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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.

Disaster

Serum Institute CEO has a question for govt: ‘Will it have Rs 80k cr to give each Indian Covid vaccine’

Serum Institute of India has the licence to produce and market two of the leading vaccine candidates, one being developed by AstraZeneca and the Oxford University, and the other one by US company Novavax.

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Covid 19 Vaccine

New Delhi: Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawala Saturday asked if the government will have Rs 80,000 crore available over the next one year to buy and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine.

Terming it as “next concerning challenge” that needs to be tackled, Poonawala tweeted, “Quick question; will the government of India have 80,000 crores available, over the next one year? Because that’s what @MoHFW_INDIA needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India.”

He also tagged the prime minister’s office in his tweet. “I ask this question, because we need to plan and guide, vaccine manufacturers both in India and overseas to service the needs of our country in terms of procurement and distribution,” he added.

SII, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has the licence to produce and market two of the leading vaccine candidates, one being developed by AstraZeneca and the Oxford University, and the other one by US company Novavax. The Oxford University vaccine is currently undergoing phase-II and phase-III trials in India. Earlier, the institute had announced that it will make the Oxford vaccine available at USD 3 for low-and-middle-income countries including India.

Apart from bringing some of the leading contenders of a coronavirus vaccine to India, the Serum is developing its own vaccine as well. It is partnering with SpyBiotech, a spin-off of Oxford University, for this purpose. Their vaccine candidate has entered into combined phase-I/phase-II clinical trials, which are being done in Australia. The trials began in the first week of September.

Meanwhile, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that as the largest vaccine producing country of the world, India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help people across the world. “As the largest vaccine producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today. India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis,” PM Modi said.

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Eyesight problems rising among kids

Besides, cases of reflective errors in terms of myopia and hypermetropia have also surfaced among children.

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childrens vision problems

Lucknow, Sep 26 : With children spending more time on computers and mobile phones for online classes and gaming, cases of eye sight problems are on the rise.

Children and teens between the ages of 6 and 18 years have been found to be suffering from convergence efficiency, computer vision syndrome, reflective errors and other eye sight problems.

According to rough estimates, nearly 40 per cent children have complained of various eye and vision related problems in recent weeks.

Majority of the children are being diagnosed with convergence insufficiency — a condition in which the eyes are unable to work together when looking at nearby objects. This condition causes one eye to turn outward instead of inward with the other eye, creating double or blurred vision, said Anil Rastogi, a well-known ophthalmologist.

Children working long hours on computers and smart phones usually complain of itching or burning in eyes, watering, loss of retention power, besides headache and eye pain, Rastogi added.

Shikha Kumar, another ophthalmologist, said that since the national lockdown, most children have been found to be spending eight to 10 hours on electronic devices.

“They are either attending online classes, or watching cartoons or television and playing video games. Parents feel that this is the best way to keep them occupied but this prolonged exposure to electronic devices is playing havoc with their eyesight,” she pointed out.

Doctors say that children are being diagnosed with computer vision syndrome where they complain of pain, redness, dryness, blurring of vision, double vision and other head and neck sprains.

Besides, cases of reflective errors in terms of myopia and hypermetropia have also surfaced among children.

Doctors suggest eye exercises, frequent breaks from TV/computer/ mobile phone screens to prevent permanent damage to the eyes.

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People aged between 30-40 coming with new-found cardio issues

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heart failure heart attack

New Delhi, Sep 26 : Respiratory disorders caused by Covid-19 have taken a centre-stage during the pandemic, overshadowing other burgeoning health issues, particularly cardiovascular disorders (CVDs). With the recent uptick in heart diseases over the last few months, people are facing the likelihood of cardiovascular concerns at a large scale.

The incidences of new-onset and worsening heart problems are being highlighted by medical experts. However, a worrying trend is being noticed by them where patients, coming with new-found CVD aged between 30 and 40 while the majority hails from metro cities.

“We are observing a notable shift in the trend of CVDs where people in their 30-40s are getting heart attacks and other cardiac problems, from metros like Delhi and Mumbai,” observed Dr Partap Chauhan, Director at Jiva Ayurveda, a leading Ayurvedic telemedicine organization in India.

“We had the maximum number of cases from the Maharashtra region (150+ cases), followed by Delhi (200+ cases), Uttar Pradesh (300+ cases) and Haryana (110+ cases), of which around 1,000 were males and 480 were females,” he informed.

Notably, most of these cases also had an observable trend in co-morbidity. “Our doctors consulted 670 cases for hypertension, followed by 216 cases of Hypercholesterolemia and 174 cases of Hridroga (other heart diseases),” Chauhan shared.

Besides, he also estimated that more than cases related to cardiovascular problems have increased by 50 per cent.

“Before lockdown, our doctors consulted 748 cases for cardiovascular diseases, during the complete lockdown, we got 322 cases of CVDs and post-lockdown, our doctors have consulted around 776 cases through our telemedicine centre and clinics,” Chauhan added.

Weighing on the sudden spurt in cardiovascular issues, Chauhan listed certain aggregators that contributed to the rise. “The unavailability of quality medical care and the fear of contagion is one of the few common causes for the worsening condition of patients with pre-existing heart problems. In addition to that, the sudden and disproportionate increase in causative factors such as stress, anxiety, obesity, and physical inactivity is pushing the pre-CVD segment of people in their late 40s and with existing comorbidities into becoming new patients of CVD,” he explained.

He also said that emotional factors such as Isolation, loss of employment, financial dilemmas, and the emotional burden of being away from family members or bereavement have made matters worse. “The psychological effects (loneliness, stress, anxiety, isolation, unemployment fear and economic burden) of the pandemic combined with other lifestyle factors like smoking and drinking, irregular eating habits, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity may increase CVD cases during the pandemic,” Chauhan added.

Meanwhile, stress, bad diet, and emotional turmoil is taking a toll on the heart. Chauhan said that adopting a healthy lifestyle, and adding yoga and herbs in your daily routine can help.

“Over a period, it becomes weak and coupled with incorrect lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking alcohol or eating junk food, the already high risk of developing heart diseases goes up. Practising yoga and pranayama could reduce stress levels. A gentle head massage or full body massage with oil relieves tension and reduces the load on your heart. Switch off highly charged TV broadcasts if it is causing you stress. Spend time cultivating what makes you happy, healthy and gives you peace,” he advised.

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