health check

In the news: Much-loved '20-rupees doctor' dies, bird flu reaches Karnataka and more

A wrap of health news over the past week.

On November 18, Dr V Balasubramaniam, who ran a clinic in Sidhapur area of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, died of cardiac arrest. The next morning, his funeral drew thousands of people, The News Minute reported.

Balasubramaniam used to charge his patients only Rs 20, earning him the moniker “ 20-rupees doctor” and the respect of thousands of people who came to him for treatment.

He started out charging his patients just Rs 2 for consultation and then gradually increased it over the years.

The crowd on the street where the funeral took place was so large that it had become difficult for policemen to control it, the report said.

WHO drops the term ‘counterfeit’ for generic medicines

In a boost to the campaign for global access to medicines, the World Health Organisation has dropped the term “counterfeit” for inferior quality Indian-made generic drugs exported to other countries, The Hindu reported.

The decision to drop the word was made on Wednesday, in a technical working group on draft working definitions of substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/counterfeit medical products.

The WHO in a statement said that the term “counterfeit” was used in association of protection of intellectual property rights and decided to “expressly exclude the protection of intellectual property rights” in deciding on the definitions of not-of-standard drugs.

The WHO has, however, retained the word “falsified” to describe medicines of inferior quality.

The European Union Free Trade Agreement had reached a deadlock after affordable generic drugs were confiscated as illegal and counterfeit, often on their way to other South American countries.

Nearly 20 shipments of generic drugs including basic antibiotics and antiretrovirals, were detained while in transit from India to several developing countries via Europe between 2008-2009.

Leena Meghaney, South Asia head of non-profit, Médecins Sans Frontières, told the Hindu that generic drugs were labelled as counterfeit, creating a confusion that had taken away attention from substandard medicines.

Medicine shortage for patients with Wilsons’ Disease continues

Patients suffering from Wilson’s Disease – a genetic disease that prevents the body from removing extra copper – are facing an acute shortage of life saving drugs in the country, a Times of India report said.

High copper levels in the body can cause life-threatening organ damage. The drug, D-penicillamine, prevents poisonous accumulation of copper in the body.

Doctors working with patients suffering from the disease said that there has been a shortage of drugs since June.

D-penicillamine was placed under Drug Price Control Order a few years ago. On September 30, the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation held a meeting of selected drug makers to discuss the non-availability of the drug.

On September 30, the central drug regulator – the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation – convened a meeting of select drug makers to discuss the non-availability of D Penicillamine.

According to an online petition by Piyush Gattani, who suffers from Wilson’s Disease, the reason for the “real or artificial” shortage of this drug is the fact that the drug’s price has been fixed at Rs 138 per strip of 10 capsules. He said that it is no longer cost-effective for pharmaceutical companies to sell the medicine, as it is imported at a high cost to India and then capsuled.

Bird flu outbreak in Karnataka

After Delhi and Madhya Pradesh a birdflu outbreak has been reported in Karnataka, the World Organisation for Animal Health told Reuters on Friday.

The organisation confirmed that the Indian government confirmed H5N8 strain of the virus among birds in the village of Itagi, and 15,93 birds were at risk from the disease died or were culled.

In October, birds from National Zoological Park and other parts of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior Zoo had died of avian flu. Experts had said that there is no reason to panic as the virus does not spread to humans easily.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

How technology is changing the way Indians work

An extensive survey reveals the forces that are shaping our new workforce 

Shreya Srivastav, 28, a sales professional, logs in from a cafe. After catching up on email, she connects with her colleagues to discuss, exchange notes and crunch numbers coming in from across India and the world. Shreya who works out of the café most of the time, is employed with an MNC and is a ‘remote worker’. At her company headquarters, there are many who defy the stereotype of a big company workforce - the marketing professional who by necessity is a ‘meeting-hopper’ on the office campus or those who have no fixed desks and are often found hobnobbing with their colleagues in the corridors for work. There are also the typical deskbound knowledge workers.

These represent a new breed of professionals in India. Gone are the days when an employee was bound to a desk and the timings of the workplace – the new set of professionals thrive on flexibility which leads to better creativity and productivity as well as work-life balance. There is one common thread to all of them – technology, tailored to their work styles, which delivers on speed and ease of interactions. Several influential industry studies and economists have predicted that digital technologies have been as impactful as the Industrial Revolution in shaping the way people work. India is at the forefront of this change because of the lack of legacy barriers, a fast-growing economy and young workers. Five factors are enabling the birth of this new workforce:

Smart is the way forward

According to the Future Workforce Study conducted by Dell, three in five working Indians surveyed said that they were likely to quit their job if their work technology did not meet their standards. Everyone knows the frustration caused by slow or broken technology – in fact 41% of the working Indians surveyed identified this as the biggest waste of time at work. A ‘Smart workplace’ translates into fast, efficient and anytime-anywhere access to data, applications and other resources. Technology adoption is thus a major factor in an employee’s choice of place of work.

Openness to new technologies

While young professionals want their companies to get the basics right, they are also open to new technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence. The Dell study clearly reflects this trend — 93% of Indians surveyed are willing to use Augmented/Virtual Reality at work and 90% say Artificial Intelligence would make their jobs easier. The use of these technologies is no longer just a novelty project at firms. For example, ThysenKrupp, the elevator manufacturer uses VR to help its maintenance technician visualize an elevator repair job before he reaches the site. In India, startups such as vPhrase and Fluid AI are evolving AI solutions in the field of data processing and predictive analysis.

Desire for flexibility 

A majority of Indians surveyed rate freedom to bring their own devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones etc.) to work very highly. This should not be surprising, personal devices are usually highly customized to an individual’s requirements and help increase their productivity. For example, some may prefer a high-performance system while others may prioritize portability over anything else. Half the working Indians surveyed also feel that the flexibility of work location enhances productivity and enables better work-life balance. Work-life balance is fast emerging as one of the top drivers of workplace happiness for employees and initiatives aimed at it are finding their way to the priority list of business leaders.

Maintaining close collaboration 

While flexible working is here to stay, there is great value in collaborating in person in the office. When people work face to face, they can pick up verbal and body language cues, respond to each other better and build connections. Thus, companies are trying to implement technology that boosts seamless collaboration, even when teams are working remotely. Work place collaboration tools like Slack and Trello help employees keep in touch and manage projects from different locations. The usage of Skype has also become common. Companies like Dell are also working on hi-tech tools such as devices which boost connectivity in the most remote locations and responsive videos screens which make people across geographies feel like they are interacting face to face.

Rise of Data Security 

All these trends involve a massive amount of data being stored and exchanged online. With this comes the inevitable anxiety around data security. Apart from more data being online, security threats have also evolved to become sophisticated cyber-attacks which traditional security systems cannot handle. The Dell study shows that about 74% of those surveyed ranked data security measures as their number one priority. This level of concern about data security has made the new Indian workforce very willing to consider new solutions such as biometric authentication and advanced encryption in work systems.

Technology is at the core of change, whether in the context of an enterprise as a whole, the workforce or the individual employee. Dell, in their study of working professionals, identified five distinct personas — the Remote Workers, the On-The-Go Workers, the Desk-centric Workers, the Corridor Warriors and the Specialized Workers.

Dell has developed a range of laptops in the Dell Latitude series to suit each of these personas and match their requirements in terms of ease, speed and power. To know more about the ‘types of professionals’ and how the Dell Latitude laptops serve each, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Dell and not by the Scroll editorial team.