Once again, the scourge of illicit liquor has struck our country
Latest victim is Punjab, with more than 100 dead
Hooch with a large amount of denatured alcohol
Illicit brew was peddled virtually in the open by small-time vendors
People desperate for alcohol consumed many substances that are very harmful for human body
Policies that fail to contain illicit alcohol produce long-term health impacts.
Punjab continues to simultaneously battlesignificant levels of narcotic drug use.
As the World Health Organization points out, governments should regulate the quality of legal alcoholic drinks, whileactively tracing and tracking illicit alcohol.
This can be achieved only through cooperation from the community, particularly from women’sgroups.
States must show determination to end the flow of toxic brews that kill scores almost every year.
Profiteering during a pandemic
Durning lockdown, prices of essential items shot up in several places across the country.
Mask were sold for Rs 500 in some places
Reports were published of private hospitals overcharging patients, even after State governments capped COVID-19 treatment charges.
In some private hospitals, patients were asked to pay lakhs even before being allotted beds.
Many doctors also said that patients were being fleeced.
For instance, after a patient’s family lodged a complaint with the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission that the patient had been overcharged, the Commission directed the private hospital where she had been admitted to refund ₹1.4 lakh of the ₹1.84 lakh charged for Personal Protection Equipment.
The hospital was charging ₹7,000 a day for the cost of PPEs used by the doctors against the cap of ₹1,000 fixed by the West Bengal government.
Not all patients who have been overcharged have been able to file complaints and received refunds, however.
In Srinagar, Remdesivir was being sold for as much as ₹36,000 against the normal rate of ₹6,000.
In Mumbai, seven persons were arrested for selling a vial of injection of Remdesivir at ₹30,000 against the actual price of ₹5,400.
Ambulance owners too chose to make good money in these pandemic times.
Poor migrants who wanted to go home had to spend large amounts to hire vehicles.
Way back in 1897, the British enacted the Epidemic Diseases Act which empowered the government to implement any measures that would prevent the outbreak or spread of any disease.
According to the law, anyone disobeying the orders of any public servant can be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
Since exploiting the common man in such times has to be sternly dealt with, a provision ought to be incorporated in the Disaster Management Act of 2005 to make overcharging the public a punishable offence.
Denying admission in hospitals, refusing to bury the dead in cemeteries, etc. need to be made punishable offences.
Health On The Go | ToI
TheNational Digital Health Mission (NDHM) launch on August 15, envisaging patients with unique health IDs and medical records stored in interoperable digital formats, promises to be a pathbreaking moment.
Walking into any health facility without carrying weighty medical records and a doctor accessing a patient’s medical history on a mouse click could soon become reality, if successfully implemented.
The interoperability feature is also a moneysaver.
Often, poor personal recordkeeping coupled with hospitals disregarding diagnostic reports from other establishments force needless expenditure and hassles upon already traumatised patients.
A national digital health database can significantly improve
Better chronicle morbidity onset for later day requirements
Study and research treatment outcomes
Wage effective disease surveillance
Gauge drug efficacies
Ownership of their health records must vest with patients and should be accessed by medical practitioners or insurance companies through informed consent and authentication mechanisms like phone OTPs or biometrics.
Only anonymised data over the cloud must be made available to research institutions, biotech companies and pharmaceuticals.
The potential for deploying AI and cloud computing is immense, both for treatment and data analytics.
Imagine handheld ultrasound scanners or smartphone/ tablet devices uploading patient data to the cloud and instantly returning various health indicators.
Such healthcare interventions, especially in areasunderserved by doctors, through AI or telemedicine will benefit rural India.
Analytics will help governments keep tabs on performance of districts, hospitals and doctors.
Very soon, NDHM will also have to confront smartphones and wearables that collect an array of real-time diagnostic information from citizens bypassing traditional health systems and human interfaces.
Integrating such decentralised or globalised private tech products into a national health information system is a future challenge.
Health in India is a state subject and out of pocket spending accounts for nearly two-third of health expenditure.
Getting state governments and private players on board will help quickly scale up the system alongside voluntary citizen enrolment.
The benefits of such a federated facility is evident in the role played by the ICMR app in collecting realtime Covid testing information from labs across the country.
Covid has also exposed the weak public health system at the grassroots.
Digitalisationis no substitute for adequate number of hospitals, beds, doctors, nurses, contact tracers, ambulances and lifesaving equipment.
A significant jump in public health spending from the current 1% of GDP can help bridge both physical and digital infrastructure divides.
India’s chaotic covid management | ToI
Critics argue that Indiawas the only country that lifted its lockdown at a point when the number of cases was steadily rising instead of stabilising.
A lockdown is an opportunity to increase preparedness and shore up medical facilities.
The real roots of this problem lie much deeper.
India has one of the lowest allocations to health among all the countries of the world, consistently less than 2% of GDP.
This pandemic cruelly exposed our weakest link – badly equipped and understaffed public hospitals, chronic shortages of hospital beds and unmotivated, poorly trained staff.
India has one of the lowest densities of health workforce, with a paltry 7 physicians and 17 nurses per 10,000 population as against the global average of 13.9 and 28.6 respectively.
Those leaders who relied on time-tested public health principles protected their countries from severe consequences of Covid.
As envisaged in our Constitution, pandemic management is the central government’s responsibility for which it has several institutions in place.
Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS)
National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
Department of Health Research (DHR)
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
These agencies have not functioned harmoniously in the best of times.
The Centre bypassed them, designating the country’s pandemic response to the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) and invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897, giving the Centre extraordinary powers to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic – as if the pandemic demanded not public health but political and civil administrative responses.
Since healthcare is constitutionally each state government’s responsibility, India’s 28 states and 9 Union territories were conveniently left bereft of a plan, guidance or adequate funds.
The Centre took on the role of umpire instead of coach, sending inspecting teams to selected states as if they needed umpiring.
ICMR, India’s apex medical research organisation, made several perplexing decisions.
In the initial weeks of the pandemic only the ICMR’s lab, the accomplished National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, served as the sole testing lab for a country of 1.38 billion people.
When apparent that testing capacity needed to urgently expand, only public sector labs were initially permitted, excluding all private labs. Eventually such meaningless restrictions were lifted.
Even today, as the pandemic approaches its peak, there are only around 1,200labs across the country.
UP, for example, has just 1 PCR testing lab per 30 million population.
In the initial months of the pandemic ICMR also insisted all patients be hospitalised, despite it being clear that the majority could be managed with equal success by home isolation.
Initial discharge criteria were equally stringent, with 2 negative PCR tests being mandated before a patient could leave hospital, resulting in a waste of precious resources.
What if another pandemic appears on the horizon?
Surely our response should be governed by science and strategy and overseen by experts?
Now is the best opportunity to create a health management infrastructure that is commensurate with India’s needs and potential.
Can a country that doesn’t know how to control TB, typhoid, cholera, and malaria (to name just a few diseases endemic in India), learn how to manage a new disease, aptly described by a Niti Aayog expert as “one more animal in our zoo”?
India has world class experts; why not use them and seize the day?
India and geopolitics of TikTok | IndExp
India’s ban on the hugely popular TikTok and other Chinese apps.
TikTok is now at the centre of a rapidly expanding digital war between the United States and China.
USA is doing it differently than us. It has asked ByteDance to handover TikTok’s US business to Microsoft.
Microsoft wants to take over the TikTokmarket in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Microsoft is also promising that the deal will meet all the administration’s national security concerns.
Is it a personal vengance by Mr Trump?
Administration officials believe the tide might be turning in America’s favour in the new digital confrontation.
Until now, Beijing was supremely confident in its assessment that it could exclude the US apps like Facebook, Gmail and Twitter from its market, but yet continue to exploit the US market for the advance of its digital entities.
The US Attorney General William Barr reminded Apple, Google, Microsoft and Disney not to forget their American identity and their obligations under US law.
“But they should remember that what allowed them to succeed in the first place was the American enterprise system, the rule of law, and the security afforded by America’s economic, technological and militarystrength”.
The new American consensus appears to be in sync with India’s own recent turn towards decoupling from China and the plan to rearrange its digital engagement with the world within a framework of trusted political partnerships.
Preserving the wildlife ecosystem | HT
Camera-traps used in the last tiger census (2018) captured the presence of more free-ranging domestic dogs than tigers in 17 tiger reserves.
Substantial presence of both dogs and livestock in at least 30 tiger reserves.
They could lead to the transmission of diseases to wild animals.
India has about 5 million stray cattle
Lack of the adequate number of shelters
Increase in peri-urban dairies
Ban on cattle slaughter in many states
The feral dog population is 60 million
Breakdown of the animal birth control (ABC) programme
Increasing cases of abandonment of dogs
Lack of adequate waste management
Lack of requisite number of shelters
A 2018 research by ATREE found that free-ranging dogs attacked 80 species of wildlife between 2015 and 2016, mostly mammals.
The problem of stray animals is not just in forests, but also in Indian cities.
Govt formulates draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020
Recovery rate of Covid 19 patients reaches 65.77 per cent
Preparations in full swing in Ayodhya for Bhoomi Poojan for construction of Ram Temple
Flood situation in Bihar further deteriorates; Relief, rescue operations intensifies
Indian men's, women's hockey teams for Tokyo Olympics to join National camp in Bengaluru today
Afghanistan: Militants affiliated with IS attack prison in Jalalabad, freed over 400 militants
US Prez Trump bars federal govt agencies from outsourcing to foreign workers
India records highest number of COVID tests, Over 2 crore samples tested so far
HRD Minister, Sports Minister to launch 'Fit India Talks' to inspire school children