Saturday, January 28, 2017

Kofi Annan commends Delhi government's Mohalla clinics

New Delhi: Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has lauded the Delhi government for providing free primary health care through Mohalla Clinics -- an initiative that is "consistent with the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goal" of the World Health Organization.

In a letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Annan has termed the scheme "successful and impressive" and said, " have scaled up the provision of universal free health services, most notably in providing free primary healthcare services through your new Mohalla Clinics".

"We understand that this initiative is proving very successful and we commend you on this impressive achievement," said Annan, who heads "The Elders", an independent organisation promoting peace, justice and human rights worldwide.

"We are aware that your administration has implemented a series of health reforms consistent with the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goal," he said, referring to the WHO initiative that all people receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.

The Delhi government plans to build some 1,000 Mohalla Clinics across the city. At least 107 such clinics have already come up, in both middle class and urban poor neighbourhoods, where people enjoy the facilities of doctors, tests and medicines -- all for free.

When 1,000 Mohalla Clinics are built, Delhi will be a saturated model state for healthcare, he said.

"We believe you could further extend health coverage in Delhi and provide further important lessons for other Indian states embarking on their UHC journeys."

"From experience elsewhere, including in some of our own countries, the Elders believe that a bold move to advance UHC could bring tremendous health and economic benefits to the people of India. It would also, of course, be likely to prove extremely popular."

Kejriwal extended the deadline for setting up of 1,000 Mohalla clinics up to March 31, 2017.

Friday, January 27, 2017


While the Modi government has been clamoring for more transparency to build a “clean” Bharat in order to gather public support, a quick glance to the Medical Council of India website ( would demonstrate how corruption and non-transparency are still is the name of the game in the highest government body for regulation of healthcare and medical education. Complaints against doctors for medical negligence and ethical violation are supposed to be investigated and appropriate disciplinary action against the guilty doctors to be taken by members of the MCI Ethics Committee.
It is a common knowledge today that despite frequent news of horrific death of patients from alleged medical negligence, hardly any doctors are held “guilty” by the MCI. Even more shocking, no information is shown whatsoever on MCI website about the proceedings (“minutes”) of the MCI Ethics Committee meetings held since 2013. Although detail minutes of the Ethics Committee meetings were regularly posted on MCI website for public view for 2011, 2012 and 2013, it abruptly stopped on 18th October, 2013. Ironically, the present MCI members (most of whom are well-known cronies of disgraced ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai) came to power in December, 2013. So, it is obvious that the present MCI does not want to show what goes on behind closed doors to investigate their allegedly negligent and unethical medical colleagues. Do we need to explain why? Will the Modi government and health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, wake up and take immediate measures to cleanse the obvious corruption inside the highest medical regulatory body in India? PBT has already lodged a complaint with the Central Information Commission against this overt non-transparency inside the MCI. Hearing has been concluded on 9th January, 2017 and an important judgment is awaited.

Artificial kidney may hit market soon

Thousands of people with chronic kidney disease now being kept alive by dialysis machines that tie them to a hospital bed for hours will be enormously relieved when a fist-sized artificial kidney hits the market, possibly by the end of the decade.

The device being engineered in the US will go through a series of safety and efficacy trials on hundreds of patients in that country before it is approved by the FDA, University of California San Francisco researcher Dr Shuvo Roy , co-inventor of the device, said at the Tanker annual charity and awards night on Wednesday .

The device that can be implanted in the abdomen and will be powered by the heart is designed to filter the blood and perform other kidney functions, including production of hormones, and help assist in blood pressure control, he told a hall filled with doctors, paramedics and patients. Unlike conventional haemodialysis, which merely filters toxins from the blood, the artificial kidney has a membrane that filters the blood and a bio-reactor comprising living kidney cells that are exposed to the blood during dialysis. “It performs the job of a kidney more holistically than just conventional dialysis,“ he said.

The final stage of chronic kidney disease, called end stage renal disease, is when the kidneys are no longer able to remove enough wastes and excess fluids from the body. At this point, patients are put on dialysis, sometimes up to three times a week, as a bridge to transplant. Increasing incidence of diabetes and hypertension has been pushing up chronic kidney disease among many patients.

At least 2.5 lakh people in India die due to kidney disease every year. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two most common causes and account for most cases. The cost of treating end-stage kidney disease through dialysis or a kidney transplant is enormous.

In the Tamil Nadu chief minister's health insurance I scheme, which covers more than 1.5 crore families in the state, renal dialysis is the most opted for treatment by policyholders, although the cost of giving a heart patient a stent is several times higher. Between January 2012 and May 2016, more than 2.21 lakh people have undergone dialysis at a cost of `169.72 lakh. The charges do not include the inestimable costs to quality of life among patients with advanced kidney disease. In addition to dialysis, more than 60,000 people have opted for treatment of kidney stones and renal transplant. At least 3,000 people in the state have been wait listed for kidney transplant with the state cadaver transplant registry . “Getting an organ is still not easy. So patients with end-stage renal diseases will have to be on regular dialysis and medicines,“ said nephrologist Dr Georgie Abraham.

ICMR director general Dr Soumya Swaminathan said the Union health ministry has been working with engineers at various IITs to develop solutions for various health problems in India. Tanker Foundation honoured young scientists and doctors with awards for their contribution in the field of nephrology.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Corruption, frauds keeping away foreign cos from India

Posted on January 24, 2017 from Mumbai ι Report #95826
Mumbai: Corruption, frauds and security- related risks are dissuading nearly a fifth of global firms from entering the country despite a promising market opportunity, says a survey.
"Nearly a fifth of our respondents are dissuaded from investing in the country due to frauds and security concerns," advisory firm Kroll MD Reshmi Khurana said today.
As many as 545 senior executives, 11 per cent of them domestic firms, participated in the global survey.
She said corruption is also another major risk which "is growing", and explained that laws like the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) in the US deter potential investors.
"India is an attractive destination for foreigners given that it is the fastest growing large economy. On the other hand, as the survey shows, investors are deterred due to fraud, corruption and security concerns," she said.
The survey, however, said there was a drop in the number of participants reporting instances of frauds happening in the country to 68 per cent of those polled, as against 80 per cent in the year-ago period.
When asked for reasons why India is suffering on the perception front whereas frauds seem to be going down, she said many respondents prefer not to reveal frauds that happened in the past and also pointed out that senior-level executives--who indulge the most in fraudulent behaviour as per its analysis--are the ones who participate in the survey.
The report said the country tops the Brics grouping of emerging countries in at least five fraud categories, including conflict of interest at management levels, corruption and bribery, money laundering, internal financial frauds and market collusion.
On corruption, another of Krolls managing directors, Tarun Bhatia, pointed out that land acquisition is a key concern for the industry which he said is increasingly depending on the government to get the land needed for projects rather than acquiring by its own.
When asked about noteban, Khurana said it has exposed both vulnerabilities in the system by helping expose newer frauds, and also given opportunity to new frauds because of larger adoption of technology and an increase in transactions.
Pitching in for greater digitisation, she said there is a need for sclaing up the safety infrastructure. The country also needs better protection for whistleblowers, Bhatia said, adding a larger number of people will come forward to report frauds this way.
It also needs better internal audits which are looked at as beyond compliance-related works, he added. The report cited cyber security as an emerging concern which will require greater attention in future with 73 per cent of those surveyed experiencing a cyber incident in 2016.

Friday, January 13, 2017


In a historic and unprecedented order passed against Dr. Alok Khan, an neurosurgeon from Kolkata accused of causing death of a patient from a botched brain surgery, division bench presided by Justice D.K. Jain, president of the National Consumer Forum (NCDRC), has directed Dr. Khan and the nursing home (owned by Dr. Khan) to pay a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh “for their absence before the State Commission as well as for the delay in the complaint attaining finality” (see the NCDRC Judgment below).
Shamali Sikdar, widow of the alleged victim, came to PBT in 2012 seeking help in her quest for justice after her husband died following a botched surgery for a non-malignant brain tumor. Dr. Kunal Saha, PBT president, argued before the State Commission in West Bengal on behalf of the victim while the accused doctor delayed the proceedings for years by not accepting legal notice from the court. The State Commission eventually delivered an ex perte verdict last year awarding Rs. 25.5 lakh (including Rs. 50,000 as legal cost) against Dr. Khan against which the doctor moved the NCDRC. While remanding the case back to the State Commission to give an opportunity to the accused doctor to put up his defense, NCDRC has also directed that the matter must be completed within a period of 6 months. Further, considering PBT’s benevolent attempt to pro bono help for the victim and Dr. Saha’s situation, NCDRC has also directed that the State Commission should consider the fact that Dr. Saha is generally a resident of USA while fixing the hearing dates.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Six Indian States Have Not Convicted Anyone for Corruption in 15 Years, Says Report

India ranks 76th among 168 countries surveyed by Transparency International, which studies how corrupt people think their governments are. The 2015 study used data collected on corruption in the country, which, however, remains poor and unreliable and dependent greatly on the state’s willingness to both maintain and share records.

Despite there being both collusive and coercive corruption at all levels, the data available with the National Crime Records Bureau from 2001 to 2015 shows that the number of cases registered for heinous crimes like murder, robbery and kidnapping actually exceeded the registered cases of corruption.
At a meet on ‘Fact and Fiction: Government’s Efforts to Combat Corruption’ organised by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) in New Delhi, several RTI activists spoke about how despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s repeated assertions of fighting corruption, few serious attempts appear to have been made to root out graft through basic benchmarking and implementation of legislations.
As Venkatesh Nayak of CHRI put it, “The data available with NHRC [National Human Rights Commission] over the years does not indicate the popular perception about corruption.” He said there is neither “certainty of punishment at the end of the process” nor do people feel confident about filing the complaints as a consequence of which “sunvai nahin hote” (there is no proper hearing).
Nayak pointed out that during the last 15 years “corruption cases did not even constitute 1 % of the total number of crimes registered in the country”. He said, “While the Indian Penal Code 1860 lists offences of bribery involving public servants and the offence of bribing voters during elections with prison terms of between three months and three years and, the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 also covers all levels of government across the country except Jammu and Kashmir – which has its own special law against graft in Ranbir Penal code – very little information about the impact of these was available in the public domain in a consolidated manner.”
He said much of the information available now was thanks to the Centre’s initiative of 2012, formulating the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy. The Open Government Data Team of the National Informatics Centre created a digital platform for making these datasets widely available. CHRI was able to analyse to see how the states were penalising individuals who commit corruption-related offences and that they were able to compare incidences of corruption with major offences likes murder, kidnapping and robbery.
However, the analyses threw up several questions about the inadequacy of the data. It was revealed that in the 15 year period, a total of 54,139 cases of corruption were registered in the 29 states and seven union territories. But fewer cases were registered in bigger states like Uttar Pradesh (968) and Bihar (1,179) as against smaller ones like Kerala (2,464), Haryana (2,446) and Himachal Pradesh (1,080). Also, states with a higher population of tribals, despite their tribal-wealth related issues, posted fewer complaints. So while Chhattisgarh reported just 560 cases, Jharkhand was even lower at 509.
Among the northeastern states, Meghalaya reported just 15 cases, Tripura 28 and Manipur 32. But the big surprise was West Bengal which reported only 39 cases of corruption in 15 years. Surely the state which witnessed the Saradha chit fund scam would have had more?
With the number of cases of kidnapping being 11 times more than that of corruption cases and, the cases of murder being ten times more, while robbery was six times more –  it was quite evident that there was gross underreporting of corruption cases. “This comparison seems to indicate a severe lack of public confidence in the ability of the anti-corruption agencies to investigate a complaint of corruption, collect evidence and put the case up for trial,” said Nayak.
The analyses also revealed that trials were completed in only 55.26 % of the registered cases. Haryana topped the list with 86.10%. Meghalaya again lagged behind, not managing to complete trials for any of the 15 cases it had registered. Similarly, none of the 66 cases registered in Arunachal Pradesh had completed trials. Bihar, which registered very few cases, also lagged behind with just 8.82% when it came to completed trials.
When it came to conviction, the national average stood at 35.33% for the cases put up for trial and 18.94% of those in which complaints were registered.
But as former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah put it, the low conviction rate should not be used to “place too much relevance on the proportion of corruption” for as he put it, “while corruption is endemic in our system, often made up charges are levelled to settle political or bureaucratic vendetta”.
Speaking from personal experience as an IAS officer from Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “There were so many cases in the state which were just used to victimise honest officers.” Incidentally, the data also showed that 90% of those accused were acquitted in Jammu and Kashmir.
But as Nayak said, the malaise runs deep and this was reflected in the fact that despite several cases going to trial, no convictions were reported from West Bengal, Goa, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya –and only one case resulted in a conviction in Manipur in the 15 year period.
Anjali Bharadwaj of the Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the National Campaign For People’s Right to Information spoke about how convictions can be secured in cases of corruption. The amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act, which is pending in parliament, is of grave importance. In its absence, she said the whole notion of accountability is being turned on its head. “We do not see any action to bring in any amendment or to operationalise existing legislations to fight graft,” she said.
Even when it came to the Act, she cautioned that those who give bribes should not be victimised as the amended law seeks to punish people for giving bribe. “So if someone gives a bribe to gets his child treated, he or she would become liable for punishment. It is being proposed that if the person voluntarily deposes that he had paid a bribe within a week of doing so, action would not be initiated. But who would actually be able to do so? There is no distinction in the new law between collusive and coercive bribe-giving”.
Her colleague Amrita Johri said Modi has only recently begun urging people to inform the government about black money. But, she said, the government has not acted on implementing the Whistleblowers Protection Act, which was legislated to provide protection to whistleblowers. “Nearly 50-60 people connected to the Vyapam scam died mysteriously and we have not operationalised the Act. Two new amendments were brought to it – through the Whistleblowers Protection (Amendment) Bill – but no one knows the status. The minister [of state in the prime minister’s office, Jitendra Singh] has stated that it was referred to a parliamentary committee, RTI has revealed that it was not true.”
Similarly, the Prevention of Corruption Amendment Bill is pending while the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Servants Bill, Grievance Redress Bill and National Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, all of which have lapses, need to be revived.
The RTI activists have demanded that key pieces of legislation be restored, operationalised or amended – as the need may be – to ensure that whistleblowers are protected so that the fight against corruption can be strengthened.
Article Courtesy: The Wire
The above is from the mails I receive from "I Paid a Bribe"