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Madras High Court should rule fast on OBC quota in medical seats: Tamil Nadu

A group of petitioners, in their interim prayers in the Madras High Court, attempted to stop the ongoing process of admissions in postgraduate medical courses.

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Madras High Court Chennai

New Delhi, July 2 : The Tamil Nadu government has moved the Supreme Court, seeking a direction to the Madras High Court to “expeditiously hear and dispose” off petitions against the Centre’s decision not granting 50 per cent quota to OBCs in medical seats surrendered by the state in the all India quota in 2020-21.

The state government has challenged the high court’s June 22 order declining any interim order on the OBC quota row. It had adjourned the matter till July 9, citing that a petition similar in nature is scheduled to be taken up for hearing before the apex court on July 8.

The state government had moved the top court on June 11, which asked it to move the high court. “The High Court has erroneously acceded to representations made by the respondents and unjustifiably kept the Petitioner’s writ petition in abeyance till this court issues orders in an ostensibly identical matter in Saloni Kumari v Director General Health Services & Ors which is tentatively listed for July 8,” said the Tamil Nadu government in its plea.

The state government contended that it seeks directions to provide 50 per cent reservation for Backward Classes, most Backward Classes and the Denotified Community in admission to shared seats in postgraduate, undergraduate and diploma medical and dental courses.

Various political parties and the Tamil Nadu government have challenged the Centre’s decision not granting 50 per cent reservation to OBCs as per state law. “Moreover, the High Court has ignored the fact that this court, in an order dated June 11 has, instead of entertaining the petitioner’s petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, expressly granted liberty to the Petitioner to seek relief before the High Court under Article 226,” said the state government plea.

A group of petitioners, in their interim prayers in the Madras High Court, attempted to stop the ongoing process of admissions in postgraduate medical courses.

Reportedly, the Madras High Court had declined to pass any interim order on the petitions after taking on record the Centre’s contention that from 1986, reservation has not been provided in the AIQ (All-India quota) seats for medical admission, which is in accordance with the directive of the top court.

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Doctors estimate 3-fold rise in deaths of patients waiting for organ transplant during lockdown

Prof Subhash Gupta, Chairman of Centre for Liver and Biliary Sciences, said that the government should step forward and roll out schemes to increase organ donation.

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Corona Death Body

New Delhi, Aug 13 : The nationwide lockdown imposed from March 24 has affected services across sectors, and key areas of medical care were also not left untouched due to the 68-day total shutdown.

In the grip of the coronavirus and lockdown, the life-saving organ transplant procedures had come to a standstill. The hospitals and transplantation centers have experienced a tremendous reduction in the number of organ donations and solid organ (kidney, liver, heart, and lung) transplant procedures, leading to an exponential rise in the deaths of patients who were waiting for critical transplants.

Doctors have estimated that they lost at least thrice the number of patients during lockdown than in normal times due to “waitlist mortality”.

“This is a heart-shattering fact. We have observed a lot of waitlist mortality during the lockdown. The people who expected transplantation have passed away just waiting for their surgery,” said Ushast Dhir, a surgeon in liver transplantation and gastroenterology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.

Dhir said that many patients have died during the lockdown. While it is challenging to assess nationwide figures in the absence of any register, he estimated that his hospital lost patients on the waitlist three times more during the lockdown than normal times.

However, multiple factors like stricter norms due to the Covid-19 pandemic, unavailability of donors, restriction on mobility in lockdown, and the fear of Covid among living donors and the patients, have also played a role in the delayed transplantation that eventually led to the deaths.

No accidents, no organs for transplantation

The doctors said that the primary reason behind the extended wait was the unavailability of organs. The live donors and the patients were hesitant to undergo transplant surgery due to the Covid scare. Meanwhile, the patients who did not have living donors, but needed surgery immediately, were unable to find deceased donors in the lockdown period.

“The majority of the deceased donors come from cases of road accidents. Since vehicles were not plying on the roads during the lockdown, it prevented accident deaths, leading to a huge scarcity of organs for critically-ill patients,” said Harish Manian, CEO of MGM Hospital in Chennai.

Manian also agreed with Dhir that the waitlist mortality was nearly thrice than the pre-lockdown period. “We do not have any exact figures since it is not published anywhere. However, observing the trend, this estimate does not seem like an exaggeration,” he added.

Unreachability to transplantation centres

Pradeep Joshi, who was GI and liver transplant surgeon at the King George Medical College (KGMC) in Lucknow, said that many patients, especially in small towns, would have suffered as they could not have accessed the transplantation centers during the lockdown as they are based in metro and bigger cities.

“The need for transplant is an indication that the patient is at the end-stage. The survival in this condition is up to 6 months, and such terminally-ill patients, who needed transplantation during the lockdown, were unable to get it due to restriction on mobility. Not everyone could afford an air ambulance,” he said.

Stricter norms after the onset of Covid

Apart from immobility and scarcity of donors, another factor that contributed to the waitlist mortality was stricter norms in organ transplantation enforced in view of Covid-19. The doctors opined that these norms had led to a substantial drop in deceased organ donation and transplantation.

As per the latest guidelines, the donor, the recipient, and the close relatives of both have to obtain negative status in the Covid-19 test, before the transplantation process.

Time is the key in transplantation surgery, said Manian.

“The latest norms have extended the whole process of organ transplantation. Earlier, the whole process used to be finished within 24 hours. Now, the documentation alone takes 24 hours. Then allocation and retrieval time and wait for the Covid-19 tests adds an extra 24 hours. Now, the complete process takes around 48 hours or more. It becomes detrimental for the patient and has led to deaths as well,” he said.

Dhir said that waiting for RT-PCR tests for Covid-19 becomes life-threatening for the patients.

“The interval between requesting the family of the deceased donor and procuring the organs already takes much time. Plus sometimes, the hemodynamic stability of the patient is so small that we cannot wait for RT-PCR reports which generally take a long time to arrive,” he said.

However, Dhir and Manian added that the process is mandatory to follow as it ensures the safety of the patient, as if a patient contracts the virus, his or her survival chances decrease by 90 per cent.

Asymptomatic donors pose a significant threat

The doctors also said that the asymptomatic donors are another hurdle in the organ transplantation.

“The RT-PCR test’s false negativity is assumed to be 30 per cent, and that is why the transplants went down substantially in April and May as there was extreme concern about the living donor’s COVID status. If the donor is an asymptomatic carrier and we somehow miss it, the patient would suffer from a lung infection, and it would be difficult for him to survive,” said P.N. Gupta, Head of Nephrology and Kidney Transplant, Paras Hospital in Gurugram.

Despite all this, the experts agreed that the government should step in to facilitate the organ donation service.

Prof Subhash Gupta, Chairman of Centre for Liver and Biliary Sciences, said that the government should step forward and roll out schemes to increase organ donation.

“India’s annual requirement of organ transplantation is nearly 3 lakh but it does only 2,000 to 3,000 transplants. It is a costly surgery, and the governments should subsidise it like other forms of treatment. Besides, they can also make a provision for the donors, or their kin (in case of death) could receive some health benefits against the noble cause of organ donation,” he added.

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‘Young people play important role in helping stop Covid-19 transmission’

“Working together, all of us, old and young, from everywhere in the world, can overcome this pandemic,”

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO

Geneva, Aug 13 : Although most young people are not at high risk of severe disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, they play an important role in the collective responsibility to help stop the virus transmission, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

In celebrating International Youth Day, with a theme of “Youth Engagement for Global Action” this year, the WHO Director-General, together with UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay, recognized young people, youth organizations, and youth networks around the world for their collective action during COVID-19, reports Xinhua news agency.

“This pandemic is having a major impact on the future of young adults — not just from the virus itself, but because of its impacts on the economy, employment, education, and the overall health system,” Tedros said, asking young people to “be informed and make choices about their health to prepare for long and healthy lives”.

“It is critical that we engage with young people now to start the journey to understanding their own health.”

He further left three requests for them.

First, he called on organizations, intuitions and governments “to listen, engage and empower young adults as partners in action. Our future is their future”.

“Second, we have to give young people a much larger role in political decision-making. Their voices often go unheard, even though more than half of the world’s population is under 35 years old.

“Finally, and most importantly, to young adults around the world, I say: Think big and be bold. We count on you for your creativity and your fresh ideas…

“Working together, all of us, old and young, from everywhere in the world, can overcome this pandemic,” he added.

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Over 22,000 ‘Make in India’ ventilators given to states: Centre

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ventilator, prototype

New Delhi, Aug 13 : The Centre on Thursday stated that it has distributed more than 3.04 crore N95 masks and over 1.28 crore PPE kits to states, union territories and Central institutions free of cost in the last five months. Over 22,000 ‘Make in India’ ventilators have also been delivered.

The Centre has been strengthening the health infrastructure to fight the pandemic and effectively manage it. Along with augmenting Covid-19 facilities, the government has been providing medical supplies free of cost to the states and union territories to supplement their efforts.

“Since 11th March 2020, the Union Government has distributed more than 3.04 crore N95 masks and more than 1.28 crore PPE kits to states, UTs, Central Institutions, free of cost. Also, more than 10.83 crore HCQ tablets have been distributed to them,” the government said.

In addition, 22,533 ‘Make in India’ ventilators have been delivered and their “installation and commissioning is also being ensured”.

“Most of the products supplied by the Government of India were not being manufactured in the country in the beginning. The rising global demand due to the pandemic resulted in their scarce availability in the foreign markets,” it added.

As a result, resolve for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ has been strengthened and most of the supplies made by the Union Government are domestically manufactured.

With the combined efforts of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Pharmaceuticals, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and others, the domestic industry has been encouraged and facilitated to manufacture and supply essential medical equipment like PPEs, N95 masks, ventilators, etc., during this period.

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