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

Articles By Healthcare in India

Wet Markets and Food Laws in India: What is Needed to Ensure Safety and Hygiene?

There is a growing worldwide clarion call for a ban on wet markets and meat consumption, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Do wet markets in India pose a risk to food safety? Are our food laws efficient and effectively implemented? The article discusses various laws and regulations, such as Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001 and various local municipal laws that are meant to ensure safety and hygiene of our food and markets.

Child Protection and Preparedness in COVID-19 Epoch

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown has meant immense hardship for many sections of society. For children, and especially those from the marginalised communities, the impact has been harsher. They will also face increased risks and hardships in the post-lockdown period. A look at what can be done to deal with these hardships.

Underestimation of the COVID-19 Burden

The number infected with SARS-CoV-2 in early May in India is estimated by a method utilising the unequivocal number available, namely deaths due to COVID-19. The estimated numbers are far in excess of reported numbers and indicate the systemic flaws in reporting deaths in India, augmenting the extent of underestimation. Additionally, there is the overestimation of the doubling time of infection. A realistic picture of the epidemic at the community level is presented, which informs us about the level of preparedness required to deal effectively with the epidemic.

Social Security for Migrant Workers during COVID-19

The unprecedented public health crisis due to COVID-19 has thrown the vulnerability of migrant construction workers into sharp relief. Most of them are not enrolled in any social protection scheme, and those who are, have been only provided with contingencies. These measures are inadequate to address the multidimensional deprivations and fundamental causes of vulnerability arising due to globalisation and a changing labour market, which has been exacerbated by the current crisis.

Measles-Rubella Vaccine

The mandatory measles–rubella (MR) vaccination drive initiated in schools by the Indian government in October 2019 has raised questions regarding whether informed consent was sought from parents prior to vaccination and its legal implications. This article presents a comprehensive picture of informed consent processes, ethics, and the law, and the need for evidence prior to implementing national vaccination policies. In the case of a combination vaccine such as the MR vaccine, we see that the rubella vaccine gained entry to India’s universal immunisation programme (UIP) without clear scientific evidence on its disease burden and in the absence of public demand for such a vaccine by piggybacking on another universal vaccine (measles).

Decoding Ayushman Bharat

The challenges before the components of Ayushman Bharat, the (ir)rationality behind raising the insurance coverage manifold are highlighted, a political economy narrative of the changing health financing scenario is drawn, and how the design of Ayushman Bharat will feed into executing the proposed public–private partnership model in public facilities and facilitate the strategic purchasing agenda of the National Health Policy is examined. Ayushman Bharat is a step towards creating a system that would facilitate in relinquishing public funds and public institutions to already dominant private players, which will have serious implications for the healthcare delivery system in India.

Role of the Private Sector in Escalating Medical Inflation

The dominance of the private sector as the provider of healthcare induces inflationary pressure on the household budget and potentially on the government health budget through the insurance route. Analysing 75th round NSS data, it is found that treatment costs in private commercial hospitals as well as in private charitable hospitals are manifold compared to public facilities.

Revisiting Open Defecation

Since October 2014, the Government of India has worked towards the goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019 through the Swachh Bharat Mission. In June 2014, the results of a survey of rural sanitation behaviour in North India were first reported. The results from a late 2018 survey that revisited households from the 2014 survey in four states—Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh—are presented. Although rural latrine ownership increased considerably over this period, open defecation remains very common in these four states. There is substantial heterogeneity across states in what the sbm did and how. These outcomes suggest the need for a transparent, fact-based public dialogue about the sbm, its costs and benefits, and its accomplishments and means.

Gamechanger or a Trojan Horse?

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, a key legislation in India that enables women to transcend the public–private dichotomy and stake their claim for productive participation in the labour force, saw major amendments in 2017. Four aspects of the amendments—increased maternity leave, maternity leave for adoption and surrogacy, provision of crèche, and paternity leave—are juxtaposed with feminist and constitutional principles as well as ground-level realities and practices. An increase in maternity benefits in law with a neglect of paternity leave and benefits is a lopsided approach that further reinforces gendered division of labour and care work as the domain of women. The social responsibility of employers is emphasised, and a deeper engagement of the state with the policy of parental benefits is advocated.