhusare said two of his patients who had gone to a private diagnostic centre for a CT Scan at nearby Nanded city were turned back for bringing old notes.

Akhilesh Yadav, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley on November 17, 2016, to allow Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at private hospitals and medicine shops till November 30, 2016.

“As Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were banned in haste, those undergoing treatment at hospitals and nursing homes are facing a lot of problems,” said Yadav. “I, therefore, request you to intervene and allow private hospitals, nursing homes and medicine shops to accept these notes till at least November 30.”

A few hospitals have pleaded that they be allowed to accept older currency. Mumbai’s Bhatia Hospital wrote to the Prime Minister the day after his initial note-ban announcement. “We are one of the oldest charitable hospitals in Mumbai and requested (that) at least charitable hospitals be allowed to accept older notes,” said Rajeev Boudhankar, CEO of Bhatia Hospital. He said no patient has been turned away. They are accepting payments through other means, including cheques, although three cheques have bounced.

(Saha is an MA Gender and Development student at Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. Yadavar is principal correspondent with IndiaSpend.)

(Indiaspend.com is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit.)

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 14:42 IST

Bill to ban commercial surrogacy introduced in Lok Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a move to ban commercial surrogacy, a bill was on Monday introduced in the Lok Sabha which also seeks to protect women from exploitation and ensure the rights of the child born through surrogacy.The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 was introduced by Health Minister JP Nadda amid noisy opposition protest over the government’s demonetization move.Once approved by Parliament, there will be a complete ban on commercial surrogacy, but altruistic surrogacy will be permitted for needy infertile couples under strict regulations.The bill entitles only Indian citizens to avail of surrogacy. But foreigners, NRIs and PIOs are not allowed to seek surrogacy in the country.Homosexuals, single parents, and live-in couples are also not entitled for surrogacy. Also couples who already have children will not be allowed to go in for surrogacy, though they would be free to adopt a child under a separate law.With no law governing surrogacy, India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries. There have been incidents concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers and abandonment of children born out of surrogacy.The bill allows surrogacy only for legally married couples after five years of marriage and with a certificate from a doctor stating that they are medically unfit to produce a child. Women within the age group of 23 years to 50 years and men aged between 26 to 55 years will be eligible to go in for surrogacy.In an attempt to check commercial exploitation and middlemen, the surrogate mother can only be a close relative, like a sister or sister-in-law who is married and has at least one healthy biological child. A woman can be a surrogate only once in her lifetime.

Menopausal hormone therapy can improve bone health: Study

London: Women who undergo hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes can not only increase bone mass, but also can improve bone structure, according to a new study.

According to previous studies, menopausal hormone therapy can have positive impact on bone mineral density.

The new study showed that menopausal hormone therapy also can improve bone mass and structure and that the bone health benefits persist for at least two years after women stop treatment.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“When used specifically, in postmenopausal women younger than 60-years-old for whom the benefits outweigh risks, menopausal hormonal therapy is effective for both the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis,” said lead author Georgios Papadakis from the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland.

Osteoporosis is a progressive condition in which bones become structurally weak and are more likely to fracture or break. Menopause, which usually occurs when a woman is in her 40s or 50s, significantly speeds bone loss.

For the study, the team conducted a cross-sectional analysis on 1,279 women aged 50 to 80.

The researchers found higher trabecular bone scores — used to predict fracture risk in post-menopausal women — in those who used the therapy, compared to women who had never used it.

Past users of the therapy exhibited higher bone mass density and a trend for higher bone micro architecture values compared to women who had never used menopausal hormone therapy.

The findings can help optimise the use of menopausal hormone treatment in menopausal women at risk of osteoporosis, the researchers noted.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 22:50 IST

Cockroach found in meal served on Air India flight, airline’s probe on

Cockroach found in meal served on Air India flight, airline’s probe on

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New Delhi: A passenger travelling on an Air India flight to Chicago found a cockroach in the meal served onboard, prompting the airline to order a probe into the matter.

Taking a serious note of the incident, the carrier has also served notice to the caterer concerned.

The incident happened in the Chicago-bound flight from Hyderabad via New Delhi.

A passenger tweeted about it along with a picture of the meals having a dead cockroach, following which Air India apologised for the inconvenience.

When contacted, the airline’s senior manager for corporate communications Dhananjay Kumar said, “Air India took serious note of the incident and issued notice to the caterer concerned immediately. Further investigation is going on.”

Earlier in the day, one Rahul Raghuvanshi tweeted the photo and said, “@airindiain now serves cockroach for vegetarian meals on AI127 #sicktomystomach #traumatised #cockroachinfood”.

In response, Air India tendered apologies for any inconvenience caused. “We have a zero tolerance policy in this respect. Obligatory action is taking place,” the airline said in a tweet.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 23:53 IST

Winter Session of Parliament: Surrogacy regulation and GST related bills to be introduced

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as nine new bills, including three related to GST, and surrogacy regulation will be introduced in Parliament in upcoming Winter Session.The three GST related bills are — Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, Goods and Services Tax (Compensation for Loss of Revenue) Bill will be introduced in the session.Winter Session of Parliament will begin from November 16. Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill will be introduced to constitute national surrogacy board, state surrogacy boards and appointment of appropriate authorities for regulation of the practice and process of surrogacy and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.Besides these, six other bills will be introduced including IIM bill to confer Indian Institutes of Managements (IIM) statutory status and the competence to award degrees. While HIV AIDS Prevention and Control bill, Mental Health Care bill, Maternity Benefit Amendment bill, Prevention of Corruption (amendment) bill and Consumer Protection bill will be taken up for consideration and passing as these bills have already been introduced in the Parliament.Mental Health Care bill, Maternity Benefit Amendment bill were passed by Rajya Sabha and are pending in Lok Sabha.While, Consumer Protection bill, and HIV, AIDS Prevention and Control bill were referred to the standing committees and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) bill was referred to the select committee, according to Lok Sabha bulletin.

Delhi pollution: India could learn from London’s Great Smog of 1952, Clean Air Act

They say when the English have nothing to say they talk of the weather. We wonder, however, it would be just a small talk should UK Prime Minister Theresa May, whose three-day visit to India concludes on Wednesday, happen to mention New Delhi’s smoke situation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Smog City, as the National Capital is now jokingly referred to by Delhiites has much in common with May’s London. It was hit with similar smog in 1952. Though one may refute the similarities between the Smog situation in New Delhi with the Great Smog that hit London over five days between 5 December 1952 to 9 December 1952, that killed thousands because of health issues that emerged out of it, those who have been to New Delhi may argue that it couldn’t get any worse.

Even then it would be wiser that Ne w Delhi takes a few lessons from London’s Great Smog on how to prevent it from happening again in New Delhi.

Delhi-smog-Reuters

A valuable approach in that direction may be the Clean Air Act 1956 that the Ministry of Health in the UK put to effect to prevent a 1952-like situation in the future. Here’s what New Delhi may learn:

• Though the same exact rules may not be practical for New Delhi, especially since the cause of the problem is different, an act that aptly identifies the source of pollutants and offers measures to reduce them could be a right place to start with to prevent the situation from arising in the future.

• A key element of Clean Air Act was setting up stringent rules on industries as another source of pollution in and around London to ensure their presence doesn’t add to the smoke situation. For New Delhi, it would be fruitful to identify sources that contribute to a large amount of pollution.

• Apart from identifying the source, the act also offered solutions that could be implemented in London, such as setting up a technical guideline on height of chimneys, standardising acceptable level of grit and dust emitted from chimneys and measuring it, fuel to be consumed, etc, gave the public some direction on what was allowed and what wasn’t. The New Delhi government could collaborate with environmental and pollution experts to identify measures that can be taken to curb the release of pollutants into the air.

• One of the main issues that have emerged as the chief reason behind the sudden smoke situation in New Delhi (and historically too) is that bulk of New Delhi’s pollution emerges outside the capital. This year too, it was the burning of crops in states surrounding New Delhi. Perhaps, the New Delhi government could work on an arrangement with the neighbouring states to dispose of the agricultural waste in an eco-friendly way either by helping the surrounding states with technical know-how or funds to promote green methods in waste disposal.

As a New York Times story stated on 2 November, “Farmers 100 miles north in Punjab were well aware that they were contaminating the capital’s air… and were willing to consider other ways to dispose of the excess straw, but could not afford the options offered by the government.”

• But even then the crop burning in states surrounding New Delhi was responsible only for the one-quarter of the pollution, a majority of it is likely to have emerged from inside New Delhi including festivals like Diwali and Dussehra, which also contributed to the recent smog situation in New Delhi. In fact, according to an NDTV report, “data from the central pollution monitoring agency showed that concentrations of Particulate Matter or PM 10 (coarser pollutants) was over 1,600 micrograms per cubic metre compared to a safe level of 100 at around 2 am in Delhi’s Anand Vihar, on the night of Diwali. Whereas, PM 2.5, a standard measure of air quality, was as much as 14 times the safe limit.” This is despite the fact several citizens claimed that the bursting of crackers wasn’t as high as last year.

Not everyone like firecrackers and a lot of Delhiites would be willing to give up firecrackers to breathe clean air. The Delhi government could implement a fee on those who want to light firecrackers to discourage bursting firecrackers.

• The Clean Air Act 1956 also clarified as to who will be held responsible if any of the rules, say, if building chimneys produced dark smoke, but with valid defences to prevent misuse of the law against citizens. And that’s why intent became an important part in the decision-making of whether or not an offence was committed. Taking this as an example, perhaps the state government could come up with rules that while limiting the amount of smoke created both inside New Delhi and in the surrounding areas, it also offers adequate defences to prevent its misuse.

• The Clean Air Act also sets fines that can be imposed on people who break the rules be it individual offenders or states and their regional bodies surrounding New Delhi. But that would depend a lot on how strongly will New Delhi be able to stress its right for clean air, and not get trapped in party politics.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 banned: JP Nadda directs govt hospitals to comply with 72-hr relaxation

New Delhi: Shortly after the Prime Minister announced demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on Tuesday night, Union Health Minister JP Nadda instructed all Central government hospitals and pharmacies to adhere to the 72-hour guideline of accepting the old notes for the convenience of patients.

Modi said that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will be valid for transactions related to booking of air and railway tickets, and at government bus ticket counters and hospitals till the midnight of 11 and 12 November.

“@MoHFW_INDIA issuing instructions to all Central govt hospitals & #AMRIT pharmacies to comply with 72hr guidelines . #IndiaFightsCorruption.,” Nadda tweeted.

Taking the nation by surprise, the Prime Minister on Friday announced demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes with effect from midnight, making these notes invalid in a major assault on black money, fake currency and corruption.

In a televised address to the nation, Modi said people holding notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 could deposit the same in their bank and post office accounts from 10 November till 30 December.

Nadda termed the announcement as “historic” and said it would have a positive impact on India.

“Historic & transformational announcements by PM Shri @narendramodi which will have a very positive impact on India. #IndiaFightsCorruption “There can’t be any scope or space for corruption & Hawala in our nation. PM has rightly ensured corruption & black money should be destroyed.

“There can’t be any scope or space for corruption & Hawala in our nation. PM has rightly ensured corruption & black money should be destroyed.

“The menace of black money slowed India’s development. Now the development will pick pace & touch more lives. #IndiaFightsCorruption,” Nadda said in a series of tweets.Modi during the announcement said that all notes in lower

Modi during the announcement said that all notes in lower denomination of Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20, Rs 10, Rs 5, Rs 2 and Re 1 and all coins would continue to be valid.

He also announced that new notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 will be introduced.

ATM withdrawals will be restricted to Rs 2,000 per day and withdrawals from bank accounts will be limited to Rs 10,000 a day and Rs 20,000 a week.

How much lead have you inhaled from your wall paint?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), in its recent notification, has prohibited manufacture, trade, import as well as export of household and decorative paints containing lead or lead compounds in excess of 90 parts per million (ppm).Activists, who have been highlighting the dangers of lead in paints used in households, have welcomed the new mandatory ‘Regulation of Lead Contents in Household and Decorative Paints Rules, 2016’ that was notified by the MOEFCC on November 1.They also claimed that lead paints were a significant cause of lead exposure especially in children, and the new regulation will help in safeguarding the health of vulnerable children and mothers.Satish Sinha, Associate Director, Toxics Link, which had identified lead in paints as a very critical issue of toxicity in 2006, and published research papers, shared that this was an extremely progressive standard, enabling manufacturers to make the shift from lead to no-lead paint possible.”While our campaign resulted in larger paint companies removing lead from paints by 2014, a study conducted by Toxics Link in 2015 indicated that even today, paints manufactured by small and medium-sized enterprises had high lead levels, way above the prescribed limit of 90 ppm by the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS),” said Sinha.According to World Health Organisation (WHO), lead exposure is estimated to account for 6,74,000 deaths per year, with the highest burden in low and middle-income countries, and globally, lead in paint has been disallowed in Europe and the US for several decades, while it is still used in many developing countries.Scientific evidences have also established that children and pregnant women are most vulnerable as low levels of lead in the bloodstream can also be harmful. Lead exposure has significant effects on the nervous system, the potential to cause brain damage and even death.”For decades the paint industry has been ignoring the irreversible impacts of lead on the health of children. Finally, India joins the world in making it mandatory for paint companies, and products which use them, to comply with global practices of lead-free paints,” said Ravi Agarwal, Director, Toxics Link.Now, decorative and household paints manufacturers have to label their paints, stating that the lead contents do not exceed 90 ppm, and the label should contain the name and address of the manufacturer or importer and date of import.Meanwhile, every manufacturer or importer shall subject its product for testing of lead content every year before selling its product in the market

Delhi becomes the most polluted city on Earth

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>New Delhi is the most polluted city on Earth right now, and parts of the city has pollution levels almost five times those considered “unhealthy” by the US environment protection agency AirNow, reported CNN.The US Embassy in Delhi placed the capital’s Air Quality Index (AQI) at 999 on Monday which is much higher than the “hazardous” level that is set at 500. To gain some perspective on this, Baoding, China’s most polluted city was at 298 on Monday. The World Air Quality Index recorded the quality level at Chandrapur to be 824, making it the second most polluted city following the capital.Research released earlier this year found that air quality levels exceed World Health Organization’s guidelines for 80% of those living in urban areas around the world. With increased awareness and warnings from the government, shops in one of Delhi’s trendiest areas-Khan market that were selling specialised anti-pollution masks, saw a rise in business as people lined up to buy protection against the smog.The government released an emergency ruling asking schools to be shut and construction work to be halted for three days. Officials stated that the number of vehicles allowed on the street may be curbed if the situation does not abate.

Civil society cries against tobacco industry lobbying

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the seventh round of international anti-tobacco negotiations kicking off on Monday, upto 115 civil society organisations have written to governments party to World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) to act against tobacco industry interference.The letter is addressed to the Famework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) secretariat Dr Vera Luiza Da Costa De Silva, Union Health Minister, JP Nadda and Director of National Tobacco Control Programme, Amal Pusp.The letter states, “As civil society organisations concerned with public health, we write to express our concern over tobacco industry interference in the meetings of the World Health Organisation (WHO) FCTC and its subsidiary bodies. In advance of WHO FCTC in Greater Noida, we urge the Parties to the treaty to commit to adopting a comprehensive policy that would protect the countries from interference by the tobacco industry.”The industry has also been aggressive about infiltrating FCTC meetings by manipulating the public badge process. This is why Parties unanimously decided to remove those with public badges from the negotiation spaces during the final round of Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (ITP) discussions in previous negotiations.”This infiltration and manipulation of Conference of the Parties (COP) procedures is occurring despite the fact that FCTC has an article dedicated to preventing just such actions. FCTC Article 5.3 acknowledges the fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health. The Parties to the treaty have even unanimously adopted guidelines, which oblige parties to not nominate any person employed by the tobacco industry or any entity working to further its interests to serve on delegations in COP meetings, its subsidiary bodies or any other bodies established pursuant to decisions of the COP,” said Bobby Ramakant, member of Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT).The letter further states, “Big Tobacco’s primary business strategy is resulting in the exportation of the epidemic from the highest-income to the lowest-income countries, where 80 per cent of the world’s smokers now live. Evidence is mounting that tobacco industry representatives are increasingly infiltrating the negotiations through both Party delegations and by posing as members of the public, all with the intent of undermining the critical public health outcomes of these meetings.”Recently, a British American Tobacco (BAT) employee-turned-whistleblower confirmed that BAT bribed FCTC officials from Rwanda, Burundi, and Comoros. Most alarmingly, in 2012, BAT bribed Ministry of Health and FCTC official from Burundi to support BAT’s positions at the final negotiation round of the ITP, one of the most important subsidiary bodies of the COP.Also, Philip Morris International lost a six year battle against Uruguay over the country’s implementation of tobacco control laws that prioritized public health. Australia won a landmark case against the tobacco industry over plain packaging.In the end, the letter states, “With COP7 taking place in India we condemn the tobacco industry’s efforts to infiltrate the COP process and we call on our leaders to prevent this. It is clear that the era of Big Tobacco dictating public health policies and bullying countries to bend to its will is coming to an end.”

Delhi pollution: Dy CM Sisodia accuses schools of doing politics over govt’s order

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday accused schools of doing politics over Delhi government’s order to shut them for three days in the wake of alarming levels of pollution and said it has been decided to ensure good health of children.”Schools have been shut due to alarming situation of pollution in Delhi. Some schools are doing politics over it. This decision is in favour of students. Private schools are directed to follow it and not play with the health of children,” he said in a series of tweets.As pollution levels worsened in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today called an emergency cabinet meeting and announced that schools in the city will remain closed till Wednesday. He also announced a raft of “emergency” measures to deal with the situation including ban on construction and demolition activities for next five days and temporary closure of Badarpur Power Plant.While few private schools welcomed the move, there were few who raised concerns about the syllabus of students suffering due to unexpected holidays.”Government cannot order shutting of schools like this. Health is important but we need to focus on finishing syllabus also. Our schools will remain open,” said R C Jain, head of Delhi State Public Schools’ Management Association.While all MCD schools were closed on Friday in wake of the pollution, few schools had declared holiday till Monday and others suspended their morning assemblies or delayed the school timings.

India to host maiden global tobacco control conference

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is set to host the crucial global tobacco control conference on Monday for the first time, where it will push for incorporating smokeless tobacco as an agenda amid a presence of delegates from about 180 countries.The Seventh Session of the Conference of Parties (COP7) to World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to be held from November 7 to 12 at Greater Noida. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will be the special invited speaker at the conference, which will be inaugurated by Union Health Minister J P Nadda, Health Ministry officials said. Noting that there is a large number of people in India who are increasingly opting for smokeless form of tobacco, they said the country’s effort will be to put it on the agenda of FCTC.India has already implemented 85 % pictorial warning on tobacco products, but the issue of plain packaging, that refers to packaging that requires the removal of all branding “will still be on the mind” during the deliberations at the conference, they added. About 1,500 delegates are expected to participate in the conference from around 180 countries along with other observers in official relations with the WHO FCTC Secretariat in Geneva. India has provided a leadership role in the negotiations of FCTC and has also served as the regional coordinator for the South-East Asia Region. India ratified the treaty on February 27, 2005 and is obligated to comply with the treaty provisions and its guidelines to reduce tobacco consumption globally.It is the first occasion that a COP meeting is being held in India and signals a strong commitment of the government to increase international co-operation and awareness of the WHO FCTC globally and especially in the WHO South-East Asia Region, the Health Ministry said. The WHO FCTC is the first global evidence-based public health treaty that recognises the right of all people to the highest standard of health. The treaty was developed by countries in response to the globalisation of the tobacco epidemic. There are at present 180 parties to the Convention.

Delhi pollution: Centre says it is an ’emergency situation’; Kejriwal seeks Modi govt’s intervention

New Delhi: Delhi is witnessing an “emergency situation” due to alarming pollution level, the Centre said on Saturday and called a meeting of Environment Ministers of all neighbouring states on Monday to curb stubble burning by farmers which has made Delhi a “gas chamber”.

As a blanket of haze continued to cover the city with pollution level remaining very high and breaching the safe limit by over 17 times at several places, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met Environment Minister Anil Dave and sought Centre’s urgent intervention to deal with the challenge.

Kejriwal likened the city to a “gas chamber” with main reason being smoke from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana and appealed to people to minimise use of vehicles.

After the meeting, Dave said he has called a meeting of Environment Ministers of all neighbouring states on Monday and will request them to curb stubble burning in their states as it increases level of smog in Delhi.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“There is an emergency situation in Delhi. The situation is bad, particularly for children, patients, women and elderly. We need to take immediate steps to deal with the situation,” Dave told reporters, adding he was also exploring the possbility to call a meeting of chief ministers of all neighbouring states on the issue.

On his part, Kejriwal appealed to people to restrict use of private vehicles and use public transport.

Earlier, addressing a press conference, Kejriwal said vehicle restriction measures like odd-even will not be able to bring down smog as initial studies suggest that the “large scale” influx of pollutant-laden smoke from Punjab and Haryana has aggravated the situation.

“Pollution has increased to an extent that outdoors in Delhi are resembling a gas chamber. Prima facie the biggest reason seems to be burning of stubble in agricultural fields in Haryana and Punjab in huge quantity,” he said.

Dave said the situation has been “very alarming” and that there was a need to take short-term measures to deal with the situation immediately, adding he discussed with Kejriwal “emergency measures” including ways to contain dust pollution and crop burning.

“There are five reasons triggering air pollution that include use of firewood, coal, diesel, petrol and burning of agricultural waste. We have to find solution to address the problem.

“We should imbibe self discipline in our routine life style. If I don’t minimize use of my four cars and expect other people to use cycles, that should not be happen. We should collectively come under self-regulation,” he said.

Both Dave and Kejriwal were in agreement that shutting down schools was not the solution when asked about the decision of the civic bodies to keep schools run by it closed for a day in view of pollution.

Kejriwal pitched for providing alternatives and incentives to farmers so that they discard the traditional practise of burning farm stubbles.

Dave said due to high levels of PM 10 and PM 2.5, the situation has been bad through the year in Delhi, but this time round, factors like crop burning and fire crackers are responsible for the deteriorating air quality.

“There is no one particular reason behind alarming air pollution in Delhi. We need to collectively address all issues and improve air quality. We should not indulge in political blame game,” the Environment Minister said.

Asked whether the Centre would issue a health advisory, Dave said people are already aware of the situation adding that if there was a need, one will be issued after consultation with the Health Ministry.

Kejriwal said the Delhi government has very few options at its disposal and the Centre needs to intervene.

“The Centre can sit with the Chief Minister of these states and chalk out a solution. Few reports have put the volume of stubble being burned at around 16-20 million tonnes.

“Fireworks during Diwali marginally added to the pollution. But other things inside Delhi did not drastically change. So the smog is mainly due to smoke from farm fires,” he observed.

Kejriwal identified the main sources of pollution inside Delhi as vehicles, dust and waste burning, which he said could not be responsible for the pall of smog across the city.

“I saw smoke across Punjab, Haryana during my visits. We need Centre’s help. We are hiring an agency in a week or two to study the sources of pollution in Delhi afresh. The Centre needs to intervene,” he said.

Amid ongoing tension, Pakistan to skip anti-tobacco meet in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan on Friday announced that it will skip an international anti-tobacco conference in India next week amidst “ongoing tensions” between the two nations. Delegates from about 180 countries are expected to attend the biennial conference of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in India from November 7 to 12.Pakistan’s State Minister of Health Sciences Regulation and Coordination, Saira Afzal Tarar, said that Pakistan cannot attend the conference. “It is an important meeting on tobacco. As far as Pakistan’s participation is concerned, it is not feasible due to ongoing tensions,” she said.Today’s development came following a spat between the two countries after a staff member of Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi was detained by police for questioning over espionage charges. The tension intensified after tit-for-tat naming of diplomatic staff for alleged spy work by both sides. The latest incident further increased the tension that started with a militant attack on an Indian army camp in Uri in September.

Election Commission issues notice to 27 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit

New Delhi: In fresh trouble for ruling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, the Election Commission on Wednesday issued show cause notice to its 27 MLAs on a fresh petition seeking their disqualification for allegedly holding office of profit.

Representational image. Image courtesy: IBNLive

Representational image. Image courtesy: IBNLive

The petition filed in June, and forwarded to the Commission by Rashtrapati Bhawan last month, had sought cancellation of membership of 27 AAP MLAs over the office of profit issue.

The 27 MLAs include seven legislators against whom the EC is already considering a similar plea for holding the office of parliamentary secretaries.

The list also includes Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel, his deputy Rakhi Birla, former deputy speaker Bandana Kumari and estranged AAP MLA and Swaraj Abhiyan leader Pankaj Pushkar.

Sources in the Commission confirmed that notices have been issued. The MLAs have been asked to file their responses by 11 November.

The petitioner has claimed that these MLAs hold posts of chairpersons of Rogi Kalyan Samitis (RKSs) of different government hospitals in Delhi without any sanctity of law.

“The Delhi government in 2009 through its executive/standing orders approved constituting Rogi Kalyan Samitis in all the hospitals with governing body under the chairmanship of local MLA in violating the mandate of scheme

“The order of appointing MLAs either by the present government or by the earlier government, as chairperson of the Rogi Kalyan Samiti is wholly illegal and void ab initio, without any legal sanctity,” the complaint had said.

Sources in the Delhi government said Rogi Kalyan Samitis were set up by the Sheila Dikshit Cabinet on 5 October, 2009 and the complaint will fall flat in due course of time.

In July 2014, the then Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had in Parliament said that MPs/ MLAs will be the chairpersons of the committees.

The National Rural Health Mission website clearly states that an MP/ MLA can become a chairman/ member, the Delhi government sources said.

SC to hear PIL for making ‘Yoga’ compulsory for students

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court would next week hear a plea seeking framing of a ‘National Yoga Policy’ and making ‘Yoga’ compulsory for students of Class I-VIII across the country.A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao has agreed to hear on November 7 the PIL that seeks inclusion of Yoga as a compulsory subject in the curriculum on grounds including that its “secular” and right to health was an integral part of right to life. The plea, filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a lawyer and Delhi BJP spokesperson, has sought a direction to the Ministry of Human Resources Development, NCERT, NCTE and the CBSE to “provide standard textbooks of ‘Yoga and Health Education’ for students of Class I-VIII keeping in spirit various fundamental rights such as right to life, education and equality.”‘Right to Health’ is an integral part of Right to Life under the Article 21. It includes protection, prevention and cure of the health and is a minimum requirement to enable a person to live with human dignity.”State has a obligation to provide health facilities to all the citizens, especially to children and adolescents. In a Welfare State, it is obligation of the State to ensure the creation and sustaining of conditions congenial to good health,” the plea said. It said that right to health cannot be secured without providing ‘Yoga and Health Education’ to all children or framing a ‘National Yoga Policy’ to promote and propagate it.”There are about 20 crore children, throughout the country, studying in primary and junior classes at the cost of public exchequer. Yoga should be taught to them as a compulsory subject as per National Curriculum Framework 2005, notified under Section 7(6) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009…”, it said.It also sought a direction to the Ministries of Women and Child Development and Social Justice and Empowerment to declare ‘First Sunday’ of every month as ‘Health Day’ on the lines of ‘Polio Day’ to make the people aware about health- hazards and health-hygiene.” The plea also said that a court at California had held that “yoga is secular”.

Day after Diwali, Delhi reels under blanket of smog

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A thick blanket of smog engulfed the national capital a day after Diwali festivities, leading to poor visibility conditions across the city. The weather office reported shallow to moderate levels of fog in many parts of the city. Safdarjung observatory recorded visibility at 200 metres. The formation of smog — the combination of smoke and fog — can be attributed to Sunday night’s incessant fireworks during the festivities. The minimum temperature was recorded at 15.5 degrees Celsius, normal for this time of the year, while the maximum is likely to be around 31 degrees Celsius. Air quality at 500 micrograms per cubic metre (severe) around Lodhi Road on Sunday morning. Earlier in the day, five vehicles collided due to the smog at DND flyover. No one was injured.Satyendra Jain, Delhi Health Minister, told ANI that pollution levels were high in several cities and said, “Thank you to the people of Delhi, who burst lesser crackers this time.”The sky will be clear in the later part of the day, an official said. Humidity was recorded on the higher end of the scale at 94% at 8:30 AM. On Sunday, the maximum and minimum temperatures were 31.7 and 15 degrees Celsius respectively. Air quality had plunged to ‘severe’ category, which carries the risk of affecting people’s respiratory system, on Sunday as smoke caused by fireworks, as part of Diwali festivities, blanketed the national capital.The Centre’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded the level of respirable pollutants, PM 2.5 and PM 10, at 283 and 517 micrograms per cubic metre respectively around 8 PM, violating the safe limits by multiple times. The prescribed standards of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 respectively, and anything beyond that can harm the respiratory system as the ultra fine particulates can embed deep into the lungs and also enter the bloodstream.

Sushil Modi should maintain his dignity: JD-U leader on BJP leader’s comments on Tejashwi Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Ajay Alok on Wednesday said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushil Kumar Modi should maintain his dignity. “Everyone should be careful with their language, especially the elders who are full of experience. If they will not mind their language, then what will the younger generation learn? Sushil Modiji should mind his dignity,? Alok told ANI when asked about the ongoing war of words between Bihar Health Minister Tej Pratap Yadav and BJP leader Sushil Modi.The verbals started after Modi commented on Tejashwi Yadav reportedly receiving 44, 000 marriage proposals on Whatsapp, when his elder brother, Tej Pratap Yadav, is still unmarried. Tej Pratap Yadav, crossing all lines of civility, responded by saying that, “He (Sushil) should not be concerned about Tejashwi’s marriage, but should worry about his own son’s marriage and went on to say that the latter’s son is impotent.”

Most of AAP Cabinet out of Delhi when city was reeling under dengue, chikungunya: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Congress has accused AAP government ministers of “squandering” public money on foreign trips at a time the city was reeling under dengue and chikungunya. AAP government ministers made “10 foreign trips in the last 18 months” with Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Health minister Satyendra Jain making the most of the journeys abroad, Delhi Congress chief spokesperson Sharmishtha Mukherjee said, citing an RTI reply her party obtained.”Sisodia travelled abroad six times in the past 18 months and he has incurred an expenditure of Rs 30,73,450 on just three foreign trips– Rs 10 lakh per trip. His expenditure for travels to Athens and Finland have not been furnished, and only partial expenditure has been given for his trip to Sao Paulo,” she said.”Health Minister Satyendra Jain made three foreign trips in one year, incurring an expenditure of Rs 18 lakh Rs 6 lakh per trip,” she said reading from the RTI reply.”Not only the CM and Deputy CM, but most of the AAP Cabinet ministers were out of Delhi at a time of Dengue and Chikungunya spate leaving the people to fend for themselves,” she said.Congress has extended its ‘Vasooli Diwas’ signature campaign– under which it seeks recovery of the money of Delhi tax payers from the ruling AAP for publishing advertisements– till October 28, she added.

Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid detained

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid was detained along with several of his supporters after he tried to stage a demonstration outside Civil Secretariat, the seat of Jammu and Kashmir government against the termination of 12 government employees last week. Rashid and his supporters assembled at Jehangir Chowk this morning and started marching towards the nearby Secretariat building but was stopped by police, officials said. The legislator tried to march ahead but was detained along with over a dozen supporters, they said. On October 20, Jammu and Kashmir government announced termination of services of 12 employees for allegedly indulging in anti-national activities after dossiers were prepared against them. The employees, who were dismissed from government service, belong to various departments including Revenue, Public Health Engineering, Rural Development and Education, a senior government official had said.Rashid denounced the government action and announced a sit-in outside civil secretariat to press for his demand for reinstating the terminated employees.

Bihar deputy CM Tejaswi Yadav receives 44,000 Whatsapp proposals, wants arranged marriage instead

Patna: The 26-year-old, Tejaswi Yadav, who has become Bihar’s most eligible bachelor after receiving 44,000 marriage proposals on WhatsApp, has said he will marry the girl of parents’ choice.

“I will marry as per the wishes of my parents and the girl they select for me. I will simply prefer an arranged marriage decided by my parents,” Tejaswi said.

Tejaswi Yadav with his father Lalu Prasad Yadav. Getty ImagesTejaswi Yadav with his father Lalu Prasad Yadav. Getty Images

Tejaswi Yadav with his father Lalu Prasad Yadav. Getty Images

Tejaswi told IANS, his parents, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, would decide his marriage just like they decided his political career.

Mere mata-pita ki pasand hi meri bhi pasand hogi (My parents’ choice will be my choice, too),” he said.

With this statement, Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister put an end to speculation and breaking many hearts, a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader close to him said.

Incidentally, all his seven sisters had arranged marriages.

Tejaswi received the marriage proposals on the WhatsApp contact number which he had provided for complaints over bad roads.

According to an official of road construction department, “Out of 47,000 messages received on the number, nearly 44,000 were personal messages proposing marriage to Tejaswi. Only 3,000 messages were related to road repair.”

He also said that most of the girls provided personal information, including figure statistics, skin colour and height to the young politician, who is also the Public Welfare Department minister.

The cricketer-turned-politician, who is also tech-savvy received the messages from “the young women who mistook the number provided by the ministry as his personal contact,” the official added.

Tejaswi joked that such personal messages could have landed him into deep trouble had he been married.

“Thank God, I am still single,” he said.

Tejaswi and his elder brother, Tej Pratap Yadav, who is also the Health Minister, are among the top most sought after bachelors in Bihar.

Alarmed Centre seeks bird flu report from states

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Against the backdrop of Avian Influenza H5N1 (bird flu) outbreak in the national capital, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has sought reports from all state Animal Husbandry departments regarding surveillance activities. The crisis comes a month after India declared itself free from bird flu.Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Union Health Ministry on Thursday also convened a meeting calling all State Animal Husbandry departments directing them to follow the precautions and guidelines issued by the Health Ministry.”We have always been advising the respective State departments to follow the precautionary measures even after India has declared itself free from Avian Influenza. We have been asking them to strengthen surveillance services. As the recent outbreak is in Delhi, we asked the Delhi government to test the dead animals to confirm the disease. We have found that it was H5N1,” said Dr Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services.”It is concerning, we have issued guidelines and directions that all the state animal husbandry departments that personnel who are handling the birds should take special precautions,”he said.The infected birds shed Avian Influenza virus in their saliva, mucous and faeces. “Direct or indirect exposure to infected live or dead poultry or contaminated environments, such as live bird markets, is the primary risk factor for getting the infection. Consumption of dishes made of raw, contaminated poultry blood can cause infection,” said Dr Prasad.Earlier in April, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture wrote to Chief Secretaries of all states and Union Territories that surveillance should be continued all across the country, no matter there were no outbreaks for sometime.”India has declared itself free from Avian Influenza (H5N1). It is, however, emphasised that the surveillance will need to be continued throughout the country especially in the vulnerable areas bordering infected countries and in areas visited by migratory birds. It is reiterated that the States should not be led into a state of complacency due to declaration of country freedom from Avian Influenza and must maintain their vigil against the disease,” a letter from the Agriculture Ministry stated.In India, Avian Influenza outbreak among poultry population and wild birds have been reported from February, 2006 onwards. So far 29 outbreaks have been notified by Department of Animal Husbandry Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.The last outbreak of Avian Influenza was reported in January, 2016 in Tripura. No human case or death due to Avian Influenza has been reported in India.Currently, the national capital has witnessed an outbreak where so far, 24 bird deaths have been reported from different places in the national capital. The Delhi government on Thursday shut down Deer Park because of five bird deaths. Over 12 deaths have been recorded in the Delhi Zoo due to which it closed.Surveillance Centre has sought reports from all the state Animal Husbandry Departments regarding bird flu situation
Animal Husbandry Department had earlier directed all states to carry on with surveillance even after India declared itself free from bird flu
Centre has asked the states to follow the guidelines issued by the health ministry
The last outbreak of Avian Influenza was reported in January, 2016 in Tripura.
India declared itself free from Bird flu in September

Hillary Clinton’s views on the right of women to an abortion find resonance in India

In her third and final debate with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has come out strongly in favour of women having the right to have abortions. She described this as being an ‘intimate and difficult’ decision often taken under ‘heartbreaking’ circumstances especially when it involved abortions being conducted after the first trimester.

Clinton minced no words on her stand. Maybe she adopted such a strong line because she was addressing one of her constituencies — the women of the United States — many of whom have been demanding being given greater autonomy and control over their bodies. But her words have found a resonance across the globe and definitely in the subcontinent.

Compare this with the way in which we treat our adolescents/women.

A 14- year old girl living in a village near Bareilly gets raped repeatedly while working as a domestic in the house of Asif, a resident of Bairamnagar. When the FIR is finally filed in the month of June, the girl is already into her 19th week of pregnancy. She appeals for a Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) before the additional chief judicial magistrate, but the appeal is turned down. By then, she is 26 weeks into her pregnancy.

File image of Hillary Clinton. AP

File image of Hillary Clinton. AP

The MTP Act states that abortion is permitted under 12 weeks of pregnancy and should not exceed 20 weeks unless the mother’s health is at risk. In between suggestions that the rape survivor marry her alleged rapist, the young girl and her family (the girl’s father is a construction worker) plead repeatedly that her pregnancy be terminated. This plea was turned down on 14 September by a medical panel led by the chief medical officer of Bareilly, Dr Vijay Yadav.

The girl went on this month to give birth to a baby boy and has now expressed a determination to bring up the child herself.

This is not the only case wherein an unfeeling medical system and an insensitive police forced a pregnant rape survivor to give birth to a child.

Bharti Ali, co-founder of HAQ which addresses the issue of human rights for children, feels there is a definitive need to amend the existing MTP Act which is already 45 years old, especially keeping in mind the situation of adolescent girls who themselves are victims of rape. “We have dealt with a similar case where another 14-year old became pregnant after being raped. She pleaded to be allowed to go in for an abortion but was not given permission by the Delhi High Court,” said Ali.

“In both these cases, a child is giving birth to another child. If the baby was taken away immediately and put into foster care or adopted, there would have been no emotional bonding between the mother and the child. Once that happens, it becomes difficult for the mother to let go of the baby. I believe in both these cases, we have destroyed the childhood of the two adolescent girls who have been left to their own devices to bring up their children under very adverse circumstances,” said Ali.

India has seen an exponential rise in rape incidents.

The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) has recorded an 873 percent increase in rape cases over the past five decades. Police officials warn that these statistics are only set to rise further. Nearly three lakh rape cases have been reported up to 2015. Statistics collected by the NCRB show the conviction rate of these rape cases remains at less than 25 percent. The NCRB data does not show how many of those raped were adolescent girls who became pregnant following this heinous crime, but there is no doubt that data needs to be collated in this area also.

Dr Ranjana Kumari, director of Institute of Social Research and a woman activist, points out that with very few convictions in cases of rape, the onus of bringing up the child (if the survivor gets pregnant) is on her and her family. “This is extremely unfortunate. The police and bureaucracy including doctors have no sympathy for the survivors. I have personally dealt with hundreds of rape survivors and the attitude of the medical fraternity and police is one of indifference and condescension. They believe that because these girls often come from a poor socio-economic strata, they invite this sexual attack on themselves which is not the case at all,” said Kumari.

India’s MTP Act was enacted two years before the US Supreme Court gave its famous judgement on the Roe versus Wade case, which held that laws that criminalise all abortions were unconstitutional and violated the right to privacy of a pregnant woman. During the presidential debate, Hillary Clinton came out to strongly support the Roe versus Wade judgment. When Chris Wallace (Fox News), moderator of the debate asked Trump whether he would want the courts to overturn the Roe versus Wade judgment, Trump emphasised that he would leave it to the states to put in place their own abortion policies.

Trump said, “That’ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this: It will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.”

We have destroyed the childhood of the two adolescent girls who have been left to their own devices to bring up their children under very adverse circumstances

Trump’s analogy of a baby being ripped out of the womb would hardly be expected to go down well with women.

Clinton however stated, “It isn’t only about Roe versus Wade. It’s about very stringent regulations on women that block them from exercising that choice, to the extent that they are defending Planned Parenthood. Donald has said he’s in favour of supporting shutting down Planned Parenthood.”

India’s Supreme Court is trying to adopt a more liberal state vis-à-vis rape survivors. Some months ago, they allowed a rape survivor to terminate a 24-week-old pregnancy. This time too, the rape survivor was referred to a medical board that found that the foetus had several congenital problems, which in turn, would affect the health of the concerned woman. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) has prepared some amendments to the current MTP Act.

One of these is to extend the time period within which the abortion can be carried out from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. It also permits abortions beyond the 24-week period in case the foetus is found to suffer from foetal abnormalities.

The MHFW is also willing to take cognisance of the status of single unmarried women who are sexually active. The amended act will allow these single women to go in for abortions within the stipulated time frame in case of contraceptive failure. But the amended act makes no reference to adolescent rape survivors who fall in a category by themselves. Many of these girls are illiterate and come from very poor homes. With these adolescents themselves being so vulnerable, they can hardly be expected to take on the onerous task of bringing up a child.

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Odisha SUM Hospital fire: India’s comatose health system is in desperate need of a lifeline

Odisha’s Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital mishap appears like a shrill alarm. The country’s comatose health system is in desperate need of a lifeline. The hospital accident should not be considered merely as another case of negligence in the long history of medical tragedies in India. Hospitals cannot be graveyards.

Is Right to Health the answer to all our ills? Will medical disasters end once every citizen enjoys healthcare as a fundamental right?

The NDA government has, in its draft National Health Policy 2015,  proposed a “National Health Rights Act, which will ensure health as a fundamental right, whose denial will be justifiable”. Undoubtedly, the merits of such a legislation cannot be denied. Countries like Brazil and Thailand got more teeth to implement universal healthcare due to the presence of such laws. We also have the success stories offered by our own Right to Education Act (2010) that has contributed substantially to the increasing literacy rates and making education more accessible and inclusive.

But the road to legislation still appears very long, and may not address all the challenges of the health system. The SUM Hospital tragedy has once again put the spotlight on the government’s commitment to healthcare.

Fire at the SUM Hospital. CNN-News18

Fire at the SUM Hospital. CNN-News18

India, according to the World Health Organisation, accounts for 21 percent of the world’s global burden of diseases. It witnesses the highest number of maternal, newborn and child deaths in the world. Nearly 36 percent Indians suffer from depression in a nation that has 0.47 psychologists per million people. For an Indian, the probability of dying, between ages 30 and 70, from four major non-communicable diseases (cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes) is close to 26 percent. One World Bank report (2010) even argues that we lose close to six percent of our GDP every year due to premature deaths and preventable illnesses.

The SUM Hospital fire has exposed the fragile health system of our country. Initial investigations have revealed that this super speciality hospital did not have a fire clearance certificate even though it has been operational for almost a decade. Its website claims that it provides “global standard health care services”, yet the 750-bed hospital did not have a functional sprinkler system to fight the fire. Its staff too was untrained to handle an emergency of that scale and magnitude.

A large number of hospitals across the country (several private and some government) lack functional sprinkler systems. For decades, we have been struggling with overcrowded, understaffed, poorly maintained and appallingly unhygienic government hospitals. Twin-sharing of beds is today an accepted norm in many government hospitals.

Since the early 1990s, the private sector has been touted as the only alternative to India’s healthcare crisis. But in the absence of a clear regulatory mechanism, the performance of private hospitals has been both terrible and terrifying. In 2011, nearly 90 people died in a huge fire in AMRI Hospital, a Kolkata private hospital. In June 2016, an inter-state kidney racket was busted in Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. In September 2016, a private hospital, along with two orthopaedics, was asked to pay Rs 25 lakh to a patient who had suffered 40 percent disability due to medical negligence.

A healthcare system is not just about accessing hospital care. It is also about identifying strategies to reach certain, definite health goals. These strategies may involve multiple services/activities ranging from prevention of diseases (immunisation campaigns), insecticide spraying against vector-borne diseases, printing horrific pictures on cigarette packets to deter smokers, ensuring safe abortions, keeping a check on drug pricing and to even distributing condoms. A health system has multiple stakeholders – policymakers, medical practitioners, health volunteers, industrialists, researchers, nurses, midwives, alternative medicine practitioners, and most importantly, patients.

In recent years, successive governments have demonstrated their inability to grasp the key challenges of the health sector – how to make healthcare universal, of better quality and thereby reduce inequality.

Since 2000, there is a growing concern about the government’s dwindling commitment in providing basic healthcare to its citizens. Take India’s expenditure on health. It is just four percent of GDP and public expenditure is only 1.2 percent of GDP. This implies that between 60-70 percent of the population’s medical needs are met by the private sector.

The proposed National Health Policy has made no radical shift in its budgetary allocations. The current government has proposed 2.5 percent of the GDP (WHO recommends 5 percent for a better health system) as a “realistic” figure to achieve health goals. This implies that even after 70 years of independence, tribal regions are likely to be neglected and basic immunisation services will continue to be inadequate for both urban and rural poor.

In its much-debated World Health Report 2000: Health Systems, Improving Performances, WHO ranked India as 112 out of 191 countries in health systems. France and Italy topped the list. A host of smaller countries – Ecuador, Syria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh –  fared better than India.

WHO has not conducted another such study but experts state that the ranking would not be dramatically different today as successive governments have failed in protecting citizens against the financial costs of illnesses. Indians today struggle with a huge “out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures” that does not even guarantee quality care. Even the National Health Policy 2015 admits that this expenditure is “catastrophic”, draining family incomes and neutralising the gains in income increases.

Unless the government considers its citizens’ health as a critical national asset, the health system will continue to remain unplugged.

The author is a senior journalist and teaches at the Apeejay Stya University, Gurugram, Haryana.

Tamil Nadu: One more held for ‘spreading rumours’ on Jayalalithaa’s health

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One more person was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly spreading rumours on Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s health on social media, taking the total number of those detained on similar charges to eight.”Sagayam Antony, a resident of Tuticorin District was spreading rumours, false information on social media on the health of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and he was arrested today (Wednesday),” a senior police official told PTI.The 33-year old man, a grocer, was brought here and produced before a court which remanded him to judicial custody.With this, the total number of persons arrested on the charge of spreading rumours about the health status of Jayalaithaa, undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospital here since September 22, has gone up to eight.Police have warned of stern action against those spreading rumours on the health of Jayalalitha and have registered around 50 cases so far in this connection.Those arrested so far include a bank clerk and a jewellery appraiser in Coimbatore on a complaint from an AIADMK functionary that they had made ridiculous, adverse remarks about Jayalalithaa’s health condition during banking hours.

Odisha fire: 4 hospital officials including Superintendent arrested, 100 patients shifted elsewhere

Bhubaneswar: Four officials, including the Superintendent, of a private hospital were arrested and four employees suspended on Tuesday, a day after a massive blaze there claimed 20 lives and left many injured.

Meanwhile, over 100 patients, mostly from the ravaged ICU and dialysis units were shifted elsewhere for treatment.

While 20 deaths were officially confirmed, authorities of different hospitals where the injured were shifted last night put the toll at 22 after the devastating fire broke out in the Sum Hospital.

The arrests were made shortly after Odisha government filed two FIRs alleging negligence in conduct and safety
against Sum Hospital.

Two separate FIRs were lodged by Joint Director of the Directorate of Medical Education and Training (DMET) Umakanta Satpathy and Fire Officer (Central Circle) B B Das with Khandagiri police station.

Those arrested were Superintendent of Sum Hospital, Pushpraj Samantsinghar, Electrical Maintenance Engineer Amulya Sahu, Fire Safety Officer Santosh Das and Junior Electrical Engineer Malay Sahu, Commissioner of Police Y B Khurania said.

Khurania said the four officials were arrested on the basis of preliminary inquiry report of the fire officer and the FIR filed by Fire Services department at Khandagiri police station where a case in this regard has been registered.

The four were booked under Sections 304 (culpahbel homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire and combustible materials) and 34 (common intent) of the IPC, the police Commissioner said.

Meanwhile, Director General of Fire Service, Binay Behera submitted a report to the state government on the fire that ravaged parts of the private hospital last night in which 20 people died and many were injured.

Behera in his report has mentioned that the fire safety norms as per the 2013 guidelines were not followed by the hospital authorities, an official said.

A senior police official said more arrests in the case cannot be ruled out.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Health and Family Welfare Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said the Joint Director of DMET also lodged FIR against the hospital for alleged violation of provisions under Odisha Clinic and Establishment Act, 1992.

DMET Prof P C Mohapatra, who has been leading an inquiry team, this afternoon visited the hospital and spoke to different people, including the staff. He said the guilty would definitely be punished.

“DMET had earlier issued guidelines to hospitals and clinical establishments across the state asking them to put in place fire safety measures. Licenses of those found flouting these guidelines will be cancelled,” he said.

The authorities of Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA) University, which runs the Institute of Medical Sciences and Sum Hospital, suspended four staff members and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the victims’ familes.

Those suspended were one fire officer, two engineers and one hospital manager, SOU vice-chancellor Amit Banerjee told reporters, rejecting allegations that there was any irregularity in the management of the hospital.

“We have suspended four officials as part of the hospital’s bid to maintain transparency. Tomorrow no one should accuse that evidence was tampered with.”

As many as 106 patients, who were shifted from Sum Hospital following the blaze last night, are now undergoing treatment at different hospitals in the city, Health Secretary Arti Ahuja said, amid reports that some of them are in critical condition.

Most of them were from the ICU and the dialysis unit, an official said.

Ahuja said the ICU and dialysis unit of the hospital have been sealed to ensure a proper investigation.

The blaze was suspected to have been triggered by an electric short circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor which spread to the nearby ICU.

Governor S C Jamir and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visited some of the hospitals, including AIIMS and AMRI Hospital here, to inquire about the condition of the patients undergoing treatment there.

The state government has already ordered a high-level probe by the Director, Medical Education and Training, into the incident.

In addition, a probe by the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) has also been ordered, an official said.

Health Secretary Ahuja, who visited the hospitals this morning, said that 14 and 5 bodies were received at the Capital Hospital and AMRI Hospital respectively, while a spokesman of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar said that one death was reported at their facility.

Most of the deaths in the four-storey hospital took place due to suffocation and asphyxiation, a senior official said, adding that the majority of those who died were at the ICU of Sum Hospital and were on ventilator support.

Some patients have also been shifted to the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack for treatment.

Health Minister Nayak said the priority was to provide proper treatment to the patients from the fire-hit hospital who have been shifted.

Meanwhile, opposition parties, including Congress and BJP held the state government and Sum Hospital authorities responsible for the fire tragedy.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Prasad Harichandan said the state government has not learnt anything from the AMRI hospital (Kolkata) fire accident of 2011 in which 89 people were killed.

“Besides the hospital authorities, I will say both Chief minister and Health minister are responsible for the tragedy. The state government must declare Rs 25 lakh compensation and a job to kin of each of the deceased,” Harichandan said.

Harichandan alleged that the mishap was caused due to total negligence by the state government.

“A judicial probe must be ordered into the incident and the culprits be booked,” he said.

CPI National Secretary D Raja, who visited several health institutions, where patients evacuated from Sum Hospital were undergoing treatment, said, “A neutral probe is required to find out the lapses in the fire safety management in the hospital. An amount of Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia is not adequate. Our party has demanded that the amount be increased to Rs 20 lakh.”

Supporters and activists of CPI(M) also staged a demonstration here demanding resignation of Nayak as the health minister.

BJP leader and Union Minister Jual Oram also blamed the state government and the hospital authorities for the tragedy.

A BJP delegation led by its senior leader Bijay Mohapatra visited the Sum Hospital fire site and other hospitals, where evacuated patients were being treated.

BJP state vice-president Pruthiwraj Harichandan said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was accountable for the non-performance of the health department. He also hit out at the state Health minister.

“The health minister should perform or step down,” he said.

Bhubaneswar fire: Four hospital staff suspended, victims’ kin blame admin

Bhubaneswar: Four staff members of a private medical hospital where a massive fire broke out killing
20 people were suspended on Tuesday even as over 100 patients, mostly from the gutted Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and dialysis unit, were shifted to other hospitals.

While 20 deaths were officially confirmed, authorities of different hospitals where the injured were shifted last night put the toll at 22.

As many as 106 patients, who were shifted from the private SUM Hospital following the blaze last night, are now undergoing treatment at different hospitals in Bhubaneswar, Health Secretary Arti Ahuja said, amid reports that some of them are in critical condition. Most of them were from the ICU and the dialysis unit, an official said.

Rescue work underway at the hospital in Bhubaneshwar. PTI

Rescue work underway at the hospital in Bhubaneshwar. PTI

Ahuja, who visited the hospital, said that 14 and five bodies were received at the Capital Hospital and AMRI Hospital respectively, while a spokesman of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar said that one death was reported at their facility.

Most of the deaths in the four-storey hospital took place due to suffocation and asphyxiation, a senior official said, adding that majority of the patients at the ICU were on ventilator support.

The authorities of the Siksha O Anusandhan University (SOU), which runs the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, suspended four of its staff members and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the victims’ families. Those suspended were one fire officer, two engineers and one hospital manager, SOU vice-chancellor Amit Banerjee told reporters, rejecting allegations that there was any irregularity in the management of the hospital.

“We have suspended four officials as part of the hospital’s bid to maintain transparency. Tomorrow no one
should accuse that evidence was tampered with,” he said.

Ahuja said the ICU and dialysis unit of the hospital have been sealed to ensure proper investigation. The blaze was suspected to have been triggered by an electric short-circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor which spread to the ICU. The fire rapidly spread to other areas on the same floor of the hospital building.

Some patients have also been shifted to the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack for treatment.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visited some of the hospitals, including AIIMS and AMRI Hospital, to inquire about the condition of the patients undergoing treatment.

State Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said the priority was to provide ‘proper’ treatment to the patients from the fire-hit hospital who have been shifted.

The state government has already ordered a high-level probe by the director, Medical Education and Training, into the incident. In addition, a probe by the revenue divisional commissioner (RDC) has also been ordered, an official said.

Rejecting allegation that the high casualty was due to wrong evacuation process, Banerjee said, “We have followed the best of the evacuation protocol. Had we not followed it the casualty would have been more.”

Banerjee claimed that the fire safety parameters were checked properly only three weeks ago and there was no lacuna on the part of the hospital authorities in the maintenance of the electrical equipment.

“There were nine to ten people under ventilator support,” he said, adding that most of the people died due to asphyxia.

Meanwhile, Baina Behera, a resident of Mangalpur village under Pipili police station area in Puri district, said he was really lucky to have escaped the thick smoke and fire that engulfed the hospital while about a dozen others waited till being evacuated.

“The fire broke out when I was undergoing dialysis. I asked the doctor to stop it. I broke the window pane and went down with the help of a water pipe. A technician also followed me and came down from the first floor dialysis unit by using the same water pipe,” Behera said.

Behera’s brother Babuli, who was also present at the dialysis unit during the fire mishap, jumped from the first floor and escaped.

The nurse at the dialysis unit, however, said she continued to remain till all the people were evacuated safely. “I along with other nurses at the nearby medicine ICU ensured that all the patients are shifted. It was smoke and fire everywhere,” the shocked nurse said, adding that she too required to overcome the trauma.

Badrinath Nanda, whose father (Pradumnya nanda-73) has been shifted to the Capital Hospital after the fire incident, said he was asked by the hospital staff to take away the patient. “How could I have taken my father out alone. My father has been suffering from paralysis. It took about one hour to shift my father,” he said.

Many complained that more patients would have survived had there been prompt and proper evacuation.

Tribeni Nayak (65), wife of Raghunath Nayak of Sastri Nagar in Ganjam district, was about to be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday. “We were supposed to take back her on Tuesday as her condition had improved. But, we are now told to take her body,” said one of her relatives.

Anil Patra of Khurda, whose mother Rajani Patra (46) died in the fire, blamed it on the mismanagement in evacuation. “The hospital staff and security personnel who were supposed to ensure a smooth evacuation had no coordination leading to a chaotic situation. This delayed the process. As a result, people died,” Anil said.

Odisha hospital fire: Centre continues efforts to provide aid to affected patients

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the deadly inferno at a hospital at Bhubaneshwar, Odisha claiming 19 lives and leaving scores injured, the Centre has extended all possible help including shifting out the patients to various hospital ensuring speedy recovery of the injured, said Union Health Minister JP Nadda. Speaking to ANI here, Nadda said that he was immediately called upon by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after tragedy struck at the ICU ward of the hospital, adding that the arrangements made for the patients was the top priority for the day. “We alerted the Bhubaneswar AIIMS and all doctors and specialists have arrived there. Thirty patients have come to AIIMS where we have provided facilities. Those who need to be shifted to AIIMS from the government?s Capital Hospital will be shifted,” he added. In Odisha, at least 19 patients were killed and more than 100 injured in a fire that broke out at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar yesterday evening. The blaze was suspected to have been triggered by an electric short circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor of the Sum hospital and spread to the nearby Intensive Care Unit (ICU). State government has formed a three member committee under a Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) to probe the mishap. State’s Health Minister Atanu S Nayak said, stringent action will be taken if the hospital authorities are found guilty of negligence. The fire rapidly spread to other areas on the same floor of the four-storey hospital building and most of the victims were in the first floor ICU of the ill-fated hospital. Doctors said, most of the deaths took place due to suffocation.Police and fire brigade personnel along with volunteers and hospital staff launched a massive rescue operation as more than 500 indoor patients were trapped in the building. At least 10 fire tenders were pressed into service to control the blaze and over a dozen ambulances deployed to shift the critical patients to other hospitals. State Chief Secretary Aditya Padhi said, the injured persons have been admitted to various hospitals including AIIMS Bhubaneswar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed deep anguish at the loss of lives in the massive blaze. In a series of tweets, he described the tragedy as mind-numbing and said his thoughts are with bereaved families. The Prime Minister spoke to Union Health Minister JP Nadda and asked him to facilitate transfer of all those injured to AIIMS in Bhubaneswar. He also spoke to Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and asked him to ensure all possible help to the injured and affected. The Prime Minister also spoke to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik about the tragedy and assured all possible help from the Centre. Nadda said, the Centre is providing all necessary support to the State government. Mr Nadda said, he has already spoken to the AIIMS in Bhubaneswar and asked it to provide all necessary help to the patients. He said that Union Health secretary CK Mishra has already spoken to Odisha Health department officials and is in constant touch with them. Patnaik expressed serious concern over the mishap and described it as very tragic. He directed the government hospitals to provide necessary treatment to patients shifted from Sum Hospital. Chief Minister also requested all private hospitals to extend treatment to the patients.

LIVE: After Bhubaneswar fire, hospital suspends three electricians, probe ordered

Oct 18, 2016

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A day after a major fire at a hospital in Bhubaneswar claimed 22 lives, ravaged areas of the medical facility were sealed on Tuesday ahead of a thorough probe as the state government geared up to ensure proper treatment of patients shifted elsewhere.

Health Secretary Arti Ahuja, who visited the private hospital this morning, said the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), dialysis and emergency units of the fire-hit medical facility have been sealed to ensure a proper investigation.

As many as 106 persons, who were shifted from SUM Hospital following the blaze, are now undergoing treatment at different hospitals in the city, she said. Some patients have also been shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack.

Bhubaneswar: Rescue work underway at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital in Bhubaneshwar. PTI

Bhubaneswar: Rescue work underway at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital in Bhubaneshwar. PTI

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visited some of the hospitals including AIIMS and AMRI Hospital to enquire about the condition of the patients from SUM Hospital undergoing treatment there.

State’s Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said the priority was to provide proper treatment to the patients from the fire-hit hospital who have been shifted to other medical facilities.

At the same time, steps are being initiated to conduct a thorough investigation into the fire that broke out last night, he said.

The state government has already ordered a high-level probe by the Director, Medical Education and Training, into the incident. In addition, a probe by the revenue divisional commissioner (RDC) has also been ordered, an official said.

Soon after the incident, the health minister had said last night that stringent action would be taken if the hospital authorities were found guilty of negligence.

While 22 persons died, several others were injured in the incident that broke out at a dialysis unit of the private hospital, in one of the worst such incidents involving a medical facility in Odisha.

So far, 20 of the deceased have been identified and their bodies handed over to their families for cremation, an official said.

Most of the victims were from the ICU of the SUM Hospital who were on ventilator support. Most of the deaths took place due to suffocation, he said.

The chief minister has directed the government hospitals to provide necessary treatment to patients shifted from SUM Hospital and requested all private hospitals to extend treatment to patients from ill-fated medical facility.

The blaze was suspected to have been triggered by an electric short-circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor of the private hospital which spread to the nearby ICU. The fire rapidly spread to other areas including the ICU on the same floor of the four-storeyed hospital building.

At least seven fire tenders took around three hours to control the blaze and over a dozen ambulances deployed to shift the critical patients to other hospitals.

With inputs from PTI

Odisha: Fire at Bhubaneswar’s Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital kills 19

Bhubaneswar: Odisha health authorities on Tuesday confirmed that the toll of a major fire at the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital in Bhubaneswar was 19.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

On Monday night, the state government announced that 22 persons were killed due to the fire that broke out in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the dialysis ward earlier in the evening.

“Fourteen persons were declared dead at the Capital Hospital and five succumbed to injuries at the AMRI Hospital. A total of 106 others were undergoing treatment for injuries,” said Health Secretary Arti Ahuja.

Ahuja on Tuesday morning visited the SUM hospital and inquired about the circumstances which led to the major blaze.

“Post-mortem of all the 19 persons has been completed. The doctors conducted the autopsy throughout the night. Vehicles were provided to family members of the deceased persons to take the bodies back home,” said Ahuja.

“The ICU, dialysis and emergency units have been sealed for investigation,” she added.

Fire service sources said the blaze originated around 7:30 pm apparently due to an electric short circuit.

Sum hospital fire: Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik orders inquiry, three-member committee formed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Odisha, at least 22 patients were killed and more than 100 injured in a fire that broke out at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar on Monday evening. The blaze was suspected to have been triggered by an electric short circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor of the Sum hospital and spread to the nearby Intensive Care Unit (ICU). State government has formed a three member committee under a Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) to probe the mishap. State’s Health Minister Atanu S Nayak said, stringent action will be taken if the hospital authorities are found guilty of negligence. The fire rapidly spread to other areas on the same floor of the four-storey hospital building and most of the victims were in the first floor ICU of the ill-fated hospital. Doctors said, most of the deaths took place due to suffocation. Police and fire brigade personnel along with volunteers and hospital staff launched a massive rescue operation as more than 500 indoor patients were trapped in the building. At least 10 fire tenders were pressed into service to control the blaze and over a dozen ambulances deployed to shift the critical patients to other hospitals. State Chief Secretary Aditya Padhi said, the injured persons have been admitted to various hospitals including AIIMS Bhubaneswar.Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed deep anguish at the loss of lives in the massive blaze. In a series of tweets, he described the tragedy as mind-numbing and said his thoughts are with bereaved families. The Prime Minister spoke to Union Health Minister JP Nadda and asked him to facilitate transfer of all those injured to AIIMS in Bhubaneswar.He also spoke to Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and asked him to ensure all possible help to the injured and affected. The Prime Minister also spoke to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik about the tragedy and assured all possible help from the Centre. Nadda said, the Centre is providing all necessary support to the State government. Mr Nadda said, he has already spoken to the AIIMS in Bhubaneswar and asked it to provide all necessary help to the patients.He said that Union Health secretary CK Mishra has already spoken to Odisha Health department officials and is in constant touch with them. Patnaik expressed serious concern over the mishap and described it as very tragic. He directed the government hospitals to provide necessary treatment to patients shifted from Sum Hospital. Chief Minister also requested all private hospitals to extend treatment to the patients.

At least 22 killed, 20 injured in major fire at hospital in Odisha; probe ordered

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 22 patients were killed and over 20 others injured in a fire that broke out at the Sum Hospital here this evening, in one of the worst such incidents involving a medical facility in Odisha.While 14 patients were received ‘brought dead’ at the Capital Hospital, eight were ‘brought dead’ to AMRI Hospital from the fire-struck private medical facility, officials said.The Capital Hospital Superintendent Dr Binod Kumar Mishra said, “We have received 14 dead bodies, while five other patients have been shifted from Sum Hospital.” Meanwhile, AMRI Hospital (Bhubaneswar) unit head Dr Salil Kumar Mohanty said, “A total of 37 patients were received at our casualty ward. Our doctors have declared eight persons as brought dead.””Most of the victims were in the first floor ICU of the ill-fated Sum Hospital,” a doctor at the Capital Hospital said.Voicing “serious” concern over the fire incident at the Sum Hospital, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik described the mishap as “very tragic”.He directed the government hospitals to provide necessary treatment to patients shifted from Sum Hospital and requested all private hospitals to extend treatment to the patients from ill-fated medical facility.The blaze was suspected to have been triggered by an electric short circuit in the dialysis ward on the first floor of the private hospital which spread to the nearby Intensive Care Unit (ICU).The fire rapidly spread to other areas on the same floor of the four-storeyed hospital building.The commissionerate of police and fire brigade personnel along with volunteers and hospital staff launched a massive rescue operation as more than 500 indoor patients were trapped in the building, hospital officials said.At least seven fire tenders were pressed into service to control the blaze and over a dozen ambulances deployed to shift the critical patients to other hospitals.Many patients were rescued by breaking window panes, an eyewitness said.Meanwhile, the state government has ordered a high-level probe by the Director, Medical Education and Training, into the incident. MORE PTI AAM SKN SUSState’s Health Minister Atanu S Nayak said stringent action will be taken if the hospital authorities were found guilty of negligence.Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) probe into the incident.Patnaik, who visited the Capital Hospital, where most of the injured were brought in, also inquired about their condition. He declared free treatment for the patients.All necessary support is being given to Odisha, says JP NaddaUnion Health Minister J P Nadda said the Centre is providing all necessary support to Odisha where at least 22 patients died and several were injured in a fire that broke out at the Sum Hospital in Bhubaneswar.Nadda said that he has already spoken to the AIIMS in Bhubaneswar and asked it to provide all necessary help to the patients.”Deeply saddened by the fire incident in Inst. of Medi Sciences & SUM hospital Bhubaneswar. My condolences rest with the bereaved families.”I have spoken to Director, AIIMS Bhubaneswar to provide all necessary support and help the patients in the best way possible,” Nadda tweeted after the incident.

Tamil Nadu: AIADMK, DMK come to blows over Jayalalithaa’s health

Coimbatore: An AIADMK councillor and DMK worker have been admitted to a hospital in Pollachi in the district after they came to blows following an altercation over the remarks on the health status of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, police said on Monday.

File photo of Jayalalithaa. AFP

File photo of Jayalalithaa. AFP

DMK local functionary Lingadurai reportedly made critical remarks about the health condition of Jayalalithaa in an inebriated condition last night. AIADMK Councillor James Raj, who was passing by, got angry over the remarks and entered into arguments leading to fisticuffs, police said.

Lingadurai got admitted to the Pollachi government hospital in the early hours of today, claiming assault by the councillor.

James also was admitted to the same hospital, complaining that Lingadurai had assaulted him, police said.

This comes after 20 cases have been registered against some people, including a DMK councillor in Pollachi, for allegedly spreading rumours on the health of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who is undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, police said on Monday.

Pollachi Municipal Chairman and AIADMK town secretary, Krishnakumar lodged a complaint that DMK councillor Naaneethakrishnan had posted some verses on the social media, on the health condition of the Chief Minister, police said.

Some 20 people had shared these verses on Facebook, the complainant said, based on which police registered cases against them under IPC sections including 153 (A) (promoting enmity and disharmony), they said.

Yesterday, a 24-year-old man from Tuticorin district, was arrested for allegedly posting rumours on the social media on Jayalalithaa’s health. With his arrest, the number of persons taken into custody in the state in this regard has gone up to seven.

AIADMK-DMK workers fight over CM Jayalalithaa’s health condition

Mon, 17 Oct 2016-04:00pm , Coimbatore , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An AIADMK councillor and DMK worker have been admitted to a hospital in Pollachi on Monday in the district after they came to blows following an altercation over the remarks on the health status of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, police said. DMK local functionary Lingadurai reportedly made critical remarks about the health condition of Jayalalithaa in an inebriated condition last night. AIADMK Councillor James Raj, who was passing by, got angry over the remarks and entered into arguments leading to fisticuffs, police said. Lingadurai got admitted to the Pollachi government hospital in the early hours of today, claiming assault by the councillor. James also was admitted to the same hospital, complaining that Lingadurai had assaulted him, police said.

Varanasi stampede: Centre assures support to UP govt

New Delhi: Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Saturday assured all support to Uttar Pradesh government after 24 people were killed and 50 injured in a stampede at Rajghat bridge on the border of Varanasi and Chandauli when followers of a religious leader were crossing it this afternoon.

Nadda said Union Health secretary C K Mishra has already spoken to senior Health officials of the state and assured all necessary support.

“Deeply pained by the loss of lives in stampede at Varanasi. My condolences with bereaved families. Prayers for speedy recovery of injured.

“Health Secretary, GOI has spoken to the Health Sec & other Senior Officials of Uttar Pradesh & have assured them all the necessary support,” Nadda tweeted.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The stampede took place at Rajghat bridge on the border of Varanasi and Chandauli where a large number of people had gathered for a religious event this afternoon.

The incident took place when thousands of followers of religious leader Jai Gurudev were on their way to Domri village on the banks of the Ganga to take part in the two-day camp.

Officials said that the nineteen people included women were killed during the stampede.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also the MP from Varanasi, has already expressed anguish over the incident and asked senior officials to take stock of the situation.

Modi also announced a solatium of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those injured.

Meanwhile state Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs each to next of kin of those killed and free treatment to the injured, who have been admitted to different hospitals in Varanasi and Chandauli.

Cabinet nod for AIIMS redevelopment project worth Rs 4441 crore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved redevelopment of residential colonies at West Ansari Nagar and Ayur Vigyan Nagar Campuses of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AllMS), New Delhi on Thursday.At a total estimated cost of Rs 4441 crore including maintenance and operational costs for thirty years, it is the by far one of the largest projects approved for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited (NBCC) will undertake the exercise to replace the existing housing stock of 1,444 dwelling units of Type I to IV with approximately 3,928 dwelling units of Type II to VI during the revamp. It will also create social infrastructure facilities including a Dharamshala in the residential campus.The project will be completed in five years in a phased manner. “This will ease acute shortage of residential accommodation by providing 3928 residential quarters,” said JP Nadda, Minister of Health.The present residential accommodations at West Ansari Nagar and Ayur Vigyan Nagar campuses are more than 50-60 years old and have outlived their utility. They are unsafe to live in. The rapidly deteriorating condition of these old houses entails very high expenditure on their maintenance. The existing housing stock in AllMS, New Delhi demonstrates highly inefficient use of the land. Thus, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare moved this proposal for redevelopment of existing old dilapidated housing stocks. “This will entail optimum utilization of land resources as per Master Plan Delhi (MPD) – 2021 and using modern construction technology with green building norms and in-house solid and liquid waste management facilities,” said a MoHFW PIB release.

Rise in diabetes deaths by 50 percent across India over 11 years

With a genetic predisposition brought to the fore by changing lifestyles, deaths due to diabetes increased 50 percent in India between 2005 and 2015, and is now the seventh most common cause of death in the country, up from the 11th rank in 2005, according to data published by the Global Burden of Disease (GDB).

Ischemic heart disease continues to be the highest cause of death, followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cerebrovascular disease, lower respiratory infection and tuberculosis.

In 2015, 346,000 people died of diabetes, which caused 3.3 percent of all deaths that year, with an annual increase of 2.7 percent from 1990, according to the GDB study.

Nearly 26 people die of diabetes per 100,000 population; diabetes is also one of the top causes of disability and accounts for 2.4 percent of the disability adjusted life years lost (sum of years lost due to disability or premature death due to the disease).

Source: Global Burden of Disease, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)

There are 69.1 million people with diabetes in India, the second highest number in the world after China, which has 109 million people with diabetes. Of these, 36 million cases remain undiagnosed, according to this 2015 Diabetes Atlas released by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Nearly 9 percent in the age group of 20-79 have diabetes.

The figures are alarming since diabetes is a chronic disease that not just affects the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin but affects the entire body. Complications caused due to diabetes include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss and neuropathy or nerve damage leading to leg amputation.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Unlike other countries, where a majority of people with diabetes are over 60 years old, the prevalence in India is among the 40-59 years age group, affecting productivity of the population.

“Diabetes strikes Indians a decade earlier than the world,” Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, New Delhi, told IndiaSpend. “This causes reduced productivity, increased absenteeism in working population and gives more time for complications to arise.”

Why the rise in the diabetes? Blame genes and changing lifestyles

Indians are especially predisposed to diabetes due to social and genetic reasons. Peculiar genetic composition of Indians known as ‘Asian Indian Phenotype’ makes them appear thin but with fat depositions around their internal organs.

It makes them prone to greater abdominal fat, insulin resistance, higher levels of bad fat and increased chances of suffering from diabetes and coronary artery disease.

Lifestyle changes with reduced physical activity and carbohydrate-rich diets, along with environmental factors, are increasing India’s diabetes burden, IndiaSpend reported in June 2015.

Cost of diabetes: Urban poor spend 34 percent of income on treatment

It is estimated that diabetes patients in urban areas spend Rs 10,000 and patients in rural areas spend Rs 6,260 every year on treatment, according to a 2013 study published by The Association of Physicians of India.

Since most of the healthcare cost is borne out of pocket in India, those in lower economic groups have to bear the greatest burden. Urban poor spend as much as 34 percent while rural poor spend 27 percent of their income on diabetes treatment, the study found.

India is predicted to have 123 million diabetes cases aged between 20 and 79 by 2040, according to estimates by IDF. “We need a national campaign on the level of pulse polio to tackle diabetes, it is soon going to be a problem bigger than TB, HIV and malaria together,” Misra said.

Even though diabetes features in the National Health Mission’s National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke for district-level intervention to prevent non-communicable diseases, it needs to do more to screen, create awareness and monitor and treat the disease to stem the tide.

IndiaSpend-Logo11IndiaSpend-Logo11

Hike in taxes by 20% could proportionately reduce use of sugary drinks

Government policies that increase final retail price of sugary drinks by at least 20% would lead to proportional reduction in consumption of such products, according to a new report Fiscal Policies for diet and prevention of non-communicable diseases by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“Reduced consumption of sugary drinks means lower intake of “free sugars” and calories, improved nutrition and fewer people suffering from overweight, obesity, diabetes and tooth decay,” the report said.

Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (like glucose or fructose) and disaccharides (like sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer.

Sugar-sweetened beverages accounted for every one in 200 deaths, caused by India’s rising tide of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, IndiaSpend reported in January 2016.

A 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would cut India’s excess weight and obesity prevalence 3% over a decade, and the cases of type-2 diabetes by 1.6%, at current consumption growth rates, IndiaSpend reported.

IndiaSpend-Logo11

The Indian government had increased the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages 5% in July 2014, hoping to curb consumption. While tax on sugar-sweetened beverages touched approximately 18% with the last hike, sales of aerated beverages increased 10% in 2014, according to Indian Beverage Association, a lobby group, IndiaSpend reported.

“Higher tax is definitely one of the strongest interventions to reduce consumption, but it should be accompanied with robust behavioural interventions to change social norms and perceptions,” IndiaSpend quoted Manu Raj Mathur, research scientist and assistant professor, Public Health Foundation of India, an advocacy.