In the news: Maneka Gandhi wants doctors conducting unnecessary C-sections to be exposed, and more

A wrap of the week's health headlines.

Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said last week that she had written to Union Health Minister JP Nadda asking for it to made mandatory for hospitals to publicly display the number of cesarean
section surgeries they have carried out.

A petition started by Mumbai-based Subarna Ghosh on the issue had been signed by more than 1.3 lakh people by Sunday evening.

Gandhi tweeted on Wednesday that the percentage of C-section surgeries in some states is much higher than the 10%-15% reccomended by the World Health Organisation. For instance, as per the National Family Health Survey 2015-’16, the percentage of C-sections in Telangana was is 58%, while in Tamil Nadu it was 34%.

“The situation is much worse in private hospitals, which is a matter of grave concern,” she tweeted.

Gandhi then told reporters that gynaecologists who conduct C-section deliveries “for no reason at all except money” should be named and shamed, reported The Times of India.

The Indian Medical Association said that the statement is misleading and that “no doctor will conduct if not indicated”. The statement said that higher rates of C-sections were likely in secondary and tertiary-level hospitals in some cities because they are referral hospitals.

Dr KK Aggarwal, the National President of Indian Medical Association added that the doctors are accountable to India and state Medical Councils.

He mentioned that C-section rates are going up all over the world. US, Germany, and Italy have between 30%-40% rates of C-section, Aggarwal said.

Expensive freebies by pharma firms may be banned

The government is considering a blanket ban on pharmaceutical firms giving doctors and chemists expensive freebies such as paid vacations and will restrict the value of the gifts to Rs 1,000, The Times of India reported.

The department of pharmaceuticals is in the final stages of executive order making the Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices mandatory for drug manufacturing industry, the report said. Currently, the Code is voluntary and the industry is expected to regulate itself by adopting it.

The penalty for violating the code could include warnings about cancelling licences, the report said. The Code also proposes the formation of an ethics committee to investigate violations.

West Bengal to regulate private hospitals

Last week, the West Bengal state government announced the establishment of the West Bengal Health Regulatory Commission to curb unethical money-making practices of private hospitals and nursing homes and to redress complaints of medical negligence, Catch News reported.

The Bill will be introduced in the state assembly on March 3, the report said.

The commission will have 10 members, including a retired judge, government representative, doctors and consumer activists.

Nearly 7.5% of Indians suffer from mental disorders: WHO

According to the latest World Health Organisation report, nearly 7.5% of Indians suffer from mental disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders that need expert intervention, The Times of India reported.

The report said that about 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and another 38 million Indians suffer from anxiety disorders.

Depressive disorders are characterised by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, among other symptoms. Anxiety disorders refer to a group of disorders characterised by feelings of anxiety and fear.

In October, a mental health survey conducted by the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences said that the incidence of depression is about 5% of the population.

India has only 4,000 psychiatrists to treat its mentally ill people, the report said.

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