Editor in Chief Dr KK Aggarwal, Padma Shri Awardee


Dated: 05th May, 2019

WHO calls for more investment in primary health care

Primary health care is key to solving the health challenges facing countries in Asia and the Pacific, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO says that investment in primary health care is essential to provide access for the most vulnerable, build more equitable societies and help economies grow.

Many people in WHO’s Western Pacific Region cannot access the health services they need. For some, services are too far away. Others do not know when or where to seek care. Others fear stigma and discrimination. Many people simply do not have enough money. In some countries in the Region, one in five families spends more than 10% of its income on health care. Globally, the cost of health care pushes 100 million people a year into extreme poverty. “No one should have to decide between their mother’s medicine and their child’s education,” said Dr Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. “Health is a human right.”

Strengthening primary health care means ensuring that all people get most basic health services as close as possible to where they live and work. The primary level should be people’s first point of contact with the health system.

Primary health care includes a range of services throughout life – from health promotion to screening for health problems, vaccines and information on disease prevention, family planning, treatment for long- and short-term conditions, rehabilitation and palliative care, as well as treatment for common ailments like colds.

Primary health care focuses on caring for people and helping them improve their health or maintain their well-being, rather than treating a single disease or condition… (WHO, April 5, 2019)


Crisis and suicide prevention services struggle with demand after celebrity suicides

(NIH): The United States may lack the resources needed to meet increases in demand for suicide prevention services that occur after celebrity suicides, according to a recent study of crisis mental health services. The study, conducted by a team of researchers, which included scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, highlights the need for suicide prevention hotlines to procure additional funds, allocate existing funds more efficiently, and develop contingency plans to accommodate increases in call volumes, particularly for the first two days after a celebrity suicide. The findings appear in the journal Psychiatric Services.

To test the ability of crisis mental health services to meet a sudden increase in demand for help, this study looked at increases in suicide rates within 30 days of Robin Williams’ suicide on Aug. 11, 2014. The researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics’ Compressed Mortality File to compare the number of suicide deaths and the method of suicide in the 30 days before and after Aug. 11, 2014, and for the same time period in 2012 and 2013.

  • In 2012-2014, there was an average of 113-117 suicide deaths per day; after Williams’ suicide, the average rate increased to 142 suicide deaths per day, something not observed in 2012 or 2013. Approximately two-thirds of the people who died by suicide immediately after the actor’s death used the same method of suicide as Williams.
  • The study also examined the number of calls placed to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL immediately before and after Williams ended his life to measure whether media coverage of his death prompted more people to reach out for help. The day after he died, the number of calls increased by up to 300 percent - from between 4,000 to 6,000 calls per day to 12,972. However, without capacity to respond to this increased demand for crisis services, the fraction of answered calls decreased from an average of 73 percent to 57 percent, which highlights a gap in the ability of the NSPL to respond to surges in calls for help.

(Source: NIH, April 30, 2019)


Internists applaud passage of Climate Action Now Act, recognizing climate change as public health threat

Statement attributable to:

Robert McLean, MD, FACP

President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (May 2, 2019) —American College of Physicians (ACP) is encouraged by the passage of the Climate Action Now Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, which directs the U.S. to uphold its commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. ACP is deeply concerned about the negative impact that climate change is having on public health and patients, and that these effects will worsen without immediate action.

Physicians witness all too frequently the harmful health effects that climate change has on patients, including higher rates of respiratory and heat-related illness, increased prevalence of vector-borne and waterborne diseases, food and water insecurity, and malnutrition. This is outlined in ACP’s 2016 position paper, “Climate Change and Health,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine… (ACP News Release, May 2, 2019)


A bridge course for dentists and Ayush?

The Dental Council of India is asking for a bridge course for dentists, which will enable them to become mid-level healthcare providers. However, this has to be viewed in the right context.

A large number of seats in dental colleges are lying vacant for the past few years; this is particularly the case with the private dental colleges as these colleges charge a very high admission fee, running into several lakhs. Yet, private dental colleges keep mushrooming randomly.

Only 40 of around 300 dental colleges in the country are in the government sector (Press Information Bureau, October 13, 2018).....read more


The four keys to prevent cardiovascular disease

An estimated 80% of all CVD cases - heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke - can be prevented. The key is to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol and to maintain healthy habits, such as exercising regularly, eating a plant-based diet, getting enough sleep, and not smoking.

Exercise: Guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week. "Doing more is better..... read more


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