Issue 1, August 18, 2006


    Health policy and enforcement in India is an area of abject neglect and increasingly a source drama because Health is not something that is considered important in the Federal Ministry. But health of India is becoming more important as the visibility into major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Diabetes, Cancer, and Leprosy are being highlighted by many international organizations and media reports. While international, media, and Non-Government Organization (NGO) attention is forcing the Government into action into these areas, other areas requiring proactive intervention such as respiratory illness from pollution or quality of food and drink does not receive any attention. Even a serious incident such as a bird flu epidemic outbreak saw action from the Food and Agriculture Departments with muted, if not limited, action from the Health Ministry.

    Instead, there was a lot of press and media attention on several wrong reasons such as incidents involving the unconstitutional termination of a preeminent cardiologist director in the nation’s premier medical facility. Another incident was a brouhaha created over a communist party leader casting aspersion on a popular Yoga master who also sells Ayurvedic drugs and the Health Minister Anbumani Ramdoss jumped in to order a scrutiny of Ayurvedic drugs. Of course, like most issues in India where media attention span is limited to advertising value, no one questions results of these investigations or actions.

    But there are also several success stories in India which have origins to programs that were initiated long ago. For example, the fight against Leprosy has been very successful that it may be declared out of India in the near future. Another initiative triggered by Ramdoss which bans smoking on screen is also commendable. Even with these success stories, what is lacking is follow through, communication, learning process, and carry over best practices from one program to another.

    While Health is one of the 7 so-called thrust areas of the Common Minimum Program of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government, there have been few initiatives to address principal problems in improving the health of Indians. According to Government sources, only 20% of the population is served by the 145,000 sub-centers and 23,000 Public Health Centers (PHCs) and 3222 Community Health Centers (CHCs).  Displaying frailty of thinking and complete lack of vision, Ramdoss announces a Rs. 10,000 (USD 217) grant per sub-center to “meet the unmet needs” of the Village Health Plan!

    What India needs are a set of goals that can address issues of public health. The Government has demonstrated that it is incompetent to handle public health issues and is unable to scale. Instead of trying to spend limited budget on a massive problem, the Government will be better of encouraging large hospitals to assume responsibility for Government hospitals under condition that they will run it for marginal profit and have a pay as you use service. Government-run hospitals are decrepit, host awful facilities, deliver sub-standard healthcare, and is a burden on the exchequer.


    AIDS in India

    • Unchecked AIDS Will Deplete Workforce
      Confirming results of a
      recent study by 3 premier institutions, International Finance Corporation Principal Strategy Officer Sabine Durier warned that India’s booming economic growth will decelerate drastically if it does not check spread of HIV-AIDS. <More>

    • Focus on Children with AIDS
      National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) Director-General Sujatha Rao said that her organization has “finalized the treatment protocol for pediatric AIDS” and “awaiting Government clearance” to “train doctors to start the program in medical colleges."

    • AIDS Campaign Launched
      A joint operation by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports have launched a 5-year Youth Unite for Victory on AIDS (YUVA) plan aimed at reaching out to adolescents and youth.

    • Indian woman faces high risk of AIDS
      New survey data show that a majority of HIV-infected women did not report a history of multiple partners, intravenous drug use, or blood transfusions and seem to have been infected through sex with their infected husbands. <More>

    • Measures to Control AIDS on Highways
      Analysts believe that better highway facilities could reduce incidence of AIDS among high-risk truck drivers and helpers and that would consequently bring down the number of incidence in non-risky population such as the wives and children of this mobile group. <More>

    • AP is AIDS Capital of India
      Bad sexual practices, low condom usage, and lack of awareness has earned Andhra Pradesh (AP) the dubious distinction of being India’s AIDS capital with over 20% the country’s 5.1 million. <More>

    • Novel HIV-AIDS Train To Educate Villages
      India will soon host a novel project that will allow artists, doctors, and counselors will travel by a special train that will make 40,000 stops to educate villages about the dangers of HIV-AIDS. <More>

    • India Could Lead HIV Cocktail Market
      A Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Hans Hogerzeil said that India has the perquisites to become the leading supplier of HIV fixed-dose combinations for children. <More>

    • Awareness & Ed Could Reduce AIDS cases
      A British team of scientists from Imperial College, London said that awareness, education, and changed sexual behavior caused huge declines in AIDS infections in East Zimbabwe. <More>


Health Policy Making

  • Diabetes and Fizz Soda
    After introducing a plan to curb smoking in movies, Federal Health Minister Anbumani Ramdoss is now asking movie actors and cricketers to stop being brand ambassadors to aerated drinks to curb obesity and diabetes among children. <More>

  • Central Tobacco Authority Being Planned
    Federal Minister of Health Anbumani Ramdoss said that a Central Tobacco Authority (CTA) with unprecedented powers to implement the provisions of the Tobacco Act is being planned and revealed in the next couple of months. <More>

  • Smoking Ban in Bollywood Movies
    After months of debate and indecision, the Health and the Information and Broadcasting Ministries seemed to have decided that smoking in movies is definitely bad for India and have proposed a series of measures. <More>

  • Ayurvedic Drug Labeling Made Compulsory
    The Health Ministry has made all Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha, and Herbal medicine labeling compulsory and has extended the deadline to July 1 of this year. <More>

  • Two Doctors Testing Fetal Sex Convicted
    For the first time, two doctors who tested the sex of the child in the fetus of the mother have been convicted for violating the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Regulation & Prevention of Misuse Act, 1994 <More>

  • Contingency plans to check Bird Flu
    In a belated move, the Government has at last woken up to the reality of bird flu epidemic in India and released a contingency plan with specific timelines for all the states to follow. <More>

  • WHO Declares Diabetes a Pandemic
    Experts attending the Diabetes Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam said that it was high time that the World Health Organization declared the disease a pandemic <More>

  • Epidemiological Study Required to Understand India Outbreak
    At the end of a two-day meeting of the Asia Pacific Advisory Committee on Influenza (APACI), AIIMS Department of Medicine representative Randeep Guleria speculated that the H5N1 virus will die as the summer peaks. <More>

  • Govt to Regulate 9000 Ayurvedic Companies
    The Indian Council for Medical Research said that it would start testing of Ayurvedic, Unani, and Sidhha drugs on animals <More>

  • ISRO to Assist in Health
    The Federal Health Ministry and National Institute of Communicable Diseases in a tie-up with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will link 400 sites countrywide. <More>

  • Survey Finds Fall in Sex Ratio
    A study published in the British medical journal "The Lancet" says that 10 million fetuses may have been aborted in India over the past 20 years because of ultrasound sex screening <More>


Epidemic & Public Health

  • India Wants Bird Flu-Free Label
    In order to resume exports of profitable chicken meat and eggs, India is considering asking the Organisation Internationale d’épizootie (OIE) (also known as the World Organization of Animal Health) to gain a avian influenza (bird flu) free status.<More>

  • Govt Capitulates to Poultry Industry
    Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar capitulated to poultry industry demands to not introduce mandatory bird flu vaccinations of poultry and also promised to upgrade laboratories, a 3-lab verification before declaration of disease, a zone-affected areas.<More>

  • Increased Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drug Addiction
    A recent study found that peer pressure; surrogate advertisements of cigarette and alcohol companies, and movies are influencing high school and pre-university youth in the 15-18 age group to abuse tobacco, drugs, and alcohol.<More>

  • Heart Disease Biggest Killer in Rural India Too
    Exploding popular myth that cardiovascular disease is strictly an urban rich phenomenon, a Government, Non Government Organization (NGO), University 3 year study said that 32% of deaths in rural India was due to heart disease.<More>

  • India has 20% World TB Patients
    Health Minister Anbumani Ramdoss announced that India would achieve its United Nations set targets for the control of Tuberculosis (TB) by April 2006.<More>

  • India is “Rabies Capital” of the World
    According to the World Health Organization, India is the "Rabies Capital of the world."<More>

  • China may be "Diabetics Capital of the World"
    The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that China may have piped India to earn the dubious honor of being the "Diabetes Capital of the World."<More>

  • Humans Test Negative, Strange Bird Tests Reported
    As bird flu culling continues in Jalgaon district, all suspected human cases have tested negative but more human sickness and strange bird death have been reported in Jharkhand, Uttaranchal, and Aligarh.<More>

  • India Leprosy Rate Down
    India has achieved a major milestone in containing the threat of leprosy by bringing down the number of cases to 107000 or about .95 for every 10000 people.<More>


Food Safety & Security

Home Page