India’s latest healthcare shame is a shoddily-conducted government sterilisation drive that proved fatal for 13 women in rural Chhattisgarh. The tale that unfolded in Bilaspur has more than its share of dystopic elements : unhygienic surgical instruments, tainted drugs and women reportedly herded like cattle (or lured like prey) onto the operating table, surgeries completed at alarming speed, and the women sent home with little or no post-operative care, only to fall sick. Or die.
In the media, the spotlight is on a range of pertinent issues such as medical negligence, corruption and the unfairness of letting women bear the entire burden of family planning.
What’s come out looking really worse for wear, though, is the public healthcare system. Once again. The drive was government-funded, was ostensibly working towards targets set by the government, and used drugs reportedly bought through the public procurement machinery. Continue reading
Too thin to spot : There's scant public discussion on India's plan for universal healthcare
Two articles I read recently brought home, once more, the absolute lack of a cohesive national debate on “healthcare for all Indians” which is currently a hot topic in New Delhi. Continue reading
A good starting point to take the healthcare agenda forward
In granting a compulsory licence to Natco on Bayer’s cancer drug Nexavar the patents office has done its job well. It has put a provision in the law meant expressly to balance public good with incentives for innovation to its right use. See Shamnad Basheer’s lucid analysis of the order on spicyip.
But it is important that this not be the predominant or only method deployed by the government to improve drug access and affordability to millions of Indians. Given its visibility, there is a danger of the patents and CL debate hijacking or at the very least taking up prime space in the discussions around the country’s healthcare agenda at the cost of other, less high-profile, measures that could be equally effective. Continue reading