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India Health Policy, After H1N1 domestic vaccines what's next

Posted On: 25 Aug, 2010 Others में

Delhi TracksLife in Delhi, after returning from US, starting a new venture et al

Sukirti Gupta

32 Posts


I had the privilege of listening to Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Honorable Minister of Health and Welfare at the Jagran Pehel inaugural workshop on Gestational Diabetes Awareness on August 22, 2010.   A dapper looking gentlemen, dressed in a gray Nehru suit was not typical of what you would expect of a politician.  Very distinguished.   The honorable minister gave his speech in Hindi – and will do my best to the capture the gist of the speech.

The minister spoke about three areas that are close to his heart and the areas that he would like to focus on in the next 4 ½ years.

  • Diabetes
  • Family Planning
  • Immunization

Let’s begin with family planning.   The minister joked on how it is good that TV is here, otherwise making children is also another form of entertainment.   There are many studies from outside our borders also recognizing the same.  If there is a power outage – the corresponding birthrate in the following nine months will increase.

 The minister outlined an innovative plan to bring contraceptive to the masses by getting them available for “house to house sale” or door to door delivery.   “Aasha” health workers will be given both male and female contraceptives for free – and they will be able to sell them for a 20% mark-up.   This will enable the “Aasha” worker to make a livelihood and the citizens will be able to buy contraceptives at way below retail prices.   A win – win situation for all.   This is a massive drive.   It is simple an the world’s first program of this kind.

In terms of immunization.  It seems that currently the 80-20 rule applies … all states claim that 90-98% of newborns are being vaccinated.  But if this is the cause then India would also not have such a high infant mortality rate  – 20 M women get pregnant every year and 2M Children die every year – I don’t know if I heard the numbers right – but it is astounding number.   To control the fraud and ensure that children are getting vaccinated – the government will rely on technology.   Everytime a baby is vaccinated – the phone number of the mother /father/ relative/villager will be taken down.   There will then be a random check to that number to check that the child has been vaccinated.  Furthermore – the government will also send reminder SMSes of when the next vaccinations will be.   Cool!   Let’s see how this will work out.

Diabetes – or Sugar – is becoming a epidemic in India.   India is claimed to be the diabetic capital of the world.   The center has selected 100 districts for intervention.  These districts are those that are the farthest away from the capital cities to ensure reach to the remotest parts of India.   The goal is to enlarge this program to all 6,500 districts for the next 4 ½ years.   In addition to the rural health missing, 30 cities have been selected in which there will also be testing for diabetes.

The minister spoke about giving his ministry three major innovation tasks.  And was happy to report that ONE of the three has been successful.  That is the domestic vaccine for H1N1 has been created and is available in the market.   Kuddoos from my side to all involved since this is a major achievement and a much needed.

The other two areas are:

  1. Testing material for H1N1
  2. Glucometer Sticks (this is also under a foreign patent) and hence very expensive

I personally wish the ministry much success in both these endeavors and hope that we can get Indian innovations in the two.   This will be a radical improvement in the public health of the country.

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