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2017 lays foundation of robust Indian Health Sector ahead

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With Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlining time and again his resolution to ensure affordable quality services for all as the government takes healthcare to the last mile, the year 2017 was full of some interesting developments, Sandeep Datta of eHEALTH magazine underlines in a round-up.

Union Health Minister J P Nadda recently described 2017 as significant for healthcare due to it witnessing the National Health Policy 2017 getting approved. It envisaged attainment of the highest possible level of health without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.

In January, a government report under the ‘Make in India’ initiative said the Indian pharmaceutical industry registered a robust growth of 29 per cent in Financial Year 2015-16, as India emerged as the largest provider of generic medicines globally.

“The Indian pharmaceutical industry has witnessed a robust growth in recent years growing from Rs 177,734 crore in FY 2014-15 to Rs 204,627 crore in FY 2015-16, registering a growth of 29 per cent as compared to the growth of 12 per cent from Rs 158,671 crore during FY 2013-14,” said the Pharmaceuticals Sector Achievements Report.

“The turnover of Indian pharmaceutical industry was estimated at Rs 2,04,627.1 crore in FY 2015-16.”

In another development, AIIMS signed Rs 7,600 crore MoUs to build infrastructure and procure equipment for improved healthcare services delivery. It signed an MoU worth Rs 4,441 crore with NBCC (India) Limited, which falls under the Ministry of Urban Development, for redevelopment of 3,060 residential quarters at the Ayur Vigyan Nagar campus and 868 apartments at the West Ansari Nagar campus, media reports said.

The Government of India, in February okayed first India-made dissolvable stent, which addresses some of the limitations of currently available bio resorbable stents (dissolvable stents) and may have higher success and lower complication rates in the long term.

In March, a survey of 12 States , by National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bangalore, revealed 2.7% people suffering from mental disorders in India.

To improve the quality of healthcare facilities in all 13 districts of the State, the World Bank allocated $100 mn to Uttarakhand in this month.

On the eve of World Tuberculosis Day, a report suggested 25% of world’s TB patients are present in India. It has been estimated by a latest study of Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) researchers that about 22 lakh people develop TB in India annually.

In April, Uttarakhand was reported to now use real-time tracking to improve immunisation rates. The State’s health department will use real-time tracking methods to boost immunisation levels of children following the National Family Health Survey-4 report indicating a decline in immunisation rates in the State. It was to be launched on a pilot basis in Haridwar district.

The month also saw the Central Government establishing 26 AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) information cells in 24 countries.

In another development, Dr Randeep Guleria was appointed AIIMS chief in Delhi.

In May, Noida-based multi-specialty hospital Felix received “World Greatest Brands and Leaders of Asia & GCC countries (2016-17)” award.

Also in this month, GNH India, one of India’s leading pharmaceutical wholesalers, successfully imported a life-saving ‘Orphan’ drug — named so as it is not easily available globally and is used to fight solid tumours and soft tissue sarcomas.

The medicine, Olaratumab (trade name Lartruvo), is a monoclonal antibody developed by Eli Lilly and Company is directed against the platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha.

In another development, a team of scientists invented a medical gamma-ray camera. Weighing only 580 gm, it fits in the palm of a hand, making it the world’s most compact Compton camera. It has enabled scientists to overcome limitations of common molecular imaging techniques used in nuclear medicine.

In June, on the occasion of International Day of Yoga – 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in a mass Yoga demonstration event in Lucknow. While the then President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated a mass yoga demonstration at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The Punjab government, in July, decided to promote cultivation of medicinal plants at 20,000 hectare forest area of Pathankot district to provide a source of income to people living in hilly areas and create a force of forest guards.

Less than a month after earning the distinction of becoming the first hospital in Western India to perform a robotically-assisted triple bypass surgery on a 67-year-old patient, Mumbai’s Saifee Hospital carried out a robotic kidney cancer surgery on a patient who had previously undergone a kidney transplant.

In August, Bengaluru-based start-up Medlife, one of India’s fastest growing online pharmacy, announced it would invest $30 million over the next 12 months to fuel its expansion plans in India.

In September, the Union Cabinet gave nod to introduction of the Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament.

Odisha got two new government medical colleges after a gap of 54 years. It occurred with the inauguration of Pandit Raghunath Murmu Medical College and Hospital (PRMMCH) in Mayurbhanj district and Saheed Laxman Nayak Medical College and Hospital (SLNMCH) in Koraput.

Also, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched two new contraceptives, an injectable contraceptive MPA under the ‘Antara’ programme and a contraceptive pill, ‘Chhaya’, to meet the emerging needs of couples.

In October, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Dr Jitendra Singh announced India’s Northeast region was all set to get the country’s first-ever “air dispensary” based in a helicopter.

India has saved about 1 million (10 lakh) children under age five since 2005, due to significant decline in mortality rate from pneumonia, diarrhoea, neonatal infections and birth asphyxia/trauma, measles and tetanus, said a study published in the Lancet.

The ‘India’s Million Death Study’, implemented by the Registrar General of India, is the first study to directly quantify changes in cause-specific child deaths in India, nationally and sub-nationally, from 2000-15 among randomly selected homes.

In November, President Ram Nath Kovind presented the Pt Ramnarayan Sharma National Ayurved Award for 2008-2014, saying Ayurveda is a holistic medical system for healthy living.

For enhanced cooperation in health sector, India and Italy signed a MoU. It will include exchange and training of medical doctors, officials, other health professionals and experts.

Samsung India, a subsidiary of the South Korea-based electronics major, entered into a partnership with the Government of Uttar Pradesh to provide affordable and quality healthcare to patients from the economically and socially weaker sections of society.

UNAIDS appointed Indian-origin professor its Special Ambassador for Adolescents and HIV during the launch of a new UNAIDS report, ‘Right to Health’. Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim is an infectious diseases epidemiologist.

December witnessed India and Morocco signing MoU for enhanced cooperation in healthcare, with main areas of cooperation including non-communicable diseases, including child cardiovascular diseases and cancer; Drug regulation and pharmaceutical quality control; communicable diseases.

To improve delivery of healthcare services, Odisha government inked four MoUs with reputed health institutes for better delivery of healthcare services in the state in the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

In a first for Punjab, Robot assisted laparoscopic surgeries was performed at Fortis, Mohali.

In another significant achievement, the Government declared the country as free of infective trachoma in December, as Union Minister J P Nadda released the National Trachoma Survey Report (2014-17). He said survey findings indicate the active trachoma infection has been eliminated among children in all the survey districts with overall prevalence of only 0.7 per cent.

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