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Anant Bhan: The Call to Action Summit 2015—thoughts on some key areas for discussion and action

26 Aug, 15 | by BMJ


India is hosting the Call to Action Summit on the 27-28 August in New Delhi. The summit is focused on ending preventable child and maternal deaths, and will be co-hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Government of India, the Ministry of Health Government of Ethiopia, USAID, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Tata Trusts. The summit will bring together health ministers from 24 priority countries (contributing 70% of the world’s child and maternal deaths) which signed on to a global call for action for child survival in June 2012 along with researchers, policy makers, funders, experts, and representatives from industry, civil society, and media. The meeting has an interesting and packed agenda. It would be good to see a discussion on the following areas during the summit: more…

Nilanjan Bhor: Moving towards inclusive healthcare for migrants in India

18 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

According to the 2011 census, approximately 400m of India’s 1.21bn population are “internal migrants.” These migrant communities in Indian cities constitute a large proportion of people living in urban slums.

Some of them have migrated from rural to urban settings as an entire family, others as parents, and some as individuals (the head of the household, for example). Some have become urban residents working in the construction industry, and they migrate back to their origin (homes) seasonally for agricultural work. Some migrate to escape civil conflict or domestic violence. more…

Manoj Kumar Pati: Road traffic injuries—an ignored public health issue in India

10 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

Manoj Kumar PatiThe World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.24 million road traffic deaths occur every year globally. Of those, the majority (80%) of deaths occur only in middle income countries. Yet the irony is that only 35% of low and middle income countries (LMICs) have policies to protect road users. In the entire world, only 28 countries with 7% of the world’s population have adequate road safety laws that address all five risk factors (speed, drink driving, helmets, seat belts, and child restraints).

In India, road traffic injuries pose a significant public health challenge to the already overburdened health system, and hamper the economic development of the country. Road accidents in India cause nearly half a million injuries each year and an average 130 000 deaths (the highest number of road fatalities in the world). Thirteen states (out of the total of 29) in India contribute to 85% of these deaths and injuries, according to a report from the Indian government’s Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. more…

Anant Bhan: Gender gap in medical education leadership in India

31 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

anant_bhanThere is a rising welcome trend of women joining medical colleges in India, with female students being comparable in number or even outnumbering male students in many colleges. This trend is much more prominent in neighbouring Pakistan, with estimates that 80-85% of current medical students are women.

Women in medicine in India now follow a long tradition—Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi was the first south Asian woman graduate in allopathic medicine in 1886, receiving an MD from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, USA. Kadambini Ganguly was the first female South Asian physician trained in allopathic medicine to graduate in south Asia—she graduated from Bengal Medical College in 1886 (the same year as Joshi graduated). The Lady Hardinge Medical College, which solely takes women for their undergraduate medical course (MBBS) was established in 1916 and is currently celebrating its centenary year. There are other medical colleges solely training women undergraduate medical students—such as the Dr VRK Women’s Medical College, Aziznagar, and the BPS Government Medical College for Women, Sonepat.


Anant Bhan: Leadership gap in India’s publicly funded health research

27 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

AnantBhan_BMJblogs_Jul2015The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), India’s apex body for funding health research, advertised this month for directors of nine of its constituent institutes/centres. Applications are due by 4 September, and it’s probable that the positions will not be filled until the end of this year. ICMR’s top position—the director general’s post—has also been lying vacant since March 2015 after the retirement of Dr VM Katoch. The ICMR’s director general also usually serves as the secretary of the Department of Health Research (DHR), created as an umbrella body in 2007 to promote health research in the country. more…

Veena Rao: India’s welfare woes

9 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

There’s been a huge amount of criticism in India following budgetary cuts imposed on social sector programmes in this year’s budget, the most prominent being the 50% cut in the Ministry of Women and Child Development, custodian of the Integrated Child Development (ICDS) programme, and supposed guardian of India’s nutritional wellbeing. To compensate for this the central government has raised the states’ share of central taxes by 10%, but we are not still very clear how the arithmetic will work, and how much the states will have to contribute from their own budgets, if they want to continue welfare programmes at the same levels. more…

Aditya J Nanavati: A fat(e)al flaw

7 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

Aditya J NanavatiThe concepts of fate and destiny are rooted in the cultural fabric of India. Even though these concepts have provided people with solace in the most difficult times, I believe a closer look is warranted at how they affect medical practice.

Very often, while explaining the potential complications of a surgical procedure I hear, “Thanks for telling me everything clearly. I’m sure only what is written in my fate will happen.” To be honest, the first time I heard it as a surgical trainee I didn’t think much of it; this belief is so deeply embedded among many people that it wasn’t alarming. But as the years have gone on, and I’ve heard this conviction expressed by both healthcare providers and consumers, I have begun to think that the influence on both is unique and not necessarily positive. more…

Doctors’ Day in India: Time for critical reflection for the medical profession

30 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

AnantBhanBhavnaDhingraIndia celebrates Doctors’ Day every year on 1 July, in memory of Bidhan Chandra Roy (1 July 1882-1 July 1962), a well respected physician who was also the second chief minister of the state of West Bengal. The day sees a fair bit of fanfare, with events held across the country, especially by bodies such as the Indian Medical Association. While the day serves to highlight the importance of medicine in society, it should also be an opportunity for medical professionals to reflect on their profession and the challenges facing it. more…

Tushar Garg: India’s medical curricula are abetting outdated constructions of gender and sexuality

24 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Tushar_Garg.2kbRecently, India Today exposed licensed medical practitioners in New Delhi offering conversion therapy to cure homosexuality. It is a sad reflection on the contemporary awareness of gender and sexuality that such quackery is still being practised with impunity.

The Pan American Health Organization has stated that such therapies lack medical justification and “constitute a violation of the ethical principles of healthcare and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements.” The international classification of diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10) also affirms that “sexual orientation by itself is not to be regarded as a disorder.” more…

Jocalyn Clark: Does it pay to pee? An Indian city thinks so

10 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Jocalyn_Clark1When in public, where to pee? This is a universal challenge with a surprising array of local solutions.

Last month Tahmima Anam, in her characteristically delightful New York Times column, revealed that Dhaka, Bangladesh, a city of over 15 million, has just five functional public toilets. The abundance of outdoor labourers and the endless traffic mean a lot of people spend a lot of time with nowhere to go. more…

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