India has made rapid strides in the health sector since Independence: life expectancy has gone up markedly, the infant mortality rate has been halved, 42 per cent of children receive the essential immunisations. We have a huge private healthcare infrastructure. And yet, critical health issues remain: infectious diseases continue to claim a large number of lives, babies continue to die needless deaths from diarrhoea and respiratory infections, and millions still do not have access to the most basic healthcare.
The Supreme Court judgment on the Novartis-Glivec case has gone beyond technical and legal issues and linked the question of patenting with net benefits to society. What the judgment says and what it implies has significance for patent regimes in developing countries
The Supreme Court decision denying Novartis a patent for the cancer drug imanitib has been hailed as a victory for the affordable medicines movement. But it won’t make much difference if doctors continue to prescribe expensive branded drugs, patients believe that only expensive drugs work, and the government does little to support the manufacture of affordable medicines
The draft National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Policy 2011 brings 348 essential drugs under price control, but what about non-essential drugs, which are the bulk of those sold and which can be priced several times higher than their manufacturing cost, asks S Srinivasan
The new National Vaccine Policy Draft 2011openly favours industry. It provides for advance market commitments for new vaccines, whereby government guarantees a market for the vaccine before it is tested and even if it is not efficacious. Should our vaccine policy focus on the health of our children, or the viability of the vaccine industry?
As drug companies flock to India to conduct drug trials on the cheap, they capitalise on a combination of money-hungry researchers, a vulnerable population and a lax regulatory system. This is fertile ground for ethical violations that threaten the health and rights of poor Indians. Read Ankur Paliwal’s article in Down To Earth
India is a global exporter of vaccines but 50% of our children under one are not completely immunised. The government has ordered the reopening of vaccine-manufacturing PSUs, but a strategic plan on consistently meeting India's basic vaccine needs is still not clear. Venkat Srinivasan tells the story of India’s vaccine production programme, a story of politics, dishonesty and misguided priorities
The government’s move to scale up and subsidise community health insurance schemes while doing nothing to improve healthcare service delivery is a flawed strategy. It’s like getting PDS shops to distribute mango kernels and mahua seeds as drought relief instead of foodgrains since the poor survive on these anyway, says Oommen C Kurian
In a country where 26% of participants are enrolling for clinical trials just so that they get free or quality healthcare, it is dangerous to allow contract research organisations easy access to patient databases and to offer medicos payment for recruiting patients in trials, says Sandhya Srinivasan
Our panicky leaders have adopted the very strategy that the WHO warned against in dealing with the H1N1 outbreak, says leading virologist Dr T Jacob John, pointing out in this exclusive article for Infochange how government should have handled the pandemic
The swine flu pandemic is relatively mild in India so far, but in India and elsewhere what governments must do to prevent the occurrence of such outbreaks is strengthen public health systems, regulate corporate livestock farming, and ensure access to essential drugs and vaccines
India marked World Malaria Day (April 25) with over 1 million cases of the disease in 2008, half of them of the dangerous P falciparum strain. Since this is largely due to unplanned urban growth and the growing number of urban poor, urban planning that is done keeping community needs in mind would go a long way in checking the spread of malaria
A startling new study that surveyed 700,000 people in Raigad and Mumbai suggests that the burden of leprosy could be three to nine times the official figures. Obviously, people are not being detected and treated in time. Are the misguided policies of the National Leprosy Elimination Programme leading to a public health failure?
Despite launching the largest ever mass immunisation campaign against polio in February 2003, targeting 165 million children, the battle against polio has not been won. To understand the causes of the repeated occurrence, we need to understand the profile of the wild polio virus
When India passed the Transplantation of Human Organs Act banning trade in organs, those who had agitated for the law may have thought they had won the battle. Instead the kidney trade has only flourished. The public is being told that the only way to put a stop to the kidney trade by people such as Amit Kumar, who has been running a global trade in organs since 1994, is to regulate the market for human organs
Following the NFHS survey, the HIV numbers game has begun again. The point is that regardless of the actual number of people infected in India, there can be no complacency or drop in political and societal commitment towards HIV intervention and the rights of positive people