September 13, 2007

Vice-President of India for focus on health care

Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari has said high infant mortality (IMR) was a violation of the right to life as guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution.

The right to life is meaningless if the new born citizens of country did not live long enough to enjoy the rights of citizenship for want of basic health care, he said while releasing the Indian Medical Parliamentarians Forum (IMPF) Policy Notes for Parliamentarians on Access to Medicines.

Stressing on the need to improve health care facilities in the country, Mr. Ansari said lack of access to health care amounted to denial of right to life. He found it strange that while the pharmaceutical sector contributed 2.5 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), only 1 per cent of the GDP went to healthcare.

According to the Vice-President, while the country had made great achievements in almost every walk of life, health and education were the two areas where much remained to be done. Suggesting corrective measures, Mr. Ansari said creating awareness about the issues was important, even as he appreciated the government’s proposal of compulsory rural postings for doctors.

Speaking at the function, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said the issues faced by the government in the pharmaceutical sector were the accessibility and affordability of quality drugs. He said 3 to 3.5 per cent of the drugs in the market were adulterated, sub-standard or spurious and the Centre was making laws more stringent to check this. A National Drug Authority was also being constituted that would act as a regulatory body.

Further, he also expressed concern over the irrational use of drugs and said that 50 per cent of the drugs were being unnecessarily prescribed by the doctors. It was for this purpose that we were stressing on mandatory continuing medical education, he said.

The policy notes are a compilation of articles by medical practitioners, now in Parliament, and experts in the field of pharmaceutical sector.

This policy note attempts to highlights certain issues, which have direct and indirect implications on access to medicines including access to medicines, regulation, pricing, branding, intellectual property rights and promotional strategies. “We hope this would adequately inform and help MPs and policy makers to address these issues inside Parliament to bring about changes in the relevant laws and policies,” R. Senthil, convenor-secretary of the Forum, said.

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