Kerala hospitals to register live donor transplants

The Kerala state government has decided to implement stricter monitoring criteria for organ transplants after several concerns were raised about the possible exploitation of donors. A senior state health official told The Hindu that all private hospitals will not have to inform the Kerala Network of Organ Sharing about every live donor transplant performed. Hospitals that fail to comply stand in danger of losing their transplant licences.

The new rule will help the network maintain a central registry of all live and cadaver organ donations in the state, including details of donors and recipients.

While the deceased donor organ donation programme is coordinated by the government through Kerala Network for Organ Sharing, the government has no data on the number of living donor organ transplants performed. Rough estimates show that approximately 1,000–1,200 live kidney donations and close to 500 live liver donations are performed in the state every year. Since there is no data on the number of live donations, it follows that there is no recorded information of the health and survival of donors.

The government is also amending a clause of the Organ Transplant Rules that currently allows a hospital to prioritise transplants of organs except kidneys of an in-patient, who has suffered brain death, among it other patients awaiting organs. Suspecting that the practice allows hospitals to make between Rs 1.5 crore-Rs 2 crore from every brain-dead patient the government has decided to drop this provision.

Nurses strike in Hyderabad hospital

More than 200 contract nurses at Hyderabad’s state-run Gandhi hospital went on strike on Saturday, demanding that their jobs be regularised to make them permanent workers and that their salaries be increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per month. Some 20 nurses climbed to the 8th floor of the hospital building and threatened to jump if their demands were not met, although none of the nurses did so.

Trade union leaders told the Times of India that this was the fourth time that the outsourced nursing staff of the hospital had gone on strike for the same reason but the government has been unable to resolve the issue. Attempts at negotiation and finding a solution on Saturday too were unsuccessful. Late in the evening, the police took the nurses into preventive custody.

Newspapers reported that the strike severely hit services at the hospital with only 180 permanent nurses, who were not part of the strike, left to attend to patients in the 1,200-bed hospital. The authorities had to call in nursing students and junior doctors from other medical college to help.

Pulse Polio programme for 2017 launched

On Saturday, President Pranab Mukherjee launched the pulse polio programme for 2017, which will cover 17 crore children under the age of five in an effort to maintain the country’s “polio-free” status.

According to Health Minister JP Nadda, the programme aims to keep immunity against polio up in the Indian population and continue disease surveillance since there still is a risk of the polio virus coming into India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria – countries where the virus is still circulating.

The government’s polio immunisation programme has included an injectable inactivated polio vaccine or IPV in its routine immunisation schedule to provide additional protection to children. The health minister also announced that the government has been conducting continuous polio vaccination at India’s international borders and has issued a travel advisory for all travelers traveling between India and eight other countries to be vaccinated.