India urges WHO to provide leadership in matters related to and implications of global trade agreements on the health of the people.

    Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Dr. C.P. Thakur has urged WHO to provide leadership in matters related to and implications of global trade agreements on the health of the people. It is extremely worrying that health has also been included and brought under the purview of the World Trade Organisation. The implications of TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) on the health sector for developing countries are going to be profound. If a solution to the problem of high prices on account of patents is not found, social implications are likely to be serious. For poor countries like India, controlling infectious diseases will become difficult and it is feared that India may loose some of the hard won gains.

    In his inaugural address at the 53rd session of the WHO regional committee for South East Asia, held here today, Dr. Thakur said that under the Codex Alimentarius, standards being laid down for food safety are so high that developing countries are at a distinct disadvantage. Reaching such standards are clearly impossible to achieve, creating thereby non tariff trade barriers. This is yet another area of great concern to India. It is in these areas, that WHO needs to be engaged in an active manner on behalf of and in the interest of developing countries. WHO needs to assist member countries develop capacity and knowledge to cope with these issues.

    The Minister emphasised the need for greater attention to alternative systems of medicine. This is another area where WHO can be actively involved in helping countries develop systems for codification and standard setting. Dr. Thakur felt that WHO could have avoided the exercise of ranking countries in its report on health systems. Because of the shortcomings in the methodology, it is impossible to evaluate countries based on such intangible and subjective indicators.

    Dr. Thakur has said that prevention of disease is certainly a more sensible and more cost effective strategy for disease control. A recent evaluation study in Tamil Nadu has shown that for every one rupee spent on the school mid-day meal scheme there was a reduction of Rs. 27 in health spending.

    India is now working on a National Health Policy that will lay down strategies for containing disease and reducing overall mortality and morbidity by half in the next two decades, by delegating greater responsibility to the field level and peoples representatives.

    Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General, World Health Organisation, Dr. Uton Muchtar Rafei, Regional Director WHO, South-East Asia Region, Shri Javid A. Chowdhury, Secretary, Department of Health in the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Dr. S.P. Agarwal, Director General of Health Services, have also addressed the inaugural session of the regional committee meeting today. Delegations from member countries of South-East Asia Region are attending the four day long 53rd session of regional committee meeting.




Health Melas in all the states next two years – Dr. C.P. Thakur

    Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Dr. C.P. Thakur has announced that Health Melas will be organised bv his Ministry in coordination with the states and a host of NGOs in all the states next two years. Talking to media persons here today he said that priority will be given to the so-called ‘Bimaru’ States namely Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Orissa, in organising the health melas.

    Ideal blood banks will be set up in all the states very soon. These banks will be having the facility of segregation of blood components which will avoid the wastage of blood. Specific requirement of blood component will be easily met by these blood banks ideally. Blood test kits manufacturers will be encouraged to step up their production so as to enable the country to reduce the import of blood test kits. At present almost all the blood test kits are being imported. All the necessary steps for blood safety will be taken up on a war-footing basis, added Dr. Thakur.

    The Minister has disclosed that Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee will be inaugurating the International Conference on Ayurveda at New York on 9th September, 2000, during his visit to United States of America.





    Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee will be inaugurating the two day conference on Ayurveda at New York on 9th September, 2000 during his forthcoming visit to the United States of America. Prime Minister’s inauguration of the Conference is significant and it will give high level of Policy support to department of Indian System of Medicine in the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

    Addressing the media persons here today, Secretary (ISM&H) Smt. Shailaja Chandra has said that 18 industries of ISM drug sector will be putting up an exhibition displaying their Ayurvedic products numbering about 100 at the conference venue. New York branch of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan will give programme support to this two day conference.

    Sessions on Memory and Neurological Disorders, promoting good health through Ayurveda – Rasayana & Yoga, Gastro-intestinal problems, Chronic Metabolic and Lifestyle Disorders, Ayurvedic Products and their Globalization and Medicinal Plants and their Healing Properties will be forming part of the two day deliberations of the conference.

    Union Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Prof. Rita Verma, Secretary (ISM&H), Smt. Shailaja Chandra, Dr. M.B. Hegde, Vice Chancellor, Manipal Academy of Higher Learning, Prof. G.P. Dube of Banaras Hindu University, President All India Ayurvedic Congress Vaidya Devendra Triguna, Vaidya Shree Ram Sharma, President, Central Council of Indian Medicine, Dr. S.K. Sharma, Adviser (Ayurveda), Department of (ISM&H), Dr. P.N.V. Kurup, Vice Chancellor, Gujarat Ayurved University, Dr. P.C. Sharma, Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha, Pune, US based Ayurved Physicians and representatives from the Confederation of Indian Industry will also be participating in the two day conference.





    Shri A.R. Nanda, Secretary, Department of Family Welfare in the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has called upon the States and Union Territories to involve the Panchyati Raj Institutions fully in the ensuing Pulse Polio Immunization Programme starting from 24th September, 2000 in the States of Delhi, U.P., Bihar and West Bengal. In his address at the first meeting of the media committee for Pulse Polio Immunization Programme held here today Shri Nanda has said that the middle and high burden zone consisting of the States of Delhi, U.P., Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Rajasthan, Gujarat, M.P., Punjab, Haryana and Orissa will be having the second round of PPI on 5.11.2000. Two National rounds covering all the States/U.Ts will be held on 10th December, 2000 and 21st January, 2001.

    During the year 2000, total number of reported cases of Polio virus is 86, spread over 55 districts in 8 states (27 districts in U.P., 18 in Bihar, 3 in Maharashtra, 2 in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal and one each from Karnataka, Haryana and Gujarat).

    Secretary, Social Justice & Empowerment Smt. Asha Das has said that more than 80% rehabilitated physically handicapped are Polio victims. 107 district Rehabilitation Centres will be set up by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment during this year, of which half of them will be functional by December, 2000.

    Representatives from the States of Delhi, U.P., Bihar and West Bengal, the media officials of Doordarshan, AIR, Song and Drama Division, Directorate of field publicity, Directorate of Advertising & Visual publicity, representatives from UNICEF and NGOs have also participated in the meeting.





   There has been no surge in imports of apples into the country. According to the latest available data, imports of apple during the year 1999- 2000 was around 1110 metric tonnes, which is only a fraction of the total production of apples in the country. Annual production of apples in India has been around 12 lakh metric tonnes (i. e., 1.2 million metric tonnes). Further, the average retail price of imported apples is in the region of Rs. 72 to Rs. 100 per kg. It will be evident, therefore, that in view of the imports being only a fraction of the total domestic production as well as the comparatively very high retail price of imported apples catering to a miniscule elite clientele, imports are unlikely to have any significant impact on the domestic producers. Rebutting a news item about imported apples affecting the apple growers of J & K, Shri Omar Abdullah, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, has said that the news report is exaggerated and is factually incorrect. In fact, the Minister has pointed out that in response to representations from some apple growing states including Jammu and Kashmir, the matter was taken up by his Ministry on a priority basis with the Ministry of Finance to raise the import duty so as to safeguard the interests of the domestic apple growers and following this intervention, the basic customs duty on imported apples was raised from 35 % to 50 % with effect from 5th April, 2000.

    Shri Abdullah has further instructed the concerned agencies under the Ministry to draw up an Action Plan to boost exports of horticultural products of J & K, including apples. The Minister has also taken up a proposal for developing and improving special packaging for fruits grown in the state of J & K , including apples. Quantity of apples exported from India amounted to 11094 metric tonnes in 1998-99 as against 10058 metric tonnes in 1997-98. Hence, it will be seen that there has been no decline in exports of apples, but rather an increase in the quantity exported.





    The Indian Pavilion at the Expo'2000 in Hannover (Germany) is drawing record crowds every day and has evoked a tremendous response from the German public, according to information reaching here from the Expo Authorities in Germany. Record crowds estimated at 11,000 to 12,000 German visitors are visiting the India Pavilion every day to witness the splendour and the richness of both traditional and modern India as depicted in the country's Pavilion at the Expo. The journey from the invention of Shunya (zero) to the satellite covering many modern high tech achievements of the country in fields like space and nuclear technology, besides culture, art and crafts etc., is depicted in the India Pavilion at the Expo'2000. The Expo is a five month long mega event in progress at Hannover, Germany from 1st June to 31st October and India's participation in this major international event has been organised by the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO).

    Over 6,00,000 visitors to the pavilion in the last 10 weeks (approx.) have given rave reviews on the content, treatment and projection of India as a country which has cultivated knowledge to demonstrate its ability in providing alternatives to make the world spiritually evolved and an environmentally friendly habitat. The theme of the India Pavilion "Art of Living in Harmony" has been articulated with a vision which highlights the power of knowledge cultivated over centuries and its extensive use in nearly all facets of life. The diverse medium of projections used in the Pavilion help the common man in Germany who visits the Expo to understand how India has successfully used its vast knowledge base, acquired over the centuries, to provide mankind with alternative solutions for peaceful co-existence with nature, medicine, technology, culture, arts & crafts and crafts science.

    The German visitors are showing particular interest in Meditation, Yoga therapy, Music therapy, lectures on Ayurveda, Pulse diagnosis, Yoga demonstration and Vedic astrology, besides cultural programmes from different parts of the country and artisans giving live demonstration of their expertise while working on handicrafts of various regions.





   The Combined Medical Services Examination, 2001 which was originally scheduled to be held on 7th January, 2001 has been postponed to 28th January, 2001 (Sunday). A notification issued by the Union Public Service Commission said that the examination schedule has been changed due to some unavoidable difficulties.