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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…

Vijayaprasad Gopichandran: How can we measure patients’s trust in doctors?

4 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

vijayaprasadJum Nunnally, the much acclaimed author of “Psychometric Theory” the standard textbook of psychometrics, which has run into several volumes, says “an accurate method was available for measuring the circumference of the earth 2000 years before the first systematic measures of human ability were developed.”

He expresses surprise that psychometrics took so long to develop as a specialty. Scholars still debate on the scientific rigor of psychometrics and its validity in assessing ability. As a physician and public health researcher my forage into psychometrics is recent and I had a very fleeting affair with the field in my efforts to develop a scale to measure trust in doctors. more…

Aditya J Nanavati: Dealing with patients seeking “instant gratification”

3 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Aditya J NanavatiI must admit I feel immense joy when I see an instant message pop-up on my phone screen. I do not think it makes a difference whether it is a meaningful conversation or pure gossip. There is something very gratifying in receiving a response almost instantly. When I think a little more about this feeling I understand that technology today thrives on “instant gratification.” We now pay bills, make restaurant reservations, book travel online, and can google almost everything. The appeal is understandable. I suspect however this feeling has now percolated far beyond the digital universe. This feeling of instant gratification is almost as addictive as an illicit drug and we now seek it everywhere. I may not be the only doctor who has heard “Can’t you just give me one pill and make it better” Doctors, I believe, will increasingly face patients who seek this instant gratification from medicine as well. more…

Roshan Radhakrishnan: When “viral” is a good thing for a doctor

28 May, 15 | by BMJ

When I hit the publish button for my recent blogpost, nothing would have prepared me for what was coming. I would have gladly accepted the usual 400 views with a few dozen comments. 72 hours and 2 lakh views later, I found myself the centre of discussion on over a dozen news media outlets, both national and international.

In a country with a population of over 1.2 billion, having a doctor to patient ratio of 0.7 (as compared to United Kingdom’s 2.8) means that we are always going to be swamped with patients beyond a logical human capacity. When only 1% of the country’s GDP is allocated for public healthcare, it further cripples efforts to help those who need us the most. 100 hour a week work shifts, working with a lack of essential medicines or surgical instruments, and woefully disproportionate salaries are considered part of being in “the noble profession” here, but it stops being about selfless service when the issue of violence against doctors comes into the picture. more…

Vijayaprasad Gopichandran: Peer review from an author, reviewer, and editor’s perspective

14 May, 15 | by BMJ

I write this as someone who just recovered from a battle that lasted 2 years in an attempt to publish the findings of one of my research papers. Four journals and 10 sets of peer reviews later, a paper which was initially deemed unfit to publish has been accepted by a reputed, indexed, high impact journal. I want to share my experience of the peer review process from three different perspectives, as an author, a reviewer and an editor of two journals.

Peer review from the perspective of an author: more…

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