Showing posts from 2022

Baby steps for tackling India’s malnutrition woes

By Dr K Srinath Reddy A mix of dismay and debate has been the reaction to the persistently high rates of childhood undernutrition reported by the last National Family Health Survey. Dismay because the reported prevalence of 35.5% stunting, 32.1% underweight and 19.3% wasting in children under five years of age does not bode well for their present and future health or cognitive development.   The debate centres around the question of whether the global standards by which these metrics are defined, are applicable to Indian children. Another area of concern is whether such children will be harmed by supplementary feeding because it may make them stunted and obese as an unintended consequence.   Undernourished children are highly susceptible to serious infections because of poor immunity. They are physically inactive because of low muscle mass and reduced lung capacity. They suffer cognitive impairment, which diminishes their potential for education and employment. This loss of b

MBBS students protest in Haryana: Why govt concessions failed

For the past month, MBBS students of Haryana’s government medical colleges  have been agitating  against the state’s bond policy. In face of the protests, on November 30, the government announced tweaks in the rules. However, the students have said they are not satisfied with the changes. What is the bond policy? As per the policy introduced in 2020, MBBS students have to sign a bond-cum-agreement to compulsorily serve for seven years in government hospitals after graduating from state-run medical institutions. If they join a private job before that, they have to deposit the bond amount of Rs 36.8 lakh with the government. Priya Kaushik, an MBBS student leader from Rohtak’s PGIMS, said they had been oposed to the policy since 2020, but could not launch an agitation then as gatherings were not possible amid  Covid-19 . What  triggered  the agitation this year? For the past month, students have staged protests in different forms including a chain hunger strike at PGIMS. Accordi

Family adoption will enrich medical education

There has been just criticism that medical education in India has become disconnected from rural reality as it was mostly taught in hospitals attached to medical colleges in highly urbanised locations By K Srinath Reddy Earlier this year, the National Medical Commission (NMC) advised medical colleges to alter the pattern of medical education by connecting undergraduate students to families in rural communities. The ‘family adoption programme’ links each medical student to three to five rural families. The student would need to visit these families once a month. With supportive supervision from a faculty member of the college, the student would get acquainted with the health problems of the family members, chart their course and assist in their management through facilitation of telehealth consultations and referrals to healthcare facilities if need be. The objectives of this reform, which would supplement the standard medical curriculum, are to orient young medical students to commonly

A cure that may be worse than the disease

  The new rule : Families of patients can no longer appeal to the National Medical Commission (NMC) against decisions of state medical councils, reports  TOI . The appeals are being rejected citing Section 30(3) of the NMC Act of 2019, which replaced the Indian Medical Council Act. Section 30(3) refers to the right of only medical practitioners or professionals who are aggrieved by any action of a state medical council and allows an appeal to the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) of the NMC. The old rule : In May 2004, the MCI's Ethics Regulations 2002 were amended to include two clauses, one of which gave "any person aggrieved by the decision of state medical councils on any complaint against a delinquent physician the right to file an appeal to the MCI" while the other gave MCI the power to transfer a matter from state medical councils if it was not decided within a period of six months from the date of the complaint. This means : "This change in the new

Budget’s missed healthcare opportunity

The Covid pandemic has amply demonstrated the health sector’s direct and indirect intersectoral impacts and its devastating power in creating disruption. It was, therefore, not surprising to see its imprint on the Economic Survey. Given the learnings of the pandemic, it was reasonable to expect a “health-centred” budget. That was not to be. The budget’s main focus is on increasing capital expenditures for expanding the economic infrastructure under the PM Gati Shakti scheme. TV discussions centred around the GDP, as if a 7.7 per cent or an 8.2 per cent recovery holds any meaning for the millions who have been impoverished by the pandemic-induced income losses, hunger, sickness and trauma. Inequalities have widened. An estimated Rs 70,000 crore have been spent by the people out-of-pocket in this short time for medical treatment that the government ought to have provided. Spending at a time when earnings were down, pushed millions below the poverty line and hunger has emerged as a major