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

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Immunisation Coverage in India

This article examines the decline in coverage levels of the Routine Immunisation Programme in the better-governed states across three rounds of the District Level Household and Facility Survey. The analysis points to an urban conundrum where proximity to urban centres is a "risk factor." An understanding of peri-urbanisation processes is essential for improving outcomes and governance in urban health services and the National Urban Health Mission.

Public Health Facilities in North India

Following the introduction of universal access to free medicines and diagnostics at public health facilities in Rajasthan during 2011-13, we revisited the facilities surveyed by Banerjee et al (2004), and present the changes over the last decade. We find substantial improvement in infrastructure and the patient utilisation rate, but abysmally low utilisation of facilities primarily due to high absenteeism. We also present findings from fieldwork in Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to bring out striking contrasts among these four northern states.

Ecologies of Suffering

This article proposes an "ecology of suffering" which mediates between the sufferer and the "clinic." "Ecology" refers to the network of forces acting on and by the people suffering and those around him/her. It is chosen to stress the mix of "natural," and "social" such as landscapes or air pollution. "The clinic" refers to what happens locally between the sufferer and mental health professionals attempting to actualise the National Mental Health Policy. The aim is to enhance a crucial, yet neglected, aspect of India's National Mental Health Programme: that individual mental suffering is related to a wide range of local factors.

Bat Hunts and Disease Outbreaks

Natural hosts of some of the most deadly emerging viruses such as Ebola, bats are harvested in an annual ritual by a Naga Tribe in Nagaland. This practice, endangering both public health and biodiversity, can lead to the emergence of novel infectious diseases. A concerted and multipronged effort will have to made by governments, especially in developing countries, where the contact between wildlife and humans is more intense, to prevent, contain and respond to the emerging zoonotic diseases.

Rescuing Childhood

The editorial “Let the Children Play” (EPW, 18 April 2015) is thought-provoking. The problem of child labour can be contextualised as a structural one. Children working in “informal economy” units like general stores, fast food restaurants, tea stalls, and garages have painful stories to narrate...

Pharma Patents after 10 Years

Ten years on, the progressive provisions of the amended Indian Patents Act are being watered down.

Are BIMARU States Still Bimaru?

Ashish Bose coined the acronym BIMARU in the early 1980s to describe the backwardness of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh relative to the best-performing states in terms of demographic indicators. This article extends Bose's analysis to recent years to ascertain if the proposition is still valid. To retain the integrity of the original exercise, the same indicators examined by Bose have been analysed, as far as possible. It fi nds that the BIMARU states have made a lot of progress, yet they continue to be bimaru as the gap between them and the national average persists in a majority of indicators.

Ageing in India

India has low pension coverage, and the pension system is unable to fulfil its purpose. A non-contributory, basic pension can guarantee a regular income in old age to all residents of the country, regardless of earning or occupation. The feasibility of introducing such a pension in India is explored in this paper. It is argued that a properly crafted universal pension scheme will increase the coverage of pension without putting stress on the fisc.

Mental Distress, Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment

After the Germanwings pilot with psychological problems flew a plane-load of passengers into the French Alps, there has been a great deal of public discussion on mental illness, suicidal tendencies and treatment. This comment addresses two larger issues related to mental distress and illness--psychiatric labelling and the indiscriminate use of psychotropic medication. Though human thinking, emotions, and behaviour defy simplistic categorisation, the current trend is to medicalise personal, social, economic, and political problems while diminishing the role of a causal environment.

Public Health Human Resource

Public health human resources is a crucial component of any public health system. The creation of a new public health cadre would result in better public health management and workers who are able to deal with changing public health priorities.

Draft National Health Policy 2015

This paper contributes to the debate on the Draft National Health Policy 2015 by analysing and critiquing some of its key recommendations within the prevailing social, economic, and political context of the country. This policy seems to suggest that strategic purchasing of curative health services from both the public and private sectors can enable India to achieve the goal of "universal healthcare." The draft policy is based on two assumptions. One, policy interventions since the National Health Policy 2002 have been largely successful and two, there is harmony of purpose between public and private healthcare delivery systems which allows the private sector to be used for achieving public health goals. This article argues that these assumptions are flawed, highlights the various contradictions in the policy and cautions against over-optimism on publicly-financed health insurance schemes.

Blood, Period

In many countries, especially in India, menstruation is a subject of taboo and stigma, which feeds the ego and pride of a misogynist society that objectifies and sexualises women.

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