Tata to open cancer hospital in Jharkhand’s Ranchi

Mar 16, 2017 0

Ranchi– The Tata Trust has agreed to open a cancer research centre-cum-hospital in Jharkhand capital Ranchi, official sources said on Thursday.

“Health Department Additional Chief Secretary Sudhir Tripathi has been made the nodal officer on state government’s behalf after a Trust delegation met him on Thursday,” an official statement said.

Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata’s consent for the project comes after he and Chief Minister Raghubar Das discussed it during a Global Investors’ Summit here in February.

After Das wrote to Ratan Tata, the Tata Trust sent a consent letter to the government on March 10.

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New policy to prioritize health investments, says Health Minister Nadda

Mar 16, 2017 0

New Delhi– Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda on Thursday said the new Health Policy 2017 prioritises investments and financing of health services.

Nadda said that the policy seeks to reorient and strengthen the public health systems.

The policy looks at strengthening partnership with private sector.

“As a crucial component, it proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP in a time-bound manner. The policy advocates a progressively incremental assurances based approach,” said Nadda while making a policy statement in Parliament.

J.P. Nadda

Stating that the policy envisages providing larger package of assured comprehensive primary health care through the health and wellness centres, Nadda said the policy denotes important change from very selective to comprehensive primary health care packages.

These, he said, include care for major non-communicable diseases, mental health, geriatric health care palliative care and rehabilitation care services.

“In order to provide access to financial protection, it proposes free drugs, free diagnostics, and free emergency and essential healthcare in all public hospitals,” Nadda added.(IANS)

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Reliance General to hive off retail health business

Mar 16, 2017 0

Mumbai–In an attempt to unlock value, Reliance Capital Ltd. on Thursday said its general insurance subsidiary will hive off its retail health insurance business into a stand-alone wholly owned health insurance subsidiary.

In a statement issued here, Reliance Capital part of the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group said the Board of Directors of its subsidiary Reliance General Insurance Company Ltd. has approved this proposal.

According to Reliance Capital, the hive off proposal will enhance management focus on health insurance and provide flexibility to unlock value by bringing global leaders in this space as strategic and equity partners.

The hiving of the health insurance portfolio into a separate company-Reliance Health Insurance Ltd. is subject to the approval of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), the statement said.

According to the statement, the Reliance General Insurance has recorded gross written premium of Rs 570 crore under the health insurance portfolio as of March 31, 2016.

“Health insurance in India has been amongst the fastest growing insurance sectors and is expected to nearly double to nearly Rs 50,000 crore ($ 8 billion) by 2020,” the statement said.

Reliance Capital has appointed Ravi Viswanath, with over 20 years global experience in health insurance, as proposed CEO of the new company. IANS)

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Delhi to provide free treatment to accident victims

Mar 10, 2017 0

New Delhi–Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Friday announced that the state government will provide free treatment to all accident victims in the national capital.

“If there is any accident case within Delhi and the victim is admitted to any hospital, including privates ones…then Delhi government will bear the entire cost of the treatment. The victim does not have to pay anything,” said Jain.

He was speaking at the inauguration of new ventilator machines at the Delhi government’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital.

A total of 125 new ventilator machines have been provided to several Delhi government hospitals as part of improvement in medical treatment in these hospitals.

A ventilator is a machine designed to move breathable air into and out of the lungs, to provide breathing for a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently.

Jain also said that the Aam Aadmi Party government will increase the mohalla clinics from the existing 110 to 1,000 in the next six months, so that the burden on the Delhi government hospitals was reduced.

According to Jain, Delhi government hospitals in the last one year had witnessed a total of four crore patients in the Out Patient Departments (OPDs), which is increasing fast.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led government was also willing to increase the number of polyclinics from 23 to 150 in the coming months.

A polyclinic is a clinic that provides both general and specialist examination and treatment to outpatients and is usually independent of a hospital.

On the occasion, Jain also extended help to those Delhi patients who were compelled to undergo surgeries at the city’s private hospitals due to the long wait in Delhi government hospitals.

Jain said: “If the waiting time for a patient’s surgery in Delhi government’s hospital is beyond one month then we (Delhi government) will get the surgery done in the private hospitals of Delhi and bear all the cost required for the treatment,” said Jain. (IANS)

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Integration of IT, medical services can boost medical tourism in India

Feb 27, 2017 0

New Delhi–Integration of Information Technology (IT) in high-end medical services provided by Indian medical institutions can boost medical tourism in the country, say experts.

According to the experts, major advantages of IT integration in high-end medical services include information about right diagnosis, right treatment, right selection and right cost about the hospitals and medical procedures to the patients who are travelling to India.

“When a patient is recommended for a surgical procedure and that too critical in nature, such as Organ Transplant and Oncology Surgery, the patient and the family members are surrounded by a series of questions… Here, technology can play a major role and can change the whole dynamics,” said Jatinder Kumar, senior Neurosurgeon and Medical Director at Paras Hospitals.

Jatinder Kumar

Stating that the use of technology in medical tourism is still at a nascent stage in India, Kumar said with right and relevant dissemination of information, it can empower patients to take informed decisions.

“For instance, e-diagnoses and e-consultations may inform medical travellers of their options before they travel. Electronic health records and digitised medical devices help healthcare providers to easily make more informed decisions,” said Kumar.

According to Government of India figures, in October 2015, India’s medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth a whopping $3 billion. It is now projected to grow to $7-$8 billion by 2020.

“Integration of IT in medical arena is important because most patients look forward to accelerated quality support to manage their medical and surgical care away from home,” said Swadeep Srivastava, founder of India Virtual Hospital (IVH).

“What they look forward to is help to take informed decision with expert consultations, working out the best medical travel plan, coordinating with the hospital team for hospitalisation and procedure and providing much-required counselling for patients and their family,” Srivastava added.

IVH hospitals work in the field of minimising gaps in the service that leave patients coming from other countries and cities at a disadvantage leading to sub-optimal services and low patient satisfaction level.

According to the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), the primary reason that attracted patients to explore medical value travel to India was cost-effectiveness, high-end treatment from accredited facilities at par with developed countries and with absolutely no waiting period for procedures.

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Rs 10,290 crore health budget boost hides key funding cuts

Feb 23, 2017 0

By Pavitra Mohan

Despite a Rs 10,290-crore increase for 2017-18, an analysis of the Union governments health budget reveals that most of this money is not being spent on Indias health priorities, which, instead, now face funding cuts.

Elimination of tropical diseases (kala azar, filariasis and leprosy) over two years; elimination of a vaccine-preventable disease (measles) by 2020; elimination of tuberculosis (TB) by 2025; and “significant reduction” of infant and maternal mortality by 2020 — these were some key proclamations related to health made by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during his February 1 budget speech.

Given that India has an infant mortality rate (IMR) of 37 per 1,000 live births (higher than the average for 154 middle- and low-income countries), the world’s highest TB burden (with 27 per cent of new cases), and accounts for 58 per cent of new leprosy cases detected globally, Jaitley appeared to address some of the country’s most significant public-health concerns.

Adequate funding could lead to significant improvement in health systems and health status. But Jaitley’s budget indicates inadequate allocations or funding cuts to his declared priorities.

To eliminate measles, India will need to invest in stronger immunisation systems and social mobilisation. It is starting the first phase of a measles-rubella vaccine campaign to immunise 35 million children in 2017 and 410 million children over the next two years.

Has money been set aside to achieve these targets? It appears not.

The Union health budget includes a separate head, the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), to fund state rural healthcare. Within the NRHM budget is a sub-head called the “Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) Flexi-pool”, which sets aside funds for immunisation, including funding of the polio-eradication campaign.

To improve healthcare in urban areas (where measles remains a significant problem due to high population densities), the budget sets aside money under the head National Urban Health Mission (NUHM).

To fund the measles campaign and eliminate measles, funding under RCH flexipool (for rural areas) and under NUHM (for urban areas) should have been higher than previous years.

Instead, funding for the RCH flexi-pool has been cut 23 per cent, from Rs 5,932 in 2016-17 to Rs 4,566 in 2017-18. Similarly, funding for the National Health Mission, which aims to provide universal access to affordable and quality healthcare and funds both NRHM and NUHM, has been reduced by Rs 197 crore over a year.

India has 27 per cent of the world’s new TB cases — one of its biggest infectious disease killers. As we said, the Union budget’s NHRM head provides for healthcare in rural India. Within this budget head is a sub-head called “Flexible Pool for Communicable Diseases”, which includes funding for the Revised National Tuberculosis Programme.

Now, funding appears to have increased by Rs 87 crore over a year to 2017-18, but the revised budget estimates — drawn up after the budget is presented — reveals a drop of Rs 13 crore over 2016-17.

In the 2017-18 budget, funding for Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna (Maternal Benefit Scheme) has risen 226 per cent, from Rs 634 crore ($94.6 million) in 2016-17 to Rs 2,700 crore ($298 million) in 2017-18, but this allocation isn’t enough to cover all expectant mothers.

The government itself had estimated that the the annual requirement for this maternity benefit scheme — which provides iron and folic-acid supplements to pregnant women to prevent maternal anaemia, sepsis, low birth weight, and preterm birth — would be Rs 14,512 crore ($2.1 billion), according the report of the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (2012-13).

So, the ministry plans to provide maternity benefits only to first-borns, leaving other children vulnerable.

So where is the additional money going? A major increase in allocation has been towards more medical colleges at district hospitals, an increase of Rs 2,855 crore, accounting for about 27 per cent of the Rs 10,290-crore rise in health funding.

India does need more medical graduates, but increasing medical colleges will not be easy, considering that even premier institutes, such as branches of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), in state capitals are struggling. For instance, five years after the first batch was admitted, AIIMS Bhopal does not yet have a blood bank and does not conduct surgeries, and important faculty positions are vacant.

That bring us to the other significant increase: Rs 1,525 crore more for Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna (the Prime Minister’s Health Protection Scheme), which is supposed to set up new branches of AIIMS in the states. In addition to the 11 that exist, Jaitley announced setting up of two more AIIMS, in Jharkhand and Gujarat.

Instead of opening new institutes, and investing about eight per cent of the health budget (Rs 3,975 crore of Rs 47,352 crore) to do so, the government should ideally focus on making sure that the ones already opened are functioning.

Another significant increase of about Rs 3,000 crore is under the “Health System Strengthening” subhead of NRHM. This is likely to be allocated to another pronouncement: Converting 150,000 health sub-centers nationwide into “health and wellness centres”.

Again, this is not a bad idea, since functional sub-centers can take primary healthcare closer to where people live. But with no plan for this transformation made available — not even how many will be converted this year — Rs 3,000 crore appears inadequate.

For example, even if 25 per cent of the increased allocation under this sub-head is to upgrade sub-centres, no more than Rs 60,000 would be spent per sub-centre.

So, while the current budget’s health proclamations are apt, the funding increases for issues of low health priority are unlikely to make a significant impact on the overall well-being of the people. (IANS)

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AIIMS inks MoUs with public sector units for health infrastructure expansion

Jan 17, 2017 0

New Delhi– The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Tuesday inked Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) amounting to Rs 7,670 crore with public sector units to expand health infrastructure and facilities in the country.

According to the Health Ministry, the MoUs include a Rs 4,441 crore deal with NBCC (India) Limited, a Rs 2,500 crore agreement with HSCC (India) Limited and a Rs 729 crore accord with HITES HLL Life Care Ltd.

The agreement with NBCC for redevelopment envisages construction of 3,060 residential apartments at Ayur Vigyan Nagar campus and 868 apartments at West Ansari Nagar campus.

“The total augmentation of 3,928 units would take the total available residential units of AIIMS to 4,505,” said a statement from the Ministry.

The agreement with HLL Infra Tech Services Limited (HITES) is for procurement of all types of medical equipment and services, including Medical Gas Distribution System, for Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD) and Modular Operation Theatres for National Cancer Institute at AIIMS, Jhajjar in Haryana.

“Similarly, HSCC has been selected as a project management consultant for the design, tendering, supervision of engineering components and for equipment procurement and allied infrastructure works for the proposed National Cardiovascular Institute (NCVI) at the AIIMS second campus at Jhajjar,” the statement said.

The signing ceremony was presided over by Health Minister J.P. Nadda and Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Calling the signing of the MoUs as one of the most historic days for AIIMS, Nadda said: “The past two years have witnessed a historic growth in the form of infrastructure and other facilities.”

Nadda, on the occasion, assured that the government is committed to ensuring that the new AIIMS will meet the same standards of service as AIIMS, New Delhi.

“No effort will be spared to make them the very best,” he added.

Naidu said: “The profession of a doctor is very noble task and AIIMS has contributed significantly in providing quality healthcare. The expansion plans would not only improve medical education but will also provide greater access to world-class facilities to the citizens.”

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India, Canada to partner in healthcare

Dec 12, 2016 0

Toronto–Canada, a global leader in universal healthcare, is partnering with India to help deliver quality and more accessible healthcare for the Indian masses.

Promoting quality healthcare in India will be one of the themes of the first-ever Canada-India Healthcare Summit, to be held in New Delhi early next year.

The summit will also discuss how Canada can bring down its own ballooning costs of universal healthcare by using India’s trained medical manpower, expertise in information technology and alternative medicines and its successful generic drugs research and development and manufacturing industry.

Making an announcement in this regard here, well known Indo-Canadian scientist Dr Lucky Lakshmanan, who will chair the summit, said: “Canada and India can leverage the strengths of each other in healthcare for mutual benefits.”

“Canada’s strength lies in providing quality healthcare from coast to coast. India’s strength is the ability to deliver healthcare at low cost, but its resources and expertise limit the accessibility of quality healthcare for people.”

Since Canada has the expertise in providing quality medicare from coast to coast, the summit will discuss how Canada can help in providing quality healthcare across India, he said.

The summit will also discuss how Indian expertise in IT can help Canada bring down the cost of its universal healthcare since it lacks trained doctor and nurse manpower.

“By using Indian IT expertise, Canadian doctors and nurses in big cities like Toronto can guide healthcare staff in far-off areas in delivering quality healthcare to people,” said Dr Lakshmanan.

Canada can also benefit from India in providing old-age care to its fast aging population, he said.

“With its huge pool of nurses, India also has an opportunity to provide old-age care for Canadians as the population is aging fast and provincial governments in Canada are looking at public-private partnership options in old-age care because of the rising costs.”

Because Indians are genetically much more prone to diabetes and heart diseases, the summit will discuss how Canada’s pioneering work in these fields can be useful for medicare providers in India.

“The substantial number of people of Indian origin have triggered some important research in Canada on diabetes and heart disease. Pioneering work being done in these fields can be very useful for healthcare providers in India,” said Romesh Chotai, who is the biggest importer of Indian generic drugs into Canada.

He will co-chair the Delhi health summit, which will also look at how Canada can benefits from India’s traditional and alternative healthcare practices such as ayurveda and homoeopathy.

Many Canadian companies — from hospital infrastructure, medical devices, telemedicine and medical equipment sectors — are coming to the health summit to explore partnership possibilities with Indian companies.

The Canada-India Health Summit is an initiative of the Canada-India Foundation in collaboration with Ontario’s Ministry of International Trade. (IANS)

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India urged to take better initiatives at stroke management

Dec 5, 2016 0

Gurugram– A global meet of experts on neuro sciences — which saw over 500 participants — on Monday called upon the Indian government to increase initiatives for more awareness on brain strokes.

According to them, the necessity for better awareness was more among women as in certain parts of the country women are five times more prone to stroke incidences than men.

“This is attributable to the poor socio-economic status and literacy rates among women. The average age of patients with stroke in developing countries (India) is 15 years younger than those in developed countries like US,” according to the findings of the doctors at the summit, which concluded on Monday.

“Stroke unit implementation remains a big challenge in India. At present in India, there are approximately 35 stroke units and they are predominantly in private sector hospitals in the cities,” said Vipul Gupta, Director, Neuro-intervention, at Artemis Hospital.

He addeed, “Many of the private hospitals lack CT scan facility and they refer for incentives to other hospitals or centres. This results in crucial time being lost. On the other hand, public hospitals lack a dedicated team and place to manage stroke patients. We will be launching a stroke app for patients and doctors.”

Experts from the US, Europe, Oman, Nepal and Bangladesh who participated in the summit showcased the advances in stroke management.

“Lack of awareness, lower rates of literacy and poor primary health care services are the key attributable factors in India behind rising strokes,” said Asai Blaise Baxter, US based neuro-intervention specialist. (IANS)

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Central regulations for ayurvedic industry soon

Dec 4, 2016 0

Kolkata– The AYUSH Ministry is planning to draw up a central regulatory framework for ayurvedic industry, an official said on Sunday.

“Presently, the total enforcement is on the hands of state licensing authorities. We are going to have some regulatory framework in the centre so that many issues related to regulations, quality control can be taken up with state level authorities,” said Ministry’s Adviser (ayurved) D.C. Katoch.

“If a licence is to be taken for the first time, the proposal should come to centre. The central technical committee will review the proposal and accordingly, the license should be cleared,” he added.

D.C. Kastoch (Photo curtsy: MPR colloquium)

D.C. Kastoch (Photo courtesy: MPR colloquium)

The ministry is also mulling to take steps to stop false claims through advertisements, Katoch said on the sidelines of the AROGYA Expo and the seventh World Ayurvedic Congress here.

The ministry is looking to set up more clusters to facilitate small and medium enterprises in ayurvedic industry.

“The scheme for setting up clusters was started earlier. About 5-6 clusters across states are functional. The ministry has been considering proposals for setting up new clusters,” said Katoch.

The government supports 60 per cent of the project cost while the industry players need to take care of 40 per cent of the cost, he said.

The ministry has also taken initiatives to standardise terminology used in the ayurvedic practices.

“There are many books in the ayurveda literature and there are many terms being used for a particular practice. These practices are not interpreted uniformly by the stakeholders. The meaning of these terms has to be standardised to globalise the understanding of ayurveda,” said Katoch.

The ministry has entered into an agreement with World Healh Organisation (WHO) to develop some document for global positioning of ayurveda.

He further said that raw materials and medicinal plants are being sourced directly from the growers. The government has been planning to facilitate the setting up of mandis (marketplace) to strengthen buyers-growers interface.

“The ministry has been drawing up plans to facilitate the setting up mandis,” he added.

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