Insights Current Events, November 07, 2014
NCDs major threat to human health: report
A report released by the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health says that an estimated 60 per cent of all deaths in India in 2012 were owing to Non Communicable Diseases (NCD), but India’s response to these preventable diseases has been “largely underfunded”.
Other important observations made by the Report:
- The report says that India stands to incur a cost of $4.58 trillion between 2012 and 2030 due to NCDs and mental health conditions. Of this amount, cardiovascular diseases and mental health conditions will account for the majority of the economic loss.
- Prevention and treatment of these conditions have long been largely underfunded and, until recently, did not occupy a central place on the global development agenda.
- The report describes cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and cancer as major threat to human health, economic growth and national development.
- Cautioning that unless India takes remedial steps to check NCDs, the report says the country is poised to experience significant urban growth over the next 35 years, which suggests more individuals will encounter urban risk factors for NCDs, which could contribute to an increase in disease burden and related economic losses. NCDs are a large and growing challenge for India’s future economic growth and its population’s well-being. Business leaders and the government feel the threat of NCDs, and the country has already moved to address it via public policy Initiative.
Primary prevention of NCDs, built upon robust early screening and a strong healthcare infrastructure, is a promising path for reaping favourable returns on investment in the Indian context.
Sources: The Hindu.
Centre for quality checks on Ayurvedic drugs
The Central Government is working towards setting up a separate Central Drug Controller for traditional medicines to ensure quality in production standards.
The global market for Ayurvedic medicines or herbal medicines or traditional medicines —is estimated at about $100 billion. India’s share in this is negligible because quality standards are not maintained to international specifications. The government has decided to address this lacuna.
The institutionalisation of a regulatory authority backed up by Central and State laboratories would ensure for traditional and indigenous medicine pride of place in mainstream healthcare.
Ayurvedic Drugs and their regulation in India:
Ayurvedic medicine is a system of Hindu traditional medicine of Vedic tradition, is native to the Indian subcontinent, and is a form of alternative medicine. The oldest known Ayurvedic texts are the Suśrutha Saṃhitā and the Charaka Saṃhitā. These Classical Sanskrit texts are among the foundational and formally compiled works of Ayurveda.
“AYURVEDA’ means ‘Science of life’. It incorporates all aspects of life whether physical, psychological, spiritual or social. What is beneficial and what is harmful to life, what is happy life and what is sorrowful life; all these four questions and life span allied issues are elaborately and emphatically discussed in Ayurveda. It believes the existence of soul before birth and after death too.
About 20 years back, W.H.O. adopted Traditional Medicine programme in conjunction with the goal of health for all with the adoption of primary health care approach. W.H.O. has an open mind on Traditional Medicine. However, it endorses only that therapy which has solid scientific evidence with no toxicity. In view of this Ayurveda is duly recognised by W.H.O.
Government of India in 1970 established PLIM (pharmaceutical laboratory of Indian medicine) as an organisation to monitor the quality of Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha drugs. This is an apex laboratory helping to lay down the standards of Ayurvedic medicines. It is the approved laboratory under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940.
There exists such a regulation by which commercial manufacturing of Ayurvedic medicines is regulated. Manufacturers have to take prior license from the State Drug Controlling Authority for running an Ayurvedic Pharmacy. Formulations whether classical or patent proprietary have to be got cleared from the competent authority before starting commercial manufacturing.
In 1970, the Indian Medical Central Council Act which aimed to standardise qualifications for Ayurveda practitioners and provide accredited institutions for its study and research was passed by the Parliament of India. The Indian government supports research and teaching in Ayurveda through many channels at both the national and state levels, and helps institutionalise traditional medicine so that it can be studied in major towns and cities.
To fight biopiracy and unethical patents, the Government of India, in 2001, set up the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library as repository of 1200 formulations of various systems of Indian medicine, such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha.
The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) a statutory body established in 1971, under Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, monitors higher education in Ayurveda.
Research in Ayurveda is undertaken by the statutory body of the Central Government, the Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha (CCRAS), through a national network of research institutes.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, www.nccam.nih.gov, indianmedicine.nic.in.
Sex workers seek change in law
Sex workers and activists have been demanding amendments to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), which they allege has been disproportionately used against sex workers.
The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956 does not prohibit sex work per se but sex workers can be booked by invoking its provisions which ban brothel keeping, living on earnings of sex work and soliciting in public places.
Section 4 of the Act says an individual over 18 years of age, dependent on the income of a sex worker shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to Rs.1000. This means children of all sex workers can be punished, because by the time they are 18 they are barely out of school and unlikely to be financially independent. This also comes in the way of children aspiring for higher education, since after turning 18 they can no longer depend on the earnings of their mothers.
Those arguing in favour of an amendment point out at the ‘Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act’, which was introduced in 1956 to prevent under aged girls from being forced into prostitution but that has not stopped. The laws were amended twice, in 1972 and again in 1986, without promising results.
Efforts were made by the Government to amend the ITPA in 2005. The issue was referred to a Parliamentary Committee and several changes were recommended. But the Bill could not go through as there was disagreement between the Health Ministry on the one hand and the Home and Women and Child Development Ministry on the other. And hence the Cabinet could not reach an agreement.
An Inter Ministerial Group was formed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to recommend changes in the ITPA but nothing has happened so far. In the absence of amendments, sex workers allege they are at the mercy of the local police who can barge in any time and book them.
Sources: The Hindu.