General Studies Online | Latest Health News India | Feb 2012

Health to be allotted 2.5% of GDP by end of 12th Plan
A high-level meeting at the Prime Minister's Office decided to increase the total government expenditure on the health sector to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by the end of the coming 12th Plan period, from the current level of around 1.4 per cent of the GDP. The meeting decided to request the Planning Commission to allocate adequate resources to achieve the target and motivate and incentivise the States since health was primarily a State subject and outlay of States for the sector would be critical in this regard. Also the meeting decided that the Health Ministry should prepare a “clear” roadmap to merge all the schemes under the National Rural Health Mission to bring them under one umbrella. The merger may begin from the coming financial year and be completed by 2013-14.
Food Faddism
The phrases food faddism and fad diet referred to diets and eating patterns that promote short-term weight loss, usually with no concern for long-term weight maintenance. Food fad is term originally used to describe simple, catchy diets that often focused on a single element such as cabbage, grapefruit etc.

Simple Limbal Epithelial Transplantation (SLET)
SLET is the process of treating blindness caused by burns using limbal stem cells harvested from the undamaged eye of the same patient. Blindness arises when burns permanently damage the limbal stem cells found in the eye and causes loss in corneal transparency. In such cases, the stem cells are harvested from the healthy eye and transplanted to the damaged eye. The pilot study of the SLET technique was conducted at L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hydrabad.

Muscular Dystrophy Disease
Muscular dystrophy refers to a group of genetic disorders. Some of these can affect adults, but the more severe forms tend to occur in early childhood. Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the most common form of the disease, primarily affects boys. It is caused by the absence of dystrophin, a protein involved in maintaining the integrity of muscle. The disease is usually first noticed when the child tries to walk. As the child grows, there is a gradual progression of the disease and the muscles of the body waste away. Mental function however, remains completely normal. By the age of about 12 or 13, the child has significant difficulty in walking and is generally wheelchair-bound. Children with DMD almost never survive beyond the age of 20. At present, there is no cure for DMD. The goal of treatment is to control the symptoms mostly through exercise and physiotherapy.

Cardio-vascular diseases in India
Cardio-vascular diseases have become the `killer No.1’ in India. India is witnessing a transition from the era of communicable diseases like Malaria, Smallpox, Tuberculosis, etc, to non-communicable diseases like coronary artery diseases, obesity, etc. Obesity is a disease due to addiction to fast food. The fast food culture has already invaded China and its invasion to India is in fast under way. A concerted effort by the public health system, private sector and the medical fraternity is the need of the hour to counter this alarming health risk.

India no more a polio-endemic country: WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has removed India from the list of polio-endemic countries, suggesting that the wild polio virus had been totally eliminated from the environment. The disease paralysed thousands of children every year for several decades.However, India will have to remain polio free for two more years before it is declared polio-free by the WHO. There were only four countries in the WHO endemic list, including Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. India reported its last polio case on January 13, 2011 in West Bengal.

One-third of families in India cut back on food
One-third of the Indian families have been forced to cut back on food with their children not having enough to eat due to soaring food prices. Almost one in five parents (17 per cent) said their children had skipped school as they could work to help pay for food. The growing trend of malnutrition is especially alarming in Asia, where more than a third of the children are chronically malnourished or stunted, accounting for almost 100 million (60 per cent) of the global total. In India, despite experiencing huge economic growth in the past few years, almost half of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition, being home to more than a third of the world's stunted children. The survey by Save the Children shows that rising food prices and malnutrition are putting additional pressure on countries with already high burden of child morality. Unless, tackled urgently now, half a billion children's lives will be irreversibly affected by malnutrition over the next 15 years. Save the Children has pointed out that although malnutrition is the underlying cause of a third of child deaths in the world, it has not received the same high profile campaigning and investment as other causes of child mortality like HIV/AIDS or malaria.