More about Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR):
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world.
The Council’s research priorities coincide with the National health priorities such as control and management of communicable diseases, fertility control, maternal and child health, control of nutritional disorders, developing alternative strategies for health care delivery, containment within safety limits of environmental and occupational health problems; research on major non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, blindness, diabetes and other metabolic and haematological disorders; mental health research and drug research (including traditional remedies). All these efforts are undertaken with a view to reduce the total burden of disease and to promote health and well-being of the population.
Benefits of indigenization.
Issues with Clinical trials? Measures taken by the Government in this regard?
Functions and Significance of Primary health Centres? What are the issues with PHCs? Suggest some remedial measures.
[Indigenization: Health Sector]
A cheaper kit to diagnose thalassemia
India has launched a low-cost, indigenously-manufactured Thalassemia and Sickle Cell diagnostic kit that will simplify the identification of seven common beta-thalassemia mutations and two common abnormal haemoglobins common in India. This kit is tailor-made for the Indian population and can also be used for screening.
The kit would cost approximately Rs 400 and would be made available in the public health facilities up to district levels. It is expected to bring down the prices of the test in the open market where it costs up to Rs 15,000.
What are the benefits of Indigenization in different sectors- education, health, technology, environment, defence etc.? What are the usual hurdles in the way to indigenization?
Does India have the capability to produce more indigenized goods, which is qualitative as well as affordable?
Ruling on clinical trials is in national interest
The recent Supreme Court ruling on, and stringent regulations for, clinical trials was a setback for drugs research in India. Not many pharmaceutical companies are coming forward for clinical trials now. There has been a 50% drop in clinical trials after stringent regulations were put in place, but they would pick up in the coming days.
The changes were meant to protect the national interest and to do justice to those who participated in the trials.
The Ministry has laid down tough rules to make companies liable for the death of, or injury to, any drug trial subject. Even permission for such trials is given after a rigorous process. Simultaneously, the Supreme Court has suspended 157 previously approved trials pending review by new committees. This slowed down new trials, especially those by foreign companies or those being lined up with foreign collaboration.
The court’s order came in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, which said trials in India had exploited poor patients who were not even aware that the drugs were still being tested.
India made sweeping changes to the rules of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which governs clinical trials, making it mandatory for the principal investigator of the pharmaceutical company to reveal the contract between the subject and the company to the Drugs Controller-General of India. Earlier, the informed consent of the persons on which the trials had been conducted was often manipulated by the companies to the disadvantage of the subjects.
Videography of the process of informed consent, with the full knowledge of the participant, had been made mandatory, and any death during a trial would have to be reported to the DCGI within 24 hours. The Drug Testing Advisory Board was the only body for granting permission for trials.
To know more about Clinical trials refer our ‘Insights Current Events Analysis Magazine’ (NOVEMBER, 2013)
Over the recent order of the Supreme Court, stating gay sex is illegal, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry has expressed its concerns saying that- this would prevent vulnerable communities from accessing health facilities for fear of discrimination and stigma.
The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) is defined as a high-risk group by the National AIDS Control Organisation(NACO; now Dept. of AIDS Control )with HIV infection prevalence among men having sex with men (MSM) being the highest, between 6.5 and 7.2 %. This is the second most vulnerable community after injection drug users.
According to the NACO 2010-11 annual report, India had an estimated 40 lakh persons in the MSM community, of whom 10% were at risk of contracting HIV infection.
The Department of AIDS Control provides inclusive healthcare service for gay men and transgenders primarily for checking HIV infections, and the service was being accessed by a large number of the LGBT community following the 2009 Delhi High Court judgement that had struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised “unnatural sex.”
The HIV Estimation of 2012 suggests an overall reduction of 57% in the annual new HIV infections (among adult population) from 2.74 lakh in 2000 to 1.16 lakh in 2011, reflecting the impact of various interventions and scaled-up prevention strategies.
Based on these outcomes, the Department of AIDS Control designed the fourth phase of NACP (2012-17) to accelerate the process of reversal and further strengthen the epidemic response. The main objectives of NACP are reducing new infections and providing comprehensive care and support to all People Living with HIV and treatment services for all those who require them.
While HIV prevalence shows declining trends among female sex workers, MSM, injecting drug users and single male migrants are emerging as important risk groups.
Reaction across the globe regarding ‘same-sex’ marriage:
‘Don’t discriminate against LGBT’ U.N. chief, the Secretary-General has re-affirmed that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and stressed the need to recommit ourselves to building a world of freedom and equality for all.
While UK has supported gay marriage, Australia’s top court has overruled gay marriage ruling that Parliament must decide on same-sex unions
The Marriage Act of Australia does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same-sex couples.
India’s Response to HIV/AIDS:
Shortly after reporting the first AIDS case in 1986, the Government of India established a National AIDS Control Program (NACP) which has now become the Department of AIDS under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
In 1991, the scope of NACP was expanded to focus on blood safety, prevention among high risk populations, raising awareness in the general population, and improving surveillance. A semi‐autonomous body, the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), was established under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to implement this program. This “first phase” of the National AIDS Control Program lasted from 1992-1999. It focused on initiating a national commitment, increasing awareness and addressing blood safety.
The second phase of the NACP began in 1999 and ended in March 2006. Under this phase, India continued to expand the program at the state level. Greater emphasis was placed on targeted interventions for the most at risk populations, preventive interventions among the general population, and involvement of NGOs and other sectors and line departments, such as education, transport and police.
The Third Phase of NACP (NACP 3) program has dramatically scaling up targeted interventions in order to achieve a very high coverage of the most at risk groups. Under this phase, surveillance and strategic information management also receive a big boost. Partnerships with civil society organizations was at paramount in the implementation of the program with special focus on involvement of community in the program planning and implementation.
NACP IV -The focus of this phase will be primarily on scaling up prevention through NGOs and sustaining the efforts and results gained in last 3 phases and integration with the health systems response to the epidemic e.g. through provision of ART, STI services, and treatment of opportunistic infections through the National Rural Health Mission.
What are the causes of HIV, how is it spread and its impact, preventive measures, treatment once contacted? What are the steps taken by the Govt. in Prevention of AIDS?
What impact would the recent SC ruling have on the LGBT community?
Laws in other foreign countries, regarding ‘same-sex’ marriage?
Impact of same sex marriage on our culture and society as a whole. Are we losing our traditions by being too liberal? Or are we still a conservative society, considering the fact that we are still talking of legality of gay sex while some western nations have moved forward and recognised same sex marriage on par with a heterosexual marriage?
On Ministerial eve, India stands alone in Bali
India stands isolated at the Bali Ministerial (the three-day Ministerial would begin from 3rd December) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in its efforts to seek safeguards for subsidies poor countries give to their farmers for food security purposes.
Of the key G33 countries, China, an exports-led economy, has not lent vocal support to India’s position for a Bali package as its interests lie with the G20 proposal on trade facilitation. Pakistan has opposed India’s proposal for subsidies to poor farmers on the grounds that they distort trade in rice.
However, India has asserted that it exports only basmati for which MSP is not given to farmers. Some support for India has come only from Indonesia.
India has blamed the rich countries led by the U.S. for stalling the negotiations for a Bali package and also accused the rich countries of double standards on the issue of subsidies for farmers.
Even though the G33 has shown flexibility by agreeing to discuss an interim solution, there were efforts to make the solution redundant through elaborate procedural formalities in the name of safeguards against trade distortion and transparency.
The rich countries are pressing the G33 countries to agree to their preferred treaty for trade facilitation.
Negotiations are on though without much progress between the rich countries on the one hand and India-led G33 on the other. The negotiators haven’t so far settled, for the three main issues:
A new trade facilitation treaty;
Changes in agriculture rules relevant to food security;
Benefits for least developed countries.
India’s stand prevails in Bali meet
Finally at the 9th Ministerial of the WTO, the draft Ministerial Decision put up for endorsement to the member-countries safeguards India’s position on both food security and trade facilitation.
However, Cuba and Venezuela are delaying the adoption of the Ministerial draft for due to some issues concerned with the respective countries.
The draft proposes an interim mechanism to safeguard minimum support prices (MSP) to farmers against WTO caps till a permanent solution is adopted.
Adoption of the draft would be the first major decision of the century on global trade after the WTO came into being.
Conclusion of the Bali meet
World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministers in Bali finally adopted the historic five-draft decision declaration and the 10-document full Bali Package that addresses the Doha Development Agenda.
There had been apprehensions that if Bali didn’t come through, the Doha Round and with it the WTO would become lifeless.
Post-Bali, the negotiators in Geneva will focus on the long-stalled issues of the Doha Development Round in a work programme they committed themselves to completing within 12 months.
It is said that, The Bali Declaration is the stepping stone for the completion of the Doha Round.
The declaration takes care of India’s concerns on food security and trade facilitation; it was what actually India wanted.
The declaration has been hailed across all quarters, as WTO has come alive and it has done what it should have been doing all these years – negotiating, dynamic, working hard to get an agreement and innovative solutions, willing to engage and compromise, seeking common ground and inclusiveness.
The focus was on national interests and common good, and the right of the developing countries to give food security to billions of the world’s poorest people was upheld and through trade facilitation it has opened up the potential of injecting up $1 trillion into the global economy.
Reaction of the civil society groups:
However, the civil society groups were extremely disappointed about India accepting a ‘peace clause’ with conditionality on its food and farm subsidies at the Bali meet with no assured mechanism for finding a permanent solution.
India has opened up its farm and domestic food policies, programmes and mechanisms to international scrutiny with large data and reporting mechanisms to be put into place, thus losing sovereign control over decision-making on food grains stocks and procurement.
Expressing deep disappointment with the hype over ‘India’s win’, the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture has said that “India has lost a historical opportunity” of correcting deep-seated problems with the WTO on trade and agriculture rules that were tilted against the developing countries.
According to the Right to Food Campaign, India has wilted under pressure from the U.S. and agreed to accept conditionality to the Peace Clause that was not part of the G-33 proposal.
Some section have criticised that, India had fell into the trap of discussing subsidy limits and minimum support price (MSP) in agriculture when it should have argued on the basis of hunger and malnutrition in India and that any attempt by the Indian government to act on it cannot possibly be placed within the purview of WTO sanctions.
And also allowing ‘trade facilitation’ means that post-Bali, India should expect an influx of heavily subsidised agricultural produce from outside.
According to Vandana Shiva of Navdanya, India should have insisted that an audit of free trade be done, instead of accepting further trade liberalisation, and giving in to the “peace clause”, which postpones putting food security and food sovereignty at the centre of trade in agriculture.
Our World Is Not For Sale (OWINFS), a global network of NGOs, reacted to the developments sarcastically saying ‘avoiding a total meltdown of the WTO is being touted as a breakthrough, which just shows how de-legitimate the corporate-led model of trade liberalisation, embodied by the WTO, has become.’
Transaction costs will improve once WTO pact is operational: EEPC
The WTO agreement on trade facilitation will make life much easier for Indian exporters since the pact will ensure uniform, transparent and efficient transactions at the customs and port operations across the world.
The agreement that promises to dismantle barriers at the ports and customs would prove a turning point. The efficiency and transaction costs will improve by leaps and bounds, once the agreement comes into operation.
Indian exports suffer largely at the hands of customs and ports not only within the country but in several parts of the world.
Besides, the agreement will make it difficult for some countries which tend to slap non-tariff barriers against exports from the developing countries.
INDIA & ITS NEIGHBOURS
Chinese troops apprehend Indians in Chumar
Chinese troops have apprehended five Indian nationals in the Chumar area of Ladakh, well inside the Indian territory, and took them to their side of the border perhaps the first incident of this kind along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in an apparent bid to stake their claim on the area.
The five nationals were handed over to the Indian side by the PLA troops, after some efforts were made in this regard under the existing border mechanisms between the two countries.
The incident has taken place after PM Manmohan Singh had signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) with China in October, 2013 seeking to prevent any flare-ups between the armies of the two countries on the LAC. The Defence Minister A.K. Antony recently had warned that the new border pact does not guarantee that nothing would happen in these areas in the future.
Transgressions by the Chinese troops have taken place often in Chumar, the only place along the Indo-China border where the Chinese do not have any direct access to the LAC.