India- Free medicine scheme gets Rs 1,300 crore boost #rightohealth


Kounteya SinhaKounteya Sinha, TNN | Sep 20, 2012, 02.12AM IST

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has cleared Rs 1,300 crore under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for states to support their purchase of medicines.
NEW DELHI: India has made its first major move towards providing free medicines for all.

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has cleared Rs 1,300 crore under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) for states to support their purchase of medicines. The largesse will not only help buy general drugs for government-run hospitals but also those needed under the Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK).

Under the JSSK, all pregnant women delivering in public health institutions are entitled to free and cashless delivery, free C-section, exemption from user charges, free medicines, blood, consumables and diagnostics and free diet for three days in case of normal delivery and seven days in case of C-section.

The minister has also asked the states to prepare a policy articulation document, an essential drugs list and standard treatment protocols and introduce a procurement system and supply chain management.

“States already have a budget to purchase drugs but it isn’t enough. The latest allocation is to support the state budget for 2012-13,” said a ministry official.

Officials said that states will have to procure drugs through an open tender. Companies applying for the tenders will have to have good manufacturing practices compliance certificate, a no-conviction certificate and should have a specified annual turnover. The drugs will also have to carry a not-for-sale label printed on the packaging.

The ministry says upto 75% of private out-of-pocket (OOP) health expenditure is on purchasing drugs of which 76% is spent on purchasing OPD drugs.

The free medicines for all the programmes are estimated to cost Rs 28,560 crore during the 12th five year plan.

At present, the public sector provides healthcare to 22% of the country’s population and it is likely to swell to 52% by 2017 once medicines are provided for free from 1.6 lakh sub-centres, 23,000 primary health centres, 5,000 community health centres and 640 district hospitals.

Planning Commission says 39 million Indians are pushed to poverty because of ill health every year.

Around 30% in rural India didn’t go for any treatment for financial constraints in 2004. In urban areas, 20% of ailments were untreated for financial problems the same year. About 47% and 31% of hospital admissions in rural and urban India, respectively, were financed by loans and sale of assets.

A ministry official said it is being made mandatory for all doctors in the public sector to prescribe generic drugs and salt names and not brands.

The Cabinet has approved the setting up of a Central Procurement Agency (CPA) for bulk procurement of drugs.

“Only a handful states will be able to roll out free medicines by this year end,” a ministry official said.

Strongly backed by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh himself, the free-medicines-for-all scheme has been referred to as the “real game-changer”.

The ministry has sent the National List of Essential Medicines, 2011, (348 drugs which includes anti-AIDS, analgesics, anti-ulcers, anti psychotic, sedatives, anesthetic agents, lipid lowering agents, steroids and anti platelet drugs) to all the states to use it as reference to prepare their EDL.

Tamil Nadu has been providing free medicines in its public health centres for the past 15 years, while Rajasthan introduced it last October. Both these states have a corporation that runs the show with complete functional autonomy.

A Planning Commission panel had said drug prices have shot up by 40% between 1996 and 2006. It said that during the same period the price of controlled drugs rose by 0.02%, while those in EDL increased by 15%. The price of drugs that were neither under price control, nor under EDL grew by 137%.

States have cut down on spending to purchase drugs, adding to aam aadmi’s woes.

A study by the Public Health Foundation of India recently found that while India’s per capita OOP expenditure for healthcare costs has gone up from Rs 41.83 in 2005 to Rs 68.63 in 2010, the per capita spending on drugs increased from 29.77% to 46.86% during the same period, while hospitalization cost went up from 11.20% to 22.47%.

Outpatient expenditure also increased from 30.63% to 46.16%.

Catastrophic spending, or percentage of households spending more than 10% of their overall income on healthcare, is nearly 15% in states that have insurance in place as against 11% in those that don’t have such policies.

Times View

Indians spend heavily out of their own pockets to purchase out-patient drugs, so providing free essential medicines is a welcome move from the government. However, it will remain a meaningless gesture unless good-quality drugs are provided, doctors are monitored to ensure that they prescribe generic drugs rather than branded ones and states put in place a transparent procurement system and supply chain management.

Tamil Nadu- Gender Violence – Intervention report #vaw


Suspicion on part of a husband on his wife’s fidelity gives him a right to inflict injury or murder her, if we went by the diktat’s of the Police Station‘s in Tamilnadu. Sathya, a mother of three married to Venkatesh has been for the past three months facing life threatening attacks from her husband. While attempting to burn her after dousing her with kerosene but unable to find a match box, Sathya made good her escape from his clutches. Through a common friend she contacted Vandana, a volunteer in Salem Citizens Forum and narrated her trauma that she underwent in the 9 years that she has been married. In the fifth day of her marriage with venkatesh she received her first slap and just a eye contact or a word with any male be it even a male child would make her life hell.

Venkatesh we were informed is ten years elder to sathya and maybe the insecurity has gotten the better of the human inside him. Tolerating bouts of physical violence was never reported by Sathya to even her family members who lived nearby but when things went out of control three months back when her skull was broken and wounds inflicted all over her body, she mustered courage to complain in the kannankurichi police station.

The policemen as is the norm brokered for a settlement between the victim and her husband. Sathya got nothing in return in the compromise reached, not even a promise that violence will not be inflicted on her instead now she had to face abuse from the whole family of Venkatesh who supported his stance. We approached the Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr.Babu after verifying the bonafides of the case. Appreciations for the young DC who did not hesitate even once to perform his duty. He immediately called up his subordinate Inspector Rajanikanth, KannankurichiPolice Station and instructed to file an FIR. Below is the narration by LakshmiPriya who coordinated the case. – Piyush

Lakshmi Priya reports – ***************************

The two days experience in kannankurichi police station was an appalling experience and forces me to take a decision to work more on the ethics in a police station. The way the police responds to the public that too to poor and aged is horrible. To handover a copy of our complaint, I along with sathya, her sister and mother went to the above police station were we happened to witness the violent and harassment behaviour of police men (mainly the SI Ponnuvel) shown on elderly poor people.

The police men present there were annoyed by our complaint taken directly to the DCP mentioning their refusal of receiving sathya’s complaint 3 months before where she was advised at that time that this is normal issue between husband and wife (even after seeing her bleeding by her husband’s attack) and sent back with her husband. Now they again rudely asked “what else you expect us to do at that time? You go and get divorce instead coming here”.

After waiting for an hour, the inspector called us and tried to convince us that this is a regular family dispute but by our strong representation insisting this is an attempt murder case, he without any other way, instructed SI Ponnuvel to register an FIR. During our wait for the SI, a poor old lady aged around 65 came inside innocently and tried to approch this SI who appears very rough with enormous tummy . he blatantly shouted at her, “why you came here? Go some where else, we cant hear you, go away, don’t you have work?”… that old woman was completely shattered including us. She helplessly went out and stood in a corner of the corridor waiting for some help.

Later SI Ponnuvel called us and interrogated sathya with the same arrogant tone. He again rudely shouted at sathya’s mother “why didn’t you come to the station first? How can we collect the witness? Why you went to this lady? Are they going to take action?” he didn’t wait for the old mother to reply at all. When sathya’s sister tried to explain he shouted at her to shut her mouth and not to interfere him. All three women were afraid to open their mouth. Later he told sathya to sign in a blank FIR sheet but we refused. Keeping us to wait till 3 pm, they registered the FIR. When we informed him that the accused Venkatesh is now at his mother’s home and can be arrested if they go now, the police men asked us that it will be a problem for them to remand in court today and will do next day. Since we were tired by this torturing investigations, we agreed and left.

On 17th September  morning by 7 am, I received a call from sathya’s sister that her mother is chased by the accused Venkatesh who was threatening to kill her for hiding her daughter, that the poor old mother escaped and hid in a temple. We immediately went to the police station and demanded his arrest immediately and said that we wont leave until he was brought to the station. After the threat of a sit in, they sent a team to find him.

The inspector called me over phone and requested to leave assuring that he will take care. Around 11 pm , the Venkatesh was arrested. When we came out of the station, we were shocked to see that same old lady (one who was chased out yesterday) standing out with the same petition with a belief that she will get justice here…

Peace Be Upon You – Internet videos will insult your religion. Ignore them.


Dear Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Jews,

You’re living in the age of the Internet. Your religion will be mocked, and the mockery will find its way to you. Get over it.

If you don’t, what’s happening this week will happen again and again. A couple of idiots with a video camera and an Internet connection will trigger riots across the globe. They’ll bait you into killing one another.

Stop it. Stop following their script.

Today, fury, violence, and bloodshed are consuming the Muslim world. Why? Because a bank fraud artist in California offered people $75 a day to come to his house and act out scenes that ostensibly had nothing to do with Islam. Then he replaced the audio, putting words in the actors’ mouths, and stitched together the scenes to make an absurdly bad movie ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed. He put out flyers to promote the movie. Nobody—literally nobody—came to watch it.

He posted a 14-minute video excerpt of the movie on YouTube, but hardly anyone noticed. Then, a week ago, an anti-Muslim activist in Virginia reposted the video with an Arabic translation and sent the link to activists and journalists in Egypt. An Egyptian TV show aired part of the video. An Egyptian politician denounced it. Clerics sounded the alarm. Through Facebook and Twitter, protesters were mobilized to descend on the U.S. embassy in Cairo. The uprising spread. The U.S. ambassador to Libya has been killed, and violence has engulfed other countries.

When the protests broke out, the guy who made the movie claimed to be an Israeli Jewfunded by other Jews. That turned out be a lie. Now he says he’s a Coptic Christian, even though Coptic Christian leaders in Egypt and the United States despise the movie andwant nothing to do with him. Another guy who helped make the movie claims to be aBuddhist. The movie was made in the United States, yet Sudanese mobs have attackedBritish and German embassies. Some Egyptians targeted the Dutch embassy, mistakenly thinking the Netherlands was behind the movie. Everyone’s looking for a group to blame and attack.

The men behind the movie said it would expose Islam as a violent religion. Now they’re pointing to the riots as proof. Muslims are “pre-programmed” to rage and kill, says the movie’s promoter. “Islam is a cancer,” says the director. According to the distributor, “The violence that it caused in Egypt is further evidence of how violent the religion and people are and it is evidence that everything in the film is factual.”

Congratulations, rioters. You followed the script perfectly. You did the propagandists’ work for them.

And the provocations won’t end here. Laws and censors won’t protect you from them. Liberal democracies allow freedom of expression. Our leaders and people condemn garbage like this video, but we don’t censor it. Even if we did, the diffusion of media technology makes suppression impossible. The director of this movie was forbidden, under his bank-fraud probation rules, from using computers or the Internet without approval. That didn’t stop him. Nor did it stop the Arabic-language distributor from reposting the video and disseminating it abroad.

Online propaganda is speech. But it’s also part of the global rise of lethal empowerment. It’s easier than ever to kill people. In Muslim countries, mass murderers favor bombs. In the United States, they prefer guns. In Japan, they’ve tried sarin nerve gas. TheOklahoma City bomber used fertilizer. The Sept. 11 hijackers used box cutters and passenger planes. Then came the letters filled with anthrax.

Derision is that much harder to control. The spread of digital technology and Internet bandwidth makes it possible to reach every corner of the globe almost instantly with homemade video defaming any faith tradition. It can become an incendiary weapon. But it has a weakness: It depends on you. You’re the detonator. If you don’t cooperate, the bomb doesn’t explode.

This isn’t just a Muslim problem, though that’s been the pattern lately. On YouTube, you can find videos insulting every religion on the planet: Jews, Christians, Hindus, Catholics,Mormons, Buddhists, and more. Some clips are ironic. Others are simply disgusting. Many were posted to bait one group into fighting another. The baiters are indiscriminate. The promoter of the Mohammed movie founded a group that also protests at Mormon temples.

The hatred and bloodshed will go on until you stop taking the bait. Mockery of your prophet on a computer with an Internet address somewhere in the world can no longer be your master. Nor can the puppet clerics who tell you to respond with violence. Lay down your stones and your anger. Go home and pray. God is too great to be troubled by the insults of fools.

India to Decriminalise Suicide #Goodnews


Sep 19, 2012, 12.00AM IST , TNN

Distress doesn’t need discipline – it needs empathy and understanding.

The Union health ministry’s move to have attempted suicide
decriminalised is welcome. Following a similar observation by the
Supreme Court, the new Mental Health Care Bill, 2012, likely to be
presented in Parliament‘s winter session, argues it is time attempted
suicide be treated not as a legally punishable offence but a
psychological problem. Those trying to end their lives merit care and
concern rather than incarceration and fines, as the IPC’s Section 309
currently prescribes. This shift in the state’s perspective on the
very ownership of life is significant. Punishing those who have
reached such a fragile state of mind, as to attempt ending their own
life, reflects a frowningly paternalistic state, taking on the
disciplining authority of an iron-handed guardian. This archaic
attitude characterised an earlier age of monarchies, theocracies and
colonial states when people were subjects, not citizens.

In the modern age, an enlightened state reaches out to those in
distress, respecting an individual’s right to his own life and
recognising that complex strains could impact a being so hard, it is
plausible – but hardly punishable – that they crack. Social or
economic causes of such severe stress – often, the bullying students
face, the harassment for dowry or male children women undergo, the
failure of crops indebted farmers suffer – should be tackled seriously
by the state. But those attempting suicide in depression or distress
should be given the best counselling and the widest empathy to help
them recover. Any enlightened state knows whose life it is anyway –
the point for government is to assist and enrich this, not, as Michel
Foucault remarked of an authoritarian 18 {+t} {+h} century French
system, to discipline and punish it.

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