August 29, 2009

2,000 register to donate organs at launch of MIOT, Chennai

The numbers leave much to be desired, but they also show that Tamil Nadu has been able to do more than the rest of the country when it comes to organ donation. The state remains the leader in the field, and credit must go to the successful public-private partnerships in healthcare here.

The central organ registry formed by the state health department a year ago has registered more than 100 cadaver transplants, offering a new lease of life to more than 500 people. Almost all the donations came from private hospitals, such as the Apollo Specialty Hospitals here and the Christian Medical College in Vellore.

"We are seeing a paradigm shift in people's attitude to organ donation. Many more are coming forward to donate organs of loved ones. It's because people are becoming increasingly aware of organ donation and its benefits," says urologist Dr Sunil Shroff, managing trustee, Multi-Organ Harvesting and Network (MOHAN) Foundation, which has been campaigning for cadaver transplants.

Doctors at Apollo Specialty Hospitals agree. "It has been an extremely difficult task. We try and offer support to grieving relatives. Payment is usually waived. This way, we are able to convince some people to go in for donation," said transplant surgeon Dr Anand Khakar.

Every year, more than 100,000 Indians suffer from end-stage renal disease, but only 100 get kidneys from deceased donors. However, through private initiatives such as the MIOT Organ Drive (MODE) launched by deputy chief minister M K Stalin on Friday, private healthcare providers hope to chip in.

Launched to mark the 10th anniversary of MIOT Hospital, MODE has been established to motivate people to donate organs. Managing director, MIOT Hospitals, Dr P V Mohandas says: "Today alone, 2,000 people have registered to donate their organs; during the past five days we have received e-mails from over 5,000 people conveying interest." Stalin and his wife, Durgavathi, were the first to register with MODE.

Last year, a series of government orders were issued, providing information on organ donation and related issues, such as listing criteria for non-transplant centres to retrieve organs from brain-dead persons and procedures to be adopted for cadaver transplant. It has also facilitated the partnership between private hospitals and traffic police in setting up green corridors' for the quick transfer of organs from one place to another.

Link: Original Article

Medical village scheduled for launch in Oct 2010

Frontier Mediville, the proposed eco-friendly modern medical village in Tiruvallur district, near Chennai is scheduled for inauguration on October 20, 2010.

The Rs 1,500-crore facility, promoted by Dr K M Cherian on a 360-acre campus in Elavur village, will have a national medical science park for research, training and treatment with a focus on regenerative medicine. This will supplement the proposed 1,000-bed multi-specialty bio-hospital.

The national medical science park will have an animal farm, a research block and a training centre offering postgraduate programmes in courses such as stem cell research, tissue engineering and nanotechnology. The other features include a Russian amphibian plane and helipad for emergencies, an elders' enclave and a golf course. "The place will have 100 Ph D scholars and provide employment to 3,000 people," Dr Cherian said.

He was speaking after signing an MoU with BSNL to provide telecom solutions at a cost of Rs 50 crore. BSNL Chennai Telephones chief general manager M P Velusamy said: "We will be using the latest technology such as Wi-Max and radio relay equipment to allow those in Mediville to get data on the go. It will be done using optic fibre cables so that the communication networks do not produce electro-magnetic radiation so the system will be environment friendly."

The launch of Frontier Mediville will coincide with the inauguration of the 20th World Congress of the World Society of Cardio Thoracic Surgeons to be hosted by Frontier Lifeline and Dr K M Cherian Heart Foundation in the country.

Link: Original Article

Apollo begins project to connect health players

The Apollo Group of Hospitals has commenced a pilot project named ‘Health Superhighway’, which would act as a back-office for connecting doctors, hospitals and pharmacies in the country. The group has tied up with IBM for the initiative, which is expected to attract investments to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore.

The group has also taken up another IT initiative through the Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India. Apollo has written to the authority and to the Knowledge Commission to link the Unique Identification Number for health profiling of those provided with the ID number. The group has offered to manage the health records.

Speaking to Business Standard after the group’s annual general meeting at Chennai, Executive Chairman Prathap C Reddy said that one major problem in India is that medical records are not preserved. The main objective of this project is to maintain records, and any doctor or hospital can join it.

While Apollo has joined hands with IBM, it is also talking to other leading hospital chains and companies, like GE. The total project cost in terms of setting up the IT infrastructure would be around Rs 2,000 crore, said Reddy.

The project envisages connecting a chain of hospitals and doctors — with both government and private sector — through applications like telemedicine, mobile software and wireless networks even in the remote villages in India.

Apollo Hospitals’ Managing Director Preetha Reddy added that the group has piloted the project at five of its hospitals in Tamil Nadu and is now planning to market the initiative through its subsidiary company ‘Apollo Health Highway’ in the next six months. The company would make revenue by charging a monthly fee from the participating doctors and hospitals.

IBM will be both knowledge and technology partner and will provide storage infrastructure. The system will help in patient management, disease management and medication suggestion for hospitals. The doctors can also avail of a second opinion from the experts affiliated to this system. In the longer run, the system will also help insurers for claim management and will help the government to provide new healthcare initiatives.

Commenting on the group’s expansion plans, she said that by 2010-11, Apollo will add another 1,000 beds with an investment of around Rs 500 crore. The company is also planning to strengthen its domestic chain before it looks at any overseas acquisition.

Link: Original Article

August 24, 2009

Swine flu: WHO stresses selective use of drugs

Fresh guidelines for managing patients of H1N1 swine flu virus, issued yesterday by the United Nations health body, lay stress on the selective use of anti-viral drugs oseltamivir (tamiflu) and zanamivir to prevent serious illness and deaths and reduce need for hospitalisation.

The patients with uncomplicated symptoms need not be given antiviral treatment as they can fully recover within a week even without any form of medical intervention.

The new briefing note (number 8) released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) maintains that the present pandemic H1N1 virus responds to both oseltamivir and zanamivir (known in medical terminology as neuraminidase inhibitors) but are resistant to second class antivirals. When properly administered, these drugs can significantly reduce the risk of pneumonia (a leading cause of death for both pandemic and seasonal influenza) and the need for hospitalisation.

The updated guidelines represent the consensus reached by an international panel of experts who reviewed all available studies on the safety and effectiveness of these drugs.

These guidelines suggest that treatment with anti-viral drugs should begin immediately in areas where the flu virus is circulating widely in the community; and in other cases only when symptoms begin to deteriorate. Pregnant women and children under the age of 5 years, being at higher risk, should be given anti-viral treatment as soon as possible after the symptoms set in.

Reports from all influenza outbreak sites reveal that the H1N1 virus rapidly becomes the dominant strain in areas where the communities are affected even by seasonal influenza.

The symptoms of deterioration of the disease, which call for use of antiviral drugs, include difficulty in breathing; chest pain; high fever that persists for over 3 days; low blood pressure; bloody or coloured sputum; and body turning blue.

In children, the danger signs include fast or difficult breathing, lack of alertness, difficulty in waking up and little or no desire to play.

The WHO has stated that worldwide, around 40 per cent of the severe cases of H1N1 are occurring in children and adults under the age of 50 years. “Some of these patients experience a sudden and very rapid deterioration in their clinic condition, usually on the day 5 or 6 following the onset of symptoms”, the WHO has pointed out.

Children under the age of 5 years face enhanced risk of relatively more severe illness and should receive prompt medical attention. “Otherwise, healthy children, older than 5 years, need not be given antiviral treatment unless their illness persists or worsens”, the global body maintains.

It has also pointed that globally, most patients infected with the pandemic virus continue to experience typical influenza symptoms and fully recover within a week. “Healthy patients with uncomplicated illness need not be treated with antivirals”, the WHO has suggested.

Link: Original Article

Stem cell therapy market picking up as 4 new firms look to expand

Regenerative medicine using human cells, a new segment in modern healthcare that has been subjected to scrutiny worldwide, from regulatory to religious, is picking up in India with at least four companies expanding their product base in the nascent market.

They are Reliance Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, LifeCell International Pvt. Ltd, Regenerative Medical Services Pvt. Ltd and Cryo-Save India Pvt. Ltd. Each of them is offering cell culture and supplying it to select specialty hospitals across India.

Even though these firms have been developing this technology for the past few years, Indian hospitals have started accepting this as a treatment option only now.

According to the Indian Council for Medical Research, a government agency that monitors biomedical research in India, at least 15 firms, including commercial ventures and research institutions, are planning to enter this space.

Stempeutics Research Pvt. Ltd, Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine, state-owned Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Chennai, National Centre for Cell Science, Pune, and Manipal Hospital, Bangalore are some of the organizations that have reached advanced stages of clinical trials of regenerative medicines, using stem cells.

Stem cell therapy, using bio-cells extracted from the same patient or biosuitable alternative human sources, targets diseases which are either incurable or with no complete or effective treatment available in the traditional healthcare system. Since this therapy is based on the concept of regenerating damaged cells in the injured or disease-affected areas of the body, it is called regenerative medicine.

Tissue engineering, another regenerative medicine system for replacement of damaged skin tissues, has been in practice for burn therapy in India for the last few years.

At least 60 clinical trials for stem cell therapies are under way currently and many more trials will start soon with the approval of the Drug Controller General of India. The recent government decision to allow patenting of micro-organisms and its processes, and increased awareness about cord blood cell banking are giving a boost to the new therapy.

Sri Ramachandra Medical College in Chennai, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute in Mumbai and Amrutha Hospital and Research Institute in Kochi, among others, are offering stem cell therapy.

According to K.V. Subramaniam, president and chief executive, Reliance Life Sciences, the institute is developing a wide range of novel research-led, autologous and allogenic cell therapies and tissue-engineered products. The company is working in the areas of embryonic stem cells, ocular stem cells, haematopoietic stem cells and skin and tissue engineering under this initiative.

Mayur Abhaya, executive director of Chennai-based LifeCell International, said stem cell therapy is already being used by doctors and hospitals specializing in blood cancer and other blood-related disorders as an effective treatment solution. According to him, as new areas are emerging in stem cell therapy with the advent of mesenchymal stem cells (that can differentiate into a variety of cell types), their potential use is being investigated in tissue regeneration too for ailments such as diabetes, arthritis, heart stroke, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.

Besides these clinical applications, stem cells are also being used to study mechanisms of various diseases in the human body, Abhaya said.

LifeCell is claiming to be the country’s largest stem cell solutions provider by number of clients. It is currently involved in research, therapy, banking and clinical applications.

It offers umbilical cord blood stem cell banking and stem cell therapy solutions for patients. At least 12,000 clients have stored the umbilical cord blood stem cells of their children with LifeCell.

According to Satyen Sanghvi, chief scientific officer of Mumbai-based Regenerative Medical Services, which brought autologous cell therapy to India in 2008 through a technology tie-up with Korea’s Sewon Cellontech Co. Ltd, stem cells have demonstrated the ability to repair different types of tissue and offer real opportunity to develop new treatments for various diseases.

LifeCell is planning to introduce bone marrow aspirate concentrate technology in association with Harvest Technologies Corp. of the US. It already has a technology collaboration with Cryo-Cell International Inc. of the US for cord blood banking.

It currently has an operational stem cell therapy centre at Sri Ramachandra Medical College in Chennai.

Abhaya said LifeCell has also initiated clinical trials with Harvest Therapeutics on critical limb ischemia, a severe obstruction of the arteries which decreases blood flow to the hands, legs and feet. “A few more clinical trials are being planned in other disease settings, apart from the proposed collaboration with Cryo-Cell to launch the menstrual blood stem cell banking service in India,” he said.

Link: Original Article

August 23, 2009

Fortis to buy Wockhardt hospitals for around Rs 1,200 cr

Fortis is close to acquire 10 hospitals of healthcare major Wockhardt for up to Rs 1,200 crore and an announcement could be made anytime now.

A deal could be signed in next few days, sources in the know of the development said. When contacted, Wockhardt Chairman Habil Khorakiwala said, "We are still talking to two parties and we have not finalised anything yet."

Declining to comment on the proposed deal, Fortis Healthcare CEO and Managing Director Shivinder Mohan Singh said, "We do not comment on market speculations."

The sources, however, said the deal, which will be in the range of Rs 1,000-1,200 crore and include 10 hospitals — three in Kolkata, two in Mumbai and five in Bangalore, may be singed within a few of days.

It is not clear yet as to how would the Wockhardt management utilise the funds raised from the sale of hospitals. The pharma business of the company has been undergoing corporate debt restructuring to reschedule loans of about Rs 3,700 crore.

"The hospitals business is not a part of the listed (pharma) company," Khorakiwala said.

On whether promoters will utilise the money raised from the sale of hospitals to retire debts, he said, "The details of all these things have not yet been finalised."

Link: Original Article

August 21, 2009

IITs finally getting close to medical science

It's great to see the first and the oldest of all IITs to make a move towards medical education and research. IIT Kharagpur has signed a unique partnership with the University of California San Diego Health Sciences to set up an International Academic Medical Center at IIT-K.

IIT-K Director Damodar Acharya believes this collaboration to be among the first between an IIT and a public US university in the field of medical education and research. In addition to IIT's strong education and research focus in engineering and the sciences, we also are keenly interested in medical science and technology, including biotechnology, imaging, drug development and other important areas of medical research, he says.

The agreement describes the two institution's collaborative plan to build a 300-bed, state-of-the-art hospital on land provided by IIT, Kharagpur. The IMC will include a research and development center, as well as an infrastructure for the training of health care providers.

"The long-term goal is to enable IIT to provide health care services to patients from the States of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa as well as low-cost care for medically underserved populations, including tribal groups of the region," said Acharya.

UC San Diego will partner in developing the IMC, providing leadership and training in such areas as nursing, hospital administration, health information systems, pharmaceutical practices, telemedicine, quality assessment and safety, among others.

This was so badly needed. I really hope all our top engineering institutions have a wing/centre devoted to medical sciences because that would change how we do biomedical, and engineering, innovation in this country.

Link: Original Article

August 18, 2009

Swine flu: What can I do?

What can I do to protect myself from catching influenza A(H1N1)?

What about using a mask? What does WHO recommend?

When and how to use a mask?

How do I know if I have influenza A(H1N1)?

What should I do if I think I have the illness?

Should I take an antiviral now just in case I catch the new virus?

When should someone seek medical care?

Should I go to work if I have the flu but am feeling OK?

What can I do to protect myself from catching influenza A(H1N1)?
The main route of transmission of the new influenza A(H1N1) virus seems to be similar to seasonal influenza, via droplets that are expelled by speaking, sneezing or coughing. You can prevent getting infected by avoiding close contact with people who show influenza-like symptoms (trying to maintain a distance of about 1 metre if possible) and taking the following measures:
  • avoid touching your mouth and nose;
  • clean hands thoroughly with soap and water, or cleanse them with an alcohol-based hand rub on a regular basis (especially if touching the mouth and nose, or surfaces that are potentially contaminated);
  • avoid close contact with people who might be ill;
  • reduce the time spent in crowded settings if possible;
  • improve airflow in your living space by opening windows;
  • practise good health habits including adequate sleep, eating nutritious food, and keeping physically active.
What about using a mask? What does WHO recommend?
If you are not sick you do not have to wear a mask.
If you are caring for a sick person, you can wear a mask when you are in close contact with the ill person and dispose of it immediately after contact, and cleanse your hands thoroughly afterwards.
When and how to use a mask?
If you are sick and must travel or be around others, cover your mouth and nose.
Using a mask correctly in all situations is essential. Incorrect use actually increases the chance of spreading infection.
How do I know if I have influenza A(H1N1)?
You will not be able to tell the difference between seasonal flu and influenza A(H1N1) without medical help. Typical symptoms to watch for are similar to seasonal viruses and include fever, cough, headache, body aches, sore throat and runny nose. Only your medical practitioner and local health authority can confirm a case of influenza A(H1N1).
What should I do if I think I have the illness?
If you feel unwell, have high fever, cough or sore throat:
  • stay at home and keep away from work, school or crowds;
  • rest and take plenty of fluids;
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and, if using tissues, make sure you dispose of them carefully. Clean your hands immediately after with soap and water or cleanse them with an alcohol-based hand rub;
  • if you do not have a tissue close by when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth as much as possible with the crook of your elbow;
  • use a mask to help you contain the spread of droplets when you are around others, but be sure to do so correctly;
  • inform family and friends about your illness and try to avoid contact with other people;
  • If possible, contact a health professional before traveling to a health facility to discuss whether a medical examination is necessary.
Should I take an antiviral now just in case I catch the new virus?
No. You should only take an antiviral, such as oseltamivir or zanamivir, if your health care provider advises you to do so. Individuals should not buy medicines to prevent or fight this new influenza without a prescription, and they should exercise caution in buying antivirals over the Internet.
Warning on purchase of antivirals without a prescription
What about breastfeeding? Should I stop if I am ill?
No, not unless your health care provider advises it. Studies on other influenza infections show that breastfeeding is most likely protective for babies - it passes on helpful maternal immunities and lowers the risk of respiratory disease. Breastfeeding provides the best overall nutrition for babies and increases their defense factors to fight illness.
When should someone seek medical care?
A person should seek medical care if they experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or if a fever continues more than three days. For parents with a young child who is ill, seek medical care if a child has fast or labored breathing, continuing fever or convulsions (seizures).
Supportive care at home - resting, drinking plenty of fluids and using a pain reliever for aches - is adequate for recovery in most cases. (A non-aspirin pain reliever should be used by children and young adults because of the risk of Reye's syndrome.)
Should I go to work if I have the flu but am feeling OK?
No. Whether you have influenza A(H1N1) or a seasonal influenza, you should stay home and away from work through the duration of your symptoms. This is a precaution that can protect your work colleagues and others.
Can I travel?
If you are feeling unwell or have symptoms of influenza, you should not travel. If you have any doubts about your health, you should check with your health care provider.
(Information courtesy: World Health Organisation)

Link: Original Article

Hospitals regulate use of N95 masks

Even as the hysteria over masks escalated in the market with more people flocking to chemists to buy one, doctors in government hospitals said they were ensuring the N95 masks were used only by designated medical staff and no wastage occurs.

On Friday, doctors, while admitting masks were available in the hospitals, said a strict vigil was being kept to ensure no wastage occurs. Said Dr Amit Banerjee, MS, Lok Nayak Hospital, "We have mandated that only the personnel who come in direct contact with H1N1 patients wear these masks.''

Doctors in RML too admitted that the N95 masks were in great demand, and therefore were being used with utmost care. Said a senior doctor, "Earlier, the masks were used only when working on specific tasks. Now, being part of the screening team, it is required through the duty hours. Since we heard about the doctors in other hospitals coming down with H1N1, no one is taking chances.''

Minister of health Kiran Walia said the government was ensuring that no shortage was felt in hospitals when it came to either the medication or N95 masks. "To ensure that supply is adequate, we've bought around 11 lakh masks for our medical personnel. Hospital administrations are keeping us informed about their stock. We will get more masks if the stock goes down,'' she said. Asked if the government would conduct the same vigil for the general public, Walia said if complaints come in about the availability and pricing of the masks, the government would take action.

Link: Original Article

Swine flu side-effect: Doctors facing social boycott

H1N1 paranoia has reached new heights with doctors, general practitioners and paramedics seeing a sudden drop in their social life. ‘‘We’re facing a social boycott,’’ said one doctor rather ruefully.
It’s little wonder, then, that many GPs are now refusing to entertain swine flu patients. State authorities, too, have acknowledged that a growing number of GPs are becoming wary of patients suffering from flu-like symptoms.

In Mumbai, it’s the staff at Kasturba Hospital who are facing the worst of the social boycott. Deputy superintendent of Kasturba Hospital at Chinchpokli Ravi Kadam said his friends are shunning him. Another doctor who also works at Kasturba Hospital had to cancel his Sunday plans. He was looking forward to attending a family function, until a few well-meaning relatives advised him against showing up. ‘‘Even my neighbours are not so comfortable interacting with me,’’ he said. Apparently, they’re worried that they’ll contract the virus if they talk to him.

One junior doctor attached to Rajawadi Hospital just can’t shrug the ghost of the H1N1 virus even outside work. His family, he said, is insisting he wear a mask while he’s at home. In fact, the moment he enters his apartment, he has to take a ‘‘Dettol bath’’. ‘‘If this is how my family is reacting, I shudder to think how my friends will treat me.’’ The Indian Medical Association’s Pune president Dilip Sarda said: ‘‘This is very wrong. There is no need to boycott anyone socially.’’

Link: Original Article

August 12, 2009

Private hospitals reluctant to join battle against H1N1

Despite Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s virtual threat on Tuesday to private hospitals being clear — start isolation wards for the treatment of H1N1 swine flu patients or face legal action under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the private sector hospitals, which control 70% of the country’s health infrastructure, continue to be reluctant to pitch in.

They have cited a number of 'justifications’ for their reluctance, including the absence of isolation wards, common air-conditioning as well as the doubtful revenue model. In turn, this has triggered anger in the government which feels that these hospitals were quick to seek concessions like cheap land but very slow to react to an unexpected medical emergency.

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit called an emergency meeting of city private hospitals. Barring Max and Batra hospitals, all of them showed little eagerness to treat H1N1 patients and trotted out excuses. Two private pathological labs who were also called for the meeting, were said to be willing to carry out tests.

Dikshit described the meeting as a "stock-taking exercise to evaluate the capability and infrastructure of private hospitals and to what extent they were willing to help us deal with the pandemic. Once the Centre issues guidelines we will draw up a plan to rope in private hospitals."

Speaking to TOI, a Union health ministry official said, “Private hospitals have no choice. States will identify the hospitals with the capacity to have a large isolation ward. It’s just a backup. What if the government’s infrastructure gets saturated? Don’t private hospitals have any responsibility towards the people?"

The labs said they already have the golden Real Time PCR H1N1 testing kits. However, they wanted a relaxation of the rules. “According to the present stipulation, only bio safety level-II plus labs can test samples for H1N1. We have BSL II labs. The government should consider them good enough for testing.”

The government was not interested in setting down charges for private hospitals. An official said, "It’s not that private hospitals won’t be allowed to charge money. It’s up to them what they charge. But they should at least provide the facility for those who want to go to a private hospital."

Link: Original Article

Private hospitals, labs gear up for A(H1N1) flu

A large number of private hospitals and laboratories were being accredited by various state governments Saturday to treat A(H1N1) flu patients as well as test for the influenza A (H1N1) virus, in the wake of government-run hospitals being overrun by people wanting to be tested or treated.

Eleven private hospitals in Bangalore were accredited late Friday night after the central health ministry took a decision in this regard in the evening. Other state governments were reportedly following suit.

Panic-struck people have been making a beeline to government-run hospitals across the country for tests after India recorded its first A(H1N1) flu death Aug 3.

"We have decided to allow private laboratories with high level of bio-safety to conduct the A(H1N1) flu tests but only after they are accredited by the health ministry based on their testing capacity," union Health Secretary Naresh Dayal told reporters Friday.

The government also announced that supply of Tamiflu, the only known medicine for A(H1N1) flu, will be further decentralised at district level to tackle the pandemic.

"We have also decided to separate isolation wards from testing centres to avoid any accidental exposure of people coming for the A(H1N1) flu test in isolation wards," said Dayal.

However, the health ministry has refused to allow sale of Tamiflu over the counter.

"The people tested positive for A(H1N1) flu at private laboratories have to come to a designated government hospital to get Tamiflu. They can show us the prescription of the doctor from the concerned hospital and government hospital will administer vaccine to them," he said.

According to Dayal, the government is not allowing private sale of Tamiflu to avoid people buying and consuming it without having been infected with the H1N1 virus. Accredited private hospitals will be allowed to stock and administer the medicine, however.

The number of A(H1N1) flu cases spiked sharply as 96 fresh cases were reported Friday, taking the total in India to 712 so far. Among those who tested positive were four doctors, including three in Delhi.

Link: Original Article

August 05, 2009

DNB to be scrapped? :Exit exam planned for appointment in academic institutions

The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry proposes to conduct a national-level exit examination as a standardised post-graduation test for appointment in academic institutions.

To be conducted by the National Council for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH), which will be set up shortly, the test will be equivalent to an MD or an MD awarded by any recognised university. It will lead to archiving of the National Board of Examination.

The examination may be taken by individuals with a postgraduate degree recognised by the Council. It will also be open to professionals who have received requisite medical/health-related training from the NCHRH-accredited academic or non-academic institutions, but have not been able to pass university-level examinations, as well as those holding a foreign postgraduate degree in medicine or health obtained from an institution not recognised by the Council.

While all Central and State universities will conduct their own examinations and award degrees, all trainees in medical colleges or health professional training institutions, as well as health professionals who have received medical/health-related training from an NCHRH-accredited non-academic institution within the country will be eligible to appear for postgraduate programmes at the university level and obtain MD/MS degrees.

The examination will be conducted through the Internet and will mostly follow a multiple-choice format.

Individuals possessing the criteria for appearing for the examination will be classified as ‘board eligible.’

Upon passing the examination, an individual will be classified as ‘board certified.’ But, in order to be ‘board certified,’ one must qualify within three years of being ‘board eligible.’

All ‘board eligible’ candidates can practise in non-academic institutions, However, to be appointed in an academic institution, an individual will need to possess either a postgraduate degree from a recognised university or to be ‘board certified.’

Link: Original Article

Log in or dial toll free number to get medical services

Next time there is an emergency and you have to rush to a doctor or are looking for a specialist, don't fret. Either log in at or dial 1-800 1021102 and get all the information you need -- on the doctor, his contact number and address of a hospital - free of charge.

With a database of over 150,000 doctors and over 1,000 hospitals, this initiative aims at making health services more accessible.

Whether you are looking for a particular medical specialist or a doctor in your area, everything is available on the website that was launched two months back. The phone service is an additional feature that will make the services accessible to those who don't have internet access.

Nitin Dhawan, CEO, iMarketing Advantage whose initiative this is, said: "In case somebody is unable to locate a doctor or a specialist in his or her area, they can opt to search for someone within a radius of three kilometres".

Although it is accessible to those in Delhi and Mumbai, the services of the health portal and the toll free number will soon be available in other cities as well.

The plan is to first go to the metros, then to tier one and tier two towns, Dhawan said.

To filter quacks, information on doctors are collected from associations like the Delhi Medical Association (DMA), Delhi Psychiatrist Society (DPS), Delhi Dental Association (DDA) and the like.

In the line of services which will be available soon, are online appointments, personal health record tracking, reminder and alert services to the registered members for routine checkups, tools for health management and health calculators.

"Also on our to-do list in the future is inclusion of spas, fitness and diagnostic centres in our database," Dhawan said.

Link: Original Article

14 govt medical colleges in TN to get linked through tele-education

Special guest lectures, rare surgeries and interesting discussions that happen at the government general hospital will now be heard and seen by the government-run medical colleges across the state of Tamilnadu.

Health minister MRK Panneerselvam inaugurated the tele-education link between the 14 medical colleges. "Many medical students long to join the Madras Medical College. I am glad they will now be a part of exiting things that happen in this 175-year-old MMC. There would also be other colleges doing rare surgeries and they can share them with students and faculty here," he said.

The MMC webpage ( inaugurated by IT Secretary PWC Davidar on Saturday, will also be loaded with pod casts of interesting lectures and surgeries.

The operation theatres have been fitted with cameras to enable transmission to the medical colleges. "The scope for this phenomenal," says surgical gastroenterologist Dr SM Chandramohan, who is the nodal officer for the telemedicine and education project. "We can bring in more innovation into education with technology," he said.

Besides education, the health department is planning to offer the tele-medicine facility by linking all the headquarters hospitals. This would help doctors at MMC, Stanley, Madurai or Kilpauk offer their expertise to patients in Ooty or Krishnagiri, he adds. "Already the pilot project in Royapetah Government Hospital, which was linked to six other peripheral hospitals has been showing good results. This would be a shot in the arm," Dr Chandramohan said.

Health secretary VK Subburaj said the super specialists at city colleges would now offer their consultations or even follow up on their patients over the telemedicine link. "Sometimes people who get operated in Chennai go back to their home towns. With these links specialists here can follow-up on the patient with the help of a doctor in their own district hospital," he said.

Link: Original Article

August 01, 2009

MCI reschedules timeframe to establish medical colleges

The Medical Council of India (MCI) has decided to advance its schedule for receiving and processing applications for establishing new
medical colleges in the country from the coming academic year.

The MCI will now complete inspection and finalise its recommendation the central government for issue of Letter of Permission to start a new college by May 15 instead of June 15, as is the practice currently. On its part, the central government will grant its approval latest by June 15 every year instead of the existing July 15.

A decision to this effect was taken at the executive council meeting of the MCI in New Delhi last month after it was found that a number of inspections had to be carried out by the council at the eleventh hour, just ahead of the start of an academic session, since many new institutions had a tendency of "delaying the inspection process as much as possible."

"As a result of this delaying tactics more than 100 inspections have to be carried out between April 15 and June 10. This peak period also coincides with the summer vacation in medical colleges and we run short of experience staff who can be co-opted for the carrying out the inspections. Many colleges also don't grant leave to their senior staff during the period making it difficult to find experts. We are also forced to conduct inspections in a shorter time," a MCI official explained.

Some medical colleges, on the other hand, force faculty members to skip their vacation so that they can be present when the inspection team arrives for assessment. "Also since April to June is also a peak tourist seas, tickets are not readily available due to which sometimes we are forced to cancel or postpone inspections," he added.

In addition to these, the MCI has taken note of the Graduate Medical Education Regulations, which envisage that the first round of admission process in various states have to be completed by July 25.

"In the present schedule the last date prescribed for the central government to issue Letter of Permission/Renewal of Permission is July 15. Consequently, very little time is left for incorporation of those colleges which are granted LOP/Renewal of Permission by the central government by July 15 every year. This creates lot of difficulties for the meritorious students who want to secure admission under the government quota. If the stage of sending the recommendations by the MCI to the central government is advanced by a month to May 15 and subsequent grant of LOP to June 15, sufficient time will be available to various authorities to conduct the counseling for admission in a fair and transparent manner without disturbing the schedule of the admission process as prescribed in the Graduate Medical Education Regulations, 1997," a note placed before the MCI executive committee meeting read.

The executive committee approved these changes and also decided not to grant renewal of permission to colleges which fail to adhere to this amended schedule in the future.

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