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Friday, September 24, 2010

India’s health system IN SICK BAY

Less than 1 hosp bed for every 1,000 Indians 

The only silver lining in the study is that India holds the top position in the number of medical and nursing colleges—-303 and 3,904 respectively. But then, despite having less than half the number of medical colleges as compared to India, the United States has more doctors on its rolls. "There could be many possibilities, but brain drain could be one of the main reasons,'' said Desai. Statistics suggest that in 2008 nearly one-tenth of doctors in the UK were not British citizens, while the percentage stood at 26% in the US.

Mumbai: In the recent past, India has been resting on its medical laurels, but an international survey has revealed that the reality is an altogether different story. The country's healthcare system fails miserably in almost all parameters when compared to six developed and developing nations such as the US and UK, China, Brazil, and Singapore, reveals a newly released study. The most telling finding was that despite having 10.8 lakh beds—the second highest among all the countries surveyed—there is less than one bed for every 1,000 people.
    The joint study was conducted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and HOSMAC, a hospital planning and management consultancy firm. The UK tops the bed-patient ratio parameter with 3.9 beds higher than WHO's norm of three beds per 1,000 people. India's burgeoning population, say industry experts, cannot be used as an excuse given that China has 40.63 lakh beds, and meets WHO's norms (see box).

    The report stated that to achieve the desirable norm a minimum of one-lakh beds have to be added to the country's existing kitty over the next 30 years. "About two-third of these beds have to come up in rural areas to ensure an even development of health infrastructure,'' said director of FICCI Shobha Mishra Ghosh, adding that in some areas even the UAE and Brazil surpass India in providing medical care.
    China has successfully managed to create an efficient healthcare system with an army of medical personnel. In terms of manpower, our neighbour has three times
the number of doctors working in India, and 1.22 crore nurses. India has only 13.72 lakh nurses.
    According to industry watchers, policy-makers must acknowledge that in the healthcare expenditure pie, the government's share is only around 26%. "One suggestion is that the government should emphasize on primary and secondary healthcare facilities, while leaving tertiary centres to the private sector,'' she added.
    It goes unsaid that the urban-rural divide has to be addressed. "The government has to provide lucrative incentives for private players to move to rural and
semi-urban areas,'' said managing director of HOSMAC, Dr Vivek Desai.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stand Up and Be Counted

Help the less fortunate simply by practising your favourite hobby

 Never believe that a small group of people can't change the world," said American writer Margaret Mead. "Indeed, they are the only ones who do.'' For every Gandhi, there are a million followers who join the movement. For every Mother Teresa, there are a thousand missionaries of charity who demonstrate compassion in their daily life and work.
    As India prepares to celebrate the Joy of Giving Week (JGW) from Sept 26 to Oct 2, here is a chance for you to stand up and be counted. If autorickshaw drivers can donate Rs 1,000 to feed the poor, and 8,000 women in lower income self-help groups can donate 15,000 kg of food
grains to the less fortunate, then surely we all can do our bit.
    With over 150 events registered across India, there's a lot for you to choose from and participate in. The Dreamathon is a simple initiative that you can undertake all by yourself. Simply pick your favourite hobby or passion and use it to either raise money for a cause, or promote awareness of an important social issue, or simply to provide direct help.
    Rahul Nainwal, the CEO of a Delhi-based enterprise, loves to cook. He has already planned ten meals—lunch and dinner—that he will personally cook during the Joy of Giving week. "Cuisine will range from Thai, Continental, Indian to Italian and I have already invited friends over for all meals, for a fee. Some of my friends are vegetarian, so I'm also doing a special 'vegetarians only' meal for them," says Nainwal, who is yet to decide where he will donate the proceeds. "I have a few charities in mind
but haven't zeroed in on one yet."
Sandeep Gurung is a fashion designer in Bangalore. In the JGW, he will organize Go Green, an awareness exhibitioncum-sale. "My team and I will tell people how they can use d o m e s t i c waste to create s o m e t h i n g fashionable and how a small lifestyle change can make a big difference to our environment," says Gurung, who is also inviting unemployed youth and NGOs to attend the workshop free of cost.

Why a Dreamathon?
Because it is a simple idea that every individual can implement. Everyone has some hobby or the other, and every hobby can be used to help a cause.
    Even if your dreamathon raises "just" Rs 1,000, or helps "only" 25 people, it will all add up. JGW is not about large corporates, celebrities or wealthy people — it's about regular people doing their bit.
    It is a great chance to do what you enjoy for a cause that you care about.
    Rahul Nainwal, Sandeep Gurung and many others like them have already started. What are you waiting for?

How to set up your Dreamathon in seven easy steps
1 Shilpa Kamath, a branch manager at a public sector bank, loves doing mehendi art so she picks this as her hobby.
2 She decides to train underprivileged girls in this art so that they can earn money out of it.
3 Shilpa knows teaching this art will need at least 12 hours of training. Her work day ends at 4 pm, so she decides to do the training from 6 pm to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday.
4 She surfs the Internet for NGOs working with underprivileged young girls and finds one near her home.
5 The NGO agrees to host her "mehendi-training workshop" and identifies about 40 potential participants in the 16-20 age group who can learn. Shilpa will do a "test" on Sunday (Sept 26) to identify 10 talented girls who have a flair for art, and then work with them for the rest of the week. She decides to "charge" each participant Rs 200 which will be paid to the NGO and used to buy all the materials they will need — less for the money and more because she wants the girls to take the course seriously.
6 Shilpa registers the event on the JGW website, starts practising how she will teach the finer techniques, how to mix the mehndi, and also gets copies made of a "design booklet" she uses that has 100 patterns. She keeps checking on the progress with the NGO every day to make sure there are at least 40 people lined up for her "big day".
7 Shilpa organises the event.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

After malaria, dengue strikes

Mumbai: Dengue is not only giving Delhi authorities sleepless nights, it's also beginning to sting Mumbaikars. Doctors say the number of cases of dengue—a viral infection spread by Tiger mosquitoes—is steadily rising in the city, which is just about recovering from its worst ever outbreak of malaria in recent times.
    According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) health records, 118 patients have been admitted with dengue to various civic hospitals in the first fortnight of September. But doctors in the private sector say dengue is possibly more rampant than feared. They say almost 50% of patients who come to them test positive for dengue.

    "Dengue patients don't test positive at the onset of the infection. It takes at least four days of fever before the patient tests positive. This makes detection difficult,'' said Dr Khusrav Bajan, intensivist at Hinduja Hospital.

1 in 2 Has Dengue
118 dengue cases were registered in public hospitals between September 1 and 15
However, private doctors say 50% of their patients test positive for the disease
245 cases were reported from August 1-31, with six deaths registered in civic hospitals
Mumbai's dengue surge normally lasts till December
Sick city braces for dengue wave
Mumbai: For a city that has resembled a sick bay since the onset of the monsoon in the first week of June, dengue is the latest scourge. Some doctors have observed that there was a spurt in dengue cases about two weeks ago, but in the last couple of days, the situation has stabilized. The fever season began with a rise in cases of swine flu, followed by malaria and now the comparatively benign conjunctivitis.
    Dr Bhajan of Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, said that out of every 10 patients who walk into the hospital with high fever, at least seven test positive for dengue. "In 50% of cases, the patient requires hospitalization,'' he said, adding that those with a platelet count of less than 50,000 should seek hospitalization. According to Dr Amol Manerkar, who is attached to Kohinoor Hospital, Kurla, the spurt in dengue cases began two weeks ago. "Of the patients coming in with high fever and rash, half test positive for dengue,'' he said. The other half, however, don't have the tell-tale dengue sign—low blood platelet count. "These patients have high fever and joint pain, but they test negative for both dengue as well as chikungunya. They need treatment on an out-patient basis and are stable,'' he added.
    A senior professor from KEM Hospital said patients who contract dengue require hospitalization, as opposed to those who have malaria, because the drop in platelet count is faster in the former. "Also, no doctors want to take chances as dengue patients stand a serious chance of suffering from bleeding, or dengue shock syndrome,''he added.A dengue test takes at least three to four days to show positivity. Till then, patients are treated symptomatically, said an associate professor of medicine, Sion Hospital.
    Blood banks, too, are witnessing a slight spurt in demand, though authorities say the city has enough platelets to treat dengue patients as of now, and the situation is well under control. "We are handing out about 200-250 platelet units a day,'' said Dr Girish Chaudhary, assistant director, State Blood Transfusion Corporation (SBTC). Platelets have a life of only five days, so they cannot be stored for long. But regular camps help meet demand, he said.
    (With inputs from
    Malathy Iyer)

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