February 28, 2007

Microsoft acquires health care search engine Medstory

Software giant Microsoft has announced that they are acquiring the health care search engine Medstory. (http://www.medstory.com/)

Microsoft added that this acquisition widens its footprint in the health care segment and also shows that they are committed to the development of a “broader consumer health strategy.”

Medstory has already made available a beta version of their health care search engine online. The company claims that their search engine would offer more intelligent results than traditional Web scanning tools. Medstory further claims that they have loaded its engine with related information via close work with a number of medical organizations.

Interestingly, the search engine industry giant Google is also rumored to be working on a possible Google Health project.

February 27, 2007

Godrej Consumer Products launches "Vigil", the First Grade 1 Health Soap in India

Godrej Consumer Products Ltd., a leading player in the FMCG industry, has announced the launch of Vigil, India's first and only Grade I Health soap. The advanced Triple Control System (TCS) used in Vigil removes germs, acts faster and lasts longer. It has 76 % Total Fatty Matter (TFM) as prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

Godrej Vigil offers better quality and higher quantity at an affordable price. It comes with an alluring fragrance and in an attractive pack. It is available in 75gms and 125 gms packs, priced at Rs. 11/- and Rs. 18/- respectively.

What is Grade 1: The grading of the soap is determined by the percentage of Total Fatty Matter (TFM) in the soap. TFM content is the ratio of mass of the fatty content to the mass of the soap. So, the higher the TFM the better and purer is the soap. The TFM of a Grade 1 soap is minimum 76 per cent with no fillers, thus making it a purer soap. The soap with the higher TFM gives more lather, lasts longer and, more importantly, cleans better.

February 24, 2007

Health plan to insure all Americans

The Federation of American Hospitals released a proposal for a health plan to ensure health coverage for all Americans. The health plan, entitled “Health Coverage Passport,” would assist uninsured Americans who lack financial wherewithal to obtain coverage and assure all Americans access to the health coverage they need. At the same time, those with health insurance will be able to keep the coverage they have, and all Americans are expected to have coverage. With the adoption of the Federation’s Health Coverage Passport plan it is projected that 98 percent of Americans will be covered.

“Our Health Coverage Passport addresses the flaws in our system that have left so many Americans uninsured without unraveling the private and public coverage that so many Americans depend on today,” observed Federation President Chip Kahn. “All Americans can be covered without turning the world upside down – the Health Coverage Passport shows the way.”

“Today, one in six Americans are uninsured,” added Federation Chairman Victor L. Campbell (Senior Vice President, HCA). “No one better understands the crisis of the uninsured than the hospitals they turn to for care. That’s why we developed this comprehensive, fair and reasonable plan to cover all Americans.”

The Federation today also released a new survey of registered voters that indicates strong support for the “Health Coverage Passport” proposal and sends a strong signal that the American public wants policymakers to take action to cover all Americans. The survey identifies health care as the most important domestic issue for the President and Congress to address, and nearly four out of five (79 percent) of those surveyed said a Presidential candidate’s position on health coverage for the uninsured would affect their vote.

February 22, 2007

India and Pakistan to jointly fight health problems

India and Pakistan on Wednesday decided to cooperate in tackling common health problems, including polio and bird flu.

The Working Group under the Indo-Pak Joint Commission decided that apart from cooperating in controlling polio and managing avian influenza, public-private partnership in healthcare and family welfare will also be taken up.

The other areas that were identified by the working group on Wednesday was health-related Intellectual Property Rights, Capacity Building in health sector and administrative structures relating to drugs and pharmaceuticals in the two countries and traditional systems of medicine.

The working group on environment discussed the decline in vulture population, conservation of migratory water birds and developing a clear development mechanism.
Discussions were also held on Science and Technology on medicinal plants, herbal medicines, biotechnology, renewable sources of energy and popularisation of science.

The probable areas of cooperation were agreed on for holding joint workshops, seminars, exploratory visits, training and collaborative research.

February 21, 2007

Court sets March 31 as deadline to March 31 deadline to reconstitute MCI

The Delhi High Court Tuesday set March 31 as the deadline to reconstitute the Medical Council of India (MCI) and asked four defaulting states and five member universities to conduct their elections to facilitate reconstitution of the apex body of medical professionals.

The court issued the directions in the presence of representatives of four defaulting states - Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu - and member universities of Delhi, Allahabad and Gorakhpur, besides Devi Ahilya University of Indore and Bhopal's Barkhtullah University.

They had been issued bailable warrants on Feb 14. After they assured the court to conduct the elections, these were cancelled.

According to the MCI counsel, the other states and member universities were largely adhering to the schedule to conduct the election by the due date.

Meanwhile, the court issued notice to Kerala health secretary and state's medical education director to be present during next hearing on March 1. Kerala is a defaulting state, which failed to appear in the court.

February 17, 2007

Govt aims $1 Billion in revenues from medical tourism

The Government on Friday said, it is targeting a business of $1 billion by 2010 through promotion of medical tourism in the country.

The Government is working with hospitals and tour operators to drive medical tourism and we expect the business to touch $1 billion by 2010, Joint Secretary Ministry of Tourism Amitabh Kant said at a CII conference.

He added that to make India a healthcare destination, the Government is planning to promote 32 private hospitals for the purpose.

The Government has also tied up with tour operators and have prepared brochures with case studies of cured patients.

Calcutta based Doctor felicitated for developing ORS

Dilip Mahalanabis, a city-based doctor and researcher, was presented the Prince Mahidol Award, 2006, for his contribution to the world of medicine and public health.

Mahalanabis, director of Society for Applied Studies, was the first Indian to receive the award from King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand on January 31, for his extensive research to develop Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT).

Along with Mahalanabis, Stanley G. Schultz, of the University of Texas Medical School, Richard A. Cash of Harvard School of Public Health and David R. Nalin of Merck & Co. were also awarded for their contributions.

Mahalanabis started his research in ORT — the use of water, salt and sugar for treating dehydration in diarrhoea patients — in 1966 as a research investigator for Johns Hopkins University International Center for Medical Research and Training.

During the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, Mahalanabis instructed his staff to distribute ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) among cholera patients in the refugee camps.

“During the war, there was a cholera outbreak among the refugees. Under those circumstances, we were forced to use ORS in the refugee camps, as the intravenous fluid had to be kept for the critical patients or for those who were under shock,” said Mahalanabis.

Mahalanabis also used ORT in Thailand in 1978. The large-scale use of ORT gained recognition from various international health organisations and has been currently in use by around 130 countries worldwide.

The Prince Mahidol Foundation was established in commemoration of the birth centenary of Prince Mahidol of Songkla in 1992. The award is given to individuals or institutions for their contributions to the advancement of medicare and public health services.

February 15, 2007

National Family Health Survey: India is struggling

The most comprehensive report card on India’s health is out and the reports are that the country is struggling on most of the health and development indices.

The findings of the National Family Health Survey-3 (NFHS-3), the country’s largest multi-round survey conducted in 28 states between December 2005 and August 2006, show that only 35 per cent men and 22 per cent women complete 10 years of education in India. Despite low levels of literacy, the survey found that the exposure to media – newspapers, television or radio – was high, with 65 per cent women and 80 per cent men staying connected with the rest of the world.

The survey found that women’s empowerment is yet to make a difference to the life of over half of the country’s women. Only 52.5 per cent women – 61.4 per cent urban and 48.5 per cent rural – said they participated in household decisions. As many as 37.2 per cent married women reported experiencing spousal violence, with 30.4 per cent of those affected living in urban areas and 40.2 per cent in rural.

The NHFS-3 is the third in a series of nationwide surveys done to gather information on the health, nutrition and behaviour. For the survey, 109,041 households were surveyed, of which 32.6 per cent were urban and 67.4 per cent were rural. The NHFS-1 (1992-93) and NHFS-2 (1998-99) surveyed only married women aged between 15 and 49 years. This year, men and unmarried women were included for the first time.

The health of the country’s children improved, though marginally. The percentage of underweight children dropped from 47 per cent to 46 per cent. Children’s nutritional status improved, with stunted growth going down from 46 per cent in 1998-99 to 38 per cent in 2006. Routine vaccination of children improved from 42 per cent in 1998-99 to 44 per cent.

On the upside, India’s population policy has had an impact. While total fertility – the average number of children a women has in her lifetime – dropped to 2.7 from 2.9 in 1998-99, contraception use also increased from 48 per cent in 1998-99 to 56 per cent in 2005-06. Use of condoms has gone up from 3.1 per cent in 1998-99 to 5.3 per cent. However, male sterilisation has dropped from 1.9 per cent in 1998-99 to 1.0 per cent, while female sterilisation has gone up from 34.1 per cent in 1998-99 to 37.3 per cent in 2005-06.

February 10, 2007

15,000 Indian doctors in UK set to return

Thousands of doctors from the Indian sub-continent have lost their seven-month-old legal challenge to the British government to force it to treat non-European Union medics in the UK "on a par and equally" with Europeans.

The net result is that at least 15,000 Indian doctors currently training in the UK may be forced to leave the country with their career paths thrown into confusion.

The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), which was the lead appellant in the case, told TOI just minutes after a verdict they described as "disappointing" that they were considering a legal appeal.

The lost legal challenge had been launched last June, nearly three months after Britain suddenly - and without consultation or warning - decreed that work permit-free visas would no longer be issued to non-European Union doctors, as had always been the case in the past.

On Friday, in a keenly-awaited decision handed down in the High Court in London, the Indian doctors were told by Judge that he agreed with only one-third of their arguments against the department of health and home office. Judge Burton said he agreed the British government had been lax in failing to conduct a race impact assessment of the new visa requirements for non-European doctors. A race impact assessment is required by Britain's stringent race relations laws.

In a sign of the anticipated knock-on effect of Friday's judgement, the ruling was described as "devastating" by at least 30,000 other Indians who lodged a legal case on February 6 to challenge the British government for allegedly disenfranchising non-European economic migrants invited into the UK under the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP).

In Friday's ruling, Judge Burton crucially ruled that contrary to the Indian doctors' assertion, the British government was not required to consult with the affected parties before changing rules governing immigration, visas and work permits.

Amit Kapadia, coordinator of the 800-member HSMP Forum campaign group said the judgment was very disappointing because "if the British government is not required to consult with stakeholders before changing immigration rules, then what is the point of going to court?"

But BAPIO's head, Dr Ramesh Mehta, insisted the Indian doctors were keen to lodge a legal appeal as soon as possible to challenge Britain's treatment of them as "second-class doctors". But Mehta admitted BAPIO was strapped for cash after the lost legal challenge, which cost £ 56,000, including the services of a top-flight lawyer and Cherie Blair-ally Rabinder Singh. Mehta and Mathew said it was important for BAPIO to raise funds from Indians everywhere in order to "fight for justice".

February 06, 2007

Fortis HealthWorld plans 1,000 stores by 2012

Offering accesibility to quality medicines, healthcare major Fortis today announced its retail health store chain with 1,000 shops in 400 towns of the country by 2012.

Fortis HealthWorld, a joint venture of Ranbaxy Laboratories and Fortis Healthcare, would open health stores which will be like a one stop shop offering health products for the entire family.

The stores will offer prescription drugs, health supplements, health foods, alternate medicines, home and personal care products and a pathology lab collection centre.

"We are extending one more arm in the healthcare sector. There was a gap in this field as patients were looking for medicines, which are not spurious. We are providing them that place which is easily accessible. People need not go to a hospital for a blood test or to buy quality medicines," CEO & MD, Fortis, said.

"The stores will run round the clock and would give customers value-added services like prescription reminder service, loyalty programs, OPD appointments in our hospitals and free home delivery," he said.

February 04, 2007

Drug companies ban freebies to Doctors

In an attempt to restrain themselves from influencing doctors' prescriptions, pharmaceutical companies have decided to stop sponsoring trips of doctors and their families to exotic locations overseas. Gifts, in cash or kind, to doctors are also set to be banned.

These curbs flow from a code of conduct drug companies have agreed to apply on themselves, restricting travel, gifts, shopping and entertainment expenses offered to doctors for promotion of medicines.

The code, drawn up by Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India which represents companies that control nearly two-thirds of the medicine market, comes into effect from this month. The organisation said the curbs are in line with international standards and support self-regulation through compliance.

The code also seeks to restrain companies from making tall claims while promoting medicines. It says that promotion of medicines should encourage the appropriate use by presenting them objectively and without exaggerating their properties.

"The industry has drawn up a voluntary code, as it has an obligation to enhance ethical standards, responsibility to provide accurate information about its medicines to support their rational use and a legitimate right to promote them," OPPI director general Ajit Dangi told TOI.

Authorities have long been grappling with ways to curb the rampant practice of pharma firms influencing doctors through various 'incentives'. The government, which is trying to force companies to reduce medicine prices by cutting down "marketing margins", had in the past even contemplated banning prescriptions of brands and was planning to ask doctors to only prescribe formulations. The plan was later shelved.

The Indian Medical Association, the country’s largest group of doctors, recently submitted a policy document on drugs and medical equipment which states that physician should not be influenced by pharma firms while prescribing drugs and devices. Physicians will not give prescriptions in code or enter into agreements with pharmacies, the document states.

February 03, 2007

Domain Specific Medical Search Engines: BioAsk & Health InnIndia

If you are a biologist or a medical doctor or a life science researcher, take a look at BioAsk (http://bioask.com), a search tool targeted at life science researchers. . The distinct feature of BioAsk, which mines data from PubMed (a common resource for life science researchers), provides several tools for generating efficient output, with relevant and focused links.

Rather than dishing out several web pages that contain the search string, BioAsk attempts to study the content and helps its user unearth different concepts/entities lying hidden in the various article abstracts.

When you search for a specific string, the service organises the result into clusters based on bio-entities such as protein/gene, disease, drug/chemical and so on. This helps the researcher easily narrow down the output to the area of his research concern.

For instance, if you wish to obtain information on certain aspect of `medicinal plants', say, `pests of medicinal plants', you can invoke a search on `medicinal plants' and then narrow down the output by selecting the relevant chemicals (pesticides) from the cluster `Drug/Chemical'. Besides providing a variety of tools to zoom on the relevant data, the service has some means (like `specialisation filter') to change the order of the output.

http://health.innindia.com provides a custom search engine, built using Google's core search technology, which prioritizes or restricts search results based on websites and pages that has been carefully scrutinized by an expert panel of medical professionals. InnINDIA uses its own panel of Medical Experts, who defines which sites to be indexed & how. The expert panel comprises of medical, bio-medical, pharmaceutical and bio-technology professionals...who would review/scrutinize all relevant sites, before adding those to the index list.

I tried out both, on first impression. BioAsk is slower but more organized. HealthInnIndia is faster powered by Google, has Ads and throws up lots of results like Google does you've to sift through. BioAsk is better for Researchers, HealthInnIndia throws up a lot more of the other sites.

Reliance Life to set up hospitals, make drugs

Reliance Life Sciences is planning to invest at least Rs 1,000 crore to set up hospitals in the country’s metros and dispensaries in small towns. This is in addition to a similar amount the company has already committed for drug manufacture.

The company is reported to be in talks with various parties across the country for acquiring hospitals. Reliance Life Sciences is also planning to invest approximately Rs 1,000 crore for setting up four state-of-the-art facilities to manufacture generic drugs, discover molecules for new drugs and take contracts for manufacturing drugs for other pharmaceutical companies.

Last year, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani said the group’s future prospects lay in healthcare and life sciences. A source close to the company said healthcare would become the group’s primary focus in about two years. Part of this business would be owning and running hospitals.

The group currently owns and runs HN Hospital in Mumbai. The foray into drug manufacturing will start with the setting up of four FDA-compliant facilities near Mumbai and Pune.

The source added that nearly 50-60 per cent of the medicines sold in the country were spurious and the company would be looking at correcting that imbalance with drugs.

PM promises 9 p.c. of GDP for health, education

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the Government would find the resources to keep its promise of allocating 9 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to fund education and health.

Interacting with a group of 20 children, who are part of the "Nine is Mine" campaign, Dr. Singh said he would discuss the issue at the Chief Ministers' meeting that would be held soon. It was important that the State Governments and panchayats took responsibility to ensure education and health for all.

Following the interaction, the members of the group, who had collected signatures of 2,00,001 children from across the country, said they believed every child should have access to health and education.

The initiative was supported by the "Wada Na Todo Abhiyan" (Keep Your Promises Campaign), a national coalition of over 900 organisations working across 15 States to monitor the Government's promises in fulfilling the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the national development goals and the National Common Minimum Programme.

February 02, 2007

Science

I know a place where the Sun never sets.

It's a mountain, and it's on the Moon. It sticks up so high that even as the Moon spins, it's in perpetual daylight. Radiation from the Sun pours down on there day and night, 24 hours a day—well, the Moon's day is actually about 4 weeks long, so the sunlight pours down there 708 hours a day.

I know a place where the Sun never shines. It's at the bottom of the ocean. A crack in the crust there exudes nasty chemicals and heats the water to the boiling point. This would kill a human instantly, but there are creatures there, bacteria, that thrive. They eat the sulfur from the vent, and excrete sulfuric acid.

I know a place where the temperature is 15 million degrees, and the pressure would crush you to a microscopic dot. That place is the core of the Sun.

I know a place where the magnetic fields would rip you apart, atom by atom: the surface of a neutron star, a magnetar.

I know a place where life began billions of years ago. That place is here, the Earth.

I know these places because I'm a scientist.

Science is a way of finding things out. It's a way of testing what's real. It's what Richard Feynman called "A way of not fooling ourselves.��?

No astrologer ever predicted the existence of Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto. No modern astrologer had a clue about Sedna, a ball of ice half the size of Pluto that orbits even farther out. No astrologer predicted the more than 150 planets now known to orbit other suns.

But scientists did.

No psychic, despite their claims, has ever helped the police solve a crime. But forensic scientists have, all the time.

It wasn't someone who practices homeopathy who found a cure for smallpox, or polio. Scientists did, medical scientists.

No creationist ever cracked the genetic code. Chemists did. Molecular biologists did.

They used physics. They used math. They used chemistry, biology, astronomy, engineering.

They used science.

These are all the things you discovered doing your projects. All the things that brought you here today.

Computers? Cell phones? Rockets to Saturn, probes to the ocean floor, PSP, gamecubes, gameboys, X-boxes? All by scientists.

Those places I talked about before—you can get to know them too. You can experience the wonder of seeing them for the first time, the thrill of discovery, the incredible, visceral feeling of doing something no one has ever done before, seen things no one has seen before, know something no one else has ever known.

No crystal balls, no tarot cards, no horoscopes. Just you, your brain, and your ability to think.

Welcome to science. You're gonna like it here.

Article taken from someplace......

February 01, 2007

Court clears Quota in AIPGEE

The Supreme Court on Wednesday approved the Centre's proposal to provide 22.5 per cent reservation for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates under the all-India quota in postgraduate admissions to government medical colleges for 2007-08.

For 2006-2007, the Centre did not provide for SC/ST reservation under the 50 per cent all-India quota following a 2005 judgment, which said it should be exclusive of reservation. As a result, reservation was provided only under the State quota.

In May 2006 the court clarified that its judgment did not take away the constitutional reservation. At that time, the Centre assured the court that it was conscious of its constitutional obligations to provide reservation for the SC/ST under the all-India quota.

It sought permission to implement the proposal for the academic year 2007-2008, considering that the prospectus was already issued providing for such a quota with court approval.

This means that out of over 3,000 seats in 125 medical colleges, almost 700 will now be reserved under this quota.

The All India PG Entrance Exam held on January 14 will come under the purview of this new quota.

Indian government says no to euthanasia, Supreme Court to decide

Ignoring the Centre's opposition, the Supreme Court on Wednesday admitted a public interest litigation by an NGO seeking to declare 'right to die with dignity' a fundamental right and legalise mercy killing of terminally ill patients.

However, the Centre opposed the idea saying euthanasia could be misused in Indian circumstances. Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told the bench that the Union Health Ministry discussed the issue with the Law Commission in November-December 2006 and was of the view that it could be misused and abused.

The Bench asked the Centre to file an additional affidavit spelling out its stand on the issue. The court had on May 11, 2005 issued notices to the Ministry of Law & Justice and Health & Family Welfare on the PIL.

The NGO has sought a direction to the Centre to adopt suitable procedures to ensure that a terminally ill patient should be able to execute a document titled "My Living Will & Attorney Authorisation".

The Will could be presented to hospital for appropriate action if the person's condition becomes serious. It also requested the court to appoint a committee of experts to study the issue.

The NGO said sometimes prolonging a patient's life through treatment "leads to extension of pain and agony both physical and mental which they desperately seek to end by making an informed choice and clearly expressing their wishes in advance in case they go into a state when it will not be possible for them to express their wishes."

The Present Law:

According to Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, attempt to commit suicide is punishable with imprisonment up to one year or fine or both. Section 306 makes abetment of suicide punishable with imprisonment up to 10 years with fine.

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