'96 Batch - General News

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Law to regulate private hospitals

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM July 30. A legislation was on the anvil to regulate the functioning of private hospitals in the State as it has come to the attention of the Government that many of the private hospitals were negating the ethics of the medical profession and fleecing patients, said the Health Minister, P. Sankaran.

It has been widely alleged that patients of private hospitals were being subjected to several medical tests unnecessarily and heavy sums charged for this. Such unhealthy practices would be put an end to once the legislation was enacted, the Minister said during question hour in the State Assembly today.

There was already a law in force to the effect that all private hospitals and para-medical establishments get themselves registered with the local body where they were functioning. And this registration had to be renewed as and when necessary. However, the Government had no statistics available with it regarding the functioning of private hospitals in the State, Mr. Sankaran said.

The State Government has submitted a proposal to the Centre for developing the medical colleges in the State and also for providing better facilities in them. This Rs. 128 crore project, was sought to be implemented with assistance from the World Bank.

Medical students to intensify stir

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM July 29. The State committee of the Kerala Medicos Association has decided to intensify its ongoing stir against the problems in the medical sector in the State.

Announcing this at a press conference here today, the president of the association, M. Sajish, said the decision was taken after the failure of the talks held between the representatives of the association and the Health Minister, P. Sankaran, here today.

Mr. Sajish said that the Health Minister did not agree to reconsider the decision to hike the fees in medical colleges. Various matters relating to the privatisation of medical colleges had also been a bone of contention.

He said the Minister did not give a clear answer on matters relating to sanctioning of self-financing medical colleges in the State. The Minister would only say that a feasibility study would be conducted to decide on the issue of self-financing colleges, he added.

However, the Minister as well as the Director of Medical Education had assured them that steps would be taken to fill the vacancies for tutors in the medical and pharmacy colleges in the State at the earliest.

Mr. Sajish said that the association would discontinue the hunger strike on at medical colleges. The future course of action would be decided after the State committee meeting of the KMA to be held in Thrissur on August 2.

The association leaders said they would organise a `medical bandh' and various other protests if the Government did not take steps to settle the problems in the medical sector within 15 days.

WHO upgrades support to polio eradication measures

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI JULY 29. The new Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Lee Jong-Wook, said today that he would leave no stone unturned to ensure that polio was wiped off the face of the world at the earliest.

Addressing a globally hooked up press conference, Dr. Lee said his office would directly monitor the progress of the eradication efforts and announced that David Heymann, who led the team which prevented the SARS outbreak, had been appointed Representative of the Director-General for Polio Eradication. He was also "immediately" upgrading WHO's capacity to support India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Egypt in their efforts to immunise every child against polio, considering that these four countries alone accounted for 99 per cent of the 235 new cases reported in the world this year. From the end of August to December, these countries will conduct mass immunisation campaigns aimed at reaching a total 175 million children.

"Polio eradication is a top priority. I want to see this disease gone once and for all. We have eliminated it from almost every country in the world. Now is the time to boost our action and resolve and wipe it out everywhere," he said.

Appreciating the recent statements of Canada, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom, committing a total of $95 million in additional funds for the polio eradication campaign, Dr. Lee said he was appealing to other countries in the G-8 group to follow suit.

"We face a funding gap of $210 million for activities through 2005. If we don't have sufficient funds, we will have to cancel these critical immunisation campaigns and cut back on surveillance programmes," he added.

World ORS Day celebrated in city

KOCHI: Highlighting the role of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) in maintaining the over-all health of a child, the Kochi branch of Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) organised an awareness programme on Tuesday, on the occasion of the World ORS Day.

The relevance of ORS comes in the wake of the fact that diarrhoeal disease is the greatest single killer of children in the developing world and often the chief cause of childhood malnutrition. Death from acute diarrhoea is usually caused by dehydration, or loss of large amounts of water and salts from the body. And the rise in the cases of acute diarrhoea have provided a solid basis to combat this health hazard on a global level.

The most important aspect of the new development is Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) which is the cheap, simple and an effective way to treat dehydration. It includes giving extra fluids at home such as tea, soups, rice water and fruit juices to help prevent dehydration. Another aspect is the usage of , ORS solutions to treat dehydration.

Made with with pure water, the ORS drink contains the main elements that are lost from the body during diarrhoea. It is effective in treating dehydration resulting from all types of acute diarrhoeal diseases.

ORT does not stop the diarrhoea, but it replaces the lost fluids and essential salts thus preventing or treating dehydration and reducing the danger. ORT alone is an effective treatment for 90 to 95 per cent of patients suffering from acute watery diarrhoea. This helps in the application of intravenous drip therapy necessary in only the most severe cases.

The formula for ORS recommended by WHO and UNICEF contains 3.5 gms sodium chloride (common salt), 2.9 gms trisodium citrate dihydrate, 1.5 gms potassium chloride, 20 gm glucose (anhydrous). The above ingredients are dissolved in one liter of pure water.

By using either sachet of salts formula or a home-made mixture of salt and sugar in the right proportions, parents themselves can make an effective Oral Rehydration Solution. And as part of the World ORS Day and also to make mothers more aware of the situation, ORS mixing competitions were held at the General Hospital on Tuesday. Dr Junaid Rahman, Resident Medical Officer, distributed prizes to the winners at a public function. Dr Varghese Cherian, president of IAP, Kochi, Dr M Narayanan, secretary and Dr Sachithananda Kamath, secretary of IMA, Kochi were also present at the function.

Here’s good news for diabetic patients

KOCHI: Lakeshore Hospital and Research Centre has opened a new chapter in the treatment of diabetes by introducing insulin pump, a computerised device that can be kept on the belt or in the pocket.

About the size of a pager, this device is designed to mimic the process performed by the pancreas in releasing the insulin to the body more closely than insulin injections do.

It contains a syringe that the patient can load with insulin and the pumping is programmed to deliver a tiny amount of insulin according to the body needs. This device provides tighter control and less worry about hypo and hyperglycaemia. And the patients can eat what they want, live a life not controlled by insulin, shots and meal control. Patients in all age group can use this.

The facility was launched by Dr Johney Kannampilly, diabetes specialist of the hospital, and a 37-year old housewife who needed two shots of insulin daily was the first patient to use this device.

Priced at Rs 85,000, the pump is now used only in hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai. And Lakeshore is now providing facilities to provide this device for patients.

Medicos warn of intensifying stir

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Medicos Association has warned the Government of intense agitation if their demands were not met with in the stipulated period.

The KMA had been on strike for the past few days against the Government decision to allow more medical colleges in the private sector, fee hike, and shortage of teaching staff.

The KMA delegation had met Health Minister P.Sankaran on Tuesday to discuss these issues.

According to the KMA president M.Sajish, the discussion with the Minister was a failure.

‘‘The UDF Government is trying to destroy medical colleges in the Government sector to give way for more medical colleges in the private sector,’’ Sajish alleged.

Medical practitioners’ Bill to be introduced

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Medical Practitioners’ Bill (Modern Medicine), 2003, which is likely to be introduced in the current session of the Assembly, proposes to make it mandatory for all doctors to renew their registration with the State Medical Council every five years.

Doctors will have to attend a 100-hour compulsory Continuous Medical Education Programme to become eligible for renewal of registration.

According to the Bill, all medical practitioners should get a registration from the State Medical Council. Even those who had registered themselves in other States would have to obtain a no-objection certificate from the respective States and would have to get them re-registered here.

The Bill states that no medical practitioner will be allowed to display the additional degrees in their name boards without the sanction of the Medical Council.

It also directs the doctors not to display the British degrees obtained after 1978 as the British Medical Council had withdrawn recognition for Indian Medical Council degrees since 1978.

The Bill says that doctors must print their registration numbers on their prescription pads and nameplates.

Along with this, the doctors will have to clearly mention in the prescriptions whether it is a one-time prescription or has to be repeated.

The Bill will also revamp the existing Travancore Cochin Medical Council to a more representative State Medical Council.

Health Minister P.Sankaran, who took special interest in drafting the Bill, told this website's newspaper that ‘‘the proposed Bill will make the medical profession in the State more community-oriented and regulated. It has the potential to streamline the medical profession by making it more accountable and disciplined.’’

Dr Balaraman Nair, chairman of the drafting committee, also expressed the same view. He said that the proposed Bill would make the medical profession in the State more accountable.

‘‘It will make the medical profession in the State more effective, disciplined and healthier and improve the patient-doctor relationship. It will provide better patient care and will also enhance and update the doctor’s knowledge in modern medicine,’’ he said.

The State Medical council would set up an ethics committee and a disciplinary committee to regulate the practice of modern medicine in the State. The ethics committee, consisting of both medical and non-medical members, would have the power to take action on all matters relating to professional misconduct and malpractice with or without receiving any complaint.

If found guilty, the disciplinary committee would cancel the registration of the doctor. Moreover, the Bill stipulates that the disciplinary action taken by the Medical Council cannot be challenged in a civil court.

The Council would also set up a Quackery Cell to inquire into the allegations of practice of modern medicine by unqualified practitioners. The Bill also gives power to the Medical Council to fine the complainant in case of frivolous charges against doctors.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

MBBS course: Somervell MC gets letter of permission

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Dr Somervell Memorial CSI Medical College and Hospital, Karakonam, has received the letter of permission from the Medical Council of India for admission of the second batch of MBBS students this year.

The college can admit 100 students to the medical college. The order for the letter of permission was issued on July 14.

The medical college said in a statement here on Tuesday that the college would announce the procedures for admission, the date for submitting applications and the date of the entrance examinations later.

According to sources, the full board of the MCI had decided to give the letter of permission to Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College, Kolencherry, and the Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Tiruvalla, and Jubilee Memorial Medical College, Thrissur.

The MCI has also issued the letter of intent for starting a medical college to Amala Hospital, Thrissur. However, they are yet to receive the letter of permission for admitting students.

Doctors eye glaucoma with concern

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM JULY 20. Opthalmologists in the city are beginning to see the rising prevalence of glaucoma with mounting apprehension as delayed diagnosis of the ageing-specific and asymptomatic disorder is a major contributor to blindness.

Experts say that glaucoma is the primary reason for blindness in 12.8 per cent of the advanced cases turning up at tertiary eye care centres in the city.

Importantly, glaucoma is regarded as the second most important cause for blindness, after cataract, which accounts for nearly 80 per cent of all forms of blindness.

According to figures, the global prevalence of glaucoma is 66.8 million persons with 60 per cent of the patients in Asia.

In the city, the prevalence rate of glaucoma cases turning up at a speciality eye clinic is put at between 2.6 and 6 per cent.

The proportions of glaucoma-afflicted persons are projected to increase substantially in the next two decades. At least 10 per cent of glaucoma patients are blind. On a global basis, as many as 6.7 million are bilaterally blind, while another 20 per cent suffer from some other form of visual field defect.

The asymptomatic nature of glaucoma is such that even patients detected with the disorder during investigations refuse to be convinced. Counselling of such patients forms an important part of glaucoma management, opthalmologists say. The asymptomatic nature of the disease is one of the reasons for patients reporting for tertiary care at an advanced stage.

At present, screening people for glaucoma in the general population remains a challenge, unlike in the case of cataract since as things stand today, the degree of false positive nature of such tests continue to be very high.

The predictive value for glaucoma in commonly used screening tests is quite low as archaic methods of pointing a torchlight into the eye and gauging eye pressure are no longer viewed as reliable predictors for glaucoma.

Since the disorder is associated with ageing, ophthalmologists prescribe periodic screening schedules for those in the 35-40 age group and beyond. Glaucoma screening with measures such as gauging intraocular eye pressure, optic nerve and visual field along with an evaluation of factors such as diabetes, hypertension or a family history of glaucoma have become standard methodology for early detection of the disorder. The current emphasis is on enhancing glaucoma awareness among the population and to ensure a thorough, systematic and focused examination protocol across ophthalmic clinics, say city-based ophthalmologist, Arup Chakrabarti, who had recently participated as a faculty in an instructive course on phacoemulsification at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons.

In fact, the complexities of diagnosis of the disorder and the need to evolve improved protocols for prompt detection and treatment of glaucoma was the focus of a one-day Continuing Medical Education programme on `Glaucoma-Diagnostics and Therapeutics', which was held here today,

under the auspices of the Kerala State Opthalmological Society and the Thiruvananthapuram Opthalmic Club.

X-Ray units in MCH to be repaired

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM July 22. Steps were on to repair the X-Ray units at the Medical College Hospital (MCH) here and to set up a new one, the Health Minister, P. Sankaran, informed the Assembly today

In a written answer to Mangode Rajendran, the Minister said none of the X-Ray units in the hospital were functioning at present. Steps had been taken to replace the defective tube of one machine. Repairs were being carried out on two other machines.

Talks were on at the Government level with a firm with regard to the setting up of a new unit and it was expected to be commissioned shortly, the Minister said.

In reply to a question from Pirappancode Murali, the Minister said steps had been initiated for setting up a Heart Foundation at the MCH.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Regional Cancer Centre may get deemed university status


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Regional Cancer Centre here may get the status of a deemed university shortly.

RCC director M. Krishnan Nair said the application had been completed and he hopes for an announcement from the centre soon.

Nair told IANS: "I am sorry I am in no position to say when that is going to happen. It is the decision that has to come from the centre. We are fully geared for it."

The RCC is an autonomous institution under the state government with the Kerala chief minister as the chairperson.

It came under a cloud over reports of an unethical trial jointly conducted by the Johns Hopkins University in U.S.

Said state Health Minister P. Sankaran: "Prior to the controversy, funds were not a problem at all but today funds are a problem."

RCC authorities are hoping that all that would come to an end after it is given a deemed university status.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Infant’s successful surgery rustles up storm in medical fraternity

KOCHI: Two-month-old Fatimattul Naheedia may perhaps go down in the annals of medical history as the country’s youngest and most underweight infant to have successfully undergone a risky cardiac surgery.

But at present, the infant’s miraculous survival has rustled up a storm in the medical fraternity. Who should get the credit for giving the girl a new lease of life – the surgeon Dr Moosa Kunhi, who performed the delicate procedure, or the staff of PVS Memorial Hospital, who have been in charge of the infant since her premature birth at 28 weeks on April 30.

On Monday, newspaper offices received a communication from the Lisie Heart Institute, stating that their cardio thoracic surgeon Dr Moosa Kunhi had performed the delicate procedure on May 30 at a private hospital. While the name of the hospital was not mentioned, the press release was worded to appear that the Lisie Institute was the venue for the surgery.

The staff of PVS Memorial, where the surgery was conducted, is since smarting, having been robbed of its thunder. ‘‘The baby was born in our hospital, we looked after her, prepared her for the surgery. Our nursing has ensured that the infant has not contracted any pre or post-surgical complications or infections. To be thus sidelined when credit is due, hurts,’’ says P V Mini, PVS Memorial’s executive director.

While the surgery conducted on the child, the patent duct ligtion, is not a very complicated procedure, what makes it a medical milestone is the precariously low birthweight of the patient. While an average newborn weighs between 2.7 to 3.2 kg, Naheedia was only 750 gm, which made any surgery on her very risky. In fact, even after two months, the baby weighs just 1.3 kg.

PVS’s administration says that it was in the process of holding a joint press conference with Lisie Hospital’s surgical team to announce the surgical feat when the latter jumped the gun and grabbed all the credit. Particularly hurt is neonatologist Dr Tonny Mampilly, who has been in charge of the infant since her birth. He first noted that the baby had respiratory difficulties and detected that the infant suffered from patent duct arteriosus, a condition in which the foetal connection between the dorsal aorta and pulmonary artery remains, thus exposing the patient to the risk of a congestive heart failure.

Dr Mampilly first tried to correct the defect with drugs. When that failed, the neonatologist invited Dr Kunhi to operate on the child, since PVS does not have a cardio thoracic surgeon. ‘‘We were not even aware that Lisie is making the matter public,’’ he says.

Dr Kunhi, on the other hand, denies cornering all the credit. ‘‘I just wanted the public to know that there are such facilities now available. I conveyed this to our publicity department, which did the rest. I had no intention of stealing anyone’s glory,’’ he asserts. He points out that he has not charged a paisa for the surgery, and that his hospital also provided all equipment free of charge.

Secretary of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Kochi chapter, Dr Sachidananda Kamath says that while the Medical Council of India has explicit guidelines against doctors advertising themselves, it allows for publicising innovations and new trends. ‘‘This is grey area and I can only comment on this matter after receiving a formal complaint.’’ He says, however, that in general, for the success or failure of any surgery, the onus lies first with the surgeon, who gets credit for success, but also has to shoulder the blame if something goes wrong.

‘‘But if we feel that Lisie Hospital has deliberately tried to obliterate PVS’s role, we shall reprimand them,’’ says Dr Kamath and adds that the association does not have the power to pass any strictures, which is vested only with the state or Central medical councils.

IMA co-ordinator Dr Vinod Nair, however, has stronger views. ‘‘Credit should be given where it is due,’’ he asserts.

Meanwhile, the infant will be discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. The parents, Sajitha and Jabbar, are elated at the news that their ordeal is over and they can go home to Idukki. They are blissfully unaware of the ongoing tussle over their baby.

India slides down the index

NEW DELHI JULY 8. Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal have received considerable appreciation in the 2003 Human Development Report (HDR) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) even as India was pushed down three rungs on the Human Development Index (HDI) to the 127th position in the comity of 175 nations.

Releasing the HDR here today as part of the global launch of this annual report, the UNDP Resident Representative, Brenda Gael McSweeney, said India's 127th position on the HDI as against its 124th rank in the last report did not necessarily mean that the country made no progress.

"The country has sustained its progress in HDI and Gender Development Index values with the former going up from 0.577 in last year's report to 0.590 this time round."

As for India slipping down the list, the explanation was that it was a consequence of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Occupied Palestinian Territories joining the list, and Botswana moving up the order. India, in fact, brought up the rear of the group of nations with medium human development in the list wherein nations have been categorised as having high/medium/low human development.

The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, K.C. Pant, noted with satisfaction that the HDR had placed on record the significant contribution of India towards achieving the first Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of poor people in the world by 2015.

The HDR was particularly appreciative of the strides made by Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal in decentralisation. "Wherever decentralisation has worked — as in parts of Brazil, Jordan, Mozambique, and the Indian States of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal — it has brought significant improvements."

While India and China have been credited in the HDR with pushing the world towards the goal of halving income poverty and the proportion of people without access to safe water, the study recorded growing regional disparity in the two most populous countries of the world.

According to the report, "Even large and growing economies — Brazil, China, India, Mexico — contain regions of intense poverty relieved little by overall national growth. Economic and social progress often also bypasses ethnic and racial minorities, even majorities — especially girls and women, who suffer gender bias in access to schooling, public services, employment opportunities and private property." Still, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been commended for reducing gender literacy gaps; the first showing "tremendous improvement" while the others bridged the divide to some extent.

State seeks Central aid to support HIV victims

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM July 8. The Health Minister, P. Sankaran, has said that the State Government has approached the Centre and the National AIDS Control Society for funds to offer financial support to HIV victims. Addressing a function in connection with the release of the biennial report of the State Management Agency (SMA) here today, Mr. Sankaran said that it was not enough to tackle AIDS at a preventive level and emphasis should be given in generating awareness about the disease.

He said the Government had prepared a programme of action to tackle dengue fever. This included conducting awareness campaigns, fogging in each ward of all panchayats, launching of special squads to carry out door-to-door campaigns in sanitation in the panchayats. He said the Government proposed to convene a meeting of District Collectors to decide on the implementation of the programme.

The Health Secretary, K. Ramamurthy, said that AIDS control activities in the State had failed to address the issue in totality and that it was necessary to redraft the entire intervention strategy. He said the scope for Government intervention was limited to providing guidelines. However, non-governmental organisations had an important role in spreading the concept of partnership in sexual health because they could reach out to the targeted people.

Along with AIDS control and awareness activities, the State would soon have to address allied issues like discrimination of HIV victims. He said the Government proposed to distribute 20 lakh condoms free through petrol bunks. M.N. Gunavardhanan, Additional Secretary, Health and project director of the Kerala State AIDS Control Society, (KSACS), said that AIDS had become a vicious circle and a more comprehensive programmes were required to tackle the issue.

Mr. Babu Joseph, president of the Partners Forum, a group of NGOs working in the field of AIDS control, called for a mass movement against AIDS. He said that the magnitude of the disease was such that there should be a definite shift in strategies. At present, AIDS control activities were aimed at the target groups. Kerala had achieved its unique record in family welfare through a mass movement. A similar movement was required in AIDS control, he added.

Doubts over safety of transfusion blood

By M. Dinesh Varma

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM July 6. Fears are being raised over the safety and quality of blood sourced by several hospitals in the city suburbs as the so-called "blood storage centres", a whittled down version of blood banks, are unable to meet the demand for transfusion blood.

These storage centres, which do not have bleeding facilities but can indent blood from licensed banks and store it for a limited period in refrigerators, were introduced to meet the requirements of suburban hospitals, whose average monthly requirement of blood is between five to six bottles.

According to sources, some hospitals are forced to depend on dubious donors as a life-saving measure for a patient in an emergency. It is also pointed out that even relatives of patients battling for life overlook the risk factor in transfusing blood from an unknown donor in the absence of access to a blood bank or a blood storage centre.

Sources also point out that the rate at which a unit of blood is sold to needy patients varies depending on whether the blood is indented from a licensed Government blood bank or is purchased by a private centre against replacement/surety.

At the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Blood Bank, one of the biggest collection centres, a unit of blood is available at a subsidised rate of Rs. 200, which includes the cost of processing and blood-bags. This is despite the fact that the Central Government has pegged the minimum rate at Rs. 500 per unit.

However, some private licensed blood banks charge upwards of Rs. 1,000 and more for a unit, particularly if the group required is a rare one. This is because a cut from the amount charged at these centres has to be shared with a network of professional donors.

This has not only resulted in patients being fleeced in an emergency situation, but also undermined blood safety, both from the viewpoint of the donor as well as the recipient. In some cases, even the kin of patients do not mind hiring the services of a professional donor.

"Kerala already has the highest number of licensed blood banks in the country (126), and Thiruvananthapuram heads the list with as many as 15 banks," says T.P. Gopinath, State Drugs Controller.

V. Geetha, Head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine at the Medical College, points out that the functioning of blood storage centres as first referral units is far from satisfactory when it comes to the management of trauma cases, especially accident victims with gross injuries and blood loss.

She also feels it imperative that clinicians as well as the public need to be further sensitised on the inherent risk that transfusions always carry.

Promoting voluntary blood donations from healthy persons, introducing mobile blood banks sophisticated enough to insulate blood from temperature changes and the substitution of whole blood transfusion with that of segregated blood components in the long term, are the suggestions put forward to tone up transfusion safety.

The huge investment required to set up a blood bank in acordance with the norms laid down by the Supreme Court had led to the concentration of licensed blood banks in the urban areas.

The storage centres were sanctioned by the Government of India in a bid to correct this imbalance and cater to the transfusion requirements of patients in peripheral institutions.

While an investment of Rs. 25 lakhs and around 100 sq metre of space is required to set up a full-fledged blood-bank as per the norms, storage centres can be set up at a cost of Rs. 2 lakhs in 10 sq metre of space.

Rabies-control programme launched

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM July 6. The Thiruvananthapuram MP, V.S. Sivakumar, has called upon the city corporation, residents' associations and other voluntary organisations to create an awareness among the public to check the spread of epidemics and the menace of stray dogs.

Inaugurating the Integrated Rabies Control programme organised by the corporation here today, Mr. Sivakumar said that the Central directive against the killing of stray dogs was an impediment to checking the menace. Laws are framed for the welfare of people and it should not go against their interests, he said.

The corporation and the Government should work beyond politics together to better the lot of the public. Mutual accusations would not improve the situation, he said.

The Mayor, J. Chandra, in her presidential address, said that she had written to the Union Minister of State for Defence, O. Rajagopal, seeking to amend the law which prevents the killing of stray dogs.

Following the Central directive, the corporation had set up a laboratory for sterilising street dogs but it could not be utilised owing to protest by the locals. Residents' associations, which are often critical of the corporation, had not come forward to participate in the programme, she said.

Anti-rabies cell will be set up in all veterinary hospitals within the city limits as part of the programme. Sterilisation drive, injecting pet and street dogs are some of the programmes planned as part of this.

The health and education standing committee chairman, K.C. Vikraman, presented the report.

The works standing committee chairman, V.S. Padmakumar, the welfare standing committee chairman, M. Vinod Kumar, the appeal and taxes standing committee chairperson, M.P. Lalithabai, the town planning standing committee chairman, Palayam Rajan, and the UDF leader, Maheswaran Nair, also attended the function.

ABC programme

The former Railway Board Chairman, M.N. Prasad, has said that the facilities in the Veterinary Hospital at Pettah should be utilised without delay to test the effectiveness of the ABC (animal birth control) programme.

He was speaking at the World Zoonoses Day function organised by the Department of Animal Husbandry here today. If found successful, the programme should be tried out in all the veterinary hospitals, he added.

Mr. Prasad suggested that until the ABC programme was implemented, the elimination of stray dogs should continue. This was because the unchecked increase in the stray dog population was posing a grave threat to the city residents.

He said that a census of the stray dog population in the city should be conducted.

The ABC programme should give priority to dogs which spend the daytime in the compounds of houses and those which live in slum areas with the indirect protection of the residents.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Diabetics go the distance : (05/07/03)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM - On an evening when the customary tea served was sugar-free, a group of diabetic patients sought expert opinion, lifestyle modification suggestions and answers to routine queries from a panel of endocrinologists located at the U.S.-based Mayo Clinic through a video-conferencing hook-up. The 'Global Diabetes Online 2003', an Indo-US health education programme, got up at the Press Club Hall on Friday, is said to be the first time in the country that Internet technology is being harnessed to facilitate cross-continental interaction between a group of patients and expert clinicians. Read more >>

(Courtesy The Hindu dated 05/07/03)


Doctors set up a debate on their day

KOCHI: A loving touch and a few good words make all the difference. It can turn a sour relation sweet. Or clear a lot of mistrust that has set in the doctor-patient relationship.

These few thoughts were aired at an interactive session held here on Tuesday under the auspices of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to commemorate the ‘Doctor’s Day’.

Addressing the gathering, Justice K P Radhakrishna Menon blamed it all on the doctors. ‘‘Doctors consider patients as a commodity or a profit centre. Emphasis is more on minting money and not patient satisfaction,’’ he said.

V D Pradeep Kumar, secretary, IMA, said the main culprit were the youngsters who adopt the profession due to peer pressure. ‘‘They appear for all entrance tests. So medicine may not be a natural choice. This causes a major problem with their attitude,’’ he pointed out.

Prof M K Sanu prescribed love and affection as best cures than any medicine. ‘‘It will work wonders,’’ he said. Acknowledging this, IMA president M Venugopal admitted that doctors lackcompassion.

He also pointed out that doctors are forced to take ‘defensive treatment’ since the induction of Consumer Redressal Cell (CRC) which can hold doctors responsible for the negligence.

Another suggestion that came up was the setting up of a complaint box in all hospitals. Dr Venugopal said the IMA would soon place complaint boxes in hospitals and all complaints will be taken up with the doctor concerned. Dr Vinod B Nair, secretary, IMA, anchored the function.