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Public Health
Misplaced Initiatives In The Health Sector By Amit Sen Gupta

THE Common Minimum Programme announced by the UPA government had a number of portions that addresses issues related to health care in the country. Six months after the CMP was announced, it is time to take stock of the direction in which the government has moved as regards some of the commitments made in the CMP.

The new National Health Policy was announced in 2002, and after a change of government in the country hopes of a change in direction were stoked by some positive declarations of intent in the Common Minimum Programme. It stated, for example, that: “The UPA government will take all steps to ensure availability of life-savings drugs at reasona ...

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CMP Trips Up On Population Policy By Amit Sen Gupta

THE more things change, the more they remain the same! One cannot but be overwhelmed with a sense of déjà vu on reading one particular section in the Common Minimum programme of the UPA government. The section says: “The UPA government is committed to replicating all over the country the success that some southern and other states have had in family planning.  A sharply targeted population control programme will be launched in the 150-odd high-fertility districts. The UPA government recognizes that states that achieve success in family planning cannot be penalized”.

What is the success that “some southern states” have had? One would presume that the ...

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Medical Tourism and Public Health By Amit Sen Gupta

THE most recent trend in privatisation of health services is medical tourism, which is gaining prominence in developing countries. Globalisation has promoted a consumerist culture, thereby promoting goods and services that can feed the aspirations arising from this culture. This has had its effect in the health sector too, with the emergence of a private sector that thrives by servicing a small percentage of the population that has the ability to “buy” medical care at the rates at which the “high end” of the private medical sector provides such care. This has changed the character of the medical care sector, with the entry of the corporate sector. Corporate run institution ...

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Chicken Flu: How Much Of A Threat? By Amit Sen Gupta

THE recent epidemic termed “chicken flu” has once again underlined how fragile humankind’s mastery over disease really is. The chicken flu epidemic, affecting poultry stocks, has now spread across most of East Asia and spread to other countries too is a distinct possibility. Its incidence has been officially reported in Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Laos, China, Indonesia and Pakistan. The disease is caused by a virus that belongs to the influenza family, and primarily affects birds. While wild birds are also affected, domesticated birds like chicken are affected more seriously.

The disease is not new, in the sense that varian ...

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Charade On Public Health Before Cancun By Amit Sen Gupta

AS the Cancun Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation draws near, a charade is being played out in the name of public health. It may be recalled that the previous WTO Ministerial meeting held in Doha in November 2001 adopted a “Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health”. While there is a need to recognise the significance of the declaration, there is also the need to examine the declaration more closely as well as the events that followed. Contrary to popular perception, the declaration in no way changed the TRIPS accord. It did not even say that the accord needs to be renegotiated. In that sense it was really in the nature of a clarification, statin ...

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