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

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The Ever-Mutating Enemy

Tuberculosis is spreading with renewed vigour globally as are its more virulent strains like multi-drug-resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB. Even as the bacteria mutates and there is urgent need to deal with the many inadequacies of the present treatment regimen, new drugs backed by innovative research are conspicuously absent. A new candidate anti-TB drug proposed to be tried by the Open Source Drug Discovery initiative with the Council of Scientifi c and Industrial Research offers a ray of hope.

Drug Price Control

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority ( NPPA ) released a new set of price notifications for 50 cardiovascular and diabetes medicines under paragraph 19 of the Drug Prices Control Order ( DPCO ), 2013, on 10 July. The notifications for the 108 formulations (two were subsequently withdrawn)...

Public Financing for Health Coverage in India

Any discussion on universal health coverage in India is premature without a comprehensive understanding of public financing of health coverage in the country. This article analyses the government's share of financial resources for health across different agents, with particular focus on resources for health coverage. An attempt is made to separate spending for health in general and health coverage in particular, and to examine the issue of equity. The analysis indicates that the present health coverage system is inadequate and iniquitous, with various systems running at different costs. It suggests consolidating finances and moving towards a more unified system to realise the benefits of efficiency gains.

Health Service System in India

Universalising health coverage is the current goal of the health service system in India. Tax-funded insurance for poor families is the method chosen for attaining this objective. The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana was rolled out in 2008 for households below the poverty line, enabling them to access health services in the public and private sectors. However, experience from different countries shows tax-funded insurance systems work well only in settings where public provisioning of healthcare services prevails. State-funded targeted insurance schemes do not seriously mitigate inequitable access to health services in a fundamentally private healthcare delivery market.

Universal Health Coverage

For India to improve the existing government health system is far less complex than expanding health insurance. International experience shows the difficulties of regulating an insurance-based system to keep costs down and assure quality.

From Surviving to Thriving

The process of living as a child has changed in post-Independence India as have the challenges faced by children. Exploring alternative facets and formulations of children's rights though has yet to find space in policy discourse. Use of the term well-being expands the scope of research inquiry and policy attention, from the negatives to the positives, building on the strengths of the parents, the family, the societies and the state, to ensure children are able to not just survive but actually thrive.

Need for a New Drugs Bill

After a legislative logjam (since 2011) with respect to regulating the pharmaceuticals industry, the new government at the centre has the opportunity to introduce the much-needed changes to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. The amendment bill, introduced in Parliament on 29 August 2013, aimed to promote rational regulation of safe and effective allopathic drugs. That bill would have been yet another patch on an Act which has already been stretched beyond breaking point. It would have done little to provide a rigorous foundation for putting safety, effectiveness, rationality and need at the heart of the country's drug regulatory system. It is to be hoped that the government will make a complete overhaul of the Act one of its highest priorities.

Dangerous Motherhood

Despite recent improvements in the maternal health scenario in rural Assam, it remains the state with the highest number of maternal deaths in the country. Institutional delivery, antenatal care, and postnatal care have been actively promoted by the state to deal with the situation. However, state policies are still incongruously geared towards addressing the issue without taking sufficient note of the various sociocultural impediments in the way of institutional care.

Shedding the BIMARU Tag

The states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan have been striving hard in the last decade to get rid of their BIMARU label. They have made impressive strides in the field of health and education, and their efforts to boost growth and mitigate poverty are worth noting.

How Not to Modernise Alternative Medicine Systems

The implications of the Maharashtra government's permission to homeopathic practitioners to prescribe allopathic drugs are manifold. This form of "modernisation" not only threatens the identity of the alternative systems but also hampers their most important characteristic, namely, healing, which has helped most of the medical systems to stand the test of time.

Manipulation by Association

Much of India's nutrition agenda is being driven by the private sector through public-private partnerships and so-called multi-stakeholder dialogues. The new strategies of transnational corporations fall under the category of manipulation by association, where they establish their role and legitimacy by associating themselves with key institutions and people. A prime example of this is the influential 2013 series on maternal and child nutrition published by the Lancet. This comment analyses the issue and proposes some solutions.

Corruption in Indian Medicine

Corruption in Indian medicine is back on the front pages. One would think that there has been an abrupt spurt in corrupt practices or a major scandal. Nothing of that sort has happened. However, there have been some interesting developments for the focus to shift back to what is really a very old affliction. This is an update on recent happenings as the entrepreneurial spirit of the new India plays out in healthcare.

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