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Anita Jain

The BMJ Today: Marking International Workers’ Day

6 May, 14 | by BMJ

Across the world, celebrations marking the International Workers’ Day herald the onset of May. Having its origins in the ‘eight hour day’ movement, which signifies “eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest,” this day recognises efforts to transform labour policies towards promoting the welfare of workers.

Propitiously timed, we have a couple of blogs calling out to policy makers to pay heed to the work pressures faced by general practitioners (GPs) in the UK. more…

Anita Jain on the paradox of rape in India

10 Mar, 14 | by BMJ

“For those who care for their country”—the strap line spelt it out for me. As Aamir Khan returned with the second season of his documentary/talk show, Satyamev Jayate, I knew I would be watching. The show stirred the hearts of Indians across the globe in its last run. It had thrown up incisive questions about our society and the functioning of bureaucracy, at large. Did it lead to action and change as hoped? That’s a tough call for a TV show, I’d think. And as Aamir set straight right away, the show is a platform to lay bare and discuss issues we tend to remain silent about, or even shove under the rug, and to identify solutions together. more…

Richard Hurley: We need your help: what will India’s 2014 general elections mean for health?

19 Feb, 14 | by BMJ Group

rich_hurleyIn a couple of months India will hold parliamentary elections to determine its next central government. This administration, due to hold office from June, will also have responsibility for drafting India’s 13th five year plan, which is key to its direction of development from 2017.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that he will not serve another term. Will his left-of-centre Indian National Congress, the ruling party since 2004, hang on to power? Or might the main opposition, the more socially conservative Bharatiya Janata Party, win, giving its leader, Narendra Modi, his chance in the hot seat? more…

Anita Jain: Lessons from history for modern medicine

17 Feb, 14 | by BMJ

“Medical knowledge usually relegates history to an incidental and anecdotal role but always outside the boundary of development of pure scientific knowledge.”


Anita Jain: Training science communicators in India

11 Feb, 14 | by BMJ

Acupuncture boosts libido,” blared the headline of a leading Indian daily. “Acupuncture effective treatment for breast cancer,” proclaimed another. These are in effect reporting a study which examined if acupuncture is any better than drugs in treating hot flashes in breast cancer patients on anti-estrogen therapy, and found no difference. The study participants included 50 American women, nearly half of whom dropped out at 12 months.

Reading the morning paper however, one may be misled into believing the unexplored promises of acupuncture. To be fair, the full news report did possibly explain the study in more detail. Even so, such headlines are not an acceptable standard for reporting science. What gives rise to these? One reason may be a singleminded objective of grabbing people’s attention through sensationalist reporting. Another contributing factor though is that the wrong message is perpetuated right from the abstract of the original paper to the press release and onwards. Termed as “spin” in reporting parlance, the tendency to emphasise the positives of an experimental treatment is unfortunately common—as found in a study in PLOS Medicine. more…

Anita Jain: Ensuring no woman dies during childbirth in India

16 Jan, 14 | by BMJ

In conversation with my grandmother recently, I travelled nearly 60 years back in time to a village in Rajasthan as she recounted her near death experience during childbirth. Though lately prone to forgetting minor details, she surprised me with a vivid description of the events as they unfurled when she experienced excessive bleeding around the seventh month of her pregnancy. Nearly the whole village was driven into action that night. The local doctor astutely identified it to be an emergency requiring immediate referral to a higher centre. With no motorized vehicle available, a bullock cart was called into action and a bunch of people holding lanterns accompanied her to a clinic in the nearest town. It was a journey of four hours, that takes little under 30 minutes in a jeep today. A stillborn baby was delivered, and my grandmother, still critical, was taken to the nearest city hospital for urgent blood transfusion. With no blood bank, a matching donor was identified and finalized, but did not show up at the last minute. She pulled through however, and emerged, as she says, stronger from it. more…

Anita Jain on the Bangladesh factory collapse and corporate responsibility for worker safety

12 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

“A mother of two, her left arm amputated, she refuses to ever go near a sewing machine again.” In April this year, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing over a 1000 people and injuring many more. Among poignant accounts of despair that emerged from the incident, I felt this woman’s situation reflected the nation’s dilemma as a whole. With nearly 80% of exports fuelled by the garment industry, the Bangladeshi government has to choose between the economics of being a cheap labour platform for big Western retailers and ensuring worker safety. Likewise, millions of Bangladeshi women make the difficult choice everyday to work in dangerous conditions to provide for their families. Are these even justifiable choices? more…

Anita Jain: “It’s time for men to deliver”

3 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

The infamous Delhi gang rape led to an outpouring of public outrage across the country. It signalled a tipping point in people’s angst with the growing pervasiveness of such incidents. Shaken by the brutality of the act, people took to the streets to question the state of affairs of women’s safety in India. With relative speed, an inquiry commission was set up and went to work intently. A new rape law was enacted bringing under its purview a slew of acts constituting inappropriate behaviour towards women with stringent punishments for perpetrators. Guidelines for medical assistance to survivors are also being developed. more…

Anita Jain on the need for women’s rights movements to carve out their own space

31 May, 13 | by BMJ

Last month, women’s rights activists in Mumbai took up a protest along the lines of the “Occupy Men’s Toilets” campaign in China, and demanded more public toilets for women. Last year it was headline news that India has more temples than toilets, so the need is clearly not a new one. In addition to diseases spread by open defecation, women, particularly in rural areas, often place themselves at risk by venturing out to the fields or jungles to defecate before dawn or after dusk. Last year, a woman from Madhya Pradesh was lauded for refusing to stay in her husband’s house until they constructed a toilet. This courageous act flagged up a “No Toilet, No Bride” movement in parts of India, also sometimes referred to as “No Loo, No I Do.” more…

Anita Jain: A roundtable on primary healthcare in India

27 Feb, 13 | by BMJ

Coinciding with the visit of the British prime minister, David Cameron, to India last week, a business seminar was held in Mumbai to identify opportunities for health sector partnerships.

Meeta Lochan, secretary of the public health department of Maharashtra, offered insights on the intricacies of healthcare provisioning in Maharashtra. For instance, over the years the government has invested substantially in building health facilities so that nearly 60% of beds at the tertiary care level are now in the public health sector. However, less than 25% of doctors and medical equipment are in the public sector. Lack of data on the health outcomes of these investments further prevents effective planning for the future. To set standards for the quality of care in the nation, the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act came into force in 2010. However, implementation of the act has been sparse and very few states have adopted it so far. more…

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