The World Health Minute: Maharashtra govt cracks the whip on over-priced medical devices

This week in the World Health Minute, we focus on access to healthcare, non-communicable diseases and mental health.
The World Health Minute: Maharashtra govt cracks the whip on over-priced medical devices
The World Health Minute: Maharashtra govt cracks the whip on over-priced medical devices
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Access to Healthcare

  Mumbai: government cracks the whip on hospitals for overpriced medical devices

The state government has filed cases against eight top city hospitals found to be overcharging for stents and other equipment used to treat heart ailments. (Indian Express: 31/03/17)

·        1,039 vacant posts at the Botswana health ministry

The Ministry of Health and Wellness in Botswana has a total of 1,039 vacant posts across all departments. The ministry said they lacked the ability to attract and retain skilled staff, there was an unavailability of skills in the labour market and a slow uptake by local healthcare workers to work in rural areas. (Daily News Botswana: 30/03/17)

·        Government apathy hits vaccine unit

India’s only Yellow Fever vaccine manufacturing unit at the Central Research Institute in Kasauli has been shut for the last five years, even as the government continues to import the critical vaccine. While production at the unit was halted due to poor manufacturing practices, over the years the government has done precious little to upgrade the unit. The CRI was one of three public sector vaccine manufacturing units that were shut in 2008. (Deccan Herald: 03/04/17)

·        Polio vaccine in short supply in private hospitals

The Hindu says that the polio vaccine is in short supply in private hospitals in Hyderabad. After India’s switch to bivalent oral polio vaccine from trivalent oral polio vaccine, there has been a global shortage of IPV. (The Hindu: 03/04/17))

·        How poor vaccine supply systems put thousands of Kenyans at risk

Outdated vaccine supply and distribution systems are delaying and limiting the impact of vaccines, placing the health of millions of people at risk, according to new articles published in Vaccine Journal. One in every three countries in the world experiences at least one stockout of at least one vaccine for at least one month, while 19-38% of vaccines worldwide are accidentally exposed to freezing temperatures, potentially compromising the potency of the vaccines. (The Star Kenya: 02/04/17)

·        Maharashtra’s under-funded health services keep its junior doctors in the line of fire

What is not being highlighted in Maharashtra sufficiently is the correlation between understaffed and inadequately resourced public hospitals and the growing discontent among patients seeking care in these hospitals. A symptom of this is the violence against doctors, at which they are protesting. Violence against doctors is not about doctor-patient conflict as much as it is about a lack of funds and personnel to attend to the sick. ( 01/04/17)

·        UN – 50% of Yemeni health facilities are closed, medicines urgently needed

More than 14m people in Yemen have no access to health services, the UN health agency said, warning that transportation of medical personnel and treatment for the injured is getting increasingly difficult as this week heralds the third anniversary of the conflict. ( 30/03/17)

·        The campaign to lead the World Health Organization

The New York Times looks at the campaign to lead the World Health Organization. It explains the new voting procedure and who the three remaining candidates to lead WHO are. It runs over the list of challenges the new WHO boss faces: the organization is suffering from an identity crisis, it is often accused of being lumbering and slow, it is dependent on partnering medical charities like Doctors Without Borders, it is bureaucratic and under pressure from competing lobby groups and donors. (New York Times: 03/04/17)

·        The cost of cancer: new drugs which show success comes at a steep price

Newer cancer drugs that enlist the body’s immune system are improving the odds of survival, but competition between them is not reigning in prices that can now top $250,000 per year. (Reuters: 03/04/17)      


·        Novartis looks to the world’s rich to meet need in chronic ailments

Novartis is in talks with banks to create a fund for investors interested in opportunities that have a social impact, Harald Nusser said in an interview. A $1bn fund started by the Abrajal Group, the Dubai-based private equity firm, is a potential model he said. ( 30/03/17)

·        More evidence linking stress to obesity

A new study using hair to measure long-term levels of the stress hormone cortisol confirms the link between chronic stress and packing on the pounds, as well as explaining the difficulty in shedding excess weight. (Reuters: 30/03/17)

·        One in three inactive Britons at risk of heart disease, says heart charity

Almost one in three people in the UK are at risk of heart disease because of physical inactivity, according to a new study by the British Heart Foundation. ( 03/04/17) (The Times: 03/04/17) ( 03/04/17)

·        Hepatitis infection may raise the risk of Parkinson’s disease

People with the liver infection hepatitis may be at heightened risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a new study suggests. The study is the second in the past year to link Parkinson’s and hepatitis. ( 30/03/17)

·        Chandigarh health department starts screening for NCDs

The Chandigarh health department has started screening the residents in the age group of 30 and above for non-communicable diseases including cancer and diabetes. The screening is under the national programme for the Preventions of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke. (Indian Express: 03/04/17)

·        Overweight, obese young men at increased risk of liver disease

Young men who are overweight or obese have up to double the risk of normal-weight peers of developing liver disease later in life, a large study in Sweden suggests. If the young men also had type 2 diabetes, their risk of having liver disease by the time they reached middle age was as much as 3.3 times higher, researchers reported in the journal Gut. (Reuters: 31/03/17)

·        Can grandma help spot autism earlier?

Kids with autism who spend a lot of time with their grandmas may get diagnosed with the disorder at a younger age, a small study has suggested. Earlier diagnosis means earlier intervention, which is critical for improving treatment outcomes (Reuters: 31/03/17)

 Mental health      

·        ‘Let’s talk’ WHO says, as depression rates rise by 18% in a decade

Depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, the World Health Organization said, with more than 300 million people suffering. Rates of depression have risen by more than 18% since 2005, but a lack of support for mental health combined with a common fear of stigma means many do not get the treatment they need, to live healthy, productive lives. (Reuters: 30/03/17)

·        Promoting mental well-being ensures sustainable development

A mentally healthy citizen is able to study, form relationships and engage in work that contributes towards the economic growth of the community and nation. The direct consequence of this is poverty reduction. Poverty is linked to worse health outcomes so a more virtuous circle begins. (The Star Kenya: 01/04/17)

·        Depression is now the No.1 reason for ill health

Depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability in the world, according to WHO. The condition has overtaken lower respiratory disease as the biggest global health problem. WHO identifies a link between depression and other mental and physical health problems; the risk of substance abuse and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. (Times of India: 02/04/17)  

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