India's Draft National Health Policy 2015: Equity and Scientific Practices Overlooked
Kerala, a state in southern India, has made impressive improvements in its population's conditions of living. Despite having a low per capita income, its indicators of social development—such as the human development index (0.84), infant mortality rate (12/1000 live births), sex ratio (1084 females to 1000 males), and female literacy rates (92.07%) - are comparable to those of many developed countries.
However, several outbreaks of hepatitis A have occurred in Kerala state in recent years, with outbreaks involving more than 100 people at a time reported from almost all districts of Kerala in the past decade. According to the state’s official disease surveillance system, there were at least 22 deaths due to hepatitis A over the past two years and the majority of these deaths were in the age group of 30-45 years.
Developing a health registry for Coastal Population: Protocol of the Valiyathura Population Based Health Registry in Kerala, the southern coast of India
Health registries are valuable resources for epidemiology. It allows exploring large population level data as new hypotheses arise and test for multiple causal factors. More innovative ideas need to be integrated with current data collection designs to make registries economically feasible. Most Low and middle income countries have rudimentary surveillance and registration systems. Even where these exist, their robustness is doubtful and does not have adequate coverage to substantiate its validity. However, the potential for research and policy making is enormous when viewing population registries. Going by this view, Valiyathura Population Based Health Registry (VPBHR) focuses on coastal population from Valiyathura coastal ward in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
Do we need to consider Universalising Hepatitis A Vaccine in Kerala, India?
Kerala, a state in southern India, has achieved improvements in material conditions of living. Despite having a low per capita income, its indicators of social development are comparable to those of many developed countries. Several outbreaks of hepatitis A have been reported from Kerala State in recent years. 2-5 Hepatitis A outbreaks involving more than 100 people at a time have been reported from majority of districts of Kerala in last decade.5-9 As per State's official disease surveillance system, there were at least 22 deaths due to hepatitis A in past 24 months and majority of the deaths were in the age group of 30-45 years. Though Hepatitis A is a self-limiting viral disease, it causes significant morbidity. People affected with Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) may take a few months to return to work, school, or daily life. Hence being infected with Hepatitis A can lead to economic losses and have social consequences in the community setting. A report showed that average out of pocket expenditure, to a family due to one of its member affected with hepatitis A in Kerala to be INR 24025 (SD INR 8315).1
The 'Spittoon Syndrome' How Effective Will Be the Anti-spitting Initiatives in India?
In the developed world, the practice of spitting in public has declined largely due to behavioural and cultural changes. However, in the less deve loped countries, people are known to spit indiscriminately in public places, esp ecially where there is a corner. The practice is not limited to the betel leaf-chewing population which dis colours room corners and stairs in public offi ces. One can also observe people spitting on the roads, commuters dirtying public transport, moviegoers spitting in cinema halls. The act of spitting has socio cultural and especially gender dimensions (Lindstrom 1980); spitting is largely practised by men and one rarely fi nds women spitting in public places. Given the recent anti-spitting initiatives in India, it is important to debate the effi cacy of legislations in the complex Indian scenario and suggest a com prehensive strategy for controlling the practice.
India’s Draft National Health Policy 2015: Equity and Scientific Practices Overlooked
The Ministry of Health has brought out the draft of a new National Health Policy, which is now in the public domain for discussions. The National Health Policies of 1983 and 2002 have served the country well, in guiding the approaches for health sector planning and for the programming of different schemes. Development of a more robust, effective, and credible new national health policy will definitely give direction and coherence to our efforts to further improve the health status of the nation. The new government needs to be congratulated for bringing out a new health policy within a few months of assuming power. However it looks like not enough homework has been done in the preparation of the draft policy and this is reflected in the fact that, unlike previous health policies, the new policy lacks overall direction as well as clear-cut goals and indicators.
Prescription for a ‘healthy’ government
India has elected a new government. Health has received unprecedented attention over the last decade though it’s far from required. There are lots of issues, which the new government has to address on a priority basis. The country needs a comprehensive health policy and a strategy to mitigate health effects due to developmental activities. Drug prices need to be regulated and out of pocket expenses should be cut down
Hand washing and Public Health
The importance of hand-washing in personal and public hygiene has evolved over the centuries. While the market with its countless number of soaps and hand-wash products for personal hygiene with the accompanying advertising has created a false sense of security, it is community hygiene implemented through public health measures that is really effective in the battle against disease.
A Perilous Pilgrimage- The Case of Sabarimala
Massive footfalls at pilgrim towns increase the risk of major accidents and disrupt the local ecology. The Kerala state government’s plan to make the Sabarimala temple town a national pilgrim centre, that includes devising a mass gathering and safe pilgrimage policy for pilgrims thronging the hill shrine, could serve as a model for the development of other pilgrim centres.
Union Budget- 2015 : Priorities for health sector
India continues to be among the countries of the world that have a high burden of diseases, but with proportionately very poor public expenditure. If the proposed action plan aimed at Universal Health Coverage has to work out the new government has to take conscious decision to increase health care spending with general taxation as the primary source
Diphtheria Deaths in Kerala- Signs of an Impending Crisis
The diphtheria deaths in Kerala have shown the signs of a public health crisis. If it is not tackled through action and awareness then it may have far-reaching consequences and demean the much-acclaimed Kerala model of health.