Making Personal Health & Hygiene an essential part of the school Curriculum


 

September 3, 2011.

                                                                Rajendra Pratap Gupta

President

Shri Kapil Sibal

Minister for HRD

Government of India

New Delhi 110001

 

Subject: Making Personal Health & Hygiene an essential part of the school Curriculum

 

Hon’ble Minister,

Greetings from the Disease Management Association of India – DMAI, The Population Health Improvement Alliance.

DMAI – The Population Health Improvement Alliance is a not-for-profit organization, formed by global healthcare leaders. It is the only NGO in India dedicated to chronic disease management in the country, with an objective of overall population health improvement. In the past three years, DMAI has worked at both, International level and within India, to address the issue of India’s healthcare challenges, with the support of patient groups, Industry & policy makers, and wishes to put on record the continuous support DMAI has received from policy makers and the industry.

We are strongly advocating that Child health become the focus area for our policy makers, so that our demographic dividend does not become demographic disaster! This calls for putting child health at the forefront of the health agenda. The starting point for the same, calls for taking healthcare from medical school to primary school i.e. start sensitizing students about healthcare.

During 2009, DMAI conducted the Health Risk Assessment Index (HRAI), and founds that obesity amongst children was alarmingly high, and so was hypertension, which stood at 7 % amongst students. This calls for immediate steps to create awareness and take action right at the school level.

I suggest that the ministry of HRD makes it mandatory to start imparting education on oral health & hygiene from class 2 onwards in pictorial format, and there should

be a separate subject on Personal Health & Hygiene from class four onwards.  I am sure that this one major step would reduce the burden of healthcare over the next 10 years, and will have a lasting impact on younger generation making healthier choices in daily life and reduce the burden of diseases.

Hoping for a positive response from a responsible government on the this one major step to improve child health in the country

We remain at your disposal for any help / assistance that you might need on this matter of great national interest

Yours Sincerely

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

CC:

H.E. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General, United Nations

H.E. Joseph Diess , President of the UN General Assembly

Hon’ble Deputy Secretary General of the UN General Assembly

Ms. Margaret Chan, Director General, WHO

Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Hon’ble Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GOI

Dr.K. Srinath Reddy, President, PHFI

Dr.Syeda Hameed, Planning Commission, GOI

Sri Sudip Bandopadhyay, MOS- H&FW

Secretary, H&FW , GOI.

K.Desiraju, Additional Secretary, Government of India.

Dr.Sudhir Gupta , ADG, NCD’s. MOHFW.

Board Of Directors , Disease Management Association of India – DMAI , The Population Health Improvement Alliance .

Right to Primary & Preventive Care


August 10th , 2011

Dr.Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister

Government of India

7, Race Course , New Delhi 110001

Subject: Right to Primary & Preventive Care

Dear Dr.Singh,

 

Greetings from the Disease Management Association of India – DMAI, The Population Health Improvement Alliance .

 

DMAI – The Population Health Improvement Alliance is a not-for-profit organization formed by global healthcare leaders. It is the only civil society organization in India dedicated to chronic disease management in the country, with an objective of overall population health improvement .In the past three years , DMAI has worked at both International level and within India to address the issue of India’s healthcare challenges,  with the support of  patient groups , Industry & policy makers , and wishes to put on record the continuous support DMAI has received from policy makers and the industry .

 

Your government has been behind some key initiatives like

 

Right to information Act

Right to Education

Right to Work / Employment

Right to Food

 

I wish to draw your kind attention to consider enacting, the ‘Right to Primary & Preventive care’ for all citizens of this country, before it gets too late !

 

The nation is burdened by ‘a catastrophic disaster in slow motion’, moving towards it in the form of a huge population suffering from Life threatening diseases / disorders ( LTD’s ) or Debilitating Chronic Disorders- ( DCD’s ); what is today called the NCD’s ( Non communicable diseases ) .

 

We are already facing an acute shortage of both, hard infrastructure and soft infrastructure in healthcare delivery , and with our current ‘Baby Boomers’ becoming ‘Patient Boomers’ in the next 15-25 years , we could lose our competitiveness & productivity by over 50 % . India  in 2025 , with over 1.40 Billion population and with over 600 million LTD / DCD patients

would be a burden for the human race if we fail to adopt the Right to Primary & Preventive care, as the basic right for all citizens .

 

I must also state an electoral reason to accomplish this very important act . It is not just the US that fought the last elections on issue of Healthcare reform , but back home,  Andhra Pradesh and Assam are examples of how healthcare schemes can be a deciding factor for the public to choose who will run their government and so, lets get this ‘Right to Primary & Preventive care’ implemented at the earliest possible.  My detailed note on healthcare reforms agenda available at the DMAI website ( www.dmai.org.in ) , has the details of what could be potentially done in this area . It has to be multi-sectoral and inter ministerial effort & I am sure that this act with vast social & economic implications will be the best thing to do in healthcare !

 

Also, to keep you posted , I am working on the Chronic Care Bill & the Child Health bill . If all goes as per plan , the draft of these documents will be submitted to the policy makers by end of September 2011

 

Hoping for a positive response from a responsible government on the ‘Right to Primary & Preventive care !

 

We remain at your disposal for any help / assistance that you might need on this matter of great national interest

 

Yours Sincerely

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

president@dmai.org.in

 

H.E. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General , United Nations

H.E. Joseph Diess , President of the UN General Assembly

Hon’ble Deputy Secretary General of the UN General Assembly

Ms. Margaret Chan, Director General, WHO

Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad , Hon’ble Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GOI

Dr.K. Srinath Reddy , President , PHFI

Dr.Syeda Hameed, Planning Commission , GOI

Sri Sudip Bandopadhyay, MOS- H&FW

Shri K.Chandramouli, Secretary , H&FW , GOI.

K.Desiraju, Additional Secretary , Government of India.

Dr.Sudhir Gupta , CMO, NCD’s. MOHFW.

Board Of Directors , Disease Management Association of India – DMAI , The Population Health Improvement Alliance .

UN Summit on Chronic Diseases in September 2011


July 11 , 2011.

Dr.Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister

Government of India

7, Race Course , New Delhi 110001

Subject: UN High-Level Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases, September 2011

Dear Dr.Singh,

In the above quoted reference , and in continuation to the letter I wrote to you on 8th June 2011; I am connecting with you on my return from the UN session on NCD’s

On 16th June 2011  , on the invitation from the United Nations, I participated  in the informal interactive civil society hearing  & delivered an address at the UN General Assembly Hall . The session was presided by the President of the UN General Assembly , Mr.Joseph Diess

My view was also quoted in the closing remarks by Sir George Alleyne , UN Special Envoy to the Caribbean .

This September, you and your fellow political leaders will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to halt a global epidemic that is killing and disabling millions of people, impoverishing families and undermining economic progress. The United Nations High-Level Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) is a chance for the Government of India to play a leading global role in confronting this major threat to health, prosperity and security of all of us and future generations.

I wish to assure you of the full support of our organization for the High-Level Summit in September 2011.  We campaigned for such a Summit because the NCD epidemic has reached such proportions that it now constitutes a major risk to global prosperity, development and political stability.

Together the four major NCDs – diabetes, cancer, heart disease and chronic respiratory disease – are the world’s number one killer. It is estimated that some 35 million people die from NCDs each year, and 14 million of these deaths could be averted or delayed.

Recently , Our Hon’ble Health Minister quoted; that every ten seconds two new cases of  diabetes are reported . Further , 14 % people in Bangalore were found to be diabetic , 21 percent had  high blood pressure and 13 % had both diabetes and hypertension. DMAI had conducted the first Health Risk Assessment study in 2009 , and our findings showed that  other NCD’s pose a threat of similar magnitude . We found that 44 % males & 42 % females were Obese , 18 % males and 8 % females were suffering from Hypertension ,  21 % males and 11 % females were suffering from Diabetes , 7% males and 6 % females were suffering from respiratory ailments .

Overall average occurrence across occupations was found to be thus :

Obesity 44 % , Diabetes  20 %, Hypertension 16 % & , alarmingly 7 % of the students suffered from Hypertension

India’s biggest enemy is taking the shape of a multiple headed monster i.e. Chronic diseases .We must be proactive in keeping India prepared for victory against our biggest enemy, Non- Communicable diseases. If we win the war against chronic diseases, rest of the enemies could be easily defeated, but if we lose the war against chronic diseases, we would certainly lose the war against all other enemies

The right word for NCD’s is ‘Irreversible diseases’ or ‘debilitating chronic disorders- DCD’s’ or ‘Life threatening disorders – LTD’s ’ . As a first step, let us address the diseases with the seriousness they need  ! Let’s change the name from NCD’s to LTD’s or DCD’s. Through the same note , I call upon the UN & WHO to redefine the terminology for addressing these disorders .

Dr.Singh , I must highlight you the points of discussions that we had at this special session at the UN on chronic diseases .

President of the General Assembly emphasized the need for a global response to the challenge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCD prevention and control should not be seen as competing with other development and health priorities, and solutions must be integrated with existing initiatives

The Deputy Secretary-General noted that NCDs are a threat to societal well-being, taking

their greatest toll in developing countries. This is an issue that the United Nations is taking very seriously to ensure that there is a global response to the broader social and economic impact of NCDs. Praising the work and commitment of those present at the hearing, who are at the frontline of the fight against NCDs, she encouraged them to learn from and link with those working on other key health development issues – HIV/AIDS, and maternal and child health.

The World Health Organization’s Assistant Director-General for Non communicable Diseases and Mental Health cited key evidence on the scale, distribution and impact of the global NCD epidemic. Reviewing the key achievements of the past decade, he noted the important role that civil society had played in progress of management of chronic diseases to date

The Director-General of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation, Princess Dina Mired of Jordan,

emphasized the need for everybody to be unified in their efforts to get NCDs on the global

agenda and receive the attention they deserve

The first roundtable addressed the health, social and economic scale of the NCD challenge.

There is a fundamental right to good health that is being undermined by the globalization of

NCD risk factors and an insufficient action to date. Thus, a human rights-based approach to

NCD prevention and control is warranted. The global response to NCDs needs to address the

developmental and political aspects of the drivers of the main NCDs, and this will require

collective action – no individual country will be able to deal with the problem alone. Much greater progress can, and must be made in preventing and controlling the NCD epidemic to prevent unnecessary suffering and premature deaths.

Speakers emphasized the need for urgent national and global action as NCDs are increasingly frustrating social and economic development. Some countries already suffer the ‘double burden’ of communicable and non-communicable diseases as well as under- and over nutrition, sometimes in the same household. Health systems in all countries will not be able to cope with the projected burden of NCDs and governments need to be clear that the cost of intervening is much less than the cost of inaction. The economic burden of NCDs is already substantial and will become staggering over the next two decades. Economic policy makers need to better understand that NCDs pose a significant economic threat as they can be expensive to treat, require long-term management and undermine the labour contribution to production. There is also a substantial opportunity cost as the money spent on treating preventable diseases could be spent on other priorities.

Speakers stressed that the economic impact of NCDs is felt disproportionately among the poor and many individuals and families are already tipped into poverty by these diseases; thus NCDs are also a social justice issue. This will only worsen if NCDs are not prioritized in countries’ health and development plans. Health systems strengthening must address the need for social insurance to reduce the potential for ‘catastrophic’ expenditure by individuals who suffer from an NCD.

Given the complexity of the factors driving the NCD epidemic, speakers underscored the need for a response that is ‘whole-of-government’, multi sectoral and spans the life-course.

Both prevention and control are essential, and there is much that can be done by more systematically applying existing knowledge. There are highly cost-effective population and individual interventions for the four main NCD key risk factors – tobacco use, poor diet, inadequate physical activity and harmful use of alcohol – and these should be prioritized.

Focusing on the ‘best buys’ should not be at the expense of the broader range of approaches that is needed to effectively reduce the impact of these risk factors. Speakers noted that this includes the need to consider the broader social, environmental and economic determinants of health, which strongly shape health-related choices and decisions made by communities, families and individuals. Likewise, the cultural, religious and social context should be considered in implementing effective interventions.

Many speakers highlighted the need for a response that is integrated – not competing – with existing initiatives, improving health systems for all conditions regardless of their origin.

There is great potential for synergy with existing health development priorities, including those in the MDGs. The important role of health professionals in both prevention and control was highlighted by speakers. A holistic approach is required that addresses the needs of people and doesn’t treat diseases in isolation. In this sense, other non-communicable conditions such as mental health and substance abuse and oral health disorders should be considered in the health system response to NCDs.

The leadership role of governments was highlighted, which should include a commitment to developing and implementing a national NCD action plan and committing to ‘health in all policies’. It was repeatedly emphasized that all key stakeholders need to be involved in the response, but it was noted that clarity of roles is essential to ensure that potential conflicts of interest are appropriately managed and it was proposed that frameworks be developed to assist countries to do so. It was noted that there are some industrial influences that are in conflict with not just health and social goals but also the goals of other industry and private sector actors; all stakeholders have an interest in dealing with these negative influences.

Speakers agreed on the need for ongoing and improved surveillance of NCDs, their risk factors and outcomes. This will be needed to monitor progress, guide policy decisions and research priorities, and provide information on the effectiveness of different interventions.

There was strong endorsement of the need for a clear monitoring and accountability framework as part of the global response to NCDs, with measurable indicators that countries can report against.

Finally, it was noted that success is possible, and there are many examples of significant and rapid progress in addressing NCDs. Now is the time to scale up collective action on NCDs, and the opportunity must not be lost to avoid the growing negative social and economic consequences of the NCD epidemic.

The second roundtable examined effective ways to address the NCD epidemic. Much is known about effective interventions at both the population and individual levels to both prevent and control NCDs.

These include tobacco control as set out in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; reducing the sugar, salt, trans-fats and saturated fats content of processed food; improved diets; increased physical activity; effective policies and programmes to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; and providing low-cost high-quality essential medicines and technologies.

For example, chapters four and five of the WHO Global Status Report on non communicable diseases 2010 summarize the ‘best buys’ in NCD prevention and control http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd_report2010/en/index.html

There is little contention about the evidence for the most cost-effective interventions, and the challenge is thus primarily one of ensuring their proper implementation. It was agreed that NCDs are a societal problem, so a range of government departments and societal actors need to be involved in the response. An effective mechanism to achieve this should be a priority for every country. There is an important role for civil society and civil society should be given a formal role in both the development and implementation of each country’s response.

Speakers highlighted that premature deaths from NCDs are largely preventable, and prevention is central to a more effective NCD response at both national and global levels.

Many primary and secondary preventive interventions are highly cost-effective and there are existing tools to support their implementation, including agreed international codes, strategies and Conventions.

Full implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was cited by many speakers as being a top priority for action, due to the domination of tobacco-related premature deaths across the NCDs – currently six million per year. The FCTC is now widely ratified by both developing and developed countries, but more can and should be done to support its full implementation in developing countries.

NCD prevention and control should be grounded in a life-course approach, given the fatal and early childhood origins of some NCDs. Children are an important focus for interventions, with the growing impact of risk factors such as obesity on children and adolescents and the opportunity afforded to reach them through schools. Likewise, women are an important target for interventions as child bearers and, frequently, as the ‘gatekeepers’ for food, physical activity and health services for families. Speakers also emphasized the importance of prevention and effective treatment across the life-course, including into older age where much of the burden or diseases falls.

Speakers agreed on the need for an effective health system, which has benefits for all areas of health, not just NCDs. Primary care is the key healthcare setting for cost-effective NCD prevention and control. An important learning from HIV/AIDS is the need for better integration of prevention and treatment services across disease areas – so-called ‘horizontal’ and ‘diagonal’ approaches. In support of this, one participant proposed ’15 by 15′ – namely that by 2015, 15% of funding in all ‘vertical’ programs should be earmarked for strengthening ‘horizontal’ health systems activities. In low-income countries, such approaches should also address the endemic NCDs that affect the so-called ‘bottom billion’, for example sickle cell anemia and rheumatic heart disease, as well as palliative care.

Speakers referred to the roles that civil society organizations can play in NCD prevention and control. There is a significant opportunity to use information and communication technologies to promote health awareness and increase empowerment of individuals and communities to reduce their exposure to NCD risk factors and supporting self care.

Many speakers emphasized that access to essential medicines and technologies for prevention and treatment of NCDs is critical. The cost of the essential medicines is low, and these should be included in readily available ‘packages’ of essential care; this will require increasing manufacturing capacity of essential drugs to ensure quick access to high quality generic pharmaceuticals. The specific need for better access to adequate pain relief, especially morphine, as part of palliative care was raised by several speakers. It was noted that late presentation is all too common in developing countries, partly because of a lack of universal social insurance, as well as lack of awareness; both need to be addressed to avoid unnecessary suffering and premature deaths. Patient and ‘survivor’ groups should be engaged in policy and implementation and can play a significant role in influencing the public, politicians and the media with their stories.

Speakers noted that governments need to set the pace for change and utilize their power to ensure appropriate regulation to achieve public health goals. This may require regulation at both national and international levels to address significant health threats such as the obesity epidemic, for example to support the effective implementation of standards on marketing of unhealthy foods to children and agreed targets for salt reduction. Children and the public should be protected from commercial marketing that encourages unhealthy actions and, exposed to educational messages in schools and in their communities that encourage healthy action. The use of social media to deliver such messages needs to be greatly expanded. The role of physical activity was raised by a number of speakers. The benefits of physical activity are wider than NCD prevention and national and local policies should create an environment that encourages and supports people to be physically active.

Regarding the resources required to prevent and control NCDs, speakers noted that the majority of funding for health comes from within countries, and States need to mobilize their own resources. Health needs to be a higher priority for government spending, and NCDs a higher priority in health spending – this is the only way that funding will be sustainable in the long term. Likewise, current spending on NCD prevention and control needs to be carefully scrutinized to ensure the best possible value for money. NCD prevention and control should also be considered in decisions about ODA for health, in particular through integration with existing health development priorities. In addition, innovative funding mechanisms will need to be explored.

Many speakers emphasized that one important source of funding for NCD prevention and control is through increasing taxation of tobacco products. Tobacco taxation is also irrefutably one of the most effective ways to decrease tobacco consumption, particularly among young people, and is fundamental to an effective tobacco control programme.

Speakers endorsed the need to build capacity and capability to address NCDs among health professionals. This will require concerted efforts to revised training curricula, dealing with ‘brain drain’ of trained professionals from low income to higher income countries, and greatly strengthening research capacity in developing countries to monitor trends and evaluate interventions.

 The final roundtable examined ways to scale up action at the global level to collectively address NCD prevention and control. The full range of stakeholders, including all those present at the debate, was identified as been essential to a more effective response. It is vital to carefully examine previous international experiences to draw out the key lessons.

The value of international instruments such as the FCTC was emphasized, and it was noted that other such instruments may be needed in the future to support effective international action.

Speakers provided specific examples of enabling mechanisms to support global cooperation, including a ‘clearing house’ function to facilitate knowledge sharing, a global forum, and bilateral and multilateral partnerships to support technology and knowledge transfer.

The need for appropriate monitoring and accountability was reiterated, noting that accountability is a national responsibility that can be supported by appropriate international monitoring.

It was acknowledged that the funding environment is currently challenging, but there is much that can be done with existing funding. At the national level, there are opportunities to generate or ‘free up’ resources, for example through taxation of tobacco, alcohol and foods high in fat or sugar, and reprioritizing spending on ineffective and expensive health care interventions. Reducing donor ‘silos’ will help to ensure that health development occurs in a much more integrated way that will benefit NCDs as well as other priority areas. There is a need to expand the donor base, and opportunities to do so through linking with other related issues such as climate change.

International federations of NGOs, private sector and other organizations have a useful role to play in promoting global cooperation. Representatives of the research-based pharmaceutical industry and the food and non-alcoholic beverage industries outlined pledges they have made to contribute to NCD prevention and control. There is potential to expand new partnerships, for example with the sporting goods industries to promote physical activity. The private sector can bring a range of capabilities to support NCD prevention and control; for example, its global reach, and experience with global brands and global marketing campaigns. With respect to NGOs, speakers identified the value of greater collaboration, which has been realized over the past two years. This has greatly enhanced their ability to mobilize resources, advocate and generate social and political momentum. This collaboration will need to be further developed to support and monitor the implementation of the outcome document that is to be adopted in September.

 Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus of the Pan American Health Organization,summarized many of the key points canvassed during the day’s discussions. He noted a strong degree of coherence in the day’s discussion and agreement on the need to act urgently, while acknowledging the different views within and between the different stakeholder groups on some key issues. Underscoring the need to use proven tools and the value of strong partnerships within the UN and across broader society, Sir George urged all stakeholders to work together for the global public good of reduced suffering and early deaths from NCDs. He echoed the comments of many speakers on the need to integrate NCD prevention and control with action on other key health priorities, notably HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health.

In concluding, Sir George Alleyne exhorted participants to increase their efforts to stimulate political action on NCDs. Civil Society has the resources and passion to overcome the apparent inertia and it must use its unique ability to ‘agitate’ for change. The wider public needs to be informed of the size of the problem and of the consequences of inaction. He emphasized that the High-level Meeting is an important milestone but that sustained action will be needed beyond September.

In closing, the President of the General Assembly emphasized that, as with other key health and development issues, all stakeholders need to act collectively to address the global challenge of non-communicable diseases. He noted that the global community can act decisively and effectively on important global health issues, and we must learn from these prior experiences. It is in our common interest to act now.

Thanking all those who participated in the hearing, the President noted his optimism that the  High-level Meeting and the subsequent response will make a real difference to the global NCD epidemic. This optimism had been strengthened by quality of the discussion and range of ideas canvassed during the hearing and the obvious energy and sense of purpose from all stakeholder groups.

Principal conclusions

 The key conclusions of the hearing include the following:

Countries should move urgently to prevent and control NCDs to alleviate the significant social, economic and health impact these diseases are having, which is now compromising development gains. The last decade has seen some progress at the global level in NCD prevention and control and it is clear that concerted action and leadership by governments can result in significant and rapid progress. However, efforts need to be greatly scaled up to avert unsustainable increases in the costs of treating NCDs, which no country can afford.

There is a strong consensus that NCDs are a development issue and urgently need to be afforded greater priority in national health and development plans, and a higher priority in government funding decision. NCDs also need to be incorporated into the global development agenda in ways that complement rather than compete with existing health development priorities, and innovative funding mechanisms need to be rapidly identified and implemented.

The complex drivers of NCDs require multi-stakeholder action, and countries should put in place a mechanism to engage all the sectors needed for an effective response. Governments should ‘set the pace’ of the response and must show political courage and leadership.

Addressing the key risk factors for NCDs will require involvement of government, communities, civil society, non-government organizations, academia and the private sector. It is important that potential conflicts of interest are appropriately managed so that effective action is not compromised.

NCDs disproportionately affect the poor at global and, in many cases, national levels and lead to ‘catastrophic’ expenditure that forces people below the poverty line. Universal social insurance schemes are essential to avoid this and their implementation should be a priority, with attendant benefits for health care that go beyond just NCDs.

Countries should prioritize the implementation of the most cost-effective population and individual level interventions to prevent NCDs, some of which are in fact cost saving, to ensure they are getting the best value for money from existing expenditure. These interventions should be the priority for new spending on NCD prevention and control.

A renewed commitment to full implementation of the FCTC is essential to prevent a huge burden of suffering and many millions of premature deaths among working age people.

Countries should honour their commitment not just to full implementation nationally, but to international cooperation to support low-income countries to implement the FCTC.

Countries should continue to strengthen NCD surveillance and monitoring to inform and guide NCD policy and action at both national and international levels.

The health system response to NCDs must be fully integrated with programmes that address other key health issues, to ensure that services are delivered around the needs of the people who use them. Access to high-quality and affordable essential medicines is an essential component, and the implantation of programmes to deliver them effectively in low resource settings.

The outcome document for the High-level Meeting must have clear objectives and measurable indicators, supported by a monitoring and evaluation function, to support national accountability for scaling up NCD prevention and control. Civil society organizations should play a role in independently monitoring and reporting on progress.

It is essential the Heads of State and Government attend the High-level Meeting, to ensure that there is the high-level political commitment to scale up NCD prevention and control.

Countries should consider including NGOs on their delegations to the High-level Meeting, as they can bring technical expertise, can help to mobilize political support, and will be essential actors in implementing the agreed outcomes of the High-level Meeting.

Health workers are key to an effective national response to NCDS, but many are not trained to prevent, detect and manage NCDs. Training curricula should be reviewed to ensure that health workers receive relevant training in both NCD prevention and control.

Governments should look to tobacco taxation as a key way of raising revenue to prevent and control NCDs – in addition, this is a highly effective way to reduce smoking rates, particularly among young people.

DMAI – The Population Health Improvement Alliance asks you to attend the UN Summit and in person and make this a high priority for the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare . We are also calling for the establishment of a NCDs partnership to lead multi- sectoral and coordinated action, and a UN Decade of Action on NCDs to implement the commitments governments will make at the UN Summit in New York

DMAI – The Population Health Improvement Alliance would be pleased to provide your office with any further information in preparation for the UN Summit.

NCDs have the power to affect us all. Increasingly NCD’s strike people in younger age groups, including children, threatening international economic progress. But we are not powerless.

We have achievable cost-effective solutions. We need political leadership now to make them a reality. Please be a champion for NCDs by attending the UN Summit in September and safeguard the health and prosperity of future generations in India

We sincerely hope that the country will take leadership and set an example for the world on how to manage chronic diseases through early interventions

DMAI – The Population Health Improvement Alliance Recommends that:

Indian government establishes an NGO-Private Healthcare Players – Government  Alliance . An  India NCDs Alliance , linked to WHO, to coordinate follow up action with member states, other UN and multilateral agencies, foundations, NGOs and private sector

  • We must look at enacting a Chronic Care bill 2011 in the parliament in the winter session that addresses this biggest healthcare challenge (NCD’s) .
  • Create a high level committee for creating an actionable plan for identification , enrolment and treatment of chronically ill populations or move them under a primary prevention plan for people at the risk of chronic diseases . This plan should be implemented on ground before end of this year
  • As written in my comprehensive healthcare reforms document  in 2009, we must set up a CDR ( Central Disease Registry ). Details available at www.dmai.org.in .
  • Come out with protocols for the treatment of chronic diseases
  • Come out with mandatory guidelines for work force wellness
  • Enforce child health guidelines in all primary schools & dietary guidelines . Please refer DMAI’s note on Healthy Foods & An Appeal at www.dmai.org.in for details
  • Include general & basic information on nutrition and physical activity in school curriculum from class VI onwards . Have a compulsory paper on health & Wellness for  class 10th exam for all educational boards in India
  • Adopt an open minded and outcome driven approach of roping in private healthcare players to improve preventive care & treatment of identified populations
  • Include preventive checks and health clubs ( Gyms & Yoga ) under tax benefits
  • Levy additional premium on insurance policies for smokers to dissuade them from smoking
  • Launch a nationwide campaign for creating awareness on avoiding and managing chronic diseases
  • Encourage and implement the use of mHealth for timely access & affordability

 Post my return from UN session , I had discussions with leading pharmaceutical companies as to how to get their support and involvement in this major pan India efforts. All the

Companies  I have talked to are willing to work with the government on the way  to address the issue of chronic diseases . I believe that we must involve the companies in our outreach efforts and form a long term partnership with the pharmaceutical companies

Finally , I must state that success will depend on the development of strategic partnerships, ensuring there are explicit and measurable targets, and governments providing the necessary political leadership. I would be grateful for your consideration of the following in order to ensure a successful Summit in September:

  • Support the strong participation of civil society in the Summit. We request that civil society representatives be included in the official government delegation to the Summit.
  • Invest in the consultation process leading up to the Summit to ensure that the meeting produces an outcomes document with strong recommendations and a concrete plan of international action, as outlined in the NCD Alliance 10 Outcomes Document Priorities. This should include:
  • Language on the NCD Alliance’s 10 Priority Outcomes, based on previously agreed upon language.
  • Acknowledgement of the health, social and economic burden of NCDs in the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
  • An increase in international development funds and technical assistance to NCD prevention and control, including support for international instruments such as the Framework Convention on Tobacco control.
  • Measures that address the availability and affordability of quality medicines and technologies to ensure that people living with NCDs can access life-saving treatments.
  • Agreement to global accountability monitoring, reporting, and follow-up mechanisms.

DMAI – The Population Health Improvement Alliance is a not-for-profit organization formed by global healthcare leaders , and the only civil society organization in India dedicated to the management of chronic disease management in India .  In the past three years , DMAI has worked at both International level and within India to address the issue of chronic diseases with the support of  patient groups , Industry & policy makers , and wishes to put on record the continuous support DMAI has received from policy makers and the industry . We wish to expand this association further to address the issue of NCD’s together in form of a ‘PPPP’ – Profitable Private public partnerships .  I personally believe , that if the first “P” – Profit is missing from PPP We would just be restricted to pilot stage. We should not shy from adding the additional  “P” – Profits , so that the industry is incentivized to align its goals to government, and work together in a sustainable and profitable manner with performance that is measurable and with positive outcomes 

I think without profit , government cannot demand performance ; and without performance, private players should not expect profit . So profit has a pivotal role in the success of PPPP

To show our support for this summit , we have put the sub-theme ‘Management of Chronic Diseases using technology’ at the International Telemedicine Congress (www.telemedicon11.com ) that I am chairing from 11-13 November 2011 at Mumbai, India.

We would very much appreciate the opportunity to share perspectives on the meeting with you or one of your colleagues. At your earliest convenience, please let me know your availability in the coming weeks.

We look forward to your personal participation with a team of civil society organizations at the High-Level UN Summit in September, & I am sure that your thoughts will be really helpful for the summit and will set an example for others to follow . We wish you and the UN a successful summit .

Yours sincerely,

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

President & Member of the Board

Disease Management Association of India

Member – Healthcare , QCI. Government of India

P.N. : Details of the work done by DMAI in managing chronic diseases is available at the website www.dmai.org.in

Encl: Message at the UN delivered on 16th June 2011.

CC:

H.E. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General , United Nations

H.E. Joseph Diess , President of the UN General Assembly

Hon’ble Deputy Secretary General of the UN General Assembly

Ms. Margaret Chan, Director General, WHO

Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad , Hon’ble Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GOI

Dr.K. Srinath Reddy , President , PHFI

Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare , GOI

Dr.Syeda Hameed, Planning Commission , GOI

Shri K.Chandramouli, Secretary , H&FW , GOI

Board Of Directors , Disease Management Association of India – DMAI , The Population Health Improvement Alliance .

Address of the President of DMAI – The Population Health Improvement Alliance at the UN on 16th June 2011

Venue : UN General Assembly Hall , United Nations , New York.

Chaired by Mr. Joseph Deiss , President of the UN General Assembly .

Dear Friends ,

I am honored to be here , &  have few key points  for the special high level, two-day session that UN will convene in September 2011 for addressing the issue of chronic diseases.

I appreciate the point that UN session talks about local issues across regions . I would further suggest the United Nations that , if we want the governments to act on its recommendations , we must go beyond local i.e. get micro . My experience in public policy makes me believe that governments do appreciate and act on recommendations that are local but also focus on micro issues .

We have mega goals but  our actions have to be micro and we must suggest inputs that are local and at  micro level,  for execution.

Also, let us  accept the fact that for this generation , we are late, and we have already missed the bus . What I would not like is, that our next generation sits in the same UN General Assembly hall after 40 years , and discusses the same issues related to chronic diseases , and says that ‘our earlier generation behaved irresponsibly and did nothing for us ! ’. So the time has come for us to distinguish the ‘Urgent’ & ‘Important’ . Urgent is that we must fix the issues related to the chronic diseases now , but it is more Important  that we plan to build a healthier next generation . So my expectation from the UN is,  that  there will be a dedicated session related to Child health at the UN General Assembly in September .

Also that,  the technology is becoming all-pervasive and we must use this UN session to promote the use of  mHealth to address the issue of chronic diseases . I am expecting that the UN general assembly will dedicate a session to mHealth, and how it can help in the delivery of care for chronic diseases.

Lastly , I would like to run a quick survey on ABCDE of  Chronic Diseases / Healthcare . Where,  A stands for – Asthma/ Arthritis , B stands for Blood Pressure , C stands for CVD / Cancer , D stands for Diabetes & E stands for Epilepsy / Elderly patients ( as 84 % of all the elderly patients are on one or more medications)

If anyone of you or your immediate family members have any of these ABCDE , please raise hands .

The response is unbelievable ! I have made a point . It is not about the 5 or 10 % prevalence rate of chronic diseases. We have just now had the visual proof of the prevalence of chronic diseases , and it is much higher than the figures that we read often .

It’s time to act now .

Thank you.

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

Recording of the speech is available at www.un.org/webcasts

Points raised at the Interactive Civil Society Hearing at the United Nations 16th June 2011


Venue : UN General Assembly Hall , United Nations , New York.

Chaired by Mr.Joseph Deiss , President of the UN General Assembly .

 Dear Friends ,

I am honored to be here , &  have few key points  for the special high level, two-day session that UN will convene in September 2011 for addressing the issue of chronic diseases.

I appreciate the point that UN session talks about local issues across regions . I would further suggest the United Nations that , if we want the governments to act on its recommendations , we must go beyond local i.e. get micro . My experience in public policy makes me believe that governments do appreciate and act on recommendations that are local but also focus on micro issues .

We have mega goals but  our actions have to be micro and we must suggest inputs that are local and at  micro level,  for execution.

Also, let us  accept the fact that for this generation , we are late, and we have already missed the bus . What I would not like is, that our next generation sits in the same UN General Assembly hall after 40 years , and discusses the same issues related to chronic diseases , and says that ‘our earlier generation behaved irresponsibly and did nothing for us ! ’. So the time has come for us to distinguish the ‘Urgent’ & ‘Important’ . Urgent is that we must fix the issues related to the chronic diseases now , but it is more Important  that we plan to build a healthier next generation . So my expectation from the UN is,  that  there will be a dedicated session related to Child health at the UN General Assembly in September .

Also that,  the technology is becoming all-pervasive and we must use this UN session to promote the use of  mHealth to address the issue of chronic diseases . I am expecting that the UN general assembly will dedicate a session to mHealth, and how it can help in the delivery of care for chronic diseases.

 Lastly , I would like to run a quick survey on ABCDE of  Chronic Diseases / Healthcare . Where,  A stands for – Asthma/ Arthritis , B stands for Blood Pressure , C stands for CVD / Cancer , D stands for Diabetes & E stands for Epilepsy / Elderly patients ( as 84 % of all the elderly patients are on one or more medications)

If anyone of you or your immediate family members have any of these ABCDE , please raise hands .

The response is unbelievable ! I have made a point . It is not about the 5 or 10 % prevalence rate of chronic diseases. We have just now had the visual proof of the prevalence of chronic diseases , and it is much higher than the figures that we read often .

It’s time to act now .

Thank you.

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

The points i talked about as mentioned above ,were highlighted by Sir George Alleyne , UN Special Envoy in his closing remarks.

Include Homeopathy in National Health Schemes


DMAI wants the govt to give due weightage to homoeopathy in NRHM

Suja Nair Shirodkar, Mumbai Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 08:00 Hrs [IST]

The Disease Management Association of India (DMAI) has recommended the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the central government to increase the role of homoeopathy in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), especially for acute illness.

At present homoeopathy is not being leveraged properly under NRHM in spite of it being the cheapest way of treatment in the country. Rajendra Pratap Gupta, president and director DMAI pointed out that the homoeopathic medicines are cheaper and much more accessible to patients thus it is only natural that its potential should be utilised properly under NRHM.

Though the treatment used in homoeopathy is superficially similar to the medicines prescribed by a conventional doctor it differs in their source, preparation and dosage. He observed that in spite of having enough qualified homoeopathic physicians in the country the government is not giving them enough chance to play any role in the national health program. “Today there are  hospitals and colleges that cater to homoeopathy and encourage its use then why isn’t the government utilising these resources to increase the demand for homoeopathic medicines among the rural population.

The government should take step to ensure that the people in the rural India can also benefit from this system,” he pointed out. He said that the demand for homoeopathy has increased over the years as more and more people are adopting homoeopathic treatment due to its effectiveness compared to other available methods. Thus it should be put to use more effectively. He added, “Homoeopathic medicines are very cheap, in almost two rupees a patient can get a weeks worth of medicines which will be a great support to the rural population, it would provide them with cheapest alternative that assures best treatment.”

Homoeopathy is a system for the treatment of illness that is based both on the recognition of patterns within the symptoms of the illness and a wider consideration of how the individual is as a person. Although conventional medical assessment also takes these issues in to account, the homoeopathic approach integrates personality type, previous experiences, emotional state, the influence of the environment and other social factors to a greater degree than is usual with standard medical practice.

http://www.pharmabiz.com/NewsDetails.aspx?aid=62119&sid=1

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

DMAI wants the government to extend the NRHM till 2017 with radical operational changes


The Population Health Improvement Alliance                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The Disease Management Association of India (DMAI), a non-profit organisation propagating disease management concept and tools in the country, has urged the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the central government to reconsider its recommendations for scrapping of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) as the NRHM has made an impact on the lives of the rural population in the country.

The DMAI suggestion in this regard was put forth by the DMAI president and director Rajendra Pratap Gupta in a letter addressed to PAC chairman Dr Murli Manohar Joshi recently.

The NRHM was launched in the country on April 12, 2005 for a period of seven years i.e. from 2005 to 2012 for providing integrated comprehensive primary health care services, specially to the poor and vulnerable sections of the society. It means that NRHM will get expired by 2012. However, seeing its impact on the rural population, the government is thinking of a possible extension for another five years. In this regard the government had asked PAC to review the NRHM. However, in its reports the PAC has recommended on scrapping the NRHM scheme.

However Gupta suggested, “NRHM is a very useful programme and has been successful in having its presence felt even in the remote parts of the country. However, there are many radical administrative and operational changes needed to be made in the present format of NRHM.”

He suggested that with proper administrative and operational tactic, this programme certainly will have the power to create desired impact in the rural health scene. In his recommendations to the planning commission on the changes needed in NRHM for the 12th five year plan, Gupta suggested that technology must be leveraged in NRHM for accountability, transparency and telehealth and that 12th five year plan must consider opportunities to digitise NRHM in all spheres of its implementation.

He said, “There are many important changes that needs to be undertaken in the NRHM, but of all changes the first and foremost change should be to improve the quality of medicines that is being supplied at the NRHM centres. Secondly, minor surgeries are not allowed in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) as of now. This should be changed and the government must allow minor surgeries in the PHCs as it would help reduce a lot for hassles for the villagers and bring revenue for the government as well.”

Other issue that he had highlighted in the letter was on the inadequate fund flow on time which could lead to corruption among the people working at the lowest level in PHC and sub centres.

“I have met people who were not paid salary for months, and also discovered the fact that the funds that were supposed to be sent for 2010 were received by the centres in mid January 2011. Such delays must be stopped with immediate effect as this clearly will encourage and lead to corruption as people drawing a monthly salary of Rs.5000-8000 won’t be able to sustain their family without salary for months. Either they will resort to bribing, selling the government supplies or starts absconding and working for employers in parallel. Thus I suggest that the fund meant for a sub centre or PHC must be transferred in advance for the quarter if not half yearly,” Gupta points out.

He put special stress on telehealth adoption goals for NRHM and other healthcare projects, as setting up and manning the physical infrastructure with qualified professionals at remote places is nonviable. To stress the importance of telehealth adoption in the country the Telemedicine Society of India (TSI) is organising a three-day conference Telemedicon’ 11 in Mumbai from November 11 to 13. TSI is completely dedicated to the promotion of telehealth in India and is being organised at a time when there is a big push from the government and private players in the field of telehealth in India.

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

http://www.pharmabiz.com/NewsDetails.aspx?aid=61977&sid=1

www.telemedicon11.com

Unhealthy Promotions- Banning toys with food products meant for Children


February 21, 2011.

Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad

Minister of Health & Family Welfare

Nirmal Bhawan, New Delhi – 110108

Subject: For Immediate action-banning of toys given as free gifts with food products & drinks, & framing guidelines on Child Health & Preventive care

Hon’ble Minister,

I am writing this important petition on behalf of the Disease Management Association of India – DMAI; The Population Health Improvement Alliance. DMAI is founded by global healthcare leaders to help improve the population health in India by focusing on the entire continuum of care.

In November 2010, during my visit to the US , I was with Senator Tom Daschle ( Senator Tom was nominated as Health & Human Services Secretary by President Obama , which he declined, and is often referred to as a senior Advisor & Mentor to President Obama). During the discussion, he asked me; how is India a better bet than China? I told him that, in the next three decades, while India will have majority of working age population, China will have one working person and three retired persons. This should put China in serious productivity issue!! India is the youngest nation today, with an average age of approximately 25.9 years, and this is often referred as a ‘demographic dividend’.

While statistically, India is having a tremendous demographic dividend , if we do not attend to the ‘ Child Health’ as a top priority , our demographic dividend will become a ‘Demographic Disaster’, as our working population would be ‘Unhealthy’ and thus drastically impact the productivity of the nation . This is the biggest hurdle for India to attend, if we need to overtake China in the long-term for being a developed & a vibrant economy

For Immediate action: Media has proliferated & children have dedicated channels on TV.They watch T.V. , which is flooded with animated cartoons & other Sci-fi serials, and children get fancied with such shows. The companies have started giving the characters associated with these shows as free gifts to entice the children to buy their food products and drinks. So children force their parents to buy the foods stuff or drinks just for the sake of these ‘Freebies’ , and they also consume these products, so that the parents do not scold them for spending so much on these food items !! Due to this, our children are fast becoming obese & unhealthy!! Just for the sake of an example , I am quoting my son who buys Mc Donald’s ‘Happy Meal’ just for the sake of getting the toy that comes free with it & I can see that he is least interested in the meal , but then he consumes the ‘Burger’ , and ‘Cold Drinks’ that comes with the ‘Happy Meals’ to ensure that next time he gets a chance to buy the Happy Meal from Mc Donald again and most importantly , get the free toy . He already weighs 40 KG at the age of 7 years. Luckily, he has joined the Gym with me. But imagine, the severely ‘Obese’ children that are a result of such ‘Unhealthy’ Promotions with food products meant for children. I have just quoted Mc Donald for the sake of example, but we have most of the companies selling ‘Unhealthy foods’ with promotions aimed at enticing children, playing for their ignorance and their intense desire for playing with toys!

Through this note, I call upon the policy makers to ban such toys and also the advertisements related to such promotions in national media with immediate effect. I also call upon the ‘responsible’ companies to sell & market their products for ‘nutritional value’ and not on ‘Unhealthy promotions’ or ‘Freebies’.

Also, the MOHFW should come up with “hand book on Preventive Healthcare for Children” below 12 years If we fail to take immediate and strict action now, our future generations will grow up to curse this generation for inaction, and the nation will be burdened by poor productivity and high healthcare costs with no signs of health ! It is a call to action . I do look forward to prompt action on the same from all the concerned.

If the policy makers fail to take action, DMAI will initiate a nation-wide campaign for such ‘unhealthy promotions’.

With best regards

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

CC.

Sonia Gandhi ,Rahul Gandhi , Dr.Manmohan Singh , Dr.Murli Mahohar Joshi , Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad Min,  for information & Broad Casting,  Montek Singh Ahluwalia,  Dr.Syeda Hameed,  Shri L.K.Advani , Smt. Sushma Swaraj,  Shri Dinesh Trivedi , Sitaram Yechury , Members of Parliament , Sam Pitroda , Secy, Health & Family Welfare, GOI , Dr. K. Srinath Reddy , Chief Minister’s of States,  Media

NRHM & Jan Aushadhi Scheme review by Parliamentary Accounts Committee ( PAC)


February 14th , 2011.

Dr.Murli Manohar Joshi

M.P.( Lok Sabha )

Chairman ,

Public Accounts Committee

Government of India

6, Raisena Road

New Delhi 110001

Reference : National Rural Health Mission ( Ministry of Health & Family Welfare ) & Jan Aushadhi Stores ( Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers )

Dear Dr.Joshi,

Namaskaar,

This has reference to our meeting on 9th February 2011 at your residence in Delhi  , and our discussions regarding NRHM & its  review by the PAC . I have gone through the entire NRHM set up and even visited various centres and sub centres operated under NRHM in different parts of the country .  I believe that, you must reconsider your views on recommending the scrapping of NRHM, as NRHM has definitely made an impact on the lives of the rural population . Though, NRHM needs some radical operational changes , but as a program , it is impactful. Please find my recommendations to the Planning Commission on the changes needed in NRHM for the 12th five year plan . Planning commission had asked me for inputs on the same , and I am sure that the MOHFW might be working on the changes as well . Rest we will discuss when you invite me to dispose before the PAC as an healthcare expert for NRHM & other schemes of MOHFW.

 Jan Aushadhi Stores ( under ministry of chemicals & fertilizers ) : In fact , this scheme is poorly planned and badly executed . You must recommend scrapping of the Jan Aushadi stores scheme with immediate effect . This is a blatant misuse of public money . Whereas , the idea of generic stores is great , but this scheme has been a failure so far , and I do not foresee this scheme taking off . In the current form , Jan Ausahdi is a scam in the making !! 

If you are still to review the Jan Aushadhi stores under the PAC , I would be happy to despose based on my hands on experience with pharmacy chains and the ground reality with Jan Aushadi stores

 I am sure that you will certainly consider these inputs and revert in case you need more information . Also , Dr.Joshi , I am travelling to your constituency in March 1st week to deliver a lecture at the Institute of Medical Sciences , BHU on NRHM , and If you are in Varanasi , would be glad to meet up.

 With best regards

 Rajendra

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

President & Director

Disease Management Association of India  ( www.dmai.org.in )

Re-structuring Healthcare in India – 12th Five Year plan – NRHM , ICDS & Malnutrition


 

 

January 31, 2011.

Dr.Syeda Hameed

Member

Planning Commission

Government of India

Yojna Bhawan,

Sansad Marg, New Delhi- 110001

Reference: Inputs on the 12th Five year plan W.R.T. (1) Eradicating under-nutrition and malnutrition in India through restructuring of ICDS or other means and (2) Suggestions for improvement in the present structure of NRHM. 

 

Dear Dr. Hameed,

I am sure that this finds you doing well.  This has reference to the mail from your office on 5th January 2011, requesting me to provide inputs on the 12th five year plan w.r.t.(1) Eradicating under-nutrition and malnutrition in India through restructuring of ICDS or other means and (2) Suggestions for improvement in the present structure of NRHM. 

At the outset, let me put my deep appreciation for the NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) and its positive impact on the healthcare of the rural population. I had a chance to visit many rural pockets over the past few years, and my inputs are based on the reality as seen by a commoner, and I do hope it is insightful along with being helpful.

Policy Changes:

To me, there appears to be no single prescription for addressing the diverse healthcare needs of this country, which is as big as a continent, but NRHM has made its presence felt even in the remote parts of the country.  Seeing that the NRHM was launched only in April 2005, and would be around till 2012, with a possible extension for another five years , one of the key policy action items that might be worth considering to create a pro-active Rural healthcare system in another six years ( assuming that the NRHM is discontinued in its current form by 2017 ), is to be able to sensitize the population on the adoption of basic standards of personal hygiene , nutrition & lifestyle necessary for fitness  ( wellness) that makes our population less dependent on hospital care . This should be one of the key goals of the NRHM for the 12th Five year plan .The current NRHM has put the onus & financial burden on the centre, as the centre and state partnership in terms of the financial outlay is 85: 15 . Second important consideration , this also must get a key policy shift for the 12th five year plan which should have one more stakeholder i.e.  center : state : Beneficiary .

Funding for NRHM:

  

We need to see a financial participation from the beneficiaries of the NRHM, as they would have got used to the services offered via NRHM centers ( ASHA , ANM, Sub Centers , PHC , CHC & District hospitals ) , and the value of offering would have increased through NRHM centers. In addition to this, per capita income will also go up in the next five years if the country continues to grow at the current pace. So we must consider if we can increase the fees for basic services towards the 10th year of NRHM; even a token increase by one rupee can deliver a quantum leap. Besides, we must keep reducing the financial incentives gradually every year to phase it out eventually. Still, the people would enjoy the safe healthcare services which are subsidized or offered at a very low cost. Villagers are getting used to these services , and I am sure that in the 10th year of NRHM , it might be a right time to bring down some of the subsidies and incentives , as the trust would have built up considerably .

NRHM should welcome ‘tax free’ donations from individuals and corporates: This should be publicized and could become a good way to raise funds in a step towards building a financially sustainable healthcare model for rural India

With a gradual reversal in the expense funding between center and the state, the expense part needs a micro planning as, though the hard infrastructure expenses might not be as high as it is now (since we are constructing sub centers & upgrading some existing centers ), but the maintenance of the infrastructure built will become a huge financial burden, and  knowing that the divestment & auctions are not routine incomes for the government, this would lead to a huge deficit in the budgets over the next six years if financial planning of NRHM is not planned and managed well.

Also, one of the key considerations for the policy makers is to look at  converting NRHM into NHM ( National Health Mission ) , as the conditions remain deplorable for urban poor , and the private facilities are not going beyond tier 1 &  2 towns .

 

Structural changes:

It would be worth considering replacing the hierarchical designations to functional designations to have a clearly defined role and an outcome driven responsibility

Mission Steering Group (at the Centre) could consist of the following :

Director for Planning & Forecasting,

Director for Strategy 

Director for Analysis & Research (One who looks into the regular reporting & review)

Director – Innovation & Program improvisation (Program will certainly improvise with regular feedback & inputs)

Director – IT

Director – Procurement

Director – Logistics

Director – Finance & Accounts

Director – Standards – Medical Protocols, GCP (Good Clinical Practices) & Quality Control

Director – IM (Infant Mortality)

Director – MM (Maternal Mortality)

Director – Nutrition 

Director – Immunizations

Director – Preventive Care

Director – Mental Health

Director – TB- DOTS

Director – ART

Director – NCD

Director – Anemia & Related Disorders (This needs a special focus, as more than 50 % of women are Anemic)

Director – Oral Care

Director – De-addiction (De-addiction must also be a focus area, as the consumption of alcohol has been on constant rise, and wife beating is prevalent in most of the households)

Director – Ophthalmology

Director – Ambulatory services

Director – Pharmacy

Director – NGO & Alliances

Director – Media & Communication

Director – Human Resources & Training

More people can be added depending upon the focus areas for NRHM. In fact, I would strongly recommend that all the national health programs be merged with the NRHM one by one  to ensure that health & wellness issues are addressed holistically in rural India

The reason I am recommending a dedicated resource for each action area like Director – MM, Director IM etc. is that, then we have people with specific deliverable, and outcomes would be better. Currently, at the centre, we have four Joint Secretaries and four directors with multiple responsibilities . These might leave them with delivering outstanding results in some areas, and with serious gaps in some!!

The above mentioned Central Committee (Mission Steering Group ) , should be overseen by the board or committee which has members from Public Health, doctors from modern medicine, Ayush, Nursing, Public representative, patient groups & people from different walks of life, who bring diverse capabilities to the team with proven competence in envisioning and executing projects on mass scale or of making a social impact. 1/3rd of these representatives must change every two years (rotating public participation). 50 % of the members must be from the government and 50 % from the private sector. Also, of the total members, 50 % must be practicing doctors and remaining non-medicos.

Further, a similar structure needs to be set up at the state level.  At the District level, the work gets delivered via same field workers.

While the PHC’s & Sub centers are done up very well, some gaps remain, like;

  • There is a mismatch in the requirement & stocks of medicines. All the PHC’s get similar stocks of medicines irrespective of the load in OPD. So , whereas  some PHC have more stocks ,  some have stock outs – More of Forecasting and logistics issue
  • Supplies of nutrients is insufficient & inconsistent –  Once we have a focused resource ( Director – Nutrition , Director – Forecasting & Director – Logistics ), these problems would reduce drastically
  • Need is for three doctors instead of the two currently at the PHC, so that the load can be handled well. Currently, at times, the wait period for a patient to be seen could go beyond 4 hours at times in OPD. Also, with this, the PHC can operate           24 X 7 , since doctors can do an 8 hour shift each
  • It would be good to have the doctor’s residence attached to the PHC
  • Biomedical waste disposal has to be given priority to avoid infections in villages.

 

Challenge: Nutrition given during ANC / PNC is consumed by the family and not by the mother.

Solution: If ASHA can monitor this during visits or otherwise, it would be effective or the gender specific nutrition packs could be made to ensure that the females consume what is meant for them. Self Help Groups have emerged as the new power centers in the villages and every village has Self Help groups. ASHA’s must work with SHG’s to address this issue and oversee that the diet meant for the lactating mother is given to her in presence of a SHG member

Challenge: Electricity – Load shedding in villages: This leads to lack of storage conditions in PHC’s & Sub centers

Solution: India has adequate sunshine for 9-10 months in a year, for rest of the months, the load shedding is less, so it is worth considering having solar panels as an integral part at all the PHC’s & Sub Centers for generating electricity needed for storage and other requirements

 Challenge: Poor Quality of Medicines: It is observed that the qualities of medicines are poor, and it is procured by the district Health committee. Poor quality of medicine is a serious issue, as the patients are given medicines for treatment, and if the medicines are not effective, it will lead to mistrust in the entire system, and the poor people will have to move towards private practitioners or quacks and suffer more

 

Solution: Since all the companies in pharmaceuticals have national level operations, it will be good  if the national level tie up is done for procurements of medicines at the NRHM rates, and the order, supplies & payments happen locally. With this, we will be able to get the best rates and also give the best quality of medicines to the needy poor patients. Also, generic medicines should only be allowed to be used under NRHM. This will help to save enormous costs to the government. Also, all the PHC’s & sub centers must set up ROP’s (re-order points for all the requirements, factoring in the time lag for supplies based on past trends. This will ensure that there are near zero stock outs).

It was observed that the specialists (Gynecologist ) in one of the model PHC (Wardha district) comes only for two hours and that too, to direct patients to private practice. This must be avoided at all costs, as this will eventually make ASHA’s & ANM’s, agents for private clinics for all the wrong reasons & erode the trust in the NRHM

Challenge: Absenteeism in PHC: It is a common problem to see that doctors are missing or come only for a few hours or few days in a month.

Solution: It is suggested that the entire NRHM attendance moves paperless (biometric attendance be made compulsory). With this, the problem of absenteeism will come to an end

Challenge: Preparing reports and paper work takes most of the productive time of the health workers

Solution: With the advent of low cost tablet PC’s & low price 3 G enabled phones; it might be worth considering giving these devices to health workers like ASHA’s. Also, if these mobiles / tablets have a GPRS connection, it can mean live data updates, thereby, reducing the three month gap between the village data entry and the central review points at Delhi

When I visited the residence of one ASHA worker, she had more registers to maintain records then her daughter would have used in her studies! In all, she had about six registers to maintain records and spent 2-3 hours daily to just fill in her records. I believe that just one register should have been good enough ,  with name of the beneficiary , under which head ( disease or operation ) ,  visit for the purpose of , repeat visit , action taken, next steps, and next due visit etc…….The register given by NRHM was in English with words like Vulnerable men / women . I believe that the language used should be bilingual and not just in English …. This needs immediate attention. Digitizing the records through mobile phones would be great, as has been done in Wardha district for IM & MM programs. The data is updated live and the impact is significant with no chances of multiple entry and errors, and also real time actions happens due to SMS based follow up and care.

Ground reality: I visited one centre in a rural area, and I was surprised to see the PHC decked up to welcome the Health & Sanitation committee that was to visit the centre. I was told by the centre staff that they have been waiting since past one week, expecting this committee and they had bouquets etc ready to welcome them. Such visits do not reveal anything and add no value to the working of the village sub centers or the PHC but work only for photo-ops!! Only surprise visits must be under taken with no formal information given in advance, so that the right picture is presented during the visit, and the action oriented steps can be taken to fill the gaps, if any.

Pharmacies are present in every part of India .It is believed that India has about 7.5+ lac pharmacies across the country, and most of the villages have a pharmacy. All the

Pharmacists must work as ASHA support systems due to their knowledge and skills, being the trusted touch point for basic health problems. Focus through pharmacists should be on chronic diseases and paternal care, and through ASHA’s on child and maternal health

Medicine kits given to ASHA should have all the instructions in English, where as all the pharmaceutical companies are expected to carry the same bilingually (English & Hindi).  For NRHM supplies, pictorial presentation along with bilingual labeling must be mandated.

Tribals & Upper caste: Despite the best efforts of the government, tribals are still called the ‘Black castes’ and live in a separate area demarcated for them. One of the biggest challenges is that ASHA from a lower caste would still find few takers amongst upper caste households, and vice versa. This is one issue that needs to be addressed. It would be wrong to create two ASHA’s and further the divide , but some really significant  work can be given to ASHA , so that it appears to be compelling enough for everyone to seek ASHA’s assistance- Like the entire village birth certificates must have ASHA’s signature etc.

Changes in the delivery of services

 

New Opportunities: 

Community Radio: This is being experimented in Baramati, and must be looked into. Similar services can be started in villages to drive healthy behaviors. I had visited a few villages in north, where a simple awareness campaign (pictorial & through songs in local dialect) have reduced the maternal mortality by 93 %. The expenses in this project were not more than Rs.5000.00 per village. Such models need to be adopted

Toll free based IVR Multilingual helpline:  NRHM must initiate this to help reach the right people for the right inputs

m-Health based Jeevandaini scheme : This has been piloted in Wardha district , with good results in institutional deliveries and drastic improvement in MMR.  The simple mobile based applications have lead to live data upload and follow up via SMS, leading to good compliance amongst ANM’s & ASHA’s . This health based model needs to be made an essential part of NRHM . Since 3G & WIMAX is now a reality , the rural health information flow and delivery of few basic services must be done adopting m-Health ( mobile health platform ).

Mobile Sub centers: Sub centers are built at a cost of Rs.8.5 – 13.5+ Lacs. It might be worth considering to set-up mobile sub centers( Mobile Vans ) that can go across to the remotest areas and conduct outreach programmes. So the cost of operating the sub center ( rental , electricity etc ) gets consumed in the form of fuel expenses for the mobile health center and also, these sub centers can be used as an ambulance in case of medical emergencies . Thus it would save Rs.300 that is given for transferring patients to the referral centre. The cost of  mobile centre is expected to be much lower than the cost of a physical centre. Location of PHC’s & Sub Health Centers is mostly around a few Km’s from the residential areas, and this needs to be corrected or filled up with such mobile health center

Digital Training of Health workers: It might be worth considering creating a TV programme on doordarshan modeled exclusively for training ASHA, ANM & for increasing awareness amongst NRHM beneficiaries. Also the same should be made available through mobile phones as 3G is now a reality. Expecting mothers must be able to see the demo & programme clippings via their handsets or through ASHA’s handsets, which could be upgraded to a 3G enabled mobile handsets for live reporting or for delivering video content for various programmes.

Technology must be leveraged in NRHM for accountability, transparency and telehealth. 12th five year plan must consider opportunities to digitize NRHM in all spheres of its implementation

Minor surgeries in PHC: Now that that PHC’s have facilities for delivery, minor surgeries must be allowed in the PHC. So far, minor surgeries are not allowed in PHC. This is one important decision that can help save a lot for hassles for villagers and bring revenue for the government. The PHC’s can enroll patients for minor surgeries, and then get a surgeon on call for a day from a nearby town and complete the minor surgeries at the PHC to function as day care centers .

Reporting of NRHM across states should be on the same format as of KPI’s (key performance indicators) so that it leads to apples to apples comparison and this could be on these indicators

  • Structural : Setting up and maintenance of the facilities
  • Functional : Human resource management and flow of instructions and funds
  • Fund utilization: special focus must be paid as to why the funds could not be used, as the money is meant to be spent with an outcome allocated to every rupee spent.
  • Outcomes :  Measurable outcomes in improvement in the village / Taluka health must be done every quarter

 

Reporting and review must be

  • Weekly for Talukas
  • Fortnightly for Districts
  • Monthly for states
  • Quarterly at the centre

 

This timely reporting will itself bring out better outcomes. It was sad to learn that during the mid-term review of the 11th five year plan in July 2009, the ministry of health & family welfare was not even aware of  any targets. The reality is that, the files from the planning commission were not even looked into by the ministry of health & family welfare until the mid-term review of the plan started. One of the senior official of the MOHFW had revealed to me that rarely MOHFW looked into the files from the planning commission , and they were not even aware of any targets set by the planning commission , and that if the MOHFW did not respond to the plan targets set by the Planning Commission , the planning commission assumed the targets as accepted by the Ministry of Health & family welfare .This is a structural and procedural lacunae and needs to be addressed from the planning stage for the 12th five year plan , so that the ministry does not question in the meeting who set the targets for them ??

Administrative changes:

 

Financial planning and flow of funds:  The fund flow on time is the biggest problem. I have met people working at the lowest level in PHC & Sub centers, where the salary has not been paid for months, and the funds for 2010 were received in mid – Jan 2011. This clearly will encourage corruption. People drawing a monthly salary of Rs.5000-8000 cannot sustain their family without salary for months. Either they will resort to bribing; selling the government supplies or starts absconding and working for employers in parallel. The fund meant for a sub Center or PHC must be transferred in advance for the quarter if not half yearly. This is one single biggest action item to make a sub center or PHC Staff working 6 days a week

Referral centre: It has been found that the referral centre in Panvel (district Raigad) does not even accept patients & turns them away from the door itself ( this is a reality ), and the patients are routed to the Alibag referral centre. Such centers must be a common occurrence across India. Government is paying for them, but they are operational only on paper. Such center must be tracked down, and either made fully operational or closed down. As not only they cause a loss of money to the exchequer, but also diminish the trust of the common man in government’s flagship schemes like NRHM

Why programmes succeed or why they fail- Lessons to learn:  Let’s take a look at the successful programmes like NACO for Aids, National TB control programme & the Pulse Polio programmes. All these programmes have worked well because of  the fact that they have proper structure and resources allocated.  In the ministry of health & family welfare, the programmes are fantastic announcements, but the human resources required are not properly allocated in the ministry to handle such programmes; only the funds are transferred in the bank for the programme. So the department handling the programme is under resource crunch , they do not even have people to handle the communication , and most of their time goes in reporting ; Result – the funds remain un-utilized and are returned back in case of calamity announcement from the PM’s fund or for other reasons and thus programmes fail to leave an impact . Planners must study the success of National TB control programme & NACO and implement the learning’s in all the programmes for Health & family welfare

Incentive to health workers ASHA’s ANM’s & other Sub center & PHC staff: It is expected that since ASHA’s and ANM’s are incentivized for institutional deliveries, referral etc. The incentive might also make them turn to private practitioners over a period of time, as the lure of money will drive them to recommend private gynecologists & give less focus to home visits and counseling, and this might be happening even today as well. It is suggested that the ASHA’s & ANM’s must be incentivized for counseling, home visits, immunization  & preventive checks as a routine part of their job and the incentive must be paid for each home visit ( even Rs. 2 to Rs.3 per visit is good enough ) .  This will lead to a fixed remuneration to ASHA’S & ANM’s. Certain Evaluation parameters for the success of an ASHA must be established like how many households are aware of sanitation, hygiene, preventive health and healthy lifestyle.  Since the NRHM has a huge outlay of funds for the national healthcare, a ‘dip–stick’ audit using random sampling must be done with the households, and this must be done every quarter across the states where NRHM is currently operational.

ASHA is not paid a salary but is paid incentive for institutional deliveries (Rs.100), DOT treatment (Rs.250), meetings for once a month (Rs.150, out of which Rs. 100 is for travel and Rs.50 for refreshments). A supervisor is above ASHA’s and she handles about 30 ASHA’s. She is paid Rs. 3000.00 per month. She is supposed to be meeting two ASHA’s a day. Since both the ASHA’s and Supervisor have to travel long distances by road , and keep in constant touch with each other , I would recommend free local roadways pass to NRHM workers , and a mobile connection with CUG ( Closed user group , that allows free calls between users ) for NRHM staff.  The cost of which could be less than Rs.75 per month

NRHM Handbook : Since the NRHM programme is the biggest healthcare programme so far,   it is imperative that a detailed multi lingual NRHM Handbook, manual or ready reckoner be brought out for all those involved in the programme  , covering  basic protocols,  bio medical waste disposal , do’s & don’ts  dealt with FAQ’s . Also, the digital version must be available on mobiles and internet.

1-3 months rural posting of nurses, pharmacist and doctors must be made mandatory for the courses to fill the resource crunch, and the professionals must be remunerated for these postings along with free accommodation on site at the sub center and PHC.

Awareness & sensitization: Since NRHM is addressing the key areas when it comes to health and hygiene, it is imperative that a chapter on NRHM is added in secondary education (class 6th onwards). This will lead to awareness and sensitization amongst children to adapt to healthy habits

Role model & Case studies approach: People believe in facts, and the case studies & success stories of ASHA & ANM’s must be shared nationally to make the acceptance more impactful for behavioral change. I must share with you something interesting that I witnessed in north India. I was visiting rural belt in north India, and came across an ancient custom called ‘Shourey pratha’. Under this , when the lady delivers a child , she is confined to a room for 40 days , and cow dung is plastered on the walls ,and baked cow dung cakes are burnt non-stop to fumigate the room, automatically the mother and child suffocate to death . Now we can well imagine why the IM &MM (Infant Mortality & Maternal Mortality) was very high in the rural belt in north India. With simple explanations and scientific explanations with the help of  the Self Help Groups (SHG’s), this tradition is on its way out. SHG’s is the most powerful change agent in rural India and the NRHM must use this channel to drive a behavioral change in rural India.

 

 

Eradicating under-nutrition and malnutrition

 

The issue of under-nutrition and malnutrition is not just an issue associated with poverty . If I were to say that malnutrition is also prevalent due to the lack of sanitation facilities, people would not believe it, leave alone talking about linking the two.

Here is an interesting linkage : Females in the village have to defecate in the open , and for that , they either go out in early mornings or late evening when it gets dark . To avoid going in between , the women not only eat little , but also feed children just good enough so they do not go out and defecate too often , and this has been a cause of malnutrition and under-nutrition . There is a common habit amongst girls studying in schools with no proper toilets that , they seldom drink water during school hours to avoid going to toilet !! Strange but true . Similarly , mal-nutrition and under-nutrition has become a sanitation issue . This calls for the involvement of the ministry of rural development to address the sanitation issue in rural India to completely address the issue of malnutrition & undernutrition . Also, the ministry of food processing to work with the players for producing locally fortified foods to reduce the cost of  ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF).

Nutrition is often overshadowed by other medical conditions, like malaria or diarrhea, despite the fact that malnutrition, combined with these conditions, can more often be fatal.” A “severe acute malnourished child” is more than nine times more likely to die than a well-nourished one, & malnutrition from any means retards normal growth .

Besides sanitation , societal traditions that female child is a burden still plagues the nation ,and there is a bias towards the male child who is treated as an inheritor and an insurance in the old age for parents .  Government needs to step its machinery on all fronts . It is a known fact that,  a weak female will never bear a healthy male child , and this should form the basis of the Healthy India campaign as the discrimination against the  female child is rampant in every part of the nation . The issue needs to be attacked multi-fold ;when the mother is expectant , post child birth , adolescent years, post puberty age in girls . Special focus has to be given to the female child , who bears a male child in future .

One of the key pillars of NRHM must be eradication of anemia amongst women with the focus on the girl child. Special fortified biscuits or snacks with calcium, iron and zinc need to be made  available for the girl child ( developed specially for females, so that male child is not given those products ! ) and separate packing for boys to be given as mid day meal or as packaged snacks made especially for children fortified with nutrients ; ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF). For boys, the nutritional support must continue till the age of 6 years but for females , this support must continue till 16 years in age

The deficiencies varies with the region , like Vidharbha region has a severe issue of sickle cell anemia , and this is becoming a serious genetic health issue . Similarly, deficiencies in every region needs to be addressed region-wise.

Diet charts are as important as immunization charts and needs to be given together during child birth based on the physique of the newly born

RDDA’s ( Recommended Daily Dietary Allowance ) should be worked out specific to each child . The role of the nutritionist gains significance in NRHM and is  central to the issue .  The diet plan must be made for each new born and followed under the directions of ASHA locally . So far, I have not seen a prominent role of a dietician in either the sub center or the PHC

I would recommend national health planners to tie up with WFP ( World Food Programme ) to provide daily nutrition for as low as Rs.5 per day . Even companies like Unilever are working on creating BOP Healthcare ( Bottom of Pyramid Healthcare ) models focusing on healthcare basics for the rural masses. It might be worth exploring PPP ( Public Private Partnerships ) to address this issue & come out with ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF)

Indian Pediatrics has brought out a Special Issue (August 2010) on Severe Acute Malnutrition, which deliberates in detail on the global and national evidence relating to pertinent issues on this subject.

Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in children is recognized as a major underlying cause of death amongst under-five children. These deaths are preventable provided timely and appropriate actions are taken.

According to National Family Health Survey-III, conducted during 2005-2006 in India, 6.4% of children below 60 months of age were suffering from this malady . With the current estimated total population of India as 1100 million, it is expected that there would be about 132 million under-five children and amongst these about 6.4% or 8.1 million are likely to be suffering from SAM.

With the emergence of home based management approach for SAM children, which includes the use of Therapeutic Nutrition (TN) as part of Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), it is possible to address this issue in a cost-effective manner. More than 85 % of total SAM cases are without medical complications and can be identified through active case finding in community to be successfully managed at the home level. Global evidence suggests that with integrated management of SAM children, case fatality rates can be reduced to less than 5 percent. Short-term therapeutic nutrition for 6-8 weeks is an integral component of home-based management of SAM. There is an urgent need to develop an indigenous preparation of therapeutic nutrition in the country and operationalize the community management of SAM. Exploring a tie up with WFP / Unilever might be a good start. Also NRHM can start a mission GYM ( Grow Your Medicines) at the PHC , Sub centers and in every households ,as most of the green vegetables and fruits can be grown locally , and can be used for fighting mal nutrition and under nutrition .  On one side ,  fortified snacks could be given , and also the NRHM can distribute seeds for growing vegetables and fruits that can mean  much cheaper source of right nutrition .

Height weight charts must be distributed in all households to keep them aware of age- weight –height ratio and the relation to malnutrition . Automated SMS based service could help in ensuring compliance as seen in the case of Wardha pilot for MM /IM.

Awareness and sensitization must happen through short films and pictorial comics about the deficiency of Iron & Calcium in females

ICDS : Policy makers must consider merging ICDS with the NRHM , as it might be worthwhile to double the number of ASHA’s and allocating more high priority job to  ASHA’s.

Health Fairs must be organized locally to create awareness on the issue of malnutrition . Those parents who have the healthiest girl child must be made ‘Role Model’s’ for others to follow . A ‘healthy girl child award’ must be instituted in each village ( Say Rani Laxmi Bai Award ,Sarojini Naidu or Indira Gandhi award  etc) , and the government must recognize the mother and father ( Good Parenting ) for healthy upbringing of the female child ,along with a cash award of say Rs.1000.00 , or other incentives like 2 KG extra ration at the PDS shops, free bus travel for parents for one year in ST ( state transport ) bus , 50 % fee reduction in graduation of the child ,if studying in government college  etc, could also be considered depending upon the consensus of  the relevant stake holders.  This can be a good competition to start with, which will drive home the message that bringing up a healthy girl child is beneficial in the short run and in the long run & the responsibility of the parents , with the Government acting as an enabler for this . To start with, if each of the 6 lac + villages gives this award to one girl ( parents ) , and each encourages 10 people to take care of their girl child , we would have got 6 crore healthy females in the next 10 years !!  If we want faster results , we can fix the criteria for a healthy girl child for the age group 1- 16 years , all those who qualify can get incentives for the healthy upbringing of the girl child like free travel on ST bus etc . Ministry of women and child development might like to take this up in the 12th five year plan.

NRHM must insist with the ministry of education to include in the curriculum few chapters  on micro nutrients and their role in healthy living , and this should start from class eight onwards.

I do hope that these inputs are of some help .I remain at your disposal should you need more inputs on other aspects of healthcare & rural economy

With best regards

 Rajendra Pratap Gupta

Office@rajendragupta.in