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Regulation of healthcare needed to check corruption: Salman Khurshid

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Salman Khurshid

New Delhi, July 12 : Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Thursday said a strong regulatory system is needed to check widespread corruption in the Indian healthcare sector where 25 per cent of the money spent on health is lost due to fraud.

“What you need really is a profound regulatory system. Regulation is itself something that can go wrong but if we have a good clear regulatory system it will help,” he said at the launch of book “Healers or Predators? Healthcare Corruption in India”.

Khurshid said private hospitals who get land from the government are obliged to provide 30 per cent of their beds to the poor for free but these obligations are hardly met. Patients with no real ailment and hence no expenditure are admitted to account for the 30 per cent.

The former Union Law Minister also said even the judges are not familiar with what constitutes a medical malpractice.

“We could have a death because of cardiac attack as the patient was put through tests that were not advisable and all that the hospital says is pay and we will release the body. How many cases have you heard where sanctions have been imposed on such malpractice?”

The book, which highlights corruption in India’s healthcare and medical system, is a compilation of various reports written by medical doctors on the various crises plaguing the sector and edited by Samiran Nundy, Keshav Desiraju and Sanjay Nagral.

BMJ Group Non-executive Director David Berger, who first highlighted deep-rooted but widely accepted corruption in Indian healthcare, said he was struck by the lack of trust between doctors and patients that destroys the healing relationship.

BMJ, a subsidiary of the British Medical Association, is a provider of journals, clinical decision support, events and medical education.

“The solutions are upstream, not downstream. Ranting about individual doctors being corrupt is no use. As a start, the Medical Council of India (MCI) needs to be reformed or replaced by an effective system of professional regulation where doctors are held to account,” Berger said.

Gastrointestinal surgeon and writer Nundy said there is wide asymmetry of information — doctors know everything and the patients know nothing. Patients look at doctors as god or near god and it is terrible to betray that trust, he said.

He said the Indian health system is the second most corrupt sector after police, as per a report by Transparency International. As part of solution, the country needs to first accept the National Medical Commission Bill, he said.

Other panelists at the book launch expressed deep concern over the Modi government’s flagship healthcare protection scheme, popularly called Modicare, because of the lack of basic regulation of the private sector, which accounts for 70 per cent of the country’s hospitals. The government will be heavily dependent on the private sector for the success of Ayushman Bharat.

However, NITI Ayog Member Health Vinod Paul, who believes self-regulation is essential, believes in the power of technology and analytics to raise a red flag at the possible points of corruption, and then “match it with a deterrent in terms of penalties and prosecution”.

“I think in a transparent, information technology driven system using analytics and artificial intelligence gives us an additional, very powerful tool which the developed nations have used to avert cases of corruption,” he said.

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Zika virus cases reach 72 in Jaipur

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Zika Virus

Jaipur, Oct 15 : The number of people infected with the Zika virus rose to 72 in Jaipur, officials from the health department said on Monday.

The number of people carrying the virus was put out after a review meeting chaired by Additional Chief secretary (Health) Veenu Gupta.

The officials informed that 280 teams were surveying the affected areas by visiting each and every house. Around 96,000 houses had been surveyed till date.

Since Sunday, the health department has started issuing challans against owners of houses where larvae of the mosquito that transmits the virus were found.

The virus is transmitted through the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito. It causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, and muscle and joint pain. It is particularly harmful to pregnant women, as it can lead to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected upon birth.

Till Monday evening, 68 such challans were issued and penalties of Rs 44,000 were imposed.

Screening and anti-larvae measures are continuing in the capital city. The samples are also being collected from those suffering from fever, the officials said.

The people in the affected areas are being advised to temporarily suspend water storage, and the same is being supplied via tankers.

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Internet obsession among adolescents leading to mental disorder: Experts

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Spending excessive time over internet and social media is emerging as a leading cause for mental disorder among adolescents and youths, say medical experts.

“It is seen that youths and teenagers are getting obsessed with mobile phones and computers. They spend most of time either playing games and chatting over social media and get away from the real world,” RK Chadda, HOD Psychiatry and Chief National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC).

According to Dr Rachna Bhargava, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and NDDTC AIIMS, excessive time spent over virtual world is forces youths to remain secluded from reality.

“Individuals develop an imaginary world and tend to confine themselves within that. Youths, especially boys aged between 14-25, have been observed to be more prone to mental disorder,” Bhargava added.

Among early symptoms it is found that a child tends to stop interacting or mingling with other children and creates a distance from family members.

“If a device is being forcefully taken away from a child, it is seen that he or she tends to lose temper and even misbehaves,” Dr Anju Dhawan, NDDTC stated.

Dr Pratap Saran, Psychiatry, AIIMS pointed that the primary reason behind youths falling prey to mobile games or social media addiction is because of lack of parental supervision.

“It is often seen that the parents remain engulfed in their own daily routine work and ignores the child. At times even the parents also fails to understand or realise that a child is developing mental disorder and it further escalates the syndrome,” Dr Saran added.

However, most mental disorder cases remain unattended. Dr Bhargava said the reason behind is that neither the patients nor anyone from their families come up and talk about it to medical experts.

“Most people do not even realise that they are facing mental disorder. Many think it is a stigma to attend a psychiatrist and hesitate to report or talk about the issues. There is quite a gap between psychiatrists and mental disorder patients,” she said.

According to the experts, mental disorder owing to social media and mobile games can be avoided if parents start early supervision.

“The addiction cannot be measured in a particular time frame. It can develop after using even for 3-4 hours of more than 6 hours. It is very important that parents should take their child for outdoor activities, that will help them to keep in pace with the real world,” Dr Chadda mentioned.

The recently concluded National Mental Health Survey of India estimates current prevalence of mental disorders in the age group 18-29 at 7.39 per cent and lifetime prevalence at 9.54 per cent.

AIIMS also organised an event to promote awareness of mental health issues affecting the young people on the occasion of World Mental Health Day which is marked on October 10 every year.

(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at [email protected])

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Overdose of Vitamin A may up bone fracture risk

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Vitamin A
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London, Oct 9: Over-supplementing Vitamin A in your diet may decrease bone thickness, leading to weak and fracture-prone bones, a new study claims.

Vitamin A found in meat, dairy products and vegetables, is an essential source that is important for growth, vision, immunity and organ function.

The findings showed that mice which were given lower doses of Vitamin A, equivalent to 4.5-13 times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) in humans, showed thinning of their bones in just eight days.

“Overconsumption of Vitamin A may be an increasing problem as many more people now take vitamin supplements. Overdose of Vitamin A could be increasing the risk of bone weakening disorders in humans but more studies are needed to investigate this,” said Ulf Lerner, Professor from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

“In the majority of cases, a balanced diet is perfectly sufficient to maintain the body’s nutritional needs for Vitamin A,” Lerner added.

Previous studies on mice have shown that short-term overdosing of Vitamin A, at the equivalent of 13-142 times the RDA in people, results in decreased bone thickness and an increased fracture risk after just one or two weeks.

However, these studies were performed with very high doses of Vitamin A, over a short period of time.

“In our study we have shown that much lower concentrations of Vitamin A, a range more relevant for humans, still decreases rodent bone thickness and strength,” Lerner noted.

Researchers suggested that people should be cautious of over-supplementing Vitamin A in their diets.

IANS

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