ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Business of Hospitals

Serious ethical implications emerge when private hospitals are run as corporate entities and doctors working in these hospitals are given targets to bring in a certain number of patients for hospitalisation and conduct a certain number of surgeries and diagnostic tests to plump up the bottom line. In a quest for profits, corporate hospitals seem to forget that their primary job is to provide appropriate and timely treatment to patients.

Murky Waters of Medical Practice in India

Pervasive greed in contemporary medical practice does not spare even the poorest of the patients. Medical expenses are now considered one of the major triggers of impoverishment in the country. A rapid influx of advanced technologies in areas ranging from drug discovery to diagnostics has generated a greater reliance on assistive technology by the practitioners of modern, Western medicine transforming patients into cases and physicians into technocrats. This paper is a contribution to the ongoing debate on the quality and standards of medical practice in India. It challenges the argument that markets can bring out the optimum in healthcare and shows how market forces have, in fact, militated against patient interests.

Contaminated Food

With reference to your editorial, “The Noodle Muddle” (EPW, 20 June 2015), the rapid development of food processing technologies and the advent of the Green Revolution opened up, wittingly or unwittingly, avenues for contamination of our food with thousand types of exogenous chemicals called food...

A Killer Mix

Illicit liquor kills the poor, but most culpable is the short-sighted excise policy.

Women at Risk in the Unregulated Surrogacy 'Industry'

In recent times India has become a haven for commercial surrogacy, a controversial assisted reproductive technology. Acute poverty means that there are always women ready to rent their wombs. But lack of laws and regulations means there is no transparency in the business of surrogacy and the surrogate mothers are prone to exploitation. The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill 2013 aims to mend matters. This exploratory study conducted in Kolkata brings to light challenges that any legislation dealing with surrogacy must address. It shows how poor women who rent their wombs for money--ignoring social stigma, health hazards, fear and mental stress--are vulnerable to exploitation.

Revisiting Discrepancies in Sanitation Statistics of Rural India

This response to Arjun Kumar's "Discrepancies in Sanitation Statistics of Rural India" (EPW, 10 January 2015) points out that the article does not mention another gap in official data: omission of households that reside in settlements that are categorised as census towns. This response shows that taking this category into account can alter Kumar's observations.

National Family Health Survey-4

The death of the four workers and injury to two others on 12 May 2015 in Karnataka brings to the forefront the harsh and unsafe working conditions under which the workers “contracted” under the private “Field Agency,” Vimarsh, worked and continue to work for the Fourth Round of the National Family Health Survey. The NFHS-4 is being conducted under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, serving as the nodal agency for field operations. There is an urgent need to set up an independent process for investigating labour violations as well as the quality of data collected through such contractual arrangements with private FAs in the ongoing NFHS-4.

The Noodle Muddle

The essential discussion should be about the poisons in our food chain.

Ebola Virus Disease

The Ebola virus disease, which spread in four West African countries, brought to light the feeble health governance system not only in these countries but also at the global level. Weak health infrastructure, resource crunch, non-viability of preventive and curative medication, and distrust of foreign interventions among people not only aggravated the crisis but also led to a schizophrenic portrayal of the disease across the world. A lack of any preventive medication for Ebola--despite a history of recurrence over the last four decades--is a big question confronting health research communities, pharmaceutical companies and global health governing agencies. The recent outbreak of Ebola and a global security threat perception associated with the disease have given rise to many debates, one of them being the debate on medical ethics in a public health emergency. All the ethical issues related with the unavailability of medication, launch of untested medicine in affected areas and also the delay in decision-making and response are the core arguments which this article tries to analyse.

Medical Devices: Imbalance in Policy Thrust

The draft National Medical Device Policy emphasises "Make in India," and ignores quality and pricing.

Mid-day Meals and Food Politics

Government-sponsored nutritional schemes cannot be subjected to caste and religious norms.

State-Sponsored Alcoholism in Kerala

The Kerala government's move towards total prohibition has raised serious concerns about its impact on the state exchequer. The strong grip of alcohol on the state's social and cultural bonds has been enabled by a combination of political and economic factors unique to this long-time communist bastion. This article seeks to examine the historical traditions of drinking in Kerala along with contemporary practices.

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