Sunday, April 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Health workers begin indefinite dharna 
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, April 6
The members of the All Haryana PWD Mechanical Karamchari Union (Branch Public Health) launched an indefinite dharna in front of the office of the
Superintending Engineer, Public Health Department here on Friday to press for their long-standing demands. According to a report, Mr Romesh Kumar, chairman of the branch, along with a large number of employees assembled at the site and raised slogans in support of the demands. But the Superintending Engineer of the department was not present on the occasion.

The main demands of the union include the filling of vacant posts on the seniority basis, release of salary withheld on February 12, ending of anomalies in the seniority list, re-opening of closed waterworks, fixing the pay of work-charged employees after counting their 8-18 and 10-20 years’ services and granting arrears to them. A rally was also held addressed by leaders of the union who demanded immediate fulfilment of all the demands. Mr Raj Singh Antil and Mr Attar Singh, leaders of the union’s irrigation branch, also extended their full support to the agitating employees of the Public Health Department. Mr Romesh Sharma and Mr Ved Vyas Arya, president and general secretary respectively of the state unit of the union, also announced that the union would hold rallies and demonstrations on April 10 at all the district headquarters of the state in protest against the retrenchments in the Haryana State Minor Irrigation Tubewells Corporation and the privatisation policy of the state government.

They also announced that the employees would also sit in dharnas outside Deputy Commissioner’s offices on that day. 



Blood banks in govt hospitals to be linked
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, April 6
With the Delhi Government’s decision to interconnect all the blood banks and transfusion centres under it, there seems to be hope for the people who are made to go around in vicious circles hunting for blood units.

The state government plans to inter-connect all the blood banks and transfusion centres under it within the next six months, revealed the Minister of Health, Dr A. K. Walia. Blood banks and transfusion centres at state government-run hospitals like Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital and Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital will be inter-connected soon, said the minister while speaking at the inauguration of a seminar on ‘Safe and appropriate use of blood’.

It was also revealed that during the second phase, blood banks and transfusion centres of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bara Hindu Rao Hospital and Indian Red Cross Society would be inter-connected.

Dr Walia added that the government’s priority was to increase voluntary blood donation, as against the required three lakh units of blood, only 2.5 lakh units were being collected now. The number of voluntary donors in the Capital stood at a shameful less than 20 per cent, which is the lowest in the country. 



Strategy to upgrade PGIMS soon
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, April 6
The state Health Minister, Mr M. L. Ranga, has said that he would soon convene a meeting of the newly appointed Director of the PGIMS, Rohtak, Maj-Gen Virender Singh, senior faculty members, Financial Commissioner and Secretary, Health, Haryana, Mr Bhagwati Prasad, to evolve a strategy for upgrading the state’s premier medical institution to bring it at par with the other leading medical institutes in the country.

He was addressing a gathering after inaugurating a surgery conference and a live workshop on stapler organised by the Department of Surgery, PGIMS here under the auspices of the Association of Surgeons of Haryana.

Dr S. M. Bose, president of the Association of Surgeons of India and Professor and Head of Surgery of the PGI, Chandigarh, was the guest of honour on the occasion. The conference was attended by over 200 delegates from Haryana and the adjoining states, including Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.

The state Health Minister stressed the need to conduct orientation and refresher courses for the medical community. He said the government was committed to making available the latest health facilities in the villages. The government was providing free medical treatment to the helpless and poor patients in the region, he added.

He said 49 hospitals, 64 community health centres, 402 primary health centres and 2,299 sub-centres were providing health services to the people in the state. Besides, he said the buildings for civil hospitals at Panchkula and Faridabad were under construction. 



Some balm for AIDS patients
Tripti Nath

The government’s decision to exempt nine anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs will make HIV/AIDS therapy somewhat affordable. The end beneficiaries, however, will only be the rich.

Early this month, the government announced its decision to exempt Limivudine, Stavudine, Didanosine, Saquinavir, Ritonavir, Indinavir, Efavirenz, Nelfinavir and Nevirapine. Zidovudine, another drug used for HIV/AIDS therapy is already exempted from the excise duty.

On the face of it, the government’s optimistic claim that the move will bring down the cost of anti-retroviral therapy sounds welcome.

The aforesaid initiative is followed by a request to the state governments to exempt these drugs from sales tax and octroi duties to bring down the prices further.

But the hard fact is that the poor will not be able to buy the drugs at revised prices. While the current cost of combinations of ARV drugs such as Zidovudine, Lamivudine and Nevirapine is Rs 1,600 a month, it will come down to Rs 1,200 after excise exemption.

Similarly, the cost of other common combinations of Lamivudine, Nevirapine, Stavudine will reduce from Rs 1,800 to Rs 1,602 a month. For instance, the cost of a combination of Zidovudine, Lamivudine and Ritoanvir will now be 20,000 instead of existing 24,000 a month.

The activists and voluntary organisations engaged in the research and dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS related issues point out that the AIDS therapy that costs a dollar a day is out of reach of most of the patients in poor countries.

Unable to buy the high priced drugs, most patients either return empty-handed from drug stores or do not go beyond a week’s dose. The dilemma faced by such patients is often highlighted by the media.

One such news report says that only up to 10 per cent of the AIDS patients at the Chennai-based YRG Centre for AIDS Research and Education are now on a regular dose of anti-retroviral drugs as no more can afford the medicines ($1500-2000 a year for each patient).

In a 58-page report titled `Endless and sickening therapies for AIDS’, the AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (AIDS Anti-Discrimination Movement) has quoted from a paper published by the medical journal ARR in its April-June 1999 issue.

The paper on ‘Use of Anti-Retroviral Therapy: An experience in a tertiary referral centre in South India’ draws attention to the “limited” use of anti-retroviral therapy in developing countries not only due to the cost of medication but also expensive laboratory investigations necessary to monitor the treatment.

In a chapter titled ‘The Therapeutic Nightmare’, the report has enumerated the side effects of all ARV drugs.

It has pointed out that the media campaign by the multi-national drug companies overlooked, repressed or veiled the adverse reactions of these drugs and follow-up actions tests needed periodically.

The report has further summarised the media campaign for cheap drugs for AIDS early last year. India offers a huge potential for AIDS drugs.

According to UNAIDS, with 3.7 million patients living with HIV and AIDS, India is second in the world.

Workshop for disabled

Inspired by its success in facilitating the visit of wheel-chair bound British physicist Professor Stephen Hawking to Qutab Minar by lending technical expertise for construction of ramps overnight, the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), a non-government organisation is now holding a daylong workshop at the Park Hotel here on Monday on access to historical monuments for the disabled people.

Thanks to the NCPEDP’s intervention, barrier-free access to historical monuments in the Capital including the Qutab Minar, the Red Fort, the Humayun’s Tomb (being renovated by the Aga Khan Trust) and the Jantar Mantar has now become a welcome reality.

Disabled rights activist and Executive Director of NCPEDP, Javed Abidi says that their intervention has made the Archaeological Survey of India change its policy.

Last year, NCPEDP in collaboration with the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, Public Affairs Section, the US embassy launched a six-month project to promote accessibility at historical places in India. They also conducted access audits at the Red Fort, the Taj Mahal, the City Palace and the Sarnath Temple. The ASI announced a policy decision to make several of their historical monuments, including all world heritage sites, disabled-friendly and barrier-free.

According to Abidi, the main objective of the workshop is to encourage inter-sectoral involvement on the issue of disability and barrier-free access. Prominent among those who are participating in the inaugural session are Dr

Marjorie R. Harrison, Exchanges Officer, US Embassy and Kasturi Gupta Menon, Director-General, Archaeological Survey of India. Justice Zac Yacoob, a visually challenged judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa is a special invitee to the session.

The next session in the forenoon will be chaired by P.R. Mehta, President of the Council of Architecture.

Later in the day, during a discussion on environmental and access barriers, NCPEDP will make a presentation on findings of access audits.

A session on `Access by Design’ will be chaired by Prof Singinapalli Balaram, Chairman, Knowledge Management Centre, National Institute of Design. Prof Abir Mullick from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centre on Universal Design, State University of New York, Buffalo, the USA will speak on `Accessible Historical Monuments - a case study.’

Mr Abidi says, “We have collected a lot of information and evidence suggesting that historical monuments in Egypt, the UK and the USA are disabled-friendly.

One has to keep in mind the historical sensitivity without disturbing heritage.

The least we can do is to ensure access up to the monument. Why should a disabled person not be able to enjoy a visit to the world heritage sites as the Taj Mahal?

After visiting the Taj Mahal and other historical places, we identified the barriers, suggested solutions and submitted a report to the Archaeological Survey of India.”

Preventive healthcare

Apollo Health and Lifestyle Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited, is organising a panel discussion on preventive healthcare at the Le Meridien on Sunday evening on World Health Day. While the WHO Representative to India, Dr Robert Kim Farley, will speak on the role of UN bodies, the government and non-government organisations on preventive health care, lawyer Rani Jethmalani will speak on the consumers’ perspective on the preventive health care.

Other speakers include Dr B.M. Hegde, Vice-Chancellor, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Mophammed Khan, Chairman, Enterprise Nexus Communication and N.S. Rajan, National Director, HR Advisory Services, Ernst & Young India. The CEO of Apollo Lifestyle Limited, Ratan Jalan will deliver the inaugural address. Apollo Health and Life Limited plans to set up primary health care franchisee clinics 35 clinics in India. They also plan to set up such clinics in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other countries in Middle East and West Asia.

In Delhi, one such clinic is likely to be set up in Janakpuri this month. The clinic will have a diagnostic centre, a pathology lab and a 24-hour pharmacy. It will also offer specialist consultation services and specially designed preventive health care packages.



‘Hepatitis-B is preventable

The eminent paediatrician and social worker of East Delhi and the secretary of Naryan Dass Memorial Charitable Trust, Dr P. D. Garg, is committed to eliminating hepatitis-B in the shortest possible period and advocates introduction of hepatitis-B vaccination to all. Under the aegis of the social service organisation, he has been regularly organising vaccination camp on the first Sunday of every month for the last three years. He talked to Nalini Ranjan on different aspects of this dreaded disease.

What is the magnitude of the disease in the country?

The statistics say four per cent of the Indian population have hepatitis-B, of which 25 per cent have some symptoms of active disease and its complications like cirrhosis in which liver gets shrunk, jaundice and collection of fluid in abdomen and liver cancer. This is a very old disease. Due to the recent developments in its diagnosis, prevention has become possible.

Is the vaccination affordable?

The vaccine to prevent hepatitis-B has been available in western countries for over two decades. It has become popular in India only recently. But now it is easily available and affordable for the common man. The only problem is ignorance and carelessness.

When must the vaccination be started?

Ideally, it should start at the time of birth. The first dose at birth prevents the child from vertical transmission of disease (from mother to child), the second dose must be given once the baby completes one month followed by the third dose at sixth months of age.

These three doses give lifelong protection against the disease. Those who are not vaccinated at birth can start at any time. The schedule should be the same, i.e. 0-1-6 months.

Adolescents and adults for sure have not been vaccinated at birth because this vaccine has become available in India for the last 10 years only. So, everybody, even old people, should get the vaccination done as early as possible.

For the convenience of the patients, the Delhi Government has combined this vaccine with three injections of the DPT vaccine, which are given at second, third and fourth months. This schedule of 0, 1, 2 months with the DPT vaccine is approved by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics.

Should it be restarted if a date is missed by a few days?

It is better to have three dosages spread over longer period rather than having incomplete vaccination.



GE Capital lift Corporate Challenger Cup
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, April 6
GE Capital lifted the ESPN Star Sports Corporate Challenger Cup Cricket Tournament when they beat Gillette by six wickets in the final match.

GE Capital scored 176 for four wickets in 23.2 overs in reply to Gillette’s score of 174. The highlight of the final was a swashbuckling century knock of 111 by Paljeet Singh of Gillette.

He also notched up the highest aggregate of 296 runs in the tournament, with the most number of fours and sixes—31 and 15 respectively. He was awarded the ‘Hero Honda Player of the Series’ trophy, along with a brand new CBZ bike. He also won the Timex achievement awards for Super 6s and Super 4s.

GE Capital rode on the fine knock of 76 and a haul of 3 for 31 by Rodney Charles to win the title. Charles was adjudged the man of the match as well as the best batsman.

He received an MSN watch and an ESPN sports kit. Gaurav Verma of Gillette, with a tournament haul of 9 for 48 was adjudged the best bowler. All the three best players also received cash awards of Rs 5000 each. Gillette won a gift voucher worth Rs 20,000. The gift was received by Gillette’s long-serving captain K C Sharma. 



Sixteen-year-old Bhanu is Super Selector
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, April 6
Sixteen-year-old Bhanu Arora has been adjudged the ESPN Star Sports ‘Super Selector’ for the month of March. His team composition was better than 2,28,136 teams of other participants and cricket experts.

Bhanu Arora will join the commentators in Barbados to catch the thrilling moments for the third Test to be played between India and West Indies from May 2 to 6.

Bhanu Arora, a die-hard Sachin Tendulkar fan from New Delhi, named the dream team, which comprised Nathan Astle, Ricky Ponting, Grant Flower, Alistair Campbell, Sachin Tendulkar (substituted by Mathew Hayden), Andrew Flintoff, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Harbhajan Singh, Raymond Price (substituted by Andrew Caddick) and Anil Kumble (substituted by Brett Lee).



Shawej Khan hits 139 for NSCC
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, April6
A strokeful century knock of 139 by Shawej Khan and deadly bowling by Karam Veer Bhati (4 for 31) helped National Stadium Coaching Centre (NSCC) beat Maharaja Agarsen Sports Club by 157 runs in a league match of the seventh Stanford Under-17 All-India Cricket Tournament at the National Stadium ground. Scores: NSCC: 275 for 7 in 40 overs (Shawej Khan 139, Rahul Deewan 68, Virender Solanki 3/25). Maharaja Agarsen: 118 all out in 295 overs (Ankit Kumar 35, Karamveer Bhati 4 for 31, Rahul Deewan 2 for 10).

Jain Memorial tourney: Rajdhani Sports beat DSI by three wickets to enter the semi-final of the third Sheetal Prasad Jain Memorial Cricket Tournament at the Mohan Meakin ground.

Scores: DSI: 215 for 7 in 40 overs (Rakesh Rawat 52, Sachin Rana 47, Manoj Yadav 38, Ravi Yadav 2 for 34, Vikas Sharma 2 for 37).

Rajdhani Sports: 217 for 7 in 39.1 overs (Joginder Singh 68, Saroj Rai 52, Gaurav Mehta 31, Ajay Tiwari 3 for 24).

Akash to lead TYCA: Akash Chopra will lead the Trans Yamuna Cricket Academy (TYCA) in the All-India Sheesh Mahal Cricket Tournament to be held at the KD Singh Babu Stadium in Lucknow.

TYCA will play their opening match against United Bank of Kolkata on April 10.

Other members of the team are: Sanjeev Sharma, Yashpal Singh, Devender Sharma, N S Negi, Tarun Gupta, Jaswinder Singh, Gaurav Malhotra, Ashish Sharma, R Madan, Sanjeev Sharma, Sunil Kashyap, Vipin Sharma and Ajeet Chandkok. Manager: S K Nayyar.

Cathay Pacific Cricket: The Cathay Pacific Airways Sixes Cricket Tournament will be held at the National Stadium in the Capital on Sunday.

The match will start at 8.30 am.



Gymkhana shock Sonnet in DDCA League
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, April 6
Rohtak Road Gymkhana beat Sonnet Club by 27 runs in a Super A Division match of the DDCA League at the Kotla No I ground.

Scores: Rohtak Road Gymkhana: 164 all out in 39.5 overs (Sandeep Chawla 43, Raja Gurmeet Singh 27, N S Negi 3 for 39). Sonnet Club: 137 all out in 37.4 overs (Adil Shakh 33 n o, Udit Sharma 24, Abhishek Sharma 2 for 26, Chetan Sharma 2 for 30). RCN beat Ravi Brothers by 122 runs in an A-II Division match at Kotla II ground. Scores: RCN: 299 (Firasat Hussain 138 n o, 18x4, 2x6; Arvind Bajaj 50, Shalabh Gupta 3 for 47). Ravi Brothers: 177 for 9 in 30 overs (Pradeep Deswal 39, Kamal Sharma 28, Uday Kumar 5 for 17). Pelicans beat Engineers India Ltd. by four wickets in an A-I Division match at the University ground.

Scores: EIL: 171 for 6 in 40 overs (Pawan Sharma 24, Rajeev Gupta 3 for 28). Pelicans: 172 for 6 in 35.4 overs (Ashwani Kapoor 47, Praveen Gahlot 39, Nitin Sehgal 33 n o, Pawan Sharma 4 for 55, Manish Jolly 2 for 38).

Jivanjor Cricket Tournament: Hans Raj Model School, Punjabi Bagh beat St. Columbus School by 138 runs to enter the final of the Jivanjor Cricket Tournament at the Bal Bharati School ground, Pitampura. Hans Raj Model School, batting first, made 326 for four wickets in the stipulated 35 overs. St. Columbus School were shot out for 188 in 34.4 overs. 



Red carpet welcome to Virender

Rohtak, April 6
Virender, who won a gold medal in the International Judo Championship held recently in Colombo, was given a hero’s welcome on his arrival at his native village Bohar some 5 kms away from here. A large number of his well wishers accompanied him from Rohtak to Bohar in the shape of a procession. Virender won the gold medal in 71-kg weight category defeating his rival from Uzbekistan. OSR


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