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Mosquito-Borne West Nile Virus Shows Polio-Like Symptoms

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Two months after the country earned its polio-free tag, a mosquito has emerged as a fresh concern. Mosquito-borne West Nile virus has been found to be causing acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), the main symptom of poliomyelitis, for the first time in India. The symptom is the most common sign of acute polio and is used for surveillance during polio outbreaks.

However, unlike polio which is a childhood disease, West Nile induced AFP is seen in adults. So, the finding is not going to undermine the success of polio-free certification, say researchers, but is still reason for concern. Nationwide AFP surveillance is the gold standard to detect polio cases.

Neurologists from hospitals in Kochi, Kerala along with virologists from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) designated virology laboratory Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR), Manipal University have reported three laboratory confirmed cases of West Nile virus induced AFP, a syndrome historically associated with infection by polio virus.

Vaccination Policy Review To Tame Encephalitis Epidemic Threat

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With the health ministry having announced a national emergency to tame the rising threat of encephalitis it is time to revisit the existing policy in regard to voluntary administration of the preventive vaccine against the disease.

The mortality rate of the disease is very high at around 26 per cent.

“This is a national emergency,” said Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan here on Tuesday on the latest deaths in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar due to Japanese Encephalitis (JE). The toll from encephalitis has risen to 25 and counting with 10 more children dying in Muzaffarpur (Bihar) in the last 12 hours, officials said.

Even though there is no cure for the disease, there is a preventive vaccine. Former Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had launched an indigenous vaccine for the disease.

In October 2013, Azad launched the indigenously produced Japanese Encephalitis vaccine JENVAC. The vaccine had been jointly developed by scientists of National Institute of Virology, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Bharat Biotech Ltd.

Detaining Patients Over Unpaid Bills `Inhuman': HC

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The Bombay high court on Thursday denounced the "inhuman" practice of hospitals detaining patients till their medical bills were paid. A division bench of Justices VM Kanade and P D Kode heard a petition filed by Sanjay Prajapati (25) urging it to direct MIDC Police, Andheri (East), to act against doctors and staff of SevenHills Hospital, for wrongfully confining his brother over a disputed bill. He urged the court to direct the police to get the patient discharged and admitted to a suitable hospital for further treatment.

The petitioner said his brother Chinku suffered head injuries after a fall at home on March 29, 2014, and was admitted to SevenHills Hospital where he was operated upon. Prajapati later wrote to the CEO alleging improper treatment and bogus billings, but got no response. Finding no improvement in his brother's condition, he decided to shift him elsewhere but the hospital refused to discharge him till the disputed bills were cleared.

​Detaining Patients Over Unpaid Bills `Inhuman': HC

Diwakar Dwivedi, Prajapati's advocate, told the HC that out of a total bill of Rs 4.56 lakh, Rs 2.76 lakh was deposited and according to the hospital a balance of Rs 1.80 lakh was payable. "I have disputed it. I now want to shift my brother but they are refusing to discharge him unless the bills are paid. They cannot detain a patient in this manner," the petitioner said. The judges agreed. "It is a practice at all hospitals to detain patients as long as money is not paid. It is inhuman. It is happening even in government hospitals. It is surprising" said Justice Kanade. The judge recounted how a court staff was detained in a government hospital even after he stood guarantee for payment of the bill. He said the man had high blood pressure but was told he would be operated upon only after a deposit of Rs 2 lakh. Justice Kanade said he gave an undertaking for making the payment. "Government reimbursements are usually delayed. He was detained for 10 days," said Justice Kanade.

Prosecutor FR Shaikh remarked that hospitals have been "commercialized". The judges said people are expected to shell out a huge amount at a short notice and it is unfortunate that patients are refused discharge for payment. Prajapati's petition alleged that the surgeon at SevenHills, Dr Kishore Choudhary, was charging his visiting fees for the period when he was on leave. He claimed when he took up the issue of bogus visiting charges, he was allegedly threatened that the bills would be inflated further. He alleged that the hospital and its staff behaved badly with him and his brother as they were poor. "The patient has been ill-treated, humiliated and neglected by doctors as well as the staff," his petition stated. The judges have asked the state to take instructions and inform the court on Friday.

However, hospital authorities denied that the patient was being detained and told TOI that he was being extended the best care. "There is no question of holding back a patient. He is fit to be discharged and can walk out of the hospital whenever the family wishes to take him," said Anand Garg, CEO of SevenHills Hospital. He said doctors at the hospital have given Prajapati a new lease of life after he came with a broken skull. Garg however admitted that initially there was some erroneous billing. "There was some discrepancy in the initial bill that was sorted out soon after the family pointed it out to us. Our billing is automated so it was more of a technical error," he said. He insisted that the patient was not denied any second surgery. "The patient does not need that immediately," he added. Garg also said that the family was provided every medical record and diagnostic report that they had asked for.

Times Of India
13 June 2014
Mumbai, India
by: Rosy Sequeira

Disclaimer: The news story on this page is the copyright of the cited publication.This has been reproduced here for visitors to review, comment on and discuss. This is in keeping with the principle of ’Fair dealing’ or ’Fair use’. Visitors may click on the publication name, in the news story, to visit the original article as it appears on the publication’s website.

​Health Cover For All, Says Harsh Vardhan

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The new Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, who assumed office on Tuesday afternoon, promised that the government would work to provide 'health insurance coverage for all' through a national insurance policy for health. "The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana of the ministry of labour is working fine in some states but its reach is limited to BPL (below poverty line) families. I plan to rope in all economic groups and make the health ministry a sort of regulatory body for oversight on existing microhealth insurance programme in the villages and cities of India," said Vardhan, adding that the new government can learn a lot from micro-health insurance instruments developed by NGOs, selfhelp groups and small private entities.

The contours of the new health policy for all would be drawn after broad consultation with national and international experts. According to an estimate of consultancy firm PwC, less than 15% of the Indian population is covered under some form of health insurance, including government-supported schemes. Only about 2.2% of the population is covered under private health insurance, of which rural health insurance penetration is less than 10%. Although insurance is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15% till 2015, at the current rate of growth, only half the country's population would have health insurance coverage by 2033.

​Health Cover For All, Says Harsh Vardhan The contours of the new health policy for all would be drawn after broad consultation with national and international experts.

"I am not in favour of taxpayer's money being used to push a one-size fits all health policy. From this morning itself, I have started contacting public health practitioners on the roadmap to ensure that available resources will be utilized more optimally," he said. Immediately after assuming office, Vardhan took an hour-long meeting with senior officials at the ministry to get a status report from them. The health minister said focus would be on operating the health ministry with full transparency, and to do that, he would move fast to put in place e-governgovernance systems in all government-to-citizens and government-to-business interfaces under the ministry at all its offices throughout the country.

"Accountability standards will be fixed at the highest level and corruption will be checked at source with transparent systems." He expressed concern at the way government-run programmes such as Reproductive and Child health Project, National TB Control Programme and National Disease Control Programme are under funded. "The result is that despite reducing its maternal mortality rate, India is way short of achieving its millennium development goal at 103 per 1, 00,000 live births. Even Bangladesh is doing better than India" he said, adding that the new government would devise ways to revitalize these programmes.

Vardhan said that prime minister Narendra Modi believes that 'health should be better than wealth', and the country should expect good, clean hospitals, zero-corruption and bold initiatives in the health sector from the new government. Despite former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2012 promise of a free drug distribution scheme on the occasion of independence day and 'high powered' panels on making 'universal healthcare' a reality in India, UPA's 'health for all' plan was a complete nonstarter. Out-of-pocket expenditure on health in India, at over 70%, is one of the highest globally and is responsible for pushing hundreds of millions into poverty every year.

28 May 2014
New Delhi, India

Disclaimer: The news story on this page is the copyright of the cited publication.This has been reproduced here for visitors to review, comment on and discuss. This is in keeping with the principle of ’Fair dealing’ or ’Fair use’. Visitors may click on the publication name, in the news story, to visit the original article as it appears on the publication’s website.

Regulate Rates At Private Hospitals: Activists

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Grievance Redressal Cell Sought

The regulation of treatment charges and setting up an effective grievance redressal system at private hospitals are among the demands made by the Jan Arogya Abhiyaan and other social organisations to the committee formed to draft the Maharashtra Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Bill 2014.

More than 80% of patients in the state seek care in private hospitals and clinics. However, the sector is characterized by large-scale commercialisation and overcharging and violation of patient’s rights, say healthcare activists.

“Regulation of rates in private hospitals is essential. The national Clinical Establishments Act – Rules 2012 has clear provisions to regulate the rates for services in private hospitals. Even the terms of reference of the committee formed to draft the Maharashtra Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Bill 2014 mentions the need for an act to ensure affordable rates of care, which implies regulation of rates. However, the current near-final draft for Maharashtra prepared by the committee does not include any of these provisions,” said Anant Phadke, an activist associated with the Jan Arogya Abhiyaan.

Phadke said, “Two members of the experts’ committee have strongly argued for inclusion of regulation of rates, but their arguments were overruled by the chairperson who belongs to the Indian Medical Association. The Jan Arogya Abhiyaan strongly demands that regulation of rates must be included in the provisions of the Maharashtra Act, otherwise it would not provide any relief to ordinary people.”

Similarly, a full-time grievance redressal mechanism is necessary to protect patients’ interests. “The current draft has a provision for grievance redressal, however, the committee would be headed by the district collector, who is completely preoccupied with existing responsibilities and may not be able to give adequate time for ongoing redressal of patients’ complaints,” said activist Abhay Shukla.

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