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

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Preserving Traditional Healing

Priests and mediums associated with "healing" folk cults have also been viewed as empowered agents of alternative modernity, and outside the priest's caste or class-based social context. In reality, the healer is often poor, and belongs to a lower caste. He or she is subject to the demands of the upper caste, rich clans, while ritually diagnosing the ailments of the latter's dependents in return for financial and political support.

Publicly-Financed Health Insurance for the Poor

Evaluating the effectiveness of the "targeting" approach in the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, the present study examines the determinants of enrolment, hospitalisation and financial protection for below the poverty line households using data from a large-scale survey conducted in Maharashtra in 2012-13. Almost 50% of BPL households were found to be non-poor and only 30% of them were aware about RSBY. More importantly, the effect of RSBY on catastrophic health expenditure was not found to be statistically significant. Since commercial insurance companies and their third party administrators have limited interest in awareness generation and enrolment, their role may be reviewed and instead an independent public agency should be given responsibility for enrolment of unorganised sector workers. This would be a key step towards achieving universal population coverage. However, in the long run, the government should strengthen the resource-starved public health system.

Mala Fide Decision on Drug Prices

The decision to reduce the powers of the drug pricing body goes against the interest of public health.

Nutrition: What Needs To Be Done?

About 805 million people - one in nine people worldwide - remain chronically hungry. Ending hunger and malnutrition requires strong political commitment at the highest level, effective coordination among various ministries and partners, and broad-based social participation. Three policy priorities are crucial to ending malnutrition - expansion of social protection; making smallholder agriculture more nutrition sensitive; and focusing on under-fi ve child and maternal nutrition defi ciencies. An integrated approach is needed to ensure that food consumed is nutritious, wholesome, acceptable, safe and affordable, especially to the poorest and most vulnerable.

Death of a Dai

In the case of childbirth, obstetrics is equated with development-modernity, while dais symbolise the lacking space which needs to be either co-opted through training or obliterated. The state, in its approval of this modernising project, offers several incentives and disincentives, even as everyday practice and the choices women make on the ground indicate a far complex reality. By moving through the life story of a real dai, this article underscores the absurdities and ironies that waylay the grand project of development-modernity in its journey towards its goal.

Burden of Out-of-Pocket Health Payments in Andhra Pradesh

After the introduction of the large-scale Rajiv Aarogyasri Scheme in undivided Andhra Pradesh during 2007, which was meant to protect poor families from catastrophic inpatient health expenses, no reliable data is available to assess out-of-pocket health payments in the state. The latest data available is from the last round of a health survey by the National Sample Survey Office in 2004-05. This study estimates the OOP health expenditure in Andhra Pradesh in 2012-13, and provides estimates for the year's from 2004-05 onwards. The paper points out that the need is to formulate a state health policy, which, among other things, targets a government health expenditure to total health expenditure ratio of 0.8.

Testing Chastity, Evidencing Rape

Through a detailed analysis of the history of medical jurisprudence textbooks and their use in case law, this paper argues that these textbooks undermine legal reforms in India. It establishes that medical manuals promote the collection of prejudicial and legally irrelevant evidence and reinforce the notion that Indian women frequently bring false charges of rape. Courts regularly cite these textbooks as authority in rape cases, based on the perceived objectivity of medical science as a form of evidence. For legal reforms to be effective, this article argues that changes must be made to textbooks of medical jurisprudence, medical syllabi, and to protocols of medical examination and assessment of rape victims. Further, courts must be more critical in their use and acceptance of these medical manuals.

Science, Society and Risk in the Anthropocene

The culture of too much hygiene in rapid, unplanned urbanising society with poor infrastructure exposes urban spaces to a particular risk brought about by unchecked use of technology. This article looks at the indiscriminate use of antibiotics and antibacterial consumer products, which form the aetiology for the emergence of new strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria (superbugs) in urban space, especially in waterbodies.

Why Open Defecation

This refers to the article by Diane Coffey et al ("Revealed Preference for Open Defecation: Evidence from a New Survey in Rural North India", EPW, 20 September 2014). I believe the reasons why latrine use is not favoured by many should be understood sensitively by those who administer the scheme...

Children's Illnesses

Acute respiratory illness and diarrhoea cause high levels of child morbidity and mortality in Jammu and Kashmir, and high levels of insurgency and an unstable political environment have usually been identified as the two main causes for the poor health conditions in the state. This article is based on a study which compares J&K with Himachal Pradesh and finds that some of the causes for poor health oucomes in the former may be unrelated to insurgency or related issues.

The Myth of Branded Generics

The pharmaceutical market in India is unique in that it is dominated by "branded" generics which enjoy a price premium though they are not superior to "unbranded" generics in either pharmacopoeia or therapeutic value. Aggressive marketing of branded generics has led to higher prices, irrational fixed dose combinations and concentration in the industry. It is high time India moved towards a de-branding of generic drugs.

Revealed Preference for Open Defecation

Despite economic growth, government latrine construction, and increasing recognition among policymakers that open defecation constitutes a health and human capital crisis, it remains stubbornly widespread in rural India. We present evidence from new survey data collected in Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Many survey respondents' behaviour reveals a preference for open defecation: over 40% of households with a working latrine have at least one member who defecates in the open. Our data predict that if the government were to build a latrine for every rural household that lacks one, without changing sanitation preferences, most people in our sample in these states would nevertheless defecate in the open. Policymakers in India must lead a large-scale campaign to promote latrine use.

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