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

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Slippery Slope for Public Health Services

The draft national health policy suggests that public health services should be held accountable according to commercial principles, which would have a deleterious impact on public health.

Lower Pollution, Longer Lives

India's population is exposed to dangerously high levels of air pollution. Using a combination of ground-level in situ measurements and satellite-based remote sensing data, this paper estimates that 660 million people, over half of India's population, live in areas that exceed the Indian National Ambient Air Quality Standard for fine particulate pollution. Reducing pollution in these areas to achieve the standard would, we estimate, increase life expectancy for these Indians by 3.2 years on average for a total of 2.1 billion life years. We outline directions for environmental policy to start achieving these gains.

Health Aspects of the Environmental Impact Assessment Process in India

Impact assessments are conducted with the objective of safeguarding human health and the environment. The Environmental Impact Assessment notification of 2006, subsequent amendments and associated guidelines provide the framework to document untoward effects of proposed industrial and developmental projects on the environment, and to manage them. It is also implicitly understood that the notification covers human health concerns arising from the proposed projects. Are health concerns being adequately accounted for when projects are provided clearance? Through the use of a standardised framework, several gaps were found in health-related aspects of the notification and the two evaluated EIA reports analysed here. Further reflection is called for on the purpose of EIAs to prevent human health from becoming a casualty on the path to "development".

Regulation of Clinical Trials and the Need for Comprehensive Reform

The proposed amendments to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 are inadequate to effect the fundamental changes that the existing regulatory regime is crying out for. A wholesale consolidation and re-enactment of the existing secondary legislation is better suited than piecemeal amendments to the task at hand.

Ebola and India

While the chances of the Ebola virus entering India are low, Ebola and pandemic flu teach us to expect the unexpected and be prepared. New diseases are appearing in the world again and again. We live today in a "global village". Ebola-infected bats are probably present in Asia. Nipah virus-infected bats are widely prevalent in east Asia; there is no guarantee their territorial flight paths will not extend to peninsular India. Is India prepared? Who exactly is in charge?

Progress in Reducing Child Under-Nutrition

Assessing the progress made in reducing under-nutrition among children who are less than two years old in Maharashtra between 2005-06 and 2012, this article points out that child under-nutrition, especially stunting, declined signifi cantly in the state during this period. It holds that this decline can be associated with the interventions initiated through the Rajmata Jijau Mother-Child Health and Nutrition Mission, which began in 2005, and that this indicates the critical role the state can play in reducing child under-nutrition in India.

Fair Price Medicine Shops in West Bengal

The 24x7 Fair Price Medicine Shops in the public hospitals of West Bengal have visibly reduced the average price of critical medicine and appliances. Their services should now be extended beyond hospitals so that they reach out to a larger share of patients.

Right to Abort in Surrogacy Contracts

This article makes an enquiry into the right to abort in surrogacy contracts as visualised by the bill on Assisted Reproductive Technology drafted by the Indian Council of Medical Research and introduced in Parliament in 2010. It argues that the bill's anti-abortion clause raises important questions of ethics, fundamental rights as well as legal remedies, if any, in the event of a breach of contract.

Discrepancies in Sanitation Statistics of Rural India

The inadequate availability of drinking water and proper sanitation, especially in rural India, leads to innumerable deadly diseases, harms the environment, and also affects vulnerable populations, such as persons with disabilities and women, exposing them to sexual violence. Providing access to sanitation facilities in rural areas of India has been on the agenda of the Government of India for the past three decades. However, a reinvigorated thrust to provide adequate sanitation facilities in rural India is the need of the hour, which must be accompanied by constant scrutiny and monitoring, so as to arrive at apt decisions and policies for further action.

Tobacco Taxation

The tax hikes on smoking tobacco in 2014 appear large in the aggregate, but have little effect on the price of single cigarette sticks, a popular mode of retail in India. Analysing the seemingly large tax hikes on smoking tobacco, it is argued that taxes can and must go higher to ensure substantial increases in single cigarette stick prices.

Health and Economic Impact of Unsafe Drinking Water

The article is based on a study of the problem of contaminated water supply in Ludhiana. It finds that the incidence of water-related diseases and their economic impact on households is reasonably high. The quality of water was identified as a major problem in all the selected localities of the city. Leaking pipes, water storage and the slow movement of water during transmission and distribution contribute to health problems, especially for the poor.

Improving Healthcare Services at Reduced Prices

The key to improving the quality of healthcare services in India and reducing costs at the same time can be found by enacting legislation which lays down minimum standards of patient care. In the absence of such standards and the reluctance of health insurance companies to standardise either price or quality, healthcare services continue to be expensive and of doubtful quality. Developing standards of patient care by legislative mandate and a change in the attitude of health insurers can change the equation in favour of the patient who is now at the mercy of the hospital.

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