In the news: Healthy babies born to HIV positive mothers, transparency in c-sections and more

A wrap of the health news over the past week.

Pushing HIV back

The Chhattisgarh government has announced that at least 213 HIV-infected women gave birth to healthy babies in 2016-’17 due to multi-medicine treatment initiated by the state. About 219 HIV positive pregnant women were provided with this treatment and the babies of 213 women were born without HIV infection, state health officials told news agencies.

However, six children were found to have been born with HIV infections and have been started on anti- retroviral therapy – a combination of medicines used to slow the rate at which HIV makes multiplies.
Chhattisgarh health officials said the state has 26,000 HIV positive people and was providing anti-retroviral therapy to 10,289 and is dealing with the current shortage of HIV drugs by breaking tablets for adults into standard doses for children

In related news, the Mumbai AIDS Control Society has begin the process of switching to the “test and treat” protocol of treatment for people with HIV and AIDS as per an order issued by the union health ministry earlier this month. All people with HIV infections will now be given antiretroviral therapy irrespective of their CD4 count – a measure of white blood cells that indicates the extent of infection. The National AIDS Control Organisation earlier recommended antiretroviral therapy only for patients with CD4 counts less than 350 cells per millimeter cube on two occasions three months apart.

The Mumbai AIDS Control Society is now starting the process of locating all the 8,000 people who got themselves tested at various government-run testing centres over the last few years, but have not been but on antiretroviral therapy yet. A spokesperson for the society told the Times of India that it has asked integrated counseling and testing centres for HIV to help them with identifying these patients. There is also a worry that asymptomatic HIV patients will object to being put on the strong antiretroviral medicines and this might be a roadblock in adherence to treatment.

Private hospitals to display C-section data?

The Central Government Health Scheme may soon make it mandatory for private hospitals to display the number of cesarean deliveries conducted by them for these hospitals to get and remain empanelled under the scheme.

A senior CGHS official told PTI that hospitals had been asked to voluntarily display this information, as per the existing memorandum between the two parties. However, as CGHS implements ew rules for empanelment, it is considering making display of c-section information mandatory.

The move comes after repeated entreaties to the government to raise awareness about unnecessary cesarean deliveries and surgical procedures performed on women during childbirth. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has raised the issue with the Health and Family Welfare Ministry and asked it to make it a providing information about c-section numbers mandatory for hospitals under CGHS.

Illegal sale of cancer drugs

A special court has taken note of highly potent anti-cancer drugs being sold by without licences for distribution or invoices recording the sale. A pharmaceutical dealer, who did not have a licence and from whom such drugs worth over Rs 50 lakh were allegedly recovered, approached the court seeking anticipatory bail, news agencies reported.

The court has rejected the anticipatory bail petition and expressed concern that such unregulated sale of cancer drugs put the lives of citizens at risk and also causes loss to the exchequer.

Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, a person selling medicines without a licence can get up to which five years imprisonment and a fine of Rs one lakh or three times the value of the confiscated drugs, whichever is more. The drug inspector had carried out the inspection at the pharmaceuticl dealer’s office informed the court that the value of the seized drugs was more than Rs 50 lakh.

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